The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 08

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Title: The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 08

Editor: Rossiter Johnson

Charles F. Horne

LL. D. John Rudd

Release date: November 1, 2003 [eBook #10103]
Most recently updated: December 19, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Jayam Subramanian and PG Distributed Proofreaders


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Jayam Subramanian and PG Distributed



The binding of this volume is a facsimile of the original in the British Museum, and is considered the most artistic mosaic binding design in existence.

It was executed about 1710, by Antoine Michel Padeloup, Royal Binder of both France and Portugal.

He presented it to Francoise Marie de Bourbon, daughter of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, on the anniversary of her marriage to Philippe, Duke of Orleans, who afterward became Regent of France.

During the Reign of Terror this volume found its way to England, where it was sold at a handsome price. It was bequeathed to the British Museum by Felix Slade, Esq.




_With a staff of specialists


The National Alumni_




An Outline Narrative of the Great Events CHARLES F. HORNE

Origin and Progress of Printing (A.D. 1438) HENRY GEORGE BOHN

John Hunyady Repulses the Turks (A.D. 1440-1456) ARMINIUS VAMBERY

Rebuilding of Rome by Nicholas V, the "Builder-pope" (A.D. 1447-1455) MRS. MARGARET OLIPHANT

Mahomet II Takes Constantinople (A.D. 1453) End of the Eastern Empire GEORGE FINLAY

Wars of the Roses (A.D. 1455-1485) Death of Richard III at Bosworth DAVID HUME

Ivan the Great Unites Russia and Breaks the Tartar Yoke (A.D. 1462-1505) ROBERT BELL

Culmination of the Power of Burgundy Treaty of Péronne (A.D. 1468) P.F. WILLERT

Lorenzo de'Medici Rules in Florence Zenith of Florentine Glory (A.D. 1469) OLIPHANT SMEATON

Death of Charles the Bold (A.D. 1477) Louis XI Unites Burgundy with the Crown of France PHILIPPE DE COMINES

Inquisition Established in Spain (A.D.1480), WILLIAM H. RULE JAMES BALMES

Murder of the Princes in the Tower (A.D.1483) JAMES GAIRDNER

Conquest of Granada (A.D.1490) WASHINGTON IRVING


Conspiracy, Rebellion, and Execution of Perkin Warbeck (A.D.1492) FRANCIS BACON

Savonarola's Reforms and Death The French Invade Italy_ (A.D.1494) PASQUALE VILLARI JEAN C. L. SISMONDI

Discovery of the Mainland of North America by the Cabots (A.D.1497) SAMUEL EDWARD DAWSO

The Sea Route to India Vasco da Gama Sails around Africa (A.D.1498) GASPAR CORREA

Columbus Discovers South America (A.D.1498) CLEMENTS ROBERT MARKHAM

Establishment of Swiss Independence (A.D.1499) HEINRICH ZSCHOKKE

Amerigo Vespucci in America (A.D.1499) AMERIGO VESPUCCI

Rise and Fall of the Borgias (A.D.1502) NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI

Painting of the Sistine Chapel (A.D.1508) The Splendor of Renaissance Art under Michelangelo CHARLES CLEMENT

Balboa Discovers the Pacific (A.D.1513) MANUEL JOSE QUINTANA

Universal Chronology (A.D.1438-1516) JOHN RUDD


_Murder of the princes, sons of King Edward IV, in the Tower of London (page 194)1 Painting by Otto Seitz.

Facsimile of a page from Caxton's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye—the first book printed in the English language

Louis XI at his devotions in the castle of Péronne while held a prisoner by Charles the Bold Painting by Hermann Kaulbach.

Pope Sixties V and the Grand Inquisitor Painting by Jean Paul Laurens.



The Renaissance marks the separation of the mediaeval from the modern world. The wide difference between the two epochs of Teutonic history arises, we are apt somewhat glibly to say, from the fact that our ancestors worshipped and were ruled by brute force, whereas we follow the broad light of intellect. Perhaps both statements require modification; yet in a general way they do suggest the change which by a thousand different agencies has, in the course of the last four centuries, been forced upon the world. Mediaeval Europe was a land not of equals, but of lords and slaves. The powerful nobles regarded themselves as of wholly different clay from the hapless peasants whom they trampled under foot, serfs so ignorant, so brutalized by want, that they were often little better than the beasts with which they herded. Gradually the tradesmen, the middle classes, forced their way to practical equality with the nobles. Then came the turn of the masses to do the same. The beginnings of the merchants' movement we have already traced in the preceding volumes; the end of the peasants' effort is perhaps even to-day scarce yet accomplished.

In dealing with modern history, therefore, every writer is apt to begin with a different date. Some go back as far as Petrarch, who reintroduced the study of ancient art and learning; that is, they regard our world as a direct continuation of the Roman, with the thousand years of the Middle Ages gaping between like an earthquake gulf of barbarism, that was bridged at last. Some take the invention of printing as a starting-point, feeling that the chief element of our progress has been the gathering of information by the poorer classes. Some, looking to political changes, turn to the reign of Louis XI of France, noting him as the first modern king, or to the downfall of Charles the Bold, the last great feudal noble. Others name later starting-points such as the establishment of modern art by Michelangelo and Raphael at Rome, the discovery of America, with its opening of vast new lands for the pent-up population of narrow Europe, or the Reformation, which has been called man's revolt against superstition, the establishment of the independence of thought.

All of these epochs fall within the limits of the Renaissance, and all, except that of Petrarch, within the later Renaissance which we are now considering. The period is therefore worth careful study.


Gutenberg's invention had no immediate effect upon his world.[1] Indeed, so little enthusiasm did it arouse that while the inventor's plans were probably evolved as early as 1438, it was not until 1454 or thereabouts that the first completed book was issued from his press. His business partner, Faust, sold his wares in wealthy Paris without explaining that these were different from earlier hand-written books; and when their cheapness, as well as their exact similarity, was discovered, the merchant was suspected of having sold himself to the devil. Hence probably originated the Faust legend. Superstition, it is evident, had still an extended course to run.

It is worth noting that to sell his books Faust left Germany for Paris, and that while printing-presses multiplied but slowly in the land of their origin, the new art was instantly seized upon in Italy, was there made widest use of and pushed to its perfection. In fact, through all the Middle Ages the Romance or semi-Teutonic peoples of Italy, France, and Spain were intellectually in advance of the more wholly Teutonic races of the North. Many of their descendants believe half contemptuously that the difference has not even yet been overcome.

Italy at this time held clearly the intellectual supremacy of the western world, and Florence under the Medici, Cosmo and then Lorenzo, held the supremacy of Italy.[2] Not only in thought, but in art, was there an outburst brilliant beyond all earlier times. A friend and pupil of Cosmo de' Medici was made pope at Rome, and under the name of Nicholas V originated vast schemes for the rebuilding and beautifying of his city of ruins.[3] Modern Rome with all its beautiful churches and wonders of art rose from the hands of Nicholas and his immediate successors. It was their idea that the city should no longer be remembered by its heathen greatness, but by its Christian splendor; that the sight of it should impress upon pilgrims not the decay of the world, but the glory and majesty of the Church. Nicholas also continued the work of Petrarch, gathering vast stores of ancient manuscripts, refounding and practically beginning the enormous Vatican Library. He established that alliance of the Church with the new culture of the age which for a century continued to be an honor and distinguishment to both.

In his pontificate occurred the fall of Constantinople, bringing with it the definite establishment of the Turks in Europe and the final extinction of that Roman Empire of the East which had originated with Constantine. For this reason the date of its fall (1453) is also employed as marking the beginning of modern Europe. It was at least the closing of the older volume, the final not undramatic exit of the last remnant of the ancient world, with its long decaying arts and arrogance, its wealth, its literature, and its law.[4]

Greek scholars fleeing from the sack of their city brought many marvellous old manuscripts to Western Europe and were eagerly welcomed by Pope Nicholas and all of Italy. Nicholas even preached a crusade against the terrible Turks, and tried once more to rouse Europe to ancient enthusiasms. But he failed, and died, they say, heartbroken at his helplessness.


The Turks had recovered from their defeat by the Tartars of Timur, and became once more an active menace. With Constantinople in their power, they attacked the Venetians and compelled those wealthy traders to pay them tribute. Venice by sea and Hungary on land remained for a century the bulwarks of Christendom, and were forced, almost unaided, to withstand all the assaults of the East. They wellnigh perished in the effort. In Hungary this was the period of the great hero, Hunyady, a man of unknown birth and no official rank, who roused his countrymen to repeated effort and led them to repeated victories and defeats against the vastly more numerous invaders.[5]

Hunyady died, worn out with ceaseless warfare, and his son, Matthias, was elected by acclamation to be monarch of the land the father had preserved. This was the proudest era in the history of the Hunnish race. Under Matthias they even resumed their German warfare of five centuries before, and won from a Hapsburg emperor his city of Vienna, ancient capital of Austria, the eastmark or borderland which had been erected by Otto the Great to hold the Huns in check. For a few years Matthias placed his kingdom amid the foremost states of Europe; but with his death came renewed disunion and disorder to his lawless people, and the fierce, fanatic Turks returned again to their assaults.

Further north the yellow races were less successful. Along the shifting borderlands of Asia which mark the line of demarcation between the two mightier families of man, the tide turned ever more steadily in the Aryans' favor. The Russians, under their chief, Ivan III, threw off the galling Tartar yoke which they had borne for over two hundred years. Ivan concentrated in his own hands the power of all the little Russian duchies, overthrew the celebrated Russian republic of Novgorod the Great, and defied the Tartars. Equally noteworthy to modern eyes was his wedding with Sophia, heiress of the last of the emperors of the East. When that outworn empire perished with the fall of Constantinople, Ivan succeeded nominally at least to its heirship. Hence it is that his successors have assumed the title of caesar or kaiser or czar and have grown to look upon themselves as inheritors of the ancient supremacy of Rome.[6]

The fifteenth century was thus a time of many changes in Eastern Europe. Not only did the Eastern Empire disappear at last, not only did Hungary rise to the brief zenith of her glory, there was a sort of general movement, sometimes spoken of as the "Slavonic reaction," against the hitherto successful Teutons. The Slavic Bohemians in their "Hussite" wars repelled all the religious fighting strength of Europe. The Poles began to win back territory from the German empire, and especially from their hereditary foes the "Teutonic Knights" of Prussia. And Russia, greatest of all the Slav countries, grew into a strong kingdom. She and Turkey, rising as twin menaces to the West, assumed at almost the same period that threatening aspect which Turkey has only lately lost, and Russia, to some statesmen's eyes, still holds.


Turn now to the affairs of Western Europe. The feebleness of the German empire continued. For over half a century it was nominally ruled by Frederick III (1440-1493), the lazy and feeble emperor who let Matthias of Hungary expel him from Vienna, and never made any vigorous effort to recover his capital. He was succeeded by his son Maximilian, a man of far other temper, full of courage, energy, and hardihood. Maximilian has been called "the last of the knights," and indeed his whole career may well exemplify the changing times. The one achievement of his life was the recovery of Vienna from the Hungarians, and in that he was successful only because the heirs of Matthias were being overwhelmed by the Turks.

The remainder of his career was spent in learning bitterly how little real power he had as emperor. He attempted to bring the Swiss once more under the imperial dominion, but the little armies he could scrape together against them were repeatedly defeated.[7] He was always declaring war against this kingdom or that, and summoning his great lords to aid him in upholding the glory of the empire. They persistently declined; and he was helpless. At one time having pledged his alliance to the English king, Henry VII, against France, he preserved his knightly word by going alone and serving as a volunteer in Henry's army, whither his people would not follow him. Instead they stayed at home and demanded from him constitutions and courts of law and other internal reforms, uninteresting matters about which the gallant soul of Maximilian cared not a straw and which he gave his subjects under protest.

To the westward of him a far subtler monarch, by far subtler means, was strengthening the power of France and making smooth her way toward that supremacy over European affairs which she was later to assert. Louis XI (1461-1483) is called the first modern king, though it is little flattery to modern statecraft to compare its methods with his, and perhaps our recent governments have truly outgrown them. Louis was no warrior, although under compulsion he showed possibilities of becoming an able general. He preferred to send others who should do his fighting for him, to embroil his opponents one with another, and then reap the fruit of their mutual exhaustion. He was passed master of all falsity and craft; and by his shrewdness he brought to his country peace and prosperity. Typically does he represent his age in which intellectual ability, though sometimes wholly divorced from nobleness of soul, began to dominate brute force.

Charles the Bold stands as the representative of this brute force. He was the mightiest of the French nobles. His ancestors, a younger branch of the royal family, had been made dukes of Burgundy, and by skilful alliances and rapid changes of side through the long Hundred Years' War, they had steadily added to their possessions and their powers. The father of Charles found himself stronger than his king, possessor not only of Burgundy, but of many other fiefs from Germany as well as France, and lord of the Netherlands as well.[8]

Charles was thus the last of those great, overgrown vassals so characteristic of feudal times. Like Hugh Capet in France, like William the Conqueror in England, he hoped to establish himself as an independent king. He opened negotiations for this purpose with the Emperor Frederick, Maximilian's father. He made himself practically independent of France. He wielded a military power greater than that of any other prince of the moment, and he knew it and charged like a mad bull at whoever seemed to interpose in his designs.

Over such a man Louis XI's cunning had full play. He involved Charles in fights with every neighbor. Finally he lured him into conflict with the Swiss, and those hardy mountaineers won the repute of being the best soldiers of Europe by defeating Charles again and again till they left him slain on the field of Nancy (1477).[9] Louis promptly seized most of his dead vassal's domains. Maximilian, having wedded Charles' daughter, inherited the remainder; and the old Burgundian kingdom, so nearly revived to stretch as a permanent dividing land between France and Germany, disappeared forever.

What Louis had done with Burgundy he attempted with his other semi-independent duchies. The Hundred Years' War had almost destroyed central government in France. Louis, by means as secret and varied as his cunning could suggest, gradually reestablished an undisputed leadership above his lords. Fortunately for France, perhaps, England was prevented by a long series of civil wars from interfering in her neighbor's affairs. These wars, though they originated before Louis' time, were constantly fomented and kept alive by him, and England thus paid dearly for having become a source of danger to France.

The Wars of the Roses,[10] as they are called, caused deep-seated changes in England's life and society. They mark for her the transition from the mediaeval to the modern era which was everywhere taking place. Beginning as a contest between two rival branches of the Plantagenets for the kingship, these wars remained aristocratic throughout. That is to say, the common people took little interest in them, while the nobles, espousing sides, fought savagely and murderously, giving one another no quarter, sparing the lesser folk, but executing as traitors their prisoners of rank. When one side seemed hopelessly overcome, Louis would lend them arms and money wherewith to seek revenge once more. Thus almost all the old nobility of England perished; and both lines of kings became extinct, Richard III, their last representative, being accused of murdering all his relatives or possible rivals.[11] At last, Richard too was slain, and a new family of rulers, only remotely connected with the old, was inaugurated by Henry Tudor, grandson of a private gentleman of Wales. This new king, Henry VII (1485-1509), found no powerful lords to oppose his will. One or two impostors were raised against him,[12] France making anxious efforts to prolong the troubles of her dangerous neighbor; but the attempts failed through the utter completeness of the aristocracy's exhaustion.

Thus in England as in France, though by widely differing chances, the kingly power had triumphed over feudalism. Monarchs began to come into direct contact, not always pleasant, with the entire mass of their subjects, the "third estate," the common people.


Spain also was to pass through a similar experience. Indeed, one of the most striking facts of this age of the Renaissance is the swift and spectacular rise of Spain from a land of feebleness and internal strife into the most powerful kingdom of Europe. We have seen the Spanish peninsula in previous ages the seat of endless strife between Saracens and Christians. Gradually the Moors had been driven back, and the little independent Christian states had been united by the fortunes of war and marriage into three—Portugal on the Atlantic coast, Castile occupying the larger part of the mainland, and Aragon, a maritime kingdom, less extensive in Spain, but extending its sovereignty over many of the Mediterranean isles, over Sicily and southern Italy. In 1469 Isabella, heiress of Castile, and Ferdinand, heir of Aragon, were wedded; and soon afterward their countries were united under their joint rule. The combined strength of both was then devoted to a long religious war against the Moors. Granada, the last and most famous of the Moorish capitals and strongholds, was finally captured in 1492.[13] The followers of Mahomet were driven out of Western Europe during the same period that, under Turkish leadership, they had at last won Constantinople in the East.

The whole Spanish peninsula with the exception of Portugal was thus united under Ferdinand and Isabella, greatest of the sovereigns of Spain. The ages of battle with the Moors had bred a nation of cavaliers, intensely loyal, passionately religious. They were splendid fighters, but stern, hard-hearted, merciless men. Isabella, "the Saint," most holy and pure-souled of women, herself introduced into her country the terrible Inquisition.[14] Jews and Moors were given little peace in life unless they turned Christian. Heretics and relapsed converts from the other faiths were burned to death. The Queen declared she would approve all possible torture to men's bodies, when necessary in order to save their souls.

If such were the women of Spain, what was to be expected of the men? How could even Ferdinand, "the Wise," keep them employed now that there were no longer Moors to fight against? Uprisings, rebellions, began to threaten Spain with such desolation as England had endured. But a higher Providence solved for Ferdinand his impossible problem: the age of maritime discovery began.[15]


The Portuguese from their Atlantic seaboard had already begun to explore southward along the African coast. In 1402 they had settled the Canary Isles. In 1443 they reached southward beyond the sands of the Sahara and saw Cape Verd, discovered that Africa was not all burning desert, that heat would not forever increase as they went southward. In 1487 Bartholomew Diaz, after almost a year of sailing, reached the Cape of Good Hope, the southern point of the vast African continent; and in 1497 Vasco da Gama rounded the cape and sailed on to India[16]. He had found a way of bringing Indian spices, silks, and jewels to Europe, bringing them in quantities and without paying tribute to the Turks, without crossing the deadly deserts of Arabia. He had made his little country wealthy.

Meanwhile, stimulated by Portuguese success, the mariners of other nations began to brave the giant storms of the Atlantic. The Turks had made trade with the far East wellnigh impossible. Portugal was not the only land to seek a sea-route to India. Venice and Genoa saw before them the threat of ruin to their most profitable commerce. So we may even say that it was the Turks who set the Genoese captain Columbus to planning his great voyage; it was the conquest of the Moors that set Isabella free to listen to him, and offer her crown jewels for the expedition which should convert other heathen, establish other inquisitions; and it was the downfall of the Moors which left the Spanish warriors so eager to throng to adventure and warfare in the West, once Columbus had shown the way.

For a time the theatre of great events shifts to the new continent. The Portuguese explorers had doubled the size of the known world. The Spaniards doubled it again. But the credit must not be given wholly to Spain. Though it was the liberality of her monarchs which had made discovery possible, and though it was the daring of her warriors that laughed at danger and made conquest sure, yet the Spaniards were not sailors. It was to Italy, the home of commerce, that they turned for their captains and their pilots. Columbus, the Genoese, had discovered the islands along the coast. England, wishing to have a share in this world of wonders, sent a Venetian mariner, John Cabot; and he and his son sailed along our northern mainland in English ships.[17] Columbus touched the coast of South America in 1498.[18] A Florentine, Amerigo Vespucci, was the first to cruise far along this southern coast, probably in 1499, and it was his name which Europe gave to the new lands.[19]

Following the discovery came settlement, warfare with the unhappy Indians, a fierce and frantic search for gold. It was while engaged in this work that Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama, saw the vast waters of the Pacific, and riding out into them upon his warhorse took possession, in the name of Spain, of the largest ocean of the globe.[20] Men recognized at last that these were not the Asiatic shores, but a wholly new continent which they had found.


Let us pause to recapitulate the wonders which this age of the Renaissance had seen—a new world of Africa discovered in the South, a new world of America in the West, the rise of Spain, the conquest of the last of the western Saracens at Granada and the rise of the Turks in the East, the rise of Russia, the downfall of the last vestige of the ancient empire of Rome, the last expiring effort of feudalism in Charles the Bold, and of errant knighthood in Maximilian; the beginning of modern statecraft in Louis XI of France, Henry VII of England, and Ferdinand the Wise of Spain; the spread of printing and with it the spread of thought and knowledge among the masses; and, sometimes accounted greatest of all, came the wonderful awakening of art in Italy. We have traced the early part of this under the Medici and Pope Nicholas. Lorenzo de'Medici was the centre of its later development.[21] From his court went forth that galaxy of artists which the world of art unites in calling the unequalled masters of all ages—Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and a host of others.[22]

Unfortunately in Italy at least the great movement in art and literature took an antireligious, sometimes an antipatriotic, tone. Lorenzo was openly defiant and scornful of the teachings of the Church, and after his death a French king, Charles VIII, was able to enter Italy and march from end to end of it without opposition. Religion seemed dying there, and love of country dead.

Florence underwent an extravagant though brief religious revival. The monk Savonarola preached against wickedness in high places, and thundered at the Florentines for their presumption and vanity. The impressionable people wept, they appointed a "day of vanities" and laid all their rich robes and jewels at Savonarola's feet. They made him ruler of the city. But, alas! they soon tired of his severities, sighed for their vanities back again, and at last burned the reformer at the stake.[23]

In Rome itself there arose popes, Lorenzo's followers, who preferred art to Christianity, or others like the terrible Alexander Borgia, who adopted the maxims of the new statecraft. Alexander, a worthy disciple of Louis XI, admired falsehood before truth, and sought to win his aims by poisoning his enemies. The career of his nephew Caesar Borgia has supplied history with its most awful picture of successful crime, and the book written in his praise by Macchiavelli has given us a new word for Satanic subtlety and treachery. We call it Macchiavellian. The rest of Europe shrank from Italy in fear, and named it "poisoning Italy."[24]

Against the spiritual dominance of such a land the world was surely ready for revolt. The mind of man, so long and slowly awakening, and at last so intensely roused, seeing great discoveries on every hand, was no longer to be controlled by authority. The time was ripe for the Reformation.


[Footnote 1: See Origin and Progress of Printing, page 5.]

[Footnote 2: See Beginning and Progress of the Renaissance, vol. ix, p. 110.]

[Footnote 3: See Rebuilding of Rome by Nicholas V, page 46.]

[Footnote 4: See Mahomet II Takes Constantinople, page 55.]

[Footnote 5: See John Hunyady Repulses the Turks, page 30.]

[Footnote 6: See Ivan the Great Unites Russia, page 109.]

[Footnote 7: See Establishment of Swiss Independence, page 336.]

[Footnote 8: See Culmination of the Power of Burgundy, page 125.]

[Footnote 9: See Death of Charles the Bold, page 155.]

[Footnote 10: See Wars of the Roses, page 72.]

[Footnote 11: See Murder of the Princes in the Tower, page 192,]

[Footnote 12: See Conspiracy, Rebellion, and Execution of Perkin
, page 250.]

[Footnote 13: See Conquest of Granada, page 202.]

[Footnote 14: See Inquisition Established in Spain, page 166.]

[Footnote 15: See Columbus Discovers America, page 224.]

[Footnote 16: See The Sea Route to India, page 299.]

[Footnote 17: See Discovery of the Mainland of North America by the
, page 282.]

[Footnote 18: See Columbus Discovers South America, page 323.]

[Footnote 19: See Amerigo Vespucci in America, page 346.]

[Footnote 20: See Balboa Discovers the Pacific, page 381.]

[Footnote 21: See Lorenzo de'Medici Rules in Florence, page 134.]

[Footnote 22: See Painting of the Sistine Chapel, page 369.]

[Footnote 23: See Savonarola's Reforms and Death, page 265.]

[Footnote 24: See Rise and Fall of the Borgias, page 360.]


A.D. 1438

It was perhaps not altogether fortuitous that the invention of printing came concurrently with the Revival of Learning. Men's minds were turned toward practical experiment in that art by the very influences made active through the labors of those scholars who ushered in the Renaissance. "The art preservative of all other arts" has also preserved the records of its own beginnings and development, although of its earlier sources our knowledge is very obscure, and even the modern achievement, which antiquity in various ways foreshadowed, is itself a subject of uncertainty and dispute.

Bohn, in his admirable survey of the origin and progress of modern printing, gives us a full and accurate account, from the earliest evidences and conjectures relating to antiquity to the latter part of the nineteenth century, confining himself, however, to European developments. But before the middle of the sixteenth century printing was introduced into Spanish America. Existing books show that in Mexico there was a press as early as 1540; but it is impossible to name positively the first book printed on this continent. North of Mexico the first press was used, 1639, by an English Non-conformist clergyman named Glover. In 1660 a printer with press and types was sent from England by the corporation for propagating the gospel among the Indians of New England in the Indian language. This press was taken to a printing-house already established at Cambridge, Mass. It was not until several years later that the use of a press in Boston was permitted by the colonial government, and until near the end of the seventeenth century no presses were set up in the colonies outside of Massachusetts.

In 1685 printing began in Pennsylvania, a few years later in New York, and in Connecticut in 1709. From 1685 to 1693 William Bradford, an English Quaker, conducted a press in Philadelphia, and in the latter year he removed his plant to New York. He was the first notable American printer, and became official printer for Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Maryland. His first book was an almanac for 1686. In 1725 he founded the New York Gazette, the first newspaper in New York. But the first newspaper published in the English colonies was the Boston News-Letter, founded in 1704 by John Campbell, a bookseller and postmaster in Boston. Only four American periodicals had been established when, in 1729, Benjamin Franklin, who was already printer to the Pennsylvania Assembly, became proprietor and editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette.

Until the last quarter of the eighteenth century the progress of printing in America was slow. But in 1784 the first daily newspaper, the American Daily Advertiser, was issued in Philadelphia, and from this time periodical publications multiplied and the printing of books increased, until the agency and influence of the press became as marked in the United States as in the leading countries of Europe.

Even since the time when Bohn wrote, the progress made in various branches of the printer's art has been such as might have astonished that famous publisher of so many standard works. Recent improvements for increasing the capacity of the press, and often the quality of its productions, are quite comparable to those which our own time has seen in other departments of industry, as in the applications of electricity and the like. In addition to the further development of stereotyping, there has been marvellous improvement in nearly all the machinery and processes of printing. This is especially marked in rapid color-printing, and in the successors of inadequate typesetting-machines—in the linotype, the monotype, the typograph, etc.

Most wonderful of all, perhaps, is the improved printing-press itself, in various classes, each adapted to its special purpose. The sum of all improvements in this department of mechanical invention is seen in the great cylinder-presses now in general use, especially the one known as the web perfecting press. This is a machine of great size and intricate construction, which yet does its complex work with an accuracy that almost seems to denote conscious intelligence. It prints from an immense roll of paper, making the impression from curved stereotype plates, runs at high speed, prints both sides of the paper at one run, and folds, pastes, and performs other processes as provided for. By doubling and quadrupling the parts, the ordinary speed of about twenty-four thousand impressions an hour may be increased to one hundred thousand an hour. The multicolor web perfecting press prints four or more colors at one revolution of the impression cylinder.

To meet the demands of such an enormous consumption of paper as the modern press requires, it was necessary to invent other processes and to utilize more abundant and cheaper material for paper-making than those formerly employed. This requirement has been supplied in recent years mainly through the extensive manufacture of paper from wood-pulp. This method, together with improved processes in the use of other materials, has removed all fear of a paper famine such as has sometimes threatened the printing industry in the past.

"Nature does not advance by leaps," says an old proverb; neither does her offspring, Art. All the great boons vouchsafed to man by a munificent providence are of gradual development; and though some may appear to have come upon us suddenly, reflection and inquiry will always show that they have had their previous stages.

Indeed, nothing in this great world which concerns the well-being of man takes place by accident, but is brought forward by divine will, precisely at the moment most suitable to our condition. So it was with astronomy, the mariner's compass, the steam-engine, gas, the electric telegraph, and many other of those blessings which have progressed with civilization. The elements were there and known, but the time had not arrived for their fructification.

And so it is with printing: although its invention is placed in the middle of the fifteenth century, and almost the very year fixed, this can only be regarded as a matured stage of it. To illustrate this, I propose to begin with a cursory view of its primitive elements, of which the very first were no doubt initiative marks and numerals.

The use of numerals has been denominated "the foundation of all the arts of life"; and we know with certainty that several nations, and among them the Mexicans, had numerals before they were acquainted with letters. The first method of reckoning was with the fingers, but small stones were also used—hence the words "calculate" and "calculation," which are derived from calculus, the Latin for a pebble-stone.

The Chinese counted for many years with notched sticks; and even in England, in comparatively modern times, accounts were kept by tallies, in which notches were cut alike in two parallel pieces of wood. Shakespeare alludes to "the score and the tally" in his Henry VI; and this mode of keeping accounts is still adopted by some of the bakers and dyers in Warwickshire and Cheshire. And tallies are occasionally produced in the small-debt courts, where they are admitted as authentic proofs of debt. Hence the origin and name of the "tally court of the exchequer." The Peruvians, at the time they were conquered by Pizarro, counted with knotted strings.

After numerals, came picture-writing, hieroglyphics, and symbolic characters, such are were used by the Egyptians, the Chinese, and the Mexicans; which, however unconnected they may be with each other, are of the same general character. Indeed, the Chinese have never advanced beyond symbolic characters, of which it is said they have more than one hundred thousand combinations or varieties.

Rude as these conditions of humanity may seem, they are matched in modern England, even at a very recent date, if we may credit a well-known story: A rustic shopkeeper in a remote district, being unable to read or write, contrived to keep his accounts by picture-writing, and charged his customer, the miller, with a cheese instead of a grindstone, from having omitted to mark a hole in the centre.

After picture and symbolic writings would follow phonetic characters, or marks for sounds; that is, the alphabet. Even the alphabet, which in civilized countries has now existed for more than three thousand years, was perfected by degrees; for it has been clearly ascertained that the earliest known did not comprise more than one-half or, at most, two-thirds of the letters which eventually formed its complement. Thus, the Pelasgian alphabet, which is derived from the Phoenician, and is the parent of the Greek and Roman, consisted originally of only twelve or thirteen letters.

The invention of the alphabet, which, in a small number of elementary characters, is capable of six hundred and twenty sextillions of combinations, and of exhibiting to the sight the countless conceptions of the mind which have no corporeal forms, is so wonderful that great men of all ages have shrunk from accounting for it otherwise than as a boon of divine origin. This feeling is strengthened by the singular circumstance that so many alphabets bear a strong similarity to each other, however widely separated the countries in which they arose.

In Egypt the invention of the alphabet is by some ascribed to Syphoas, nearly two thousand years before the Christian era, but more commonly to Athotes, Thoth, or Toth, a deity always figured with the head of the ibis, and very familiar in Egyptian antiquities. Cadmus is accredited with having introduced it from Egypt into Greece about five centuries later.

From the alphabet the gradation is natural to compounds of letters and written language, and, though speech is one of the greatest gifts to man, it is writing which distinguishes him from the uncivilized savage. The practice of writing is of such remote antiquity that neither sacred nor profane authors can satisfactorily trace its origin. The philosopher may exclaim with the poet:

"Whence did the wondrous mystic art arise. Of painting speech and speaking to the eyes? That we, by tracing magic lines, are taught How both to color and embody thought?"

The earliest writing would probably have been with chalk, charcoal, slate, or perhaps sand, as children from time immemorial have been taught to read and write in India. The Romans used white walls for writing inscriptions on, in red chalk—answering the purpose of our posting-bills—of which several instances were found on the walls of Pompeii. Plutarch informs us that tradesmen wrote in some such manner over their doors, and that auction bills ran thus:

"Julius Proculus will this day have an auction of his superfluous goods, to pay his debts."

Next seems to have followed writing or engraving on stone, wood, ivory, and metals, of which we have many early evidences. The Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, was originally, we are told in the Bible, written upon two tables of stone; the pillars of Seth were of brick and stone; the laws of the Greeks were graven on tables of brass, which were called cyrbes. Herodotus mentions a letter written with a style on stone slabs, which Themistocles, the Athenian general, sent to the Romans about B.C. 500; and we have another evidence of the same period still existing—the so-called Borgian inscription, which is a passport graven in bronze, entitling the holder to hospitable reception wherever he demanded it. Upward of three thousand of such engraved tablets, including the famous Roman laws of the Twelve Tables, were consumed in the great fire which destroyed the Capitol in the time of Vespasian.

I could cite a great many other evidences of early writing on stone or brass, but will merely recommend you to see the Rosetta[25] inscription, which is conspicuously placed in the British Museum. It is this very interesting stone which, being partly Greek and partly Egyptian, has enabled us to decipher so many Egyptian monuments.

Pliny informs us that table-books of wood—generally made of box or citron wood—were in use before the time of Homer, that is, nearly three thousand years ago; and in the Bible we read of table-books in the time of Solomon. These table-books were called by the Romans pugillares, which may be translated "hand-books"; the wood was cut into thin slices, finely planed and polished, and written upon with an iron instrument called a stylus. At a later period, tables, or slices of wood, were usually covered with a thin layer of hard wax, so that any matter written upon them might be effaced at pleasure, and the tables used again. Such practice continued as late as A.D. 1395. In an account roll of Winchester College of that year we find that a table covered with green wax was kept in the chapel for noting down with a style the daily or weekly duties assigned to the officers of the choir. Ivory also was used in the same way.

Wooden table-books, as we learn from Chaucer, were used in England as late as the fifteenth century. When epistles were written upon tables of wood they were usually tied together with cord, the seal being put upon the knot. Some of the table-books must have been large and heavy, for in Plautus a schoolboy seven years old is represented as breaking his master's head with his table-book.

Writing seems also to have been common, at a very early period, on palm and olive leaves, and especially on the bark of trees—a material used even in the present time in some parts of Asia. The bark is generally cut into thin flat pieces, from nine to fifteen inches long and two to four inches wide, and written on with a sharp instrument. Indeed, the tree, whether in planks, bark, or leaves, seems in ancient times to have afforded the principal materials for writing on. Hence the word codex, originally signifying the "trunk or stem of a tree," now means a manuscript volume. Tabula, which properly means a "plank" or "board," now also signifies the plate of a book, and was so used by Addison, who calls his plates "tables." Folium ("a leaf") has given us the word "folio"; and the word liber, originally meaning the "inner bark of a tree," was afterward used by the Romans to signify a book; whence we derive our words, "library," "librarian," etc. One more such etymology, the most interesting of all, is the Greek name for the bark of a tree, biblos, whence is derived the name of our sacred volume.

Before I leave this stage of the subject, I will mention the way in which the Roman youth were taught writing. Quintilian tells us that they were made to write through perforated tablets, so as to draw the stylus through a kind of furrow; and we learn from Procopius that a similar contrivance was used by the emperor Justinian for signing his name. Such a tablet would now be called a stencil-plate, and is what to the present day is found the most rapid and convenient mode of marking goods, only that a brush is used instead of an iron pen or style.

Writing and materials have so much to do with the invention of printing that I feel obliged to tarry a little longer at this preliminary stage. The most important of all the ancient materials for writing upon were papyrus, parchment, and vellum; and on these substances nearly all our most valuable manuscripts were written. Papyrus, or paper-rush, is a large fibrous plant which abounds in the marshes of Egypt, especially near the borders of the Nile. It was manufactured into a thick sort of paper at a very early period, Pliny says three centuries before the reign of Alexander the Great; and Cassiodorus, who lived in the sixth century, states that it then covered all the desks of the world. Indeed, it had become so essential to the Greeks and Romans that the occasional scarcity of it is recorded to have produced riots. Every man of rank and education kept librarii, or book-writers, in his house; and many servi, or slaves, were trained to this service, so that they were a numerous class.

Papyrus is a very durable substance, made of the innermost pellicles of the stalk, glued together transversely, with the glutinous water of the Nile. It was for many centuries the great staple of Egypt, and was exported in large quantities to almost every part of Europe and Asia, but never, it would appear, to England or Germany. After the seventh century its use was gradually superseded by the introduction of parchment; and before the end of the twelfth century it had gone generally out of use. From "papyrus" the name of "paper," which, with slight variations, is common to many languages, is no doubt derived.

Parchment and vellum—which are made from the skin of animals, the former from sheep or goat, the latter from calf, both prepared with lime—were in use at a very early period, long before their accredited introduction. It has been by some supposed that Eumenes, King of Pergamus, who lived about B.C. 190, was the inventor of parchment; but it was known much earlier, as may be seen by several references to it in the Bible (Isaiah, viii. i; Jeremiah, xxxvi. 2; Ezekiel, xi. 9). It is, however, very probable that it may have been brought to perfection at Pergamus, as it was one of the principal articles of commerce of that kingdom.

Parchment, in early times, was not only expensive, but often very difficult to procure; whence arose the practice of erasing old writing from it, and engrossing it a second time. Such manuscripts are called "palimpsests." Modern art has found the means of discharging the more recent ink, and thus restoring the original writing, by which means we have recovered many valuable pieces, particularly Cicero's lost book, de Republica and some fragments of his Orations.

The most ancient manuscripts, both on papyrus and parchment, were kept in rolls, called in Latin volumina, whence our English word "volume." Chinese paper, made from the bark of the bamboo, the mulberry, or the khu-ku tree, and so extremely thin that it can only be used on one side, is supposed to have been invented fifty years before the Christian era or earlier. Chinese rice-paper is made from the stems of the bread-fruit tree, cut into slices and pressed. The skins of all kinds of animals are used—among them the African skin, of a brown color, upon which the Hebrew Pentateuch and service-books used in the Jewish synagogues were formerly written. Silk-paper was prepared for the most part in Spain and its colonies, but was never brought to much perfection. Asbestos, a fibrous mineral, was made into paper, tolerably light and pliant, which, being incombustible, was denominated "eternal paper." Herodotus tells us that cloth was made of asbestos by the Egyptians; and Pliny mentions napkins made of it in A.D. 74. We know by tradition that the intestines of a serpent served for Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; and that the Koran was written in part on shoulder-bones of mutton, kept in a domestic chest by one of Mahomet's wives.

We now come to the great period of writing-papers made from cotton and linen rags, as used at the present day, and which from the first were so perfect that they have since undergone no material improvement. Cotton-paper was an Eastern invention, probably introduced in the ninth century, although not generally used in Europe till about the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Greek manuscripts are found upon it of the earlier period, and Italian manuscripts of the later. It seems to have prevailed at particular periods, in particular countries, according to the facilities for procuring it, as it now does almost exclusively in America. Linen paper, the most valuable and important of all the bases available for writing or printing, is likewise supposed to have been introduced into Europe from the East, early in the thirteenth century, although not in general use till the fourteenth.

Before the end of the fourteenth century, paper-mills had been established in many parts of Europe, first in Spain, and then successively in Italy, Germany, Holland, and France. They seem to have come late into England, for Caxton printed all his books on paper imported from the Low Countries; and it was not till Winkin de Worde succeeded him, in 1495, that paper was manufactured in England. The Chinese are supposed to have used it for centuries before, and appear to have the best title to be considered the inventors of both cotton and linen paper.

Paper may be made of many other materials, such as hay, straw, nettles, flax, grasses, parsnips, turnips, colewort leaves, wood-shavings, indeed of anything fibrous; but as the invention of printing is not concerned in them, I see no occasion to consider their merits.

Before I pass from paper, it may not be irrelevant to say a word or two on the names by which we distinguish the sorts and sizes. The term "post-paper" is derived from the ancient water-mark, which was a post-horn, and not from its suitableness to transport by post, as many suppose. The original watermark of a fool's cap gave the name to that paper, which it still retains, although the fool's cap was afterward changed to a cap of liberty, and has since undergone other changes. The smaller size, called "pot-paper," took its name from having at first been marked with a flagon or pot. Demy-paper, on which octavo books are usually printed, is so called from being originally a "demi" or half-sized paper; the term is now, however, equally applied to hard or writing papers. Hand-cap, which is a coarse paper used for packing, bore the water-mark of an open hand.

I will now say a few words about pens and ink, for without them we could neither have had printing nor books. Pens are of great antiquity, and are frequently alluded to in the Bible. Pens of iron, which may mean styles, are mentioned by Job and Jeremiah. Reed pens are known to have been in common use by the ancients, and some were discovered at Pompeii. Pens of gold and silver are alluded to by the classical writers, and there is evidence of the use of quills in the seventh century. Of whatever material the pen was made, it was called a calamus, whence our familiar saying, "currente calamo" ("with a flowing pen"). The use of styles, or iron pens, must have been very prevalent in ancient days, as Suetonius tells us that the emperor Caligula incited the people to massacre a Roman senator with their styles; and, previous to that, Caesar had wounded Cassius with his style.

The next, and not the least important, ingredient in writing and printing is ink. Staining and coloring matters were well known to the ancients at a very early period, witness the lustrous pigments on Etruscan vases more than two thousand years ago; and inks are often mentioned in the Bible. Gold, silver, red, blue, and green inks were thoroughly understood in the Middle Ages, and perhaps earlier; and the black writing-ink of the seventh down to the tenth century, as seen in our manuscripts, was in such perfection that it has retained its lustre better than some of later ages. Printing-ink, by the time it began to be currently used for book-printing in the fifteenth century, had attained a perfection which has never been surpassed, and indeed scarcely equalled.

Paper and ink being at their highest point, we will now consider the advances which had in the mean time been made in engraving and type or letter cutting. It will be seen that the material elements of printing were by degrees converging to a culminating point. The evidences of engraving, both in relief and intaglio, are of very ancient date. I need hardly remind you of the exquisite workmanship on coins, cameos, and seals, many centuries before the Christian era, to illustrate the high state of cultivation at which the arts must then have arrived. The art of casting and chasing in bronze was extensively practised in the twelfth century, and I have seen a specimen with letters so cut in relief that they might be separated to form movable type. The goldsmiths were certainly among the greatest artists of the early ages, and were competent to execute forms or moulds of any kind to perfection.

In the British Museum is a brass signet stamp, more than two thousand years old, on which two lines of letters are very neatly engraved in relief, in the reversed order necessary for printing; and as the interstices are cut away very deeply and roughly, there is little doubt but that this stamp was used with ink on papyrus, parchment, or linen, for paper was not then known. Indeed, the experiment of taking impressions from it in printing-ink has been tried, and found to answer perfectly. A large surface so engraved would at once have given to the world an equivalent to what is now regarded as the most advanced state of the art of printing; that is, a stereotype plate. Vergil mentions brands for marking cattle with their owner's name; probably this kind of brass stamp, but larger.

I could cite many more examples of ancient engraving which would yield impressions on paper, either by pressure or friction. But our business is with printing rather than engraving; I will, therefore, go back to the subject, and cite a very early and interesting example of stamping engraved letters on clay. I mean the Babylonian bricks, supposed to be four thousand years old, mostly sun-baked, but some apparently kiln-burnt almost to vitrification. Of these there are now many examples in England, added to our stores by the indefatigable researches of Layard, Rawlinson, and others. These bricks, which are about a foot square and three inches thick, are on one side covered with hieroglyphics, evidently impressed with a stamp, just as letters are now stamped on official papers.

Another evidence of the same kind, and of about the same age, is the famous Babylonian cylinder found in the ruins of Persepolis, and now preserved in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. It is about seven inches high, barrel-shaped, and covered with inscriptions in the cuneiform character, disposed in vertical lines, and affording a positive example of an indented surface produced by mechanical impression. Such cylinders are supposed to have been memorials of matters of national or family importance, and were in early ages, as we know by tradition, very numerous. Stamped or printed blocks of lead, bearing the names of Roman authorities, are to be found in the British Museum.

Printing on leather was practised by the Egyptians, as we discover from their mummies, which have bandages of leather round their heads, with the name of the deceased printed on them. And in Pompeii a loaf was found on which the name of the baker and its quality were printed. Among ancient testimonies, one of the most interesting is that afforded by Cicero in his de Natura Deorum. He orders types to be made of metal, and calls them forma literarum—the very words used by our first printers; and in another place he gives a hint of separate cut letters when he speaks of the impossibility of the most ingenious man throwing the twenty-four letters of the alphabet together by chance, and thus producing the famous Annals of Ennius. He makes that observation in opposition to the atheistical argument of the creation of the world by chance.

We have besides, in what is generally classed as a manuscript, a reasonable although disputed evidence of an elementary stage of printing; I mean the Codex Argenteus (or Silver Book) of Upsala, which contains a portion of the gospels in Mesogothic, supposed to be of the fourth or fifth century, the work of Ulfilas. In this codex the first lines of each gospel and of the Lord's Prayer are in large gold letters, apparently printed by a stamp, in the manner of a bookbinder, as there are indentations on the back of the vellum. The small letters are written in silver. The whole is on a light purple or violet colored vellum.

Having said enough, I think, of the ancients' knowledge of type-forms and printing materials, I pass on to the recognized establishments of the art in the fifteenth century; for, whatever knowledge the ancients had of printing, it would appear to have yielded no immediate fruits to posterity.

But before I proceed to modern times, I am bound to note that the Chinese, who seem to have been many centuries in advance of Europe in most of the industral arts, are supposed to have practised block-printing, just as they do now, more than a thousand years ago. Nor does the complicated nature of their written language, which consists of more than one hundred thousand word-signs, admit of any readier mode. But they print, or rather rub off, impressions with such speed—seven hundred sheets per hour—that, until the introduction of steam, they far outstripped Europeans. Gibbon, it will be remembered, regrets that the emperor Justinian, who lived in the sixth century, did not introduce the art of printing from the Chinese, instead of their silk manufacture.

Block-printing ushered in the great epoch; and the first dawn of it in Europe seems to have been single prints of saints and scriptural subjects, with a line or two of description engraved on the same wooden plate. These are for the most part lost; but there is one in existence, large and exceedingly fine, of St. Christopher, with two lines of inscription, dated 1423, believed to have been printed with the ordinary printing-press. It was found in the library of a monastery near Augsburg, and is therefore presumed to be of German execution. Till lately this was the earliest-dated evidence of block-printing known; but there has since been discovered at Malines, and deposited at Brussels, a wood-cut of similar character, but assumed to be Dutch or Flemish, dated "MCCCCXVIII"; and though there seems no reason to doubt the genuineness of the cut, it is asserted that the date bears evidence of having been tampered with.

There is a vague tradition, depending entirely on the assertion of a writer named Papillon, not a very reliable authority, which would give the invention of wood-cut-printing to Venice, and at a very early period. He asserts that he once saw a set of eight prints, depicting the deeds of Alexander the Great, each described in verse, which were engraved in relief, and printed by a brother and sister named Cunio, at Ravenna, in 1285. But though the assertion is accredited by Mr. Ottley, it is generally disbelieved.

There is reason to suppose that playing-cards, from wooden blocks, were produced at Venice long before the block-books, even as early as 1250; but there is no positive evidence that they were printed; and some insist that they were produced either by friction or stencil-plates. It seems, however, by no means unlikely that cards, which were in most extensive use in the Middle Ages, should, for the sake of cheapness, have been printed quite as early, if not earlier, than even figures of saints; and the same artists are presumed to have produced both.

From single prints, with letter-press inscriptions, the next stage, that of a series of prints accompanied by letter-press, was obvious. Such are our first recognized block-books, among which are the Apocalypse, and the Biblia Pauperum (or Poor Man's Bible), supposed to have been printed at Haarlem by Laurence Koster, between 1420 and 1430; I say supposed, because we have no positive evidence either of the person, place, or date; and Erasmus, who was born at Rotterdam in 1467, and always ready to advance the honor of his country, is silent on the subject. We rely chiefly upon the testimony of Ulric Zell, an eminent printer of Cologne, who is quoted in the Cologne Chronicle of 1499, and Hadrian Junius, a Dutch historian of repute, who wrote in the next century. Both agree in ascribing the invention of book-printing from wooden blocks, as well as the first germ of movable wood and metallic type printing, to Haarlem; and Junius adds the name of Laurence Koster. His surname of Koster is derived from his office, which was that of custodian, sexton, or warden of the Cathedral Church of Haarlem. The story told of the accident by which the discovery was made is as follows:

Koster, as he was one day walking in a wood adjoining the city, about the year 1420, cut some letters on the bark of a beech tree, from which he took impressions on paper for the amusement of his brother-in-law's children. The idea then struck him of enlarging their application; and, being a man of an ingenious turn, he invented a thicker and more tenacious ink than was in common use, which blotted, and began to print figures from wooden tablets or blocks, to which he added several lines of letters, first solid, and then separate or movable. These wooden types are said to have been fastened together with string.

One thing seems pretty clear, which is, that, whether or not Koster was the printer, the first block-books were produced somewhere in Holland, as several are in Dutch, a language seldom, if ever, printed out of its own country. They were generally printed in light-brown ink, like a sepia drawing, which, I think, was adopted with a view to their being colored—a condition in which we find the greater part of them. When these prints were colored they presented very much the appearance of the Low Country stained-glass windows.

Block-books continued to be printed and reprinted, first in Holland and afterward in Germany, with considerable activity, for twenty or thirty years, during which period we had several editions of the Biblia Pauperum, the Ars Moriendi (or Art of Dying), the Speculum Humanae Salvationis, and many others, chiefly devoted to the promulgation of scripture history. The earliest ones are printed, or rather transferred by friction—and therefore on one side only of the paper—entirely from solid blocks; later on, some portions were printed with movable types of wood; and at last the letter-press was entirely of movable metal types. Junius says that Koster by degrees exchanged his wooden types for leaden ones, and these for pewter; and I will add that it is not unlikely they may have been cast in lead or pewter plates from the wooden blocks, as metal-casting was well understood at the time.

The pretensions of Haarlem and Koster have for more than a century been a matter of fierce controversy; and there have been upward of one hundred and fifty volumes written for or against, without any approach to a satisfactory decision. This one thing is certain, that, whether or not we owe the first idea of movable type to Laurence Koster or to Haarlem, we do not owe to the period any very marked use of it; that was reserved for a later day.

There is a story current, dependent on the authority of Junius, that Koster's principal workman, assumed to be Hans or John Faust—and some, to reconcile improbabilities, even say John Gutenberg—who had been sworn to secrecy, decamped one Christmas Eve, after the death of Koster, while the family were at church, taking with him types and printing apparatus and, after short sojourns at Amsterdam and Cologne, got to Mainz or Mayence with them, and there introduced printing. He is said by Junius to have printed, about the year 1442—that is, two years after Koster's death—the Doctrinale of Alexander Gallus and the Tracts of Peter of Spain, with the very types which Koster made use of in Haarlem; but as no volume of this kind has ever been discovered, nor any trace of one, the entire story is generally regarded as apocryphal. Laurence Koster died in 1440, at the age of seventy; therefore any printing attributed to him must be within that period.

What has hitherto been advanced proves only that mankind had walked for many centuries on the borders of the two great inventions, chalcography and typography, without having fully and practically discovered either of them.

We now come to the great epoch of printing—I mean the complete introduction, if not actually the first invention, of movable metal or fusile types. This took place at Mainz, in or before 1450, and the general consent of Europe assigns the credit of it to Gutenberg. Of a man who has conferred such vast obligations on all succeeding ages, it may be desirable to say a few words.

John Gutenberg was born at Mainz in 1397, of a patrician and rather wealthy family. He left his native city, it is said, because implicated in an insurrection of the citizens against the nobility, and settled at Strasburg, where, in 1427, we find him an established merchant, and sustaining a suit of breach of promise brought against him by a lady named Ann of the Iron Door, whom he afterward married. While resident here, and before 1439, his attention appears to have been actively directed to the art of printing, as we learn by a legal document of the time, found of late years in the archives of Strasburg. He is there stated to have entered into an engagement with three persons, named Dreizehn, Riffe, and Heilmann, to reveal to them "a secret art of printing which he had lately discovered," and to take them into partnership for five years, upon the payment of certain sums.

The death of Dreizehn before he had paid up all his instalments led to a suit on the part of his relations, which ended in Gutenberg's favor. In the course of the evidence one of the witnesses, a goldsmith, deposed to having received from Gutenberg three or four years previously—that is, about 1435—upward of three hundred florins for materials used in printing. Other witnesses proved the anxiety that Gutenberg had shown to have four pages of type distributed which appear to have been screwed up in chase, and lying on a press on the deceased's premises.

This would be evidence that Gutenberg had arrived at a knowledge of movable types, either of wood or metal, and probably of both, before 1440; and, had it not been for the rupture of the partnership before anything had been printed by the new process, Strasburg might have claimed the honor which is now given to Mainz.

Soon after this—it is supposed in 1444—Gutenberg returned to his native city, by leave of the town council, which he was obliged to ask, bringing with him all his materials. In 1446 he entered into a partnership with John Faust—a wealthy and skilful goldsmith and engraver—who engaged, upon being taught the secrets of the art and admitted into a participation of the profits, to advance the necessary funds, which he did to the extent of two thousand two hundred florins. Goldsmiths, it should be borne in mind, were then the great artists in all kinds of metal work, and extremely skilful in modelling, engraving, and casting, which were exactly the arts required for type-founding.

The new partnership immediately commenced operations, hired a house called Zumjungen, and took into their employ Peter Schoeffer, who had been Faust's apprentice, as their assistant. Faust is supposed to have employed himself in cutting the type, which is an extremely slow process, till Peter Schoeffer, afterward his son-in-law, suggested an improved mode of casting it in copper matrices struck by steel punches, pretty much in the same manner as was till recently practised throughout Europe. The firm had for some time previously adopted a method of casting type in moulds of plaster, which was a tedious process, as every letter required a new mould.

Although to Gutenberg are undoubtedly due all the main features of metal-type printing, yet we owe, perhaps, to the practical skill of Faust, and the taste of Schoeffer, who was an accomplished penman, the exquisite finish and perfection with which their first joint effort came forth to the world. This was a Latin Vulgate, printed in a large cut metal type, and commonly called the Mazarin Bible, because the first copy known to bibliographers was found in the library of Cardinal Mazarin. It consists of six hundred and forty-one leaves, forming two, sometimes four, large volumes in folio; some copies on paper of beautiful texture, some on vellum. It was without date or names of the printers, as it was evidently intended to present the appearance of a manuscript; but it is supposed, on good evidence, to have been printed between 1450 and 1455, and it is not improbable the volumes were all that time, that is, five years, and some say more, at press; for we know, by certain technicalities, that every page was printed off singly.

These precious volumes, as splendid as they are wonderful, have excited the admiration of all beholders. The sharpness and elegant uniformity of the type, the lustre of the ink, and the purity of the paper leave that first great monument of the typographic art unsurpassed by any subsequent effort; nor could it be exceeded with all the appliances of the present day.

"It is a striking circumstance," says Mr. Hallam, "that the high-minded inventors of this great art tried, at the very outset, so bold a flight as the printing of an entire Bible, and executed it with astonishing success. It was Minerva leaping on earth in her divine strength and radiant armor, ready, at the moment of her nativity, to subdue and destroy her enemies."

There is a curious story current about this Bible, which, as it is connected with a popular fiction, I will venture to repeat. It is that Faust went to Paris with some of his Bibles for sale, one of which, printed on vellum and richly illuminated, he sold to the King for seven hundred and fifty crowns, and another to the Archbishop of Paris for three hundred crowns, and to the poorer clergy and the laity copies on paper as low as fifty crowns, and even less. Faust does not appear to have disclosed the secret of how they were produced, and probably let it be supposed that they were manuscript; for the aim of the first printers was to make their books equal in beauty to the finest manuscripts, and as far as possible undistinguishable from them, to which end the large capitals and decorations were filled in by hand.

The Archbishop, proud of his purchase, showed it to the King, who, comparing it with his own, found with surprise that they tallied so exactly in every respect, excepting the illuminated ornaments, as convinced them that they were produced by some other art than transcription; and on further inquiry they found that Faust had sold a considerable number exactly similar. Orders, therefore, were given without delay to apprehend and prosecute him as a practitioner of the black art in multiplying Holy Writ by aid of the devil. Hence arose the popular fiction of the Devil and Dr. Faustus, which, under different phases, has found its way into every country in Europe, and probably gave rise to Goethe's celebrated drama.

In 1455, as we find by a notarial document, dated November 6th of that year, Faust separated from Gutenberg, and successfully instituted proceedings against him for money advanced. Gutenberg, who had exhausted all his means in bringing his invention to maturity, was obliged to mortgage and in the end surrender all his materials, and, it should seem, his printed stock. His impoverishment may easily be accounted for when we are told, as a received fact, that before the first four sheets of his Bible were completed he had already expended four thousand crowns upon it—a large sum in those days. Of this his then wealthier partner reaped all the subsequent advantage.

After this period, Faust, and his son-in-law, Peter Schoeffer, in possession of the materials, printed on their own account, and, within eighteen months of their separation from Gutenberg, produced the celebrated Latin Psalter of 1457, the first book in any country which bears a complete imprint—that is, the name of the printer, place, and date. This magnificent volume, of which the whole edition was printed on vellum, is now even rarer than the Mazarin Bible, and of extraordinary value; the letters are very large and bold, cast in metal type, and the ornamental initials are beautifully cut in wood.

Two years later, that is, in 1459, Faust and Schoeffer produced an almost fac-simile reprint of the Psalter, and in the same year Durandi Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, the latter with an entirely new font of metal type—the first cast from Schoeffer's punches—which some, in the erroneous belief that the Psalter was printed from wooden types, have asserted to be the first dated book printed with metal type. Then followed, in 1460, the Constitutiones Clementis V, a handsome folio, and in 1462 their famous Latin Bible, the first one with a date.

In the mean time, Gutenberg, undaunted by the loss of all that had cost him so many years of unremitted application and his whole fortune, began afresh; and this time, it should seem, with better success, as we find him, in 1459, undertaking to present, for certain considerations, all the books he had then printed, or might thereafter print, to a convent where his sister was a nun. No book, however, has yet been discovered bearing the name of Gutenberg; and we can only guess what came from his press by a peculiarity of type, of which, after the first Bible, the most marked is the famous Catholicon, dated 1460—a kind of universal dictionary, the germ of all future cyclopaedias, and which became so popular that more than forty editions were printed of it in as many years. In 1465 Gutenberg retired from printing, being appointed to a lucrative office at the court of the Archbishop of Mainz, and in 1467 he died.

And here we take leave of Gutenberg, with admiration for his patience, his perseverance, and his self-sacrifice in a cause which has produced such glorious fruits. He was one of those noble spirits who are endowed with a perception of what is good, and pursue it independent of worldly considerations. Posterity has done him tardy justice in erecting a marble monument to his memory and establishing a jubilee, which gave rise to one of the most touching of Mendelssohn's compositions.

By this time the secret had transpired to the neighboring states, and Mentelin, of Strasburg, and Pfister, or Bamberg, were, before the beginning of 1462, in full activity. Indeed, Pfister is, by some, thought to have printed before 1460; and his finely executed Latin Bible, in cast type, was for many years regarded as the first.

At this critical period, when the art was reaching its zenith, the operations of the Mainz printers were suddenly brought to a standstill by the siege and capture of the city in 1462. The occasion of this was a fierce dispute between the Pope and the people as to who had the right of appointment to the archbishopric, lately become vacant. The original hive of workmen dispersed to other states, and by degrees the mysteries of the art became spread over the civilized world. Such, indeed, was the fame printing had acquired, and its manifest importance, that every crowned head sought to introduce it into his kingdom, and welcomed the fugitives. Within a few years of this period the art had been carried by the scattered German workmen into Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland; and before the close of the fifteenth century it was practised in more than two hundred twenty different places.

Before entering upon the history of printing in England, I will take leave to call your attention to a few prominent facts connected with its progress abroad, as well as to some points of its early condition which could not be conveniently introduced in chronological order. All the books printed previously to 1465 are in the Gothic, or black letter, which still remained the favorite in Germany and the Low Countries long after the Italians introduced their beautiful Roman letter. The first books in which any Greek type occurs are Cicero's Offices, printed by Faust and Schoeffer in 1465, directly after the resumption of their establishment; and Lactantius, printed the same year by Sweynheim and Pannartz, in the monastery of Soubiaco at Rome. The first book printed entirely in Greek was Constantine Lascar's Greek Grammar, Milan, 1476.

One of the earliest of the Italian books, and, to use the words of Dr. Dibdin, perhaps the most notorious volume in existence, was the celebrated Boccaccio, printed at Venice by Valdarfer in 1471. This book deserves particular mention, because of an extraordinary contest which once took place for its possession between two wealthy bibliomaniacs. It was a small black-letter folio, in faded yellow morocco, and supposed to be unique. Its history is this: In the early part of the eighteenth century it had come accidentally into the possession of a London bookseller, who successively offered it to Harley, Earl of Oxford, and to Lord Sunderland; then the two principal collectors, for one hundred guineas; but both were staggered at the price and higgled about the purchase. An ancestor of the late Duke of Roxburghe, whom nobody dreamed of as a collector, hearing of the book, secured it, and then invited the two noblemen to dinner, with the view of parading his trophy. In due course he led the conversation to the book, and, after letting them expatiate on its rarity, told them he thought he had a copy in his bookcase, which they emphatically declared to be impossible, and challenged him to produce it. On producing the book, about the purchase of which they had only been temporizing, they were not a little chagrined.

This same copy made its appearance again, half a century later, at the Duke of Roxburghe's sale in 1812, a time when bibliomania was at its height. Loud notes of preparation foretold that it would sell for a considerable sum; five hundred and even one thousand guineas were guessed, as it was known that Lord Spencer, the Duke of Devonshire, and the Marquis of Blandford were all bent on its possession, but nobody anticipated the extravagant sum it was to realize. After a very spirited competition, it was knocked down to the Marquis of Blandford for two thousand sixty pounds. This book was resold at the Marquis of Blandford's sale, in 1819, for eight hundred seventy-five guineas, and passed to Lord Spencer, in whose extraordinary library it now reposes.

Before the commencement of the sixteenth century, that is, within forty or fifty years of the invention of printing with movable type, upward of twenty thousand volumes had issued from at least a thousand different presses. All the principal Latin classics, many of the Greek, and upward of two hundred fifty editions of the Bible, or parts of the Bible, had appeared.

One of the most active and enterprising of the early printers was Anthony Koburger of Nuremberg, an accomplished scholar, who began there in 1472, and before the year 1500 had printed thirteen large editions of the Bible in folio, and a prodigious number of other books. He kept twenty-four presses at work, employing one hundred workmen, and had sixteen shops for the sale of books in the principal cities of Germany, besides factors and agents all over Europe. He printed, in 1493, that grand volume, the Nuremberg Chronicle, which is illustrated with upward of one thousand woodcuts by Michael Wohlgemuth, the master of Albert Dürer, and is curious as being one of the first books in which cross-hatchings occur in wood-engraving.

The sixteenth century opened with another invention in type, the Italic, which was beautifully exemplified in a pocket edition of Vergil, the first of a portable series of classical works commenced in 1501 at Venice by the celebrated Aldus Manutius, who, after some years of preparation, had entered actively on his career as a printer in 1494, and deservedly ranks as one of the best scholars of any age.

Then came the Giunti, the learned family of the Stephenses, of whom Robert is accredited as the author of the present divisions of our New Testament into chapters, and Henry, author of the great Greek Thesaurus, the most valuable Greek lexicon ever published. To the opprobrium of the age, he died in an almshouse.

Among many others immortalized by their successful contributions to the great cause we must not forget the Plantins, whose memories are still so cherished at Antwerp that their printing establishment remains to this day untouched, just as it was left two centuries ago, with all the freshness of a chamber in Pompeii, the type and chases of their famous Polyglot lying about, as if the workmen had but just left the office.

The accordance of the art of printing with the spirit of the times which gave it birth must be regarded as singularly providential. The Protestant Reformation in Germany was brought about by Luther's accidentally meeting, in a monastic library, with one of Gutenberg's printed Latin Bibles, when at the age of twenty. "A mighty change," says Luther, "then came over me," and all his subsequent efforts are to be attributed to that event. His recognition of the importance of printing is given in these words: "Printing is the best and highest gift, the summum et postremum donum by which God advanceth the Gospel. Thanks be to God that it hath come at last. Holy fathers now at rest would rejoice to see this day of the revealed Gospel."

William Caxton, by common consent, is the introducer of the art of printing into England. He was born about 1422, in Kent, and received what was then thought a liberal education. His father must have been in respectable circumstances, as there was at that time a law in full force prohibiting any youth from being apprenticed to trade whose parent was not possessed of a certain rental in land. In his eighteenth year Caxton was apprenticed to Robert Large, an eminent London mercer, who in 1430 was sheriff and in 1439 Lord Mayor of London. At his death, in 1441, he bequeathed Caxton a legacy of twenty marks—a large sum in those days—and an honorable testimony to his fidelity and integrity. Soon after this the Mercers' Company appointed him their agent in the Low Countries, in which employment he spent twenty-three years.

In 1464 he was one of two commissioners officially employed by Edward IV to negotiate a commercial treaty with Philip of Burgundy; and in 1468, when the King's sister, Margaret of York, married Charles of Burgundy, called "the Bold," he attached himself to their household, probably in some literary capacity, as in the next year we find him busied in translating at her request. During the greater part of this long period he was residing or travelling in the midst of the countries where the new art of printing was the great subject of interest, and would naturally take some measures to acquaint himself with it. Indeed, it has been said that he had a secret commission from Edward IV to learn the art, and to bribe some of the foreign workmen into England. Be this as it may, we know that Caxton acquired a complete knowledge of it while abroad, for he tells us so, and that he had printed at Cologne the Recueil des Histoires de Troye (or Romance History of Troy), in 1465, and in 1472 an English edition of the same, translated by himself. These two early productions are remarkable as being the first books printed in either the French or English language[26]. The English edition was sold at the Duke of Roxburghe's sale for one thousand sixty pounds, and is now in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire.

Caxton returned to England about 1474, bringing with him presses and types, and established himself in one of the chapels of Westminster Abbey, called the Eleemosynary, Almondry, or Arm'ry, supposed to have been on the site of Henry VII's chapel. A printer would naturally resort to the abbey for patronage, as in those days it was the head-quarters of learning as well as of religion. Before the foundation of grammar schools, there was usually a scholasticus attached to the abbeys and cathedral churches, who directed and superintended the education of the neighboring nobility and gentry. He was, besides, one of the members of the scriptorium, a large establishment within the abbey, where school and other books used to be written.

The first book Caxton printed, after he returned to England and established himself at the Almonry, is supposed to be The Game and Play of Chesse, dated 1474. But some have raised doubts whether this was printed in England, as there is no actual evidence of it. One of the arguments is that the type is exactly the same as what he had previously used at Cologne; but this is no evidence at all, as both the type and paper used in England for many years came from Cologne, and there is no doubt that Caxton brought some with him. A second edition of the book of chess, with woodcuts, was printed two or three years later, and this is generally admitted to have been printed in England.

The first book with an unmistakable imprint was his Dictes and Sayings of Philosophers, which had been translated for him by the gallant but unfortunate Lord Rivers, who was murdered in Pomfret castle by order of Richard III. The colophon of this states that it was printed in the Abbey of Westminster in 1477. He appears to have printed but one single volume upon vellum, which is The Doctrynal of Sapience, 1489, of which a copy, formerly in the King's Library at Windsor, is now in the British Museum. This is a very interesting work as connected with Caxton, being entirely translated by himself into English verse. It is an allegorical fiction, in which the whole system of literature and science comes under consideration.

Caxton died in 1491, after having produced, within twenty years of his active career, more than fifty volumes of mark, including Chaucer, Gower, Lydgate, and his own Chronicle of England. Before Caxton's time the youths of England were supplied with their school-books and their reading, which was necessarily very limited, by the Company of Stationers, or text-writers, who wrote and sold, by an exclusive royal privilege, the school-books then in use. These were chiefly the A B Cs, (called Absies), the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the address to the Virgin Mary, called Ave Maria.

The location of these stationers was in the neighborhood of St. Paul's Cathedral, whence arose the names Paternoster Row, Creed Lane, Amen Corner, and Ave Maria Lane. Manuscripts of a higher order, that is, in the form of books, were mostly supplied by the monks, and were scarcely accessible to any but the wealthy, from their extreme cost. Thus, a Chaucer, which may now be bought for a few shillings, then cost more than a hundred pounds; and we read of two hundred sheep and ten quarters of wheat being given for a volume of homilies.

Minstrels, instead of books, were in early times the principal medium of communication between authors and the public; they wandered up and down the country, chanting, singing, or reciting, according to the taste of their customers, and had certain privileges of entertainment in the halls of the nobility.

It may be wondered that Caxton, like many of the foreign printers, did not begin with, or at least some time during his career print, the Scriptures, especially as Wycliffe's translation had already been made. But there were good reasons. Religious persecution ran high, and the clergy were extremely jealous of the propagation of the Scriptures among the people. Knighton had denounced the reading of the Bible, lamenting lest this jewel of the Church, hitherto the exclusive property of the clergy and divines, should be made common to the laity; and Archbishop Arundel had issued an enactment that no part of the Scriptures in English should be read, either in public or private, or be thereafter translated, under pain of the greater excommunication. The Star Chamber, too, was big with terrors. A little later, Erasmus' edition of the New Testament was forbidden at Cambridge; and in the county of Surrey the Vicar of Croydon said from the pulpit, "We must root out printing, or printing will root out us."

Winkin de Worde, who had come in his youth with Caxton to England and continued with him in the superintendence of his office to the day of his death, succeeded to the business, and conducted it with great spirit for the next forty years. He began by entirely remodelling his fonts of Gothic type, and introduced both Roman and Italic; became his own founder, instead of importing type from the Low Countries; promoted the manufacture of paper in this country; and such was his activity that he printed the extraordinary number of four hundred eight different works. He deserves, perhaps, more praise than he has ever received for the important part he played in establishing and advancing the art in England.

But no one of our early printers deserves more grateful remembrance than Richard Grafton, who, in 1537, was the first publisher of the Bible in England. I say in England, because the first Bible, known as Coverdale's, and several editions of the Testament, translated by Tyndale, had been previously printed abroad in secrecy. Grafton's first edition of the Bible was a reprint of Coverdale and Tyndale's translation, with slight alterations, by one who assumed the name of Thomas Matthew, but whose real name was John Rogers, then Prebendary of St. Paul's, and afterward burned as a heretic in Smithfield. Even this was printed secretly abroad, nobody yet knows where, and did not have Grafton's name attached to it till the King had granted him a license under the privy seal. Though this year, 1537, has by the annalists of the Bible been called the first year of triumph, on account of the King's license, yet Bibles were still apt to be dangerous things to all concerned; and what was permitted one day was not unlikely, by a change in religion or policy, to be interdicted the next with severe visitations.

Although Henry VIII had recently completed his breach with Rome and been excommunicated, he alternately punished the religious movements of Protestants and Catholics, according to his caprice; and it was but a few years previously that the reading of the Bible had been prohibited by act of parliament, that men had been burned at the stake for having even fragments of it in their possession, and that Tyndale's translation of the new Testament had been bought up and publicly burned (1534) by order of Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London; and even as late as May, 1536, the reading of the sacred volume had been strictly forbidden.

Grafton, therefore, must have been a bold man to face the danger. Thus, in 1538, when a new edition of the Bible, commonly called the "Great Bible," afterward published in 1539, was secretly printing in Paris at the instance of Lord Cromwell, under the superintendence of Grafton, Whitchurch, and Coverdale, the French inquisitors of the faith interfered, charging them with heresy, and they were fortunate in making their escape to England.

Shortly after the death of Caxton's patron, Lord Cromwell, Grafton was imprisoned for the double offence of printing Matthew's Bible and the Great Bible, notwithstanding the King's license; and though after a while released, he was again imprisoned in the reign of Philip and Mary on account of his Protestant principles; and, after all his services to religion and literature, died in poverty in 1572.

Printing was now spreading all over England. It had already begun at Oxford in 1478—some say earlier—at Cambridge soon after, although the first dated work is 1521; at St. Albans in 1480; York in 1509; and other places by degrees.

Printing did not reach Scotland till 1507, and then but imperfectly, and Ireland not till 1551, owing, it is said, to the jealousy with which it was regarded by the priesthood.

We will now take a rapid survey of the vast strides printing has made of late years in England, and therewith close. The principal movements have been in stereotyping, electrotyping, the improvement of presses, and the application of steam power. Stereotyping is the transfer of pages of movable type into solid metal plates, by the medium of moulds formed of plaster of Paris, papier-mâché, gutta-percha, or other substances. This art is supposed to have been invented, in or about 1725, by William Ged, a goldsmith of Edinburgh. A small capitalist, who had engaged to embark with him, withdrawing from the speculation in alarm, he accepted overtures from a Mr. William Fenner, and in 1729 came to London. Here he obtained three partners, in conjunction with whom he entered into a contract with the University of Cambridge for stereotyping Bibles and prayer-books. But the workmen, fearing that stereotyping would eventually ruin their trade, purposely made errors, and, when their masters were absent, battered the type, so that the only two prayer-books completed were suppressed by authority, and the plates destroyed. Upon this the art got into disrepute, and Ged, after much ill-treatment, returned to Edinburgh, impoverished and disheartened. Here his friends, desirous that a memorial of his art should be published, entered into a subscription to defray the expense; and a Sallust, printed in 1736, and composed and cast in the night-time to avoid the jealous opposition of the workmen, is now the principal evidence of his claim to the invention.

But the time had not come; for without a very large demand, such as could not exist in those days, stereotyping would be of no advantage. Books which sell by hundreds of thousands, and are constantly reprinting, such as Bibles, prayer-books, school-books, Shakespeares, Bunyans, Robinson Crusoes, Uncle Toms, and very popular authors and editions, will pay for stereotyping; but for small numbers it is a loss. After the invention had been neglected long enough to be forgotten, Earl Stanhope, who had for several years devoted himself earnestly to the subject, and made many experiments, resuscitated it, in a very perfect manner, in 1803; and his printer, Mr. Wilson, sold the secret to both universities and to most of the leading printers. To the art of stereotyping the public is mainly indebted for cheap literature, for when the plates are once produced the chief expense is disposed of.

Something akin to stereotyping is another method of printing, called logography, invented by John Walter of the London Times, in 1783, and for which he took out a patent. This means a system of printing from type cast in words instead of single letters, which it was thought would save time and corrections when applied to newspapers, but it was not found to answer. A joke of the time was a supposed order to the type-founder for some words of frequent occurrence, which ran thus: "Please send me a hundredweight, sorted, of murder, fire, dreadful robbery, atrocious outrage, fearful calamity, alarming explosion, melancholy accident; an assortment of honourable member, whig, tory, hot, cold, wet, dry; half a hundred weight, made up in pounds, of butter, cheese, beef, mutton, tripe, mustard, soap, rain, etc., and a few devils, angels, women, groans, hisses, etc." This method of printing did not succeed; for if twenty-four letters will give six hundred sextillions of combinations, no printing-office could keep a sufficient assortment of even popular words.

[Footnote 1: See Vol 1, 8]

[Footnote 2: See accompanying fac-simile of a page of the English edition—a reproduction as faithful as possible in text, color, texture of paper, etc.]


A.D. 1440-1456

From the time (1354) when the Turks took Gallipoli and secured their first dominion in Europe, the Ottoman power on that side of the Hellespont was gradually increased. In 1360 Amurath I crossed from Asia Minor, ravaged an extensive district, and took Adrianople, which he made the first seat of his royalty and the first shrine of Mahometanism in Europe. He next turned toward Bulgaria and Servia, where in the warlike Slavonic tribes he found far stronger foes than the Greek victims of earlier Turkish conquests.

Pope Urban V preached a crusade against the Turks; and Servia, Hungary, Bosnia, and Wallachia leagued themselves to drive the Ottomans out of Europe. Amurath defeated them and added new territory to his previous acquisitions. A peace was made in 1376, but a new though fruitless attempt of the Slavonic peoples against him gave Amurath a pretext for further assault upon southeastern Europe. In 1389 he conquered and annexed Bulgaria and subjugated the Servians. In the same year Amurath was assassinated.

Bajazet I, the son and successor of Amurath, still further extended the Turkish conquests. Under Bajazet's son, Mahomet I (1413-1421), comparative peace prevailed; but his son, Amurath II, rekindled the flames of war. A strong combination, including, with other peoples, the Hungarians and Poles, was made against him. In the struggle that followed, and which for a time promised the complete expulsion of the Turks from Europe, the great leader was the Hungarian, John Hunyady, born in 1388. According to some writers, he was a Wallach and the son of a common soldier. Creasy calls him "the illegitimate son of Sigismund, King of Hungary, and the fair Elizabeth Morsiney." With him appeared a new spirit, such as the Ottomans up to that time could not have expected to encounter in that part of Europe. In Vambéry's narrative we have the authority of Hungary's greatest historian for the leading events in the life of her greatest hero.

In Europe a new power pulsating with youthful life had arrived from somewhere in the interior of Asia with the intention of conquering the world. This power was the Turk—not merely a single nation, but a whole group of peoples clustered round a nation, inspired by one single idea which urged them ever forward—"There is no god but God, and Mahomet is the apostle of God."

The Mahometan flood already beat upon the bounds of Catholic Christendom, in the forefront of which stood Hungary. Hungary's King, Sigismund, was able for a moment in 1396 to unite the nations of Europe against the common danger, but the proud array of mail-clad knights were swept away like chaff before the steady ranks of the janizaries.

And herewith began the long series of desolating inroads into Hungary, for the Turks were wont to suck the blood of the nation they had marked down as their prey. They took the country by surprise, secretly, suddenly, like a summer storm, appearing in overwhelming numbers, burning, murdering, robbing, especially men in the hopes of a rich ransom, or children whom they might bring up as Mahometans and janizaries. This body, the flower of the Turkish armies, owed its origin for the most part to the Christian children thus stolen from their parents and their country. This infantry of the janizaries was the first standing army in Europe. Living constantly together under a common discipline, like the inmates of a cloister, they rushed blindly forward to the cry of "God and his Prophet!" like some splendid, powerful wild beast eager for prey. The Turkish sultans published the proud order: "Forward! Let us conquer the whole world; wheresoever we tie up our horses' heads, that land is our own."

To resist such a nation, that would not listen to negotiation, but only thirsted for war and conquest, seemed already an impossibility. Europe trembled with fear at the reports of the formidable attacks designed against her, and listened anxiously for news from distant Hungary, which lay, so to say, in the lion's very mouth.

Against such an enemy a soldier of the modern type was useless, one who slays only in defence of his own life and at the word of command, whose force consists in the high development of the military art and the murderous instruments of modern technical science. What was wanted was a heroic soul, inspired by a burning faith like to that which impelled the Mahometan soldier. This heroic soul, this burning faith, united to the tenacious energy of youth, were all found united in John Hunyady, accompanied withal by a singular talent for leadership in war. He could not rely for support upon the haughty magnates who could trace their descent back for centuries and despised the parvenu with a shorter pedigree and a smaller estate. He was consequently obliged to cast in his lot with the mass of the lesser nobility, individually weaker, it is true, but not deficient in spirit and a consciousness of their own worth. Of this class he soon became the idolized leader. Around him gathered the hitherto latent forces of Hungarian society, especially from Transylvania and South Hungary and the Great Hungarian Plain, which suffered most from the incursions of the Turks, and were therefore most impressed with the necessity of organizing a system of defence. It was these who were the first to be inspired by Hurvyady's heroic spirit.

Before commencing his career as independent commander he, following his father's example, attached himself to the court of Sigismund, the Emperor-king, in whose train he visited the countries of Western Europe, Germany, England, and Italy, till he at length returned home, his mind enriched by experience but with the fervor of his first faith unchilled.

When over fifty years old, he repaired at his sovereign's command to the south of Hungary to organize the resistance to the Turks. At first he was appointed ban of Severin, and as such had the chief command of the fortified places built by the Hungarians for the defence of the Lower Danube. After that he became waywode of Transylvania, the civil and military governor of the southeastern corner of the Hungarian kingdom.

Before, however, he had reached these dignities he had fought a succession of battles and skirmishes with such success that for the fanatical Turkish soldiery his form, nay, his very name, was an object of terror. It was Hunyady alone whom they sought to slay on the field of battle, well persuaded that, he once slain, they would easily deal with the rest of Hungary. Thus in 1442 a Turkish leader, named Mezid Bey, burst into Transylvania at the head of eighty thousand men in pursuance of the Sultan's commands, with no other aim than to take Hunyady dead or alive.

Nor, indeed, did Hunyady keep them waiting for him. He hurried at the head of his troops to attack the Turkish leader, who was laying siege to Hermannstadt. Upon this, Mezid Bey, calling his bravest soldiers around him, described to them once more Hunyady's appearance, his arms, his dress, his stature, and his horse, that they might certainly recognize him. "Slay him only," he exclaimed, "and we shall easily deal with the rest of them; we shall drive them like a flock of sheep into the presence of our august master."

On that occasion was seen with what self-sacrificing enthusiasm his soldiers loved their heroic leader. When they learned from their spies the purpose of the Turks, they took all possible measures to secure his precious life. One of their number, Simon Kemeny, who bore a striking resemblance to Hunyady, determined to sacrifice himself for his leader. He announced that he would put on Hunyady's clothes and armor. The Turks would then attack him under the belief that he was the celebrated chief, and while they were thus engaged the real Hunyady would fall upon them unexpectedly and put them to flight. At first Hunyady would by no means consent to this plan, as he did not wish to expose Kemeny to such mortal danger; but at last, seeing the great military advantages likely to accrue from it, he consented.

And so, indeed, it fell out. As soon as the battle began, the Turks, perceiving Simon Kemeny in the garb of Hunyady, directed all their force against him. Kemeny, after a stout defence, fell, together with a great number of his followers, and the Turks, seeing him fall, set up a general cry of triumph and exultation. Just at this critical moment they were hotly attacked in the flank by the genuine Hunyady. Thus attacked in the very moment when they imagined that they had already gained the day, the Turks were thrown into confusion and took wildly to flight. Twenty thousand corpses were left on the battlefield; among them lay Mezid Bey himself, together with his sons.

Fearful was the rage of the Turkish Sultan when he heard of the defeat and death of Mezid Bey, and he at once despatched another army against Hunyady, which like the first numbered eighty thousand men. This time, however, Hunyady did not let them enter Transylvania, but waited for them at the pass known as the Iron Gate, among the high mountains on the southern boundary of Hungary.

The Hungarian army was not more than fifteen thousand men, so that the Turks were at least five times as strong. But the military genius of Hunyady made up for the small number of his followers. He posted them in a strong position in the rough pass, and attacked the enemy in places where it was impossible for him to make use of his strength. Thus more than half the Turkish army perished miserably in the battle. Again their commander-in-chief fell on the field, together with six subordinate commanders, while two hundred horse-tail standards fell into Hunyady's hands as trophies of his victory.

These two splendid victories filled all Europe with joy and admiration. Christendom again breathed freely; for she felt that a champion sent by a special providence had appeared, who had both the courage and the ability to meet and to repel the haughty and formidable foe. But Hunyady was not content with doing so much. He thought that by this time he might carry the war into the enemy's country. The plan of operations was exceptionally daring, yet Hunyady had not resolved on it without careful consideration. In the mean time, through Hunyady's exertions, Wladislaw III, the young King of Poland, had been elected king of Hungary. Hunyady gained the new King over to his plans, and by this means secured the coöperation of the higher aristocracy and the armed bands which they were bound to lead into the field at the King's summons. Hunyady counted besides on the assistance of Europe; in the first place on the popes, who were zealous advocates of the war against the Mahometans; next on Venice, which, as the first commercial city and state at that time, had suffered severe losses owing to the spread of Turkish dominions; on the gallant Poles, whose King now wore the Hungarian crown; and lastly upon the peoples of Christendom in general, whose enthusiasm for a war against the infidels had been quickened by the report of Hunyady's victories. And, indeed, at his request the Pope sent some small sums of money, the Poles furnished an auxiliary force, while numerous volunteers from the rest of Europe flocked to serve under his banner.

Although the assistance thus furnished was comparatively unimportant, it nevertheless served to increase his zeal for the daring undertaking. He and his heroic companions were not only proud of defending their own native country, but felt that they were the champions of all Christendom against Ottoman aggression, and their religious enthusiasm kept pace with their patriotism. If they did not get regiments sent to their aid, they felt that the eyes of all Europe were upon them, ready to grieve at their possible ill-success, while their victories would be celebrated with the Te Deum in the cathedrals of every capital in Europe.

The aggressive campaign was commenced without delay; Hunyady's resolves were at once translated into fact; he would not allow the beaten foe time to recover breath. His plan was to cross the Danube, and penetrate through the passes of the Balkan to Philippopolis, at that time the capital of the Sultan's dominions, where he kept the main body of his army. About Christmas, a season in which the Turk does not like to fight, amid heavy snow and severe cold, the Hungarian army of about thirty thousand men pressed forward. Hunyady marched in advance with the vanguard of twelve thousand picked men; after him the King and the Pope's legate, with the rest of the army. The Sultan, however, with a large body of men had occupied the passes of the Balkans and prevented their further advance. This impediment, coupled with the cold and severe weather, depressed the spirits of the troops, worn out with fatigue. Hunyady, however, raised their spirits by gaining a victory; lighting one night upon a body of the enemy, twenty thousand in number, he attacked them at once and after a few hours' struggle succeeded in dispersing them.

Later on he took two large towns with their citadels, and in three engagements triumphed over three separate divisions of the enemy. Learning that a still larger body of Turks was attempting to cut off his communications with the King's army, he attacked that also and put it to flight. After that he joined his corps with the main army under the King, and, indeed, none too soon. Sultan Amurath suddenly arrived with the main body of his forces, which he strongly intrenched in the narrowest passes of the Balkans. Hunyady saw that these intrenchments could not be forced, and did all he could to entice his enemy down into the plain. This he succeeded in doing. In the battle that ensued the King, too, played a conspicuous part and received a wound. In the end, however, the Hungarians gained the victory, and the younger brother of the Grand Vizier was taken prisoner. So much success was sufficient for Hunyady for the time, especially as the natural obstacles had proved insurmountable. The Hungarian army returned home in good order, and the young King made a triumphal entry into his capital, preceded by a crowd of Turkish prisoners and captured Turkish ensigns. These last trophies of victory were deposited in the Coronation Church in the fortress of Buda.

And now something happened which had hitherto been deemed incredible: the Sultan sued for peace—a true believer and a sovereign, from an "unbelieving giaour." The peace was concluded, and Hungary again became possessed of those dependent (South Slavonic) provinces which lay between the territories of the Sultan and the kingdom of Hungary in the narrower sense of the word. In three short years Hunyady had undone the work of years on the part of the Turks. The Sultan, however, soon repented of what he had done, and continually delayed the fulfilment of his promise to evacuate certain frontier fortresses. For this cause the young King, especially incited thereto by the Pope, determined to renew the war. Hunyady at first opposed the King's resolution, and wished to wait; later on he was gained over to the King's view, and took up the matter with his whole soul. The opportunity was inviting, for the Sultan with his main army was engaged somewhere in Asia, and the Venetians promised to prevent with their fleet his return to Europe across the narrow seas in the neighborhood of Constantinople.

The Hungarian army, indeed, set out (1444) on its expedition, and, continually expecting the arrival of the troops of their allies—the Emperor of Constantinople and the princes of Albania—penetrated ever farther and farther into the hostile territory. They were to be joined by their allies at the town of Varna on the shores of the Black Sea. When, however, the Hungarians had arrived at that town, they found no trace of their expected allies, but on the contrary learned with certainty that the Sultan had succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the Venetians, had brought his army in small boats over into Europe, and was now following fast on their track.

Thus all hope of aid from allies was at an end; the brave general and his small Hungarian force had to rely on their own resources, separated as they were by some weeks' journey from their own country, while the enemy would be soon upon them in numbers five times their own. Yet, even so, Hunyady's faith and courage did not desert him. The proverb says, "If thy sword be short, lengthen it by a step forward." And Hunyady boldly, but yet with the caution that behooved a careful general, took up his position before the Sultan's army. Both he and his Hungarians fought with dauntless courage, availing themselves of every advantage and beating back every assault. Already victory seemed to be assured. A few hours after the battle had begun both the Turkish wings had been broken, and even the Sultan and the brave janizaries were thinking of flight, when the young King, the Pole Wladislaw, whom Hunyady had adjured by God to remain in a place of safety until the combat should be decided, was persuaded by his Polish suite to fling himself, with the small band in immediate attendance upon him, right on the centre of the janizaries, so that he too might have a share in the victory and not leave it all to Hunyady. The janizaries wavered for a moment under this new and unexpected attack, but, soon perceiving that they had to do with the King of Hungary, they closed round his band, which had penetrated far into their ranks. The King's horse was first hamstrung, and, as it fell, the King's head was severed from his body, stuck upon the point of a spear, and exposed to the view of both armies. The Hungarians, shocked at the unexpected sight, wavered, and, feeling themselves lost, began to fly. All the entreaties and exhortations of Hunyady were in vain. Such was the confusion that he could be neither seen nor heard, and in a few minutes the whole Hungarian army was in headlong flight.

Hunyady, left to himself, had also to seek safety in flight. Alone, deserted by all, he had to make his way from one place of concealment to another, till after some weeks' wandering he arrived in Hungary. The bad news had preceded him, and in consequence everything was in confusion. Again arose that difficult question: Who should be the new king under such difficult circumstances? The Sultan's army had, however, suffered so much in the battle of Varna that for the time he left the Hungarians unmolested.

The nation was disposed to choose for its king the child Ladislaus, son of King Albert, the predecessor of Wladislaw. The child, however, was in the power of the neighboring Prince, Frederick, the Archduke of Austria, who was not disposed to let him go out of his hands without a heavy ransom. In these circumstances the more powerful nobles in Hungary took advantage of the confusion to strengthen each his own position at the expense of the nation. At first the government of the country was intrusted to a number of captains, but this proved so evidently disastrous that the better sort of people succeeded in having them abolished and Hunyady established as sole governor. For all that, however, Hunyady had a good deal of trouble with the chief aristocrats, Garay, Czillei, Ujlaki, who, envying the parvenu his sudden promotion and despising his obscure origin, took up arms to resist his authority. Thus Hunyady, instead of blunting the edge of his sword upon foreign foes, had to bridle the insubordination of his own countrymen. Luckily it did not take long to force the discontented to own the weight of his arm and his superiority as a military leader.

Order being thus to some extent reestablished at home, Hunyady was again able to turn his attention to the Turks. He felt that he had in fact gained the battle of Varna, which was only lost through the jealous humor of a youthful king; that it behooved him not to stop half way; that it was his duty to continue offensive operations. But in so doing he had to rely upon his own proper forces. It is true that he was governor of the country, but for the purpose of offensive warfare beyond the frontier he could not gain the consent of the great nobles.

Luckily his private property had enormously increased by this time. The Hungarian constitution required the King to bestow the estates of such noblemen as died without male heirs, or had been condemned for any offence, on such noblemen as had approved themselves valiant defenders of the country. Now where could be found a more worthy recipient of such estates than Hunyady, to whom the public treasury was besides a debtor on account of the sums he disbursed for the constant warfare he maintained against the Turks? Especially in the south of Hungary a whole series of lordly estates, many of them belonging to the crown, had come into Hunyady's hands, either as pledges for the repayment of the money he had paid his soldiers, or as his own private property.

The yearly revenue arising from these vast estates was employed by Hunyady, not in personal expenditure, but in the defence of his country. He himself lived as simply as any of his soldiers, and recognized no other use of money than as a weapon for the defence of Christendom against Islam. In the early morning, while all his suite slept, he passed hours in prayer before the altar in the dimly lighted church, imploring the help of the Almighty for the attainment of his sole object in life—the destruction of the Turkish power. At last, 1448, he set out against the Sultan with an army of twenty-four thousand of his most trusty soldiers.

This time it was on the frontier of Servia, on the "Field of Blackbirds," that Hunyady encountered Sultan Amurath, who had an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men—again more than five times the number of the Christians. Hunyady at first withdrew himself into his intrenched camp, but in a few days felt himself strong enough to engage with the enemy on the open field. The battle lasted without interruption for two days and a night. Hunyady himself was several times in deadly peril. Once his horse was shot under him. He was to be found wherever assistance, support, encouragement, were needed. At last, on the morning of the third day, as the Turks, who had received reinforcements, were about to renew the attack, the Waywode of Wallachia passed over to the side of the Turks. The Waywode belonged to the Orthodox Eastern Church. He had joined Hunyady on the way, and his desertion transferred six thousand men from one side to the other, and decided the battle in favor of the Turks. The Hungarians, worn out by fatigue, fell into a discouragement, while Hunyady had no fresh troops to bring up to their support. The battle came to a sudden end. Seventeen thousand Hungarian corpses strewed the field, but the loss of the Turks was more than thirty thousand men.

Hunyady, again left to himself, had again to make his escape. At first he only dismissed his military suite; afterward he separated from his faithful servant in the hope that separately they might more easily baffle their pursuers. Next he had to turn his horse adrift, as the poor animal was incapable of continuing his journey. Thus he made his way alone and on foot toward the frontiers of his native land. After a while, looking down from the top of a piece of elevated ground, he perceived a large body of Turks, from whom he hid himself in a neighboring lake. He thus escaped this danger, but only to encounter another. At a turn of the road he came so suddenly upon a party of Turkish plunderers as to be unable to escape from them, and thus became their prisoner. But the Turks did not recognize him, and, leaving him in the hands of two of their number, the rest went on in search of more prey. His two guards soon came to blows with one another about a heavy gold cross which they had found on the person of their captive, and, while they were thus quarrelling, Hunyady suddenly wrenched a sword out of the hand of one of the two Turks and cut off his head, upon which the other took to flight, and Hunyady was again free.

In the mean time, however, George, the Prince of Servia, who took part with the aristocratic malcontents, and who, although a Christian, out of pure hatred to Hunyady had gone over to the side of the Turks, had given strict orders that all Hungarian stragglers were to be apprehended and brought before him. In this way Hunyady fell into the hands of some Servian peasants, who delivered him to their Prince. Nor did he regain his liberty without the payment of a heavy ransom, leaving his son Ladislaus as hostage in his stead.

He thus returned home amid a thousand perils, and with the painful experience that Europe left him to his own resources to fight as best he could against the ever-advancing Turks. The dependencies of the Hungarian crown, Servia and Wallachia—on whose recovery he had spent so much blood and treasure—instead of supporting him, as might be expected of Christian countries, threw themselves in a suicidal manner into the arms of the Turks. They hoped by their ready submission to find favor in the eyes of the irresistible conquerors, by whom, however, they were a little later devoured.

After these events Hunyady continued to act as governor or regent of Hungary for five years more, by which time the young Ladislaus, son of King Albert, attained his majority. In 1453 Hunyady finally laid down his dignity as governor, and gave over the power into the hands of the young King, Ladislaus V, whom Hunyady had first to liberate by force of arms from his uncle, Frederick of Austria, before he could set him on the throne of Hungary. The young King, of German origin, had hardly become emancipated from his guardian when he fell under the influence of his other uncle, Ulric Czillei. This Czillei was a great nobleman of Styria, but was withal possessed of large estates in Hungary. As a foreigner and as a relative of King Sigismund, he had long viewed with an evil eye Hunyady's elevation. On one occasion Hunyady had to inflict punishment on him. He consequently now did everything he could to induce the young King, his nephew, to hate the great captain as he himself did. He sought to infuse jealousy into his mind and to lead him to believe that Hunyady aimed at the crown. His slanders found the readier credence in the mind of the youthful sovereign as he was completely stupefied by an uninterrupted course of debauchery. At last the King was brought to agree to a plan for ensnaring the great man who so often jeoparded his life and his substance in the defence of his country and religion. They summoned him in the King's name to Vienna, where Ladislaus, as an Austrian prince, was then staying, with the intention of waylaying and murdering him. But Hunyady got wind of the whole plot, and when he arrived at the place of ambush it was at the head of two thousand picked Hungarian warriors. Thus it was Czillei who fell into the snare. "Wretched creature!" exclaimed Hunyady; "thou hast fallen into the pit thou diggedst for me; were it not that I regard the dignity of the King and my own humanity, thou shouldst suffer a punishment proportioned to thy crime. As it is, I let thee off this time, but come no more into my sight, or thou shalt pay for it with thy life."

Such magnanimity, however, did not disarm the hostility of those who surrounded the King. On the pretence of treason against the King, Hunyady was deprived of all his offices and all his estates. The document is still to be seen in the Hungarian state archives, in which the King, led astray by the jealousies that prevailed among his councillors, represents every virtue of the hero as a crime, and condemns him to exile.

Fortunately Czillei himself soon fell into disfavor; the Germans themselves overthrew him; and the King, now better informed, replaced Hunyady in the post of captain-general of the kingdom.

Hunyady, who meanwhile had been living retired in one of his castles, now complied with the King's wish without difficulty or hesitation, and again assumed the highest military command. Instead of seeking how to revenge himself after the manner of ordinary men, he only thought of the great enemy of his country, the Turk. And indeed, as it was, threatening clouds hung over the horizon in the southeast.

A new sultan had come to the throne, Mahomet II, one of the greatest sovereigns of the house of Othman. He began his reign with the occupation of Constantinople, 1453, and thus destroyed the last refuge of the Byzantine empire. At the news of this event all Europe burst into a chorus of lamentation. The whole importance of the Eastern question at once presented itself before the nations of Christendom. It was at once understood that the new conqueror would not remain idle within the crumbling walls of Constantinople.

And, indeed, in no long time was published the proud mot d'ordre, "As there is but one God in heaven, so there shall be but one master upon earth."

Hunyady looked toward Constantinople with heavy heart. He foresaw the outburst of the storm which would in the first place fall upon his own country, threatening it with utter ruin. Hunyady, so it seemed, was again left alone in the defence of Christendom.

The approaching danger was delayed for a few years, but in 1456 Mahomet, having finally established himself in Constantinople, set out with the intention of striking a fatal blow against Hungary. On the borders of that country, on the bank of the Danube, on what was, properly speaking, Servian territory, stood the fortress of Belgrad. When the danger from the Turks became imminent, the kings of Hungary purchased the place from the despots of Servia, giving them in exchange several extensive estates in Hungary, and had at great expense turned it into a vast fortress, at that time supposed to be impregnable.

Mahomet determined to take the place, and to this end made the most extensive preparations. He led to the walls of Belgrad an army of not less than one hundred and fifty thousand men. The approach of this immense host so terrified the young King that he left Hungary and took refuge in Vienna along with his uncle and counsellor, Czillei.

Hunyady alone remained at his post, resolute like a lion attacked. The energy of the old leader—he was now nearly sixty-eight—was only steeled by the greatness of the danger; his forethought and his mental resources were but increased. As he saw that it would be impossible to do anything with a small army, he sent his friend, John Capistran, an Italian Franciscan, a man animated by a burning zeal akin to his own, to preach a crusade against the enemies of Christendom through the towns and villages of the Great Hungarian Plain. This the friar did to such effect that in a few weeks he had collected sixty thousand men, ready to fight in defence of the cross. This army of crusaders—the last in the history of the nations—had for its gathering cry the bells of the churches; for its arms, scythes and axes; Christ for its leader, and John Hunyady and John Capistran for his lieutenants.

The two greatest leaders in war of that day contended for the possession of Belgrad. The same army now surrounded that fortress which a few years before had stormed Constantinople, reputed impregnable. The same hero defended it who had so often in the course of a single decade defeated the Turkish foe in an offensive war, and who now, regardless of danger, with a small but faithful band of followers, was prepared to do all that courage, resolution, and prudence might effect.

Many hundred large cannon began to break down the stone ramparts; many hundred boats forming a river flotilla covered the Danube, so as to cut off all communication between the fortress and Hungary. During this time Hunyady's son Ladislaus and his brother-in-law Michael Szilagyi were in command in the fortress. Hunyady's first daring plan was to force his way through the blockading flotilla, and enter Belgrad before the eyes of the whole Turkish army, taking with him his own soldiers and Capistran's crusaders. The plan completely succeeded. With his own flotilla of boats he broke through that of the Turks and made his entrance into the fortress in triumph. After this the struggle was continued with equal resolution and ability on both sides; such advantage as the Christians derived from the protection afforded by the fortifications being fully compensated by the enormous superiority in numbers both of men and cannon on the part of the Turks.

Without example in the history of the storming of fortresses was the stratagem practised by Hunyady when he permitted the picked troops of the enemy, the janizaries, to penetrate within the fortification, and there destroyed them in the place they thought they had taken. Ten thousand janizaries had already swarmed into the town, and were preparing to attack the bridges and gates of the citadel, when Hunyady ordered lighted fagots, soaked in pitch and sulphur and other combustibles, to be flung from the ramparts into the midst of the crowded ranks of the janizaries. The fire seized on their loose garments, and in a short time the whole body was a sea of fire. Everyone sought to fly. Then it was that Hunyady sallied out with his picked band, while Capistran, with a tall cross in his hand and the cry of "Jesus" on his lips, followed with his crowd of fanatics, the cannon of the fortress played upon the Turkish camp, the Sultan himself was wounded and swept along by the stream of fugitives. Forty thousand Turks were left dead upon the field, four thousand were taken prisoners, and three thousand cannon were captured.

According to the opinion of Hunyady himself, the Turks had never suffered such a severe defeat. Its value as far as the Hungarians were concerned was heightened by the fact that the ambitious Sultan was personally humiliated. There was now great joy in Europe. At the news of the brilliant victory the Te Deum was sung in all the more important cities throughout Europe, and the Pope wished to compliment Hunyady with a crown.

A crown of another character awaited him—that of his Redeemer, in whose name he lived, fought, and fell. The exhalations from the vast number of unburied or imperfectly buried bodies, festering in the heat of summer, gave rise to an epidemic in the Christian camp, and to this the great leader fell a victim. Hunyady died August 11, 1456, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. He died amid the intoxication of his greatest victory, idolized by his followers, having once more preserved his country from imminent ruin. Could he have desired a more glorious death?

He went to his last rest with the consciousness that he had fulfilled his mission, having designed great things and having accomplished them. And the result of his lifelong efforts survived him. His great enemy, the Turk, for the next half-century could only harass the frontier of his native land; and his country, a few years after his death, placed on the royal throne his son Matthias.

[Footnote 1: By permission of Selmar Hess.]


A.D. 1447-1455

Of those pontiffs who are called the pride of modern Rome—through whom the city "rose most gloriously from her ashes"—Nicholas V (Tommaso Parentucelli) was the first. He was born at Sarzana, in the republic of Genoa, about 1398, was ordained priest at the age of twenty-five, became Archbishop of Bologna, and in 1447 was elevated to the papal chair. His election was largely due to the influential part he had taken at the councils of Basel, 1431-1449, and Ferrara-Florence, 1438-1445. In 1449, by prevailing upon the Antipope, Felix V, to abdicate, he restored the peace of the Church. He endeavored, but in vain, to arouse Europe to its duty of succoring the Greek empire.

Although the coming Reformation was already casting its shadow before, Nicholas stood calm in face of the inevitable event, devoting himself to the spiritual welfare of the Church and to the interests of learning and the arts. But he is chiefly remembered as the first pope to conceive a systematic plan for the reconstruction and permanent restoration of Rome. He died before that purpose could be executed in accordance with his great designs; but others, entering into his labors, carried his work to a fuller accomplishment.

It was to the centre of ecclesiastical Rome, the shrine of the apostles, the chief church of Christendom and its adjacent buildings, that the care of the Builder-pope was first directed. The Leonine City of Borgo, as it is more familiarly called, is that portion of Rome which lies on the right side of the Tiber, and which extends from the castle of St. Angelo to the boundary of the Vatican gardens—enclosing the Church of St. Peter, the Vatican palace with all its wealth, and the great Hospital of Santo Spirito, surrounded and intersected by many little streets, and joining to the other portions of the city by the bridge of St. Angelo.

Behind the mass of picture-galleries, museums, and collections of all kinds, which now fill up the endless halls and corridors of the papal palace, comes a sweep of noble gardens full of shade and shelter from the Roman sun, such a resort for the

"learnèd leisure Which in trim gardens takes its pleasure"

as it would be difficult to surpass. In this fine extent of wood and verdure the Pope's villa or casino, now the only summer palace which the existing Pontiff chooses to permit himself, stands as in a domain, small yet perfect. Almost everything within these walls has been built or completely transformed since the days of Nicholas. But, then as now, here was the heart and centre of Christendom, the supreme shrine of the Catholic faith, the home of the spiritual ruler whose sway reaches over the whole earth. When Nicholas began his reign, the old Church of St. Peter was the church of the Western world, then, as now, classical in form, a stately basilica without the picturesqueness and romantic variety, and also, as we think, without the majesty and grandeur, of a Gothic cathedral, yet more picturesque if less stupendous in size and construction, than the present great edifice, so majestic in its own grave and splendid way, with which, through all the agitations of the recent centuries, the name of St. Peter has been identified. The earlier church was full of riches and of great associations, to which the wonderful St. Peter's we all know can lay claim only as its successor and supplanter. With its flight of broad steps, its portico and colonnaded façade crowned with a great tower, it dominated the square, open and glowing in the sun, without the shelter of the great existing colonnades or the sparkle of the fountains.

Behind was the little palace begun by Innocent III, to afford a shelter for the popes in dangerous times, or on occasion to receive the foreign guests whose object was to visit the shrine of the apostles. Almost all the buildings then standing have been replaced by greater, yet the position is the same, the shrine unchanged, though everything else then existing has faded away, except some portion of the old wall which enclosed this sacred place in a special sanctity and security, which was not, however, always respected. The Borgo was the holiest portion of all the sacred city. It was there that the blood of the martyrs had been shed, and where from the earliest age of Christianity their memory and tradition had been preserved. It was not necessary for us to enter into the question whether St. Peter ever was in Rome, which many writers have laboriously contested. So far as the record of the Acts of the Apostles is concerned, there is no evidence at all for or against, but tradition is all on the side of those who assert it. The position taken by Signor Lanciani on this point seems to us a very sensible one. "I write about the monuments of ancient Rome," he says, "from a strictly archaeological point of view, avoiding questions which pertain, or are supposed to pertain, to religious controversy.

"For the archaeologist the presence and execution of SS. Peter and Paul in Rome are facts established beyond a shadow of doubt by purely monumental evidence. There was a time when persons belonging to different creeds made it almost a case of conscience to affirm or deny a priori those facts, according to their acceptance or rejection of the tradition of any particular church. This state of feeling is a matter of the past, at least for those who have followed the progress of recent discoveries and of critical literature. There is no event of the Imperial age and of Imperial Rome which is attested by so many noble structures, all of which point to the same conclusion—the presence and execution of the apostles in the capital of the Empire. When Constantine raised the monumental basilicas over their tombs on the Via Cornelia and the Via Ostiensis; when Eudoxia built the Church ad Vincula; when Damascus put a memorial tablet in the Platonia and Catacombos; when the houses of Pudens and Aquila and Prisca were turned into oratories; when the name of Nymphae Sancti Petri was given to the springs in the catacombs of the Via Nomentana; when the 29th of June was accepted as the anniversary of St. Peter's execution; when sculptors, painters, medallists, goldsmiths, workers in glass and enamel, and engravers of precious stones all began to reproduce in Rome the likeness of the apostle at the beginning of the second century, and continued to do so till the fall of the Empire—must we consider them as laboring under a delusion, or conspiring in the commission of a gigantic fraud? Why were such proceedings accepted without protest from whatever city, whatever community—if there were any other—which claimed to own the genuine tombs of SS. Peter and Paul? These arguments gain more value from the fact that the evidence on the other side is purely negative."

This is one of those practical arguments which are always more interesting than those which depend upon theories and opinions. However, there are many books on both sides of the question which may be consulted. We are content to follow Signor Lanciani. The special sanctity and importance of Il Borgo originated in this belief. The shrine of the apostle was its centre and glory. It was this that brought pilgrims from the far corners of the earth before there was any masterpiece of art to visit, or any of those priceless collections which now form the glory of the Vatican. The spot of the apostles' execution was indicated "by immemorial tradition" as between the two goals (inter duas metas) of Nero's Circus, which spot Signor Lanciani tells us is exactly the site of the obelisk now standing in the piazza of St. Peter. A little chapel, called the Chapel of the Crucifixion, stood there in the early ages, before any great basilica or splendid shrine was possible.

This sacred spot, and the church built to commemorate it, were naturally the centre of all those religious traditions which separate Rome from every other city. It was to preserve them from assault, "in order that it should be less easy for the enemy to make depredations and burn the Church of St. Peter, as they have heretofore done," that Leo IV, the first pope whom we find engaged in any real work of construction, built a wall round the mound of the Vatican, and Colle Vaticano—"little hill," not so high as the seven hills of Rome—where against the strong wall of Nero's Circus Constantine had built his great basilica. At that period—in the middle of the ninth century—there was nothing but the church and shrine—no palace and no hospital. The existing houses were given to the Corsi, a family which had been driven out of their island, according to Platina, by the Saracens, who shortly before had made an incursion up to the very walls of Rome, whither the peoples of the coast (luoghi maritimi del Mar Terreno) from Naples northward had apparently pursued the corsairs, and helped the Romans to beat them back. One other humble building of some sort, "called Burgus Saxonum, Vicus Saxonum, Schola Saxonum, and simply Saxia or Sassia," it is interesting to know, existed close to the sacred centre of the place, a lodging built for himself by Ina, King of Wessex, in 727. Thus the English have a national association of their own with the central shrine of Christianity.

There was also a Schola Francorum in the Borgo. The pilgrims must have built their huts and set up some sort of little oratory—favored, as was the case even in Pope Nicholas' day, by the excellent quarry of the Circus close at hand—as near as possible to the great shrine and basilica which they had come so far to say their prayers in, and attracted, too, no doubt, by the freedom of the lonely suburb between the green hill and the flowing river. Leo IV built his wall round this little city, and fortified it by towers. "In every part he put sculptors of marble and wrote a prayer," says Platina. One of these gates led to St. Pellegrino, another was close to the castle of St. Angelo, and was "the gate by which one goes forth to the open country." The third led to the School of the Saxons; and over each was a prayer inscribed. These three prayers were all to the same effect—"that God would defend this new city which the Pope had enclosed with walls and called by his own name, the Leonine City, from all assaults of the enemy, either by fraud or by force."

The greatest, however, of all the conceptions of Pope Nicholas, the very centre of his great plan, was the library of the Vatican, which he began to build and to which he left all the collections of his life. Vespasian gives us a list of the principal among these five thousand volumes, the things which he prized most, which the Pope bequeathed to the Church and to Rome. These cherished rolls of parchment, many of them translations made under his own eyes, were enclosed in elaborate bindings ornamented with gold and silver. We are not, however, informed whether any of the great treasures of the Vatican library came from his hands—the good Vespasian taking more interest in the work of his scribes than in codexes. He tells us of five hundred scudi given to Lorenzo Valle with a pretty speech that the price was below his merits, but that eventually he should have more liberal pay; of fifteen hundred scudi given to Guerroni for a translation of the Iliad, and so forth. It is like a bookseller of the present day vaunting his new editions to a collector in search of the earliest known. But Pope Nicholas, like most other patrons of his time, knew no Greek, nor probably ever expected that it would become a usual subject of study, so that his translations were precious to him, the chief way of making his treasures of any practical use.

The greater part, alas! of all his splendor has passed away. One pure and perfect glory, the little Chapel of San Lorenzo, painted by the tender hand of Fra Angelico, remains unharmed, the only work of that grand painter to be found in Rome. If one could have chosen a monument for the good Pope, the patron and friend of art in every form, there could not have been a better than this. Fra Angelico seems to have been brought to Rome by Pope Eugenius, but it was under Nicholas, in two or three years of gentle labor, that the work was done. It is, however, impossible to enumerate all the undertakings of Pope Nicholas. He did something to reestablish or decorate almost all the great basilicas. It is feared—but here our later historians speak with bated breath, not liking to bring such an accusation against the kind Pope, who loved men of letters—that the destruction of St. Peter's, afterward ruthlessly carried out by succeeding popes, was in his plan, on the pretext, so constantly employed, and possibly believed in, of the instability of the ancient building. But there is no absolute certainty of evidence, and at all events he might have repented, for he certainly did not do that deed. He began the tribune, however, in the ancient church, which may have been a preparation for the entire renewal of the edifice; and he did much toward the decoration of another round church, that of the Madonna delle Febbre, an ill-omened name, attached to the Vatican. He also built the Belvedere in the gardens, and surrounded the whole with strong walls and towers (round), one of which, according to Nibby, still remained fifty years ago, which very little of Nicholas' building has done. His great sin was one which he shared with all his brother-popes, that he boldly treated the antique ruins of the city as quarries for his new buildings, not without protest and remonstrance from many, yet with the calm of a mind preoccupied and seeing nothing so great and important as the work upon which his own heart was set.

This excellent Pope died in 1455, soon after having received the news of the downfall of Constantinople, which is said to have broken his heart. He had many ailments, and was always a small and spare man of little strength of constitution; "but nothing transfixed his heart so much as to hear that the Turks had taken Constantinople and killed the Europeans, with many thousands of Christians, among them that same 'Imperadore de Gostantinopli' whom he had seen seated in state at the Council of Ferrara, listening to his own and other arguments, only a few years before—as well as the greater part, no doubt, of his own clerical opponents there. When he was dying, 'being not the less of a strong spirit,' he called the cardinals round his bed, and many prelates with them, and made them a last address. His pontificate had lasted a little more than eight years, and to have carried out so little of his great plan must have been heavy on his heart; but his dying words are those of one to whom the holiness and unity of the Church came before all. No doubt the fear that the victorious Turks might spread ruin over the whole of Christendom was first in his mind at that solemn hour.

"'Knowing, my dearest brethren, that I am approaching the hour of my death, I would, for the great dignity and authority of the apostolic see, make a serious and important testimony before you, not committed to the memory of letters, not written, neither on a tablet nor on parchment, but given by my living voice, that it may have more authority. Listen, I pray you, while your little Pope Nicholas, in the very instant of dying, makes his last will before you. In the first place I render thanks to the Highest God for the measureless benefits which, beginning from the day of my birth until the present day, I have received of his infinite mercy. And now I recommend to you this beautiful Spouse of Christ, whom, so far as I was able, I have exalted and magnified, as each of you is well aware; knowing this to be the honor of God, for the great dignity that is in her, and the great privileges that she possesses, and so worthy, and formed by so worthy an Author, who is the Creator of the universe. Being of sane mind and intellect, and having done that which every Christian is called to do, and specially the Pastor of the Church, I have received the most sacred body of Christ with penitence, taking it from his table with my two hands, and praying the Omnipotent God that he would pardon my sins. Having had these sacraments I have also received the extreme unction, which is the last sacrament for the redeeming of my soul. Again I recommend to you, as long as I am able, the Roman Church, notwithstanding that I have already done so; for this is the most important duty you have to fufil in the sight of God and men. This is the true Spouse of Christ which he bought with his blood. This is the robe without seam, which the impious Jews would have torn, but could not. This is that ship of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, agitated and tossed by varied fortunes of the winds, but sustained by the Omnipotent God, so that she could never be submerged or shipwrecked. With all the strength of your souls sustain her and rule her: she has need of your good works, and you should show a good example by your lives. If you with all your strength care for her and love her, God will reward you, both in this present life and in the future with life eternal; and to do this with all the strength we have, we pray you, do it diligently, dearest brethren.'

"Having said this he raised his hands to heaven and said: 'Omnipotent God, grant to the holy Church, and to these fathers, a pastor who will preserve her and increase her; give to them a good pastor who will rule and govern thy flock the most maturely that one can rule and govern. And I pray for you and comfort you as much as I know and can. Pray for me to God in your prayers.' When he had ended these words he raised his right arm and, with a generous soul, gave the benediction,' Benedict vos Deus, Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus'—speaking with a raised voice and solemnly, in modo pontificate"

These tremulous words, broken and confused by the weakness of his last hours, were taken down by the favorite scribe, Giannozzo Manetti, in the chamber of the dying Pope; with much more of the most serious matter to the Church and to Rome. His eager desire to soften all possible controversies and produce in the minds of the conclave about his bed, so full of ambition and the force of life, the softened heart which would dispose them to a peaceful and conscientious election of his successor, is very touching, coming out of the fogs and mists of approaching death.

In the very age that produced the Borgias, and himself the head of that band of elegant scholars and connoisseurs, everything but Christian, to whom Rome owes so much of her external beauty and splendor, it is pathetic to stand by this kind and gentle spirit as he pauses on the threshold of a higher life, subduing the astute and worldly minded churchmen around him with the tender appeal of the dying father, their Papa Niccolato, familiar and persuasive—beseeching them to be of one accord without so much as saying it, turning his own weakness to account to touch their hearts, for the honor of the Church and the welfare of the flock.


A.D. 1453

By the greater number of historians the fall of Constantinople under the Moslem power is considered as the decisive event which separates the modern from the mediaeval period. From the same event dates the final establishment of the Ottoman empire both in Asia Minor and in Europe. At that moment, when the Moorish power in Spain had been almost destroyed, Christian Europe was threatened for the second time with Mahometan conquest.

From 1354, when Suleiman crossed the Hellespont and captured Gallipoli, the Turks from Asia Minor had kept their foothold on European soil. Under Amurath I (1359-1389), Bajazet I (1389-1403), Mahomet I and Amurath II (1404-1451)—the last of whom, in 1422, unsuccessfully besieged Constantinople—the Ottoman dominions in Europe were much extended. When Mahomet II, son of Amurath II, became Sultan (1451), the Turks were so strongly established, and the Eastern Empire was so much weakened, that he was prepared to finish the work of his predecessors and make the Ottoman power in Europe what it has ever since been.

Mahomet "the Conqueror"—such was his surname—had for his adversary Constantine XIII, the last of the Greek emperors, who was proclaimed in 1448, with the consent of Amurath II, whose power is thus attested. The Empire was torn by the quarrels of political factions and by theological dissensions. When Mahomet succeeded to the sultanate he was but twenty-one years old, but had already given proof of great talents, learning, and ambition, all guided by a judgment of remarkable maturity.

The first object of Mahomet's ambition was the conquest of Constantinople, the natural capital of his dominions. As long as it was held by Eastern Christians the Ottoman empire was open to invasion by those of the West. The first threatening act of Mahomet was the construction of a fortress on Constantine's territory, at the narrowest part of the Bosporus, and within five miles of Constantinople. Constantine was too weak to resent the menace with vigor, and Mahomet treated his mild protest with contempt, denying the right of a vassal of the Porte to dispute the Sultan's will. A feeble resistance by some of the Greeks only gave Mahomet pretexts for further aggression, soon followed by his formal declaration of war.

Both parties began to prepare for the mortal contest. The siege of Constantinople was to be the great event of the coming year. The Sultan, in order to prevent the Emperor's brothers in the Peloponnesus from sending any succors to the capital, ordered Turakhan, the Pacha of Thessaly, to invade the peninsula. He himself took up his residence at Adrianople, to collect warlike stores and siege artillery. Constantine, on his part, made every preparation in his power for a vigorous defence. He formed large magazines of provisions, collected military stores, and enrolled all the soldiers he could muster among the Greek population of Constantinople. But the inhabitants of that city were either unable or unwilling to furnish recruits in proportion to their numbers. Bred up in peaceful occupation, they probably possessed neither the activity nor the habitual exercise which was required to move with ease under the weight of armor then in use. So few were found disposed to fight for their country that not more than six thousand Greek troops appeared under arms during the whole siege.

The numerical weakness of the Greek army rendered it incapable of defending so large a city as Constantinople, even with all the advantage to be derived from strong fortifications. The Emperor was therefore anxious to obtain the assistance of the warlike citizens of the Italian republics, where good officers and experienced troops were then numerous. As he had no money to engage mercenaries, he could only hope to succeed by papal influence. An embassy was sent to Pope Nicholas V, begging immediate aid, and declaring the Emperor's readiness to complete the union of the churches in any way the Pope should direct. Nicholas despatched Cardinal Isidore, the Metropolitan of Kiev, who had joined the Latin Church, as his legate. Isidore had represented the Russian Church at the Council of Florence; but on his return to Russia he was imprisoned as an apostate, and with difficulty escaped to Italy. He was by birth a Greek; and being a man of learning and conciliatory manners, it was expected that he would be favorably received at Constantinople.

The Cardinal arrived at Constantinople in November, 1452. He was accompanied by a small body of chosen troops, and brought some pecuniary aid, which he employed in repairing the most dilapidated part of the fortifications. Both the Emperor and the Cardinal deceived themselves in supposing that the dangers to which the Greek nation and the Christian Church were exposed would induce the orthodox to yield something of their ecclesiastical forms and phrases. It was evident that foreign aid could alone save Constantinople, and it was absurd to imagine that the Latins would fight for those who treated them as heretics and who would not fight for themselves. The crisis therefore compelled the Greeks to choose between union with the Church of Rome or submission to the Ottoman power. They had to decide whether the preservation of the Greek empire was worth the ecclesiastical sacrifices they were called upon to make in order to preserve their national independence.

In the mean time the emperor Constantine celebrated his union with the papal Church, in the Cathedral of St. Sophia, on December 12, 1452. The court and the great body of the dignified clergy ratified the act by their presence; but the monks and the people repudiated the connection. In their opinion, the Church of St. Sophia was polluted by the ceremony, and from that day it was deserted by the orthodox. The historian Ducas declares that they looked upon it as a haunt of demons, and no better than a pagan shrine. The monks, the nuns, and the populace publicly proclaimed their detestation of the union; and their opposition was inflamed by the bigotry of an ambitious pedant, who, under the name of Georgius Scholarius, acted as a warm partisan of the union at the Council of Florence, and under the ecclesiastical name of Gennadius is known in history as the subservient patriarch of Sultan Mahomet II. On returning from Italy, he made a great parade of his repentance for complying with the unionists at Florence. He shut himself up in the monastery of Pantokrator, where he assumed the monastic habit and the name of Gennadius, under which he consummated the union between the Greek Church and the Ottoman administration.

At the present crisis he stepped forward as the leader of the most bigoted party, and excited his followers to the most furious opposition to measures which he had once advocated as salutary for the Church, and indispensable to the preservation of the State. The unionists were now accused of sacrificing true religion to the delusion of human policy, of insulting God to serve the Pope, and of preferring the interests of their bodies to the care of their souls. In place of exhorting their countrymen to aid the Emperor, who was straining every nerve to defend their country—in place of infusing into their minds the spirit of patriotism and religion, these teachers of the people were incessantly inveighing against the wickedness of the unionists and the apostasy of the Emperor. So completely did their bigotry extinguish every feeling of patriotism that the grand duke Notaras declared he would rather see Constantinople subjected to the turban of the Sultan than to the tiara of the Pope.

His wish was gratified; but, in dying, he must have felt how fearfully he had erred in comparing the effects of papal arrogance with the cruelty of Mahometan tyranny. The Emperor Constantine, who felt the importance of the approaching contest, showed great prudence and moderation in his difficult position. The spirit of Christian charity calmed his temper, and his determination not to survive the empire gave a deliberate coolness to his military conduct. Though his Greek subjects often raised seditions, and reviled him in the streets, the Emperor took no notice of their behavior. To induce the orthodox to fight for their country, by having a leader of their own party, he left the grand duke Notaras in office; yet he well knew that this bigot would never act cordially with the Latin auxiliaries, who were the best troops in the city; and the Emperor had some reason to distrust the patriotism of Notaras, seeing that he hoarded his immense wealth, instead of expending a portion of it for his country.

The fortifications were not found to be in a good state of repair. Two monks who had been intrusted with a large sum for the purpose of repairing them had executed their duty in an insufficient and it was generally said in a fraudulent manner. The extreme dishonesty that prevailed among the Greek officials explains the selection of monks as treasurers for military objects; and it must lessen our surprise at finding men of their religious professions sharing in the general avarice, or tolerating the habitual peculations of others.

Cannon were beginning to be used in sieges, but stone balls were used in the larger pieces of artillery; and the larger the gun, the greater was the effect it was expected to produce. Even in Constantinople there was some artillery too large to be of much use, as the land wall had not been constructed to admit of their recoil, and the ramparts were so weak as to be shaken by their concussion. Constantine had also only a moderate supply of gunpowder. The machines of a past epoch in military science, but to the use of which the Greeks adhered with their conservative prejudices, were brought from the storehouses, and planted on the walls beside the modern artillery. Johann Grant, a German officer, was the most experienced artilleryman and military engineer in the place.

A considerable number of Italians hastened to Constantinople as soon as they heard of its danger, eager to defend so important a depot of Eastern commerce. The spirit of enterprise and the love of military renown had become as much a characteristic of the merchant nobles of the commercial republics as they had been, in a preceding age, distinctions of the barons in feudal monarchies. All the nations who then traded with Constantinople furnished contingents to defend its walls. A short time before the siege commenced, John Justiniani arrived with two Genoese galleys and three hundred chosen troops, and the Emperor valued his services so highly that he was appointed general of the guard. The resident bailo of the Venetians furnished three large galeases and a body of troops for the defence of the port. The consul of Catalans, with his countrymen and the Aragonese, undertook the defence of the great palace of Bukoleon and the port of Kontoskalion. Cardinal Isidore, with the papal troops, defended the Kynegesion, and the angle of the city at the head of the port down to St. Demetrius. The importance of the aid which was afforded by the Latins is proved by the fact that of twelve military divisions, into which Constantine divided the fortifications, the commands of only two were intrusted to the exclusive direction of Greek officers. In the others, Greeks shared the command with foreigners, or aliens alone conducted the defence.

When all Constantine's preparations for defence were completed, he found himself obliged to man a line of wall on the land side of about five miles in length, every point of which was exposed to a direct attack. The remainder of the wall toward the port and the Propontis exceeded nine miles in extent, and his whole garrison hardly amounted to nine thousand men. His fleet consisted of only twenty galleys and three Venetian galeases, but the entry of the port was closed by a chain, the end of which, on the side of Galata, was secured in a strong fort of which the Greeks kept possession. During the winter the Emperor sent out his fleet to ravage the coast of the Propontis as far as Cyzicus, and the spirit of the Greeks was roused by the booty they made in these expeditions.

Mahomet II spent the winter at Adrianople, preparing everything necessary for commencing the siege with vigor. His whole mind was absorbed by the glory of conquering the Roman Empire and gaining possession of Constantinople, which for more than eleven hundred fifty years had been the capital of the East. While the fever of ambition inflamed his soul, his cooler judgment also warned him that the Ottoman power rested on a perilous basis as long as Constantinople, the true capital of his empire, remained in the hands of others. Mahomet could easily assemble a sufficient number of troops for his enterprise, but it required all his activity and power to collect the requisite supplies of provisions and stores for the immense military and naval force he had ordered to assemble, and to prepare the artillery and ammunition necessary to insure success.

Early and late, in his court and in his cabinet, the young Sultan could talk of nothing but the approaching siege. With the writing-reed and a scroll of paper in his hand he was often seen tracing plans of the fortifications of Constantinople, and marking out positions for his own batteries. Every question relating to the extent and locality of the various magazines to be constructed in order to maintain the troops was discussed in his presence; he himself distributed the troops in their respective divisions and regulated the order of their march; he issued the orders relating to the equipment of the fleet, and discussed the various methods proposed for breaching, mining, and scaling the walls. His enthusiasm was the impulse of a hero, but the immense superiority of his force would have secured him the victory with any ordinary degree of perseverance.

The Ottomans were already familiar with the use of cannon. Amurath II had employed them when he besieged Constantinople in 1422; but Mahomet now resolved on forming a more powerful battering-train than had previously existed. Neither the Greeks nor Turks possessed the art of casting large guns. Both were obliged to employ foreigners. An experienced artilleryman and founder named Urban, by birth a Wallachian, carried into execution the Sultan's wishes. He had passed some time in the Greek service; but, even the moderate pay he was allowed by the Emperor having fallen in arrear, he resigned his place and transferred his services to the Sultan, who knew better how to value warlike knowledge. He now gave Mahomet proof of his skill by casting the largest cannon which had ever been fabricated. He had already placed one of extraordinary size in the new castle of the Bosporus, which carried across the straits. The gun destined for the siege of Constantinople far exceeded in size this monster, and the diameter of its mouth must have been nearly two feet and a half. Other cannon of great size, whose balls of stone weighed one hundred fifty pounds, were also cast, as well as many guns of smaller calibre. All these, together with a number of ballistae and other ancient engines still employed in sieges, were mounted on carriages in order to transport them to Constantinople. The conveyance of this formidable train of artillery, and of the immense quantity of ammunition required for its service, was by no means a trifling operation.

The first division of the Ottoman army moved from Adrianople in February, 1453. In the mean time a numerous corps of pioneers worked constantly at the road, in order to prepare it for the passage of the long train of artillery and baggage wagons. Temporary bridges, capable of being taken to pieces, were erected by the engineers over every ravine and water-course, and the materials for every siege advanced steadily, though slowly, to their destination. The extreme difficulty of moving the monster cannon with its immense balls retarded the Sultan's progress, and it was the beginning of April before the whole battering-train reached Constantinople, though the distance from Adrianople is barely a hundred miles. The division of the army under Karadja Pacha had already reduced Mesembria and the castle of St. Stephanus. Selymbria alone defended itself, and the fortifications were so strong that Mahomet ordered it to be closely blockaded, and left its fate to be determined by that of the capital.

On April 6th Sultan Mahomet II encamped on the slope of the hill facing the quarter of Blachern, a little beyond the ground occupied by the crusaders in 1203, and immediately ordered the construction of lines extending from the head of the port to the shore of the Propontis. These lines were formed of a mound of earth, and they served both to restrain the sorties of the besieged and to cover the troops from the fire of the enemy's artillery and missiles. The batteries were then formed; the principal were erected against the gate of Charsias, in the quarter of Blachern, and against the gate of St. Romanus, near the centre of the city wall. It was against this last gate that the fire of the monster gun was directed and the chief attack was made.

The land forces of the Turks probably amounted to about seventy thousand men of all arms and qualities; but the real strength of the army lay in the corps of janizaries, then the best infantry in Europe, and their number did not exceed twelve thousand. At the same time, twenty thousand cavalry, mounted on the finest horses of the Turkoman breed, and hardened by long service, were ready to fight either on horseback or on foot, under the eye of their young Sultan. The fleet which had been collected along the Asiatic coast, from the ports of the Black Sea to those of the Aegean, brought additional supplies of men, provisions, and military stores. It consisted of three hundred twenty vessels of various sizes and forms. The greater part were only half-decked coasters, and even the largest were far inferior in size to the galleys and galeases of the Greeks and Italians.

The fortifications of Constantinople toward the land side vary so little from a straight line that they afford great facilities for attack. The defences had been originally constructed on a magnificent scale and with great skill, according to the ancient art of war. Even though they were partly ruined by time and weakened by careless reparations, they still offered a formidable obstacle to the imperfect science of the engineers in Mahomet's army. Two lines of wall, each flanked with its own towers, rose one above the other, overlooking a broad and deep ditch. The interval between these walls enabled the defenders to form in perfect security, and facilitated their operations in clearing the ditch and retarding the preparation for assault. The actual appearance of the low walls of Constantinople, with the ditch more than half filled up, gives only an incorrect picture of their former state.

Mahomet had made his preparations for the siege with so much skill that his preliminary works advanced with unexpected rapidity. The numerical superiority of his army, and the precautions he had adopted for strengthening his lines, rendered the sorties of the garrison useless. The ultimate success of the defence depended on the arrival of assistance from abroad; but the numbers of the Ottoman fleet seemed to render even this hope almost desperate. An incident occurred that showed the immense advantage conferred by skill, when united with courage, over an apparently irresistible superiority of force in naval warfare. Four large ships, laden with grain and stores, one of which bore the Greek and the other the Genoese flag, had remained for some time wind-bound at Chios, and were anxiously expected at Constantinople. At daybreak these ships were perceived by the Turkish watchmen steering for Constantinople, with a strong breeze in their favor. The war-galleys of the Sultan immediately got under way to capture them. The Sultan himself rode down to the point of Tophane to witness a triumph which he considered certain and which he thought would reduce his enemy to despair. The Greeks crowded the walls of the city, offering up prayers for their friends and trembling for their safety in the desperate struggle that awaited them. The Christians had several advantages which their nautical experience enabled them to turn to good account. The good size of their ships, the strength of their construction, their weight, and their high bulwarks were all powerful means of defence when aided by a stiff breeze blowing directly in the teeth of their opponents. The Turks were compelled to row their galleys against this wind and the heavy sea it raised. In vain they attacked the Christians with reckless valor, fighting under the eye of their fiery sovereign. The skill of their enemy rendered all their attacks abortive. In vain one squadron attempted to impede the progress of the Christians, while another endeavored to run alongside and carry them by boarding. Every Turkish galley that opposed their progress was crushed under the weight of their heavy hulls, while those that endeavored to board had their oars shivered in the shock, and drifted helpless far astern. The few that succeeded for a moment in retaining their place alongside were either sunk by immense angular blocks of stone that were dropped on their frail timbers, or were filled with flames and smoke by the Greek fire that was poured upon them. The rapidity with which the best galleys were sunk or disabled appalled the bravest; and at last the Turks shrank from close combat on an element where they saw that valor without experience was of no avail. The Christian ships, in the mean time, held steadily on their course, under all the canvas their masts could carry, until they rounded the point of St. Demetrius and entered the port, where the chain was joyfully lowered to admit them.

The young Sultan, on seeing the defeat of his galleys, lost all command over his temper. He could hardly be restrained from urging his horse into the sea, and in his frantic passion heaped every term of abuse and insult on his naval officers. He even talked of ordering his admiral, Baltaoghlu, to be impaled on the spot; but the janizaries present compelled even Mahomet to restrain his vengeance. This check revealed to Mahomet the extent of the danger to which his naval force was exposed should either the Genoese or Venetians send a powerful fleet to the assistance of the emperor Constantine.

This naval discomfiture was also attended by some disasters on shore. The monster cannon burst before it had produced any serious impression on the walls. Its loss, however, was soon replaced; but the Ottoman army was repulsed in a general attack. An immense tower of timber, mounted on many wheels, and constructed on the model used in sieges from the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, was dragged up to the edge of the ditch. Under its cover, workmen were incessantly employed throwing materials into the ditch to enable the tower itself to approach the walls, while the fire of several guns and the operations of a corps of miners ruined the opposite tower of the city. The progress of the besiegers induced them to risk an assault, in which they were repulsed, after a hard-fought struggle: and during the following night John Justiniani made a great sortie, during which his workmen cleared the ditch, and his soldiers filled the tower with combustible materials and burned it to the ground. Its exterior, having been protected by a triple covering of buffalo-hides, was found to be impervious even to Greek fire.

In order to counteract the effect of these defeats, which had depressed the courage of the Ottomans and raised the spirits of the Greeks, the Sultan resolved to adopt measures for placing his fleet in security, and facilitating the communication between the army before Constantinople and the naval camp on the Bosporus. The Venetians had recently transported a number of their galleys from the river Adige overland to the lake of Garda. This exploit, which had been loudly celebrated at the time, suggested to the Sultan the idea of transporting a number of vessels from the Bosporus into the port of Constantinople, where the smooth water and the command of the shore would secure to his ships the mastery of the upper half of that extensive harbor. The distance over which it was necessary to transport the galleys was only five miles, but a steep hill presented a formidable obstacle to the undertaking. Mahomet, nevertheless, having witnessed the transport of his monster cannon over rivers and hills, was persuaded that his engineers would find no difficulty in moving his ships overland. A road was accordingly made, and laid with strong planks and wooden rails, which were plastered over with tallow. It extended from the station occupied by the fleet at Dolma Baktshe to the summit of the ridge near the Cemetery of Pera. On this inclined plane, with the assistance of windlasses and numerous yokes of oxen, the vessels were hauled up one after the other to the summit of the hill, from whence they descended with difficulty to the point beyond the present arsenal, where they were launched into the port under the protection of batteries prepared for their defence. Historians, wishing to give a dramatic character to their pages, have attributed marvellous difficulties to this daring exploit. It was a well-conceived and well-executed undertaking, for a division of the Ottoman fleet was conveyed into the port in a single night, where the Greeks, at the dawn of day, were amazed at beholding the hostile ships safe under the protection of inexpugnable batteries.

To establish an easy and rapid communication between the naval camp on the Bosporus and the army before Constantinople, Mahomet ordered a floating bridge to be constructed across the port, from the point near the old foundry, on the side of Galata, to that near the angle of the city walls, near Haivan Serai, the ancient amphitheatre. The roadway of this bridge was supported on the enormous jars used for storing oil and wine, numbers of which were easily collected in the suburbs of Galata. These jars, when bound together with their mouth inverted in the water, formed admirable pontoons. Artillery was mounted on this bridge and the galleys were brought up to the city walls, which were now assailed from a quarter hitherto safe from attack. The Genoese under Justiniani on one occasion, and the Venetians on another, were defeated in their attempts to burn the Turkish fleet and destroy the bridge. The fire of the artillery rendered the attacks of the Italians abortive, and their failure afforded a decisive proof that the defence of the city was becoming desperate. To avoid the admission of their inferiority in force, the defeated parties threw the blame on one another, and their dissensions became so violent that the Emperor could hardly appease the quarrel.

During all the labors of the besiegers in other quarters, the approaches were pushed vigorously forward against the land wall. Though the activity in other and more novel operations might attract greater attention, the industry of those engaged in filling up the ditch, and the fire of the breaching batteries, never relaxed. Though all attempts to cross the ditch at the gate of St. Romanus were long baffled by the Greeks, and the mining operations at Blachern were discovered and defeated by Johann Grant, still the superior number and indefatigable perseverance of the Ottomans at last filled up the ditch, and the fire of their guns ruined the walls. A visible change in the state of the fortifications encouraged the assailants, and showed the besieged that the enemy was gradually gaining a decided advantage. At the commencement of the siege, the Ottoman engineers had displayed so little knowledge of the mode of using artillery to effect a breach that a Hungarian envoy from John Hunyady,[1] who visited Mahomet's camp, ridiculed the idea of their producing any effect on the walls of Constantinople. This stranger was said to have taught the Turks to fire in volleys, and to cut the wall in rectangular sections, in order to produce a practicable breach.

The batteries at length effected a practicable breach at the gate of St. Romanus. Before issuing his final orders for the assault, Mahomet II summoned the Emperor to surrender the city, and offered him a considerable appanage as a vassal of the Porte elsewhere. Constantine rejected the insulting offer, and the Sultan prepared to take Constantinople by storm. Four days were employed in the Ottoman camp making all the arrangements necessary for a simultaneous attack by land and sea along the whole line of the fortifications, from the modern quarter of Phanar to the Golden Gate. The Greeks and Latins within the walls were not less active in their exertions to meet the crisis. The Latins were sustained by their habits of military discipline, and their experiences of the chances of war; the Greeks placed great confidence in some popular prophecies which foretold the ultimate defeat of the Turks. They felt a pious conviction that the imperial and orthodox city would never fall into the hands of infidels. But the emperor Constantine was deceived by no vain hopes. He knew that human prudence and valor could do no more than had been done to retard the progress of the besiegers.

Time had been gained, but the Greeks showed no disposition to fight for a heretical emperor, and no succors arrived from the Pope and the western princes. Constantine could now only hope to prolong the defence for a few hours, and, when the city fell, to bring his own life to a glorious termination by dying on the breach.

On the night before the assault, the Emperor rode round to all the posts occupied by the garrison, and encouraged the troops to expect victory by his cheerful demeanor. He then visited the Church of St. Sophia, already deserted by the orthodox, where with his attendants he partook of the holy sacrament according to the Latin form. He returned for a short time to the imperial palace, and, on quitting it to take his station at the great breach, he was so overcome by the certainty that he should never again behold those present that he turned to the members of his household, many of whom had been the companions of his youth, and solemnly asked them to pardon every offence he had ever given them. Tears burst from all present as Constantine mounted his horse and rode slowly forward to meet his fate.

The contrast between the city of the Christians and the camp of the Mahometans was not encouraging. Within the walls an emperor in the decline of life commanded a small and disunited force, with twenty leaders under his orders, each at the head of an almost independent band of Greek, Genoese, Venetian, or Catalan soldiers. So slight was the tie which bound these various chiefs together that, even when they were preparing for the final assault, the Emperor was obliged to use all his authority and personal influence to prevent Justiniani and the grand duke Notaras from coming to blows. Justiniani demanded to be supplied with some additional guns for the defence of the great breach, but Notaras, who had the official control over the artillery, peremptorily refused the demand.

In the Turkish camp, on the other hand, perfect unity prevailed, and a young, ardent, and able sovereign concentrated in his hands the most despotic authority over a numerous and well-disciplined army. To excite the energy of that army to the highest pitch of enthusiasm, the Sultan proclaimed to his troops that he granted them the whole plunder of Constantinople, reserving to himself only the public buildings. The day of the battle was regarded as a religious festival in the Ottoman camp, and on the previous night lamps were hung out before every tent, and fires were kindled on every eminence in or near the lines. Thousands of lanterns were suspended from the flagstaffs of the batteries and from the masts and yards of the ships, and were reflected in the waters of the Propontis, the Golden Horn, and the Bosporus. The whole Ottoman encampment was resplendent with the blaze of this illumination. Yet a deep silence prevailed during the whole night, except when the musical cadence of the solemn chant of the call to prayers showed the Greeks the immense numbers and the strict discipline of the host.

Before the dawn of day, on the morning of May 29, 1453, the signal was given for the attack. Column after column marched forward, and took up its ground before the portion of the wall it was ordered to assail. The galleys, fitted with towers and scaling-platforms, advanced against the fortifications of the port protected by the guns on the bridge. But the principal attack was directed against the breach at the gate of St. Romanus, where two flanking towers had fallen into the ditch and opened a passage into the interior of the city. The gate of Charsias and the quarter of Blachern were also assailed by chosen regiments of janizaries in overwhelming numbers. The attack was made with daring courage, but for more than two hours every point was successfully defended. In the port, the Italian and Greek ships opposed the Turkish galleys so effectually that the final result appeared to favor the besieged. But on the land side, one column of troops followed the other in an incessant stream. The moment a division fell back from the assault, new battalions occupied its place. The valor of the besieged was for some time successful, but they were at last fatigued by their exertions, and their scanty numbers were weakened by wounds and death. Unfortunately, Justiniani, the protostrator or marshal of the army, and the ablest officer in the place, received a wound which induced him to retire on board his ship to have it dressed. Until that moment he and the Emperor had defended the great breach with advantage; but after his retreat Sagan Pacha, observing that the energy of the defenders was relaxed, excited the bravest of the janizaries to mount to the assault. A chosen company led by Hasan of Ulubad, a man of gigantic frame, first crossed the ruins of the wall, and their leader gained the summit of the dilapidated tower which flanked the breach. The defenders, headed by the emperor Constantine, made a desperate resistance. Hasan and many of his followers were slain, but the janizaries had secured the vantage-ground, and, fresh troops pouring in to their aid, they surrounded the defenders of the breach. The Emperor fell amid a heap of slain, and a column of janizaries rushed into Constantinople over his lifeless body.

About the same time another corps of the Ottomans forced an entrance into the city at the gate of the Circus, which had been left almost without defence, for the besieged were not sufficiently numerous to guard the whole line of the fortifications, and their best troops were drawn to the points where the attacks were fiercest. The corps that forced the gate of the Circus took the defenders of the gate of Charsias in the rear, and overpowered all resistance in the quarter of Blachern.

Several gates were now thrown open, and the army entered Constantinople at several points. The cry that the enemy had stormed the walls preceded their march. Senators, priests, monks, and nuns, men, women, and children, all rushed to seek safety in St. Sophia's. A prediction current among the Greeks flattered them with the vain hope that an angel would descend from heaven and destroy the Mahometans, in order to reveal the extent of God's love for the orthodox. St. Sophia's, which for some time they had forsaken as a spot profaned by the Emperor's attempt at a union of the Christian world, was again revered as the sanctuary of orthodoxy, and was crowded with the flower of the Greek nation, confident of a miraculous interposition in favor of their national pride and ecclesiastical prejudices.

The besiegers, when they first entered the city, fearing lest they might encounter serious resistance in the narrow streets, put every soul they encountered to the sword. But as soon as they were fully aware of the small number of the garrison, and the impossibility of any further opposition, they began to make prisoners. At length they reached St. Sophia's, and, rushing into that magnificent temple, which could with ease contain twenty thousand persons, they performed deeds of plunder and violence not unlike the scenes which the crusaders had enacted in the same spot in 1204. The men, women, and children who had sought safety in the building were divided among the soldiers as slaves, without any reference to their rank or respect for their ties of blood, and hurried off to the camp, or placed under the guard of comrades, who formed a joint alliance for the security of their plunder. The ecclesiastical ornaments and church plate were poor indeed when compared with the immense riches of the Byzantine cathedral in the time of the crusaders; but whatever was movable was immediately divided among the soldiers with such celerity that the mighty temple soon presented few traces of having been a Christian church.

While one division of the victorious army was engaged in plundering the southern side of the city, from the gate of St. Romanus to the Church of St. Sophia, another, turning to the port, made itself master of the warehouses that were filled with merchandise, and surrounded the Greek troops under the grand duke Notaras. The Greeks were easily subdued, and Notaras surrendered himself a prisoner. About midday the Turks were in possession of the whole city, and Mahomet II entered his new capital at the gate of St. Romanus, riding triumphantly past the body of the emperor Constantine, which lay concealed among the slain in the breach he had defended. The Sultan rode straight to the Church of St. Sophia, where he gave the necessary orders for the preservation of all the public buildings. Even during the license of the sack, the severe education and grave character of the Ottomans exerted a powerful influence on their conduct, and on this occasion there was no example of the wanton destruction and wilful conflagrations that had signalized the Latin conquest. To convince the Greeks that their orthodox empire was extinct, Mahomet ordered a mollah to ascend the bema and address a sermon to the Mussulmans, announcing that St. Sophia was now a mosque set apart for the prayers of the true believers. To put an end to all doubts concerning the death of the Emperor, he ordered Constantine's head to be brought and exposed to the people of the capital, from whence it was afterward sent as a trophy to be seen by the Greeks of the principal cities in the Ottoman empire.

[Footnote 1: The great Hungarian leader, who long fought against the
Turks, and signally defeated them at Belgrad in 1456.—ED.]


A.D. 1455-1485

Historians themselves declare that no part of English history since the Norman Conquest is so obscure and uncertain as that of the Wars of the Roses. "All we can distinguish with certainty through the deep cloud which covers that period is a scene of horror and bloodshed, savage manners, arbitrary executions and treacheries, dishonorable conduct in all parties." These brutal aspects of that horrid drama of history, running through more than the course of a full generation, are depicted for the mimic stage by Shakespeare, in Henry VI and Richard III, with a vividness that brings before us the ghastly realities of the historic theatre itself, and with such realization of the rude forces at work as calls for all the poet's refining art to make their representation tolerable to modern spectators.

But the historians, while consciously failing to discover the hidden motives of intrigue and treachery which throughout actuated the parties to this fearful struggle of Englishmen with Englishmen, have nevertheless recorded for us its main outlines and leading episodes with sufficient clearness. We are enabled to see England as she was in that great transition of her "making"—in the throes of civil strife, again to be endured two centuries later—through which she must pass before she could become a "land of settled government."

During the weak reign of Henry VI, France was delivered from English rule, mainly through the heroism of Jeanne d'Arc. In 1450 the commons rose against King Henry and the house of Lancaster, to which he belonged, and declared in favor of the house of York—these houses having already come into serious rivalry for the supreme power. The disasters in France strengthened the Yorkists, and brought their representative, Richard, Duke of York, to the front, with armed forces to support his claims. In 1452 he marched upon London, demanding the removal of the Duke of Somerset, Henry's chief minister, but a conflict was temporarily averted. When, in 1454, King Henry became insane, the Duke of York was made protector by parliament. He might now have seized the crown, but his forbearance was taken advantage of by the rival party, and "proved the source of all those furious wars which ensued"—the Wars of the Roses, beginning with the first battle of St. Albans, in 1455, and ending with the death of Richard III at Bosworth Field, in 1485.

The wars were signalized by twelve pitched battles; they cost the lives of about eighty princes of the blood; and during their ravages the ancient nobility of England was almost annihilated. Yet in these fierce wars comparatively little damage was done to the general population or to industry and trade. The wars derived their name from the fact that the partisans of the house of Lancaster took the red rose as their badge, and those of York chose the white rose.

The enemies of the Duke of York soon found it in their power to make advantage of his excessive caution. Henry being so far recovered from his distemper as to carry the appearance of exercising the royal power, they moved him to resume his authority, to annul the protectorship of the Duke, and to commit the administration into the hands of Somerset (1455). Richard, sensible of the dangers which might attend his former acceptance of the parliamentary commission should he submit to the annulling of it, levied an army, but still without advancing any pretensions to the crown. He complained only of the King's ministers, and demanded a reformation of the government.

A battle was fought at St. Albans, in which the Yorkists were superior, and, without suffering any material loss, slew about five thousand of their enemies, among whom were the Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Stafford, eldest son of the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Clifford, and many other persons of distinction. The King himself fell into the hands of the Duke of York, who treated him with great respect and tenderness; he was only obliged—which he regarded as no hardship—to commit the whole authority of the crown into the hands of his rival.

Affairs did not immediately proceed to the last extremities; the nation was kept some time in suspense; the vigor and spirit of Queen Margaret,[1] supporting her small power, still proved a balance to the great authority of Richard, which was checked by his irresolute temper. A parliament, which was soon after assembled, plainly discovered, by the contrariety of their proceedings, the contrariety of the motives by which they were actuated. They granted the Yorkists a general indemnity; and they restored the protectorship to the Duke, but at the same time they renewed their oaths of fealty to Henry, and fixed the continuance of the protectorship to the majority of his son Edward.

It was not found difficult to wrest power from hands so little tenacious as those of the Duke of York. Margaret, availing herself of that Prince's absence, produced her husband before the House of Lords; and as his state of health permitted him at that time to act his part with some tolerable decency, he declared his intentions of resuming the government, and of putting an end to Richard's authority. The House of Lords assented to Henry's proposal, and the King was declared to be reinstated. Even the Duke of York acquiesced in this irregular act of the peers, and no disturbance ensued. But that Prince's claim to the crown was too well known, and the steps which he had taken to promote it were too evident ever to allow sincere trust and confidence to have place between the parties.

The court retired to Coventry, and invited the Duke of York and the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick to attend the King's person. When they were on the road, they received intelligence that designs were formed against their liberties and lives. They immediately separated themselves; Richard withdrew to his castle of Wigmore; Salisbury to Middleham, in Yorkshire; and Warwick to his government of Calais, which had been committed to him after the battle of St. Albans, and which, as it gave him the command of the only regular military force maintained by England, was of the utmost importance in the present juncture. Still, men of peaceable dispositions, and among the rest Bourchier, Archbishop of Canterbury, thought it not too late to interpose with their good offices in order to prevent that effusion of blood with which the kingdom was threatened; and the awe in which each party stood of the other rendered the mediation for some time successful.

It was agreed that all the great leaders on both sides should meet in London and be solemnly reconciled. The Duke of York and his partisans came thither with numerous retinues, and took up their quarters near each other for mutual security. The leaders of the Lancastrian party used the same precaution. The mayor, at the head of five thousand men, kept a strict watch night and day, and was extremely vigilant in maintaining peace between them. Terms were adjusted, which removed not the ground of difference. An outward reconciliation only was procured; and in order to notify this accord to the whole people, a solemn procession to St. Paul's was appointed, where the Duke of York led Queen Margaret, and a leader of one party marched hand in hand with a leader of the opposite. The less real cordiality prevailed, the more were the exterior demonstrations of amity redoubled. But it was evident that a contest for a crown could not thus be peaceably accommodated, that each party watched only for an opportunity of subverting the other, and that much blood must yet be spilt ere the nation could be restored to perfect tranquillity or enjoy a settled and established government.

Even the smallest accident, without any formed design, was sufficient, in the present disposition of men's minds, to dissolve the seeming harmony between the parties; and, had the intentions of the leaders been ever so amicable, they would have found it difficult to restrain the animosity of their followers. One of the King's retinue insulted one of the Earl of Warwick's; their companions on both sides took part in the quarrel; a fierce combat ensued; the Earl apprehended his life to be aimed at; he fled to his government of Calais; and both parties, in every county of England, openly made preparations for deciding the contest by war and arms.

The Earl of Salisbury, marching to join the Duke of York, was overtaken at Blore Heath, on the borders of Staffordshire, by Lord Audley, who commanded much superior forces; and a small rivulet with steep banks ran between the armies. Salisbury here supplied his defect in numbers by stratagem a refinement of which there occur few instances in the English civil wars, where a headlong courage, more than military conduct, is commonly to be remarked. He feigned a retreat, and allured Audley to follow him with precipitation; but when the van of the royal army had passed the brook, Salisbury suddenly turned upon them, and partly by the surprise, partly by the division of the enemy's forces, put this body to rout; the example of flight was followed by the rest of the army; and Salisbury, obtaining a complete victory, reached the general rendezvous of the Yorkists at Ludlow. The Earl of Warwick brought over to this rendezvous a choice body of veterans from Calais, on whom, it was thought, the fortune of the war would much depend; but this reënforcement occasioned, in the issue, the immediate ruin of the Duke of York's party. When the royal army approached, and a general action was every hour expected, Sir Andrew Trollop, who commanded the veterans, deserted to the King in the night-time; and the Yorkists were so dismayed at this instance of treachery, which made every man suspicious of his fellow, that they separated next day without striking a blow; the Duke fled to Ireland; the Earl of Warwick, attended by many of the other leaders, escaped to Calais, where his great popularity among all orders of men, particularly among the military, soon drew to him partisans, and rendered his power very formidable. The friends of the house of York in England kept themselves everywhere in readiness to rise on the first summons from their leaders.

After meeting with some successes at sea, Warwick landed in Kent, with the Earl of Salisbury and the Earl of March, eldest son of the Duke of York; and being met by the Primate, by Lord Cobham, and other persons of distinction, he marched, amid the acclamations of the people, to London. The city immediately opened its gates to him; and, his troops increasing on every day's march, he soon found himself in a condition to face the royal army, which hastened from Coventry to attack him. The battle was fought at Northampton, and was soon decided against the royalists by the infidelity of Lord Grey of Ruthin, who, commanding Henry's van, deserted to the enemy during the heat of action, and spread a consternation through the troops. The Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, the Lords Beaumont and Egremont, and Sir William Lucie were killed in the action or pursuit; the slaughter fell chiefly on the gentry and nobility; the common people were spared by orders of the Earls of Warwick and March. Henry himself, that empty shadow of a king, was again taken prisoner; and as the innocence and simplicity of his manners, which bore the appearance of sanctity, had procured him the tender regard of the people, the Earl of Warwick and the other leaders took care to distinguish themselves by their respectful demeanor toward him.

A parliament was summoned in the King's name, and met at Westminster, where the Duke soon after appeared from Ireland. This Prince had never hitherto advanced openly any claim to the crown. He advanced toward the throne; and being met by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who asked him whether he had yet paid his respects to the King, he replied that he knew of none to whom he owed that title. He then stood near the throne, and, addressing himself to the House of Peers, he gave them a deduction of his title by descent, and pleaded his cause before them. The lords remained in suspense, and no one ventured to utter a word. Richard was much disappointed at their silence; but, desiring them to reflect on what he had proposed to them, he departed the house.

The peers, after deliberating, declared the title of the duke of York to be certain and indefeasible; but in consideration that Henry had enjoyed the crown, without dispute or controversy, during the course of thirty-eight years, they determined that he should continue to possess the title and dignity during the remainder of his life; that the administration of the government, meanwhile, should remain with Richard; that he should be acknowledged the true and lawful heir of the monarchy; that everyone should swear to maintain his succession, and it should be treason to attempt his life. The act thus passed with the unanimous consent of the whole legislative body.

The Duke, apprehending his chief danger to arise from Queen Margaret, sought a pretence for banishing her the kingdom; he sent her in the King's name a summons to come immediately to London, intending, in case of her disobedience, to proceed to extremities against her. But the Queen needed not this menace to excite her activity in defending the rights of her family. After the defeat of Northampton she had fled with her infant son to Durham, thence to Scotland; but soon returning she applied to the northern barons, and employed every motive to procure their assistance. Her affability, insinuation, and address—qualities in which she excelled—her caresses, her promises, wrought a powerful effect on everyone who approached her; the admiration of her great qualities was succeeded by compassion toward her helpless condition; the nobility of that quarter, who regarded themselves as the most warlike in the kingdom, were moved by indignation to find the southern barons pretend to dispose of the crown and settle the government. And, that they might allure the people to their standard, they promised them the spoils of all the provinces on the other side of the Trent. By these means the Queen had collected an army twenty thousand strong, with a celerity which was neither expected by her friends nor apprehended by her enemies.

The Duke of York, informed of her appearance in the north, hastened thither with a body of five thousand men, to suppress, as he imagined, the beginnings of an insurrection; when, on his arrival at Wakefield, he found himself so much outnumbered by the enemy. He threw himself into Sandal castle, which was situated in the neighborhood; and he was advised by the Earl of Salisbury and other prudent counsellors to remain in that fortress till his son, the Earl of March, who was levying forces in the borders of Wales, could advance to his assistance. But the Duke, though deficient in political courage, possessed personal bravery in an eminent degree; and notwithstanding his wisdom and experience, he thought that he should be forever disgraced if, by taking shelter behind walls, he should for a moment resign the victory to a woman. He descended into the plain and offered battle to the enemy, which was instantly accepted. The great inequality of numbers was sufficient alone to decide the victory; but the Queen, by sending a detachment, who fell on the back of the Duke's army, rendered her advantage still more certain and undisputed. The Duke himself was killed in the action; and as his body was found among the slain, the head was cut off by Margaret's orders and fixed on the gates of York, with a paper crown upon it, in derision of his pretended title.

The Queen, after this important victory, divided her army. She sent the smaller division, under Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, half brother to the King, against Edward the new Duke of York. She herself marched with the larger division toward London, where the Earl of Warwick had been left with the command of the Yorkists. Pembroke was defeated by Edward at Mortimer's Cross, in Herefordshire, his army was dispersed, and he himself escaped by flight.

Margaret compensated this defeat by a victory which she obtained over the Earl of Warwick. That nobleman, on the approach of the Lancastrians, led out his army, reënforced by a strong body of the Londoners, who were affectionate to his cause; and he gave battle to the Queen at St. Albans. While the armies were warmly engaged, Lovelace, who commanded a considerable body of the Yorkists, withdrew from the combat; and this treacherous conduct decided the victory in favor of the Queen. The person of the King fell again into the hands of his own party. Lord Bonville, to whose care he had been intrusted by the Yorkists, remained with him after the defeat, on assurances of pardon given him by Henry; but Margaret, regardless of her husband's promise, immediately ordered the head of that nobleman to be struck off by the executioner. Sir Thomas Kiriel, a brave warrior, who had signalized himself in the French wars, was treated in the same manner.

The Queen made no great advantage of this victory. Young Edward advanced upon her from the other side, and, collecting the remains of Warwick's army, was soon in a condition of giving her battle with superior forces. She found it necessary to retreat to the north. Edward entered the capital amid the acclamations of the citizens, and immediately opened a new scene to his party. This Prince, in the bloom of youth, remarkable for the beauty of his person, for his bravery, his activity, his affability, and every popular quality, found himself so much possessed of public favor that, elated with the spirit natural to his age, he resolved no longer to confine himself within those narrow limits which his father had prescribed to himself, and which had been found by experience so prejudicial to his cause. He determined to assume the name and dignity of king, to insist openly on his claim, and thenceforth to treat the opposite party as traitors and rebels to his lawful authority. His army was ordered to assemble in St. John's Fields, and great numbers of people surrounded them. They were asked whether they would have Henry of Lancaster for king. They unanimously exclaimed against the proposal It was then demanded whether they would accept of Edward, eldest son of the late Duke of York. They expressed their assent by loud and joyful acclamations. A great number of bishops, lords, magistrates, and other persons of distinction were next assembled at Baynard's castle, who ratified the popular election; and the new king was on the subsequent day proclaimed in London by the title of Edward IV.

In this manner ended the reign of Henry VI, a monarch who while in his cradle had been proclaimed king both of France and England, and who began his life with the most splendid prospects that any prince in Europe had ever enjoyed.

Young Edward, now in his twentieth year, was bold, active, and enterprising. The very commencement of his reign gave symptoms of his sanguinary disposition. The scaffold, as well as the field, incessantly streamed with the noblest blood of England. Queen Margaret had prudently retired northward among her own partisans, and she was able in a few days to assemble an army sixty thousand strong in Yorkshire. The King and the Earl of Warwick hastened, with an army of forty thousand men, to check her progress; and when they reached Pomfret they despatched a body of troops, under the command of Lord Fitzwalter, to secure the passage of Ferrybridge over the river Are, which lay between them and the enemy. Fitzwalter took possession of the post assigned him, but was not able to maintain it against Lord Clifford, who attacked him with superior numbers. The Yorkists were chased back with great slaughter, and Lord Fitzwalter himself was slain in the action.

The Earl of Warwick, dreading the consequences of this disaster, at a time when a decisive action was every hour expected, immediately ordered his horse to be brought him, which he stabbed before the whole army, and, kissing the hilt of his sword, swore that he was determined to share the fate of the meanest soldier. A proclamation was at the same time issued, giving to everyone full liberty to retire, but menacing the severest punishment to those who should discover any symptoms of cowardice in the ensuing battle. Lord Falconberg was sent to recover the post which had been lost. He passed the river some miles above Ferrybridge, and, falling unexpectedly on Lord Clifford, revenged the former disaster by the defeat of the party and the death of their leader.

The hostile armies met at Touton, and a fierce and bloody battle ensued. While the Yorkists were advancing to the charge, there happened a great fall of snow, which, driving full in the faces of their enemies, blinded them; and this advantage was improved by a stratagem of Lord Falconberg's. That nobleman ordered some infantry to advance before the line, and, after having sent a volley of flight arrows (as they were called) amid the enemy, immediately to retire. The Lancastrians, imagining that they were gotten within reach of the opposite army, discharged all their arrows, which thus fell short of the Yorkists. After the quivers of the enemy were emptied, Edward advanced his line and did execution with impunity on the dismayed Lancastrians. The bow, however, was soon laid aside, and the sword decided the combat, which ended in a total victory on the side of the Yorkists. Edward issued orders to give no quarter. The routed army was pursued to Tadcaster with great bloodshed and confusion, and above thirty-six thousand men are computed to have fallen in the battle and pursuit. Henry and Margaret had remained at York during the action; but, learning the defeat of their army, they fled into Scotland.

Scotland had never exerted itself to take advantage either of the wars which England carried on with France or of the civil commotions between the contending families. James I avoided all hostilities with foreign nations. After the murder of that excellent Prince, the minority of his son and successor, James II, and the distractions incident to it, retained the Scots in the same state of neutrality. But when the quarrel commenced between the houses of York and Lancaster, and became absolutely incurable but by the total extinction of one party, James, who had now risen to man's estate, was tempted to seize the opportunity, and he endeavored to recover those places which the English had formerly conquered from his ancestors. He laid siege to the castle of Roxburghe in 1460, and had provided himself with a small train of artillery for that enterprise; but his cannon was so ill-framed that one of them burst as he was firing it, and put an end to his life in the flower of his age.

His son and successor, James III, was also a minor on his accession; the usual distractions ensued in the government: the Queen Dowager, Anne of Gueldres, aspired to the regency; the family of Douglas opposed her pretensions; and Queen Margaret, when she fled into Scotland, found there a people little less divided by faction than those by whom she had been expelled. Though she pleaded the connections between the royal family of Scotland and the house of Lancaster, she could engage the Scottish council to go no further than to express their good wishes in her favor; but on her offer to deliver to them immediately the important fortress of Berwick, and to contract her son in marriage with a sister of King James, she found a better reception; and the Scots promised the assistance of their arms to reinstate her family upon the throne. But Edward did not pursue the fugitive King and Queen into their retreat; he returned to London, where a parliament was summoned for settling the government.

On the meeting of this assembly, Edward found the good effects of his vigorous measure in assuming the crown, as well as of his victory at Touton, by which he had secured it. The parliament no longer hesitated between the two families, or proposed any of those ambiguous decisions which could only serve to perpetuate and to inflame the animosities of party. They recognized the title of Edward, by hereditary descent, through the family of Mortimer, and declared that he was king by right, from the death of his father, who had also the same lawful title; and that he was in possession of the crown from the day that he assumed the government, tendered to him by the acclamations of the people. They reinstated the King in all the possessions which had belonged to the crown at the pretended deposition of Richard II.

But the new establishment seemed precarious and uncertain, not only from the domestic discontents of the people, but from the efforts of foreign powers. Louis, the eleventh of the name, had succeeded to his father, Charles, in 1460, and was led from the obvious motives of national interest to feed the flames of civil discord among such dangerous neighbors by giving support to the weaker party. But the intriguing and politic genius of this Prince was here checked by itself: having attempted to subdue the independent spirit of his own vassals, he had excited such an opposition at home as prevented him from making all the advantage, which the opportunity afforded, of the dissensions among the English. He sent, however, a small body to Henry's assistance under Varenne, seneschal of Normandy, 1462, who landed in Northumberland and got possession of the castle of Alnwick; but as the indefatigable Margaret went in person to France, where she solicited larger supplies, and promised Louis to deliver up Calais if her family should by his means be restored to the throne of England, he was induced to send along with her a body of two thousand men-at-arms, which enabled her to take the field and to make an inroad into England, 1464. Though reënforced by a numerous train of adventurers from Scotland, and by many partisans of the family of Lancaster, she received a check at Hedgeley Moor from Lord Montacute, or Montagu, brother to the Earl of Warwick and warden of the east marches between Scotland and England. Montagu was so encouraged with this success that, while a numerous reinforcement was on its march to join him by orders from Edward, he yet ventured, with his own troops alone, to attack the Lancastrians at Hexham; and he obtained a complete victory over them. The Duke of Somerset, the Lords Roos and Hungerford, were taken in the pursuit, and immediately beheaded by martial law at Hexham. Summary justice was in like manner executed at Newcastle on Sir Humphrey Nevil, and several other gentlemen. All those who were spared in the field suffered on the scaffold, and the utter extermination of their adversaries was now become the plain object of the York party; a conduct which received but too plausible an apology from the preceding practice of the Lancastrians.

The fate of the unfortunate royal family, after this defeat, was singular. Margaret, flying with her son into a forest, where she endeavored to conceal herself, was beset, during the darkness of the night, by robbers, who, either ignorant or regardless of her quality, despoiled her of her rings and jewels, and treated her with the utmost indignity. The partition of this rich booty raised a quarrel among them; and, while their attention was thus engaged, she took the opportunity of making her escape with her son into the thickest of the forest, where she wandered for some time, overspent with hunger and fatigue and sunk with terror and affliction. While in this wretched condition, she saw a robber approach with his naked sword; and, finding that she had no means of escape, she suddenly embraced the resolution of trusting entirely for protection to his faith and generosity. She advanced toward him, and, presenting to him the young Prince, called out to him, "Here my friend, I commit to your care the safety of your King's son."

The man, whose humanity and generous spirit had been obscured, not entirely lost, by his vicious course of life, was struck with the singularity of the event, was charmed with the confidence reposed in him, and vowed not only to abstain from all injury against the Princess, but to devote himself entirely to her service. By his means she dwelt some time concealed in the forest, and was at last conducted to the sea-coast, whence she made her escape into Flanders. She passed thence into her father's court, where she lived several years in privacy and retirement. Her husband was not so fortunate or so dexterous in finding the means of escape. Some of his friends took him under their protection and conveyed him into Lancashire, where he remained concealed during a twelvemonth; but he was at last detected, delivered up to Edward, and thrown into the Tower. The safety of his person was owing less to the generosity of his enemies than to the contempt which they had entertained of his courage and his understanding.

The imprisonment of Henry, the expulsion of Margaret, the execution and confiscation of all the most eminent Lancastrians, seemed to give full security to Edward's government. But his amorous temper led him into a snare, which proved fatal to his repose and to the stability of his throne. Jaqueline of Luxemburg, Duchess of Bedford, had, after her husband's death, so far sacrificed her ambition to love that she espoused in second marriage Sir Richard Woodeville, a private gentleman, to whom she bore several children, and among the rest Elizabeth, who was remarkable for the grace and beauty of her person, as well as for other amiable accomplishments. This young lady had married Sir John Gray of Groby, by whom she had children; and her husband being slain in the second battle of St. Albans, fighting on the side of Lancaster, and his estate being for that reason confiscated, his widow retired to live with her father, at his seat of Grafton, in Northamptonshire. The King came accidentally to the house after a hunting party, in order to pay a visit to the Duchess of Bedford, and, as the occasion seemed favorable for obtaining some grace from this gallant monarch, the young widow flung herself at his feet, and with many tears entreated him to take pity on her impoverished and distressed children. The sight of so much beauty in affliction strongly affected the amorous Edward, love stole sensibly into his heart under the guise of compassion; and her sorrow, so becoming a virtuous matron, made his esteem and regard quickly correspond to his affection. He raised her from the ground with assurances of favor; he found his passion increase every moment by the conversation of the amiable object; and he was soon reduced, in his turn, to the posture and style of a supplicant at the feet of Elizabeth. But the lady, either averse to dishonorable love from a sense of duty, or perceiving that the impression which she had made was so deep as to give her hopes of obtaining the highest elevation, obstinately refused to gratify his passion; and all the endearments, caresses, and importunities of the young and amiable Edward proved fruitless against her rigid and inflexible virtue. His passion, irritated by opposition and increased by his veneration for such honorable sentiments, carried him at last beyond all bounds of reason, and he offered to share his throne, as well as his heart, with the woman whose beauty of person and dignity of character seemed so well to entitle her to both. The marriage was privately celebrated at Grafton; the secret was carefully kept for some time; no one suspected that so libertine a prince could sacrifice so much to a romantic passion; and there were, in particular, strong reasons which at that time rendered this step, to the highest degree, dangerous and imprudent.

The King, desirous to secure his throne, as well by the prospect of issue as by foreign alliances, had, a little before, determined to make application to some neighboring princess; and he had cast his eye on Bona of Savoy, sister to the Queen of France, who, he hoped, would by her marriage insure him the friendship of that power which was alone both able and inclined to give support and assistance to his rival. To render the negotiation more successful, the Earl of Warwick had been despatched to Paris, where the Princess then resided; he had demanded Bona in marriage for the King; his proposals had been accepted; the treaty was fully concluded; and nothing remained but the ratification of the terms agreed on, and the bringing over the Princess to England. But when the secret of Edward's marriage broke out, the haughty Earl, deeming himself affronted, both by being employed in this fruitless negotiation and by being kept a stranger to the King's intentions, who had owed everything to his friendship, immediately returned to England, inflamed with rage and indignation. The influence of passion over so young a man as Edward might have served as an excuse for his imprudent conduct had he deigned to acknowledge his error or had pleaded his weakness as an apology; but his faulty shame or pride prevented him from so much as mentioning the matter to Warwick; and that nobleman was allowed to depart the court, full of the same ill-humor and discontent which he had brought to it.

Every incident now tended to widen the breach between the King and this powerful subject. The Queen, who lost not her influence by marriage, was equally solicitous to draw every grace and favor to her own friends and kindred and to exclude those of the Earl, whom she regarded as her mortal enemy.

The Earl of Warwick could not suffer with patience the least diminution of that credit which he had long enjoyed, and which he thought he had merited by such important services. Edward also, jealous of that power which had supported him, was well pleased to raise up rivals to the Earl of Warwick; and he justified, by this political view, his extreme partiality to the Queen's kindred. But the nobility of England, envying the sudden growth of the Woodevilles, was more inclined to take part with Warwick's discontent.

An extensive and dangerous combination was insensibly formed against Edward and his ministry. While this cloud was gathering at home, Edward endeavored to secure himself against his factious nobility by entering into foreign alliances. But whatever ambitious schemes the King might have built on these alliances, they were soon frustrated by intestine commotions, which engrossed all his attention. These disorders probably arose not immediately from the intrigues of the Earl of Warwick, but from accident, aided by the turbulent spirit of the age, by the general humor of discontent which that popular nobleman had instilled into the nation, and perhaps by some remains of attachment to the house of Lancaster. The hospital of St. Leonard's, near York, had received, from an ancient grant of King Athelstane, a right of levying a thrave of corn upon every ploughland in the county. The country people complained that the revenue of the hospital was no longer expended for the relief of the poor, but was secreted by the managers, and employed to their private purposes. After long repining at the contribution, they refused payment; ecclesiastical and civil censures were issued against them; their goods were distrained, and their persons thrown into jail; till, as their ill-humor daily increased, they rose in arms, fell upon the officers of the hospital, whom they put to the sword, and proceeded in a body, fifteen thousand strong, to the gates of York. Lord Montagu, who commanded in those parts, opposed himself to their progress; and having been so fortunate in a skirmish as to seize Robert Hulderne, their leader, he ordered him immediately to be led to execution, according to the practice of the times.

The rebels, however, still continued in arms; and being soon headed by men of greater distinction—Sir Henry Nevil, son of Lord Latimer, and Sir John Coniers—they advanced southward, and began to appear formidable to the Government. Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, was ordered by Edward to march against them at the head of a body of Welshmen; and he was joined by five thousand archers, under the command of Stafford, Earl of Devonshire. But a trivial difference about quarters having begotten an animosity between these two noblemen, the Earl of Devonshire retired with his archers, and left Pembroke alone to encounter the rebels.

The two armies approached each other near Banbury, 1469, and Pembroke, having prevailed in a skirmish, and having taken Sir John Nevil prisoner, ordered him immediately to be put to death, without any form of process. This execution enraged without terrifying the rebels; they attacked the Welsh army, routed them, put them to the sword without mercy; and, having seized Pembroke, they took immediate revenge upon him for the death of their leader. The King, imputing this misfortune to the Earl of Devonshire, who had deserted Pembroke, ordered him to be executed in a like summary manner.

Soon after there broke out another rebellion. It arose in Lincolnshire, and was headed by Sir Robert Welles. The army of the rebels amounted to thirty thousand men. The King fought a battle with the rebels, defeated them, took Sir Robert Welles and Sir Thomas Launde prisoners, and ordered them immediately to be beheaded. Edward during these transactions had entertained so little jealousy of the Earl of Warwick or the Duke of Clarence that he sent them with commissions of array to levy forces against the rebels; but these malecontents, as soon as they left the court, raised troops in their own name, issued declarations against the Government, and complained of grievances, oppressions, and bad ministers. The unexpected defeat of Welles disconcerted all their measures; and they retired northward into Lancashire, where they expected to be joined by Lord Stanley, who had married the Earl of Warwick's sister. But as that nobleman refused all concurrence with them, and as Lord Montagu also remained quiet in Yorkshire, they were obliged to disband their army and to fly into Devonshire, where they embarked and made sail toward Calais.

The King of France received Warwick with the greatest demonstrations of regard, and hoped to make him his instrument in overturning the government of England and reestablishing the house of Lancaster. No animosity was ever greater than that which had long prevailed between that house and the Earl of Warwick. But his present distresses and the entreaties of Louis made him hearken to terms of accommodation; and Margaret being sent for from Angers, where she then resided, an agreement was soon concluded between them. It was stipulated that Warwick should espouse the cause of Henry and endeavor to restore him to liberty and to reestablish him on the throne; that the administration of the government during the minority of young Edward, Henry's son, should be intrusted conjointly to the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of Clarence; that Prince Edward should marry the Lady Anne, second daughter of that nobleman; and that the crown, in case of the failure of male issue in that Prince, should descend to the Duke of Clarence, to the entire exclusion of King Edward and his posterity. The marriage of Prince Edward with the Lady Anne was immediately celebrated in France.

Edward foresaw that it would be easy to dissolve an alliance composed of such discordant parts. For this purpose he sent over a lady of great sagacity and address, who belonged to the train of the Duchess of Clarence, and who, under color of attending her mistress, was empowered to negotiate with the Duke, and to renew the connections of that Prince with his own family. She represented to Clarence that he had unwarily, to his own ruin, become the instrument of Warwick's vengeance, and had thrown himself entirely in the power of his most inveterate enemies; that the mortal injuries which the one royal family had suffered from the other were now past all forgiveness, and no imaginary union of interests could ever suffice to obliterate them; that, even if the leaders were willing to forget past offences, the animosity of their adherents would prevent a sincere coalition of parties, and would, in spite of all temporary and verbal agreements, preserve an eternal opposition of measures between them; and that a prince who deserted his own kindred, and joined the murderers of his father, left himself single, without friends, without protection, and would not, when misfortunes inevitably fell upon him, be so much as entitled to any pity or regard from the rest of mankind. Clarence was only one-and-twenty years of age, and seems to have possessed but a slender capacity; yet could he easily see the force of these reasons; and, upon the promise of forgiveness from his brother, he secretly engaged, on a favorable opportunity, to desert the Earl of Warwick and abandon the Lancastrian party.

During this negotiation Warwick was secretly carrying on a correspondence of the same nature with his brother, the Marquis of Montagu, who was, entirely trusted by Edward; and like motives produced a like resolution in that nobleman. The Marquis, also, that he might render the projected blow the more deadly and incurable, resolved on his side to watch a favorable opportunity for committing his perfidy, and still to maintain the appearance of being a zealous adherent to the house of York.

After these mutual snares were thus carefully laid, the decision of the quarrel advanced apace. Louis prepared a fleet to escort the Earl of Warwick, and granted him a supply of men and money. The Duke of Burgundy, on the other hand, anxious to support the reigning family in England, fitted out a larger fleet, with which he guarded the Channel. Edward was not sensible of his danger; he made no suitable preparations against the Earl of Warwick; he even said that the Duke might spare himself the trouble of guarding the seas, and that he wished for nothing more than to see Warwick set foot on English ground.

The event soon happened of which Edward seemed so desirous. A storm dispersed the Duke of Burgundy's navy, and left the sea open to Warwick. That nobleman seized the opportunity, and, setting sail, quickly landed at Dartmouth with the Duke of Clarence, the earls of Oxford and Pembroke, and a small body of troops, while the King was in the North, engaged in suppressing an insurrection which had been raised by Lord Fitz-Hugh, brother-in-law to Warwick. The scene which ensues resembles more the fiction of a poem or romance than an event in true history. The prodigious popularity of Warwick, the zeal of the Lancastrian party, the spirit of discontent with which many were infected, and the general instability of the English nation occasioned by the late frequent revolutions drew such multitudes to his standard that in a very few days his army amounted to sixty thousand men and was continually increasing. Edward hastened southward to encounter him; and the two armies approached each other near Nottingham, where a decisive action was every hour expected.

The rapidity of Warwick's progress had incapacitated the Duke of Clarence from executing his plan of treachery; and the Marquis of Montagu had here the opportunity of striking the first blow. He communicated the design to his adherents, who promised him their concurrence; they took to arms in the night-time, and hastened with loud acclamations to Edward's quarters; the King was alarmed at the noise, and, starting from bed, heard the cry of war usually employed by the Lancastrian party. Lord Hastings, his chamberlain, informed him of the danger, and urged him to make his escape by speedy flight from an army where he had so many concealed enemies and where few seemed zealously attached to his service. He had just time to get on horseback and to hurry with a small retinue to Lynne, in Norfolk, where he luckily found some ships ready, on board of which he instantly embarked. The Earl of Warwick, in eleven days after his first landing, was left entire master of the kingdom. But Edward's danger did not end with his embarkation. The Easterlings or Hanse Towns were then at war both with France and England; and some ships of these people, hovering on the English coast, espied the King's vessels and gave chase to them; nor was it without extreme difficulty that he made his escape into the port of Alkmaar in Holland.

Immediately after Edward's flight had left the kingdom at Warwick's disposal, that nobleman hastened to London; and taking Henry from his confinement in the Tower, into which he himself had been the chief cause of throwing him, he proclaimed him King with great solemnity. A parliament was summoned, in the name of that Prince, to meet at Westminster. The treaty with Margaret was here fully executed; Henry was recognized as lawful king; but, his incapacity for government being avowed, the regency was intrusted to Warwick and Clarence till the majority of Prince Edward; and in default of that Prince's issue, Clarence was declared successor to the crown.

The ruling party were more sparing in their executions than was usual after any revolution during those violent times. The only victim of distinction was John Tibetot, Earl of Worcester. All the other considerable Yorkists either fled beyond sea or took shelter in sanctuaries, where the ecclesiastical privileges afforded them protection. In London alone it is computed that no less than two thousand persons saved themselves in this manner, and among the rest Edward's Queen, who was there delivered of a son, called by his father's name. Queen Margaret had not yet appeared in England, but, on receiving intelligence of Warwick's success, was preparing with Prince Edward for her journey. All the banished Lancastrians flocked to her, and, among the rest, the Duke of Somerset, son of the Duke beheaded after the battle of Hexham. This nobleman, who had long been regarded as the head of the party, had fled into the Low Countries on the discomfiture of his friends; and as he concealed his name and quality, he had there languished in extreme indigence. But both Somerset and Margaret were detained by contrary winds from reaching England, till a new revolution in that kingdom, no less sudden and surprising than the former, threw them into greater misery than that from which they had just emerged.

The Duke of Burgundy equipped four large vessels, in the name of some private merchants, at Terveer, in Zealand; and, causing fourteen ships to be secretly hired from the Easterlings, he delivered this small squadron to Edward, who, receiving also a sum of money from the Duke, immediately set sail for England, 1471.

Edward, impatient to take revenge on his enemies and to recover his lost authority, made an attempt to land with his forces, which exceeded not two thousand men, on the coast of Norfolk; but being there repulsed, he sailed northward and disembarked at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire. Finding that the new magistrates, who had been appointed by the Earl of Warwick, kept the people everywhere from joining him, he pretended, and even made oath, that he came, not to challenge the crown, but only the inheritance of the house of York, which of right belonged to him, and that he did not intend to disturb the peace of the kingdom. His partisans every moment flocked to his standard; he was admitted into the city of York; and he was soon in such a situation as gave him hopes of succeeding in all his claims and pretensions.

Warwick assembled an army at Leicester, with an intention of meeting and of giving battle to the enemy, but Edward, by taking another road, passed him unmolested and presented himself before the gates of London. Edward's entrance into London made him master not only of that rich and powerful city, but also of the person of Henry, who, destined to be the perpetual sport of fortune, thus fell again into the hands of his enemies. It does not appear that Warwick, during his short administration, which had continued only six months, had been guilty of any unpopular act, or had anywise deserved to lose that general favor with which he had so lately overwhelmed Edward. But this Prince, who was formerly on the defensive, was now the aggressor. Everyone who had been disappointed in the hopes which he had entertained from Warwick's elevation either became a cool friend or an open enemy to that nobleman; and each malecontent, from whatever cause, proved an accession to Edward's army.

The King, therefore, found himself in a condition to face the Earl of Warwick, who, being reënforced by his son-in-law the Duke of Clarence, and his brother the Marquis of Montagu, took post at Barnet, in the neighborhood of London. Warwick was now too far advanced to retreat, and, as he rejected with disdain all terms of peace offered him by Edward and Clarence, he was obliged to hazard a general engagement. The battle was fought with obstinacy on both sides. The two armies, in imitation of their leaders, displayed uncommon valor; and the victory remained long undecided between them. But an accident threw the balance to the side of the Yorkists. Edward's cognizance was a sun; that of Warwick a star with rays; and the mistiness of the morning rendering it difficult to distinguish them, the Earl of Oxford, who fought on the side of the Lancastrians, was by mistake attacked by his friends and chased off the field of battle. Warwick, contrary to his more usual practice, engaged that day on foot, resolving to show his army that he meant to share every fortune with them, and he was slain in the thickest of the engagement; and as Edward had issued orders not to give any quarter, a great and undistinguished slaughter was made in the pursuit. There fell about one thousand five hundred on the side of the victors.

The same day on which this decisive battle was fought, Queen Margaret and her son, now about eighteen years of age and a young prince of great hopes, landed at Weymouth, supported by a small body of French forces. When this Princess received intelligence of her husband's captivity, and of the defeat and death of the Earl of Warwick, her courage, which had supported her under so many disastrous events, here quite left her; and she immediately foresaw all the dismal consequences of this calamity. At first she took sanctuary in the Abbey of Beaulieu; but being encouraged by men of rank, who exhorted her still to hope for success, she resumed her former spirit and determined to defend to the utmost the ruins of her fallen fortunes. She advanced through the counties of Devon, Somerset, and Gloucester, increasing her army on each day's march, but was at last overtaken by the rapid and expeditious Edward at Tewkesbury, on the banks of the Severn. The Lancastrians were here totally defeated; the Earl of Devonshire and Lord Wenlock were killed in the field; the Duke of Somerset and about twenty other persons of distinction, having taken shelter in a church, were surrounded, dragged out, and immediately beheaded; about three thousand of their side fell in battle; and the army was entirely dispersed.

Queen Margaret and her son were taken prisoners and brought to the King, who asked the Prince, after an insulting manner, how he dared to invade his dominions. The young Prince, more mindful of his high birth than of his present fortune, replied that he came thither to claim his just inheritance. The ungenerous Edward, insensible to pity, struck him on the face with his gauntlet; and the Dukes of Clarence and Gloucester, Lord Hastings, and Sir Thomas Gray, taking the blow as a signal for further violence, hurried the Prince into the next apartment and there despatched him with their daggers. Margaret was thrown into the Tower; King Henry expired in that confinement a few days after the battle of Tewkesbury; but whether he died a natural or violent death is uncertain. It is pretended, and was generally believed, that the Duke of Gloucester killed him with his own hands; but the universal odium which that Prince had incurred, perhaps inclined the nation to aggravate his crimes without any sufficient authority.

All the hopes of the house of Lancaster seemed now to be utterly extinguished. Every legitimate prince of that family was dead; almost every great leader of the party had perished in battle or on the scaffold; the Earl of Pembroke, who was levying forces in Wales, disbanded his army when he received intelligence of the battle of Tewkesbury, and he fled into Brittany with his nephew, the young Earl of Richmond. The bastard of Falconberg, who had levied some forces, and had advanced to London during Edward's absence, was repulsed; his men deserted him; he was taken prisoner and immediately executed; and peace being now fully restored to the nation, a parliament was summoned, which ratified, as usual, all the acts of the victor, and recognized his legal authority.

This Prince, who had been so firm and active and intrepid during the course of adversity, was still unable to resist the allurements of a prosperous fortune; and he devoted himself, as before, to pleasure and amusement, after he became entirely master of his kingdom. But while he was thus indulging himself in pleasure, he was roused from his lethargy by a prospect of foreign conquests. He passed over to Calais, 1475, with an army of one thousand five hundred men-at-arms and fifteen thousand archers, attended by all the chief nobility of England, who, prognosticating future successes from the past, were eager to appear on this great theatre of honor. But all their sanguine hopes were damped when they found, on entering the French territories, that neither did the constable open his gates to them nor the Duke of Burgundy bring them the smallest assistance. That Prince, transported by his ardent temper, had carried all his armies to a great distance, and had employed them in wars on the frontiers of Germany and against the Duke of Lorraine; and though he came in person to Edward, and endeavored to apologize for this breach of treaty, there was no prospect that they would be able this campaign to make a conjunction with the English. This circumstance gave great disgust to the King, and inclined him to hearken to those advances which Louis continually made him for an accommodation.

Louis was sensible that the warlike genius of the people would soon render them excellent soldiers, and, far from despising them for their present want of experience, he employed all his art to detach them from the alliance of Burgundy. When Edward sent him a herald to claim the crown of France, and to carry him a defiance in case of refusal, so far from answering to this bravado in like haughty terms, he replied with great temper, and even made the herald a considerable present. He took afterward an opportunity of sending a herald to the English camp, and having given him directions to apply to Lords Stanley and Howard, who, he heard, were friends to peace, he desired the good offices of these noblemen in promoting an accommodation with their master. As Edward was now fallen into like dispositions, a truce was soon concluded on terms more advantageous than honorable to Louis. He stipulated to pay Edward immediately seventy-five thousand crowns, on condition that he should withdraw his army from France, and promised to pay him fifty thousand crowns a year during their joint lives. In order to ratify this treaty, the two monarchs agreed to have a personal interview. Edward and Louis conferred privately together; and having confirmed their friendship, and interchanged many mutual civilities, they soon after parted. As the two armies, after the conclusion of the truce, remained some time in the neighborhood of each other, the English were not only admitted freely into Amiens, where Louis resided, but had also their charges defrayed, and had wine and victuals furnished them in every inn without any payment being demanded.

This treaty did very little honor to either of these monarchs. It discovered the imprudence of Edward, who had taken his measures so ill with his allies as to be obliged, after such an expensive armament, to return without making any acquisitions adequate to it. It showed the want of dignity in Louis, who, rather than run the hazard of a battle, agreed to subject his kingdom to a tribunal, and thus acknowledge the superiority of a neighboring prince possessed of less power and territory than himself. But Louis thought that all the advantages of the treaty were on his side, and that he had overreached Edward by sending him out of France on such easy terms.

The most honorable part of Louis' treaty with Edward was the stipulation for the liberty of Queen Margaret, who, though after the death of her husband and son she could no longer be formidable to Government, was still detained in custody by Edward. Louis paid fifty thousand crowns for her ransom; and that Princess, who had been so active on the stage of the world, and who had experienced such a variety of fortune, passed the remainder of her days in tranquillity and privacy till the year 1482, when she died; an admirable princess, but more illustrious by her undaunted spirit in adversity than by her moderation in prosperity. She seems neither to have enjoyed the virtues nor been subject to the weaknesses of her sex, and was as much tainted with the ferocity as endowed with the courage of that barbarous age in which she lived.

The Duke of Clarence, by all his services in deserting Warwick, had never been able to regain the King's friendship, which he had forfeited by his former confederacy with that nobleman. He was still regarded at court as a man of a dangerous and a fickle character; and the imprudent openness and violence of his temper, though they rendered him much less dangerous, tended extremely to multiply his enemies and to incense them against him. Among others, he had had the misfortune to give displeasure to the Queen herself, as well as to his brother, the Duke of Gloucester, a prince of the deepest policy, of the most unrelenting ambition, and the least scrupulous in the means which he employed for the attainment of his ends. A combination between these potent adversaries being secretly formed against Clarence, it was determined to begin by attacking his friends. He was alarmed when he found acts of tyranny exercised on all around him; but, instead of securing his own life against the present danger by silence and reserve, he was open and loud in justifying the innocence of his friends and in exclaiming against the iniquity of their prosecutors. The King, highly offended with his freedom, or using that pretence against him, committed him to the Tower, 1478, summoned a parliament, and tried him for his life. Clarence was pronounced guilty by the peers. The House of Commons was no less slavish and unjust; they both petitioned for the execution of the Duke and afterward passed a bill of attainder against him.

The only favor which the King granted him after his condemnation was to leave him the choice of his death; and he was privately drowned in a butt of malmsey in the Tower—a whimsical choice, which implies that he had an extraordinary passion for that liquor.

The Duke left two children by the elder daughter of the Earl of Warwick: a son, created an earl by his grandfather's title, and a daughter, afterward Countess of Salisbury. Both this Prince and Princess were also unfortunate in their end, and died violent deaths—a fate which, for many years, attended almost all the descendants of the royal blood of England. There prevails a report that a chief source of the violent prosecution of the Duke of Clarence, whose name was George, was a current prophecy that the King's son should be murdered by one the initial letter of whose name was G. It is not impossible but, in those ignorant times, such a silly reason might have some influence; but it is more probable that the whole story is the invention of a subsequent period, and founded on the murder of these children by the Duke of Gloucester.

All the glories of Edward's reign terminated with the civil wars, where his laurels, too, were extremely sullied with blood, violence, and cruelty. His spirit seems afterward to have been sunk in indolence and pleasure, or his measures were frustrated by imprudence and the want of foresight. While he was making preparations for a French war he was seized with a distemper, of which he expired, 1483, in the forty-second year of his age and the twenty-third of his reign.

During the latter years of Edward IV the nation, having in a great measure forgotten the bloody feuds between the two roses, and peaceably acquiescing in the established government, was agitated only by some court intrigues, which, being restrained by the authority of the King, seemed nowise to endanger the public tranquillity. But Edward knew that, though he himself had been able to overawe rival factions, many disorders might arise from their contests during the minority of his son; and he therefore took care, in his last illness, to summon together several of the leaders on both sides, and, by composing their ancient quarrels, to provide as far as possible for the future tranquillity of the government. After expressing his intentions that his brother, the Duke of Gloucester, then absent in the North, should be intrusted with the regency, he recommended to them peace and unanimity during the tender years of his son, and engaged them to embrace each other with all the appearance of the most cordial reconciliation. But this temporary or feigned agreement lasted no longer than the King's life; he had no sooner expired than the jealousies of the parties broke out afresh; and each of them applied, by separate messages, to the Duke of Gloucester, and endeavored to acquire his favor and friendship.

This Prince, during his brother's reign, had endeavored to live on good terms with both parties, and his high birth, his extensive abilities, and his great services had enabled him to support himself without falling into a dependence on either. But the new situation of affairs, when the supreme power was devolved upon him, immediately changed his measures, and he secretly determined to preserve no longer that neutrality which he had hitherto maintained. His exorbitant ambition, unrestrained by any principle either of justice or humanity, made him carry his views to the possession of the crown itself, and, as this object could not be attained without the ruin of the Queen and her family, he fell, without hesitation, into concert with the opposite party. But, being sensible that the most profound dissimulation was requisite for effecting his criminal purposes, he redoubled his professions of zeal and attachment to that Princess; and he gained such credit with her as to influence her conduct in a point which, as it was of the utmost importance, was violently disputed between the opposite factions.

The young King, at the time of his father's death, resided in the castle of Ludlow, on the borders of Wales, whither he had been sent, that the influence of his presence might overawe the Welsh and restore the tranquillity of that country, which had been disturbed by some late commotions.

The Duke of Gloucester, being the nearest male of the royal family capable of exercising the government, seemed entitled, by the customs of the realm, to the office of protector; and the council, not waiting for the consent of parliament, made no scruple of investing him with that high dignity. The general prejudice entertained by the nobility against the Queen and her kindred occasioned this precipitation and irregularity; and no one foresaw any danger to the succession, much less to the lives of the young princes, from a measure so obvious and so natural. Besides that the Duke had hitherto been able to cover, by the most profound dissimulation, his fierce and savage nature, the numerous issue of Edward, together with the two children of Clarence, seemed to be an eternal obstacle to his ambition; and it appeared equally impracticable for him to destroy so many persons possessed of a preferable title and imprudent to exclude them.

But a man who had abandoned all principles of honor and humanity was soon carried by his predominant passion beyond the reach of fear or precaution; and Gloucester, having so far succeeded in his views, no longer hesitated in removing the other obstructions which lay between him and the throne. The death of the Earl of Rivers[2], and of other prisoners detained in Pomfret, was first determined; and he easily obtained the consent of the Duke of Buckingham, as well as of Lord Hastings, to this violent and sanguinary measure. Orders were accordingly issued to Sir Richard Ratcliffe, a proper instrument in the hands of this tyrant, to cut off the heads of the prisoners. The Protector then assailed the fidelity of Buckingham by all the arguments capable of swaying a vicious mind, and he easily obtained from him a promise of supporting him in all his enterprises.

The Duke of Gloucester, knowing the importance of gaining Lord Hastings, sounded at a distance his sentiments, but found him impregnable in his allegiance and fidelity to the children of Edward, who had ever honored him with his friendship. He saw, therefore, that there were no longer any measures to be kept with him; and he determined to ruin utterly the man whom he despaired of engaging to concur in his usurpation. On the very day when Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan were executed, or rather murdered, at Pomfret, by the advice of Hastings, the Protector summoned a council in the Tower, whither that nobleman, suspecting no design against him, repaired without hesitation. The Duke of Gloucester was capable of committing the most bloody and treacherous murders with the utmost coolness and indifference. On taking his place at the council table he appeared in the easiest and most jovial humor imaginable. He seemed to indulge himself in familiar conversation with the councillors before they should enter on business, and having paid some compliments to Morton, Bishop of Ely, on the good and early strawberries which he raised in his garden at Holborn, he begged the favor of having a dish of them, which that prelate immediately despatched a servant to bring to him. The Protector left the council, as if called away by some other business, but, soon after returning with an angry and inflamed countenance, he asked them what punishment those deserved that had plotted against his life, who was so nearly related to the King, and was intrusted with the administration of government. Hastings replied that they merited the punishment of traitors. "These traitors," cried the Protector, "are the sorceress, my brother's wife, and Jane Shore, his mistress, with others their associates; see to what a condition they have reduced me by their incantations and witchcraft!" Upon which he laid bare his arm, all shrivelled and decayed; but the councillors, who knew that this infirmity had attended him from his birth, looked on each other with amazement; and, above all, Lord Hastings, who, as he had since Edward's death engaged in an intrigue with Jane Shore, was naturally anxious concerning the issue of these extraordinary proceedings.

"Certainly, my lord," said he, "if they be guilty of these crimes, they deserve the severest punishment." "And do you reply to me," exclaimed the Protector, "with your ifs and your ands? You are the chief abettor of that witch, Shore; you are yourself a traitor; and I swear by St. Paul that I will not dine before your head be brought me." He struck the table with his hand; armed men rushed in at the signal; the councillors were thrown into the utmost consternation; and one of the guards, as if by accident or mistake, aimed a blow with a pole-axe at Lord Stanley, who, aware of the danger, slunk under the table; and though he saved his life, he received a severe wound in the Protector's presence. Hastings was seized, and instantly beheaded on a timber-log which lay in the court of the Tower.

Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Ely, and other councillors were committed prisoners in different chambers of the Tower. These acts of violence, exercised against the nearest connections of the late King, prognosticated the severest fate to his defenceless children; and after the murder of Hastings, the Protector no longer made a secret of his intentions to usurp the crown. The licentious life of Edward afforded a pretence for declaring his marriage with the Queen invalid and all his posterity illegitimate. It was also maintained that the act of attainder passed against the Duke of Clarence had virtually incapacitated his children from succeeding to the crown; and, these two families being set aside, the Protector remained the only true and legitimate heir of the house of York. The Protector resolved to make use of another plea, still more shameful and scandalous. His partisans were taught to maintain that both Edward IV and the Duke of Clarence were illegitimate, and that the Duke of Gloucester alone appeared to be the true offspring of the Duke of York.

In a few days the Duke of Buckingham went to Baynard's castle, where the Protector then resided, to make him a tender of the crown. Richard refused to appear, and pretended to be apprehensive for his personal safety; a circumstance taken notice of by Buckingham, who observed "that the Prince was ignorant of the whole design." At last he was persuaded to step forth, but he still kept at some distance; and he asked the meaning of the intrusion and importunity. Buckingham told him that the nation was resolved to have him for King. The Protector declared his purpose of maintaining his loyalty to the present sovereign. He was told that the people had determined to have another prince; and if he rejected their unanimous voice, they must look out for one who would be more compliant. This argument was too powerful to be resisted; he was prevailed on to accept of the crown; and he thenceforth acted as legitimate and rightful sovereign.

This ridiculous farce was soon after followed by a scene truly tragical—the murder of the two young princes. Richard gave orders to Sir Robert Brakenbury, constable of the Tower, to put his nephews to death, but this gentleman, who had sentiments of honor, refused to have any hand in the infamous office. The tyrant then sent for Sir James Tyrrel, who promised obedience; and he ordered Brakenbury to resign to this gentleman the keys and government of the Tower for one night. Tyrrel, choosing three associates, Slater, Dighton, and Forest, came in the night-time to the door of the chamber where the princes were lodged, and, sending in the assassins, he bade them execute their commission, while he himself stayed without. They found the young princes in bed and fallen into a profound sleep. After suffocating them with the bolster and pillows, they showed their naked bodies to Tyrrel, who ordered them to be buried at the foot of the stairs, deep in the ground, under a heap of stones, 1483.

These circumstances were all confessed by the actors in the following reign; they were never punished for the crime, probably because Henry, whose maxims of government were extremely arbitrary, desired to establish it as a principle that the commands of the reigning sovereign ought to justify every enormity in those who paid obedience to them. But there is one circumstance not so easy to be accounted for: it is pretended that Richard, displeased with the indecent manner of burying his nephews, whom he had murdered, gave his chaplain orders to dig up the bodies, and to inter them in consecrated ground; and as the man died soon after, the place of their burial remained unknown, and the bodies could never be found by any search which Henry could make for them. Yet in the reign of Charles II, when there was occasion to remove some stones and to dig in the very spot which was mentioned as the place of their first interment, the bones of two persons were there found, which by their size exactly corresponded to the age of Edward and his brother. They were concluded with certainty to be the remains of those princes, and were interred under a marble monument by orders of King Charles.

The first acts of Richard's administration were to bestow rewards on those who had assisted him in usurping the crown, and to gain by favors those who, he thought, were best able to support his future government.

But the person who, both from the greatness of his services and the power and splendor of his family, was best entitled to favors under the new government, was the Duke of Buckingham, and Richard seemed determined to spare no pains or bounty in securing him to his interests. But it was impossible that friendship could long remain inviolate between two men of such corrupt minds as Richard and the Duke of Buckingham. The Duke, soon after Richard's accession, began to form a conspiracy against the government, and attempted to overthrow that usurpation which he himself had so zealously contributed to establish. Never was there in any country a usurpation more flagrant than that of Richard, or more repugnant to every principle of justice and public interest. To endure such a bloody usurper seemed to draw disgrace upon the nation, and to be attended with immediate danger to every individual who was distinguished by birth, merit, or services. Such was become the general voice of the people; all parties were united in the same sentiments; and the Lancastrians, so long oppressed, and of late so much discredited, felt their blasted hopes again revive, and anxiously expected the consequences of these extraordinary events.

The Duke of Buckingham, whose family had been devoted to that interest, and who, by his mother, a daughter of Edmund, Duke of Somerset, was allied to the house of Lancaster, was easily induced to espouse the cause of this party, and to endeavor the restoring of it to its ancient superiority. Morton, Bishop of Ely, a zealous Lancastrian, whom the King had imprisoned, and had afterward committed to the custody of Buckingham, encouraged these sentiments; and by his exhortations the Duke cast his eye toward the young Earl of Richmond as the only person who could free the nation from the tyranny of the present usurper.

Henry, Earl of Richmond, was at this time detained in a kind of honorable custody by the Duke of Brittany, and his descent, which seemed to give him some pretensions to the crown, had been a great object of jealousy both in the late and in the present reign. Symptoms of continued jealousy in the reigning family of England seemed to give some authority to Henry's pretensions, and made him the object of general favor and compassion, on account of dangers and persecutions to which he was exposed. The universal detestation of Richard's conduct turned still more the attention of the nation toward Henry; and as all the descendants of the house of York were either women or minors, he seemed to be the only person from whom the nation could expect the expulsion of the odious and bloody tyrant. But notwithstanding these circumstances, which were so favorable to him, Buckingham and the Bishop of Ely well knew that there would still lie many obstacles in his way to the throne. It was therefore suggested by Morton, and readily assented to by the Duke, that the only means of overturning the present usurpation was to unite the opposite factions by contracting a marriage between the Earl of Richmond and the princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of King Edward, and thereby blending together the opposite pretensions of their families.

The plan being laid upon the solid foundations of good sense and sound policy, it was secretly communicated to the principal persons of both parties in all the counties of England, and a wonderful alacrity appeared in every order of men to forward its success and completion. But it was impossible that so extensive a conspiracy could be conducted in so secret a manner as entirely to escape the jealous and vigilant eye of Richard; and he soon received intelligence that his enemies, headed by the Duke of Buckingham, were forming some design against his authority. He immediately put himself in a posture of defence by levying troops in the North; and he summoned the Duke to appear at court, in such terms as seemed to promise him a renewal of their former amity. But that nobleman, well acquainted with the barbarity and treachery of Richard, replied only by taking arms in Wales, and giving the signal to his accomplices for a general insurrection in all parts of England.

But at that very time there happened to fall such heavy rains, so incessant and continued, as exceeded any known in the memory of man; and the Severn, with the other rivers in that neighborhood, swelled to a height which rendered them impassable and prevented Buckingham from marching into the heart of England to join his associates. The Welshmen, partly moved by superstition at this extraordinary event, partly distressed by famine in their camp, fell off from him; and Buckingham, finding himself deserted by his followers, put on a disguise and took shelter in the house of Banister, an old servant of his family. But being detected in his retreat, he was brought to the King at Salisbury, and was instantly executed, according to the summary method practised in that age. The other conspirators, who took arms in four different places, at Exeter, at Salisbury, at Newbury, and at Maidstone, hearing of the Duke of Buckingham's misfortunes, despaired of success and immediately dispersed themselves.

The King, everywhere triumphant and fortified by this unsuccessful attempt to dethrone him, ventured at last to summon a parliament—a measure which his crimes and flagrant usurpation had induced him hitherto to decline. His enemies being now at his feet, the parliament had no choice left but to recognize his authority and acknowledge his right to the crown. His only son, Edward, then a youth of twelve years of age, was created prince of Wales.

Sensible that the only circumstance which could give him security was to gain the confidence of the Yorkists, Richard paid court to the Queen Dowager with such art and address, made such earnest protestations of his sincere good-will and friendship, that this Princess ventured to put herself and her daughters into the hands of the tyrant. He now thought it in his power to remove the chief perils which threatened his government. The Earl of Richmond, he knew, could never be formidable but from his projected marriage with the princess Elizabeth, the true heir of the crown; and he therefore intended to espouse, himself, this Princess, and thus to unite in his own family their contending titles. He flattered himself that the English nation, seeing all danger removed of a disputed succession, would then acquiesce under the dominion of a prince who was of mature years, of great abilities, and of a genius qualified for government, and that they would forgive him all the crimes which he had committed in paving his way to the throne.

But the crimes of Richard were so horrid, and so shocking to humanity, that every person of probity and honor was earnest to prevent the sceptre from being any longer polluted by that bloody and faithless hand which held it. All the exiles flocked to the Earl of Richmond in Brittany, and exhorted him to hasten his attempt for a new invasion, and to prevent the marriage of the princess Elizabeth, which must prove fatal to all his hopes.

The Earl set sail from Harfleur, in Normandy, with a small army of about two thousand men; and after a navigation of six days he arrived at Milford Haven, in Wales, where he landed without opposition. He directed his course to that part of the kingdom, in hopes that the Welsh, who regarded him as their countryman, and who had been already prepossessed in favor of his cause by means of the Duke of Buckingham, would join his standard, and enable him to make head against the established government. Richard, who knew not in what quarter he might expect the invader, had taken post at Nottingham, in the centre of the kingdom; and having given commissions to different persons in the several counties, whom he empowered to oppose his enemy, he purposed in person to fly, on the first alarm, to the place exposed to danger.

Henry, advancing toward Shrewsbury, received every day some reënforcement from his partisans. The two rivals at last approached each other at Bosworth, near Leicester, Henry at the head of six thousand men, Richard with an army of above double the number; and a decisive action was every hour expected between them. Stanley, who commanded above seven thousand men, took care to post himself at Atherstone, not far from the hostile camps; and he made such a disposition as enabled him on occasion to join either party.

The van of Richmond's army, consisting of archers, was commanded by the Earl of Oxford; Sir Gilbert Talbot led the right wing; Sir John Savage the left; the Earl himself, accompanied by his uncle the Earl of Pembroke, placed himself in the main body. Richard also took post in his main body, and intrusted the command of his van to the Duke of Norfolk; as his wings were never engaged, we have not learned the names of the several commanders. Soon after the battle began, Lord Stanley, whose conduct in this whole affair discovers great precaution and abilities, appeared in the field, and declared for the Earl of Richmond. This measure, which was unexpected to the men, though not to their leaders, had a proportional effect on both armies: it inspired unusual courage into Henry's soldiers; it threw Richard's into dismay and confusion. The intrepid tyrant, sensible of his desperate situation, cast his eye around the field, and, descrying his rival at no great distance, he drove against him with fury, in hopes that either Henry's death or his own would decide the victory between them. He killed with his own hand Sir William Brandon, standard-bearer to the Earl; he dismounted Sir John Cheyney. He was now within reach of Richmond himself, who declined not the combat, when Sir William Stanley,[3] breaking in with his troops, surrounded Richard, who, fighting bravely to the last moment, was overwhelmed by numbers, and perished by a fate too mild and honorable for his multiplied and detestable enormities. His men everywhere sought safety by flight.

There fell in this battle about four thousand of the vanquished. The loss was inconsiderable on the side of the victors. Sir William Catesby, a great instrument of Richard's crimes, was taken, and soon after beheaded, with some others, at Leicester. The body of Richard was found in the field, covered with dead enemies, and all besmeared with blood. It was thrown carelessly across a horse, was carried to Leicester amid the shouts of the insulting spectators, and was interred in the Gray Friars' Church of that place.

The historians who favor Richard—for even this tyrant has met with partisans among the later writers—maintain that he was well qualified for government had he legally obtained it, and that he committed no crimes but such as were necessary to procure him possession of the crown; but this is a poor apology when it is confessed that he was ready to commit the most horrid crimes which appeared necessary for that purpose; and it is certain that all his courage and capacity—qualities in which he really seems not to have been deficient—would never have made compensation to the people for the danger of the precedent and for the contagious example of vice and murder exalted upon the throne. This Prince was of a small stature, hump-backed, and had a harsh, disagreeable countenance; so that his body was in every particular no less deformed than his mind.

[Footnote 1: Wife of Henry VI.]

[Footnote 2: The Queen's brother.]

[Footnote 3: Brother of Lord Stanley, above.]


A.D. 1462-1505

Robert Bell

At the birth of Ivan III (1440) Russia was all but stifled between the great Lithuanian empire of the Poles and the vast possessions of the Mongols. In vain had a succession of Muscovite princes endeavored to give unity to the little Russian state. Between the grand princes of Moscow and those of Lithuania stood Novgorod and Pskof, the two chief Russian republics, hesitating to declare their allegiance.

By the creation of new appanages the Russian princes continually destroyed the very unity for which they labored. Moreover, at a time when the great nations of the West were organizing, Muscovy or Russia had no settled relations with their civilization. The opening of the Renaissance, the progress of discovery, the invention of printing—by these the best spirits in Russia were stirred to fresh aspirations for national organization and participation in the great European movement.

According to the tradition, her deliverer had been foretold and was expected. His triumphs were predicted at his birth. The man through whom, or at least in whose name, Russia was to be restored to herself, to be freed from the Mongol yoke, and brought into living connection with Western Europe, was Ivan, son and heir of Vasili the Blind, Grand Prince of Moscow.

This child became Ivan III, surnamed the "Great," because during his reign, 1462-1505, the expectations of his country were largely realized. He was the first who could call himself "Ruler of all the Russias," and he is regarded as the original founder of the Russian empire. Already, at his accession, the Muscovite principalities were beginning to draw together, and circumstances were favorable to the prosecution of the task upon which he was called to enter—the completing of their union and the securing of their national independence.

Ivan was a man of great cunning and prudence, and was remarkable for indomitable perseverance, which carried him triumphantly to the conclusions of his designs in a spirit of utter indifference to the ruin or bad faith that tracked his progress. Such a man alone, who was prepared to sacrifice the scruples of honor and the demands of justice, was fit to meet the difficulties by which the grand princedom of Moscow was surrounded. He saw them all clearly, resolved upon the course he should take; and throughout a long reign, in which the paramount ambition of rendering Russia independent and the throne supreme was the leading feature of his policy, he pursued his plans with undeviating consistency.

But that policy was not to be accomplished by open and responsible acts. The whole character of Ivan was tinged with the duplicity of the churchmen who held a high place in his councils. His proceedings were neither direct nor at first apparently conducive to the interests of the empire, but the great cause was secretly advancing against all impediments. While he forbore to risk his advantages, he left an opportunity for disunion among his enemies, by which he was certain to gain in the end. He never committed himself to a position of the security of which he was not sure; and he carried this spirit of caution to such an extremity that many of the early years of his reign present a succession of timid and vacillating movements, that more nearly resemble the subterfuges of a coward than the crafty artifices of a despot.

The objects, of which he never lost sight, were to free himself from enemies abroad and to convert the princedom at home into an autocracy. So extensive a design could not have been effected by mere force of arms, for he had so many domestic and foreign foes to meet at once, and so many points of attack and defence to cover, that it was impossible to conduct so grand a project by military means alone. That which he could not effect, therefore, by the sword, he endeavored to perform by diplomatic intrigue; and thus, between the occasional victories of his armies and the still more powerful influence of his subtle policy, he reduced his foes and raised himself to an eminence to which none of his most ambitious predecessors had aspired. The powers against whom he had to wage this double war of arms and diplomacy were the Tartars and Lithuanians, beyond the frontier; and the independent republics of Novgorod, Vyatka, and Pskof, and the princes of the yet unsettled appanages within. The means he had at his command were fully sufficient to have enabled him to subdue those princes of the blood who exhibited faint signs of discontent in their appanages, and who could have been easily reached through the widely diffused agency of the boyars; but the obstinate republics of the North were more difficult of access. They stood boldly upon their independence, and every attempt to reduce them was followed by as fierce a resistance, and by such a lavish outlay of the wealth which their commercial advantages had enabled them to amass that the task was one of extraordinary difficulty. Kazan, the first and greatest of the Tartar cities, too, claimed a sovereignty over the republics, which Ivan was afraid to contest, lest that which was but a vague and empty claim might end in confirmed authority. It was better to permit the insolent republicans to maintain their entire freedom than to hazard, by indiscretion, their transferrence to the hands of those Tartars who were loosened from the parent stock.

His first act, therefore, was to acknowledge, directly or indirectly, according to the nature of their different tenures, the rights of all his foes within and without. He appeared to admit the justice of things as he found them; betrayed his foreign enemies into a confidential reliance upon his acquiescence in their exactions; and even yielded, without a murmur, to an abuse of those pretensions to which he affected to submit, but which he was secretly resolved to annihilate. This plausible conformity procured him time to prepare and mature his designs; and so insidiously did he pursue his purpose that he extended that time by a servility which nearly forfeited the attachment of the people. The immediate object of consideration was obviously the Golden Horde, because all the princes and republics, and even the Poles and Lithuanians, were interested in any movement that was calculated to embarrass the common enemy. Ivan's policy was to unite as many of his enemies as he could against a single one, and, finally, to subdue them all by the aid of each other. Had he ventured upon any less certain course, he must have risked a similar combination against himself. He began by withholding the ordinary tribute from the Khan, but without exhibiting any symptoms of inallegiance. He merely evaded the tax, while he acknowledged the right; and his dissimulation succeeded in blinding the Tartar, who still believed that he held the Grand Prince as a tributary, although he did not receive his tribute. The Khan, completely deceived, not only permitted this recusancy to escape with impunity, but was further prevailed upon to withdraw the Tartar residents and their retinues, and the Tartar merchants who dwelt in Moscow and who infested, with the haughty bearing of masters, even the avenues of the Kremlin.

This latter concession was purchased by bribery, for Ivan condescended to buy the interference of a Tartar princess. So slavish and degrading was his outward seeming that his wife, a noble and spirited lady, the daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium, could with difficulty prevail upon him to forego the humiliating usages which had hitherto attended the reception of the Mongol envoys. It had been customary on the part of the grand princes to go forward to meet the Tartar minister, to spread a carpet of fur under his horse's feet, to hear the Khan's letter read upon their knees, to present to the envoy a cup of koumiss, and to lick from the mane of the horse the drops which had fallen from the lips of the negotiator: and these disagreeable customs Ivan would have complied with but for the successful remonstrances of the Princess.

Kazan presented the most alluring point of actual attack. The horde that had established that city subsisted by predatory excursions, and even the other bands of the barbarians were not unwilling to witness the descent of the Russians upon one of their own tribes that had acquired so much power. The project was favored by so many circumstances that, although his policy was evidently at this period to preserve peace as long as he could, he was tempted to make a general levy, and to assemble the whole flower of the population for the purpose of driving out of his dominions the bold invaders who had intrenched themselves within the walls of a fortified town. This was about 1468. At that very time the army of the Golden Horde, inspired by some sudden impulse, was advancing into Russia. It appears, however, that the multitudes assembled by Ivan were so numerous that the Khan's troops retired upon the mere rumor of their approach; so that the display of his resources had all the effect he desired, and he won a signal victory without striking a blow. The old Russian annalist dwells, with some pomp of words, upon this bloodless triumph, and, in the true vein of hyperbole, says that the Russian army shone like the waves of the sea illuminated by the sunbeams. We take the expression for all it is worth, when we estimate the force as having been more numerous than that of the Tartars.

It does not appear that Ivan was yet prepared, even with this great armament, to risk his future objects by any hostile collision, so long as such an extremity could be averted by intrigue; for in the following year, when the anticipated march against Kazan was at last commenced, he suddenly paused in the midst of his course, although the result was almost certain. Were it of much consequence, it would not be easy to decide the cause of this strange and abrupt proceeding; but it was evident that the soldiery were resolved not to return home without spoils. They rushed onward to the city; and even the general, who was instructed by Ivan to countermand the attack, in vain attempted to restrain them. With a leader of their own choosing, they fell upon Kazan, and utterly routed the inhabitants. The Grand Prince, perceiving that the enemy was powerless, now no longer hesitated; but, engaging all the princes in his service, and throwing his own guards into the ranks, he despatched his colossal forces to reduce the already dismembered hold of the Tartars of Kazan. The event was a complete victory, but Ivan remained safe at Moscow, to watch the issue of an undertaking which he could not reasonably have feared.

The subjugation of Kazan left the field clear for his designs upon the three domestic republics. Vyatka, insolent in its own strength, declared itself neutral between Moscow and Kazan; and on the fall of the latter city, Novgorod, apprehensive that Ivan would turn his arms immediately against her, called upon the people of Pskof for aid, expressing her determination to march at once against the Grand Prince, in order to anticipate and avert his intentions. The Novgorodians were the more determined upon this bold measure by the personal pusillanimity which Ivan betrayed in a war where the advantages lay entirely at his own side. They calculated upon the terror they should inspire; and judged that if they could not succeed in vanquishing the Grand Prince, they should, at all events, be enabled to secure their own terms. Marpha, a rich and influential woman, the widow of a posadnik, and who was enamoured of a Lithuanian chief, conceiving the romantic design of bestowing her country as a marriage dower upon her lover, exerted all her power to kindle the enthusiasm and assist the project of the citizens. Her hospitality was unbounded. She threw open her palace to the people; lavished her wealth among them in sumptuous entertainments and exhibitions, and caused the vetchooi kolokol ("assembling-bell"), which summoned the popular meetings to the market-place, to be rung as the signal of these orgies of licentiousness. The great bell in Novgorod was the type of the republican independence of the citizens, and represented the excesses into which they were not unwilling to plunge whenever it was necessary to testify their sense of that wild liberty which they had established among themselves. It was tolled on all occasions of a public nature, and the people gathered in multitudes at the well-known call. If any individual were accused of a crime against the republic or of any offence against the laws, the judges appeared at the sound of the bell to hold a summary court of justice, and the citizens surrounded the trial-seat, prepared to execute the sentence. Every citizen, with his sons, attended, carrying each two stones under his arms; and, if the accused were found guilty, lapidation instantly followed. The house of the culprit was also immediately plundered, cast down, confiscated, and sold for the benefit of the corporation. Except in China, where a law still more sanguinary and destructive prevails in cases of murder, there is hardly a similar instance of deliberate legal severity to be found among nations elevated above barbarism.

Inspired by the revelries of the ambitious Marpha, and the patriotic associations she awakened, the Novgorodians expelled the officer of the Grand Prince; possessed themselves of some land that belonged to him in right of his fief; and, to confirm their revolt against his authority, submitted themselves, by treaty, to Casimir, Prince of Lithuania. In this position of affairs, Ivan wisely resolved to leave Vyatka to its own course, confining his attention solely to Novgorod, and seeking to win over Pskof and its twelve tributary cities, so that he might combine them against the turbulent republic. The fall of Novgorod accomplished, the conquest of the other obstinate cities was easily effected.

The polite, cool, and persevering means he brought into operation against the refractory republic were admirably seconded by the machinery of communication which had been previously established in the persons of the boyars, whose local influence was of the first consequence on this occasion. As the tide of these numerous negotiations changed, Ivan assumed the humility or the pride, the generosity or the severity, adapted to the immediate purpose; and, working upon the characters of the individuals as well as their interests, he succeeded in gaining a great moral lever before he unsheathed a sword. He made allies of all the classes and princes that lay in his way to the heart of the independent corporation. He represented to the nobles the anomalous nature and usurpation of the democratic institutions of Novgorod, and he roused their pride into resentment. He gained over the few princes who still held trembling appanages by painting to them in strong colors the enormous opulence and commercial monopolies of the republic; and he filled the whole population with revenge against the fated city, by exaggerated accounts of its treasonable designs against the internal security of the empire. Thus, by artful insinuations of the personal advantages and general benefits that were to spring from the overthrow of Novgorod, he succeeded in neutralizing all the opposition he had any reason to apprehend, and in exciting increased enthusiasm on the part of the people.

Having made these subtle preparations to facilitate his proceedings, he sent an ambassador to the citizens calling upon them to acknowledge his authority; and only awaited their decisive refusal, which he anticipated, as an excuse for immediate hostilities. The Novgorodians returned an answer couched in terms of scorn and defiance. His reply was carried by three formidable armies, which, breaking in on the Novgorodian territory on three different sides, prostrated the hopes of the citizens by overwhelming masses, against which their gallant resistance was of no avail. In this brief and desperate struggle, Ivan possessed extraordinary superiority by the recent acquisition of firearms and cannon, the use of which he had learned from Aristotle of Bologna, an Italian, whom he had taken into his service as an architect, mintmaster, and founder. The triumph of the arms of the Grand Prince was rapidly followed by the incursions of swarms of the peasantry, who, secretly urged forward by Ivan, rushed upon the routed enemy, and completed the work of devastation. This licentious exhibition of popular feeling Ivan affected to repress, and, availing himself of the opportunity it afforded to assume toward the Novgorodians a moderation he did not feel, he pretended to protect them against any greater violence than was merely necessary to establish his right to the recovery of the domains of which they had despoiled him, and the payment of the ransom that was customary under such circumstances. Here his deep and crafty genius had room for appropriate display. He did not consider it prudent to seize upon the republic at once, as, in that event, he was bound to partition it among his kinsmen, by whose aid, extended upon special promises, he had overthrown it; so he contented himself with a rich ransom, having already beggared it by suffering lawless followers to plunder it uninterruptedly before he interfered, and by demanding an act of submission. But in this act he contrived to insert some words of ambiguous tendency, under the shelter of which he might, when his own time arrived, leap upon his prey with impunity.

The confusion into which the Novgorodians were thrown and the great reduction of strength which they suffered in the contest enabled Ivan to deprive them of some of their tributaries, under the pretence of rendering them a service, so that their exhaustion was seized upon as a fresh source of injustice. The Permians having offered some indignity to the republic, Ivan interfered, and transferred the commerce of that people with Germany to Moscow; and, on another occasion, when the Livoman knights attempted an aggression, Ivan sent his ambassadors and troops to force a negotiation in his own name; thus actually depriving both Novgorod and Pskof, they being mutually concerned, of the right of making peace and war in their own behalf. By insidious measures like these he continued to oppress and absorb the once independent city that claimed and kept so towering an ascendency. But not satisfied with such means of accumulating the supreme power, he sowed dissensions between the rich classes and the poor, and after fomenting fictitious grievances, terminating in open quarrel, he succeeded in having all complaints laid before him for decision. Then, going among them, he impoverished the wealthy by the lavish presents his visits demanded, and captivated the imagination of the multitude by the dazzling splendor of his retinues and the flexible quality of his justice. The time was now approaching for a more explicit declaration of his views. On pretence of these disagreements he loaded some of the principal citizens, the oligarchs of the republic, with chains and sent them to Moscow. It was so arranged that these nobles were denounced by the mob; and Ivan, in acceding to their demand for vengeance, secured the allegiance of the great bulk of the population. The stratagem succeeded; and with each new violation of justice he gained an accession of popular favor.

The progress of the scheme against the liberties of Novgorod was slow, but inevitable. The inhabitants gradually referred all their disputes to the Grand Prince; and he, profiting by the growing desire to erect him into the sole judge of their domestic grievances, at length summoned the citizens to appear before him at Moscow. The demand was as unexpected as it was extraordinary.

Never before had the Novgorodians gone out from their own walls to sue or receive judgment; but so seductive and treacherous were the professions of Ivan that, unsuspicious of his designs, they consented to appear before his throne. Throughout the whole of these encroachments on the ancient usages in which the rights of the people resided, he appeared to be lifted above all personal or tyrannical views. Marpha, the ambitious widow, who had stirred up the revolt and sought to attach Novgorod to Lithuania, had never been molested; and even the principal persons who were most conspicuous in resisting his authority at the outset were suffered to remain unharmed. These instances of magnanimity, as they were believed to be, lulled the distrust of the citizens, and seduced them by degrees to abandon their old customs one by one at his bidding. For seven years he continued with unwearied perseverance to wean them from all those distinctive habits that marked their original character and separated them from the rest of the empire; and at last, when he thought that he had succeeded in obliterating their attachment to the republican form of government, he advanced his claim to the absolute sovereignty, which was now sanctioned by numberless acts of submission, and by traitorous voices of assent within the council of the citizens.

At an audience to which he admitted an envoy, that officer, either wilfully or by accident, addressed him by the name of sovereign; and Ivan, instantly seizing upon the inadvertency, claimed all the privileges of an absolute master. He required that the republic should surrender its expiring rights into his hands, and take a solemn oath of allegiance; that his boyars should be received within its gates, with full authority to exercise their almost irresponsible control over the city; that the palace of Yaroslaff, the temple of Novgorodian liberty, should be given up to his viceroy; that the forum should be abolished; and that the popular assemblies, and all the corresponding immunities of the people, should be abrogated forever.

The veil was dropped too suddenly. The citizens were not prepared for so abrupt and uncompromising an assertion of authority. Hitherto they had admitted the innovations of the Grand Prince, but it was of their own free will. They did not expect that he would ground any right of sovereignty upon their voluntary acquiescence in his character of arbitrator and ally; and the news of his despotic claim filled them with despair and indignation. The great bell, which had formerly been the emblem of their citizenship, now tolled for the last time. They assembled in the market-place in tumultuous crowds, and summoning the treacherous or imprudent envoy before them, they tried him by a clamorous and summary process, and, before the sentence was completed, tore him limb from limb. Believing that some of the nobles were accessory to the surrender of their freedom, they fell upon those they suspected, and murdered them in the streets, thus hastening, and confirming by their intemperance, the final alienation of the wealthy classes from their cause; and having by these acts of unbridled desperation given the last demonstrations of their independence, they once more threw themselves into the arms of Lithuania, which were open to receive them.

But Ivan was prepared for this demonstration of passion. His measures were too deeply taken to suffer surprise by any course which the Novgorodians, in their righteous hatred of oppression, might think fit to adopt. When he learned the reception they gave to his mandate, he affected the most painful astonishment. He declared that he alone was the party aggrieved, that he alone was deceived; that they had laid snares for his counsel and countenance; and that even when, yielding to their universal requisition, he had consented to take upon him the toils of government, they had the audacity to confront him with an imposition in the face of Russia, to shed the blood of their fellow-men, and to insult heaven and the empire by calling into the sacred limits the soldiers of an adverse religion and a foreign power. These ingenious remonstrances were addressed to the priests, the nobles, and the people, and had the desired effect. The bishops embarked zealously in the crusade, and the people entered willingly into the delusion. The dependent republic of Pskof and the principality of Twer, paralyzed in the convulsion, appeared to waver; but Ivan, resolved to deprive Novgorod of any help they might ultimately be tempted to offer, drew out their military strength, under the form of a contingency, and left them powerless. Yet, although strongly reënforced on all sides, he still avoided a contest. With a mingled exhibition of revenge and attachment, he threatened and propitiated in the same breath.

"I will reign supreme at Novgorod," he exclaimed; "as I do at Moscow. You must surrender all to me; your posadnik, and the bell that calls your national council together;" and at the same time he professed his determination to respect those very liberties which by these demands were to be sacrificed forever. The Novgorodians, terrified by the immense force Ivan had collected, which it seemed he only used to menace, and not to destroy, attempted to capitulate; but he was insensible to all their representations, and, even while he promised them their freedom, he refused to grant it. The armament, mighty as it was, which he had prepared, was kept aloof to threaten and not to strike. He acted as if he feared to risk the issue of a contest with any of his enemies, or as if he were unwilling to suffer the loss consequent even upon victory. He wanted to overbear by terror rather than by arms, so that the fearful agency of his name might do the work of conquest more powerfully and at less cost than his armies, which must have been thinned by battles, and might have been subdued by fortune. So long as he could preserve his terrible ascendency by the force of the fear which he inspired, he was secure; but the single defeat, or the doubtful issue of a solitary struggle, might reduce the potent charm of his unvanquished power. In this way he drew the chain tighter; and in the agonies of the protracted and narrowing pressure, Novgorod, unable to resist, died in agonies of despair.

The surrender of the liberties of the republic was complete. On taking possession of the city, Ivan seized upon the person of the popular Marpha, and sent her and seven of the principal citizens as prisoners to Moscow, confiscating their properties in the name of the state. The national assemblies and municipal privileges ceased January 15, 1478, on which day the people took the oath of servitude; and on the 18th, the boyars and their immediate followers, and the wealthy and the influential classes of the inhabitants, voluntarily came forward and entered into the service of the Grand Prince. The revenues of the clergy, which were by the act of submission transferred to the treasury of Ivan, were immediately devoted by him to the service of three hundred thousand followers of boyars, through whose intermediate agency he intended to assert and maintain his unlimited and supreme authority over the fallen city. But not alone did he possess himself of the private property of some of the principal persons who had rendered themselves prominent in the recent declaration of independence, but he demanded a surrender of a great part of the territories that belonged by charter to the public. He also further enriched himself, and impoverished the Novgorodians, by seizing upon all the gold and valuables to which he could, with any show of propriety, lay claim. He is said to have conveyed to Moscow no less than three hundred cart-loads of gold, silver, and precious stones, besides furs, cloths, and merchandise to a considerable amount.

The settlement of his power in Novgorod had scarcely been concluded when intelligence was received that the Tartars of the Golden Horde were preparing for a third invasion. The enormous physical force that was at Ivan's disposal, the late accession of strength and increase of domain, by which his means were not only improved, but the number and means of his opponents were reduced, and the general state of the country, which was, in all respects, favorable to the objects of his ambition, deprived such a movement of its wonted terrors. Ivan had nothing to fear from the approach of the enemy. He was surrounded by the princes of the blood, who had warmly embarked in the common cause; he had an immense army at his command, panting for new fields of spoil and glory; he had broken up his domestic enemies in the North, and dismembered or attached the insurgent republics. He had left Lithuania to the rapacious guardianship of the Khan of the Crimea, who was sufficiently formidable to neutralize the incursions of the duchy upon the frontier; and on every side he found an ardent population impatient to expel the invader. Yet, encouraging as these circumstances were, and although they seemed to present the fortunate opportunity for carrying into execution his cherished plan of autocracy, Ivan held back. He alone of all Russia was intimidated. His project of empire was so lofty and comprehensive that he appeared to shrink from any collision that could even remotely peril its ultimate success. He was so dismayed that he forced the Princess to fly from Moscow and seek a temporary shelter in the North. Terror-struck and unmanned, he deserted the army, and shut himself up in the capital for security; and when the armed population, pouring forth from all quarters, and animated by one spirit of resistance, had advanced as far as the Oka to meet the Tartars, he recalled his son to the capital, as if he apprehended the consummation of some evil either in his own person or that of his heir. But the voice of the general indignation reached him in his retreat, and even his son refused to leave his post in the army. The murmurs of a disappointed people rose into clamors which he could not affect to misunderstand. They reproached him with having burdened them with taxes, without having paid the Khan his tribute; and that, now the Tartars had come into Russia to demand restitution, he fled from vindication of his own acts, and left the people to extricate themselves from a dilemma into which he had brought them.

In this difficulty Ivan had no choice left but to submit to the will of the country. He accordingly convoked a meeting of the bishops and boyars for the purpose of asking their advice; but their counsel was even still more conclusive; and the reluctant Prince was compelled to rejoin the army. The fear by which he was moved, however, could not be concealed, and it gradually infected the ranks of the soldiery. He had no sooner taken his station at the head of the army than he became spellbound. A river, the Lugra, divided him from the enemy; he could not summon courage to attempt it, but stood gazing in disastrous terror upon the foe, with whom he opened negotiations to beg for terms. In the mean time the news of his indecision spread, and the people at Moscow grew turbulent. The Primate, perceiving the disaffection that was springing up, addressed the Prince in the language of despair. He represented to him the state of the public mind, and the inglorious procedure of suing for a peace where he could insure a victory and dictate his own terms. "Would you," exclaimed the Primate, "give up Russia to fire and sword, and the churches to plunder? Whither would you fly? Can you soar upward like the eagle? Can you make your nest amid the stars? The Lord will cast you down from even that asylum. No! you will not desert us. You would blush at the name of fugitive and traitor to your country!"

Ivan was surrounded by two hundred thousand soldiers; reënforcements were thronging constantly to his side; the enemy was cut off from all assistance from his ally of Lithuania; and one word of encouragement would have set all these advantages into action. The troops only awaited the signal to rush upon the invaders; but Ivan, amid these flattering and animated circumstances, was dispirited. Even the voice of the Church addressed him in vain. He was utterly paralyzed; and cowardice had so completely taken possession of his mind that when the early winter had set in and frozen the river, so as to obliterate the obstacle that separated him from the troops of the Khan, he was seized with consternation, and fled in the wildest disorder from his position. He was so alarmed that he could not even preserve any regularity on the retreat, and all was confusion and panic.

So disgraceful an abandonment of his duty, which in other times must have cost him his throne, if not his life, was not visited with that rigor by the Russians which so glaring a defection deserved. The sovereign Prince was removed to too great a distance from the people to be judged of with precision or promptitude. The motives of his acts were not accessible to the multitude, who, accustomed to despotism, had not yet learned to question the wisdom of their rulers. The rapid advances that had been made toward the concentration of the governing power in the autocratical form, limited still more the means of popular observation and the vigor of the popular check upon the supreme authority. The Grand Prince stood so much aloof from his subjects, surrounded by special advisers and court favorites, that even the language of remonstrance, which sometimes reached his ears, was so softened in its progress that its harshness was that of subservient admonition; and he was as little shaken by the smothered discontent of the people as they were roused by an open sacrifice of their interests. But not alone was this reverence for the autocracy so great as to protect the autocrat from violent reprisals on the part of his subjects; but the national veneration for the descendant of St. Vladimir and the stock of Rurik was sufficient to absorb all the indignation which the weakness or the wickedness of the Prince might have aroused.

Ivan, however, independently of those acts of prejudice and ignorance which preserved him from the wrath which he had so wantonly provoked, was destined to find all the unfavorable circumstances of his position changed into the most extraordinary and unexpected advantages. In the crisis of his despair the fortunes of the day turned to his favor. While he hung behind the Lugra, seeking a base and humiliating compromise at the hands of the enemy, his lieutenant of Svenigorod, and his ally the Khan of the Crimea, advanced upon the Golden Horde, and pushed their victorious arms into the very den of the Tartars, at the time that the Tartar forces were drawn off in the invasion of Russia. Speedy intelligence of this disaster having reached the enemy, he made a precipitate retreat, in the hope of reaching his fastnesses on the frontier in time to avert the destruction that threatened him; but the Russians had been too rapid in their movements; and the work of devastation, begun by them, was completed by a band of marauding Tartars, who entered soon after they retired, and, carrying away the women and the remnant of the treasures left behind, reduced the city of the Golden Horde to ashes before the distant army could accomplish its retrograde march. Nor was this all the triumph that Ivan was called upon to share, without any participation in the danger. The return of the Tartars was arrested midway by a hetman of the Cossacks and the mirza of the Nogais, who, falling upon the confused and disorderly ranks, on their ill-conducted flight homeward, cut them in pieces, and left scarcely a living vestige on the field of the ancient and implacable enemies of the country.

The extinction of the Tartars was final. The Golden Horde was annihilated, and the scourge of Russia and her princes was no more. In a better educated state of society, these events, so sudden and so important, must have been attributed to proximate and obvious causes—the combinations of operations over which Ivan had no control, and the dismay into which the Tartars were surprised, followed up quickly by overwhelming masses who possessed the superiority in numbers and in plan. Ivan, who could lay no claim to the honors of the enterprise, would not have been associated in its results had the people been instructed in the respect which was due to themselves. But the Russians, profoundly venerating the person of the Grand Prince, and accustomed to consider him as the depository of a wisdom refined above the sphere of ordinary mortality, did not hesitate to ascribe this transcendent exploit to the genius of the reluctant autocrat. They looked back upon his pusillanimity with awe, and extracted from his apparent fears the subtle elements of a second providence. He was no longer the coward and the waverer. He had seen the body of the future, before its extreme shadows had darkened other men's vision; and the whole course of his timid bearing, even including his flight from the Lugra, was interpreted into a prudent and prophetic policy, wonderful in its progress and sublime in its consequences. Without risking a life, or spilling a drop of blood, and merely by an evasive diversion of his means, he had vanquished the Asiatic spoiler; and at the very moment that the people were disposed to doubt his skill and his courage, he had actually destroyed the giant by turning the arms of his own nation against him. Such was the unanimous feeling of Russia. Transferring the glory of their signal deliverance from those who had achieved it to him who had evaded the responsibility of the attempt, they worshipped, in the Grand Prince, the incarnation of the new-born liberty.


A.D. 1468

From the planting of the Burgundian branch of the house of Valois, in 1364, arose a formidable rival of the royal power in France. During the next hundred years the dukes of Burgundy played prominent parts in French history, and then appeared one of the line who advanced his house to its loftiest eminence. This was Charles, surnamed the "Bold," son of Philip, misnamed the "Good." Charles was born in 1433, and became Duke of Burgundy in 1467. He "held the rank of one of the first princes in Europe without being a king, and without possessing an inch of ground for which he did not owe service to some superior lord." Some of his territories were held of the Holy Roman Empire, and some of the French crown, and he was at once a vassal of France and of the Emperor. His dominions contained many prosperous and wealthy cities.

But the possessions of Charles lacked unity alike in territorial compactness, political distinction, and local rule, and in national characteristics, language, and laws. His peculiar position exposed him to the jealous rivalry of Louis XI of France. The King's object was the consolidation of his monarchy, while Charles aimed to extend his duchy at the expense of Louis' territories. Thus the two rivals became deadly enemies.

Charles conceived the design of restoring the old kingdom of Burgundy. In 1467, having secured alliances with Brittany and England, he prepared for a campaign of conquest. But Louis offered him advantageous terms of peace and invited him to a conference. While Charles hesitated, Louis stirred to revolt the Duke's subjects in Liege, with whom Burgundy had lately been at war. The negotiations between Louis and Charles, and the events which followed, form the subject of Willert's narrative.

Many messengers came and went, yet Charles hesitated to accept peace even on terms so greatly to his advantage. The King, if he could but see the Duke, felt sure he might end this uncertainty, perhaps even obtain more favorable concessions.

When once the idea of a personal interview had possessed him he was deaf to the warnings and entreaties of his more prudent or honest advisers.

Charles did not seem anxious to meet the King, and when at length he yielded to the representations of the King's envoy, he sent a safe-conduct in the most explicit terms: "Sir, if it be your pleasure to visit this town of Péronne to confer with us, I swear to you and promise by my faith and on my honor that you may come, stay, and return at your good pleasure, without let or harm, notwithstanding any cause that may now be or hereafter may arise."

After receiving this assurance, Louis might fairly suppose that he had nothing to fear. He had before trusted himself safely to Charles' honor. Nor had he himself abused the chance which once delivered his rival into his hands unprotected by promise or oath. He therefore set out at once for Péronne, accompanied only by some eighty archers of his Scotch guard and by his personal attendants. He was met at the frontier by a Burgundian escort under Philip de Crèvecoeur, and he found Charles himself waiting to receive him at the banks of a little river not far from Péronne. The princes greeted each other with respect on the one side, and with hearty affection on the other. They entered the town side by side, the King's arm resting on his kinsman's shoulder. The castle of Péronne was small and inconvenient; the King was therefore lodged in the house of one of the richest citizens. He had scarcely reached his quarters when the Marshal of Burgundy joined Charles' army with the forces he commanded. With him came Philip of Savoy and two of his brothers, Antony de Châteauneuf, and other men who had shared largely in the King's favor, but who had fled from his resentment after betraying his confidence. These his enemies might consider the occasion favorable for a bold stroke. If they acted without the connivance of Charles he might be grateful to those who satisfied his enmity without irretrievably compromising his honor. Louis therefore asked to be allowed to move into the castle, where his archers could at any rate defend him against a surprise. On the next day the conference began; all that he could demand was offered to Charles if only he would abandon the alliance of Brittany and England. But he was determined not to give way, and was insensible to the blandishments of his guest, who may have been tormented by painful misgivings as he looked from his prison-like rooms at a gloomy tower in which Charles the Simple had been confined, and, it was said, murdered by a rebellious vassal.

At the first suggestion of the interview with the King, Charles had objected that he could scarcely believe in his sincere desire for peace while his envoys were encouraging rebels. Cardinal Balue replied that when the people of Liège learned that the King and Duke had met, they would not venture upon any hostile movement. But the French agents were not informed of their master's intended visit to Péronne, and did not attempt to discourage a premature attack. It is indeed doubtful whether they could in any case have changed the course of events.

The first rumors of what had happened in a popular outbreak at Liège reached Péronne on the night of October 10th. As was natural, they were greatly exaggerated. Tongres had been sacked, the garrison put to the sword; Humbercourt, the Burgundian Governor, and the Bishop murdered; the King's envoys had been seen leading and encouraging the assailants. Charles broke into cries of rage: "The traitor King! So he is only come to cheat me by a false pretence of peace! By St. George, he and those villains of Liège shall pay dearly for this!" He did not pause to consider whether it was likely that Louis had been simple enough to provoke a catastrophe fatal to his hopes and dangerous to his safety. If Comines, the Duke's chamberlain, and another favorite attendant, who were with their master at the time, had not done their best to soothe him it is probable that the donjon of Péronne would once more have closed upon a captive king. Charles was at little pains to conceal his rage; and when Louis was told that the gates of town and castle were guarded to prevent the escape of a thief who had stolen a casket of jewels, he knew that he was a prisoner. Yet, however bitter his self-reproach, however gloomy his forebodings, he did not lose his presence of mind. His attendants were allowed free access to the castle; he had brought with him fifteen thousand gold crowns, and these he anxiously employed to secure the good offices of Charles' advisers. For three nights the angry agitation and perplexity of Charles were so great that he did not undress. He would throw himself on his bed for a time and then start up and pace about his room, uttering threats and invectives against the King.

Nothing was done or decided on the first day, October 11, 1468. On the second a council was held which sat late into the night. A minority of the council, the enemies of Louis, or those who were only anxious to flatter the passions of their master, advised him to use to the full the opportunity which chance and the foolhardiness and duplicity of his adversary had placed in his hands. They urged him to keep the King in secure confinement after providing for the virtual partition of the kingdom among the great feudatories. The majority, those who had some regard for the honor of the house of Burgundy, the lawyers, who respected the letter, if not the spirit, of an agreement, perhaps also the more far-sighted politicians, were of a different opinion. The fame of the Duke would suffer irreparable injury by so flagrant a violation of his plighted word. The advantages, moreover, to be gained by the captivity, the deposition, perhaps the death of the King, were uncertain. The heir to the throne was entirely in the hands of the Bretons, and was not likely to be eager to advance the interests of Burgundy. A large and well-disciplined army, commanded by experienced captains, was assembled on the frontiers. If they could not rescue their master, they would at least endeavor to avenge him, while the new King could acquire an easy popularity by execrating a crime of which he and Francis of Brittany would reap all the advantage. It was a wiser course to accept the terms which the King in his alarm proffered—the settlement in favor of Burgundy of all the disputed questions which had arisen out of the treaties of Arras and Conflans—and it might be possible to humiliate and disgrace Louis by compelling him to take part in the punishment of his allies, the citizens of Liège, who by their trust in him had been lured to destruction.

Charles left the council apparently undecided, and passed the night in as great a storm of passion as the two preceding. The conflict within him doubtless fanned his wrath. Comines, who shared his room, endeavored to calm him, and to persuade him to embrace the course most consistent with his interests and the King's safety; for so great a prince, if once a captive, might scarcely hope to leave his prison alive. Toward morning Charles determined to content himself with insisting that Louis should sign a peace on such terms as he should dictate, and accompany him against Liege. The King, says Comines, had a friend who informed him that he would be safe if he agreed to these conditions, but that otherwise his peril would be extreme. This friend was Comines himself, and Louis never forgot so timely a service. The two days during which his fate was being decided had been passed by him in the greatest agony of mind. Though he had been allowed to communicate freely with the French nobles and his own attendants, he had been ominously neglected by the Burgundian courtiers. As soon as the Duke had determined what conditions he intended to impose, he hastened to the castle to visit his captive. The memorable interview is described by two eye-witnesses—Comines and Olivier de la Marche. Charles entered the King's presence with a lowly obeisance; but his gestures and his unsteady voice betrayed his suppressed passion. The King could not conceal his fear. "My brother," he asked, "am I not safe in your dominions?"

"Yes, sire, so safe that if I saw a cross-bow pointed at you I would throw myself before you to shield you from the bolt."

He then asked the King to swear a peace on the proposed basis: (i) The faithful execution of the treaty of Conflans; (2) the abolition of the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Paris over Flanders; (3) the surrender of all regalian rights in Picardy; (4) the release of the Duke from all fealty to the King if the treaty was in any way infringed or imperfectly executed. Louis agreed, and Charles requested his assistance in punishing the rebellion of Liège. The King expressed his perfect readiness. The princes then signed a draft of the treaty and swore to execute it faithfully on the cross of St. Laud. Charles had insisted that Louis should swear on the relic, a fragment of the true Cross once kept in the Church of St. Laud at Angers, which the King always carried with him, esteeming it highly, because he believed that whoever forswore himself on it would surely die within the year. The Duke at the same time promised to do homage for the fiefs he held of the crown of France, but the execution of this promise was evaded.

On the 15th the Duke, with an army of forty thousand men, and the King with his slender escort, and some three hundred men-at-arms who joined him by the way, began their march on Liège. Louis was not less anxious than his companion that Dammartin should not attempt a forcible rescue. Victory or defeat would have been alike dangerous to his safety. Twice at Charles' request orders were sent to disband, or at least remove, the French army from the frontier. The King's letters were delivered by his messenger in the persistent presence of a Burgundian who prevented the possibility of any private communication. Louis' crafty old soldier, Dammartin, paid little attention to such orders. He sent word to the Duke that, unless his master soon returned, all France would come to fetch him.

The first divisions of the Burgundian army reached Liège October 22d. The citizens, whose walls had been destroyed and artillery confiscated, were in no position to resist an army which might have conquered an emperor. At the suggestion of the legate they released their bishop, begging him to intercede on their behalf, and offered to surrender their goods to the Duke's discretion if only he would spare their lives. Charles would not listen to their overtures; he swore that he would have town and inhabitants at his discretion or that he and his army should perish in the attempt.

The townsmen, with the boldness of despair, sallied forth to meet the advance guard of their enemies; they were driven back with great loss. Four days later, the 26th, the Duke and main body of the army had not come up. The troops, who had repulsed the sally on the 22d, had as yet met with little resistance, and thought themselves strong enough to occupy an open town defended only by ill-armed traders and mechanics. The weather was cold and rainy, the temptation of securing comfortable quarters and the undivided profits of the sack irresistible. The assailants occupied one of the suburbs, but their advance was checked by some hastily constructed defences. At nightfall the citizens came out through the breaches of their walls; they were enabled, by their knowledge of the rough and precipitous ground, to fall unobserved upon the rear of the enemy; eight hundred Burgundians were killed, and the rout would have been complete had not the Duke with the main body of his army pushed forward to the assistance of a division which was still holding its ground.

On the next day the King arrived, and soon after took up his quarters close to those of the Duke. He showed himself to the men, who had placed their trust in him, wearing the St. Andrew's cross, the badge of Burgundy, and replying "Vive Bourgogne!" to their cries of "Vive France!" That night there was a great and sudden alarm. The Duke of Burgundy, though brave, was sometimes wanting in presence of mind, and on this occasion appeared more troubled in the King's presence than pleased his friends. Louis took the command, giving his orders with great coolness and prudence. Even as a general he gained by comparison with his rival. He was indeed not less anxious than Charles that the Burgundian army should suffer no reverse. He feared everything that might arouse the ready suspicion and ungovernable temper of the Duke. On the evening of the 29th a few hundred men, colliers and miners from the mountainous district of Franchemont, led by the owners of the house in which the King and Duke were sleeping, made a desperate attempt to surprise the princes in their beds. They would have succeeded had they not delayed to attack a barn in which three hundred Burgundian men-at-arms were posted. Only a few followed their guides straight to the quarters of the sovereigns. They were unable, therefore, to overcome the resistance of the guard before the noise of the conflict had aroused the camp. The assailants were overwhelmed by numbers, and fell fighting to the last. The assault had been ordered for the next day, but this bold and unexpected attack so surprised and disconcerted the Burgundians that the King thought he might be able to persuade the Duke to agree to a capitulation, or at least to postpone the assault. He only obtained a contemptuous request that he should consult his own safety by retiring to Namur. This reflection on his courage stimulated him to greater ostentation of zeal. He could scarcely be restrained from leading the assault.

The citizens were worn out by guarding an open town against a powerful army for more than a week; they imagined that as it was a Sunday they would not be attacked till the morrow. The assailants entered the town with little or no resistance. Yet the fury and license of the soldiery could not have been greater had their passions been excited by an obstinate and bloody struggle. The horrors of the sack of Dinant[1] were surpassed, although many of the citizens were able to escape across the Meuse. The deliberate vengeance of the Duke was more searching and not less cruel than the lust and rapine of his army; all prisoners who would not pay a heavy ransom were drowned. Although the cold was so intense that wine froze, and that his men lost fingers and toes from frost-bites, Charles did not shrink from the labor of hunting down those who had fled to the mountains, and burning the villages in which they had sought a refuge. He had previously taken leave of the King.

Four or five days after the occupation of Liège, Louis had expressed a wish to depart. If he could be of any further use, his brother might command his services; but he was anxious to see that their treaty was registered by the Parliament of Paris, without which it could not be valid. The Duke seemed unwilling to let his prey escape, but could find no pretence for his detention. Next year, said the King, he would come again and spend a month pleasantly with his dear brother in festivities and good cheer. The treaty, now drawn up in its final shape by the Burgundian lawyers, was read over to Louis, in order that he might object to any article of which he disapproved. But he readily ratified all that he had promised at Pèronne. It had seemed useless to require him to bestow Normandy on Charles of France; nor is the question of his appanage mentioned in the treaty itself. But the King was compelled to promise to invest his brother with Champagne and Brie. These provinces, lying between Burgundy and the Low Countries, would, in the hands of an ally, serve to consolidate the Duke's dominions, and could be easily defended in case the King attempted to resume his concessions. Just before the princes departed, Louis said, as if the thought had suddenly occurred: "What do you wish me to do if my brother is not content with the appanage I offer him for your sake?" Charles answered carelessly: "If he will not take it, I leave the matter to you two to settle; only let him be satisfied." The King considered the thoughtless admission into which he had tricked his rival most important, since he fancied that it released him, so far as his brother's appanage was concerned, from the fearful obligation of his oath.

But notwithstanding this last advantage, we cannot doubt that Louis felt bitterly disappointed and ashamed. Although all songs, caricatures, and writings reflecting on the perfidy of the Duke of Burgundy, and by implication on the folly of the King, were forbidden under severe penalties, and even all manner of talking birds which might be taught the hateful word "Peronne" had been seized by the royal officers, he had not the heart to visit Paris. The parliament was summoned to meet him at Senlis. He ordered it to register the treaty without comment, and hastened southward to hide his mortification in his favorite castles of Touraine.

[Footnote 1: By Burgundians in 1466.]


A.D. 1469

During the twelfth century several of the Italian cities—especially Florence and Venice—rose to great wealth and power. Venice, through her favorable situation, became preeminent in commerce, while Florence was coming to be the most important industrial centre of Europe. In the thirteenth century Florence was the scene of continual strife between the Guelfs and Ghibellines, but she not only continued to develop in material prosperity, but also attained to intellectual activities whereby in the next century she gained a higher distinction. She took the foremost part in the Renaissance, and was the birthplace or the home of Dante, Boccaccio, and other leaders of the modern movement.

In the fifteenth century Florence reached a still loftier eminence under the Medici, a family celebrated for the statesmen which it produced and for its patronage of letters and art. Its most illustrious members were Cosmo (1389-1464) and his grandson Lorenzo, surnamed the "Magnificent." Lorenzo was born January 1, 1449, when the second great period of the Renaissance was nearing its close. That was the "period of arrangement and translation; the epoch of the formation of the great Italian libraries; the age when, in Florence around his grandfather Cosmo, in Rome around Pope Nicholas V, and in Naples around Alfonso the Magnanimous, coteries of the leading humanists were gathered, engaged in labors which have made posterity eternally their debtors."

Conjointly with his younger brother Giuliano, Lorenzo, on the death of his father Piero, in 1469, succeeded to the vast wealth and political power of the family. In 1478 the death of Giuliano left Lorenzo sole ruler of Florence.

To few men has either the power or the opportunity been given to influence their epoch, intellectually and politically, to a degree so marked as was the lot of Lorenzo de' Medici. One of the most marvellously many-sided of the many-sided men who adorned the Italy of the fifteenth century, he did more to place Florence in the forefront of the world's culture than any other citizen who claimed Val d'Arno[1] as his birthplace. His influence was great because he was in sympathy so catholic with all the varied life of his age and circle. While during the one hour he would be found learnedly discussing the rival claims of the Platonic and Aristotelian philosophers with Ficino and Landino, the next might witness him the foremost reveller in the Florentine carnival, crowned with flowers and with the winecup in his hand, gayly carolling the ballate he had composed for the occasion; while the third might behold him surrounded by the leading painters and sculptors of Tuscany, discoursing profoundly on the aims and mission of art. Truly a unique personality, at one and the same time the glorious creation and the splendid epitome of the spirit of the Renaissance!

When Lorenzo de' Medici consented to assume the "position" occupied by his father Piero and his grandfather Cosmo, he was not the raw youth his immature years would lead one to suppose. Although intellectual maturity is reached at an earlier age in the sunny South than in the fog-haunted lands of Northern Europe, Lorenzo had enjoyed a long apprenticeship before being called to undertake the duties devolving on him as the uncrowned king of Florence. From his thirteenth year he had been the companion and shared the counsels, first of his grandfather and father, and subsequently of his father alone. From the former especially he learned many important lessons in statecraft. The matter is open to question, however, if any advice had more far-reaching results or was laid more carefully to heart than this which is contained in more than one of Cosmo's letters: "Never stint your favors to the cause of learning, and cultivate sedulously the friendship of scholars and humanists." Toward such a course Lorenzo's inclinations, as well as his interests, pointed, and during his life Florence was the Athens not only of Italy but of Europe as a whole. Here, among many others, were to be found such "epoch-makers" as Poliziano, Ficino, and Landino, Pico della Mirandola, Leo Battista Alberti, Michelangelo, Luigi Pulci—men who glorified their age by crowning it with the nimbus of their genius.

The literary and artistic greatness of Florence was not due, however, to the comparative intellectual poverty of the other states in Italy. Florence was only primus inter pares—greatest among many that were great. When the fact is recalled that such contemporaries as Pomponius Laetus, Bartolommeo Sacchi, Molza, Alessandro Farnese (Paul III), Platina, Sabellicus at Rome; Pontanus, Sannazaro, and Porcello in Naples; and Pomponasso and Boiardo at Ferrara, were then at or nearing their prime, the position of Florence as the acknowledged centre of European culture was conceded by sense of right alone. Than this nothing proves more emphatically the strides learning had been making. It was no longer the prerogative of the few, but the privilege of the many. From the first, Lorenzo recognized what a strong card he held in the affection and respect of the Italian as well as of the Florentine humanists.

The great secret of Lorenzo's preëminence in European and Italian, as well as in Tuscan, politics lies in the fact that he was able to unite the sources of administrative, legislative, and judicial power in himself. All the public offices in Florence were held by his dependents, and so entirely was the state machinery controlled by him that we find such men as Louis XI and the emperor Maximilian, Alfonso of Naples, and Pope Innocent VIII recognizing his authority and appealing to him personally, in place of to the seigniory, to effect the ends they desired. Such power enabled him to avoid the risks his grandfather Cosmo had been compelled to run to maintain his authority. The Medicean faction was better in hand than in his grandfather's days, and Lorenzo, therefore, in playing the rôle of the peacemaker of Italy, at the time when he held the "balance of power" through his treaties with Milan, Naples, and Ferrara, could speak with a decision that carried weight when he found it necessary to threaten a restless "despot" with a political combination that might depose him.

Lorenzo's services to learning were inspired by feelings infinitely more noble than those actuating his political plans. A patriotism as lofty as it was beneficent led him to desire that his country should be in the van of Italian progress in Renaissance studies. His sagacious prevision enabled him to proportion the nature and extent of the benefit he conferred to the need it was intended to supply. Many statesmen do more harm than good by failing to appreciate this law of supply and demand. They grant more than is required, and that which should have been a boon becomes a burden. Charles V, at the time of the Reformation, on more than one occasion committed this error, as also did Wolsey and Mazarin. Lorenzo, like Richelieu, recognized the value of moderation in giving, and caused every favor to be regarded as a possible earnest of others to come.

The earlier years of his power were associated with many stirring events which exercised no inconsiderable influence on the state of learning. For example, his skilful playing off of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan against Ferrante, King of Naples, led to greater attention being directed by the Florentines to Neapolitan and Milanese affairs, with the result that humanists and artists from both these places paid frequent visits to Florence, where they were welcomed by Lorenzo as his guests. Then when the revolt of the small city of Volterra from Florentine rule was suppressed by Lorenzo's agents, with a rigorous severity that cast a stain on their master's name, owing to many unoffending scholars having suffered to the extent of losing their all, Lorenzo made noble amends. Not only did he generously assist the inhabitants to repair their losses, not only did he make grants to the local scholars and send them copies of many of the codices in his own library to supply the loss of their books which had been burned by the soldiery, but he purchased large estates in the neighborhood, that the citizens might benefit by his residence among them. In this way, too, he brought the Volterran scholars into more intimate relations with the Florentine humanists, and thus contributed to the further diffusion of the benefits of the Renaissance.

All was not plain sailing, however, as regards the progress of the "New Learning." Despite his efforts, Lorenzo could not prevent its development being checked during the papal-Neapolitan quarrel with Florence. That war originated in a dispute with Pope Sixtus IV, who kept Italy in a ferment during the whole duration of his pontificate, 1471-1484. Were no other proof forthcoming of Lorenzo's marvellous diplomatic genius than this one fact, that he checkmated the political schemes of Sixtus, and finally so neutralized his influence as to render him wellnigh impotent for evil-doing, such an achievement was sufficient to stamp him one of the greatest masters of statecraft Europe has known. In any estimate of his ability we must take into account the unsatisfactory character of many of the instruments wherewith he had to achieve his purposes, and also the fact that he had neither a great army at his back with which to enforce the fulfilment of treaty obligations—for Florence never was a city of soldiers—nor had he the prestige of an official position to lend weight to his words. To all intents and purposes he was a private citizen of the Florentine republic. Yet such was the dynamic power of the man's marvellous personality, and the reputation he had earned, even in his early years, for supreme prescience and far-reaching diplomatic subtlety, that far and wide he was regarded as the greatest force in Italian politics. Sixtus sallied forth to crush; he returned to the Vatican a crushed and a discredited man, to die of sheer chagrin over his defeat by Lorenzo in his designs upon Ferrara.

Then followed the memorable dispute, in 1472-1473, over the bishopric of Pisa, when the Pope's nominee, Francesco Salviati, was refused possession of his see, Pisa being one of the Tuscan towns under the control of Florence. To this Sixtus retaliated by seeking the friendship of Ferrante of Naples, a move Lorenzo anticipated by forming the league between Florence, Milan, and Venice. This league thoroughly alarmed both the Pope and Ferrante, and on the latter visiting Rome in 1475 a papal-Neapolitan alliance was formed.

Even then hostilities might not have broken out had the young Duke of Milan not been assassinated in 1476, leaving an infant heir. This entailed a long minority, with all its dangers, and the apprehensions regarding these were not fanciful, inasmuch as Lodovico Sforza, uncle of the baby Duke, usurped the position under pretext of acting as regent. These crimes were plainly responsible for the Pazzi conspiracy in 1478 against the Medici themselves, a conspiracy which resulted in Giuliano, the younger brother of Lorenzo, being murdered in the cathedral, during mass, on the Sunday before Ascension, while Lorenzo himself was slightly wounded. That Sixtus and his nephew were accessories before the fact is now regarded as unquestionable. The vengeance taken by the enraged Florentines on the conspirators, their relatives, friends, and property, was terrible; the innocent, alas! being sacrificed indiscriminately with the guilty.

The Archbishop of Pisa, Francesco Salviati, had entered eagerly into the scheme, and, although his sacred office prevented him from actually assisting in the deed, he was present in the cathedral until the signal was given for the perpetration of the deed, when he left the building to secure the Palazzo Publico. He was therefore summarily hanged with the others from the windows of the civic buildings. Sixtus made the execution, or the "murder" as he called it, of Salviati, his pretext for calling on his allies to make war on Florence. When he saw, however, that this action was only throwing the city more completely than ever into the arms of the Medici, he changed his tactics and said he had no quarrel with "his well-beloved children of Florence," but only with "that son of iniquity and child of perdition, Lorenzo de' Medici," and those who had aided and abetted him, among whom the humanists were expressly mentioned. Against Lorenzo and his associates a brief of excommunication was launched, and the city was urged to regain the papal favor by surrendering the offenders.

The result might have been predicted. The "brief" only tended to knit the bonds of association closer between Lorenzo and the "City of the Flower," while the humanists to a man rallied round their patron. Even the choleric Filelfo, now a very old man, who had been on anything but friendly terms with the Medici, addressed two bitter satires to Sixtus, in which the Pope was styled the real aggressor, while the great humanist offered to write a history of the whole transaction, that posterity might know the true facts. The only power which gave its adhesion to Sixtus was Naples, while Venice, Ferrara, and Milan declared for Florence.

Thus commenced that tedious war which not only ruined so many Florentine merchants, but retarded the cause of learning so materially. When the people were groaning under heavy taxes, when all coin which Lorenzo could scrape together had to be poured out to pay the condottieri, or soldiers of fortune, by whom the battles of Florence were fought, there was of course but short commons for the humanists who had made Florence their home. Many of those adapted themselves to circumstances, but others, to whom money was their god, left the banks of the Arno for those southern cities where the pinch of scarcity did not prevail.

In this campaign the Florentines gained but little prestige. The larger share of the cost was quietly suffered by their allies to fall on the city of bankers. The Milanese were occupied with their own affairs, owing to the coup d'état accomplished by Lodovico Sforza. The Duke of Ferrara withdrew owing to some disagreement with the condottieri engaged by Lorenzo. The Venetians only despatched a small contingent under Carlo Montone and Diefebo d'Anguillari; accordingly, in the end, the whole burden of the struggle fell on Florence. The Magnifico's position gradually became precarious, inasmuch as many persons declared the war to be in reality a personal quarrel between Pope Sixtus and the Medici. Complaints began to be heard that the public treasury was exhausted and the commerce of the city ruined, while the citizens were burdened with oppressive taxes. Lorenzo had the mortification of being told that sufficient blood had been shed, and that it would be expedient for him rather to devise some means of effecting a peace than of making further preparations for the war.

In these circumstances, and confronted by one of the most dangerous crises of his whole life, Lorenzo rose to the occasion and effected a solution of the difficulty by daring to perform what was undoubtedly one of the bravest acts ever achieved by a diplomatist. By some statesmen it might be condemned as foolhardy, by others as quixotic. Its very foolhardiness and quixotry fascinated the man it was intended to influence, the blood-thirsty, cruel, and pitiless Ferrante of Naples, who was restrained from crime by the fear neither of God nor man, and who had actually slain the condottiere Piccinino when he visited him under a safe-conduct from the monarch's best ally. But the Renaissance annals are filled with the records of men and women whose natures are marvellous studies of contrasted and contradictory traits. Such was the Neapolitan tyrant. While a monster in much, he had his vulnerable points. He was ambitious to pose as a friend of the "New Learning," and he knew that Lorenzo was not only the most munificent patron, but also one of the most illustrious exponents, of the Renaissance principles.

Although his enemy, Ferrante received Lorenzo with every demonstration of respect and satisfaction. He lost sight of the hostile diplomatist in the great humanist. Two Neapolitan galleys were sent to conduct him to Naples, and he was welcomed on landing with much pomp. Never did Lorenzo's supreme diplomatic genius, never did his versatile powers as a statesman, as a scholar, as a patron of letters, and as a brilliant man of the world, blaze forth in more splendid effulgence than during his three-months' stay in Naples. Though opposed by all the papal authority and resources; though Sixtus by turns threatened, cajoled, entreated, promised, in order to prevent Lorenzo having any success, the successor of St. Peter was beaten all along the line, and the Magnifico carried away with him a treaty, signed and sealed, which practically meant that henceforth Naples and the papacy would be in antagonistic camps.

It was the Renaissance card which won the trick. With startling boldness, yet with consummate art, Lorenzo played the game of flattering Ferrante. No ordinary adulation, however, would have had success with the Neapolitan Phaleris. He was too strong-minded a man for anything of that kind. But to be hailed by the great Renaissance patron of the period, by one also who was himself one of the leading humanists, as a brother-humanist and a fellow-patron of learning, was a delicate incense to his vanity which he could not resist. He liked to be consulted on matters of literary moment, and, when he blundered, Lorenzo was too shrewd a student of human nature to correct him.

Another fact in Lorenzo's favor was that he had the warm support not only of the beautiful Ippolyta Maria, daughter of Cosmo's friend, Francesco Sforza of Milan, and now wife of Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, King Ferrante's heir, as well as of Don Federigo, the monarch's younger son, who, along with Ippolyta, was a friend to the "New Learning," but he also had the whole body of Neapolitan humanists on his side, scarce one of whom but had experienced in some form or another the Medicean bounty. Such powerful advocacy was not without its influence in bringing about the result; while Ferrante more and more realized that if the Florentine Medici were crushed he would have no ally to whom to look for help when the inevitable shuffle of the political cards took place on the death of Sixtus.

In February, 1480, therefore, Lorenzo returned in triumph to Florence, to be received with rapture by his fellow-citizens. Had he delayed a few months longer, his visit and his ad-miseri-cordiam appeals would not have been needed. In August of that year Keduk Achmed, one of the Turkish Sultan's (Mahomet II) ablest generals, besieged and took the city of Otranto. In face of the common danger to all Italy, Sixtus was compelled to accept the treaty made by Ferrante with Lorenzo, and a general peace ensued. The decade accordingly closed with an absolution for all offences granted by the Pope to Florence, conditional on the Tuscan republic contributing its share to the expenses of the military preparations to resist the invasion of the Turk.

Notwithstanding the war, the progress of the Renaissance during the first decade of Lorenzo's rule was very marked. To the rapid diffusion of printing this was largely due. Lorenzo had not imbibed the prejudices against the new art entertained by Cosmo and Federigo of Montefeltro. He looked at the practical, not the sentimental, side of the question as regards the new invention. Having seen that the press could throw off, in a few days, scores of copies of any work, of which it took an amanuensis months to produce one; also that the scholars of all Italy could be furnished almost immediately, and at a low price, with the texts of any manuscript they desired, while they had to wait months for a limited number of copies whose cost was wellnigh prohibitive, he supported the new invention from the outset. Having resolved to further his father's efforts to establish printing in Florence, he stimulated the local goldsmith, Bernardo Cennini, to turn his attention to type-casting in metal, and even agreed to pay him an annual grant from the year 1471 until he had fairly settled himself in business. Nor did he confine his favors to him. John of Mainz and Nicholas of Breslau, who arrived in Florence, the former in 1472 and the latter in 1477, also participated in his open-hearted liberality. Printing struck its roots deep into the Tuscan community and flourished excellently. Though the Florentine craft never attained the reputation of the Venetian Aldi and Asolani, the Giunti of Rome, the Soncini of Fano, the Stephani of Paris, and Froben of Basel, it had the name, for a time at least, of being one of the most accurate of all presses.

To Lorenzo it owed this celebrity. At an early date he perceived that the new art would be of little value if there were not careful press readers. He was therefore among the first to induce scholars of distinction to engage in this task. For example, he enlisted the aid of Cristoforo Landino, who in his Disputationes Camaldunenses had really inaugurated the science of textual criticism by urging that a careful comparison of the various codices should constitute the preliminary step in any reproduction of the classics. Landino's work on Vergil and Horace merits the warmest praise. Lorenzo also impressed Poliziano into the work, whose labors in marking the various readings, in adding scholia and "notes" illustrative of the text of Catullus, Propertius, Ovid, etc., were of the utmost value. To Lorenzo and to his younger brother Giuliano, another great humanist, Giorgio Merula of Milan, dedicated his Plautus, published in Venice in 1472, showing at how early an age the Magnifico had taken his place among the recognized patrons of the Italian Renaissance.

We ought not, moreover, to omit mention of another achievement of Lorenzo, though performed in a sphere of effort lying outside of the strict limits of our Renaissance survey. Seeing it was the "Revival of Letters," however, which induced the revival of the cultivation of the vernacular Italian literature, surely it is not out of place to refer to it here. Early in life Lorenzo became imbued with the conviction that his native tongue was unsurpassed as a medium for "the expression of noble thoughts in noble numbers." Not only did he encourage others to study Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, but by following out his own precepts he became one of the great Italian poets. His Selve d'Amore, his Corinto, his Ambra, his La Nencia da Barberino, his Laude, his Sonetti, his Cansoni, etc., are all poems that live in the Italian literature of to-day. Not as a man ashamed of the vernacular, and forced to use it because he can command no better, does Lorenzo write. "He is sure of the justice of his cause, and determined by precept and example and by the prestige of his princely rank to bring the literature he loves into repute again."

But of these poems we cannot here take further note. By the scholars of the Renaissance such work was looked askance at. If they did produce any of these "trifles," as they were called, they almost blushed to own them, and were ashamed to communicate them to each other. That he dared to be natural says much for Lorenzo, and it was largely due to his encouragement that Cristoforo Landino undertook his great work on "Dante," to which we owe so much to-day.

In conjunction with his patronage of printing, there was no line of effort in which Lorenzo did more real good than in collecting manuscripts and antiquities, and in making them practically public property. On this account he is styled, by Niccolo Leonicino, "Lorenzo de' Medici, the great patron of learning in this age, whose messengers are dispersed through every part of the earth for the purpose of collecting books on every science, and who has spared no expense in procuring for your use, and that of others who may devote themselves to similar studies, the materials necessary for your purpose." The agents he employed travelled through Italy, Greece, Europe, and the East—Hieronymo Donato, Ermolao Barbaro, and Paolo Cortesi being the names of some of his most trusted "commissioners." But the coadjutor whose aid he principally relied on, to whom he committed the care and arrangement of his vast museum and great library, was Poliziano, who himself made frequent excursions throughout Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa to discover and purchase such remains of antiquity as suited the purposes of his patron. Another successful agent, though at a later date, was Giovanni Lascaris, who twice journeyed into the East in search of manuscripts and curios. In the second of these he brought back upward of two hundred copies of valuable codices from the monasteries on Mount Athos.

To still another service rendered by Lorenzo to the cause of the Renaissance attention must be called—the founding of the Florentine Academy for the study of Greek. This institution, distinct, be it remembered, from the Uffiziali dello Studio (or high-school), exercised a marvellous influence on the progress of the "New Learning." Accordingly, as Roscoe says, succeeding scholars have been profuse in their acknowledgments to Lorenzo, who first formed the establishment from which, to use their own classical figure, as from the Trojan horse, so many illustrious champions have sprung, and by means of which the knowledge of the Greek tongue was extended not only throughout Italy, but throughout Europe as well, from all the countries of which numerous pupils flocked to Florence—pupils who afterward carried the learning they had received to their native lands.

Of this institution the first public professor was Joannes Argyropoulos, who, having enjoyed the patronage of Cosmo and Piero, and directed the education of Lorenzo, was selected by the latter as the fittest person to be the earliest occupant of the chair. During his tenure of it he sent out such pupils as Poliziano, Donato Acciaiuoli, Janus Pannonius, and the famous German humanist Reuchlin. Argyropoulos did not hold the appointment long. His death took place at Rome in 1471, and he was succeeded first by Theodore of Gaza, and then by Chalcondylas. Poliziano certainly discharged the duties of the office frequently, but at first only as locum tenens. He was then almost incessantly engaged in travelling for his patron in Greece and Asia Minor, and was too valuable a coadjutor to be tied down to the routine of teaching until he had completed his work. During the next decade he became the "professor," and discharged the duties with a genius and an adaptability to circumstances that won for him the admiration and love of all his students.

This decade was also remarkable for the commencement of the devotion to the cultivation of literary style, a pursuit yet to reach its culmination in Poliziano in Florence and in Bembo and Sadoleto in Rome. Originality gradually gave place to conventionality, until men actually came to prefer the absurdities of Ciceronianism, and a cold, colorless adherence to hard-and-fast rules of composition, to a work throbbing with the pulsation of virile life. Humanism was beginning to take flight from Italy, to find a home and a welcome beyond the Alps.

The final decade of Lorenzo's life constituted the midsummer bloom of the Tuscan renaissance, the meridian of the intellectual and artistic supremacy of Florence. In Lorenzo it found its fullest expression. He was typical of its spiritual as well as of its moral meaning; typical, too, of that mental unrest which sought escape from the pressing problems of an enigmatic present by reverting to the study of a classic past whose ethical, social, and political difficulties were rarely of a complex character, but concerned themselves principally with what may be termed the elementary verities of man's relations to the Deity and to his fellows.

Lorenzo's amazing versatility has been pronounced a fault by some who believed they detected in him the potential capacity of rivalling Dante, Petrarch, and Ariosto on their own ground, had he only conserved his energies. This is a foolish supposition. Lorenzo's many-sidedness was but the reflection in himself, as the most accurate mirror of the time, of all that wondrous susceptibility to beauty, that eager craving after the realization of the [greek: to kalon] ("the Good") so characteristic of the best Hellenic genius, whether we study it in the dramas of Sophocles or the Republic of Plato or in the statesmanship of Pericles. If Lorenzo had resembled his grandfather and concentrated his energies upon finance and politics, there might have been a line of reigning Medicean princes in Florence half a century earlier than actually was the case, but Europe would have been distinctly the loser by the absence of the greatest personal force making for culture which characterized the Renaissance.

This last decade of Lorenzo's life—from his thirty-first to his forty-second year—was memorable in many respects. In the year 1481 he was again exposed to the danger of assassination. Battista Frescobaldi and two assistants in the Church of the Carmeli, and again on Ascension Day, made an attempt to stab him, but were frustrated by the vigilance of Lorenzo's friends. There is no doubt that this second attempt was also instigated by Girolamo Riario, the nephew of Sixtus IV. Thereafter Lorenzo never moved out without a strong bodyguard of friends and adherents—a precaution rendered necessary by the repeated plots that were being hatched against him by his enemies.

No sooner had the presence of the Turks at Otranto, in the extreme southeast of Italy, been rendered a thing of the past by the surrender of the Moslem garrison to the Duke of Calabria in September, 1481, than the peninsula was again ranged in opposing camps by the attempt of the Venetians, assisted by Sixtus and his nephew, to dispossess Ercole d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, of his dominions. The Duke had married the daughter of Ferdinand, King of Naples, an alliance which, by strengthening him, gave on that account great offence to the Venetians. They therefore sought to provoke him by insisting on their monopoly of the manufacture of salt in North Italy, and by building a fortress on a part of the Ferrarese territory which they pretended was within the limits of their own. When he remonstrated, they declined to remove it. In vain he appealed to Sixtus. The latter was one of the wolves waiting to devour him. He then turned to Lorenzo.

To the inexpressible chagrin of Venice and of Sixtus, the Magnifico promptly espoused his cause, formed an alliance with Ferdinand and other states, and, before the Pope and the Venetians were aware he had moved, they found themselves confronted by Naples, Florence, Milan, Bologna, Mantua, and Faenza. The allies were commanded by Federigo of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, while the Venetian-papal troops were placed under Ruberto Malatesta of Rimini. In this campaign, however, Lorenzo was really the master-spirit. Although successes were won on both sides, a more than usually tragic complexion was given to the war by the death of the two commanders of the opposing forces. They had been friends from youth, and such a trifle as the fact that they were hired to fight against each other never disturbed the tenor of their mutual regard. Armstrong says no more than the truth when he remarks: "It was a pathetic coincidence. The two rival generals had bequeathed to each other the care of their children and estates, a characteristic illustration of the easy good-fellowship in this game of Italian war."

The war dragged on with varying results until Lorenzo played his reserve card. He induced the Slavic Archbishop of Carniola, who, visiting Rome as the emperor Frederick's envoy, had been shocked by the shameless immorality of the Pope's life, to begin an agitation for a general council. In this he was supported by several of the rulers in Northern Italy and Eastern Europe. The move was so far successful. The Pope became alarmed, and hurriedly broke off his alliance with Venice, on the plea that the prevention of fresh schism in the Church must take precedence of every other consideration. The real fact of the matter was he dreaded the fate of Pope John XXIII, for he knew the actions of his nephew Girolamo Riario would not stand conciliar examination. Moreover, his other nephew, Giuliano della Rovere, afterward Pope Julius II, a bitter enemy to Girolamo, and Lorenzo's warm friend, had, during the disgrace of his cousin, gained the Pope's ear and told him some plain but wholesome truths regarding the unpleasant consequences of a permanent rupture with Lorenzo.

All these considerations induced Sixtus to yield and leave Venice to prosecute the war alone. This it did against a quadruple alliance, for the Pope, when the haughty republic of the lagoons refused to disgorge its Ferrarese prey at his orders, promptly changed sides, and was as keen against the aggressor as he had previously been favorable to it. The Venetians sustained two severe defeats, while their fleet was almost shattered by a storm. The pecuniary strain was beyond their resources longer to maintain. They therefore resorted to the customary project of inducing some other power to intervene. In this case they took the step of inviting the Duke of Orleans to lay claim to the dukedom of Milan, and the Duke of Lorraine to the throne of Naples. The move was successful as regards Ludovico of Milan; he withdrew from the alliance, and much against the wish of the other allies the peace of Bagnolo was concluded in August, 1484. To Sixtus the news came as the knell of his dearest hopes. He gave way to one wild outburst of passion, in which he cursed all who had been engaged in making peace, then apoplexy supervened, and within a few hours he was a corpse. He was succeeded by Cardinal Cybo, a warm friend toward the Medici, and one who had such a profound admiration for the genius of Lorenzo in statecraft that he seldom took any step without consulting him, though unfortunately he did not always follow the Magnifico's advice.

If no one else reaped honor and glory from this Ferrarese war, Lorenzo undoubtedly did so. By both sides the fact was admitted that he had acted throughout as a far-seeing, sagacious diplomatist, who, while giving preeminence, as was natural, to the welfare of his own state, had sought to conserve the cause of letters, even amid the turmoil incident upon the collision of political interests. He had proved the friend even of the enemies of his own country, when once they had passed from the scene of conflict, as, for example, when he dared Girolamo Riario to raise a finger in the direction of dispossessing the son of the Pope's general, Ruberto Malatesta, of his Rimini estates. He was the friend of the oppressed everywhere, and in more cases than one his powerful protection saved the children of his friends from being robbed by powerful relatives. This connection between Florence, Naples, Milan, Rome, and Ferrara tended to the promotion of intellectual intercourse between them. As printing was now being briskly prosecuted all over Northern and Central Italy, the interchange of literature went on ceaselessly among them.

This, however, was Lorenzo's last great war. True, he was implicated in the prolonged quarrel between the papacy and King Ferrante of Naples, yet it was more as a mediator between the two antagonists than as the ally of the last-named that he took part in it; although, as Armstrong points out, he paid for the services of Trivulsio and four hundred cross-bowmen, that by enabling the Neapolitans to check San Severino, the leader of the papal-Venetian troops, he might induce Innocent VIII to lose heart and retire from the struggle.

Lorenzo, during the last six years of his life, or, to speak more definitely, after the peace of Bagnolo, had become in Italian, as he was rapidly becoming in European, politics the master-spirit that inspired the moves on the diplomatic chess-board. In the mind of the historical student whose attention is directed to this period, admiration and wonder go hand-in-hand as we contemplate the marvellous sagacity and prevision of the man, together with the skill wherewith he made Florence—the weakest from a military point of view of the five greater Italian powers—the one which exercised the most preponderating influence upon the affairs of the peninsula. His supreme genius conceived and consummated the great scheme for ensuring the peace of Italy by a triple alliance of the three larger states—Florence, Milan, and Naples—against the other two, Venice and the papacy.

As showing how entirely it was dependent upon him, the alliance was operative only so long as he was alive to bind the antagonistic forces of Naples and Milan together by the link of his own personal influence. He, in a word, was the subtle acid holding in chemical combination many mutually repellent substances. When his influence was withdrawn by death, within a few months they had all fallen apart, the triple alliance was forgotten and Italy was doomed. Even by those with whom he was nominally at war he was resorted to for advice. He it was that kept Innocent VIII from taking up a position that would have rendered the papacy ridiculous in the eyes of Europe, when he sought to threaten Naples with consequences he was powerless to inflict.

Many writers have accused Lorenzo of cowardice, of pusillanimity, of want of political resolution on account of this very course of action, namely, that he assisted the enemies of Florence to extricate themselves from their dilemmas. Such criticism fails entirely to understand both the aim and the scope of his policy. He desired to keep Italy for the Italians. His clear-sighted sagacity saw nothing but danger in the plans of Ludovico of Milan to invite the French King into Italy, or in those of Venice to encourage the Duke of Lorraine to press his claims upon Milan. The intervention of either France or Spain in Italy was, in his idea, fraught only with dire disaster. Fain would he have patched up the quarrel between Naples and the papacy by mutual concessions, because he foresaw what would happen if the colossal northern powers had their cupidity aroused regarding Italy, and learned how defenceless she really was. Because he foresaw so clearly the horrors of the invasion of 1494 and 1527, he acted as he did, even toward those who were enemies of Florence. His alarm appears in the letter, dated July, 1489, which he addressed to his ambassador in Rome: "I dislike these Ultramontanes and barbarians beginning to interfere in Italy. We are so disunited and so deceitful that I believe that nothing but shame and loss would be our lot; recent experience may serve to foretell the future." How true a prophet he was, the subsequent course of Italian history revealed!

Anxious though the situation was, crucial though many of the problems he had to solve undoubtedly were, yet the statement may be accepted as approximately true that the last three or four years of Lorenzo's life were spent amid profound peace—at least as far as Florence was concerned. Roscoe's picture is highly colored, but not overcolored:

"At this period the city of Florence was at its highest degree of prosperity. The vigilance of Lorenzo had secured it from all apprehensions of external attack; and his acknowledged disinterestedness and moderation had almost extinguished that spirit of dissension for which it had been so long remarkable. The Florentines gloried in their illustrious citizen, and were gratified by numbering in their body a man who wielded in his hand the fate of nations and attracted the respect and admiration of all Europe; the administration of justice engaged his constant attention, and he carefully avoided giving rise to an idea that he was himself above the control of the law."

And Guicciardini adds: "This season of tranquillity was prosperous beyond any that Italy had experienced during the long course of a thousand years. Abounding in men eminent in the administration of public affairs, skilled in every honorable science and every useful art, it stood high in the estimation of foreign nations; which extraordinary felicity, acquired at many different opportunities, several circumstances contributed to preserve, but among the rest no small share of it was by general consent ascribed to the industry and the virtue of Lorenzo de' Medici, a citizen who rose so far above the mediocrity of a private station that he regulated by his counsels the affairs of Florence, then more important by its situation, by the genius of its inhabitants, and the promptitude of its resources than by the extent of its dominions, and who, having obtained the implicit confidence of the Roman pontiff Innocent VIII, rendered his name great and his authority important in the affairs of Italy."

Though he had never allowed the demands of civic affairs to interfere with his interest in the progress of the Renaissance, war-time, as we have said, is not favorable to the cultivation of letters. While the connection between the states during the course of hostilities undoubtedly promoted the increase of mutual interest in each other's intellectual development, the fact that the Magnifico had to disburse enormous sums for the prosecution of the campaigns necessarily limited his ability to extend the same princely patronage to the cause of learning. But with the conclusion of peace he resumed the original scale of his benefactions, and the last four years of his life were, perhaps, the most fruitful of all in sterling good achieved in the fostering of the Renaissance.

He encouraged the printers to double their output; he munificently assisted such undertakings as the first edition of Homer, edited by the famous scholars Demetrius Chalcondyles and Demetrius Cretensis, as well as other editions of the classics prepared by Poliziano, Marullus, and others. In the final estimate of his influence upon his age we hope to show that his aim was as pure as the prosecution of its realization was determined. He encouraged foreigners to come to Florence to study Greek, and, when their funds failed them, in many cases he generously entertained them at his own expense. Grocyn and Linacre, as well as Reuchlin, testify to the wise generosity of the great Magnifico, and all three declare that to him, more than to any other man, the Renaissance owed not only its development, but even the character it assumed in Italy in the second last decade of the fifteenth century.

The end came when he was literally in his prime. Only forty-two years of age, he might reasonably have looked forward to many years of active work and the enjoyment of his honors! But Lorenzo, although not a vicious, was a pleasure-loving man, and he had drained the cup of enjoyment to the very lees. His constitution was undermined by worry and late vigils, by the very intensity of interest wherewith he had devoted himself to the pleasures of the moment. Accordingly, late in 1491 he began to feel the gout, from which he had suffered for some years, becoming so troublesome that he was unable for the duties devolving on him. He had lost his wife, Clarice Orsini, in July, 1487, at a time when he was absent at the sulphur baths of Filetta, striving to obtain relief from pain; therefore his last years were lonely indeed.

Life had lost its relish to the dying Magnifico. The only thing over which he showed a flash of the old interest was in March, 1492, when his son Giovanni (afterward Leo X), on being made a cardinal by Innocent VIII, was invested with the insignia in the Abbey Church of Fiesole. Although then within a month of his end, although, moreover, so weak that he was unable to attend the investiture mass or to head his table at the banquet which followed, he caused himself to be carried in a litter into the hall, where he publicly paid reverence to his son as a prince of the Church. He then embraced him as a father and gave him his paternal blessing. That done, and after addressing a few words of welcome to his guests collectively, he was slowly borne back to his chamber to die. Nevermore was he seen in public.

His ruling passion was, however, strong in death. In place of surrounding himself with clergy, his last hours were spent with the humanists and scholars he had loved so well. To his beautiful villa of Careggi, and to that room facing the south which he called his own, he retired, and summoned Ficino, Poliziano, and Pico della Mirandola to bear him company until he dipped his feet in the River of Death. They discussed many things, but principally the consolations afforded by philosophy. Then they reverted to the subject of the classics, and to the valuable codices which Lascaris was bringing back from Greece.

But hope at last burned low, and the physicians had to confess that the case was beyond their skill. How rudimentary as regards medical science that skill was may be judged from the fact that the staple remedy prescribed by the great Milanese doctor, Lazaro da Ficino, who had been called in to consult with Lorenzo's own medical man, Pier Leoni of Spoleto, was a potion compounded of crushed pearls and jewels. As might have been expected, such a treatment accelerated rather than retarded the disease.

The last hours of Lorenzo, and particularly his historic interview with Savonarola, have often been described and are to this day the subject of debate. There are two sides to every story, and this one of the last visit of the haughty prior of San Marco's to the dying Magnifico is no exception. Poliziano relates the incident in one form, the followers of Savonarola in another; but neither report is absolutely authentic. Suffice it for us that Benedetto, writing a week after the Magnifico's death, says of the matter: "Our dear friend and master died so nobly, with all the patience, the reverence, the recognition of God which the best of holy men and a soul divine could show, with words upon his lips so kind, that he seemed a new St. Jerome."

Perhaps the most reasonable attitude to assume toward the problem is that Lorenzo died as he lived, feeling that strange, restless curiosity as to what was summed up in the idea of a "future life" which he had manifested all his days: "If I believe aught implicitly," he is reported to have said in earlier years to Alberti, "I believe in Plato's doctrine of immortality in the Phaedo, for religion is too much a matter of temperament for us to lay down hard-and-fast rules about it." Lorenzo outwardly conformed in his dying hours to the rites of the Catholic Church. He received the viaticum kneeling, he repeated the responses in an earnest and fervent tone, and then, when he felt that the grains in the hour-glass of life were running out, he pressed a crucifix to his lips and so passed within the veil. As a humanist he had been reared, as a humanist he had lived and labored, as a humanist he died, maintaining to the very last his interest in those studies which it had been his life's passion to pursue.

The sun of the Florentine renaissance had set forever!

[Footnote 1: By permission of Selmar Hess.]


A.D. 1477

During the greater part of his rule as duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold was at war with Louis XI of France, notwithstanding the treaty of Péronne, 1468, which the French monarch accepted under duress. Meanwhile it was the constant aim of Charles to enlarge his dukedom, and when, in 1475, he had made another peace with Louis, the Duke turned anew to his scheme of conquest.

Charles soon made himself master of Lorraine, which he had long coveted, and then, 1476, invaded Switzerland. "It was reserved for a small people, already celebrated for their heroic valor and their love of liberty, to beat this powerful man." Crossing the Jura, Charles besieged the little town of Granson, and after its capitulation he hanged or drowned all the defenders. When the news of this barbarity had spread through Switzerland the eight cantons arose, and almost under the walls of Granson the Swiss inflicted upon Charles a crushing defeat. In June, 1476, the Duke saw his second army destroyed by the Swiss and the Lorrainers, whom Comines calls Germans. In the following winter Charles assembled a third army and marched against Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, which was then held by the same allies. They were commanded by the Duke of Lorraine, who went to the relief of the garrison at Nancy from St. Nicholas, six miles away.

Comines, whose account is given below, was a French statesman and historian, who, after being for a time in the service of Charles the Bold, went over to Louis and became his personal counsellor. He was therefore intimately versed in the history of these times.

The Duke of Lorraine and his army of Germans broke up from St. Nicholas, and advanced toward the Duke of Burgundy, with a resolution to give him battle. The Count of Campobasso joined them that very day, and carried off with him about eightscore men-at-arms; and it grieved him much that he could do his master no greater mischief. The garrison of Nancy had intelligence of his design, which in some measure encouraged them to hold out; besides, another person had got over the works, and assured them of relief, otherwise they were just upon surrendering, and would have capitulated in a little time, had it not been for the treachery of this Count; but God had determined to finish this mystery.

The Duke of Burgundy, having intelligence of the approach of the Duke of Lorraine's army, called a kind of council, contrary to his custom, for generally he followed his own will. It was the opinion of most of his officers that his best way would be to retire to Pont-à-Mousson, which was not far off, and dispose his army in the towns about Nancy; affirming that, as soon as the Germans had thrown a supply of men and provisions into Nancy, they would march off again; and the Duke of Lorraine being in great want of money, it would be a great while before he would be able to assemble such an army again; and that their supplies of provisions could not be so great but, before half the winter was over, they would be in the same straits as they were now; and that in the mean time the Duke might raise more forces and recruit himself; for I have been told by those who ought to know best, that the Duke of Burgundy's army did not then consist of full four thousand men, and of that number not above one thousand two hundred were in a condition to fight. Money he did not want; for in the castle of Luxembourg—which was not far off—there were in ready cash four hundred fifty thousand crowns, which would have raised men enough. But God was not so merciful to him as to permit him to take this wise counsel or discern the vast multitude of enemies who on every side surrounded him. Therefore he chose the worst plan, and, like a rash and inconsiderate madman, resolved to try his fortune, and engage the enemy with his weak and shattered army, notwithstanding the Duke of Lorraine had a numerous force of Germans, and the King's army was not far off.

As soon as the Count of Campobasso arrived in the Duke of Lorraine's army, the Germans sent him word to leave the camp immediately, for they would not entertain such traitors among them. Upon which message he retired with his party to Condé, a castle and pass not far off, where he fortified himself with carts and other things as well as he could, in hopes that, if the Duke of Burgundy were routed, he might have an opportunity of coming in for a share of the plunder, as he did afterward. Nor was this practice with the Duke of Lorraine the most execrable action that Campobasso was guilty of; but, before he left the army, he conspired with several other officers—finding it was impracticable to attempt anything against the Duke of Burgundy's person—to leave him just as they came to the charge; for at that time he supposed it would put the army into the greatest terror and consternation; and if the Duke fled, he was sure he could not escape alive, for he had ordered thirteen or fourteen sure men, some to run as soon as the Germans came up to charge them, and others to watch the Duke of Burgundy and kill him in the rout; which was well enough contrived, for I myself have seen two or three of those who were thus employed to kill the Duke. Having thus settled his conspiracy at home, he went over to the Duke of Lorraine upon the approach of the German army; but, finding they would not entertain him, he retired to Condé, as I said before.

The German army marched forward, and with them a considerable body of French horse, whom the King had given leave to be present in that action. Several parties lay in ambush not far off, that, if the Duke of Burgundy were routed, they might surprise some person of quality or take some considerable booty. By this everyone may see into what a deplorable condition this poor Duke had brought himself by his contempt of good counsel. Both armies being joined, the Duke of Burgundy's forces, which had been twice beaten before, and were weak and ill-provided besides, were quickly broken and entirely defeated. Many saved themselves by flight; the rest were either taken or killed; and among them the Duke of Burgundy himself was killed on the spot. Not having been in the battle myself, I will say nothing of the manner of his death; but I was told by some that they saw him beaten down, but, being prisoners themselves, were not able to assist him; yet, while they were in sight, he was not killed, but a great body of men coming that way afterward, they killed and stripped him in the throng, not knowing who he was. This battle was fought on January 5, 1476, upon the eve of Twelfth-day.

The King having established posts in all parts of his kingdom—which before never had been done—it was not long ere he received the news of the Duke of Burgundy's defeat; and he was in hourly expectation of the report, for letters of advice had reached him before, importing that the German army was advancing toward the Duke of Burgundy's, and that a battle was expected between them. Upon which many persons kept their ears open for the news, in order to carry it to the King. For his custom was to reward liberally any person who brought him the first tidings of any news of importance, and to remember the messenger besides. His majesty also took great delight in talking of it before it arrived, and would say, "I will give so much to any man who first brings me such and such news." The Lord du Bouchage and I, being together, happened to receive the first news of the battle of Morat, and we went with it to the King, who gave each of us two hundred marks of silver. The Lord du Lude, who lay without the Plessis, had the first news of the arrival of the courier, with the letters concerning the battle of Nancy; he commanded the courier to deliver him the packet, and as he was a great favorite of the King's he durst not refuse him. By break of day the next morning, the Lord du Lude knocked at the door next to the King's chamber, and, it being opened, he delivered in the packet from the Lord of Craon and other officers. But none of the first letters gave any certainty of the Duke's death; they only stated that he was seen to run away, and that it was supposed he had made his escape.

The King was at first so transported with joy at the news he scarce knew how to behave himself; however, his majesty was still in some perplexity. On one hand, he was afraid that if the Duke should be taken prisoner by the Germans, by means of his money, of which he had great store, he would make some composition with them. On the other, he was doubtful, if the Duke had made his escape, though defeated for the third time, whether he should seize upon his towns in Burgundy or not; which he judged not very difficult to do, since most of the brave men of that country had been slain in those three battles. As to this last point, he came to this resolution—which I believe few were acquainted with but myself—that if the Duke were alive and well, he would command the army which lay ready in Champagne and Barrois to march immediately into Burgundy, and seize upon the whole country while it was in that state of terror and consternation; and when he was in possession of it he would inform the Duke that the seizure he had made was only to preserve it for him, and secure it against the Germans, because it was held under the sovereignty of the crown of France, and therefore he was unwilling it should fall into their hands, and whatever he had taken should be faithfully restored; and truly I am of opinion his majesty would have done it, though many people who are ignorant of the motives that guided the King will not easily believe it. But this resolution was altered as soon as he was certain of the Duke of Burgundy's death.

Upon the King's receiving the above-mentioned first letter—which gave no account of the Duke's death—he immediately sent to Tours, to summon all his captains and other great personages to attend him. Upon their arrival he communicated his letters to them. They all pretended great joy; but to such as more narrowly observed their behavior, it was easy to be discerned that most of them did but feign it; and, notwithstanding all their outward dissimulation, they had been better pleased if the Duke of Burgundy had been successful. The reason of this might be, because the King was greatly feared, and now, if he should find himself clear and secure from his enemies, they were afraid they would be reduced, or at least their offices and pensions retrenched; for there were several present who had been engaged against him with his brother the Duke of Guienne in the confederacy called the "Public Good." After his majesty had discourse with them for some time, he went to mass, and then ordered dinner to be laid in his chamber, and made them all dine with him; there being with him his chancellor and some other lords of his council. The King's discourse at dinner-time was about this affair, and I well remember that myself and others took particular notice how those who were present dined; but to speak truth—whether for joy or sorrow I cannot tell—there was not one of them that half filled his belly; and certainly it could not have been from modesty or bashfulness before the King, for there was not one among them but had dined with his majesty many times before.

As soon as the King rose from table he retired, and distributed to some persons certain lands belonging to the Duke of Burgundy, as though he had been dead. He despatched the Bastard of Bourbon, Admiral of France, and myself into those parts, with full power to receive the homage of all such as were willing to submit and become his subjects. He ordered us to set out immediately, and gave us commission to open all his letters and packets which we might meet by the way, that thereby we might ascertain whether the Duke was dead or alive. We departed with all speed, though it was the coldest weather I ever felt in my life. We had not ridden above half a day's journey when we met a courier, and commanding him to deliver his letters we learned by them that the Duke of Burgundy was slain, and that his body had been found among the dead, and recognized by an Italian page that attended him and by one Monsieur Louppe, a Portuguese, who was his physician, and who assured the Lord of Craon that it was the Duke his master, and the Lord of Craon notified the same at once to the King.

Upon receiving this news we rode directly to the suburbs of Abbeville, and were the first that announced the intelligence to the Duke's adherents in those parts. We found the inhabitants of the town in treaty with the Lord of Torcy, for whom they had held a great affection for a long time. The soldiers and officers of the Duke of Burgundy negotiated with us, by means of a messenger whom he had sent to them beforehand; and in confidence of success they dismissed four hundred Flemings who were then quartered in the town. The citizens, laying hold of this opportunity, opened the gates immediately to the Lord of Torcy, to the great prejudice and disadvantage of the captains and officers of the garrison—for there were seven or eight of them to whom, by virtue of the King's authority, we had promised money, and pensions for life; but they never enjoyed the benefit of that promise, because the town was not surrendered by them. Abbeville was one of the towns that Charles VII delivered up by the treaty of Arras in the year 1435, which towns were to return to the crown of France upon default of issue male; so that their admitting us so easily is not so much to be wondered at.

From thence we marched to Dourlans, and sent a summons to Arras, the chief town in Artois, and formerly part of the patrimony of the earls of Flanders, which for want of heirs male always descended to the daughters. The Lord of Ravestein and the Lord des Cordes, who were in the town of Arras, offered to enter into a treaty with us at Mount St. Eloy and to bring some of the chief citizens with them. It was concluded that I and some others should meet them in the King's behalf; but the Admiral refused to go himself, because he presumed they would not consent to grant all our demands. I had not been long at the place of appointment when the two above-mentioned lords of Ravestein and Des Cordes arrived, attended by several persons of quality, and by certain commissioners on the part of the city, one of whom was their pensionary, named Monsieur John de la Vaquerie, whom they appointed to be their spokesman, and who since that time has been made first president of the Parliament of Paris.

We demanded in the King's name to have the gates immediately opened and to be received into the town, for both the town and the whole country belonged to the King by right of confiscation; and if they refused to obey this summons, they would be in danger of being besieged, and compelled to submit by force, since their Duke was defeated, and his dominions utterly unprovided with means of defence, upon account of their irrecoverable losses in the three late battles. The lords returned answer by their speaker Monsieur John de la Vaquerie that the county of Artois belonged to the lady of Burgundy, daughter of Duke Charles, and descended to her in a right line from Margaret, Countess of Flanders, Artois, Burgundy, Nevers, and Rethel, who was married to Philip I, Duke of Burgundy, son of King John of France, and younger brother to King Charles V; wherefore they humbly entreated the King that he would observe and continue the truce that had existed between him and the late Duke of Burgundy, her father.

Our conference was but short, for we expected to receive this answer; but the chief design of my going thither was to have a private conference with some persons that were thereto try if I could bring them over to the King's interest. I made overtures to some of them, who soon afterward did his majesty signal service. We found the whole country in a state of very great consternation, and not without cause; for in eight days' time they would scarce have been able to raise eight men-at-arms, and for other soldiers there were not in the whole country above one thousand five hundred—reckoning horse and foot together—that had escaped from the battle in which the Duke of Burgundy was slain, and they were quartered about Namur and Hainault. Their former haughty language was much altered now, and they spoke with more submission and humility; not that I would upbraid them with excessive arrogance in times past, but, to speak impartially, in my time they thought themselves so powerful that they spoke neither of nor to the King with the same respect as they have done since; and if people were wise, they would always use such moderate language in their days of prosperity that in the time of adversity they would not need to change it.

I returned to the Admiral, to give him an account of our conference; and there I was informed that the King was coming toward us, and that upon receiving the news of the Duke's death he immediately set out, having despatched several letters in his own and his officers' names to send after him what forces could presently be assembled, with which he hoped to reduce the provinces I have just mentioned to his obedience.

The King was overjoyed to see himself rid of all those whom he hated and who were his chief enemies; on some of them he had been personally revenged, as on the Constable of France, the Duke of Nemours, and several others. His brother, the Duke of Guienne, was dead, and his majesty came to the succession of the duchy. The whole house of Anjou was extinct—René, King of Sicily, John and Nicholas, Dukes of Calabria, and since them their cousin, the Count du Maine, afterward made count of Provence. The Count d'Armagnac had been killed at Lestore, and the King had got the estates and movables of all of them. But the house of Burgundy, being greater and more powerful than the rest, having maintained war with Charles VII, our master's father, for two-and-thirty years together without any cessation, by the assistance of the English, and having their dominions bordering upon the King's and their subjects always inclinable to invade his kingdom, the King had reason to be more than ordinarily pleased at the death of that Duke, and he triumphed more in his ruin than in that of all the rest of his enemies, as he thought that nobody, for the future, either of his own subjects or his neighbors, would be able to oppose him or disturb the tranquillity of his reign. He was at peace with England, and made it his chief business to continue so; yet, though he was freed in this manner from all his apprehensions, God did not permit him to take such courses in the management of his affairs as were most proper to promote his own interests and designs.

And certainly, although God Almighty has shown, and does still show, that his determination is to punish the family of Burgundy severely, not only in the person of the Duke, but in its subjects and estates, yet I think the King our master did not take right measures to gain his end. For, if he had acted prudently, instead of pretending to conquer them, he should rather have endeavored to annex all those large territories, to which he had no just title, to the crown of France by some treaty of marriage; or to have gained the hearts and affections of the people, and so have brought them over to his interest, which he might, without any great difficulty, have effected, considering how their late afflictions had impoverished and dejected them. If he had acted after that manner, he would not only have prevented their ruin and destruction, but extended and strengthened his own kingdom, and established them all in a firm and lasting peace. He might by this means have eased, his own country of its intolerable grievances, and particularly of the marches and counter-marches of his troops, which are commanded continually up and down from one end of the kingdom to the other, sometimes upon very slight occasions.

In the Duke of Burgundy's lifetime the King often talked with me about this affair, and told me what he would do if he should outlive the Duke, and his discourse at that time was very rational and wise; he told me he would propose a match between his son and the Duke of Burgundy's daughter, and if she would not consent to that, on the ground that the Dauphin was too young, he would then endeavor to marry her to some young prince of his kingdom, by which means he might keep her and her subjects in amity, and obtain without war what he intended to lay claim to for himself; and this was his resolution not more than a week before he heard of the Duke of Burgundy's death; but the very day he received that news his mind began to change, and this wise counsel was laid aside when the Admiral and I were despatched into those provinces. However, the King spoke little of what he intended to do—only to some few that were about him he promised sundry of the Duke's lordships and possessions.

As the King was upon the road toward us, he received from all parts the welcome news of the delivering up the castles of Han and Bohain, and that the inhabitants of St. Quentin had secured that town for themselves, and opened their gates to their neighbor, the Lord of Mouy. He was certain of Peronne, which was commanded by Master William Bische, and, by the overtures that we and several other persons had made him, he was in great hopes that the Lord des Cordes would strike in with his interest. To Ghent he sent his barber, Master Oliver, [1] born in a small village not far off; and other agents he sent to other places, with great expectations from all of them; and most of them promised him very fair, but performed nothing. Upon the King's arrival near Peronne, I went to wait on his majesty, and at the same time William Bische and others brought him the surrender of the town of Péronne, with which he was extremely pleased.

The King stayed there that day, and I dined with him, according to my usual custom, for it was his humor to have seven or eight always with him at table, and sometimes many more. After dinner he withdrew, and seemed not to be at all pleased with the Admiral's little exploit and mine; he told us he had sent his barber, Master Oliver, to Ghent, and he doubted not but he would persuade that town to submit to him; and Robinet Dodenfort to St. Omer, as he had great interest there; and these his majesty extolled as fit persons to manage such affairs, to receive the keys of great towns, and to put garrisons of his troops into them. He also mentioned others whom he had employed in the same negotiation in other places.

While the King was busy in subduing towns and places in the marches of Picardy, his army was in Burgundy, under the command, apparently, of the Prince of Orange, a native and subject of the county of Burgundy, but one who had recently, for the second time, become an enemy of Duke Charles, so that the King made use of him, because he was a powerful noble in both the county and duchy of Burgundy, and was likewise well connected and greatly beloved. But the Lord of Craon was the King's lieutenant, and had the real charge of the army, and was the person in whom the King reposed most confidence; for he was a man of great wisdom, and thoroughly devoted to his master, though somewhat too fond of gain. This Lord of Craon, when he drew near Burgundy, sent forward the Prince of Orange and others to Dijon to use persuasion, and require the people to render obedience to the King; and they managed the matter so adroitly, principally by means of the Prince of Orange, that the city of Dijon and all the other towns in the duchy of Burgundy, together with many in the county, gave their allegiance to the King.

[Footnote 1: This personage will be familiar to all who have read Sir Walter Scott's novel of Quentin Durward. Oliver le Mauvais was valet-de-chambre and chief barber to Louis XI; in October, 1474, he received letters of nobility from that Prince, authorizing him to change his name of Mauvais to that of Le Dain. On November 19, 1477, the King conferred the estates of the deceased Count of Meulant on Oliver le Dain and his heirs; and to this gift he added the Forest of Senart in October, 1482. On May 21, 1484, Oliver was hanged "for various great crimes, offences, and malefactions."]


A.D. 1480

Prior to the twelfth century the church authorities had been content with defining heresy, while the treatment of heretics was left to secular magistrates. But the spread of heresy at the end of the twelfth century caused the episcopal authorities to look for some occasion for enlarging their prerogatives. In 1204 Pope Innocent III appointed a papal delegate with authority to judge and punish misbelievers. From this germ sprung the Holy Office, commonly known as the Inquisition.

This papal act met with some opposition from the bishops, upon whose prerogatives it encroached; and it provoked rebellion among those against whom it was directed, the Albigenses of Southern France, whose doctrines were spreading into Italy. In 1208 Innocent began a crusade against them, which was led by Arnold of Citeaux and Simon de Montfort, and proved a bloody war of extermination, lasting several years.

Meanwhile the papacy gradually proceeded in the design of creating a tribunal under its own direct control. Such a tribunal was soon practically instituted. Its leading spirit was St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican order of preaching friars, but the title of Inquisitor was not yet adopted at the time of his death, in 1221. St. Dominic, however, is with good reason regarded as the founder of the Inquisition.

After the death of St. Dominic the Inquisition gradually assumed a more definite and avowed character, and its repressive hand, inflicting terrible punishments upon accused heretics, was soon felt throughout Southern Europe, and later in the Netherlands, the order of St. Dominic at first furnishing its principal agents.

But later the Inquisition entered upon another stage, under Spanish direction, through a specific organization, practically independent of papal or royal control, though acting under the sanction of both church and state. It became "the most formidable of irresponsible engines in the annals of religious institutions." Two points of view—Protestant and Catholic—are here presented of the Spanish history of the Holy Office.


"Better and happier luck for Spain"—I translate the words of Mariana—"was the establishment in Castile, which took place about this time, of a new and holy tribunal of severe and grave judges, for the purpose of making inquest and chastising heretical pravity and apostasy, judges other than the bishops, on whose charge and authority this office was anciently incumbent. For this intent the Roman pontiffs gave them authority, and order was given that the princes should help them with their favor and arm. These judges were called 'inquisitors,' because of the office which they exercised of hunting out and making inquest, a custom now very general in Italy, France, Germany, and also in the kingdom of Aragon. Castile, henceforth, would not suffer any nation to go beyond her in the desire which she always had to punish such enormous and wicked excesses. We find mention, before this, of some inquisitors who discharged this function, but not in the manner and force of those who followed them.

"The chief author and instrument of this salutary grant was the Cardinal of Spain (Mendoza), who had seen that, in consequence of the great liberty of past years, and from the mingling of Moors and Jews with Christians in all sorts of conversation and trade, many things went out of order in the kingdom. With that liberty it was impossible that some of the Christians should not be infected. Many more, leaving the religion which they had voluntarily embraced as converts from Judaism, again apostatized and returned to their old superstition—an evil which prevailed more in Seville than in any other part. In that city, therefore, secret searches were first made, and they severely punished those whom they found guilty. If their delinquency was considerable after having kept them long time imprisoned, and after having tormented them, they burned them. If it was light, they punished the offenders, with the perpetual dishonor of their family. Of not a few they confiscated the goods, and condemned them to imprisonment for life. On most of them they put a sambenito, which is a sort of scapulary of yellow color, with a red St. Andrew's cross, that they might go marked among their neighbors, and bear a signal that should affright and scare by the greatness of the punishment and of the disgrace; a plan which experience has shown to be very salutary, although, at first, it seemed very grievous to the natives."

Cardinal Mendoza might have been an instrument of establishing the new tribunal in Spain, but no author was wanted for that work. Pope Gregory IX, fit successor of Innocent III, had completed in Spain, as in the county of Toulouse and kingdom of France, the scheme which his uncle Innocent began. By a bull, dated May 26, 1232, he appointed Dominican friars inquisitors in Aragon, and forthwith proceeded to confer the same benefit on the kingdoms of Navarre, Castile, and Portugal; Granada being in possession of the Moors. Ten years later, in a council at Tarragona, the chief technicalities of the Spanish Inquisition were settled. At the invitation of Peter, Archbishop of Tarragona, Raymund of Peñaforte, the Pope's penitentiary, presided. The definitions of the council are notable for the determination they evidence to conduct the affairs of the tribunal with entire legal precision and formality. The "vocabulary" was now settled, and one has only to turn to the Acts of the Council of Tarragona to find the exact meaning of "heretic, believer, suspected, simple, vehement, most vehement, favorer, concealer, receiver, receptacle, defender, abettor, relapsed."

As everyone may well know, no inconsiderable part of the Spanish population consisted of Jews, many of whose ancestors had taken refuge in that country, or had settled there for purposes of commerce, ages before the birth of our Lord, and their number had been increased from time to time, in consequence of imperial edicts which drove them from Italy, or by the attractions of honor and wealth in Spain. They were the most industrious and therefore the most wealthy people in those kingdoms, and had possessed great influence. Their learned men occupied important stations as physicians, agents of government, and even officers of state; while the "New Christians," or Jews professedly converted to Christianity, were intermarried with the highest families in Spain, and all this had taken place in spite of the enmity of the clergy, popular bigotry, and the adverse legislation of cortes or parliaments. But the wealth which procured Jews and New Christians so much worldly influence became the occasion of great suffering. The "Old Christians," being less industrious, and therefore less affluent, were frequently their debtors. And although usury was checked by legislators, who dreaded its pressure on themselves, and debts were often repudiated, the Jews maintained their position of creditors; and, as the Cartilla says, creditors are often unreasonable persons, or, at least, are considered to be such. Christians of pure blood, therefore, finding themselves involved in long reckonings, became increasingly impatient, and, under a cloak of zeal for the Catholic religion, were incessantly embroiling them with the magistracy or stirring up the populace against them.

Llorente estimates the number of Jews who perished under the fury of mobs, in the year 1391, at upward of one hundred thousand. To evade persecution, multitudes submitted to be baptized. More than a million had changed name at the end of the fourteenth century. After those tumults controversial preachers, such as San Vicente Ferrer, declaimed for popery against Judaism; and in the first ten years of the fifteenth century a second multitude of forced converts threw themselves into the bosom of the Romish Church, to the discouragement of their brethern and to their own confusion at last. They were set under the keenest vigilance of the inquisitors, without being able even to counterfeit any attachment to the Church, whose most grievous yoke they had put on, but which in heart they hated.

Now the Church gloried over the declension of Judaism. In presence of Benedict XIII, antipope, a Spaniard, wandering in Spain, because in Rome they would not own him, a formal disputation was carried on for sixty-nine days between Jerome of Santa Fé and other converts—or, as the Jews not improperly called them, apostates—on the one side, and a company of rabbis on the other. Such a controversy, carried on even in the presence of a half-pope, could only come to the prescribed conclusion; and after seeing all persuasion and corruption exhausted to bring over the Hebrews to his sect, but without much success, Benedict closed the debate, pronounced the Jews vanquished, and gave them notice of severer measures. The richer from interest, the poorer from bigotry, and the priesthood from instinct, poured contempt even on proselytes, whom they classified according to their supposed degrees of heterodoxy. Some were called "converts," to note the newness of their Christianity; others "confessed," to tell that they had confessed the falseness of Judaism. Sometimes they were branded as "maranos," from the words maran atha, which the priests, in their ignorance, took to mean "accursed." The whole were spoken of as a generation of maranos, or, worst of all in the imagination of a papist, "Jews." Goaded by the cowardly persecution, the proselytes groaned after deliverance; a few even dared to renounce the profession of a faith they never held, and many resumed the practice of Jewish rites in private. This opened a new field to the zeal of the inquisitors; but the labor of suppressing a revolt so widely spread, so rapidly extending, and even infecting the Romish families with whom the imperfect converts were united, was more than the inquisitors could undertake without a more powerfully organized system of their own.

I believe that the fear of the Bible and the hatred of the Jews of Spain, first imprinted in the page of history by the Council of Illiberis in the beginning of the fourth century, was in course of time much aggravated by the earnest love of the Spanish Jews for the original scriptures of the Old Testament. It was not until the eleventh century that rabbinical tradition gained much hold in the Jewish mind in Spain, but, from the first, Christians had cursed Jews in sincere but blind zeal against the descendants, as they thought, of those who crucified our Lord in Jerusalem. Yet the Sephardim in Spain could have had no knowledge of the Crucifixion until some weeks, at soonest, after it had taken place, and perhaps never knew of the hostility of the Jews in Jerusalem against the Saviour.

Until the dispersion of the Eastern colleges in the eleventh century, no great rabbis came into Spain with pretension of authority to enforce Talmudical traditions. When zealots of the sort did come, they found a community of Hebrews far superior to the Jews of Palestine. No Assyrian had bribed them to worship the gods of Nineveh. Their neighbors the Carthaginians, so long as Carthage stood, had persisted in worshipping the Baal and the Ashtaroth that recreant Israelites in Samaria and Jews in Jerusalem worshipped for ages; but, while those gods had altars in Sidon and in Carthage, we do not hear of any altars being raised to them in "the captivity of Jerusalem, which was in Sepharad," or Spain (Obadiah, 20); neither do we hear that those Jews betrayed any ambition to make a hedge to protect God's law, instead of taking care to keep it. But the first propagators of traditionism in Spain came from the East, on the breaking up of the great schools of Babylonia by the Persians.

Ancient or Karaite synagogues remained in Spain until the expulsion of Jews at the close of the fifteenth century, and yet much later in the provinces that were not annexed to the United Kingdom of Castilla and Leon under Ferdinand and Isabella. Some of the strongest features of biblical learning imparted to the literature of the Reformation in its earlier stages proceeded from the converted Jews of Spain.

About the year 1470, when the persecution of both Jews and Mahometans was at its height—except in the kingdom of Granada—and when the testimony quoted from the Old Testament against worship of images must have been extremely galling to the worshippers, the priests thought it necessary to enforce the prohibition of vernacular versions of the Bible. Such versions, we know, were then circulated more freely in France, Spain, and Portugal. In Spain, one of the chief translators was Rabbi Moses of Toledo. To put a stop to Bible-reading, an appeal was made to Pope Paul II, who prohibited the translation of the holy Scriptures "into the languages of the nations." This authority was quoted in the Council of Trent by Cardinal Pacheco, in justification of the practice of the Church of Rome in his day; but another cardinal, Madrucci, arguing against him, replied with cutting calmness that "Paul, of popes the second," or any other pope, might be easily deceived in judging of the fitness or unfitness of a law, but not so Paul the Apostle, who taught that God's word should never depart from the mouth of the faithful.

During the persecutions of the fifteenth century, while Ferdinand and Isabella made progress in reconquering the kingdom of Granada from the Moors, and Mahometanism, like Judaism, was declining, the Moriscoes, a middle class, resembling the New Christians, and not less dangerous to Romanism, also challenged the powers of the Inquisition. No other country in popedom was at that time more deeply imbued with disaffection of the doctrines and worship of the Church of Rome. Then in 1477, one Brother Philip de' Barberi, a Sicilian inquisitor, came to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, who were sovereigns of Sicily, to solicit the confirmation of some privileges recently granted to the Holy Office in that island; and, having observed the peril of the Church within the enlarged and united dominions of "the Catholic kings" under whose rule nearly all Spain was comprehended, advised the creation of one undivided court of inquisition, like that of Sicily, as the only means of defence against the maranos, Moriscoes, Jews, and Mussulmans.

The advice was quickly taken. First of all, the Dominicans, and after them the dignitaries of the secular clergy, crowded round the throne to pray for a reformation of the Inquisition after the Sicilian model. They appealed to the greed of King Ferdinand by offering him the proceeds of a confiscation, which might be rapidly effected, in pursuance of laws of the Church to that intent provided. They appealed to the piety of Queen Isabella, and were careful that tales of Jewish murders and Jewish desecrations should be poured incessantly into the royal ear. Ferdinand had no scruple. He sincerely prayed the Pope to sanction such a measure, and, swiftly as couriers could bring it, came the desired bull. Isabella could not blame the zeal of priests and monks; for she, too, was a zealot. She could not gainsay the urgency of the nuncio. She could not quench in her husband's bosom the thirst of gold. But she had brought half the kingdom as her dower; and therefore some deference was due to her conscience and judgment, and both in conscience and judgment she desired gentler measures. During two or three years her orator and confessor wrote books, and preachers were permitted to publish arguments, and disputants to enter into conferences, for the conviction of the Jews.

At her majesty's request, Cardinal Mendoza issued a constitution in Seville, in 1478, containing "the form that should be observed with a Christian from the day of his birth, as well in the sacrament of baptism as in all other sacraments which he ought to receive, and of what he should be taught, and ought to do and believe as a faithful Christian, every day, and at all times of his life, until the day of his death. And he ordered this to be published in all the churches of the city, and put in tables in each parish, as a settled constitution. He also published a summary of what curates and clerks should teach their parishioners, and what the parishioners should observe and show to their children." Thus does Hernando del Pulgar, in his Chronicle of the Catholic Sovereigns, describe what some too hastily call a catechism. It was merely a standard of things to be believed and done, set forth by authority. The King and Queen also, not the Cardinal, commanded "some friars, clerks, and other religious persons to teach the people." But no true Jew would let himself be taught that idolatry is not damnable; and even the less discouraging issues of controversy with the vacillating or the ignorant were not honestly reported.

The constitution of Cardinal Mendoza and the harangues of the friars were ineffectual, as well they might be, for the Jews knew that the Christians had a sacred book, said to be written by divine inspiration, as well as the Law of Moses; and if that book was not put into their hands, they could scarcely be expected to believe a religion whose chief written authority was kept out of sight. That it was, indeed, kept out of sight was undeniable; and the notorious Alfonso de Castro, chaplain of Philip II, boasted in his book against heresies that there was "an edict of the most illustrious and Catholic sovereigns of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, in which, under the severest penalties, they forbade anyone to translate the holy Scriptures into a vulgar language, or to have any such version in his possession. For they were afraid lest any occasion of error should be given to the people over whom God had made them governors." The clergy maintained that conversion to the truth by argument was impossible, and, at their instance, the bull was no longer kept in reserve, but was published in 1480.

The Queen's trial of humanity was ended; but a question of policy remained. The King and Queen remembered that they had an interest in Spain as well as the Pope, but they scarcely knew how that interest could be guarded if the inquisitors were allowed absolute power over the persons and property of their subjects. To have proposed lay assessors and open court would have provoked a quarrel with the Pope, then powerful enough to raise Europe in arms against them; therefore they modestly requested no more than that some priests nominated by the King should be associated with some others nominated by the Pope; or that the King should name all, and the Pope confirm his nominations. The "Catholic sovereigns" calculated that nominees of Rome would, of course, prefer the rights of the Church to those of the crown, but they fancied, or they wished to fancy, that priests of their own choice would prefer their interests to those of a stranger. This was an illusion, and therefore Rome made little difficulty; and after due correspondence, and some changes, the Supreme Council of the Spanish Inquisition was constituted thus:

Inquisitor-general—Friar Thomas de Torquemada, of whom Llorente says that it was hardly possible that there could have been another man so capable of fulfilling the intentions of King Ferdinand, by multiplying confiscations; those of the court of Rome, by propagating their jurisdictional and pecuniary maxims; and those of the projectors of the Inquisition, by infusing terror into the people by public executions.

Two assessors—Juan Gutierrez de Chabes and Tristan de Medina, jurisconsults.

Three King's counsellors—Don Alonso Carillo, a bishop-elect, with Sancho Valasquez de Cuellar and Poncio de Valencia, doctors of civil law. In matters relating to royal power they were to have a definite vote; but in affairs of spiritual jurisdiction they could only be suffered to offer an opinion, inasmuch as a spiritual power resided in the chief inquisitor alone.

Under the jurisdiction of the supreme council were four subordinate tribunals, and eventually several others were added, while some inquisitors, hitherto holding special powers from the Pope, were stripped of their independence, that the court of Rome might have one uniform action throughout Spain. As the Holy Office advanced in labor and experience, the supreme council was enlarged, and at last it consisted of a president—inquisitor-general for the time being; six counsellors with the title of apostolic; a fiscal; a secretary of the chamber; two secretaries of the council; an alguazil-in-chief, or sheriff; one receiver; two reporters; four apparitors; one solicitor; and as many consulters as circumstances might require. Of course these were all maintained in a style worthy of their office. The Inquisitor-general, or president of the council, exerted an absolute power over every Spanish subject, so that he almost ceased to be himself a subject. He alone consulted with the King concerning the appointment of inquisitors to preside over all the provincial tribunals. Each of those inferior inquisitions was managed by three inquisitors, two secretaries, one under-sheriff, one receiver, and a certain number of triers and consulters. Their functions were considerably restricted, leaving all capital cases and ultimate decisions in the hands of the Madrid "Supreme."

But while Ferdinand, Isabella, Torquemada, and the nuncio were concerting their plans and preparing death for heretics, what said Spain to it? Neither was clergy nor laity content. After the bull of Sixtus IV empowering the King to name inquisitors furnished with absolute authority, and to remove them at pleasure, had arrived, but lay unpublished in consequence of the Queen's repugnance, a provincial synod sat at Seville, where the regal court then was, 1478. Had the clergy of Castile desired the Inquisition, the synod would have said so; but so far were they from approving of such a tribunal, to which every bishop would be subject, but where no bishop would any longer have a voice, that they passed over the affair of heresy in silence, not consenting to accept the Inquisition, yet not presuming to remonstrate against it. Then would have been the time for the clergy to add their power to that of the throne for the suppression of false doctrine, believing, as they did believe, that forcible suppression was not only lawful, but meritorious in the sight of God; and so they would probably have done if inquisitor and bishop were to have had coördinate jurisdiction, as in the first inquisition of Toulouse, and in the early Italian inquisition; but they saw, with alarm, that the episcopate was to be despoiled of its authority at a stroke.

A few months before the publication of the bull, but long after every person in Spain knew the purport of its contents, and in the certainty that it would be carried into execution, the Cortes of Toledo met; but, instead of avoiding any act that would interfere with the new jurisdiction then to be introduced, they made several provisions for separating Jews and Christians by the enclosure of Jewries in the towns, and for compelling the former to wear a peculiar garb, and abstain from exercising the vocation of surgeon or physician or innkeeper or barber or apothecary among Christians. The parliament plainly ignored the Inquisition in making this enactment on their own authority.

And what said the magistracy and the people? Seville represented the general state of feeling at the time. There, when a company of inquisitors presented themselves, conducted into the city by men and horses which had been impressed for the purpose by royal order, the civil authorities refused to help them, notwithstanding the injunctions of the bull, the obligations of canon law, and a mandate from the Crown. The new inquisitors found themselves unable to act for want of help; meanwhile the objects of their mission forsook the city, and found shelter in the neighboring districts; and Ferdinand had to issue specific orders to overpower the hostility of all the classes of the people and to compel the magistrates to assist the new set of officers ecclesiastic. These orders were most reluctantly obeyed.

Thus fortified, the inquisitors took up their abode in the Dominican convent of St. Paul, and issued their first mandate January 2, 1481. They said that they were aware of the flight of the New Christians, and commanded the Marquis of Cadiz, the Count of Arcos, and all the dukes, marquises, counts, gentlemen, rich men, and others of the kingdom of Castile to arrest the fugitives and send them to Seville within a fortnight, sequestrating their property. All who failed to do this were excommunicated as abettors of heresy, deposed from their dignities, and deprived of their estates; and their subjects were to be absolved from homage and obedience. Crowds of fugitives were driven back into Seville, bound like felons; the dungeons and apartments of the convent overflowed with prisoners; and the King assigned the castle of Triana, on the opposite bank of the Guadalquiver, to the "New and Holy Tribunal," to be a place of safe custody. There the inquisitors, elate with triumph over the reluctant magistrates and panic-stricken people, shortly afterward erected a tablet with an inscription in memory of the first establishment of the modern Inquisition in Western Europe. The concluding sentences of the inscription were: "God grant that, for the protection and augmentation of the faith, it may abide unto the end of time!—Arise, O Lord, judge thy cause!—Catch ye the foxes!"

Their second edict was one of "grace." It summoned all who had apostatized to present themselves before the inquisitors within a term appointed, promising that all who did so, with true contrition and purpose of amendment, should be exempted from confiscation of their property—it was understood that they should be punished in some other way—but threatening that, if they allowed that term to pass over without repentance, they should be dealt with according to the utmost rigor of the law. Many ran to the convent of St. Paul, hoping to merit some small measure of indulgence. But the inquisitors would not absolve them until they had disclosed the names, calling, residence, and given a description of all others whom they had seen, heard, or understood to have apostatized in like manner. After getting this information, they bound the terrified informers to secrecy. This first object being accomplished, they sent out a third monition, requiring all who knew any that had apostatized into the Jewish heresy to inform against them within six days, under the usual penalties. But they had already marked the very men; and those suspected converts suddenly saw the apparitors inside their houses, and were dragged away to the dungeons. New Christians who had preserved any of the familiar usages of their forefathers, such as putting on clean clothes on Saturday, who stripped the fat from beef or mutton, who killed poultry with a sharp knife, covered the blood, and muttered a few Hebrew words, who had eaten flesh in Lent, blessed their children, laying hands on their heads, who observed any peculiarity of diet or distinction of feast or fast, mourned for the dead after their ancient manner, or whose friends had presumed to turn the face toward a wall when in the agony of death, all such being vehemently suspected of apostasy, were to be punished accordingly. Thirty-six elaborate articles were furnished whereby everyone was instructed how to ensnare his neighbor.

But what shall we say of a faith that could only hope to be kept alive in the world by the extinction of charity, honor, pity, and humanity? Llorente describes the immediate issue:

"Such opportune measures for multiplying victims could not but produce the desired effect. Hence, on January 6, 1481, there were burned six unhappy persons; sixteen on March 26th; many on April 21st; and by November 4th, two hundred ninety-eight in all. Besides these, the inquisitors condemned seventy-nine to perpetual imprisonment. And all this in the city of Seville only; since, as regards the territories of this archbishopric and of the bishopric of Cadiz, Juan de Mariana says that, in the single year of 1481, two thousand Judaizers were burned in person, and very many in effigy, of whom the number is not known, besides seventeen thousand subjected to cruel penance. Among those burned were many principal persons and rich inhabitants, whose property went into the treasury.

"As so many persons were to be put to death by fire, the Governor of Seville caused a permanent raised pavement, or platform of masonry, to be constructed outside the city, which has lasted to our time [until the French invasion, if not later], retaining its name of Quemadero ('Burning-place'); and at the four corners four large hollow statues of limestone, within which they used to place the impenitent alive, that they might die by slow heat. I leave my readers to consider whether this punishment of an error of the understanding was consistent or not with the doctrine of the Gospel?

"Fear caused an immense multitude of others of the same class of New Christians to emigrate to France, Portugal, and even Africa. But many others, whose effigies had been burned, appealed to Rome, complaining of the injustice of those proceedings; in consequence of which appeals the Pope wrote, on January 29, 1482, to Ferdinand and Isabella, saying that there were innumerable complaints against the inquisitors, Fray Miguel Morillo and Fray Juan de San Martin especially, because they had not confined themselves to canon law, but declared many to be heretics that were not. His holiness said that, but for the royal nomination, he would have deprived them of their office; but that he revoked the power he had given to the sovereign to nominate others, supposing that fit persons would be found among those nominated by the general or the provincial of the Dominicans, to whom the privilege belonged, and in prejudice of whose privilege the former nomination by Ferdinand and Isabella had been allowed."

So adroitly did the Pope take the absolute control of the Inquisition into his own hands under pretence of impartial justice, and leave the weaker tyrant to eat the fruit of his doings. But since that time pope and king have been again united in the management of the Holy Office, the latter, however, in abject subservience to the former. Neither in the appeals nor in the brief was there anything that could divert Torquemada from the prosecution of his purposes; and therefore he hastened to bring Aragon under his jurisdiction. Ferdinand convened the cortes of that kingdom in the city of Tarragona, April, 1484; in that assembly appointed a junta to prepare measures for the establishment of another tribunal; and then Torquemada, in pursuance of the latest pontifical decision, created Friar Caspar Inglar, a preacher of the Dominican community, and Pedro Arbues de Epila, a canon of the metropolitan church, inquisitors. The King gave a mandate to the civil authorities—a firman, it might be called—compelling them to lend aid to the new officers; and, on September 13th following, the Grand Justice of Aragon, with his five lieutenants of the long robe and various other magistrates, swore upon the holy Gospels that they would give men and arms to defend and to enforce the authority of the Holy Inquisition. And as they swore thus, the King's chief secretary for Aragon, the prothonotary, the vice-chancellor, the royal treasurer—whose own father and grandfather were Jews, and persecuted by the old inquisitors—together with a multitude of persons of high rank and office, in whose veins flowed Jewish blood, and whose descendants are now among the first families in Spain, looked on with dismay, and sent a deputation to Rome, bearing remonstrance against the newly created Inquisition; and deputed others to present their appeal to the same effect at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. All these deputies were afterward proceeded against as hinderers of the Holy Office; and meanwhile the inquisitors, in contempt of opposition, set themselves to work without delay.

In the months of May and June, 1485, two acts of faith were celebrated in Saragossa, capital of Aragon, and a large number of New Christians burned alive. The public was enraged, certainly, but helpless; yet not so helpless but that many awoke to a conviction that, since the inquisitors had resorted to terror for the conservation of the faith, they ought to be restrained by terror in their turn.

In the night of September 14, 1485, one of the inquisitors, Pedro Arbues, covered as usual with a coat of mail under his robes, and wearing a steel skull-cap under his hat—for he was every moment conscious of guilt and apprehensive of retribution—took a lantern in one hand and a bludgeon in the other; and, like a sturdy soldier of his peculiar Church, walked from his house to the cathedral of that same Saragossa, to join in matins. He knelt down by one of the pillars, setting his lantern on the pavement. His right hand held the weapon of defence, yet stealthily half covered with the cloak. The canons, in their places, were chanting hymns. Two men came and knelt down near him. They understood, as most Spaniards do, how most effectually to attack a man, and how to kill him quickest. Therefore one of them suddenly disabled him on one side by a blow on the left arm. The other swung his cudgel at the back of his head, just below the edge of the steel cap, and laid him prone. He never spoke again, but expired in a few hours. This murder, as might be expected, was well made use of by the priests, serving them to plead the necessity of an inquisition to repress violence; and the inhabitants of the city were instantly overawed by a display of high judicial authority which they had no power to resist.

Queen Isabella, horrified at the murder of her confessor—for "confessor of the kings" was an honorary dignity conferred on each inquisitor in Spain—erected a monument to his memory at her own expense; and when the murders perpetrated by Arbues himself had somewhat faded out of public memory, he was beatified at Rome, and a chapel was constructed for his veneration in the church where he had fallen. Therein his remains were laid; and over the spot where he received the mortal blow a stone was placed, with the inscription: "Siste, viator," etc. "Stay, traveller! Thou adorest the place (locum adoras) where the blessed Pedro de Arbues was laid low by two missiles. Epila gave him birth. This city gave him a canonry. The apostolic see elected him to be the first Father Inquisitor of the Faith. Because of his zeal he became hateful to the Jews; by whom slain, he fell here a martyr in the year 1485. The most serene Ferdinand and Isabella reared a marble mausoleum, where he became famous for miracles. Alexander VII, Pontifex Maximus, wrote him into the number of holy and blessed martyrs on the 17th day of April in the year 1664. The tomb having been opened, the sacred ashes were translated, and placed under the altar of the chapel (built by the chapter, with the material of the tomb, in the space of sixty-five days), with solemn rite and veneration, on the 23d day of September, in the year 1664."

The intelligence of that murder threw all Aragon into commotion. The powers, ecclesiastical and royal, panted for vengeance, and the murderers were put to a most painful death. The Jews and New Christians trembled with terror and rage. The inhabitants of many towns, Teruel, Valencia, Lerida, and Barcelona included, compelled the inquisitors to cease from inquest; and it was only by means of military force, after edicts and bulls had failed, that the King and Pope together could quash two years' public resistance. In Saragossa, where the murder had been contrived by a party of chief inhabitants, a consciousness of guilt weakened their hands and they endeavored to save themselves by flight. Thousands of people deserted the city, although they had no participation in the deed and were everywhere treated as rebels; and in that migration incidents occurred which might throw a tinge of horrible romance on our history. Let me briefly mention two.

An inhabitant of Saragossa found his way to Tudela, and there begged for shelter and concealment in the house of Don Jaime, Infante of Navarre, legitimate son of the Queen of Navarre and nephew of King Ferdinand himself. The Infante could not refuse asylum and hospitality to an innocent fugitive. He allowed the man to hide himself for a few days and then pass on to France. For this act of humanity Don Jaime was arrested by the inquisitors, thrown into prison as an impeder of the Holy Office, brought thence to Saragossa, a place quite beyond the jurisdiction of Navarre, and there made to do open penance in the cathedral, in presence of a great congregation at high mass. And what penance! The Archbishop of Saragossa presided; but this Archbishop was a boy of seventeen, an illegitimate son of the King; and he it was that commanded two priests to flog his father's lawful nephew, the Infante of Navarre, with rods. They whipped Don Jaime around the church accordingly.

The other case was diabolical. Gaspar de Santa Cruz escaped to Toulouse, where he died and was buried after his effigy had been burned in Saragossa. In this city lived a son of his, who, in duty bound, had helped him to make good his retreat. This son was delated as an impeder of the Holy Office, arrested, brought out at an act of faith, made to read a condemnation of his deceased father, and then sent to the inquisitor at Toulouse, who took him to his father's grave, and compelled him to dig up the corpse and burn it with his own hands. Whether the inquisitors were most barbarous or the young man most vile, it may be difficult to say. But it is a most infamous glory of the Inquisition that, for satisfaction of its own requirements, the express laws of God and man and the first instincts of humanity are equally set at naught.

The Arch-inquisitor of Spain, shortly after his accession to the office, summoned the subalterns from their stations to meet him at Seville, and framed, with them, a set of instructions for uniform administration. They were published, twenty-eight in number, on October 29, 1484. On January 9, 1485, eleven more were added. The spirit of these instructions pervades the Directory of Eymeric, into which they were incorporated by his commentator. It is only important to mention here that on the present occasion an agent was appointed to represent this Inquisition at Rome, and there to defend the inquisitors on occasion of appeals from the subjects of inquisitorial violence or from their friends or their survivors. And this was in spite of a bull sent into Spain two years before, appointing the Archbishop of Seville sole judge of such appeals. But that bull was a mere feint for conciliation and never acted on at Rome.

We must not fail to mark this point in the history, forasmuch as here begins the practically juridical relation between the court of Rome as supreme, and the provinces of the Roman Church as subordinate, in matters concerning inquisition.


As to the Spanish Inquisition, which was only an extension of that which was established in other countries, we must divide it, with respect to its duration, into three great periods. We omit the time of its existence in the kingdom of Aragon, before its introduction into Castile. The first of these comprehends the time when the Inquisition was principally directed against the relapsed Jews and Moors, from the day of its installation under the Catholic sovereigns till the middle of the reign of Charles V. The second extends from the time when it began to concentrate its efforts to prevent the introduction of Protestantism into Spain until that danger entirely ceased; that is, from the middle of the reign of Charles V till the coming of the Bourbons. The third and last period is that when the Inquisition was limited to repress infamous crimes and exclude the philosophy of Voltaire; this period was continued until its abolition, in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

It is clear that, the institution being successively modified according to circumstances at these different epochs—although it always remained fundamentally the same—the commencement and termination of each of these three periods which we have pointed out cannot be precisely marked; nevertheless, these three periods really existed in its history, and present us with very different characters.

Everyone knows the peculiar circumstances in which the Inquisition was established in the time of the Catholic sovereigns; yet it is worthy of remark that the bull of establishment was solicited by Queen Isabella; that is, by one of the most distinguished sovereigns in our history—by that Queen who still, after three centuries, preserves the respect and admiration of all Spaniards. Isabella, far from opposing the will of the people in this measure, only realized the national wish. The Inquisition was established chiefly against the Jews. Before the Inquisition published its first edict, dated Seville, in 1481, the Cortes of Toledo, in 1480, had adopted severe measures on the subject. To prevent the injury which the intercourse between Jews and Christians might occasion to the Catholic faith, the cortes had ordered that unbaptized Israelites should be obliged to wear a distinctive mark, dwell in separate quarters, called juiveries, and return there before night. Ancient regulations against them were renewed; the professions of doctor, surgeon, shopkeeper, barber, and tavern-keeper were forbidden them. Intolerance was, therefore, popular at that time. If the Inquisition be justified in the eyes of friends to monarchy, by conformity with the will of kings, it has an equal claim to be so in the eyes of lovers of democracy.

No doubt the heart is grieved at reading the excessive severities exercised at that time against the Jews; but must there not have been very grave causes to provoke such excesses? The danger which the Spanish monarchy, not yet well established, would have incurred if the Jews, then very powerful on account of their riches and their alliances with the most influential families, had been allowed to act without restraint, has been pointed out as one of the most important of these causes. It was greatly to be feared that they would league with the Moors against the Christians. The respective positions of the three nations rendered this league natural; this is the reason why it was looked upon as necessary to break a power which was capable of compromising anew the independence of the Christians. It is necessary also to observe that at the time when the Inquisition was established the war of eight hundred years against the Moors was not yet finished. The Inquisition was projected before 1474; it was established in 1480, and the conquest of Granada did not take place till 1492. Thus it was founded at the time when the obstinate struggle was about to be decided; it was yet to be known whether the Christians would remain masters of the whole peninsula or whether the Moors should retain possession of one of the most fertile and beautiful provinces; whether these enemies, shut up in Granada, should preserve a position excellent for their communication with Africa, and a means for all the attempts which, at a later period, the Crescent might be disposed to make against us. Now, the power of the Crescent was very great, as was clearly shown by its enterprises against the rest of Europe in the next century. In such emergencies, after ages of fighting, and at the moment which was to decide the victory forever, have combatants ever been known to conduct themselves with moderation and mildness?

It cannot be denied that the system of repression pursued in Spain, with respect to the Jews and the Moors, was inspired, in great measure, by the instinct of self-preservation: we can easily believe that the Catholic princes had this motive before them when they decided on asking for the establishment of the Inquisition in their dominions. The danger was not imaginary; it was perfectly real. In order to form an idea of the turn which things might have taken if some precaution had not been adopted, it is enough to recollect the insurrections of the last Moors in later times.

Yet it would be wrong, in this affair, to attribute all to the policy of royalty; and it is necessary here to avoid exalting too much the foresight and designs of men; for my part, I am inclined to think that Ferdinand and Isabella naturally followed the generality of the nation, in whose eyes the Jews were odious when they persevered in their creed, and suspected when they embraced the Christian religion. Two causes contributed to this hatred and animadversion: first, the excited state of religious feeling then general in all Europe, and especially in Spain; second, the conduct by which the Jews had drawn upon themselves the public indignation.

The necessity of restraining the cupidity of the Jews, for the sake of the independence of the Christians, was of ancient date in Spain: the old assemblies of Toledo had attempted it. In the following centuries the evil reached its height; a great part of the riches of the peninsula had passed into the hands of the Jews, and almost all the Christians found themselves their debtors. Thence the hatred of the people against the Jews; thence the frequent troubles which agitated some towns of the peninsula; thence the tumults which more than once were fatal to the Jews, and in which their blood flowed in abundance. It was difficult for a people accustomed for ages to set themselves free by force of arms to resign themselves peacefully and tranquilly to the lot prepared for them by the artifices and exactions of a strange race, whose name, moreover, bore the recollection of a terrible malediction.

In later times an immense number of Jews were converted to the Christian religion; but the hatred of the people was not extinguished thereby, and mistrust followed these converts into their new state. It is very probable that a great number of these conversions were hardly sincere, as they were partly caused by the sad position in which the Jews who continued in Judaism were placed. In default of conjectures founded on reason in this respect, we will regard as a sufficient corroboration of our opinion the multitude of Judaizing Christians who were discovered as soon as care was taken to find out those who had been guilty of apostasy. However this may be, it is certain that the distinction between New and Old Christians was introduced; the latter denomination was a title of honor, and the former a mark of ignominy; the converted Jews were contemptuously called maranos ("impure men," "pigs"). With more or less foundation, they were accused of horrible crimes. In their dark assemblies they committed, it was said, atrocities which could hardly be believed for the honor of humanity. For example, it was said that, to revenge themselves on the Christians and in contempt of religion, they crucified Christian children, taking care to choose for the purpose the greatest day among Christian solemnities. There is the often-repeated history of the knight of the house of Guzman, who, being hidden one night in the house of a Jew whose daughter he loved, saw a child crucified at the time when the Christians celebrated the institution of the sacrifice of the eucharist. Besides infanticide, there were attributed to the Jews sacrileges, poisonings, conspiracies, and other crimes. That these rumors were generally believed by the people is proved by the fact that the Jews were forbidden by law to exercise the professions of doctor, surgeon, barber, and tavern-keeper; this shows what degree of confidence was placed in their morality. It is useless to stay to examine the foundations for these sinister accusations. We are not ignorant how far popular credulity will go, above all when it is under the influence of excited feelings, which makes it view all things in the same light. It is enough for us to know that these rumors circulated everywhere and with credit, to understand what must have been the public indignation against the Jews, and consequently how natural it was that authority, yielding to the impulse of the general mind, should be urged to treat them with excessive rigor.

The situation in which the Jews were placed is sufficient to show that they might have attempted to act in concert to resist the Christians; what they did after the death of St. Peter Arbues shows what they were capable of doing on other occasions. The funds necessary for the accomplishment of the murder—the pay of the assassins, and the other expenses required for the plot—were collected by means of voluntary contributions imposed on themselves by all the Jews of Aragon. Does not this show an advanced state of organization, which might have become fatal if it had not been watched?

In alluding to the death of St. Peter Arbues, I wish to make an observation on what has been said on this subject as proving the unpopularity of the establishment of the Inquisition in Spain. What more evident proof, we shall be told, can you have than the assassination of the inquisitor? Is it not a sure sign that the indignation of the people was at its height and that they were quite opposed to the Inquisition? Would they otherwise have been hurried into such excesses? If by "the people" you mean the Jews and their descendants, I will not deny that the establishment of the Inquisition was indeed very odious to them, but it was not so with the rest of the nation. The event we are speaking of gave rise to a circumstance which proves just the reverse. When the report of the death of the inquisitor was spread through the town, they went in crowds in pursuit of the New Christians, so that a bloody catastrophe would have ensued had not the young Archbishop of Saragossa, Alphonsus of Aragon, presented himself to the people on horseback, and calmed them by the assurance that all the rigor of the laws should fall on the heads of the guilty. Was the Inquisition as unpopular as it has been represented? and will it be said that its adversaries were the majority of the people? Why, then, could not the tumult of Saragossa have been avoided in spite of all the precautions which were no doubt taken by the conspirators, at that time very powerful by their riches and influence?

At the time of the greatest rigor against the Judaizing Christians, there is a fact worthy of attention. Persons accused, or threatened with the pursuit of the Inquisition, took every means to escape the action of that tribunal: they left the soil of Spain and went to Rome. Would those who imagine that Rome has always been the hot-bed of intolerance, the firebrand of persecution, have imagined this? The number of causes commenced by the Inquisition, and summoned from Spain to Rome, is countless, during the first fifty years of the existence of that tribunal; and it must be added that Rome always inclined to the side of indulgence. I do not know that it would be possible to cite one accused person who, by appealing to Rome, did not ameliorate his condition. The history of the Inquisition at that time is full of contests between the kings and popes; and we constantly find, on the part of the holy see, a desire to restrain the Inquisition within the bounds of justice and humanity. The line of conduct prescribed by the court of Rome was not always followed as it ought to have been. Thus we see the popes compelled to receive a multitude of appeals, and mitigate the lot that would have befallen the appellants if their cause had been definitely decided in Spain. We also see the Pope name the judge of appeal, at the solicitation of the Catholic sovereigns, who desired that causes should be finally decided in Spain: the first of these judges was Inigo Manrique, Archbishop of Seville. Nevertheless, at the end of a short time, the same Pope, in a bull of August 2, 1483, said that he had received new appeals, made by a great number of the Spaniards of Seville, who had not dared to address themselves to the judge of appeal for fear of being arrested. Such was then the excitement of the public mind; such was at that time the necessity of preventing injustice or measures of undue severity. The Pope added that some of those who had had recourse to his justice had already received the absolution of the apostolical penitentiary, and that others were about to receive it; he afterward complained that indulgences granted to divers accused persons had not been sufficiently respected at Seville; in fine, after several other admonitions, he observed to Ferdinand and Isabella that mercy toward the guilty was more pleasing to God than the severity which it was desired to use; and he gave the example of the good shepherd following the wandering sheep. He ended by exhorting the sovereigns to treat with mildness those who voluntarily confessed their faults, desiring them to allow them to reside at Seville or in some other place they might choose; and to allow them the enjoyment of their property, as if they had not been guilty of the crime of heresy.

Moreover, it is not to be supposed that the appeals admitted at Rome, and by virtue of which the lot of the accused was improved, were founded on errors of form and injustice committed in the application of the law. If the accused had recourse to Rome, it was not always to demand reparation for an injustice, but because they were sure of finding indulgence. We have a proof of this in the considerable number of Spanish refugees convicted at Rome of having fallen into Judaism. Two hundred fifty of them were found at one time, yet there was not one capital execution. Some penances were imposed on them, and, when they were absolved, they were free to return home without the least mark of ignominy. This took place at Rome in 1498.

It is a remarkable thing that the Roman Inquisition was never known to pronounce the execution of capital punishment, although the apostolic see was occupied during that time by popes of extreme rigor and severity in all that relates to the civil administration. We find in all parts of Europe scaffolds prepared to punish crimes against religion; scenes which sadden the soul were everywhere witnessed. Rome is an exception to the rule—Rome, which it has been attempted to represent as a monster of intolerance and cruelty. It is true that the popes have not preached, like Protestants, universal toleration; but facts show the difference between popes and Protestants. The popes, armed with a tribunal of intolerance, have not spilled a drop of blood; Protestants and philosophers have shed torrents. What advantage is it to the victim to hear his executioners proclaim toleration? It is adding the bitterness of sarcasm to his punishment.

The conduct of Rome in the use which she made of the Inquisition is the best apology of Catholicity against those who attempt to stigmatize her as barbarous and sanguinary. In truth, what is there in common between Catholicity and the excessive severity employed in this place or that, in the extraordinary situation in which many rival races were placed, in the presence of danger which menaced one of them, or in the interest which the kings had in maintaining the tranquillity of their states and securing their conquests from all danger?

I will not enter into a detailed examination of the conduct of the Spanish Inquisition with respect to Judaizing Christians; and I am far from thinking that the rigor which it employed against them was preferable to the mildness recommended and displayed by the popes. What I wish to show here is that rigor was the result of extraordinary circumstances—the effect of the national spirit and of the severity of customs in Europe at that time. Catholicity cannot be reproached with excesses committed for these different reasons. Still more, if we pay attention to the spirit which prevails in all the instructions of the popes relating to the Inquisition, if we observe their manifest inclination to range themselves on the side of mildness, and to suppress the marks of ignominy with which the guilty, as well as their families, were stigmatized, we have a right to suppose that, if the popes had not feared to displease the kings too much, and to excite divisions which might have been fatal, their measures would have been carried still further. If we recollect the negotiations which took place with respect to the noisy affair of the claims of the Cortes of Aragon, we shall see to which side the court of Rome leaned.

As we are speaking of intolerance with regard to the Judaizers, let us say a few words as to the disposition of Luther toward the Jews. Does it not seem that the pretended reformer, the founder of independence of thought, the furious declaimer against the oppression and tyranny of the popes, should have been animated with the most humane sentiments toward that people? No doubt the eulogists of this chieftain of Protestantism ought to think thus also. I am sorry for them; but history will not allow us to partake of this delusion. According to all appearances, if the apostate monk had found himself in the place of Torquemada, the Judaizers would not have been in a better position. What, then, was the system advised by Luther, according to Seckendorff, one of his apologists? "Their synagogues ought to be destroyed, their houses pulled down, their prayer-books, the Talmud, and even the books of the Old Testament to be taken from them; their rabbis ought to be forbidden to teach, and be compelled to gain their livelihood by hard labor." The Inquisition, at least, did not proceed against the Jews, but against the Judaizers; that is, against those who, after being converted to Christianity, relapsed into their errors, and added sacrilege to their apostasy by the external profession of a creed which they detested in secret, and which they profaned by the exercise of their old religion. But Luther extended his severity to the Jews themselves; so that, according to his doctrines, no reproach can be made against the sovereigns who expelled the Jews from their dominions.

The Moors and the Moriscoes no less occupied the attention of the Inquisition at that time; and all that has been said on the subject of the Jews may be applied to them with some modifications. They were also an abhorred race—a race which had been contended with for eight centuries. When they retained their religion, the Moors inspired hatred; when they abjured it, mistrust; the popes interested themselves in their favor also in a peculiar manner. We ought to remark a bull issued in 1530, which is expressed in language quite evangelical: it is there said that the ignorance of these nations is one of the principal causes of their faults and errors; the first thing to be done to render their conversion solid and sincere was, according to the recommendation contained in this bull, to endeavor to enlighten their minds with sound doctrine.

It will be said that the Pope granted to Charles V the bull which released him from the oath taken in the Cortes of Saragossa in the year 1519, an oath by which he had engaged not to make any change with respect to the Moors; whereby, it is said, the Emperor was enabled to complete their expulsion. But we must observe that the Pope for a long time resisted that concession; and that if he at length complied with the wishes of the Emperor, it was only because he thought that the expulsion of the Moors was indispensable to secure the tranquillity of the kingdom. Whether this was true or not, the Emperor, and not the Pope, was the better judge; the latter, placed at a great distance, could not know the real state of things in detail. Moreover, it was not the Spanish monarch alone who thought so; it is related that Francis I, when a prisoner at Madrid, one day conversing with Charles V, told him that tranquillity would never be established in Spain if the Moors and Moriscoes were not expelled.


A.D. 1483

The brief reign of Richard III, 1483-1485, left for historians one subject of dispute which even to our own day has not been finally determined—his alleged murder of his nephews, King Edward V and Richard, Duke of York, sons of Edward IV. These princes at the supposed time of their death were about thirteen and nine years of age respectively.

Before his usurpation Richard III, last of the Plantagenet line, was known as the Duke of Gloucester. He served in the Wars of the Roses, and on the death of Edward IV, April, 1483, he seized the young Edward V and caused himself to be proclaimed protector. He then caused his parliament to set the two princes aside as illegitimate, and they were imprisoned in the Tower of London. On June 26, 1483, Richard assumed the crown, and soon after the death of the princes was publicly announced.

In Gairdner's discussion we have the results of the best historical inquiries concerning this most important question of Richard's career.

A great amount of public anxiety prevailed touching the two young princes in the Tower. They were virtually prisoners, and their confinement created great dissatisfaction. A movement in their behalf was gotten up in the South of England while Richard was away. In Kent, Sussex, and Essex, in Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset, even as far west as Devonshire, cabals were formed for their liberation, which all appear to have been parts of one great conspiracy organized in secret by the Duke of Buckingham. By the beginning of October some disturbances had actually taken place, and the following letter was written in consequence by the Duke of Norfolk to one of his dependents in Norfolk:

"To my right well-beloved friend, John Paston, be this delivered in haste.

"Right well-beloved friend, I commend me to you. It is so that the Kentish men be up in the Weald and say that they will come and rob the city, which I shall let [i. e., prevent] if I may.

"Therefore I pray you, that with all diligence you make you ready and come hither, and bring with you six tall fellows in harness; and ye shall not lose your labor, that knoweth God; who have you in his keeping.

"Written at London the 10th day of October.

"Your friend,


The rumor of the projected movement in behalf of the princes was speedily followed by the report that they were no more. Of course they had been removed by violence. Regarding the time and manner of the deed no news could then be obtained, but the news that the deposed King and his brother had been assassinated was spread with horror and amazement through the land. Among all the inhumanities of the late civil war there had been nothing so unnatural as this. To many the tale seemed too cruel to be true. They believed that the princes must have been sent abroad to defeat the intrigues of their friends. But time passed away and they never appeared again. After many years, indeed, an impostor counterfeited the younger; but even he, to give credit to his pretensions, expressly admitted the murder of his elder brother.

Nevertheless, there have been writers in modern days who have shown plausible grounds for doubting that the murder really took place. Two contemporary writers, they say, mention the fact only as a report; a third certainly states it, incorrectly, at least, in point of time; and Sir Thomas More, who is the only one remaining, relates it with certain details which it does seem difficult to accept as credible. More's account, however, must bear some resemblance to the truth. It is mainly founded upon the confession of two of the murderers, and is given by the writer as the most trustworthy report he had met with. If, therefore, the murder be not itself a fiction, and the confession, as has been surmised, a forgery, we should expect the account given by Sir Thomas More to be in the main true, clear, and consistent, though Horace Walpole and others have maintained that it is not so. The substance of the story is as follows: Richard, some time after he had set out on his progress, sent a special messenger and confidant, by name John Green, to Sir Robert Brackenbury, the constable of the Tower, commanding him to put the two princes to death. Brackenbury refused to obey the order, and Green returned to his master at Warwick. The King was bitterly disappointed. "Whom shall a man trust," he said, "when those who I thought would most surely serve me, at my command will do nothing for me?" The words were spoken to a private attendant or page, who told him, in reply, that there was one man lying on a pallet in the outer chamber who would hardly scruple to undertake anything whatever to please him. This was Sir James Tyrell, who is described by More as an ambitious, aspiring man, jealous of the ascendency of Sir Richard Ratcliffe and Sir William Catesby. Richard at once acted upon the hint, and calling Tyrell before him communicated his mind to him and gave him a commission for the execution of his murderous purpose. Tyrell went to London with a warrant authorizing Brackenbury to deliver up to him for one night all the keys of the Tower. Armed with this document he took possession of the place, and proceeded to the work of death by the instrumentality of Miles Forest, one of the four jailers in whose custody the princes were, and John Dighton, his own groom. When the young princes were asleep, these men entered their chamber, and, taking up the pillows, pressed them hard down upon their mouths till they died by suffocation. Then, having caused Sir James to see the bodies, they buried them at the foot of a staircase. But "it was rumored," says More, "that the King disapproved of their being buried in so vile a corner; whereupon they say that a priest of Sir Robert Brackenbury's took up the bodies again, and secretly interred them in such place as, by the occasion of his death, could never come to light." Sir James, having fulfilled his mission, returned to the King, from whom he received great thanks, and who, Sir Thomas informs us, "as some say, there made him a knight."

It has been maintained that this story will not bear criticism. What could have induced Richard to time his cruel policy so ill and to arrange it so badly? The order for the destruction of the children could have been much more easily, safely, and secretly executed when he was in London than when he was at Gloucester or Warwick. Fewer messages would have sufficed, and neither warrants nor letters would have been necessary. Was it a sudden idea which occurred to him upon his progress? If so, he might surely have waited for a better opportunity. If not, he might at least have taken care to sift Brackenbury before leaving London, so as to be sure of the two he intended to employ. Is it likely that Richard would have given orders for the commission of a crime, without having good reason to rely upon his intended agent's boldness and depravity?

But, having tried Sir Robert's scruples, and found them somewhat stronger than he anticipated, what follows? It might have been expected that Sir Robert's respect for his master, if he had any, would have been diminished; that the favor of his sovereign would have been withdrawn from him; and perhaps that the tyrant, having seen an instance of the untrustworthiness of men in matters criminal and dangerous, would have learned to become a little more circumspect. But the facts are quite otherwise. Sir Robert continued long after in the good graces of his sovereign, always remained faithful to him, even when many others deserted him, and finally fell in battle bravely fighting in his cause. Richard did not become more cautious, but, on the contrary, more imprudent than ever. He complained loudly of his disappointment, even in the presence of a page. This page is nameless in the story, but he serves to introduce to the King not less a person than Sir James Tyrell, who is represented as willing to do anything to obtain favor, and envious of the influence possessed by others. He undertakes and executes the task which Brackenbury had refused, and for this service we are told he was knighted. All this greatly misrepresents Sir James' position and influence, if not his character. He not only was a knight long before this, but had been in the preceding year created by Richard himself a knight banneret for his distinguished services during the Scotch campaign. He had been, during Edward IV's reign, a commissioner for executing the office of lord high constable. He was then master of the King's henchmen, or pages. He was also master of the horse. If his mere position in the world did not make him disdain to be a hired assassin, he at least did not require to be recommended through the medium of that nameless page.

Moreover, it appears that the fact of the princes having been murdered was held in great doubt for a long time afterward. Even More himself, writing about thirty years later, is obliged to acknowledge that the thing had "so far come in question that some remained long in doubt whether they were in Richard's days destroyed or no." This is certainly remarkable, when it is considered that it was of the utmost importance for Henry VII to terminate all controversy upon the question. Yet Sir Thomas tells us that these doubts arose not only from the uncertainty men were in whether Perkin Warbeck was the true duke of York, "but for that also that all things were so covertly demeaned, one thing pretended and another meant, that there was nothing so plain and openly proved but that yet, for the common custom of close and covert dealing, men had it ever inwardly suspect." All this, it is urged, may very well suggest that the doubts were reasonable, and that the princes in reality were not destroyed in the days of Richard III. And, indeed, when we consider how many persons, according to More's account, took part in the murder or had some knowledge of it, it does appear not a little strange that there should have been any difficulty in establishing it on the clearest evidence. For besides Tyrell, Dighton, and Forest, the chief actors, there were Brackenbury, Green the page, one Black Will, or Will Slaughter, who guarded the princes, and the priest who buried them, all fully aware of the circumstances of the crime.

In Henry VII's time Brackenbury was dead, and so it is said was the priest; Forest, too, had ended his days miserably in a sanctuary. But it does not appear what had become of either Green or the page. Tyrell and Dighton were the only persons said to have been examined; and though we are told that they both confessed, yet there is a circumstance that makes the confession look exceedingly suspicious. Tyrell was detained in prison, and afterward executed, for a totally different offence; while, as Bacon tells us, "John Dighton, who it seemeth spake best for the King, was forthwith set at liberty." Taking Bacon's view of the circumstances of the disclosure as if it were infallible, the sceptics here find matter of very grave suspicion. "In truth," says Walpole, "every step of this pretended discovery, as it stands in Lord Bacon, warns us to give no heed to it. Dighton and Tyrell agreed both in a tale, as the King gave out. Their confession, therefore, was not publicly made; and as Sir James Tyrell, too, was suffered to live, but was shut up in the Tower and put to death afterward for we know not what treason, what can we believe but that Dighton was some low mercenary wretch, hired to assume the guilt of a crime he had not committed, and that Sir James Tyrell never did, never would, confess what he had not done, and was therefore put out of the way on a fictitious imputation? It must be observed, too, that no inquiry was made into the murder on the accession of Henry VII—the natural time for it, when the passions of men were heated, and when the Duke of Norfolk, Lord Lovel, Catesby, Ratcliffe, and the real abettors or accomplices of Richard were attainted and executed. No mention of such a murder was made in the very act of parliament that attainted Richard himself and which would have been the most heinous aggravation of his crimes. And no prosecution of the supposed assassins was ever thought of till eleven years afterward, on the appearance of Perkin Warbeck." Such are the striking arguments by which it has been sought to cast a doubt upon the murder, and particularly More's account of it.

To all which it may be replied, in the first place, that it is by no means necessary to suppose More's narrative, though it appeared to him the most credible account he had heard, absolutely correct in all its details, especially in those which he mentions as mere reports. His authority was evidently the alleged confession of Tyrell and Dighton, obtained second-hand. This, though true in the main, may not have been absolutely correct, even as it was first delivered, and may have been somewhat less accurate as it was reported to Sir Thomas, who perhaps added from hearsay a few errors of his own, like that about Sir James Tyrell's knighthood.

Secondly, the argument with regard to Richard's imprudence, in pursuing the course ascribed to him, goes but little way to discredit the facts, unless it can be shown that caution and foresight were part of his ordinary character. The prevailing notion of Richard III, indeed, is of a cold, deeply politic, scheming, and calculating villain. But I confess I am not satisfied of the justice of such a view. Not only Richard, but all his family, appear to me to have been headstrong and reckless as to consequences. His father lost his life by a chivalrous and quixotic impetuosity; his brother Edward lost his kingdom once by pure carelessness; his brother Clarence fell, no less by lack of wisdom than by lack of honesty; and he himself, at Bosworth, threw away his life by his eagerness to terminate the contest in a personal engagement. Had Richard fully intended to murder his nephews at the time he determined upon dethroning the elder, I have very little doubt that he would have kept his northern forces in London to preserve order in the city till after the deed was done. I for my part do not believe that such was his intention from the first. How much more probable, indeed, that after he had left London the contemplated rising in favor of the princes suggested to him an action which cost him his peace of mind during the whole of his after-life!

Thirdly, the doubts of contemporaries do not appear to have been very general. The expression of Sir Thomas More is only "that some remained in doubt"; and More is not a writer who would have glossed over a fact to please the court. As to Perkin Warbeck, who pretended to be the younger of the princes, Henry VII's neglect to confute his pretensions may have arisen from other causes than a suspicion that he was the true duke of York. There is no reason to suppose that his followers in England were numerous. The belief in the murder appears to have been general. It was mentioned as a fact by the Chancellor of France, in addressing the estates-general which met at Tours in the following January. It was acknowledged to be true in part by Warbeck himself, who, it has been shown since Walpole's time, in personating the Duke of York, admitted that his brother Edward had been murdered, though he asserted that he himself had providentially escaped. It is evident that no one dreamed in those days that the story of the murder was altogether a fiction. The utmost that any well-informed person could doubt was whether it had been successfully accomplished as to both the victims.

With regard to the confessions of Tyrell and Dighton, Bacon has certainly spoken without warrant in stating that they were examined at the time of Warbeck's appearance. The time when they were examined is stated by Sir Thomas More to have been when Tyrell was confined in the Tower for treason against Henry VII, which was in 1502, three years after Warbeck's execution. Before that date there is no ground for believing that Tyrell's guilt in regard to the murder was generally known. Before that date, indeed, the world seems to have had no conception in what manner the crime was committed, and the common story seems to have been that Richard had put his nephews to the sword; but the confession of Tyrell at once put an end to this surmise, and we hear of it no longer. Henry VII assuredly did not for a long time treat him as a criminal; for not only did he hold under Henry the office of captain of Guisnes, but he was employed by the King in an expedition against Flanders. Nay, even after Warbeck had been taken and confessed his imposture, Tyrell was employed on an important embassy to Maximilian, King of the Romans. It is quite clear, therefore, that he was never questioned about the murder in consequence of Warbeck's pretensions. But being afterward condemned to death on a charge of treason—not an unknown charge, as Walpole imagines, but a charge of having treasonably aided the escape of the Earl of Suffolk—he was then, as More says, examined about it in the Tower, having probably made a voluntary confession of guilt to ease his conscience before his execution.

No doubt, after all, the murder rests upon the testimony of only a very few original authorities, but this is simply owing to the scantiness of contemporary historians. It is true, also, that of these there are two who only mention it as a report; but it must be observed that neither of them expresses the smallest doubt of its truth, and one of them more than hints that he believes it as a fact. How, indeed, could there possibly be two opinions about a rumor of this kind, seeing that it was never contradicted by the King himself? Assuredly from this time the conduct both of Richard and his enemies was distinctly governed by the belief that his nephews were no longer alive.

Moreover, the truth of the story seems to be corroborated by a discovery which took place in the reign of Charles II. In the process of altering the staircase leading to the chapel in the White Tower, the skeletons of two young lads, whose apparent ages agreed with those of the unfortunate princes, were found buried under a heap of stones. Their place of sepulture corresponded with the situation mentioned in the confession of the murderers, so that the report alluded to by More of the removal of the bodies seems to have been a mistake. The antiquaries of the day had no doubt they were the remains of young Edward V and his brother, and King Charles caused them to be fittingly interred in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster. A Latin inscription marks the spot and tells of the discovery.

We have no doubt, therefore, that the dreadful deed was done. It was done, indeed, in profound secrecy; the fact, I suspect, remained some little time unknown; and for years after there was no certainty as to the way it was performed. Years elapsed even before the world suspected the foul blot upon Tyrell's knighthood, and he enjoyed the favor both of Richard and of his successor; but at last the truth came out.

As to the other agents in the business, various entries in the Patent Rolls, and in the Docket Book of King Richard's grants, show that they did not pass unrewarded. Before the murder Green had been appointed comptroller of the customs at Boston, and had also been employed to provide horse meat and litter for the King's stables; afterward, if we may trust a note by Strype—but I own I cannot find his authority—he was advanced to be receiver of the Isle of Wight and of the castle and lordship of Portchester. To Dighton was granted the office of bailiff of Ayton in Staffordshire. Forest died soon after, and it appears he was keeper of the wardrobe at Barnard castle, but whether appointed before or after the murder there is no evidence to show. Brackenbury received several important grants, some of which were of lands of the late Lord Rivers.

And yet hitherto Richard's life, though not unmarked by violence, had been free from violence to his own flesh and blood. Even his most unjustifiable measures were somewhat in the nature of self-defence; or if in any case he had stained his hands with the blood of persons absolutely innocent, it was not in his own interest, but in that of his brother, Edward IV. The rough and illegal retribution which he dealt out to Rivers, Vaughan, Hawte, Lord Richard Grey, and Lord Hastings was not more severe than perhaps law itself might have authorized. The disorders of civil war had accustomed the nation to see justice sometimes executed without the due formalities; and his neglect of those formalities had not hitherto made him unpopular. But the license of unchecked power is dangerous, no less to those who wield than to those who suffer it; and it was peculiarly so to one of Richard's violent and impatient temper. He had been allowed so far to act upon his own arbitrary judgment or will that expediency was fast becoming his only motive and extinguishing within him both humanity and natural affection.

Nevertheless, he was not yet sunk so low as to regard his own unnatural conduct with indifference. Deep and bitter remorse deprived him of all that tranquillity in the possession of power for the attainment of which he had imbrued his hands in blood. "I have heard by credible report," says Sir Thomas More, "of such as were secret with his chamberers, that after this abominable deed done he never had quiet in his mind, he never thought himself sure. Where he went abroad, his eyes whirled about, his body privily fenced, his hand ever on his dagger, his countenance and manner like one always ready to strike again. He took ill rest at nights, lay long waking and musing; sore wearied with care and watch, he rather slumbered than slept. Troubled with fearful dreams, suddenly sometimes started he up, leapt out of his bed and ran about the chamber. So was his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrance of his most abominable deed."

Such was the awful retribution that overtook this inhuman King during the two short years that he survived his greatest crime, till the battle of Bosworth completed the measure of his punishment. His repentance came too late.


A.D. 1490

Although the Moors held Spain for over seven hundred and fifty years, they never had possession of the entire country. In the North, fragments of the Visigothic Christian kingdoms survived, and at length these grew into a strong power destined to drive out the Arabs, who had so long made the Spanish peninsula a seat of Mahometan civilization.

The Moorish power reached its height in the tenth century, and gradually declined in the eleventh, when it broke up into petty and short-lived kingdoms. The Almoravides from Africa began their rule in Spain about 1090. This dynasty was overthrown by the Almohades in 1145, and the latter became extinct in Spain in 1257.

After the disruption of the realm of the Almohades, the Moorish kingdom of Granada was established, and was held in vassalage to Castile, of which Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1474, became joint sovereigns. The Moors made Granada, their capital, a large and powerful city, and there in the thirteenth century they built their magnificent palace and citadel, the Alhambra, the finest example of Moorish architecture and decorative art.

In 1482, having prepared themselves for what proved a final struggle with the Moors, Ferdinand and Isabella began the war against Boabdil, the King of Granada, who the year before had seized the throne from his father, Muley Hasan. After some early reverses and later interruptions—during which the wavering Ferdinand was held to his purpose by the rebukes and encouragement of his stout-hearted Queen—the Christian sovereigns reduced the strongholds of the Moors, until by 1490 the more important half of the kingdom of Granada had been conquered. The city and its small surrounding district alone remained to Boabdil. On April 23, 1491, Ferdinand and Isabella encamped before Granada with fifty thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand horse, and the last contest began.

Though Granada was shorn of its glories, and nearly cut off from all external aid, still its mighty castles and massive bulwarks seemed to set all attacks at defiance. Being the last retreat of Moorish power, it had assembled within its walls the remnants of the armies that had contended, step by step, with the invaders, in their gradual conquest of the land. All that remained of high-born and high-bred chivalry was here; all that was loyal and patriotic was roused to activity by the common danger; and Granada, that had so long been lulled into inaction by vain hopes of security, now assumed a formidable aspect in the hour of its despair.

Ferdinand saw that any attempt to subdue the city by main force would be perilous and bloody. Cautious in his policy, and fond of conquests gained by art rather than valor, he determined to reduce the place by famine. For this purpose, his armies penetrated into the very heart of the Alpujarras, and ravaged the valleys and sacked and burned the towns upon which the city depended for its supplies. Scouting parties, also, ranged the mountains behind Granada and captured every casual convoy of provisions. The Moors became more daring as their situation became more hopeless. Never had Ferdinand experienced such vigorous sallies and assaults. Musa[1], at the head of his cavalry, harassed the borders of the camp, and even penetrated into the interior, making sudden spoil and ravage, and leaving his course to be traced by the slain and wounded.

To protect his camp from these assaults, Ferdinand fortified it with deep trenches and strong bulwarks. It was of a quadrangular form, divided into streets like a city, the troops being quartered in tents, and in booths constructed of bushes and branches of trees. When it was completed, Queen Isabella came in state, with all her court, and the Prince and Princess, to be present at the siege. This was intended to reduce the besieged to despair by showing the determination of the sovereigns to reside in the camp until the city should surrender. Immediately after her arrival, the Queen rode forth to survey the camp and its environs: wherever she went she was attended by a splendid retinue; and all the commanders vied with each other in the pomp and ceremony with which they received her. Nothing was heard, from morning until night, but shouts and acclamations and bursts of martial music; so that it appeared to the Moors as if a continual festival and triumph reigned in the Christian camp.

The arrival of the Queen, however, and the menaced obstinacy of the siege had no effect in damping the fire of the Moorish chivalry. Musa inspired the youthful warriors with the most devoted heroism. "We have nothing left to fight for," said he, "but the ground we stand on; when this is lost, we cease to have a country and a name."

Finding the Christian King forbore to make an attack, Musa incited his cavaliers to challenge the youthful chivalry of the Christian army to single combat or partial skirmishes. Scarce a day passed without gallant conflicts of the kind, in sight of the city and the camp. The combatants rivalled each other in the splendor of their armor and array, as well as in the prowess of their deeds. Their contests were more like the stately ceremonials of tilts and tournaments than the rude conflicts of the field. Ferdinand soon perceived that they animated the fiery Moors with fresh zeal and courage, while they cost the lives of many of his bravest cavaliers; he again, therefore, forbade the acceptance of any individual challenges, and ordered that all partial encounters should be avoided. The cool and stern policy of the Catholic sovereign bore hard upon the generous spirits of either army, but roused the indignation of the Moors when they found that they were to be subdued in this inglorious manner. "Of what avail," said they, "are chivalry and heroic valor? The crafty monarch of the Christians has no magnanimity in warfare; he seeks to subdue us through the weakness of our bodies, but shuns to encounter the courage of our souls."

When the Moorish knights beheld that all courteous challenges were unavailing, they sought various means to provoke the Christian warriors to the field. Sometimes a body of them, fleetly mounted, would gallop up to the skirts of the camp, and try who should hurl his lance farthest within the barriers, having his name inscribed upon it, or a label affixed to it containing some taunting defiance. These bravadoes caused great irritation, but still the Spanish warriors were restrained by the prohibition of the King.

Among the Moorish cavaliers was one named Yarfe, renowned for his great strength and daring spirit; but whose courage partook of fierce audacity rather than chivalric heroism. In one of these sallies, when they were skirting the Christian camp, this arrogant Moor outstripped his companions, overleaped the barriers, and, galloping close to the royal quarters, launched his lance so far within that it remained quivering in the earth close by the pavilions of the sovereigns. The royal guards rushed forth in pursuit, but the Moorish horsemen were already beyond the camp, and scouring in a cloud of dust for the city. Upon wresting the lance from the earth, a label was found upon it importing that it was intended for the Queen.

Nothing could equal the indignation of the Christian warriors at the insolence of the bravado and the discourteous insult offered to the Queen. Hernando Perez del Pulgar, surnamed "he of the exploits," was present, and resolved not to be outbraved by this daring infidel. "Who will stand by me," said he, "in an enterprise of desperate peril?" The Christian cavaliers well knew the harebrained valor of Hernando del Pulgar, yet not one hesitated to step forward. He chose fifteen companions, all men of powerful arm and dauntless heart. In the dead of the night he led them forth from the camp, and approached the city cautiously, until he arrived at a postern-gate, which opened upon the Darro and was guarded by foot-soldiers. The guards, little thinking of such an unwonted and partial attack, were for the most part asleep. The gate was forced, and a confused and chance-medley skirmish ensued; Hernando del Pulgar stopped not to take part in the affray; putting spurs to his horse, he galloped furiously through the streets, striking fire out of the stones at every bound. Arrived at the principal mosque, he sprang from his horse, and, kneeling at the portal, took possession of the edifice as a Christian chapel, dedicating it to the blessed Virgin. In testimony of the ceremony, he took a tablet which he had brought with him, on which was inscribed in large characters "Ave Marie," and nailed it to the door of the mosque with his dagger. This done, he remounted his steed and galloped back to the gate. The alarm had been given—the city was in an uproar—soldiers were gathering from every direction. They were astonished at seeing a Christian warrior galloping from the interior of the city. Hernando del Pulgar overturned some, cut down others, rejoined his companions, who still maintained possession of the gate by dint of hard fighting, and all made good their retreat to the camp. The Moors were at a loss to imagine the meaning of this wild and apparently fruitless assault; but great was their exasperation, on the following day, when the trophy of hardihood and prowess, the "Ave Maria" was discovered thus elevated in bravado in the very centre of the city. The mosque thus boldly sanctified by Hernando del Pulgar was actually consecrated into a cathedral after the capture of Granada.

The royal encampment lay at such a distance from Granada that the general aspect of the city only could be seen as it rose gracefully from the vega, covering the sides of the hills with palaces and towers. Queen Isabella had expressed an earnest desire to behold, nearer at hand, a city whose beauty was so renowned throughout the world; and the Marquis of Cadiz, with the accustomed courtesy, prepared a great military escort and guard to protect the Queen and the ladies of the court while they enjoyed this perilous gratification.

A magnificent and powerful train issued forth from the Christian camp. The advance guard was composed of legions of cavalry, heavily armed, that looked like moving masses of polished steel. Then came the King and Queen, with the Prince and Princess and the ladies of the court, surrounded by the royal bodyguard, sumptuously arrayed, composed of the sons of the most illustrious houses of Spain; after these was the rearguard, composed of a powerful force of horse and foot; for the flower of the army sallied forth that day. The Moors gazed with fearful admiration at this glorious pageant, wherein the pomp of the court was mingled with the terrors of the camp. It moved along in a radiant line, across the vega, to the melodious thunders of martial music; while banner and plume and silken scarf and rich brocade gave a gay and gorgeous relief to the grim visage of iron war that lurked beneath.

The army moved toward the hamlet of Zubia, built on the skirts of the mountain to the left of Granada, and commanding a view of the Alhambra and the most beautiful quarter of the city. As they approached the hamlet the Marquis of Villena, the count Ureña, and Don Alonzo de Aguilar filed off with their battalions, and were soon seen glittering along the side of the mountain above the village. In the mean time the Marquis of Cadiz, the Count de Tendilla, the Count de Cabra, and Don Alonzo Fernandez, Senior of Alcandrete and Montemayor, drew up their forces in battle array on the plain below the hamlet, presenting a living barrier of loyal chivalry between the sovereigns and the city. Thus securely guarded, the royal party alighted, and, entering one of the houses of the hamlet, which had been prepared for their reception, enjoyed a full view of the city from its terraced roof.

While grim tranquillity prevailed along the Christian line, there rose a mingled shout and sound of laughter near the gate of the city. A Moorish horseman, armed at all points, issued forth, followed by a rabble, who drew back as he approached the scene of danger. The Moor was more robust and brawny than was common with his countrymen. His visor was closed; he bore a huge buckler and a ponderous lance; his cimeter was of a Damascus blade, and his richly ornamented dagger was wrought by an artificer of Fez. He was Yarfe, the most insolent, yet valiant, of the Moslem warriors. As he rode slowly along in front of the army, his very steed, prancing with fiery eye and distended nostril, seemed to breathe defiance to the Christians.

But what were the feelings of the Spanish cavaliers when they beheld, tied to the tail of his steed, and dragged in the dust, the inscription "Ave Maria," which Hernando Perez del Pulgar had affixed to the door of the mosque! A burst of horror and indignation broke forth from the army. Hernando del Pulgar was not at hand, but one of his young companions-in-arms, Garcilasso de la Vega by name, putting spurs to his horse, galloped to the hamlet of Zubia, threw himself on his knees before the King, and besought permission to accept the defiance of this insolent infidel and to revenge the insult offered to our blessed Lady. The request was too pious to be refused; Garcilasso remounted his steed; he closed his helmet, graced by four sable plumes, grasped his buckler of Flemish workmanship and his lance of matchless temper, and defied the haughty Moor in the midst of his career.

A combat took place in view of the two armies and of the Castilian court. The Moor was powerful in wielding his weapons and dexterous in managing his steed. He was of larger frame than Garcilasso and more completely armed; and the Christians trembled for their champion. The shock of their encounter was dreadful; their lances were shivered and sent up splinters in the air. Garcilasso was thrown back in the saddle—his horse made a wild career before he could recover, gather up the reins, and return to the conflict. They now encountered each other with swords. The Moor circled round his opponent as hawk circles whereabout to make a swoop; his Arabian steed obeyed his rider with matchless quickness; at every attack of the infidel it seemed as if the Christian knight must sink beneath his flashing cimeter. But if Garcilasso were inferior to him in power, he was superior in agility; many of his blows he parried; others he received upon his Flemish shield, which was proof against the Damascus blade. The blood streamed from numerous wounds received by either warrior.

The Moor, seeing his antagonist exhausted, availed himself of his superior force, and, grappling, endeavored to wrest him from his saddle. They both fell to earth; the Moor placed his knee upon the breast of his victim, and, brandishing his dagger, aimed a blow at his throat. A cry of despair was uttered by the Christian warriors, when suddenly they beheld the Moor rolling lifeless in the dust. Garcilasso had shortened his sword, and, as his adversary raised his arm to strike, had pierced him to the heart.

The laws of chivalry were observed throughout the combat—no one interfered on either side. Garcilasso now despoiled his adversary; then, rescuing the holy inscription of "Ave Maria" from its degrading situation, he elevated it on the point of his sword, and bore it off as a signal of triumph amid the rapturous shouts of the Christian army.

The sun had now reached the meridian, and the hot blood of the Moors was inflamed by its rays and by the sight of the defeat of their champion. Musa ordered two pieces of ordnance to open a fire upon the Christians. A confusion was produced in one part of their ranks. Musa called to the chiefs of the army: "Let us waste no more time in empty challenges; let us charge upon the enemy; he who assaults has always an advantage in the combat." So saying, he rushed forward, followed by a large body of horse and foot, and charged so furiously upon the advance guard of the Christians that he drove it in upon the battalion of the Marquis of Cadiz.

The gallant Marquis now gave the signal to attack. "Santiago!" was shouted along the line; and he pressed forward to the encounter, with his battalion of twelve hundred lances. The other cavaliers followed his example, and the battle instantly became general.

When the King and Queen beheld the armies thus rushing to the combat, they threw themselves on their knees and implored the holy Virgin to protect her faithful warriors. The Prince and Princess, the ladies of the court, and the prelates and friars who were present did the same; and the effect of the prayers of these illustrious and saintly persons was immediately apparent. The fierceness with which the Moors had rushed to the attack had suddenly cooled; they were bold and adroit for a skirmish, but unequal to the veteran Spaniards in the open field. A panic seized upon the foot-soldiers—they turned and took to flight. Musa and his cavaliers in vain endeavored to rally them. Some took refuge in the mountains; but the greater part fled to the city in such confusion that they overturned and trampled upon each other. The Christians pursued them to the very gates. Upward of two thousand were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, and the two pieces of ordnance brought off as trophies of the victory. Not a Christian lance but was bathed that day in the blood of an infidel. Such was the brief but bloody action, which was known among the Christian warriors by the name of the "Queen's skirmish"; for when the Marquis of Cadiz waited upon her majesty he attributed the victory entirely to her presence. The Queen, however, insisted that it was all owing to her troops being led on by so valiant a commander. Her majesty had not yet recovered from her agitation at beholding so terrible a scene of bloodshed; though certain veterans present pronounced it as gay and gentle a skirmish as they had ever witnessed.

The ravages of war had as yet spared a little portion of the vega of Granada. A green belt of gardens and orchards still flourished around the city, extending along the banks of the Xenel and the Darro. They had been the solace and delight of the inhabitants in their happier days, and contributed to their sustenance in this time of scarcity. Ferdinand determined to make a final and exterminating ravage to the very walls of the city, so that there should not remain a single green thing for the sustenance of man or beast.

As the evening advanced the bustle in the camp subsided. Everyone sought repose, preparatory to the next day's trial. The King retired early, that he might be up with the crowing of the cock to head the destroying army in person. The Queen had retired to the innermost part of her pavilion, where she was performing her orisons before a private altar. While thus at her prayers she was suddenly aroused by a glare of light and wreaths of suffocating smoke. In an instant the whole tent was in a blaze; there was a high gusty wind, which whirled the light flames from tent to tent, and wrapped the whole in one conflagration.

Isabella had barely time to save herself by instant flight. Her first thought, on being extricated from her tent, was for the safety of the King. She rushed to his tent, but the vigilant Ferdinand was already at the entrance of it. Starting from bed at the first alarm, and fancying it an assault of the enemy, he had seized his sword and buckler, and sallied forth undressed, with his cuirass upon his arm. The late gorgeous camp was now a scene of wild confusion. The flames kept spreading from one pavilion to another, glaring upon the rich armor and golden and silver vessels, which seemed melting in the fervent heat. The ladies of the court fled, shrieking and half dressed, from their tents. There was an alarm of drum and trumpet, and a distracted hurry about the camp of men half armed.

The idea that this was a stratagem of the Moors soon subsided; but it was feared they might take advantage of it to assault the camp. The Marquis of Cadiz, therefore, sallied forth with three thousand horse to check any advance from the city. When they emerged from the camp they found the whole firmament illuminated. The flames whirled up in long light spires, and the air was filled with sparks and cinders. A bright glare was thrown upon the city, revealing every battlement and tower. Turbaned heads were seen gazing from every roof, and armor gleamed along the walls; yet not a single warrior sallied from the gates. The Moors suspected some stratagem on the part of the Christians, and kept quietly within their walls. By degrees the flames expired; the city faded from sight; all again became dark and quiet, and the Marquis of Cadiz returned with his cavalry to the camp. When the day dawned on the Christian camp nothing remained of that beautiful assemblage of stately pavilions but heaps of smouldering rubbish. The fire at first had been attributed to treachery, but on investigation it proved to be entirely accidental.

The wary Ferdinand knew the sanguine temperament of the Moors, and hastened to prevent their deriving confidence from the night's disaster. At break of day the drums and trumpets sounded to arms, and the Christian army issued from among the smoking ruins of their camp, in shining squadrons, with flaunting banners and bursts of martial melody, as though the preceding night had been a time of high festivity instead of terror.

The Moors had beheld the conflagration with wonder and perplexity. When the day broke and they looked toward the Christian camp, they saw nothing but a dark smoking mass. Their scouts came in with the joyful intelligence that the whole camp was a scene of ruin. Scarce had the tidings spread throughout the city when they beheld the Christian army advancing toward their walls. They considered it a feint to cover their desperate situation and prepare for a retreat. Boabdil had one of his impulses of valor—he determined to take the field in person, and to follow up this signal blow which Allah had inflicted on the enemy. The Christian army approached close to the city, and were laying waste the gardens and orchards, when Boabdil sallied forth, surrounded by all that was left of the flower and chivalry of Granada. There was not so much one battle as a variety of battles; every garden and orchard became a scene of deadly contest; every inch of ground was disputed, with an agony of grief and valor, by the Moors; every inch of ground that the Christians advanced they valiantly maintained; but never did they advance with severer fighting or greater loss of blood.

The cavalry of Musa was in every part of the field; wherever it came it gave fresh ardor to the fight. The Moorish soldier, fainting with heat, fatigue, and wounds, was roused to new life at the approach of Musa; and even he who lay gasping in the agonies of death, turned his face toward him, and faintly uttered cheers and blessings as he passed. The Christians had by this time gained possession of various towers near the city, from whence they had been annoyed by cross-bows and arquebuses. The Moors, scattered in various actions, were severely pressed. Boabdil, at the head of the cavaliers of his guard, displayed the utmost valor, mingling in the fight in various parts of the field, and endeavoring to inspirit the foot soldiers in the combat. But the Moorish infantry was never to be depended upon. In the heat of the action a panic seized upon them; they fled, leaving their sovereign exposed with his handful of cavaliers to an overwhelming force. Boabdil was on the point of falling into the hands of the Christians, when, wheeling round, with his followers, they threw the reins on the necks of their fleet steeds and took refuge by dint of hoof within the walls of the city.

Musa endeavored to retrieve the fortune of the field. He threw himself before the retreating infantry, calling upon them to turn and fight for their homes, their families, for everything that was sacred and dear to them. It was all in vain—they were totally broken and dismayed, and fled tumultuously for the gates. Slowly and reluctantly Musa retreated to the city, and he vowed nevermore to sally forth with foot soldiers to the field. In the mean time the artillery thundered from the walls and checked all further advances of the Christians. King Ferdinand, therefore, called off his troops, and returned in triumph to the ruins of his camp, leaving the beautiful city of Granada wrapped in the smoke of her fields and gardens and surrounded by the bodies of her slaughtered children. Such was the last sally made by the Moors in defence of their favorite city.

They now shut themselves up gloomily within their walls; there were no longer any daring sallies from their gates. For a time they flattered themselves with hopes that the late conflagration of the camp would discourage the besiegers; that, as in former years, their invasion would end with the summer, and that they would again withdraw before the autumnal rains. The measures of Ferdinand and Isabella soon crushed these hopes. They gave orders to build a regular city upon the site of their camp, to convince the Moors that the siege was to endure until the surrender of Granada. Nine of the principal cities of Spain were charged with the stupendous undertaking; and they emulated each other with a zeal worthy of the cause. To this city it was proposed to give the name of Isabella, so dear to the army and the nation; but that pious Princess, calling to mind the holy cause in which it was erected, gave it the name of Santa Fé, or the "City of the Holy Faith," and it remains to this day a monument of the piety and glory of the Catholic sovereigns.

In the mean time the besieged city began to suffer the distress of famine. Its supplies were all cut off; a cavalcade of flocks and herds, and mules laden with money, coming to the relief of the city from the mountains of the Alpujarras[2], was taken by the Marquis of Cadiz and led in triumph to the camp, in sight of the suffering Moors. Autumn arrived, but the harvests had been swept from the face of the country; a rigorous winter was approaching, and the city was almost destitute of provisions. The people sank into deep despondency. They called to mind all that had been predicted by astrologers at the birth of their ill-starred sovereign, and all that had been foretold of the fate of Granada at the time of the capture of Zahara.

Boabdil was alarmed by the gathering dangers from without and by the clamors of his starving people. He summoned a council, composed of the principal officers of the army, the alcaids of the fortresses, the xequis or sages of the city, and the alfaquis or doctors of the faith. They assembled in the great hall of audience of the Alhambra, and despair was painted in their countenances. Boabdil demanded of them what was to be done in their present extremity; and their answer was, "Surrender." The venerable Abul Kazim Abdalmalek, governor of the city, represented its unhappy state: "Our granaries are nearly exhausted, and no further supplies are to be expected. The provender for the war-horses is required as sustenance for the soldiery; the very horses themselves are killed for food; of seven thousand steeds which once could be sent into the field, three hundred only remain. Our city contains two hundred thousand inhabitants, old and young, with each a mouth that calls piteously for bread."

The xequis and principal citizens declared that the people could no longer sustain the labors and sufferings of a defence. "And of what avail is our defence," said they, "when the enemy is determined to persist in the siege?—what alternative remains but to surrender or to die?"

The heart of Boabdil was touched by this appeal, and he maintained a gloomy silence. He had cherished some faint hope of relief from the Sultan of Egypt or the Barbary powers, but it was now at an end; even if such assistance were to be sent, he had no longer a seaport where it might debark. The counsellors saw that the resolution of the King was shaken, and they united their voices in urging him to capitulate.

The valiant Musa alone arose in opposition: "It is yet too early," said he, "to talk of a surrender. Our means are not exhausted; we have yet one source of strength remaining, terrible in its effects, and which often has achieved the most signal victories—it is our despair. Let us rouse the mass of the people; let us put weapons in their hands; let us fight the enemy to the very utmost, until we rush upon the points of their lances. I am ready to lead the way into the thickest of their squadrons; and much rather would I be numbered among those who fell in the defence of Granada than of those who survived to capitulate for her surrender!" The words of Musa were without effect. Boabdil yielded to the general voice; it was determined to capitulate with the Christian sovereigns; and the venerable Abul Kazim was sent forth to the camp empowered to treat for terms.

The old Governor was received with great distinction by Ferdinand and Isabella, who appointed Gonsalvo of Cordova and Fernando de Zafra, secretary to the King, to confer with him. All Granada awaited, in trembling anxiety, the result of his negotiations. After repeated conferences he at length returned with the ultimate terms of the Catholic sovereigns. They agreed to suspend all attack for seventy days, at the end of which time, if no succor should arrive to the Moorish King, the city of Granada was to be surrendered.

All Christian captives should be liberated without ransom. Boabdil and his principal cavaliers should take an oath of fealty to the Castilian crown, and certain valuable territories in the Alpujarra mountains should be assigned to the Moorish monarch for his maintenance. The Moors of Granada should become subjects of the Spanish sovereigns, retaining their possessions, their arms and horses, and yielding up nothing but their artillery. They should be protected in the exercise of their religion, and governed by their own laws, administered by cadis of their own faith, under governors appointed by the sovereigns. They should be exempted from tribute for three years, after which term they should pay the same that they had been accustomed to render to their native monarchs. Those who chose to depart for Africa within three years should be provided with a passage for themselves and their effects, free of charge, from whatever port they should prefer.

For the fulfilment of these articles four hundred hostages from the principal families were required, previous to the surrender, to be subsequently restored. The son of the King of Granada, and all other hostages in possession of the Castilian sovereigns, were to be restored at the same time. Such were the conditions that the vizier Abul Kazim laid before the council of Granada as the best that could be obtained from the besieging foe. When the members of the council found that the awful moment had arrived when they were to sign and seal the perdition of their empire and blot themselves out as a nation, all firmness deserted them and many gave way to tears. Musa alone retained an unaltered mien. "Leave, seniors," cried he, "this idle lamentation to helpless women and children: we are men—we have hearts, not to shed tender tears, but drops of blood. I see the spirit of the people so cast down that it is impossible to save the kingdom. Yet there still remains an alternative for noble minds—a glorious death! Let us die defending our liberty and avenging the woes of Granada. Our mother Earth will receive her children into her bosom, safe from the chains and oppressions of the conqueror; or, should any fail a sepulchre to hide his remains, he will not want a sky to cover him. Allah forbid it should be said the nobles of Granada feared to die in her defence!"

Musa ceased to speak, and a dead silence reigned in the assembly. Boabdil looked anxiously around and scanned every face; but he read in them all the anxiety of careworn men, in whose hearts enthusiasm was dead, and who had grown callous to every chivalrous appeal. "Allah Akbar! God is great!" exclaimed he; "there is no god but God, and Mahomet is his prophet! It is in vain to struggle against the will of heaven. Too surely was it written in the book of fate that I should be unfortunate and the kingdom expire under my rule."

"Allah Akbar! God is great!" echoed the viziers and alfaquis; "the will of God be done!" So they all accorded with the King that these evils were preordained; that it was hopeless to contend with them; and that the terms offered by the Castilian monarchs were as favorable as could be expected.

When Musa saw that they were about to sign the treaty of surrender, he rose in violent indignation: "Do not deceive yourselves," cried he, "nor think the Christians will be faithful to their promises, or their King as magnanimous in conquest as he has been victorious in war. Death is the least we have to fear. It is the plundering and sacking of our city, the profanation of our mosques, the ruin of our homes, the violation of our wives and daughters—cruel oppression, bigoted intolerance, whips and chains, the dungeon, the fagot, and the stake—such are the miseries and indignities we shall see and suffer; at least, those grovelling souls will see them who now shrink from an honorable death. For my part, by Allah, I will never witness them!"

With these words he left the council chamber and strode gloomily through the Court of Lions and the outer halls of the Alhambra, without deigning to speak to the obsequious courtiers who attended in them. He repaired to his dwelling, armed himself at all points, mounted his favorite war-horse, and, issuing forth from the city by the gate of Elvira, was never seen or heard of more.[3]

The capitulation for the surrender of Granada was signed on November 25, 1491, and produced a sudden cessation of those hostilities which had raged for so many years. Christian and Moor might now be seen mingling courteously on the banks of the Xenel and the Darro, where to have met a few days previous would have produced a scene of sanguinary contest. Still, as the Moors might be suddenly aroused to defence, if, within the allotted term of seventy days, succors should arrive from abroad, and as they were at all times a rash, inflammable people, the wary Ferdinand maintained a vigilant watch upon the city, and permitted no supplies of any kind to enter. His garrisons in the seaports, and his cruisers in the Straits of Gibraltar, were ordered likewise to guard against any relief from the Grand Sultan of Egypt or the princes of Barbary. There was no need of such precautions. Those powers were either too much engrossed by their own wars or too much daunted by the success of the Spanish arms, to interfere in a desperate cause; and the unfortunate Moors of Granada were abandoned to their fate.

The month of December had nearly passed away; the famine became extreme, and there was no hope of any favorable event within the terms specified in the capitulation. Boabdil saw that to hold out to the end of the allotted time would but be to protract the miseries of his people. With the consent of his council, he determined to surrender the city on January 6th. On December 30th he sent his grand vizier Yusef Aben Comixa, with the four hundred hostages, to King Ferdinand, to make known his intention; bearing him, at the same time, a present of a magnificent cimeter, and two Arabian steeds superbly caparisoned.

The unfortunate Boabdil was doomed to meet with trouble to the end of his career. The very next day, the santon or dervis Hamet Aben Zarrax, who had uttered prophecies and excited commotions on former occasions, suddenly made his appearance. Whence he came no one knew; it was rumored that he had been in the mountains of the Alpujarras and on the coast of Barbary, endeavoring to rouse the Moslems to the relief of Granada. He was reduced to a skeleton; his eyes glowed like coals in their sockets, and his speech was little better than frantic raving. He harangued the populace in the streets and squares, inveighed against the capitulation, denounced the King and nobles as Moslems only in name, and called upon the people to sally forth against the unbelievers, for that Allah had decreed them a signal victory.

Upward of twenty thousand of the populace seized their arms and paraded the streets with shouts and outcries. The shops and houses were shut up; the King himself did not dare to venture forth, but remained a kind of prisoner in the Alhambra. The turbulent multitude continued roaming and shouting and howling about the city during the day and a part of the night. Hunger and a wintry tempest tamed their frenzy; and when morning came the enthusiast who had led them on had disappeared. Whether he had been disposed of by the emissaries of the King or by the leading men of the city is not known; his disappearance remains a mystery.

The Moorish King now issued from the Alhambra, attended by his principal nobles, and harangued the populace. He set forth the necessity of complying with the capitulation, from the famine that reigned in the city, the futility of defence, and from the hostages having already been delivered into the hands of the besiegers. The volatile population agreed to adhere to the capitulation, and there was even a faint shout of "Long live Boabdil the unfortunate!" and they all returned to their homes in perfect tranquillity.

Boabdil immediately sent missives to King Ferdinand, apprising him of these events, and of his fears lest further delay should produce new tumults. He proposed, therefore, to surrender the city on the following day. The Castilian sovereigns assented, with great satisfaction; and preparations were made in city and camp for this great event, that was to seal the fate of Granada.

It was a night of doleful lamentings within the walls of the Alhambra; for the household of Boabdil were preparing to take a last farewell of that delightful abode. All the royal treasures and the most precious effects of the Alhambra were hastily packed upon mules; the beautiful apartments were despoiled, with tears and wailings, by their own inhabitants. Before the dawn of day a mournful cavalcade moved obscurely out of a postern gate of the Alhambra and departed through one of the most retired quarters of the city. It was composed of the family of the unfortunate Boabdil, which he sent off thus privately that they might not be exposed to the eyes of scoffers or the exultation of the enemy. The city was yet buried in sleep as they passed through its silent streets. The guards at the gate shed tears as they opened it for their departure. They paused not, but proceeded along the banks of the Xenel on the road that leads to the Alpujarras, until they arrived at a hamlet at some distance from the city, where they halted and waited until they should be joined by King Boabdil.

The sun had scarcely begun to shed his beams upon the summits of the snowy mountains which rise above Granada when the Christian camp was in motion. A detachment of horse and foot, led by distinguished cavaliers, and accompanied by Hernando de Talavera, Bishop of Avila, proceeded to take possession of the Alhambra and the towers. It had been stipulated in the capitulation that the detachment sent for this purpose should not enter by the streets of the city; a road had therefore been opened, outside of the walls, leading by the Puerta de los Milinos (or "Gate of the Mills"), to the summit of the Hill of Martyrs, and across the hill to a postern gate of the Alhambra.

When the detachment arrived at the summit of the hill the Moorish King came forth from the gate, attended by a handful of cavaliers, leaving his vizier Yusef Aben Comixa to deliver up the palace. "Go, senior," said he to the commander of the detachment, "go and take possession of those fortresses, which Allah has bestowed upon your powerful sovereigns, in punishment of the sins of the Moors." He said no more, but passed mournfully on along the same road by which the Spanish cavaliers had come, descending to the vega to meet the Catholic sovereigns. The troops entered the Alhambra, the gates of which were wide open, and all its splendid courts and halls silent and deserted.

In the mean time the Christian court and army poured out of the city of Santa Fé and advanced across the vega. The King and Queen, with the Prince and Princess, and the dignitaries and ladies of the court, took the lead, accompanied by the different orders of monks and friars, and surrounded by the royal guards splendidly arrayed. The procession moved slowly forward and paused at the village of Armilla, at the distance of half a league from the city.

The sovereigns waited here with impatience, their eyes fixed on the lofty tower of the Alhambra, watching for the appointed signal of possession. The time that had elapsed since the departure of the detachment seemed to them more than necessary for the purpose, and the anxious mind of Ferdinand began to entertain doubts of some commotion in the city. At length they saw the silver cross, the great standard of this crusade, elevated on the Torre de la Vala (or "Great Watch-tower") and sparkling in the sunbeams. This was done by Hernando de Talavera, Bishop of Avila. Beside it was planted the pennon of the glorious apostle St. James, and a great shout of "Santiago! Santiago!" rose throughout the army. Lastly was reared the royal standard by the king of arms, with the shout of "Castile! Castile! For King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella!" The words were echoed by the whole army, with acclamations that resounded across the vega. At sight of these signals of possession the sovereigns sank upon their knees, giving thanks to God for this great triumph; the whole assembled host followed their example, and the choristers of the royal chapel broke forth into the solemn anthem of Te Deum laudamus.

The procession now resumed its march with joyful alacrity, to the sound of triumphant music, until they came to a small mosque, near the banks of the Xenel, and not far from the foot of the Hill of Martyrs, which edifice remains to the present day, consecrated as the hermitage of St. Sebastian. Here the sovereigns were met by the unfortunate Boabdil, accompanied by about fifty cavaliers and domestics. As he drew near he would have dismounted in token of homage, but Ferdinand prevented him. He then proffered to kiss the King's hand, but this sign of vassalage was likewise declined; whereupon, not to be outdone in magnanimity, he leaned forward and kissed the right arm of Ferdinand. Queen Isabella also refused to receive this ceremonial of homage, and, to console him under his adversity, delivered to him his son, who had remained as hostage ever since Boabdil's liberation from captivity. The Moorish monarch pressed his child to his bosom with tender emotion, and they seemed mutually endeared to each other by their misfortunes.

He then delivered the keys of the city to King Ferdinand, with an air of mingled melancholy and resignation. "These keys," said he, "are the last relics of the Arabian empire in Spain; thine, O King, are our trophies, our kingdom, and our person. Such is the will of God! Receive them with the clemency thou hast promised, and which we look for at thy hands."

King Ferdinand restrained his exultation with an air of serene magnanimity. "Doubt not our promises," replied he, "nor that thou shalt regain from our friendship the prosperity of which the fortune of war has deprived thee."

On receiving the keys, King Ferdinand handed them to the Queen; she in her turn presented them to her son Prince Juan, who delivered them to the Count de Tendilla, that brave and loyal cavalier being appointed alcaid of the city and captain-general of the kingdom of Granada.

Having surrendered the last symbol of power, the unfortunate Boabdil continued on toward the Alpujarras, that he might not behold the entrance of the Christians into his capital. His devoted band of cavaliers followed him in gloomy silence; but heavy sighs burst from their bosoms as shouts of joy and strains of triumphant music were borne on the breeze from the victorious army.

Having rejoined his family, Boabdil set forward with a heavy heart for his allotted residence in the valley of Purchena. At two leagues' distance, the cavalcade, winding into the skirts of the Alpujarras, ascended an eminence commanding the last view of Granada. As they arrived at this spot the Moors paused involuntarily to take a farewell gaze at their beloved city, which a few steps more would shut from their sight forever. The Moorish cavaliers gazed with a silent agony of tenderness and grief upon that delicious abode, the scene of their loves and pleasures. While they yet looked, a light cloud of smoke burst forth from the citadel, and presently a peal of artillery, faintly heard, told that the city was taken possession of, and the throne of the Moslem kings was lost forever.

The unhappy Boabdil was not to be consoled; his tears continued to flow. "Allah Akbar!" exclaimed he; "when did misfortunes ever equal mine?" From this circumstance the hill, which is not far from the Padul, took the name of Feg Allah Akbar; but the point of view commanding the last prospect of Granada is known among Spaniards by the name of El ultimo suspiro del Moro("The last sigh of the Moor").

The sovereigns did not enter the city on this day of its surrender, but waited until it should be fully occupied by their troops and public tranquillity insured. In a little while every battlement glistened with Christian helms and lances, the standard of the faith and of the realm floated from every tower, and the thundering salvoes of the ordnance told that the subjugation of the city was complete. The grandees and cavaliers now knelt and kissed the hands of the King and Queen and the prince Juan, and congratulated them on the acquisition of so great a kingdom, after which the royal procession returned in state to Santa Fé.

It was on January 6th, the day of kings and festival of the Epiphany, that the sovereigns made their triumphal entry. The King and Queen looked on this occasion as more than mortal; the venerable ecclesiastics, to whose advice and zeal this glorious conquest ought in a great measure to be attributed, moved along with hearts swelling with holy exultation, but with chastened and downcast looks of edifying humility; while the hardy warriors, in tossing plumes and shining steel, seemed elevated with a stern joy at finding themselves in possession of this object of so many toils and perils. As the streets resounded with the tramp of steed and swelling peals of music, the Moors buried themselves in the deepest recesses of their dwellings. There they bewailed in secret the fallen glory of their race, but suppressed their groans, lest they should be heard by their enemies and increase their triumph.

The royal procession advanced to the principal mosque, which had been consecrated as a cathedral. Here the sovereigns offered up prayers and thanksgivings, and the choir of the royal chapel chanted a triumphant anthem, in which they were joined by all the courtiers and cavaliers. Nothing could exceed the thankfulness to God of the pious King Ferdinand for having enabled him to eradicate from Spain the empire and name of that accursed heathen race, and for the elevation of the cross in that city wherein the impious doctrines of Mahomet had so long been cherished. In the fervor of his spirit he supplicated from heaven a continuance of its grace, and that this glorious triumph might be perpetuated. The prayer of the pious monarch was responded by the people, and even his enemies were for once convinced of his sincerity.

It had been a last request of the unfortunate Boabdil, and one which showed how deeply he felt the transition of his fate, that no person might be permitted to enter or depart by the gate of the Alhambra, through which he had sallied forth to surrender his capital. His request was granted; the portal was closed up, and remains so to the present day—a mute memorial of that event.

The Spanish sovereigns fixed their throne in the presence chamber of the palace, so long the seat of Moorish royalty. Hither the principal inhabitants of Granada repaired, to pay them homage and kiss their hands in token of vassalage; and their example was followed by deputies from all the towns and fortresses of the Alpujarras which had not hitherto submitted.

Thus terminated the war of Granada, after ten years of incessant fighting; equalling the far-famed siege of Troy in duration, and ending, like that, in the capture of the city. Thus ended also the dominion of the Moors in Spain, having endured seven hundred seventy-eight years, from the memorable defeat of Roderick, the last of the Goths, on the banks of the Guadalete. This great triumph of our holy Catholic faith took place in the beginning of January, 1492, being three thousand six hundred fifty-five years from the population of Spain by the patriarch Tubal; three thousand seven hundred ninety-seven from the general deluge; five thousand four hundred fifty-three from the creation of the world, according to Hebrew calculation; and in the month Rabic, in the eight hundred ninety-seventh year of the Hegira, or flight of Mahomet.

[Footnote 1: Musa ben Abil Gazan, Boabdil's best cavalier—a fiery soldier, of royal lineage.]

[Footnote 2: A mountainous region in the provinces of Granada and

[Footnote 3: So say Arabian historians. According to another account, Musa, meeting a party of Andalusian cavaliers, killed several of them, but, being disabled by wounds, threw himself into the Xenel and was drowned.]


A.D. 1492

The year 1492, in which Columbus discovered America, is adopted by some writers as separating the modern from the mediaeval period in history. It marks the culmination of the wonderful achievements in discovery for which the fifteenth century is so memorable. By 1492 the world had advanced far beyond the ignorance of the period when Marco Polo made and described his famous travels from Europe to the East, 1324, and when Sir John Mandeville's extravagant account of Eastern journeys, 1357-1371, was published. European knowledge of the Orient had been greatly increased by the crusades, and this, together with the spread of commerce, had quickened the desire of Western peoples for still further explorations of the world.

During the first half of the fifteenth century the Portuguese were most enterprising in the work of discovery, and before 1500 they had searched the western coast of Africa, passed the equator, and seen the Cape of Good Hope, which Vasco da Gama doubled in 1497, on his way to India.

Meanwhile Christopher Columbus, a native of Genoa, a famous maritime city, was planning a route of his own for a voyage to the East Indies—the great object, at that period, of all ambitious navigators. As the Portuguese sought, and at last found, an ocean route by the east around Africa, so Columbus meditated a westward voyage, and was the first to seek India in that direction. After vainly submitting his plan to John II of Portugal, to the Genoese Government, and to Henry VII of England, he appealed—at first without success—to Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile. But at the end of their war with Granada, 1492, he obtained a better hearing, and gained the favor of Isabella, who joined the Pinzons, merchants of Palos, in fitting out for him three small vessels, the Niña, the Santa Maria, and the Pinta. With the concurrence of Ferdinand, she made Columbus, for himself and his heirs, admiral in all the regions that he should discover, and viceroy in any lands acquired by him for Spain.

When the bold mariner sailed from Saltes, an island near Palos, a small town in the province of Huelva, Spain, he had complete confidence in his theory of finding new lands to the west. And his unshakable faith in his idea and in his purpose constitutes the most heroic aspect of his first voyage.

Of recent years great interest and much historical discussion have been aroused in connection with real or imagined pre-Columbian discoveries of America, especially with the discovery by the Northmen. But all attempts to diminish the glory of Columbus' achievement, by proving that the results of previous discoveries were known to him, have, as Hubert Howe Bancroft declares, signally failed. Columbus was not the first to conceive the possibility of reaching the East by sailing west. Toscanelli, the Italian astronomer, who made the map which Columbus used, and others among his contemporaries entertained the theory; but the Genoese sailor was the first to act upon this belief.

Supposing, as he did to his latest day, that he had found the eastern
coast of India, and not another continent, Columbus gave the name of
Indies to the islands he discovered, whose inhabitants he also called
Indians; yet he did not have the honor of giving his own name to the New
World which he made known to mankind.

In the following pages his own unstudied account of the first voyage and discovery, and the narrative from the biography of Columbus by his son, furnish a very complete history of the enterprise from which so large a part of the world's later development has followed. It should be noted, however, that both of the accounts manifest the not unnatural desire to give full prominence to the part taken by Columbus himself. His able coadjutors, the Pinzons, scarce receive such adequate mention as they are given by more modern narrators.

The letter to Gabriel Sanchez appears here in a careful edition, one of the treasured possessions of the New York Public Library—Lenox Library—through the courtesy of whose officers it is presented in this work. It is the first letter of Columbus, giving the earliest information of his discovery, and is here rendered in a new translation, as contained in the little volume published in 1892 by the trustees of the Lenox Library, as a "tribute to the memory of the great discoverer."


[Letter of Christopher Columbus, to whom our age owes much, concerning the islands recently discovered in the Indian sea[1], for the search of which, eight months before, he was sent under the auspices and at the cost of the most invincible Ferdinand, King of Spain[2]; addressed to the magnificent lord Raphael Sanxis[3], treasurer of the same most illustrious King, and which the noble and learned man Leander de Cosco has translated from the Spanish language into Latin, on the third of the calends of May[4], 1493, the first year of the pontificate of Alexander VI.]

Because my undertakings have attained success, I know that it will be pleasing to you; these I have determined to relate, so that you may be made acquainted with everything done and discovered in this our voyage. On the thirty-third day after I departed from Cadiz,[5] I came to the Indian sea, where I found many islands inhabited by men without number, of all which I took possession for our most fortunate King, with proclaiming heralds and flying standards, no one objecting. To the first of these I gave the name of the blessed Saviour,[6] on whose aid relying I had reached this as well as the other islands. But the Indians call it Guanahani. I also called each one of the others by a new name. For I ordered one island to be called Santa Maria of the Conception,[7] another Fernandina,[8] another Isabella,[9] another Juana,[10] and so on with the rest.

As soon as we had arrived at that island which I have just now said was called Juana, I proceeded along its coast toward the west for some distance. I found it so large and without perceptible end, that I believed it to be not an island, but the continental country of Cathay;[11] seeing, however, no towns or cities situated on the sea-coast, but only some villages and rude farms, with whose inhabitants I was unable to converse, because as soon as they saw us they took flight, I proceeded farther, thinking that I would discover some city or large residences.

At length, perceiving that we had gone far enough, that nothing new appeared, and that this way was leading us to the north, which I wished to avoid, because it was winter on the land, and it was my intention to go to the south, moreover the winds were becoming violent, I therefore determined that no other plans were practicable, and so, going back, I returned to a certain bay that I had noticed, from which I sent two of our men to the land, that they might find out whether there was a king in this country, or any cities. These men travelled for three days, and they found people and houses without number, but they were small and without any government, therefore they returned.

Now in the mean time I had learned from certain Indians, whom I had seized there, that this country was indeed an island, and therefore I proceeded toward the east, keeping all the time near the coast, for three hundred twenty-two miles, to the extreme ends of this island. From this place I saw another island to the east, distant from this Juana fifty-four miles, which I called forthwith Hispana,[12] and I sailed to it; and I steered along the northern coast, as at Juana, toward the east, five hundred sixty-four miles. And the said Juana and the other islands there appear very fertile. This island is surrounded by many very safe and wide harbors, not excelled by any others that I have ever seen. Many great and salubrious rivers flow through it. There are also many very high mountains there.

All these islands are very beautiful, and distinguished by various qualities; they are accessible, and full of a great variety of trees stretching up to the stars; the leaves of which I believe are never shed, for I saw them as green and flourishing as they are usually in Spain in the month of May; some of them were blossoming, some were bearing fruit, some were in other conditions; each one was thriving in its own way. The nightingale and various other birds without number were singing in the month of November, when I was exploring them. There are besides in the said island Juana seven or eight kinds of palm-trees, which far excel ours in height and beauty, just as all the other trees, herbs, and fruits do. There are also excellent pine-trees, vast plains and meadows, a variety of birds, a variety of honey, and a variety of metals, excepting iron. In the one which was called Hispana, as we said above, there are great and beautiful mountains, vast fields, groves, fertile plains, very suitable for planting and cultivating, and for the building of houses.

The convenience of the harbors in this island, and the remarkable number of rivers contributing to the healthfulness of man, exceed belief, unless one has seen them. The trees, pasturage, and fruits of this island differ greatly from those of Juana. This Hispana, moreover, abounds in different kinds of spices, in gold, and in metals. On this island, indeed, and on all the others which I have seen, and of which I have knowledge, the inhabitants of both sexes go always naked, just as they came into the world, except some of the women, who use a covering of a leaf or some foliage, or a cotton cloth, which they make themselves for that purpose.

All these people lack, as I said above, every kind of iron; they are also without weapons, which indeed are unknown; nor are they competent to use them, not on account of deformity of body, for they are well formed, but because they are timid and full of fear. They carry for weapons, however, reeds baked in the sun, on the lower ends of which they fasten some shafts of dried wood rubbed down to a point; and indeed they do not venture to use these always; for it frequently happened, when I sent two or three of my men to some of the villages, that they might speak with the natives, a compact troop of the Indians would march out, and as soon as they saw our men approaching they would quickly take flight, children being pushed aside by their fathers, and fathers by their children. And this was not because any hurt or injury had been inflicted on any one of them, for to everyone whom I visited and with whom I was able to converse I distributed whatever I had, cloth and many other things, no return being made to me; but they are by nature fearful and timid. Yet when they perceive that they are safe, putting aside all fear, they are of simple manners and trustworthy, and very liberal with everything they have, refusing no one who asks for anything they may possess, and even themselves inviting us to ask for things.

They show greater love for all others than for themselves; they give valuable things for trifles, being satisfied even with a very small return, or with nothing; however, I forbade that things so small and of no value should be given to them, such as pieces of plates, dishes, and glass, likewise keys and shoe-straps; although, if they were able to obtain these, it seemed to them like getting the most beautiful jewels in the world. It happened, indeed, that a certain sailor obtained in exchange for a shoe-strap as much worth of gold as would equal three golden coins; and likewise other things for articles of very little value, especially for new silver coins, and for some gold coins, to obtain which they gave whatever the seller desired, as for instance an ounce and a half and two ounces of gold, or thirty and forty pounds of cotton, with which they were already acquainted. They also traded cotton and gold for pieces of bows, bottles, jugs and jars, like persons without reason, which I forbade because it was very wrong; and I gave to them many beautiful and pleasing things that I had brought with me, no value being taken in exchange, in order that I might the more easily make them friendly to me, that they might be made worshippers of Christ, and that they might be full of love toward our King, Queen, and Prince, and the whole Spanish nation; also that they might be zealous to search out and collect, and deliver to us, those things of which they had plenty, and which we greatly needed.

These people practise no kind of idolatry; on the contrary they firmly believe that all strength and power, and in fact all good things, are in heaven, and that I had come down from thence with these ships and sailors; and in this belief I was received there after they had put aside fear. Nor are they slow or unskilled, but of excellent and acute understanding; and the men who have navigated that sea give an account of everything in an admirable manner; but they never saw people clothed, nor these kind of ships.

As soon as I reached that sea, I seized by force several Indians on the first island, in order that they might learn from us, and in like manner tell us about those things in these lands of which they themselves had knowledge; and the plan succeeded, for in a short time we understood them and they us, sometimes by gestures and signs, sometimes by words; and it was a great advantage to us. They are coming with me now, yet always believing that I descended from heaven, although they have been living with us for a long time, and are living with us today. And these men were the first who announced it wherever we landed, continually proclaiming to the others in a loud voice, "Come, come, and you will see the celestial people." Whereupon both women and men, both children and adults, both young men and old men, laying aside the fear caused a little before, visited us eagerly, filling the road with a great crowd, some bringing food and some drink, with great love and extraordinary good-will.

On every island there are many canoes of a single piece of wood, and, though narrow, yet in length and shape similar to our row-boats, but swifter in movement. They steer only by oars. Some of these boats are large, some small, some of medium size. Yet they row many of the larger row-boats with eighteen cross-benches, with which they cross to all those islands, which are innumerable, and with these boats they perform their trading, and carry on commerce among them. I saw some of these row-boats or canoes which were carrying seventy and eighty rowers.

In all these islands there is no difference in the appearance of the people, nor in the manners and language, but all understand each other mutually; a fact that is very important for the end which I suppose to be earnestly desired by our most illustrious King, that is, their conversion to the holy religion of Christ, to which in truth, as far as I can perceive, they are very ready and favorably inclined.

I said before how I proceeded along the island Juana in a straight line from west to east three hundred twenty-two miles, according to which course, and the length of the way, I am able to say that this Juana is larger than England and Scotland together; for, besides the said three hundred twenty-two thousand paces, there are two more provinces in that part which lies toward the west, which I did not visit; one of these the Indians call Anan, whose inhabitants are born with tails. They extend to one hundred eighty miles in length, as I have learned from those Indians I have with me, who are all acquainted with these islands. But the circumference of Hispana is still greater than all Spain from Colonia to Fontarabia[13]. This is easily proved, because its fourth side, which I myself passed along in a straight line from west to east, extends five hundred forty miles.

This island is to be desired and is very desirable, and not to be despised; in which, although, as I have said, I solemnly took possession of all the others for our most invincible King, and their government is entirely committed to the said King, yet I especially took possession of a certain large town, in a very convenient location, and adapted to all kinds of gain and commerce, to which we give the name of our Lord of the Nativity. And I commanded a fort to be built there forthwith, which must be completed by this time; in which I left as many men as seemed necessary, with all kinds of arms, and plenty of food for more than a year. Likewise one caravel, and for the construction of others men skilled in this trade and in other professions; and also the extraordinary good-will and friendship of the King of this island toward us. For those people are very amiable and kind, to such a degree that the said King gloried in calling me his brother. And if they should change their minds, and should wish to hurt those who remained in the fort, they would not be able, because they lack weapons, they go naked, and are too cowardly. For that reason those who hold the said fort are at least able to resist easily this whole island, without any imminent danger to themselves, so long as they do not transgress the regulations and command which we gave.

In all these islands, as I have understood, each man is content with only one wife, except the princes or kings, who are permitted to have twenty. The women appear to work more than the men. I was not able to find out surely whether they have individual property, for I saw that one man had the duty of distributing to the others, especially refreshments, food, and things of that kind. I found no monstrosities among them, as very many supposed, but men of great reverence, and friendly. Nor are they black like the Ethiopians. They have straight hair, hanging down. They do not remain where the solar rays send out the heat, for the strength of the sun is very great here, because it is distant from the equinoctial line, as it seems, only twenty-six degrees. On the tops of the mountains, too, the cold is severe, but the Indians, however, moderate it, partly by being accustomed to the place, and partly by the help of very hot victuals, of which they eat frequently and immoderately. And so I did not see any monstrosity, nor did I have knowledge of them anywhere, excepting a certain island named Charis,[14] which is the second in passing from Hispana to India.

This island is inhabited by a certain people who are considered very warlike by their neighbors. These eat human flesh. The said people have many kinds of row-boats, in which they cross over to all the other Indian islands, and seize and carry away everything that they can. They differ in no way from the others, only that they wear long hair like the women. They use bows and darts made of reeds, with sharpened shafts fastened to the larger end, as we have described. On this account they are considered warlike, wherefore the other Indians are afflicted with continual fear, but I regard them as of no more account than the others. These are the people who visit certain women, who alone inhabit the island Mateunin[15], which is the first in passing from Hispana to India. These women, moreover, perform no kind of work of their sex, for they use bows and darts, like those I have described of their husbands; they protect themselves with sheets of copper, of which there is great abundance among them.

They tell me of another island, greater than the aforesaid Hispana, whose inhabitants are without hair, and which abounds in gold above all the others. I am bringing with me men of this island and of the others that I have seen, who give proof of the things that I have described.

Finally, that I may compress in few words the brief account of our departure and quick return, and the gain, I promise this, that if I am supported by our most invincible sovereigns with a little of their help, as much gold can be supplied as they will need, indeed as much of spices, of cotton, of chewing-gum (which is only found in Chios), also as much of aloes-wood, and as many slaves for the navy, as their majesties will wish to demand. Likewise rhubarb and other kinds of spices, which I suppose these men whom I left in the said fort have already found, and will continue to find; since I remained in no place longer than the winds forced me, except in the town of the Nativity, while I provided for the building of the fort and for the safety of all. Which things, although they are very great and remarkable, yet they would have been much greater if I had been aided by as many ships as the occasion required.

Truly great and wonderful is this, and not corresponding to our merits, but to the holy Christian religion, and to the piety and religion of our sovereigns, because what the human understanding could not attain, that the divine will has granted to human efforts. For God is wont to listen to his servants who love his precepts, even in impossibilities, as has happened to us on the present occasion, who have attained that which hitherto mortal men have never reached. For if anyone has written or said anything about these islands, it was all with obscurities and conjectures; no one claims that he had seen them; from which they seemed like fables. Therefore let the King and Queen, the princes and their most fortunate kingdoms, and all other countries of Christendom, give thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has bestowed upon us so great a victory and gift. Let religious processions be solemnized; let sacred festivals be given; let the churches be covered with festive garlands. Let Christ rejoice on earth, as he rejoices in heaven, when he foresees coming to salvation so many souls of people hitherto lost. Let us be glad also, as well on account of the exaltation of our faith as on account of the increase of our temporal affairs, of which not only Spain, but universal Christendom, will be partaker. These things that have been done are thus briefly related. Farewell. Lisbon, the day before the ides of March.[16]

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, Admiral of the Ocean Fleet.

Epigram of R. L. de Corbaria, Bishop of Monte Peloso


"No region now can add to Spain's great deeds: To such men all the world is yet too small. An Orient land, found far beyond the waves, Will add, great Betica, to thy renown. Then to Columbus, the true finder, give Due thanks; but greater still to God on high, Who makes new kingdoms for himself and thee: Both firm and pious let thy conduct be."


All the conditions which the admiral demanded being conceded by their Catholic majesties, he set out from Granada on May 21, 1492, for Palos, where he was to fit out the ships for his intended expedition. That town was bound to serve the crown for three months with two caravels, which were ordered to be given to Columbus; and he fitted out these and a third vessel with all care and diligence. The ship in which he personally embarked was called the Santa Maria; the second vessel, named the Pinta, was commanded by Martin Alonso Pinzon; and the third, named the Nina, which had square sails, was under the command of Vincent Yanez Pinzon, the brother of Alonso, both of whom were inhabitants of Palos. Being furnished with all necessaries, and having ninety men to navigate the three vessels, Columbus set sail from Palos on August 3, 1492, shaping his course directly for the Canaries.

During this voyage, and indeed in all the four voyages which he made from Spain to the West Indies, the admiral was very careful to keep an exact journal of every occurrence which took place; always specifying what winds blew, how far he sailed with each particular wind, what currents were found, and everything that was seen by the way, whether birds, fishes, or any other thing. Although to note all these particulars with a minute relation of everything that happened, showing what impressions and effects answered to the course and aspect of the stars, and the differences between the seas which he sailed and those of our countries, might all be useful; yet, as I conceive that the relation of these particulars might now be tiresome to the reader, I shall only give an account of what appears to me necessary and convenient to be known.

On Saturday, August 4th, the next day after sailing from Palos, the rudder of the Pinta broke loose. The admiral strongly suspected that it was occasioned by the contrivance of the master on purpose to avoid proceeding on the voyage, which he had endeavored to do before they left Spain, and he therefore ranged up alongside of the disabled vessel to give every assistance in his power, but the wind blew so hard that he was unable to afford any aid. Pinzon, however, being an experienced seaman, soon made a temporary repair by means of ropes, and they proceeded on their voyage. But on the following Tuesday, the weather becoming rough and boisterous, the fastenings gave way, and the squadron was obliged to lay to for some time to renew the repairs. From this misfortune of twice breaking the rudder, a superstitious person might have foreboded the future disobedience of Pinzon to the admiral; as through his malice the Pinta twice separated from the squadron, as shall be afterward related. Having applied the best remedy they could to the disabled state of the rudder, the squadron continued its voyage, and came in sight of the Canaries at daybreak of Thursday, August 9th; but owing to contrary winds, they were unable to come to anchor at Gran Canaria until the 12th. The admiral left Pinzon at Gran Canaria to endeavor to procure another vessel instead of that which was disabled, and went himself with the Niña on the same errand to Gomera.

The admiral arrived at Gomera on Sunday, August 12th, and sent a boat on shore to inquire if any vessel could be procured there for his purpose. The boat returned next morning, and brought intelligence that no vessel was then at that island, but that Doña Beatrix de Bobadilla, the proprietrix of the island, was then at Gran Canaria in a hired vessel of forty tons belonging to one Gradeuna of Seville, which would probably suit his purpose and might perhaps be got. He therefore determined to await the arrival of that vessel at Gomera, believing that Pinzon might have secured a vessel for himself at Gran Canaria, if he had not been able to repair his own. After waiting two days, he despatched one of his people in a bark which was bound from Gomera to Gran Canaria, to acquaint Pinzon where he lay, and to assist him in repairing and fixing the rudder. Having waited a considerable time for an answer to his letter, he sailed with the two vessels from Gomera on August 23d for Gran Canaria, and fell in with the bark on the following day, which had been detained all that time on its voyage by contrary winds. He now took his man from the bark, and, sailing in the night past the island of Teneriffe, the people were much astonished at observing flames bursting out of the lofty mountain called El Pico (or the Peak of Teneriffe). On this occasion the admiral was at great pains to explain the nature of this phenomenon to the people by instancing the example of Aetna and several other known volcanoes.

Passing by Teneriffe, they arrived at Gran Canaria on Saturday, August 25th, and found that Pinzon had only got in there the day before. From him the admiral was informed that Doña Beatrix had sailed for Gomera on the 20th with the vessel which he was so anxious to obtain. His officers were much troubled at the disappointment; but he, who always endeavored to make the best of every occurrence, observed to them that since it had not pleased God that they should get this vessel it was perhaps better for them, as they might have encountered much opposition in pressing it into the service, and might have lost a great deal of time in shipping and unshipping the goods. Wherefore, lest he might again miss it if he returned to Gomera, he resolved to make a new rudder for the Pinta at Gran Canaria, and ordered the square sails of the Nina to be changed to round ones, like those of the other two vessels, that she might be able to accompany them with less danger and agitation.

The vessels being all refitted, the admiral weighed anchor from Gran Canaria on Saturday, September 1st, and arrived next day at Gomera, where four days were employed in completing their stores of provisions and of wood and water. On the morning of Thursday, September 6, 1492, the admiral took his departure from Gomera, and commenced his great undertaking by standing directly westward, but made very slow progress at first on account of calms. On Sunday, September 9th, about daybreak, they were nine leagues west of the island of Ferro. Now, losing sight of land and stretching out into utterly unknown seas, many of the people expressed their anxiety and fear that it might be long before they should see land again; but the admiral used every endeavor to comfort them with the assurance of soon finding the land he was in search of, and raised their hopes of acquiring wealth and honor by the discovery. To lessen the fear which they entertained of the length of way they had to sail, he gave out that they had only proceeded fifteen leagues that day, when the actual distance sailed was eighteen; and, to induce the people to believe that they were not so far from Spain as they really were, he resolved to keep considerably short in his reckoning during the whole voyage, though he carefully recorded the true reckoning every day in private.

On Wednesday, September 12th, having got to about one hundred fifty leagues west of Ferro, they discovered a large trunk of a tree, sufficient to have been the mast of a vessel of one hundred twenty tons, and which seemed to have been a long time in the water. At this distance from Ferro, and for somewhat farther on, the current was found to set strongly to the northeast. Next day, when they had run fifty leagues farther westward, the needle was observed to vary half a point to the eastward of north, and next morning the variation was a whole point east. This variation of the compass had never been before observed, and therefore the admiral was much surprised at the phenomenon, and concluded that the needle did not actually point toward the polar star, but to some other fixed point. Three days afterward, when almost one hundred leagues farther west, he was still more astonished at the irregularity of the variation; for, having observed the needle to vary a whole point to the eastward at night, it pointed directly northward in the morning.

On the night of Saturday, September isth, being then almost three hundred leagues west of Ferro, they saw a prodigious flash of light, or fire-ball, drop from the sky into the sea, at four or five leagues' distance from the ships, toward the southwest. The weather was then quite fair and serene like April, the sea perfectly calm, the wind favorable from the northeast, and the current setting to the northeast. The people in the Nina told the admiral that they had seen the day before a heron, and another bird which they called rabo-de-junco. These were the first birds which had been seen during the voyage, and were considered as indications of approaching land. But they were more agreeably surprised next day, Sunday, September 16th, by seeing great abundance of yellowish green sea-weeds, which appeared as if newly washed away from some rock or island. Next day the seaweed was seen in much greater quantity, and a small live lobster was observed among the weeds; from this circumstance many affirmed that they were certainly near the land.

The sea-water was afterward noticed to be only half so salt as before; and great numbers of tunny-fish were seen swimming about, some of which came so near the vessel that one was killed by a bearded iron. Being now three hundred sixty leagues west from Ferro, another of the birds called rabo-de-junco was seen. On Tuesday, September 18th, Martin Alonso Pinzon, who had gone ahead of the admiral, in the Pinta, which was an excellent sailer, lay to for the admiral to come up, and told him that he had seen a great number of birds fly away westward, for which reason he was in great hopes to see land that night;

Pinzon even thought that he saw land that night about fifteen leagues distant to the northward, which appeared very black and covered with clouds. All the people would have persuaded the admiral to try for land in that direction; but, being certainly assured that it was not land, and having not yet reached the distance at which he expected to find the land, he would not consent to lose time in altering his course in that direction. But as the wind now freshened, he gave orders to take in the topsails at night, having now sailed eleven days before the wind due westward with all their sails up.

All the people in the squadron being utterly unacquainted with the seas they now traversed, fearful of their danger at such unusual distance from any relief, and seeing nothing around but sky and water, began to mutter among themselves, and anxiously observed every appearance. On September 19th a kind of sea-gull called alcatras flew over the admiral's ship, and several others were seen in the afternoon of that day, and, as the admiral conceived that these birds would not fly far from land, he entertained hopes of soon seeing what he was in quest of. He therefore ordered a line of two hundred fathoms to be tried, but without finding any bottom. The current was now found to set to the southwest.

On Thursday, September 20th, two alcatrases came near the ship about two hours before noon, and soon afterward a third. On this day likewise they took a bird resembling a heron, of a black color with a white tuft on its head, and having webbed feet like a duck. Abundance of weeds were seen floating in the sea, and one small fish was taken. About evening three land birds settled on the rigging of the ship and began to sing. These flew away at daybreak, which was considered a strong indication of approaching the land, as these little birds could not have come from any far distant country; whereas the other large fowls, being used to water, might much better go far from land. The same day an alcatras was seen.

Friday, the 21st, another alcatras and a rabo-de-junco were seen, and vast quantities of weeds as far as the eye could carry toward the north. These appearances were sometimes a comfort to the people, giving them hopes of nearing the wished-for land; while at other times the weeds were so thick as in some measure to impede the progress of the vessels, and to occasion terror lest what is fabulously reported of St. Amaro in the frozen sea might happen to them, that they might be so enveloped in the weeds as to be unable to move backward or forward; wherefore they steered away from those shoals of weeds as much as they could.

Next day, being Saturday, September 22d, they saw a whale and several small birds. The wind now veered to the southwest, sometimes more and sometimes less to the westward; and though this was adverse to the direction of their proposed voyage, the admiral, to comfort the people, alleged that this was a favorable circumstance; because, among other causes of fear, they had formerly said they should never have a wind to carry them back to Spain, as it had always blown from the east ever since they left Ferro. They still continued, however, to murmur, alleging that this southwest wind was by no means a settled one, and, as it never blew strong enough to swell the sea, it would not serve to carry them back again through so great an extent of sea as they had now passed over. In spite of every argument used by the admiral, assuring them that the alterations in the wind were occasioned by the vicinity of the land, by which likewise the waves were prevented from rising to any height, they were still dissatisfied and terrified.

On Sunday, September 23d, a brisk gale sprung up west-northwest, with a rolling sea, such as the people had wished for. Three hours before noon a turtle-dove was observed to fly over the ship; toward evening an alcatras, a river fowl, and several white birds were seen flying about, and some crabs were observed among the weeds. Next day another alcatras was seen and several small birds which came from the west. Numbers of small fishes were seen swimming about, some of which were struck with harpoons, as they would not bite at the hook.

The more that the tokens mentioned above were observed, and found not to be followed by the so anxiously looked-for land, the more the people became fearful of the event and entered into cabals against the admiral, who they said was desirous to make himself a great lord at the expense of their danger. They represented that they had already sufficiently performed their duty in adventuring farther from land and all possibility of succor than had ever been done before, and that they ought not to proceed on the voyage to their manifest destruction. If they did they would soon have reason to repent their temerity, as provisions would soon fall short, the ships were already faulty and would soon fail, and it would be extremely difficult to get back so far as they had already gone. None could condemn them in their own opinion for now turning back, but all must consider them as brave men for having gone upon such an enterprise and venturing so far. That the admiral was a foreigner who had no favor at court; and as so many wise and learned men had already condemned his opinions and enterprise as visionary and impossible, there would be none to favor or defend him, and they were sure to find more credit if they accused him of ignorance and mismanagement than he would do, whatsoever he might now say for himself against them.

Some even proceeded so far as to propose, in case the admiral should refuse to acquiesce in their proposals, that they might make a short end of all disputes by throwing him overboard; after which they could give out that he had fallen over while making his observations, and no one would ever think of inquiring into the truth. They thus went on day after day, muttering, complaining, and consulting together; and though the admiral was not fully aware of the extent of their cabals, he was not entirely without apprehensions of their inconstancy in the present trying situation, and of their evil intentions toward him. He therefore exerted himself to the utmost to quiet their apprehensions and to suppress their evil design, sometimes using fair words, and at other times fully resolved to expose his life rather than abandon the enterprise; he put them in mind of the due punishment they would subject themselves to if they obstructed the voyage. To confirm their hopes, he recapitulated all the favorable signs and indications which had been lately observed, assuring them that they might soon expect to see the land. But they, who were ever attentive to these tokens, thought every hour a year in their anxiety to see the wished-for land.

On Tuesday, September 25th, near sunset, as the admiral was discoursing with Pinzon, whose ship was then very near, Pinzon suddenly called out, "Land! land, sir! let not my good news miscarry," and pointed out a large mass in the southwest, about twenty-five leagues distant, which seemed very like an island. This was so pleasing to the people that they returned thanks to God for the pleasing discovery; and, although the admiral was by no means satisfied of the truth of Pinzon's observation, yet to please the men, and that they might not obstruct the voyage, he altered his course and stood in that direction a great part of the night. Next morning, the 26th, they had the mortification to find the supposed land was only composed of clouds, which often put on the appearance of distant land; and, to their great dissatisfaction, the stems of the ships were again turned directly westward, as they always were unless when hindered by the wind. Continuing their course, and still attentively watching for signs of land, they saw this day an alcatras, a rabo-de-junco, and other birds as formerly mentioned.

On Thursday, September 27th, they saw another alcatras coming from the westward and flying toward the east, and great numbers of fish were seen with gilt backs, one of which they struck with a harpoon. A rabo-de-junco likewise flew past; the currents for some of the last days were not so regular as before but changed with the tide, and the weeds were not nearly so abundant.

On Friday, the 28th, all the vessels took some of the fishes with gilt backs; and on Saturday, the 29th, they saw a rabo-de-junco, which, although a sea-fowl, never rests on the waves, but always flies in the air, pursuing the alcatrases. Many of these birds are said to frequent the Cape de Verd Islands. They soon afterward saw two other alcatrases and great numbers of flying-fishes. These last are about a span long, and have two little membranous wings like those of a bat, by means of which they fly about a pike-length high from the water and a musket-shot in length, and sometimes drop upon the ships. In the afternoon of this day they saw abundance of weeds lying in length north and south, and three alcatrases pursued by a rabo-de-junco.

On the morning of Sunday, September 30th, four rabo-de-juncos came to the ship; and from so many of them coming together it was thought the land could not be far distant, especially as four alcatrases followed soon afterward. Great quantities of weeds were seen in a line stretching from west-north-west to east-north-east, and a great number of the fishes which are called emperadores, which have a very hard skin and are not fit to eat. Though the admiral paid every attention to these indications, he never neglected those in the heavens, and carefully observed the course of the stars. He was now greatly surprised to notice at this time that Charles' Wain, or the Ursa Major constellation, appeared at night in the west, and was north-east in the morning. He thence concluded that their whole night's course was only nine hours, or so many parts in twenty four of a great circle; and this he observed to be the case regularly every night. It was likewise noticed that the compass varied a whole point to the northwest at nightfall, and came due north every morning at daybreak. As this unheard-of circumstance confounded and perplexed the pilots, who apprehended danger in these strange regions and at such unusual distance from home, the admiral endeavored to calm their fears by assigning a cause for this wonderful phenomenon. He alleged that it was occasioned by the polar star making a circuit round the pole, by which they were not a little satisfied.

Soon after sunrise on Monday, October 1st, an alcatras came to the ship, and two more about ten in the morning, and long streams of weeds floated from east to west. That morning the pilot of the admiral's ship said that they were now five hundred seventy-eight leagues west from the island of Ferro. In his public account the admiral said they were five hundred eighty-four leagues to the west; but in his private journal he made the real distance seven hundred seven leagues, or one hundred twenty-nine more than was reckoned by the pilot. The other two ships differed much in their computation from each other and from the admiral's pilot. The pilot of the Nina, in the afternoon of the Wednesday following, said they had only sailed five hundred forty leagues, and the pilot of the Pinta reckoned six hundred thirty-four. Thus they were all much short of the truth; but the admiral winked at the gross mistake, that the men, not thinking themselves so far from home, might be the less dejected.

The next day, being Tuesday, October 2d, they saw abundance of fish, caught one small tunny, and saw a white bird with many other small birds, and the weeds appeared much withered and almost fallen to powder. Next day, seeing no birds, they suspected that they had passed between some islands on both hands, and had slipped through without seeing them, as they guessed that the many birds which they had seen might have been passing from one island to another. On this account they were very earnest to have the course altered one way or the other, in quest of these imaginary lands. But the admiral, unwilling to lose the advantage of the fair wind which carried him due west, which he accounted his surest course, and afraid to lessen his reputation by deviating from course to course in search of land, which he always affirmed that he well knew where to find, refused his consent to any change. On this the people were again ready to mutiny, and resumed their murmurs and cabals against him. But it pleased God to aid his authority by fresh indications of land.

On Thursday, October 4th, in the afternoon, above forty sparrows together and two alcatrases flew so near the ship that a seaman killed one of them with a stone. Several other birds were seen at this time, and many flying-fish fell into the ships. Next day there came a rabo-de-junco and an alcatras from the westward, and many sparrows were seen. About sunrise on Sunday, October 7th, some signs of land appeared to the westward, but being imperfect no person would mention the circumstance. This was owing to fear of losing the reward of thirty crowns yearly for life which had been promised by their Catholic majesties to whoever should first discover land; and to prevent them from calling out "Land, land!" at every turn without just cause, it was made a condition that whoever said he saw land should lose the reward if it were not made out in three days, even if he should afterward actually prove the first discoverer. All on board the admiral's ship, being thus forewarned, were exceedingly careful not to cry out "Land!" on uncertain tokens; but those in the Niña, which sailed better and always kept ahead, believing that they certainly saw land, fired a gun and hung out their colors in token of the discovery; but the farther they sailed, the more the joyful appearance lessened, till at last it vanished away. But they soon afterward derived much comfort by observing great flights of large fowl and others of small birds going from the west toward the southwest.

Being now at a vast distance from Spain, and well assured that such small birds would not go far from land, the admiral now altered his course from due west which had been hitherto, and steered to the southwest. He assigned as a reason for now changing his course, although deviating little from his original design, that he followed the example of the Portuguese, who had discovered most of their islands by attending to the flight of birds, and because these they now saw flew almost uniformly in one direction. He said likewise that he had always expected to discover land about the situation in which they now were, having often told them that he must not look to find land until they should get seven hundred fifty leagues to the westward of the Canaries, about which distance he expected to fall in with Hispaniola, which he then called Cipango;[17] and there is no doubt that he would have found this island by his direct course, if it had not been that it was reported to extend from north to south. Owing therefore to his not having inclined more to the south, he had missed that and others of the Caribbee islands, whither those birds were now bending their flight, and which had been for some time upon his larboard hand. It was from being so near the land that they continually saw such great numbers of birds; and on Monday, October 8th, twelve singing birds of various colors came to the ship, and after flying round it for a short time held on their way. Many other birds were seen from the ship flying toward the southwest, and that same night great numbers of large fowl were seen, and flocks of small birds proceeding from the northward, and all going to the southwest. In the morning a jay was seen, with an alcatras, several ducks, and many small birds, all flying the same way with the others, and the air was perceived to be fresh and odoriferous as it is at Seville in the month of April. But the people were now so eager to see land and had been so often disappointed that they ceased to give faith to these continual indications; insomuch that on Wednesday, the 10th, although abundance of birds were continually passing both by day and night, they never ceased to complain. The admiral upbraided their want of resolution, and declared that they must persist in their endeavors to discover the Indies, for which he and they had been sent out by their Catholic majesties.

It would have been impossible for the admiral to have much longer withstood the numbers which now opposed him; but it pleased God that, in the afternoon of Thursday, October 11th, such manifest tokens of being near the land appeared that the men took courage and rejoiced at their good-fortune as much as they had been before distressed. From the admiral's ship a green rush was seen to float past, and one of those green fish which never go far from the rocks. The people in the Pinta saw a cane and a staff in the water, and took up another staff very curiously carved, and a small board, and great plenty of weeds were seen which seemed to have been recently torn from the rocks. Those of the Niña, besides similar signs of land, saw a branch of a thorn full of red berries, which seemed to have been newly torn from the tree.

From all these indications the admiral was convinced that he now drew near to the land, and after the evening prayers he made a speech to the men, in which he reminded them of the mercy of God in having brought them so long a voyage with such favorable weather, and in comforting them with so many tokens of a successful issue to their enterprise, which were now every day becoming plainer and less equivocal. He besought them to be exceedingly watchful during the night, as they well knew that in the first article of the instructions, which he had given to all the three ships before leaving the Canaries, they were enjoined, when they should have sailed seven hundred leagues west without discovering land, to lay to every night from midnight till daybreak. And, as he had very confident hopes of discovering land that night, he required every one to keep watch at their quarters; and, besides the gratuity of thirty crowns a year for life, which had been graciously promised by their sovereigns to him that first saw the land, he engaged to give the fortunate discoverer a velvet doublet from himself.

After this, as the admiral was in his cabin, about ten o'clock at night, he saw a light on shore; but it was so unsteady that he could not certainly affirm that it came from land. He called to one Pedro Gutierrez and desired him to try if he could perceive the same light, who said he did; but one Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, on being desired to look the same way, could not see it, because he was not up time enough, as neither the admiral nor Gutierrez could see it again above once or twice for a short space, which made them judge it to proceed from a candle or torch belonging to some fisherman or traveller, who lifted it up occasionally and lowered it again, or perhaps from people going from one house to another, because it appeared and vanished again so suddenly. Being now very much on their guard, they still held on their course until about two in the morning of Friday, October 12th, when the Pinta, which was always far ahead, owing to her superior sailing, made the signal of seeing land, which was first discovered by Rodrigo de Triana at about two leagues from the ship. But the thirty crowns a year were afterward granted to the admiral, who had seen the light in the midst of darkness, a type of the spiritual light which he was the happy means of spreading in these dark regions of error. Being now so near land, all the ships lay to, everyone thinking it long till daylight, that they might enjoy the sight they had so long and anxiously desired.

When daylight appeared, the newly discovered land was perceived to consist of a flat island fifteen leagues in length, without any hills, all covered with trees, and having a great lake in the middle. The island was inhabited by great abundance of people, who ran down to the shore filled with wonder and admiration at the sight of the ships, which they conceived to be some unknown animals. The Christians were not less curious to know what kind of people they had fallen in with, and the curiosity on both sides was soon satisfied, as the ships soon came to anchor. The admiral went on shore with his boat well armed, and having the royal standard of Castile and Leon displayed, accompanied by the commanders of the other two vessels, each in his own boat, carrying the particular colors which had been allotted for the enterprise, which were white with a green cross and the letter F on one side, and on the other the names of Ferdinand and Isabella crowned.

The whole company kneeled on the shore and kissed the ground for joy, returning God thanks for the great mercy they had experienced during their long voyage through seas hitherto unpassed, and their now happy discovery of an unknown land.

The admiral then stood up, and took formal possession in the usual words for their Catholic majesties of this island, to which he gave the name of San Salvador. All the Christians present admitted Columbus to the authority and dignity of admiral and viceroy, pursuant to the commission which he had received to that effect, and all made oath to obey him as the legitimate representative of their Catholic majesties, with such expressions of joy and acknowledgment as became their mighty success; and they all implored his forgiveness of the many affronts he had received from them through their fears and want of confidence. Numbers of the Indians or natives of the island were present at these ceremonies; and, perceiving them to be peaceable, quiet, and simple people, the admiral distributed several presents among them. To some he gave red caps, and to others strings of glass beads, which they hung about their necks, and various other things of small value, which they valued as if they had been jewels of high price.

After the ceremonies, the admiral went off in his boat, and the Indians followed him even to the ships, some by swimming and others in their canoes, carrying parrots, clews of spun cotton yarn, javelins, and other such trifling articles, to barter for glass beads, bells, and other things of small value. Like people in the original simplicity of nature, they were all naked, and even a woman who was among them was entirely destitute of clothing. Most of them were young, seemingly not above thirty years of age, of a good stature, with very thick black lank hair, mostly cut short above their ears, though some had it down to their shoulders, tied up with a string about their head like women's tresses. Their countenances were mild and agreeable and their features good; but their foreheads were too high, which gave them rather a wild appearance. They were of a middle stature, plump, and well shaped, but of an olive complexion, like the inhabitants of the Canaries, or sunburnt peasants. Some were painted with black, others with white, and others again with red; in some the whole body was painted, in others only the face, and some only the nose and eyes. They had no weapons like those of Europe, neither had they any knowledge of such; for when our people showed them a naked sword, they ignorantly grasped it by the edge. Neither had they any knowledge of iron, as their javelins were merely constructed of wood, having their points hardened in the fire, and armed with a piece of fish-bone. Some of them had scars of wounds on different parts, and, being asked by signs how these had been got, they answered by signs that people from other islands came to take them away, and that they had been wounded in their own defence. They seemed ingenious and of a voluble tongue, as they readily repeated such words as they once heard. There was no kind of animals among them excepting parrots, which they carried to barter with the Christians among the articles already mentioned, and in this trade they continued on board the ships till night, when they all returned to the shore.

In the morning of the next day, being October 13th, many of the natives returned on board the ships in their boats or canoes, which were all of one piece hollowed like a tray from the trunk of a tree; some of these were so large as to contain forty or forty-five men, while others were so small as only to hold one person, with many intermediate sizes between these extremes. These they worked along with paddles formed like a baker's peel or the implement which is used in dressing hemp. These oars or paddles were not fixed by pins to the sides of the canoes like ours, but were dipped into the water and pulled backward as if digging. Their canoes are so light and artfully constructed that if overset they soon turn them right again by swimming; and they empty out the water by throwing them from side to side like a weaver's shuttle, and when half emptied they ladle out the rest with dried calabashes cut in two, which they carry for that purpose.

This second day the natives, as said before, brought various articles to barter for such small things as they could procure in exchange. Jewels or metals of any kind were not seen among them, except some small plates of gold which hung from their nostrils; and on being questioned from whence they procured the gold, they answered by signs that they had it from the south, where there was a king who possessed abundance of pieces and vessels of gold; and they made our people to understand that there were many other islands and large countries to the south and southwest. They were very covetous to get possession of anything which belonged to the Christians, and being themselves very poor, with nothing of value to give in exchange, as soon as they got on board, if they could lay hold of anything which struck their fancy, though it were only a piece of a broken glazed earthen dish or porringer, they leaped with it into the sea and swam on shore with their prize. If they brought anything on board they would barter it for anything whatever belonging to our people, even for a piece of broken glass; insomuch that some gave sixteen large clews of well-spun cotton yarn, weighing twenty-five pounds, for three small pieces of Portuguese brass coin not worth a farthing. Their liberality in dealing did not proceed from their putting any great value on the things themselves which they received from our people in return, but because they valued them as belonging to the Christians, whom they believed certainly to have come down from heaven, and they therefore earnestly desired to have something from them as a memorial. In this manner all this day was spent, and the islanders, as before, went all on shore at night.

[Footnote 1: In the other editions this part of the sentence reads, "concerning the islands of India beyond the Ganges, recently discovered."]

[Footnote 2: The name of Isabella (Helisabet) is also omitted in the title of one of Plannck's editions; it is found in the two other Roman editions.]

[Footnote 3: The correct form is Gabriel Sanchez.]

[Footnote 4: April 29th.]

[Footnote 5: A mistake of the Latin translator. Columbus sailed from
Palos, August 3, 1492; on September 8th he left the Canaries, and on
October 11th, or thirty-three days later, he reached the Bahamas.]

[Footnote 6: In Spanish, San Salvador, one of the Bahama Islands. It has been variously identified with Grand Turk, Cat, Watling, Mariguana, Samana, and Acklin Islands. Watling's Island seems to have much in its favor.]

[Footnote 7: Perhaps Crooked Island, or, according to others, North

[Footnote 8: Identified by some with Long Island, by others with Little

[Footnote 9: Identified variously with Fortune Island and Great Inagua.]

[Footnote 10: The island of Cuba.]

[Footnote 11: China.]

[Footnote 12: Hispaniola, or Hayti.]

[Footnote:13 From Catalonia by the sea-coast to Fontarabia in Biscay.]

[Footnote 14: Identified with Dominica.]

[Footnote 15: Supposed to be Martinique.]

[Footnote 16: March 14, 1493.]

[Footnote 17: The name given by Marco Polo to an island or islands supposed to be the modern Japan, for outlying portions of which Columbus mistook the West Indies.]


A.D. 1492

Soon after his accession to the throne of England, Henry VII married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, uniting the rival houses of York and Lancaster. But notwithstanding this adjustment of the rival interests, the rule of Henry, the Lancastrian, failed to satisfy the Yorkists; and this party, with the aid of Margaret of Burgundy—sister of Edward IV—and James IV of Scotland, set up two impostors, one after the other, to claim the English throne. At the same time there was living a real heir of the house of York—young Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of the Duke of Clarence, brother to Edward IV. Henry had taken the precaution to keep this genuine Yorkist in the Tower.

In 1487 a spurious earl of Warwick appeared in Ireland. Receiving powerful support in that country, he was actually crowned in the Cathedral of Dublin. In order to defeat this imposture Henry exhibited the real earl to the people of London. He also vanquished the army of the pretender at Stoke, in June, 1487. This false earl was found to be Lambert Simnel, son of an Oxford joiner. He became a scullion in King Henry's kitchen.

The second of these impostors, known as Perkin Warbeck, contrived to make himself a figure of some importance in the history of England. Supposedly born in Flanders, he first appears upon the historic stage in 1492, when he landed at Cork. Going soon after to France, he was recognized by the court as Duke of York, according to his claim. How he was coached for his part, and how the drama in which he played it was acted out, are told by Bacon in what is perhaps the best specimen we have of that great author's style in historical composition.

Warbeck was executed in 1499, and, although Bacon gives us no dates, the whole history, covering about seven years, may be said to form a practically continuous series of incidents. The character of this adventurer has been made quite prominent in literature, having been the subject of Ford's tragedy, The Chronicle History of Perkin Warbeck (1634), of a play by Charles Macklin, King Henry VII, or the Popish Impostor (1716), and of Joseph Elderton's drama, The Pretender.

This youth of whom we are now to speak was such a mercurial as the like hath seldom been known, and could make his own part if at any time he chanced to be out. Wherefore, this being one of the strangest examples of a personation that ever was in elder or later times, it deserveth to be discovered and related at the full—although the King's manner of showing things by pieces and by dark lights hath so muffled it that it hath been left almost as a mystery to this day.

The Lady Margaret,[1] whom the King's friends called Juno, because she was to him as Juno was to Aeneas, stirring both heaven and hell to do him mischief, for a foundation of her particular practices against him, did continually, by all means possible, nourish, maintain, and divulge the flying opinion that Richard, Duke of York, second son to Edward IV, was not murdered in the Tower, as was given out, but saved alive. For that those who were employed in that barbarous act, having destroyed the elder brother, were stricken with remorse and compassion toward the younger, and set him privily at liberty to seek his fortune.

There was a townsman of Tournai, that had borne office in that town, whose name was John Osbeck, a convert Jew, married to Catherine de Faro, whose business drew him to live for a time with his wife at London, in King Edward's days. During which time he had a son[2] by her, and being known in the court, the King, either out of a religious nobleness because he was a convert, or upon some private acquaintance, did him the honor to be godfather to his child, and named him Peter. But afterward, proving a dainty and effeminate youth, he was commonly called by the diminutive of his name, Peterkin or Perkin. For as for the name of Warbeck, it was given him when they did but guess at it, before examinations had been taken. But yet he had been so much talked of by that name, as it stuck by him after his true name of Osbeck was known.

While he was a young child, his parents returned with him to Tournai. There he was placed in the house of a kinsman of his called John Stenbeck, at Antwerp, and so roved up and down between Antwerp and Tournai, and other towns of Flanders, for a good time, living much in English company and having the English tongue perfect. In which time, being grown a comely youth, he was brought by some of the espials of the Lady Margaret into her presence. Who, viewing him well, and seeing that he had a face and personage that would bear a noble fortune, and finding him otherwise of a fine spirit and winning behavior, thought she had now found a curious piece of marble to carve out an image of a Duke of York. She kept him by her a great while, but with extreme secrecy.

The while she instructed him by many cabinet conferences. First, in princely behavior and gesture, teaching him how he should keep state, and yet with a modest sense of his misfortunes. Then she informed him of all the circumstances and particulars that concerned the person of Richard, Duke of York, which he was to act, describing unto him the personages, lineaments, and features of the King and Queen, his pretended parents; and of his brother and sisters, and divers others, that were nearest him in his childhood; together with all passages, some secret, some common, that were fit for a child's memory, until the death of King Edward. Then she added the particulars of the time from the King's death, until he and his brother were committed to the Tower, as well during the time he was abroad as while he was in sanctuary. As for the times while he was in the Tower, and the manner of his brother's death, and his own escape, she knew they were things that a very few could control. And therefore she taught him only to tell a smooth and likely tale of those matters, warning him not to vary from it.

It was agreed likewise between them what account he should give of his peregrination abroad, intermixing many things which were true, and such as they knew others could testify, for the credit of the rest, but still making them to hang together with the part he was to play. She taught him likewise how to avoid sundry captious and tempting questions which were like to be asked of him. But, this she found him so nimble and shifting as she trusted much to his own wit and readiness, and therefore labored the less in it.

Lastly, she raised his thoughts with some present rewards and further promises, setting before him chiefly the glory and fortune of a crown if things went well, and a sure refuge to her court if the worst should fall. After such time as she thought he was perfect in his lesson, she began to cast with herself from what coast this blazing star should first appear, and at what time it must be upon the horizon of Ireland, for there had the like meteor strong influence before. The time of the apparition to be when the King should be engaged in a war with France. But well she knew that whatsoever should come from her would be held suspected. And therefore, if he should go out of Flanders immediately into Ireland, she might be thought to have some hand in it. And besides the time was not yet ripe, for that the two kings were then upon terms of peace. Therefore she wheeled about; and to put all suspicion afar off, and loath to keep him any longer by her, for that she knew secrets are not long-lived, she sent him unknown into Portugal, with the Lady Brampton, an English lady, that embarked for Portugal at that time, with some privado of her own, to have an eye upon him, and there he was to remain, and to expect her further directions.

In the mean time she omitted not to prepare things for his better welcome and accepting, not only in the kingdom of Ireland, but in the court of France. He continued in Portugal about a year, and by that time the King of England called his parliament and declared open war against France. Now did the sign reign, and the constellation was come, under which Perkin should appear. And therefore he was straight sent unto by the Duchess to go for Ireland, according to the first designment. In Ireland he did arrive, at the town of Cork. When he was thither come, his own tale was, when he made his confession afterward, that the Irishmen, finding him in some good clothes, came flocking about him, and bare him down that he was the Duke of Clarence that had been there before. And after, that he was the base son of Richard III. And lastly, that he was Richard, Duke of York, second son to Edward IV. But that he, for his part, renounced all these things, and offered to swear upon the holy evangelists that he was no such man; till at last they forced it upon him, and bade him fear nothing, and so forth. But the truth is that immediately upon his coming into Ireland he took upon him the said person of the Duke of York, and drew unto him complices and partakers by all the means he could devise. Insomuch as he wrote his letters unto the Earls of Desmond and Kildare to come in to his aid, and be of his party; the originals of which letters are yet extant.

Somewhat before this time, the Duchess had also gained unto her a near servant of King Henry's own, one Stephen Frion, his secretary for the French tongue; an active man, but turbulent and discontented. This Frion had fled over to Charles, the French King, and put himself into his service, at such time as he began to be in open enmity with the King. Now King Charles, when he understood of the person and attempts of Perkin, ready of himself to embrace all advantages against the King of England, instigated by Frion, and formerly prepared by the Lady Margaret, forthwith despatched one Lucas and this Frion, in the nature of ambassadors to Perkin, to advertise him of the King's good inclination to him, and that he was resolved to aid him to recover his right against King Henry, a usurper of England and an enemy of France; and wished him to come over unto him at Paris.

Perkin thought himself in heaven now that he was invited by so great a king in so honorable a manner. And imparting unto his friends in Ireland, for their encouragement, how fortune called him, and what great hopes he had, sailed presently into France. When he was come to the court of France, the King received him with great honor; saluted and styled him by the name of the Duke of York; lodged him and accommodated him in great state; and, the better to give him the representation and the countenance of a prince, assigned him a guard for his person, whereof Lord Congresall was captain. The courtiers likewise, though it be ill mocking with the French, applied themselves to their King's bent, seeing there was reason of state for it. At the same time there repaired unto Perkin divers Englishmen of quality—Sir George Neville, Sir John Taylor, and about one hundred more—and among the rest this Stephen Frion, of whom we spake, who followed his fortune both then and for a long time after, and was, indeed, his principal counsellor and instrument in all his proceedings.

But all this on the French King's part was but a trick, the better to bow King Henry to peace. And therefore, upon the first grain of incense that was sacrificed upon the altar of peace at Boulogne, Perkin was smoked away. Yet would not the French King deliver him up to King Henry, as he was labored to do, for his honor's sake, but warned him away and dismissed him. And Perkin, on his part, was ready to be gone, doubting he might be caught up underhand. He therefore took his way into Flanders, unto the Duchess of Burgundy, pretending that, having been variously tossed by fortune, he directed his course thither as to a safe harbor, noways taking knowledge that he had ever been there before, but as if that had been his first address. The Duchess, on the other part, made it as new strange to see him, pretending, at the first, that she was taught and made wise, by the example of Lambert Simnel, how she did admit of any counterfeit stuff, though, even in that, she said she was not fully satisfied.

She pretended at the first, and that was ever in the presence of others, to pose him and sift him, thereby to try whether he were indeed the very Duke of York or no. But, seeming to receive full satisfaction by his answers, she then feigned herself to be transported with a kind of astonishment, mixed of joy and wonder, at his miraculous deliverance, receiving him as if he were risen from death to life, and inferring that God, who had in such wonderful manner preserved him from death, did likewise reserve him for some great and prosperous fortune. As for his dismission out of France, they interpreted it, not as if he were detected or neglected for a counterfeit deceiver, but, contrariwise, that it did show manifestly unto the world that he was some great matter, for that it was his abandoning that, in effect, made the peace, being no more but the sacrificing of a poor, distressed prince unto the utility and ambition of two mighty monarchs.

Neither was Perkin, for his part, wanting to himself, either in gracious or princely behavior, or in ready or apposite answers, or in contenting and caressing those that did apply themselves unto him, or in petty scorn and disdain to those that seemed to doubt of him; but in all things did notably acquit himself, insomuch as it was generally believed, as well among great persons as among the vulgar, that he was indeed Duke Richard. Nay, himself, with long and continued counterfeiting, and with oft telling a lie, was turned by habit almost into the thing he seemed to be, and from a liar to a believer. The Duchess, therefore, as in a case out of doubt, did him all princely honor, calling him always by the name of her nephew, and giving the delicate title of the "White Rose of England," and appointed him a guard of thirty persons, halberdiers, clad in a party-colored livery of murrey and blue, to attend his person. Her court likewise, and generally the Dutch and strangers, in their usage toward him, expressed no less respect.

The news hereof came blazing and thundering over into England that the Duke of York was sure alive. As for the name of Perkin Warbeck, it was not at that time come to light, but all the news ran upon the Duke of York; that he had been entertained in Ireland, bought and sold in France, and was now plainly avowed and in great honor in Flanders. These fames took hold of divers; in some upon discontent, in some upon ambition, in some upon levity and desire of change, and in some few upon conscience and belief, but in most upon simplicity, and in divers out of dependence upon some of the better sort, who did in secret favor and nourish these bruits. And it was not long ere these rumors of novelty had begotten others of scandal and murmur against the King and his government, taxing him for a great taxer of his people and discountenancer of his nobility. The loss of Britain and the peace with France were not forgotten. But chiefly they fell upon the wrong that he did his Queen, in that he did not reign in her right. Wherefore they said that God had now brought to light a masculine branch of the house of York, that would not be at his courtesy, howsoever he did depress his poor lady.

And yet, as it fareth with things which are current with the multitude and which they affect, these fames grew so general as the authors were lost in the generality of the speakers; they being like running weeds that have no certain root, or like footings up and down, impossible to be traced. But after a while these ill-humors drew to a head, and settled secretly in some eminent persons, which were Sir William Stanley, lord chamberlain of the King's household, the Lord Fitzwater, Sir Simon Montfort, and Sir Thomas Thwaites. These entered into a secret conspiracy to favor Duke Richard's title. Nevertheless, none engaged their fortunes in this business openly but two, Sir Robert Clifford and Master William Barley, who sailed over into Flanders, sent, indeed, from the party of the conspirators here, to understand the truth of those things that passed there, and not without some help of moneys from hence; provisionally to be delivered, if they found and were satisfied that there was truth in these pretences. The person of Sir Robert Clifford, being a gentleman of fame and family, was extremely welcome to the Lady Margaret, who, after she had conference with him, brought him to the sight of Perkin, with whom he had often speech and discourse. So that in the end, won either by the Duchess to affect or by Perkin to believe, he wrote back into England that he knew the person of Richard, Duke of York, as well as he knew his own, and that this young man was undoubtedly he. By this means all things grew prepared to revolt and sedition here, and the conspiracy came to have a correspondence between Flanders and England.

The King, on his part, was not asleep, but to arm or levy forces yet, he thought, would but show fear, and do this idol too much worship. Nevertheless, the ports he did shut up, or at least kept a watch on them, that none should pass to or fro that was suspected; but for the rest, he chose to work by counter-mines. His purposes were two—the one to lay open the abuse, the other to break the knot of the conspirators. To detect the abuse there were but two ways—the first, to make it manifest to the world that the Duke of York was indeed murdered; the other to prove that, were he dead or alive, yet Perkin was a counterfeit. For the first, thus it stood. There were but four persons that could speak upon knowledge to the murder of the Duke of York—Sir James Tyrell, the employed man from King Richard; John Dighton and Miles Forest, his servants, the two butchers or tormentors; and the priest of the Tower, that buried them. Of which four, Miles Forest and the priest were dead, and there remained alive only Sir James Tyrell and John Dighton.

These two the King caused to be committed to the Tower. and examined touching the manner of the death of the two innocent princes. They agreed both in a tale, as the King gave out, to this effect: That King Richard, having directed his warrant for the putting of them to death to Brackenbury, the lieutenant of the Tower, was by him refused. Whereupon the King directed his warrant to Sir James Tyrell, to receive the key of the Tower from the lieutenant, for the space of a night, for the King's special service. That Sir James Tyrell accordingly repaired to the Tower by night, attended by his two servants aforenamed, whom he had chosen for that purpose. That himself stood at the stair-foot, and sent these two villains to execute the murder. That they smothered them in their beds, and, that done, called up their master to see their naked dead bodies, which they had laid forth. That they were buried under the stairs, and some stones cast upon them. That when the report was made to King Richard that his will was done, he gave Sir James Tyrell great thanks, but took exception to the place of their burial, being too base for them that were king's children. Whereupon another night, by the King's warrant renewed, their bodies were removed by the priest of the Tower, and buried by him in some place which, by means of the priest's death soon after, could not be known.

Thus much was then delivered abroad to be the effect of those examinations; but the King, nevertheless, made no use of them in any of his declarations, whereby, as it seems, those examinations left the business somewhat perplexed. And, as for Sir James Tyrell, he was soon after beheaded in the Tower-yard for other matters of treason. But John Dighton, who, it seemeth, spake best for the King, was forthwith set at liberty, and was the principal means of divulging this tradition. Therefore, this kind of proof being left so naked, the King used the more diligence in the latter for the tracing of Perkin. To this purpose he sent abroad into several parts, and especially into Flanders, divers secret and nimble scouts and spies, some feigning themselves to fly over unto Perkin and to adhere to him, and some, under other pretence, to learn, search, and discover all the circumstances and particulars of Perkin's parents, birth, person, travels up and down, and in brief to have a journal, as it were, of his life and doings. Others he employed, in a more special nature and trust, to be his pioneers in the main counter-mine.

The King of Scotland—James IV—having espoused the cause of Warbeck, and attended him upon an invasion of England, though he would not formally retract his judgment of Perkin, wherein he had engaged himself so far, yet in his private opinion, upon often speech with the Englishmen, and diverse other advertisements, began to suspect him for a counterfeit. Wherefore in a noble fashion he called him unto him, and recounted the benefits and favors that he had done him in making him his ally, and in provoking a mighty and opulent king, by an offensive war, in his quarrel, for the space of two years together; nay, more, that he had refused an honorable peace, whereof he had a fair offer, if he would have delivered him; and that, to keep his promise with him, he had deeply offended both his nobles and people, whom he might not hold in any long discontent; and therefore required him to think of his own fortunes, and to choose out some fitter place for his exile; telling him withal that he could not say but that the English had forsaken him before the Scottish, for that, upon two several trials, none had declared themselves on his side; but nevertheless he would make good what he said to him at his first receiving, which was that he should not repent him for putting himself into his hands; for that he would not cast him off, but help him with shipping and means to transport him where he should desire. Perkin, not descending at all from his stage-like greatness, answered the King in few words, that he saw his time was not yet come; but, whatsoever his fortunes were, he should both think and speak honor of the King. Taking his leave, he would not think on Flanders, doubting it was but hollow ground for him since the treaty of the Archduke, concluded the year before; but took his lady, and such followers as would not leave him, and sailed over into Ireland.

When Perkin heard of the late Cornwall insurrection he began to take heart again, and advised upon it with his council, which were principally three—Herne, a mercer, that fled for debt; Skelton, a tailor; and Astley, a scrivener; for Secretary Frion was gone. These told him that he was mightily overseen, both when he went into Kent and when he went into Scotland—the one being a place so near London and under the King's nose; and the other a nation so distasted with the people of England, that if they had loved him ever so well, yet they could never have taken his part in that company. But if he had been so happy as to have been in Cornwall at the first, when the people began to take arms there, he had been crowned at Westminster before this time; for these kings, as he had now experience, would sell poor princes for shoes. But he must rely wholly upon people; and therefore advised him to sail over with all possible speed into Cornwall; which accordingly he did, having in his company four small barks, with some sixscore or sevenscore fighting men.

He arrived in September at Whitsand Bay, and forthwith came to Bodmin, the blacksmith's town, where they assembled unto him to the number of three thousand men of the rude people. There he set forth a new proclamation stroking the people with fair promises, and humoring them with invectives against the King and his government. And as it fareth with smoke, that never loseth itself till it be at the highest, he did now before his end raise his style, entitling himself no more Richard, Duke of York, but Richard IV, King of England. His council advised him by all means to make himself master of some good walled town; as well to make his men find the sweetness of rich spoils, and to allure to him all loose and lost people, by like hopes of booty as to be a sure retreat to his forces in case they should have any ill day or unlucky chance of the field. Wherefore they took heart to them and went on, and besieged the city of Exeter, the principal town for strength and wealth in those parts.

Perkin, hearing the thunder of arms, and preparations against him from so many parts, raised his siege, and marched to Taunton, beginning already to squint one eye upon the crown and another upon the sanctuary; though the Cornish men were become, like metal often fired and quenched, churlish, and that would sooner break than bow; swearing and vowing not to leave him till the uttermost drop of their blood were spilt. He was at his rising from Exeter between six and seven thousand strong, many having come unto him after he was set before Exeter, upon fame of so great an enterprise, and to partake of the spoil, though upon the raising of his siege some did slip away.

When he was come near Taunton, he dissembled all fear, and seemed all the day to use diligence in preparing all things ready to fight. But about midnight he fled with threescore horses to Bewdley[3], in the New Forest, where he and divers of his company registered themselves sanctuary-men, leaving his Cornish men to the four winds, but yet thereby easing them of their vow, and using his wonted compassion not to be by when his subjects' blood should be spilt. The King, as soon as he heard of Perkin's flight, sent presently five hundred horse to pursue and apprehend him before he should get either to the sea or to that same little island called a sanctuary. But they came too late for the latter of these. Therefore all they could do was to beset the sanctuary, and to maintain a strong watch about it, till the King's pleasure were further known.

Perkin, having at length given himself up, was brought into the King's court, but not to the King's presence; though the King, to satisfy his curiosity, saw him sometimes out of a window or in passage. He was in show at liberty, but guarded with all care and watch that were possible, and willed to follow the King to London. But from his first appearance upon the stage in his new person of a sycophant or juggler, instead of his former person of a prince, all men may think how he was exposed to the derision not only of the courtiers, but also of the common people, who flocked about him as he went along, that one might know afar off where the owl was by the flight of birds; some mocking, some wondering, some cursing, some prying and picking matter out of his countenance and gesture to talk of; so that the false honor and respects, which he had so long enjoyed, were plentifully repaid in scorn and contempt.

As soon as he was come to London the King gave also the city the solace of this May-game; for he was conveyed leisurely on horseback, but not in any ignominious fashion, through Cheapside and Cornhill, to the Tower, and from thence back again unto Westminster, with the churme of a thousand taunts and reproaches. But to amend the show, there followed a little distance of Perkin an inward counsellor of his, one that had been sergeant farrier to the King. This fellow, when Perkin took sanctuary, chose rather to take a holy habit than a holy place, and clad himself like a hermit, and in that weed wandered about the country till he was discovered and taken. But this man was bound hand and foot upon the horse, and came not back with Perkin, but was left at the Tower, and within few days after executed.

Soon after, now that Perkin could tell better what himself was, he was diligently examined; and after his confession taken, an extract was made of such parts of it as were thought fit to be divulged, which was printed and dispersed abroad; wherein the King did himself no right; for as there was a labored tale of particulars of Perkin's father and mother and grandsire and grandmother and uncles and cousins, by names and surnames, and from what places he travelled up and down; so there was little or nothing to purpose of anything concerning his designs or any practices that had been held with him; nor the Duchess of Burgundy herself, that all the world did take knowledge of, as the person that had put life and being into the whole business, so much as named or pointed at. So that men, missing of that they looked for, looked about for they knew not what, and were in more doubt than before; but the King chose rather not to satisfy than to kindle coals.

It was not long but Perkin, who was made of quicksilver, which is hard to hold or imprison, began to stir. For, deceiving his keepers, he took him to his heels, and made speed to the sea-coasts. But presently all corners were laid for him, and such diligent pursuit and search made as he was fain to turn back and get him to the house of Bethlehem, called the priory of Sheen (which had the privilege of sanctuary), and put himself into the hands of the prior of that monastery. The prior was thought a holy man and much reverenced in those days. He came to the King, and besought the King for Perkin's life only, leaving him otherwise to the King's discretion. Many about the King were again more hot than ever to have the King take him forth and hang him. But the King, that had a high stomach and could not hate any that he despised, bid, "Take him forth and set the knave in the stocks"; and so, promising the prior his life, he caused him to be brought forth. And within two or three days after, upon a scaffold set up in the palace court at Westminster, he was fettered and set in the stocks for the whole day. And the next day after the like was done by him at the cross in Cheapside, and in both places he read his confession, of which we made mention before; and was from Cheapside conveyed and laid up in the Tower.

But it was ordained that this winding-ivy of a Plantagenet should kill the true tree itself. For Perkin, after he had been a while in the Tower, began to insinuate himself into the favor and kindness of his keepers, servants of the lieutenant of the Tower, Sir John Digby, being four in number—Strangeways, Blewet, Astwood, and Long Roger. These varlets, with mountains of promises, he sought to corrupt, to obtain his escape; but knowing well that his own fortunes were made so contemptible as he could feed no man's hopes, and by hopes he must work, for rewards he had none, he had contrived with himself a vast and tragical plot; which was, to draw into his company Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick, then prisoner in the Tower, whom the weary life of a long imprisonment, and the often and renewing fears of being put to death, had softened to take any impression of counsel for his liberty.

This young Prince he thought these servants would look upon, though not upon himself; and therefore, after that, by some message by one or two of them, he had tasted of the Earl's consent, it was agreed that these four should murder their master, the lieutenant, secretly, in the night, and make their best of such money and portable goods of his as they should find ready at hand, and get the keys of the Tower, and presently let forth Perkin and the Earl. But this conspiracy was revealed in time, before it could be executed. And in this again the opinion of the King's great wisdom did surcharge him with a sinister fame, that Perkin was but his bait to entrap the Earl of Warwick. And in the very instant while this conspiracy was in working, as if that also had been the King's industry, it was fated that there should break forth a counterfeit Earl of Warwick, a cordwainer's son, whose name was Ralph Wilford; a young man taught and set on by an Augustin friar, called Patrick. They both from the parts from Suffolk came forward into Kent, where they did not only privily and underhand give out that this Wilford was the true Earl of Warwick, but also the friar, finding some light credence in the people, took the boldness in the pulpit to declare as much, and to incite the people to come in to his aid. Whereupon they were both presently apprehended, and the young fellow executed, and the friar condemned to perpetual imprisonment.

This also happening so opportunely, to represent the danger to the King's estate from the Earl of Warwick, and thereby to color the King's severity that followed; together with the madness of the friar so vainly and desperately to divulge a treason before it had gotten any manner of strength; and the saving of the friar's life, which nevertheless was, indeed, but the privilege of his order; and the pity in the common people, which, if it run in a strong stream, doth ever cast up scandal and envy, made it generally rather talked than believed that all was but the King's device. But howsoever it were, hereupon Perkin, that had offended against grace now the third time, was at last proceeded with, and by commissioners of oyer and determiner, arraigned at Westminster upon divers treasons committed and perpetrated after his coming on land within this kingdom, for so the judges advised, for that he was a foreigner, and condemned, and a few days after executed at Tyburn; where he did again openly read his confession, and take it upon his death to be true. This was the end of this little cockatrice of a king that was able to destroy those that did not espy him first. It was one of the longest plays of that kind that had been in memory, and might perhaps have had another end if he had not met with a king wise, stout, and fortunate.

[Footnote 1: Sister to Edward IV, and widow of Charles le Téméraire,
Duke of Burgundy.]

[Footnote 2: Bernard André, the poet laureate of Henry VII, states in his manuscript life of his patron, that Perkin, when a boy, was "servant in England to a Jew named Edward, who was baptized, and adopted as godson by Edward IV, and was on terms of intimacy with the King and his family." Speed, mistranslating André's words, makes Perkin the son of the Jew, instead of the servant; and Bacon amplifies the error, and transforms John Osbeck into the convert Jew, who, having a handsome wife, it might be surmised why the licentious King "should become gossip in so mean a house." Hume adds: "People thence accounted for that resemblance which was afterward remarked between young Perkin and that monarch." The surmise of Bacon, grounded upon the error of Speed, is clinched into the positive assertion of Hume as to a popular belief for which there is not the slightest ground.—Charles Knight.]

[Footnote:3 The Abbey of Beaulieu, near Southampton.]


A.D. 1494

Girolamo Savonarola, the great moral, political, and religious reformer of Italy, was born in Ferrara, September 21, 1452. He was of noble family, studied medicine, but renounced his intended profession and became a Dominican monk. In 1491 he became prior of St. Mark's, Florence. When he began to preach in the Church of St. Mark on the sins of the time, he applied to Italy the prophetic language of the Apocalypse. He predicted the restoration of the Church in Italy through severe divine viistations. His power in the pulpit was overwhelming, and the fame of his preaching was spread abroad, many regarding him as an inspired prophet. In his denunciations he spared neither wealth nor position, laity nor clergy, and he exhorted the people to order their lives by the simple rules of Scripture.

Savonarola refused to pay the customary homage of his office to the ruler of Florence, who at this time was Lorenzo de' Medici. His own office, the preacher declared, was received, not from Lorenzo, but from God. Overlooking the slight, Lorenzo tried by all means to win Savonarola's favor, but the reformer persisted in denouncing him. When a committee asked the preacher to desist from his denunciations and prophetic warnings, he bade them tell Lorenzo to repent of his sins, adding that, if he threatened banishment, the ruler himself would soon depart, while his censor would remain in Florence.

In 1492 Lorenzo died and his son Piero succeeded him. But Savonarola now became the most powerful man in the republic, and he exerted himself for reformation of his own monastery, the Church, and the state itself. Soon he prophesied the downfall of the Medici, against whom he arrayed a considerable part of the Florentine people. He predicted that one should come over the Alps and wreak vengeance upon the tyrants of Italy. In 1494 Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, warred against Naples, and advanced on Florence. Piero de' Medici, thoroughly frightened, surrendered his strongholds and agreed to pay Charles two hundred thousand ducats.

Of Savonarola's career from this time, and the state of Florence up to the day of his death, the two authors here selected give faithful and vivid narratives. In Romola George Eliot portrays the character and acts of this great reformer with a legitimate intensifying, for artistic purposes, of the certified facts of history.


The month of November, 1494, began under sinister auspices in Florence. The unexpected, almost incredible news of the surrender of fortresses which had cost the republic prolonged sieges and enormous expense, and formed the key of the whole Tuscan territory, instantly raised a tumult among the people, and the general fury was increased by letters received from the French camp, and the accounts of the returned envoys. For they told with what ease honorable terms might have been wrested from the King; with what a mixture of cowardice and self-assertion Piero de' Medici had placed the whole republic at the mercy of Charles VIII.

All gave free vent to their indignation, and the people began to gather in the streets and squares. Some of the crowd were seen to be armed with old weapons which had been hidden away for more than half a century; and from the wool and silk manufactories strong, broad-set, dark-visaged men poured forth. On that day it seemed as though the Florentines had leaped back a century, and that, after patient endurance of sixty years' tyranny, they were now decided to reconquer their liberty by violence and bloodshed.

Nevertheless, in the midst of this general excitement, men's minds were daunted by an equally general feeling of uncertainty and distrust. It was true that the Medici had left no soldiers in Florence, and that the people could at any moment make themselves masters of the whole city; but they knew not whom to trust, nor whom to choose as their leader. The old champions of liberty had nearly all perished during the last sixty years, either at the block or in persecution and exile. The few men at all familiar with state affairs were those who had always basked in the favor of the Medici; and the multitude just freed from slavery would inevitably recur to license if left to themselves. This, therefore, was one of those terrible moments when no one could foretell what excesses and what atrocities might not be committed. All day the people streamed aimlessly through the streets, like an impetuous torrent; they cast covetous glances on the houses of the citizens who had amassed wealth by acts of oppression; but they had no one to lead them; only, at the hour of Savonarola's sermon, they all flocked instinctively to the Duomo. Never had so dense a throng been gathered within its walls; all were too closely packed to be able to move; and when at last Savonarola mounted the pulpit he looked down upon a solid and motionless mass of upturned faces. Unusual sternness and excitement were depicted on every countenance, and he could see steel corselets flashing here and there in the cloaked crowd.

The friar was now the only man having any influence over the people, who seemed to hang on his words and look for safety to him alone. One hasty word from his mouth would have sufficed to cause all the houses of the principal citizens to be sacked, to revive past scenes of civil warfare, and lead to torrents of blood. For the people had been cruelly trampled on, and were now panting for a cruel revenge. He therefore carefully abstained from all allusion to politics; his heart was overflowing with pity; he bent forward with outstretched arms from the pulpit, and, in tones which echoed throughout the building, proclaimed the law of peace and charity and union.

"Behold the sword has come upon you, the prophecies are fulfilled, the scourges begun! Behold! these hosts are led by the Lord! O Florence! the time of singing and dancing is at an end; now is the time to shed floods of tears for thy sins. Thy sins, O Florence! thy sins, O Rome! thy sins, O Italy! They have brought these chastisements upon thee! Repent ye, then; give alms, offer up prayers, be united! O my people! I have long been as thy father; I have labored all the days of my life to teach ye the truths of faith and of godly living, yet have I received naught but tribulation, scorn, and contumely; give me at least the consolation of seeing ye do good deeds! My people, what desire hath ever been mine but to see ye saved, to see ye united? 'Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' But I have said this so many times, I have cried to ye so many times; I have wept for thee, O Florence! so many times, that it should be enough. To thee I turn, O Lord, to thee, who didst die for love of us and for our sins; forgive, forgive, O Lord, the Florentine people, that would fain be thy people."

In this strain he continued to exhort his hearers to charity, faith, and concord with such succeeding earnestness and fervor that he was exhausted and almost ill for several days after. These sermons were less eloquent than some of the others, since he was too deeply moved for reflection or for studied effects; but the tenderness with which he spoke dominated and soothed the people, who, fresh from the tumults without, entered this place of peace to hear the words of the Gospel. So magical was the power of Savonarola's voice in those days that, in all this great stir of public excitement, not a single excess was committed, and the revolution that seemed on the point of being effected by violence on the Piazza was quietly and peacefully accomplished within the walls of the palace. And this miracle, unprecedented in Florentine history, is unanimously attributed by the historians of the time to Savonarola's beneficial ascendency over the minds of the people.

On November 4th, the seigniory called a special meeting of the Council of Seventy, in order to decide what course to adopt. All the members were adherents and nominees of the Medici, but were so enraged by the cowardly surrender of the fortresses that they already had the air of a republican assembly. According to the old Florentine law and custom, no one was allowed to speak unless invited to do so by the seigniory, and was then only expected to support the measures which they had proposed. But in moments of public excitement neither this nor any other law was observed in Florence. On this day there was great agitation in the council; the safety of the country was at stake; the seigniory asked everyone for advice, and all wished to speak. Yet so much were men's minds daunted by the long habit of slavery that when Messer Luca Corsini broke through the old rule, and, rising to his feet uninvited, began to remark that things were going badly, the city falling into a state of anarchy, and that some strong remedy was required, everyone felt amazed. Some of his colleagues began to murmur, others to cough; and at last he began to falter and became so confused that he could not go on with his speech.

However, the debate was soon reopened by Jacopo di Tanai de' Nerli, a youth of considerable spirit, who warmly seconded Corsini's words; but he too presently began to hesitate, and his father, rising in great confusion, sought to excuse him in the eyes of the assembly by saying that he was young and foolish.

Lastly Piero di Gino Capponi rose to his feet. With his finely proportioned form, white hair, fiery glance, and a certain air of buoyant courage like that of a war-horse at sound of trumpet, he attracted universal attention and reduced all to silence. He was known to be a man of few but resolute words and of still more resolute deeds. He now spoke plainly and said: "Piero de' Medici is no longer fit to rule the state; the republic must provide for itself; the moment has come to shake off this baby government. Let ambassadors be sent to King Charles, and, should they meet Piero by the way, let them pass him without salutation; and let them explain that he has caused all the evil, and that the city is well disposed to the French. Let honorable men be chosen to give a fitting welcome to the King; but, at the same time, let all the captains and soldiery be summoned in from the country and hidden away in cloisters and other secret places. And besides the soldiery let all men be prepared to fight in case of need, so that when we shall have done our best to act honestly toward this most Christian monarch, and to satisfy with money the avarice of the French, we may be ready to face him and show our teeth if he should try us beyond our patience, either by word or deed. And above all," he said in conclusion, "it must not be forgotten to send Father Girolamo Savonarola as one of the ambassadors, for he has gained the entire love of the people." He might have added: because he has the entire respect of the King; for Charles had conceived an almost religious veneration for the man who had so long foretold his coming, and declared it to be ordained by the Lord.

The new ambassadors were elected on November 5th, and consisted of Pandolfo Rocellai, Giovanni Cavalcanti, Piero Capponi, Tanai de' Nerli, and Savonarola. The latter allowed the others to precede him to Lucca, where they hoped to meet the King, while he followed on foot according to his usual custom, accompanied by two of his brethren. But, before starting, he again addressed the people, and preached a sermon ending with these words: "The Lord hath granted thy prayers, and wrought a great revolution by peaceful means. He alone came to rescue the city when it was forsaken of all. Wait and thou shalt see the disasters which will happen elsewhere. Therefore be steadfast in good works, O people of Florence; be steadfast in peace! If thou wouldst have the Lord steadfast in mercy, be thou merciful toward thy brethren, thy friends, and thy enemies; otherwise thou too shalt be smitten by the scourges prepared for the rest of Italy. 'Misericordiam volo,' crieth the Lord unto ye. Woe to him that obeyeth not his commands!" After delivering this discourse he started for Pisa, where the other ambassadors, and also the King, speedily arrived.

Meanwhile disturbances went on increasing, and the populace seemed already intoxicated with license. The dwellings of Giovanni Guidi, notary and chancellor of the Riformagioni, and of Antonio Miniati, manager of the Monte, were put to the sack, for both these men, having been faithful tools of the Medici, and their subtle counsellors in the art of burdening the people with insupportable taxes, were objects of general hatred. The house of Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici was also pillaged, together with the garden by St. Mark's, in which so many treasures of art had been collected by Lorenzo. So far, with the exception of a few dagger-thrusts, no blood had been shed; but many were eager for conflict, and it would have certainly begun had not Savonarola's partisans done their best to keep the peace, and had not the friar been hourly expected from Pisa, whither he had repaired on the 13th day of the month with a second embassy. The seigniory also endeavored to quell the disturbances by means of edicts of the severest kind.

But the popular discontent was now heightened by the arrival of other envoys from Pisa with very unsatisfactory tidings. They had informed the King that Florence was friendly to him, and already preparing to welcome him with all the honors due to his royalty; they only asked that, being received as a friend, he should bear himself in that light, and deign to name his terms at once, so that free vent might be given to the public joy. But the only reply Charles condescended to give was that, "Once in the great town, all should be arranged." And it was evident from his majesty's coldness that the solicitations of Piero de' Medici, his earnest prayers, lavish promises of money, and submissive obedience had turned him not in his favor. Consequently the ambassadors had to leave without any definite answer, and could only say that the monarch was by no means well disposed to the republic.

But when the foiled envoys had left Pisa, Savonarola repaired to the French camp, and, passing through that great host of armed men, made his way to the King's presence. Charles, who was surrounded by his generals, received him very kindly, and thereupon, without wasting much time in preliminaries, the friar, in sonorous and almost commanding accents, addressed him with a short exhortation beginning as follows: "O most Christian King, thou art an instrument in the hand of the Lord, who sendeth thee to relieve the woes of Italy, as for many years I have foretold; and he sendeth thee to reform the Church, which now lieth prostrate in the dust. But if thou be not just and merciful; if thou shouldst fail to respect the city of Florence, its women, its citizens, and its liberty; if thou shouldst forget the task the Lord hath sent thee to perform, then will he choose another to fulfil it; his hand shall smite thee, and chastise thee with terrible scourges. These things say I unto you in the name of the Lord." The King and his generals seemed much impressed by Savonarola's menacing words, and to have full belief in them. In fact, it was the general feeling of the French that they were divinely guided to fulfil the Lord's work, and Charles felt a strong veneration for the man who had prophesied his coming and foretold the success of his expedition. Consequently the friar's exhortation inspired him with real terror, and also decided him to behave more honorably to the Florentines. Thus, when Savonarola returned to the city shortly after the other ambassadors, he was the bearer of more satisfactory intelligence.

As the King's intentions were still unknown, fresh relays of ambassadors were sent out to him. But meanwhile French officers and men passed the gates in little bands of fifteen or so at a time, and were seen roving about the town unarmed, jaunty, and gallant, bearing pieces of chalk in their hands to mark the houses on which their troops were to be billeted. While affecting an air of contemptuous indifference, they were unable to hide their amazement at the sight of so many splendid buildings, and at every turn were confounded by the novel scenes presented to their gaze. But what struck them most of all was the grim severity of the palaces, which appeared to be impregnable strongholds, and the towns still scarred with the marks of fierce and sanguinary faction fights. Then, on November 15th, they witnessed a sight that sent a thrill of fear to their souls. Whether by accident or design, a rumor suddenly spread through the town that Piero de' Medici was nearing the gates. Instantly the bell of the seigniory clanged the alarm; the streets swarmed with a furious mob; armed men sprang, as by magic, from the earth, and rushed toward the Piazza; palace doors were barred; towers bristled with defenders; stockades began to be built across the streets, and on that day the French took their first lesson in the art of barricades. It was soon ascertained that the rumor was false, and the tumult subsided as quickly as it had risen. But the foreign soldiers were forced to acknowledge that their tactics and stout battalions would be almost powerless, hemmed in those streets, against this new and unknown mode of warfare. In fact, the Florentines looked on the Frenchmen with a certain pert assurance, as if they would say, "We shall see!" For, having now regained its liberty, this people thought itself master of the world, and almost believed that there was nothing left for it to fear.

Meanwhile splendid preparations were being made in the Medici palace for the reception of King Charles; his officers were to be lodged in the houses of the principal citizens, and the streets through which he was to pass were covered with awnings and draped with hangings and tapestries. On November 17th the seigniory assembled on a platform erected by the San Frediano gate; and numbers of young Florentine nobles went forth to meet the King, who made his state entry at the twenty-first hour of the day. The members of the seigniory then rose and advanced toward him to pay their respects, while Messer Luca Corsini, being deputed to that office, stood forth to read a written address. But just at that moment rain began to fall, the horses grew restless and hustled against one another, and the whole ceremony was thrown into confusion.

Only Messer Francesco Gaddi, one of the officers of the palace, had sufficient presence of mind to press his way through the throng and make a short speech suited to the occasion in French, after which the King moved forward under a rich canopy. The monarch's appearance was in strange contrast with that of the numerous and powerful army behind him. He seemed almost a monster, with his enormous head, long nose, wide, gaping mouth, big, white, purblind eyes, very diminutive body, extraordinarily thin legs, and misshapen feet. He was clad in black velvet and a mantle of gold brocade, bestrode a tall and very beautiful charger, and entered the city riding with his lance levelled—a martial attitude then considered as a sign of conquest. All this rendered the meanness of his person the more grotesquely conspicuous. By his side rode the haughty Cardinal of St. Piero in Vincoli, the Cardinal of St. Malo, and a few marshals. At their heels came the royal bodyguard of one hundred bowmen, composed of the finest young men in France, and then two hundred French knights marching on foot with splendid dresses and equipment. These were followed by the Swiss vanguard, resplendent and party-colored, bearing halberds of burnished steel, and with rich waving plumes on their officers' helmets. The faces of these men expressed the mountaineer spirit of daring, and the proud consciousness of being the first infantry in Europe; while the greater part of them had scornfully thrown aside the cuirass, preferring to fight with their chests bared.

The centre consisted of Gascon infantry, small, light, agile men, whose numbers seemed to multiply as the army advanced. But the grandest sight was the cavalry, comprising the flower of the French aristocracy, and displaying finely wrought weapons, mantles of gorgeous brocade, velvet banners embroidered with gold, chains of gold, and other precious ornaments. The cuirassiers had a terrible aspect, for their horses seemed like monsters with their cropped tails and ears. The archers were men of extraordinary height, armed with very long wooden bows; they came from Scotland and other northern countries, and, in the words of a contemporary historian, "seemed to be beast-like men" ("parevano uomini bestiali").

This well-ordered and disciplined army, composed of so many different nationalities, with such varied attire and strange weapons, was as new and amazing a sight to Florence as to almost all Italy, where no standing armies were as yet in existence, and mercenaries the only soldiery known. It is impossible to give the number of the forces accompanying the King to Florence, for his artillery were marching toward Rome by another route; he had left garrisons in many strongholds, and sent on another body of men by Romagna. Gaddi, who witnessed the entrance of the French, says that their numbers amounted to twelve thousand; Rinuccini, who was also present, estimated them at a lower figure; others at a higher. In any case the city and suburbs were crammed with them.

The procession marched over the Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge"), which was gay with festive decorations and sounds of music, wound across the Piazza amid a crowd of triumphal cars, statues, etc., and, passing the Canto dei Pazzi, made the tour of the Cathedral Square, and halted before the great door of the church. The people shouted the name of France with cries of applause, but the King only smiled inanely and stammered some inappropriate words in Italian. Entering the Duomo, he was met by the seigniory, who, to avoid the pressure of the armed host, had been obliged to come around by the back streets. After joining in prayers with their royal guest, they escorted him to the sumptuous palace of the Medici, and the soldiers dispersed to their quarters. That night and the next the whole city was a blaze of illuminations; the intervening day was devoted to feasting and amusements, and then the terms of the treaty began to be discussed.

The terms of the treaty stood as follows: That there should be a good and faithful friendship between the republic and the King; that their subjects should have reciprocal protection; that the King should receive the title of restorer and protector of the liberty of Florence; that he should be paid one hundred twenty thousand florins in three instalments; that he was not to retain the fortresses for more than two years; and if the Neapolitan expedition finished before that date, he was then to give them up without delay; that the Pisans were to receive pardon as soon as they should resume their allegiance to Florence. It was also stipulated that the decree putting a price on the heads of the Medici should be revoked, but that the states of Giuliano and Cardinal Giovanni were to remain confiscated until all Piero's debts had been paid, and that the said Piero was to remain banished to a distance of two hundred miles, and his brothers of one hundred, from the Tuscan border. After the agreement had been drawn up in regular official form, the contracting parties met in the Duomo to swear to the observance of all its clauses, and in the evening there was a general illumination of the city, although the people gave no signs of their previous good-will toward the King.

But no sooner was one difficulty disposed of than another arose. When all was concluded Charles relapsed into his normal state of inertia, and showed no disposition to depart. The city was thronged by the French quartered in the houses, and the Italian soldiery hidden on all sides; the shops were shut up and all traffic suspended; everything was in a state of uncertainty and disorder, and the continual quarrels between the natives and the foreigner might at any moment provoke the most serious complications. There were perpetual robberies and murders by night—a most unusual state of things for Florence; and the people seemed to be on the verge of revolt at the least provocation. Thus matters went on from day to day, and consequently all honest citizens vainly did their utmost to hasten the King's departure. And the universal suspense was heightened by the impossibility of finding any way of forcing him to a decision.

At last another appeal was made to Savonarola, who was exerting all his influence to keep the people quiet, and whose peaceful admonitions during this period of danger and confusion had been no less efficacious than the heroic defiance of Piero Capponi. The friar's sermons at this time were always directed to the general welfare. He exhorted the citizens "to lay aside their animosities and ambitions; to attend the councils at the palace in a righteous spirit, and with a view, not to their personal interest, but to the general good, and with the firm resolve to promote the unity and concord of their city. Then, indeed, would they be acceptable in the Lord's sight." He addressed himself to every class of the people in turn, proving to all that it would be to their own advantage, both in this life and the next, to labor for the defence of liberty and the establishment of unity and concord. When asked to seek the King and endeavor to persuade him to leave, he cheerfully undertook the task and hastened to the royal abode. The officers and lords in attendance were at first inclined to refuse him admittance, fearing that his visit might defeat their plan of pillaging the treasures of this sumptuous palace. But, remembering the veneration in which the friar was held by the King, they dared not refuse his demand and allowed him to pass. Charles, surrounded by his barons, received him very graciously, and Savonarola went straight to the point by saying: "Most Christian Prince, thy stay here is causing great injury both to our own city and thy enterprise. Thou losest time, forgetful of the duty imposed on thee by Providence, and to the serious hurt of thy spiritual welfare and worldly fame. Hearken now to the voice of God's servant! Pursue thy journey without delay. Seek not to bring ruin on this city, and thereby rouse the anger of the Lord against thee."

So at last, on November 28th, at the twenty-second hour of the day, the King departed with his army, leaving the people of Florence very badly disposed toward him. Among their many just causes of complaint was the sack of the splendid palace in which he had been so liberally and trustfully entertained. Nor were common soldiers and inferior officers alone concerned in this robbery; the hands of generals and barons were equally busy, and the King himself carried off objects of the greatest value; among other things a precious intaglio representing a unicorn, estimated by Comines to be worth about seven thousand ducats. With such an example set by their sovereign, it may be easily imagined how the others behaved; and Comines himself tells us that "they shamelessly took possession of everything that tempted their greed." Thus the rich and marvellous collections formed by the Medici were all lost, excepting what had been placed in safety at St. Mark's, for the few things left behind by the French were so much damaged that they had to be sold. Nevertheless, the inhabitants were so rejoiced to be finally rid of their dangerous guests that no one mourned over these thefts. On the contrary, public thanksgivings were offered up in the churches, the people went about the streets with their old gayety and lightheartedness, and the authorities began to take measures to pro vide for the urgent necessities of the new republic.

During this interval the aspect of Florentine affairs had entirely changed. The partisans of the Medici had disappeared from the city as if by magic; the popular party ruled over everything, and Savonarola ruled the will of the whole population. He was unanimously declared to have been a prophet of all that had occurred, the only man that had succeeded in controlling the King's conduct on his entry into Florence, the only man who had induced him to depart; accordingly all hung on Savonarola's lips for counsel, aid, and direction as to their future proceedings. And, as though the men of the old state saw the need of effacing themselves to make way for new blood, several prominent representatives and friends of the Medici house died during this period. Angelo Poliziano had passed away this year, on September 24th, "loaded with as much infamy and public opprobrium as a man could well bear." He was accused of numberless vices and unlimited profligacy; but the chief cause of all the hatred lavished on him was the general detestation already felt for Piero de' Medici, the approach of his downfall and that of all his adherents. Nor was the public rancor at all softened by the knowledge that the last utterances of the illustrious poet and learned scholar had been the words of a penitent Christian. He had requested that his body should be clothed in the Dominican habit and interred in the Church of St. Mark, and there his ashes repose beside the remains of Giovanni Picodella Mirandola, who expired on the very day of Charles VIII's entry into Florence. Pico had long entertained a desire to join the fraternity of St. Mark's, but, delaying too long to carry out his intent, was surprised by death at the early age of thirty-two years. On his death-bed he, too, had besought Savonarola to allow him to be buried in the robe he had yearned to wear.

The end of these two celebrated Italians recalled to mind the last hours and last confession of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and was by many regarded as a sign that the Medicean adherents had been unwilling to pass away without acknowledging their crimes, without asking pardon from the people whom they had so deeply oppressed, and from the friar, who was, as it were, the people's best representative. It was certainly remarkable that all these men should turn to the convent of St. Mark, whence had issued the first cry of liberty, and the first sign of war against the tyranny of the Medici.


At the moment that Florence expelled the Medici, the republic was divided among three different parties. The first was that of the enthusiasts, directed by Girolamo Savonarola, who promised the miraculous protection of the Divinity for the reform of the Church and establishment of liberty. These demanded a democratic constitution; they were called the "Piagnoni." The second consisted of men who had shared power with the Medici, but who had separated from them; who wished to possess alone the powers and profits of government, and who endeavored to amuse the people by dissipations and pleasures, in order to establish at their ease an aristocracy. These were called the "Arabbiati." The third party was composed of men who remained faithful to the Medici, but, not daring to declare themselves, lived in retirement; they were called "Bigi."

These three parties were so equally balanced in the balia named by the parliament, on December 2, 1494, that it soon became impossible to carry on the government. Girolamo Savonarola took advantage of this state of affairs to urge that the people had never delegated their power to a balia which did not abuse the trust.

"The people," he said, "would do much better to reserve this power to themselves, and exercise it by a council, into which all the citizens should be admitted." His proposition was agreed to; more than one thousand eight hundred Florentines furnished proof that either they, their fathers, or their grandfathers had sat in the magistracy; they were consequently acknowledged citizens and admitted to sit in the general council. This council was declared sovereign on July 1, 1495; it was invested with the election of magistrates, hitherto chosen by lot, and a general amnesty was proclaimed, to bury in oblivion all the ancient dissensions of the Florentine republic.

So important a modification of the constitution seemed to promise this republic a happier futurity. The friar Savonarola, who had exercised such influence in the council, evinced at the same time an ardent love of mankind, deep respect for the rights of all, great sensibility, and an elevated mind. Though a zealous reformer of the Church, and in this respect a precursor of Luther, who was destined to begin his mission twenty years later, he did not quit the pale of orthodoxy; he did not assume the right of examining doctrine; he limited his efforts to the restoration of discipline, the reformation of the morals of the clergy, and the recall of priests, as well as other citizens, to the practice of the gospel precepts. But his zeal was mixed with enthusiasm; he believed himself under the immediate inspiration of Providence; he took his own impulses for prophetic revelations, by which he directed the politics of his disciples, the Piagnoni.

He had predicted to the Florentines the coming of the French into Italy; he had represented to them Charles VIII as an instrument by which the Divinity designed to chastise the crimes of the nation; he had counselled them to remain faithful to their alliance with that King, the instrument of Providence, even though his conduct, especially in reference to the affairs of Pisa, had been highly culpable.

This alliance, however, ranged the Florentines among the enemies of Pope Alexander VI, one of the founders of the league which had driven the French out of Italy. He accused them of being traitors to the Church and to their country for their attachment to a foreign prince. Alexander, equally offended by the projects of reform and by the politics of Savonarola, denounced him to the Church as a heretic, and interdicted him from preaching. The monk at first obeyed, and procured the appointment of his friend and disciple the Dominican friar, Buonvicino of Pescia, as his successor in the Church of St. Mark; but on Christmas Day, 1497, he declared from the pulpit that God had revealed to him that he ought not to submit to a corrupt tribunal; he then openly took the sacrament with the monks of St. Mark, and afterward continued to preach. In the course of his sermons he more than once held up to reprobation the scandalous conduct of the Pope, whom the public voice accused of every vice and every crime to be expected in a libertine so depraved—a man so ambitious, perfidious, and cruel—a monarch and a priest intoxicated with absolute power.

In the mean time the rivalry encouraged by the court of Rome between the religious orders soon procured the Pope a champion eager to combat Savonarola; he was a Dominican—the general of the Augustines, that Order whence Martin Luther was soon to issue. Friar Mariano di Ghinazzano signalized himself by his zeal in opposing Savonarola. He presented to the Pope Friar Francis of Apulia, of the order of Minor Observantines, who was sent to Florence to preach against the Florentine monks, in the Church of Santa Croce. This preacher declared to his audience that he knew Savonarola pretended to support his doctrine by a miracle. "For me," said he, "I am a sinner; I have not the presumption to perform miracles; nevertheless, let a fire be lighted, and I am ready to enter it with him. I am certain of perishing, but Christian charity teaches me not to withhold my life if in sacrificing it I might precipitate into hell a heresiarch, who has already drawn into it so many souls."

This strange proposition was rejected by Savonarola; but his friend and disciple, Friar Dominic Buonvicino, eagerly accepted it. Francis of Apulia declared that he would risk his life against Savonarola only. Meanwhile a crowd of monks, of the Dominican and Franciscan orders, rivalled each other in their offers to prove by the ordeal of fire, on one side the truth, on the other the falsehood, of the new doctrine. Enthusiasm spread beyond the two convents; many priests and seculars, and even women and children, more especially on the side of Savonarola, earnestly requested to be admitted to the proof. The Pope warmly testified his gratitude to the Franciscans for their devotion. The Seigniory of Florence consented that two monks only should devote themselves for their respective orders, and directed the pile to be prepared. The whole population of the town and country, to which a signal miracle was promised, received the announcement with transports of joy.

On April 17, 1498, a scaffold, dreadful to look on, was erected in the public square of Florence; two piles of large pieces of wood, mixed with fagots and broom, which should quickly take fire, extended each eighty feet long, four feet thick, and five feet high; they were separated by a narrow space of two feet, to serve as a passage by which the two priests were to enter and pass the whole length of the piles during the fire.

Every window was full; every roof was covered with spectators; almost the whole population of the republic was collected round the place. The portico called the Loggia dei Lanzi, divided in two by a partition, was assigned to the two orders of monks. The Dominicans arrived at their station chanting canticles and bearing the holy sacrament. The Franciscans immediately declared that they would not permit the host to be carried amid flames. They insisted that the friar Buonvicino should enter the fire, as their own champion was prepared to do, without this divine safeguard. The Dominicans answered that "they would not separate themselves from their God at the moment when they implored his aid." The dispute upon this point grew warm.

Several hours passed away. The multitude, which had waited long and began to feel hunger and thirst, lost patience; a deluge of rain suddenly fell upon the city, and descended in torrents from the roofs of the houses; all present were drenched. The piles were so wet that they could no longer be lighted; and the crowd, disappointed of a miracle so impatiently looked for, separated, with the notion of having been unworthily trifled with. Savonarola lost all his credit; he was henceforth rather looked on as an impostor.

Next day his convent was besieged by the Arabbiati, eager to profit by the inconstancy of the multitude; he was arrested with his two friends, Domenico Buonvicino and Silvestro Marruffi, and led to prison. The Piagnoni, his partisans, were exposed to every outrage from the populace; two of them were killed, their rivals and old enemies exciting the general ferment for their destruction. Even in the seigniory the majority was against them, and yielded to the pressing demands of the Pope. The three imprisoned monks were subjected to a criminal prosecution.

Alexander VI despatched judges from Rome with orders to condemn the accused to death. Conformably with the laws of the Church, the trial opened with the torture. Savonarola was too weak and nervous to support it; he vowed in his agony all that was imputed to him, and, with his two disciples, was condemned to death. The three monks were burned alive, May 23, 1498, in the same square where, six weeks before, a pile had been raised to prepare them a triumph.


A.D. 1497

Newfoundland prides herself on being the oldest colony of the English crown. By virtue of John Cabot's discovery, in A.D. 1497, she also claims the honor of being the first portion of the New-World continent to be discovered and made known by Europeans. This was fourteen months before Columbus, on his third expedition, beheld the American mainland.

At the close of the fifteenth century, the impelling motive of discovery among the Old-World nations, and their adventurous mariners, was the hope of finding a short western passage to the riches of the East Indies. This was the chief lure of the period, added to the ambition of Old-World monarchs to extend their territorial possessions and bring them within the embrace of their individual flags. Henry VII of England aided the Cabots, father and son, to fit out two expeditions from Bristol to explore the coasts of the New World and extend the search for hitherto unknown countries. The result of these enterprises was the discovery of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as other lands, and England's claim to the possession of the greater portion of the North American continent.

Probably no question in the history of this continent has been the subject of so much discussion as the lives and voyages of the two Cabots. Their personal character, their nationality, the number of voyages they made, and the extent and direction of their discoveries have been, and still are, keenly disputed over. The share, moreover, of each in the credit due for the discoveries made is a very battle-ground for historians. Some learned writers attribute everything to John Cabot; others would put him aside and award all the credit to his second son, Sebastian. The dates even of the voyages are disputed; and very learned professors of history in Portugal do not hesitate to declare that the voyages are apocryphal, the discoveries pretended, and the whole question a mystification.

Nevertheless, solely upon the discoveries of the Cabots have always rested the original claims of the English race to a foothold upon this continent. In the published annals of England, however, no contemporary records of them exist; nor was there for sixty years in English literature any recognition of their achievements. The English claims rest almost solely upon second-hand evidence from Spanish and Italian authors, upon contemporary reports of Spanish and Italian envoys at the English court, upon records of the two letters-patent issued, and upon two or three entries lately discovered in the accounts of disbursements from the privy purse of King Henry VII. These are our title-deeds to this continent. The evidence is doubtless conclusive, but the whole subject of western discovery was undervalued and neglected by England for so long a period that it is no wonder if Portuguese savants deny the reality of those voyages, seeing that their nation has been supplanted by a race which can show so little original evidence of its claims.

It is not my intention to wander over all the debatable ground of the Cabot voyages, where every circumstance bristles with conflicting theories. The original authorities are few and scanty, but mountains of hypotheses have been built upon them, and too often the suppositions of one writer have been the facts of a succeeding one. Step by step the learned students before alluded to have established certain propositions which appear to me to be true, and which I shall accept without further discussion. Among these I count the following:

1. That John Cabot was a Venetian, of Genoese birth, naturalized at Venice on March 28, 1476, after the customary fifteen years of residence, and that he subsequently settled in England with all his family.

2. That Sebastian, his second son, was born in Venice, and when very young was taken by his father to England with the rest of the family.

3. That on petition of John Cabot and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Sancio, letters-patent of King Henry VII were issued, under date March 5, 1496, empowering them, at their own expense, to discover and take possession for England of new lands not before found by any Christian nation.

4. That John Cabot, accompanied perhaps by his son Sebastian, sailed from Bristol early in May, 1497. He discovered and landed upon some part of America between Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, and Cape Chidley, in Labrador; that he returned to Bristol before the end of July of the same year; that, whatever might have been the number of vessels which started, the discovery was made by John Cabot's own vessel, the Matthew of Bristol, with a crew of eighteen men.

5. That thereupon, and in consideration of this discovery made by John Cabot, King Henry VII granted new letters-patent, drawn solely to John Cabot, authorizing a second expedition on a more extended scale and with fuller royal authority, which letters-patent were dated February 3, 1498; that this expedition sailed in the spring of 1498, and had not returned in October. It consisted of several ships and about three hundred men. That John and Sebastian Cabot sailed on this voyage. When it returned is not known. From the time of sailing of this expedition John Cabot vanishes into the unknowable, and from thenceforth Sebastian alone appears in the historic record.

These points are now fully supported by satisfactory evidence, mostly documentary and contemporary. As for John Cabot, Sebastian said he died, which is one of the few undisputed facts in the discussion; but if Sebastian is correctly reported in Ramusio to have said that he died at the time when the news of Columbus' discoveries reached England, then Sebastian Cabot told an untruth, because the letters-patent of 1498 were addressed to John Cabot alone. The son had a gift of reticence concerning others, including his father and brothers, which in these latter days has been the cause of much wearisome research to scholars. To avoid further discussion of the preceding points is, however, a great gain.

From among the numerous opinions concerning the landfall of John Cabot three theories emerge which may be seriously entertained, all three being supported by evidence of much weight: 1. That it was in Newfoundland. 2. That it was on the Labrador coast. 3. That it was on the island of Cape Breton.

Until a comparatively recent period it was universally held by English writers that Newfoundland was the part of North America first seen by Cabot. The name "Newfoundland" lends itself to this view; for in the letters-patent of 1498 the expression "Londe and iles of late founde," and the wording of the award recorded in the King's privy-purse accounts, August 10, 1497, "To hym that founde the new ile £I0," seem naturally to suggest the island of Newfoundland of our day; and this impression is strengthened by reading the old authors, who spell it, as Richard Whitbourne in 1588, "New-found-land," in three words with connecting hyphens, and often with the definite article, "The Newe-found-land." A cursory reading of the whole literature of American discovery before 1831 would suggest that idea, and some writers of the present day still maintain it. Authors of other nationalities have, however, always disputed it, and have pushed the English discoveries far north to Labrador, and even to Greenland. Champlain, who read and studied everything relating to his profession, concedes to the English the coast of Labrador north of 56° and the regions about Davis Straits; and the maps, which for a long period, with a few notable exceptions, were made only by Spaniards, Portuguese, and Italians, bear out Champlain's remonstrances. It seems, moreover, on a cursory consideration of the maps, probable that a vessel on a westerly course passing south of Ireland should strike somewhere on the coast of Newfoundland about Cape Bonavista, and, Cabot being an Italian, that very place suggests itself by its name as his probable landfall. The English, who for the most part have had their greatness thrust upon them by circumstances, neglected Cabot's discoveries for fifty years, and during that time the French and Portuguese took possession of the whole region and named all the coasts; then, when the troubled reign of Henry VIII was over, the English people began to wake up, and in fact rediscovered Cabot and his voyages. A careful study, however, of the subject will be likely to lead to the rejection of the Newfoundland landfall, plausible as it may at first sight appear.

In the year 1831 Richard Biddle, a lawyer of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, published a memoir of Sebastian Cabot which led the way to an almost universal change of opinion. He advanced the theory that Labrador was the Cabot landfall in 1497. His book is one of great research, and, though confused in its arrangement, is written with much vigor and ability. But Biddle lost the historian in the advocate. His book is a passionate brief for Sebastian Cabot; for he strangely conceives the son to have been wronged by the ascription to John Cabot of any portion of the merit of the discovery of America. Not only would he suppress the elder Cabot, but he covers the well-meaning Hakluyt with opprobrium and undermines his character by insinuations, much as a criminal lawyer might be supposed to do to an adverse witness in a jury trial. Valuable as the work is, there is a singular heat pervading it, fatal to the true historic spirit. Hakluyt is the pioneer of the literature of English discovery and adventure—at once the recorder and inspirer of noble effort. He is more than a translator; he spared no pains nor expense to obtain from the lips of seamen their own versions of their voyages, and, if discrepancies are met with in a collection so voluminous, it is not surprising and need not be ascribed to a set purpose; for Hakluyt's sole object in life seems to have been to record all he knew or could ascertain of the maritime achievements of the age.

Biddle's book marks an epoch in the controversy. In truth, he seems to be the first who gave minute study to the original authorities and broke away from the tradition of Newfoundland. He fixed the landfall on the coast of Labrador; and Humboldt and Kohl added the weight of their great learning to his theory. Harrisse, who in his John and Sebastian Cabot had written in favor of Cape Breton, has, in his latest book, The Discovery of America, gone back to Labrador as his faith in the celebrated map of 1544 gradually waned and his esteem for the character of Sebastian Cabot faded away. Such changes of view, not only in this but in other matters, render Mr. Harrisse's books somewhat confusing, although the student of American history can never be sufficiently thankful for his untiring research.

The discovery in Germany by von Martius in 1843 of an engraved mappemonde bearing date of 1544, and purporting to be issued under the authority of Sebastian Cabot, soon caused a general current of opinion in favor of a landfall in Cape Breton. The map is unique and is now in the National Library at Paris. It bears no name of publisher nor place of publication. Around it for forty years controversy has waxed warm. Kohl does not accept the map as authentic; D'Avezac, on the contrary, gives it full credence. The tide of opinion has set of late in favor of it, and in consequence in favor of the Cape Breton landfall, because it bears, plainly inscribed upon that island, the words "prima tierra vista," and the legends which are around the map identify beyond question that as the landfall of the first voyage. Dr. Deane, in Winter's Narrative and Critical History, supports this view. Markham, in his introduction to the volume of the Hakluyt Society for 1893, also accepts it; and our own honorary secretary (the late Sir John Bourinot), in his learned and exhaustive monograph on Cape Breton, inclines to the same theory.

I do not propose here to discuss the difficult problems of this map. For many years, under the influence of current traditions and cursory reading, I believe the landfall of John Cabot to have been in Newfoundland; but a closer study of the original authorities has led me to concur in the view which places it somewhere on the island of Cape Breton.

At the threshold of an inquiry into the "prima tierra vista" or landfall of 1497, it is before all things necessary to distinguish sharply, in every recorded detail, between the first and second voyages. I venture to think that, if this had always been done, much confusion and controversy would have been avoided. It was not done by the older writers, and the writers of later years have followed them without sufficiently observing that the authorities they were building upon were referring almost solely to the second voyage. Even when some occasional detail of the first voyage was introduced, the circumstances of the second voyage were interwoven and became dominant in the narrative, so that the impression of one voyage only remains upon the mind. We must therefore always remember the antithesis which exists between them. Thus, the first voyage was made in one small vessel with a crew of eighteen men, the second with five ships and three hundred men. The first voyage was undertaken with John Cabot's own resources, the second with the royal authority to take six ships and their outfit on the same conditions as if for the King's service. The first voyage was a private venture, the second an official expedition. The first voyage extended over three months and was provisioned for that period only; the second was victualled for twelve months and extended over six months at least, for how much longer is not known. The course of the first voyage was south of Ireland, then for a while north and afterward west, with the pole star on the right hand. The course of the second, until land was seen, was north, into northern seas, toward the north pole, in the direction of Iceland, to the cape of Labrador, at 58° north latitude. On the first voyage no ice was reported; on the second the leading features were bergs and floes of ice and long days of arctic summer. On the first voyage Cabot saw no man; on the second he found people clothed with "beastes skynnes." During the whole of the first voyage John Cabot was the commander; on the second voyage he sailed in command, but who brought the expedition home and when it returned are not recorded. It is not known how or when John Cabot died; and, although the letters-patent for the second voyage were addressed to him alone, his son Sebastian during forty-five years took the whole credit in every subsequent mention of the discovery of America, without any allusion to his father. This antithesis may throw light upon the suppression of his father's name in all the statements attributed to or made by Sebastian Cabot. He may always have had the second voyage in his mind. His father may have died on the voyage. He was marvellously reticent about his father. The only mention which occurs is on the map seen by Hakluyt, and on the map of 1544, supposed, somewhat rashly, to be a transcript of it. There the discovery is attributed to John Cabot and to Sebastian his son, and that has reference to the first voyage. From these considerations it would appear that those who place the landfall at Labrador are right; but it is the landfall of the second voyage—the voyage Sebastian was always talking about—not the landfall of John Cabot in 1497.

If Sebastian Cabot had not been so much wrapped up in his own vainglory, we might have had a full record of the eventful voyage which revealed to Europe the shores of our Canadian dominion first of all the lands on the continents of the western hemisphere. Fortunately, however, there resided in London at that time a most intelligent Italian, Raimondo di Soncino, envoy of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, one of those despots of the Renaissance who almost atoned for their treachery and cruelty by their thirst for knowledge and love of arts. Him Soncino kept informed of all matters going on at London, and especially concerning matters of cosmography, to which the Duke was much devoted. From his letters we are enabled to retrace the momentous voyage of the little Matthew of Bristol across the western ocean—not the sunny region of steady trade-winds, by whose favoring influence Columbus was wafted to his destination, but the boisterous reaches of the northern Atlantic—over that "still vexed sea" which shares with one or two others the reputation of being the most storm-tossed region in the world of ocean. That the land discovered was supposed to be a part of Asia appears very clearly from the same letters. It was in the territory of the Grand Cam. The land was good and the climate temperate; and Cabot intended on his next voyage, after occupying that place, to proceed farther westward until he should arrive at the longitude of Japan, which island he evidently thought to be south of his landfall and near the equator.

It should be carefully noted that, in all the circumstances on record which are indisputably referable to this first voyage, nothing has been said of ice or of any notable extension of daylight. These are the marks of the second voyage; for if anything unusual had existed in the length of the day it would have been at its maximum on Midsummer's Day, June 24th, the day he made land. Nothing is reported in these letters which indicates a high latitude. Now Labrador is a cold, waste region of rocks, swamps, and mountains. Even inside the Straits of Belle-Isle it is so barren and forbidding as to call forth Cartier's oft-cited remark that "it was like the land God gave to Cain." The coast of Labrador is not the place to invite a second voyage, if it be once seen; but the climate of Cape Breton is very pleasant in early summer and the country is well wooded.

From the contemporary documents relating specially to the first voyage, it is beyond question that Cabot saw no human being on the coast, though he brought back evidences of their presence at some previous time. It is beyond doubt, also, on the same authority, that the voyage lasted not longer than three months, and that provisions gave out, so that he had not time to land on the return voyage. It was, in fact, a reconnoitring expedition to prepare the way for a greater effort, and establish confidence in the existence of land across the ocean easily reached from England. The distance sailed is given by Soncino at four hundred leagues; but Pasqualigo, writing to Venice, gives it at seven hundred leagues, equivalent to two thousand two hundred twenty-six miles, which is very nearly the distance between Bristol and Cape Breton as now estimated.

All these circumstances concerning the first voyage are derived from John Cabot's own reports, and are extracted from documents dated previous to the return of the second expedition, and therefore are, of necessity, free from admixture with extraneous incidents. Antonio Galvano, an experienced Portuguese sailor and cosmographer, writing in 1563, like the others, knows of one voyage only, which he fixes in 1496. He interweaves, like them, in his narrative many circumstances of the second voyage, but it is important to note that from some independent source is given the landfall at 45°, the latitude very nearly of Cape Breton, on the island of Cape Breton. Another point is also recorded in the letters that, on the return voyage, Cabot passed two islands to the right, which the shortness of his provisions prevented him from examining. This note should not be considered identical with the statement recorded by Soncino in his first letter, for this last writer evidently means to indicate the land which Cabot found and examined; he says that Cabot discovered two large and fertile islands, but the two islands of Pasqualigo were passed without examination. They were probably the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon; but that John Cabot had no idea of a northward voyage at that time in his mind would appear from his intention to sail farther to the east on his next voyage until he reached the longitude of Cipango. Moreover, the reward recorded in the King's privy-purse accounts "to hym that founde the new ile," and the wording, thrice repeated, of the second letters-patent, "the land and isles of late found by the said John," indicate that it was not at that time known whether the mainland of Cathay had been reached, or, as in the discoveries of Columbus, islands upon the coast of Asia.

From the preceding narrative, based solely upon documents written within twelve months of the event—which documents are records of statements taken from the lips of John Cabot, the chief actor, at the very time of his return from the first voyage—it will, I trust, appear that in 1497, at a time of year when the ice was not clear from the coasts of Labrador, he discovered a part of America in a temperate climate, and that this was done without the name of Sebastian Cabot once coming to the surface, excepting when it appears in the patent of 1496, together with the names of Lewis and Sancio, his brothers. While the circumstances recorded are incompatible with a landfall at Labrador, they do not exclude the possibility of a landfall on the eastern coast of Newfoundland, which is so varied in its character as to correspond with almost any conditions likely to be found in a landfall on the American coast; but inasmuch as, from other reasons, it will, I think, appear that the landfall was at Cape Breton, it will be a shorter process to prove by a positive argument where it was than to show by a negative argument where it was not.

I might here borrow the quaint phrase of Herodotus and say, "Now I have done speaking of" John Cabot. He has, beyond doubt, discovered the eastern coast of this our Canada, and he has organized a second expedition, and he has sailed in command. Forthwith, upon such sailing, he vanishes utterly, and his second son, Sebastian, both of his brothers having in some unknown way also vanished, emerges, and from henceforth becomes the whole Cabot family. It behooves us, therefore, if we wish to grasp the whole subject, to inquire what manner of man he was.

Sebastian Cabot was born in Venice, and, when still very young, was taken to England with the rest of his family by his father. He was then, however, old enough to have learned the humanities and the properties of the sphere, and to this latter knowledge he became so addicted that he, early in life, formed fixed ideas. He is probably entitled to the merit of having urged the practical application of the truths that the shortest course from point to point upon the globe lies upon a great circle, and also that the great circle uniting Western Europe with Cathay passes over the north pole. This fixed idea of the younger Cabot pervaded all his life and shows in all his reported conversations. He adhered to it with the pertinacity of a Columbus, and, in his later life after his return to England, his efforts, which in youth were directed to a northwest passage, went out toward a northeast passage to Cathay. John Cabot's genius was more practical, as the second letter of Raimondo di Soncino shows. His intention was to occupy on the second voyage the landfall he had made and then push on to the east (west, as we call it now) and south. The diversion of that expedition to the coast of Labrador would indicate that the death of the elder Cabot and the assumption of command by his son occurred early in the voyage. Sebastian Cabot seems to have been not so much a great sailor as a great nautical theorizer. Gomara says he discovered nothing for Spain; and beyond doubt his expedition to La Plata cannot be considered successful, for it was intended to reach the Moluccas. One fixed idea of his life was the course to Cathay by the north. That idea he monopolized to himself. He overvalued its importance and thought to be the Columbus of a new highway to the east. Hence he may have underrated his father's achievements as he brooded over what he considered to be his own great secret. He theorized on the sphere and he theorized on the variation of the compass, and he theorized on a method of finding longitude by the variation of the needle; so that even Richard Eden, who greatly admired him, wrote as follows: "Sebastian Cabot on his death-bed told me that he had the knowledge thereof (longitude by variation) by divine revelation, yet so that he might not teach any man. But I thinke that the goode olde man in that extreme age somewhat doted, and had not, yet even in the article of death, utterly shaken off all worldlye vaine glorie." These words would seem to contain the solution of most of the mystery of the suppression of John Cabot's name in the narratives of Peter Martyr, Ramusio, Gomara, and all the other writers who derived their information from Sebastian Cabot during his long residence in Spain.

And now we may pass on to the consideration of the second voyage; and first among the writers, in order of time as also in order of importance, is Peter Martyr of Anghiera, who published his Decades of the New World in 1516. Sebastian Cabot had then been in Spain for four years, high in office and in royal favor. Peter Martyr was his "familiar friend and comrade," and tells the Pope, to whom these Decades were addressed as letters, that he wrote from information derived from Cabot's own lips. Here, I venture to think, many of the writers on this subject have gone astray; for the whole question changes. Martyr knows of only one voyage, and that was beyond doubt the voyage of 1498; he knows of only one discoverer, and that the man from whose lips he writes the narrative. The landfall is far north, in a region of ice and perpetual daylight. At the very outset the subject is stated to be "those northern seas," and then Peter Martyr goes on to say that Sebastian Cabot furnished two ships at his own charges; and that, with three hundred men, he sailed toward the north pole, where he saw land, and that then he was compelled to turn westward; and after that he coasted to the south until he reached the latitude of Gibraltar; and that he was west of the longitude of Cuba. In other words, he struck land far in the north, and from that point he sailed south along the coast as far as Cape Hatteras. That Labrador was the landfall seems clear; for he met large masses of ice in the month of July. These were not merely the bergs of the western ocean, but masses of field-ice, which compelled him to change his course from north to west, and finally to turn southward. The same writer states that Cabot himself named a portion of the great land he coasted "Baccalaos," because of the quantity of fish, which was so great that they hindered the sailing of his ships, and that these fishes were called baccalaos by the natives. This statement has given rise to much dispute. As to the quantity of fish, all succeeding writers concur that it was immense beyond conception; and probably the swarming of the salmon up the rivers of our Pacific coast may afford a parallel; but that Cabot did not so name the country is abundantly clear. A very exhaustive note on the word will be found at page 131 of Dr. Bourinot's Cape Breton.

Bearing in mind the preceding considerations, the study of the early maps will become profitable, and I would now direct attention to them to ascertain what light they may throw upon the landfall of John Cabot and the island of St. John opposite to it. It must be remembered that John Cabot took the time to go on shore at his landfall, and planted the banners of England and St. Mark there. At that time of year and in that latitude it was light at half-past three, but it was five when he saw land, and he had to reach it and perform the ceremonies appropriate for such occasions; so the island opposite could not be far away. The island, then, will be useful to identify the landfall if we find it occurring frequently on the succeeding maps.

Don Pedro de Ayala, joint Spanish ambassador at London, wrote, on July 25, 1498, to his sovereigns that he had procured and would send a copy of John Cabot's chart of his first voyage. This map of Juan de la Cosa is evidence that Ayala fulfilled his promise. It is a manuscript map made at the end of the year 1500, by the eminent Biscayan pilot, who, if not the equal of Columbus in nautical and cosmographical knowledge, was easily the second to him. Upon it there is a continuous coast line from Labrador to Florida, showing that the claim made by Sebastian Cabot of having coasted from a region of ice and snow to the latitude of Gibraltar was accepted as true by La Cosa, whatever later Spanish writers may have said. Recent writers of authority have arrived at the conclusion that, immediately after Columbus and Cabot had opened the way, many independent adventurers visited the western seas; for there are a number of geographical facts recorded on the earliest charts not easy to account for on any other hypothesis. Dr. Justin Winsor shows that La Cosa, and others of the great sailors of the earliest years of discovery, soon recognized that they had encountered a veritable barrier to Asia, consisting of islands, or an island of continental size, through which they had to find a passage to the golden East. Their views were not, however, generally accepted.

That La Cosa based the northern part of his map upon Cabot's discoveries is demonstrated by the English flags marked along the coast and the legend "Mar descubierto por Ingleses," because no English but the Cabot expeditions had been there; and what is evidently intended for Cape Race is called "Cavo de Ynglaterra." The English flags mark off the coast from that cape to what may be considered as Cape Hatteras. Cabot, as before stated, confidently expected to reach Cathay. He sailed for that as his objective point, and he was looking for a broad western ocean, so that narrow openings were to him simply bays of greater or less depth. The sailors of those early voyages coasted from headland to headland, as plainly appears from many of the maps upon which the recesses of the sinuosities of the coast are not completed lines, and it must be borne in mind that in sailing between Newfoundland and Cape Breton the bold and peculiar contours of both can be seen at the same time. This is possible in anything like clear weather, but, in the bright weather of Midsummer Day, Cape Ray would necessarily have been seen from St. Paul's, and the opening might well have been taken for a deep indentation of the coast. Between "Cavo descubierto" and "Cavo St. Jorge" such an indentation is shown on the map, but the line is closed, showing that Cabot did not sail through.

Cavo descubierto ("the Discovered Cape"), and, close to it, "Mar descubierto por Ingleses!" What can be more evident than that the spot where Europeans first touched the American continent is thus indicated? Why otherwise should it especially be called "the Discovered Cape" if not because this cape was first discovered? It is stated elsewhere that on the same day, opposite the land, an island was also discovered; and in fact upon the Madrid fac-simile two small islands are found, one of which is near Cavo descubierto. The name "the Discovered Cape" at the extreme end of a series of names tells its own story. Cabot overran Cape Race and went south of St. Pierre and Miquelon without seeing them, and, continuing on a westerly course, hit Cape Breton at its most easterly point. An apt illustration occurs in a voyage made by the ship Bonaventure in 1591, recorded in Hakluyt. She overshot Cape Race without knowing it and came to the soundings on the bank south of St. Peter's, where they found twenty fathoms, and then the course was set northwest by north for Cape Ray. The course was sharply altered toward a definite and known point, but, if he did not see Cape Race, not knowing what was before him, Cabot would have had no object in abruptly altering his course, but, continuing his westerly course, would strike the east point of Cape Breton. That point, then, and not Cape North, would be "the Discovered Cape"—the prima vista—and there, not far off "over against the land," "opposite the land" (exadverso), he would find Scatari Island, which would be the island of St. John, so continually attendant on Cape Breton upon the succeeding maps. If this theory be accepted, all becomes clear, and the little Matthew, having achieved success, having demonstrated the existence of Cathay within easy reach of England, returned home, noticing and naming the salient features of the south coast of Newfoundland. She had not too much time to do it, for she was back in Bristol in thirty-four days at most. This theory is further confirmed by the circumstance recorded by Pasqualigo that, as Cabot returned, he saw two islands on the right which he had not time to examine, being short of provisions. These islands would be St. Pierre and Miquelon; for there are two, and only two, important islands possible to be seen at the right on the south coast of Newfoundland on the homeward course. La Cosa, beside the two small islands above noted, has marked on his map three larger islands, I. de la Trinidad, S. Grigor, and I. Verde, but they are not laid down on the map in the places of St. Pierre and Miquelon, nor are there any islands existing in the positions shown. I. de la Trinidad is doubtless the peninsula of Burin, as would appear by its position almost in contact with the land, and its very peculiar shape. In coasting along, it would appear as an island, for the isthmus is very narrow, and St. Pierre and Miquelon would be clearly seen as islands on the right. As for the bearings of the coast, it will appear by a comparison with Champlain's large map that they are compass bearings, for they are the same on both.

I have dwelt at length upon the map of La Cosa, because, for our northern coasts, it is in effect John Cabot's map. After the return of the second expedition, the English made a few voyages, but soon fell back into the old rut of their Iceland trade. The expedition was beyond question a commercial failure, and therefore, like the practical people they are, they neglected that new continent which was destined to become the chief theatre for the expansion of their race. Their fishermen were for many years to be found in small numbers only on the coast, and, as before, their supply of codfish was drawn from Iceland, where they could sell goods in exchange.

Meantime the Bretons and Normans, and the Basques of France and Spain, and the Portuguese grasped that which England practically abandoned. That landfall which Cabot gave her in 1497 cost much blood and treasure to win back in 1758. The French fishermen were on the coast as early as 1504, and the names on La Cosa's map were displaced by French names still surviving on the south coast and on what is called the "French shore" of Newfoundland. Robert Thorne in 1527—and no doubt others unrecorded—in vain urged upon the English government to vindicate its right. According to the papal bulls and the treaty of Tordesillas, the new lands were Portuguese east of a meridian three hundred seventy leagues west of the Cape de Verd Islands and Spanish to the west of it. Baccalaos and Labrador were considered to be Portuguese; and, upon the maps, when any mention is made of English discoveries they are accordingly relegated to Greenland or the far north of Labrador. The whole claim of England went by abandonment and default. The Portuguese, as the Rev. Dr. Patterson has shown, named all the east coast of Newfoundland, and their traces are even yet found on the coasts of Nova Scotia and of Cape Breton.

Therefore it is that the maps we have now to refer to are not so much Spanish as Portuguese. They will tell us nothing of the English, nor of Cabot, but we shall be able to follow his island of St. John—the only one of his names which survived. The outlines of some very early maps are given by Kunstmann, Kretschmer, and Winsor, but until 1505 they have no bearing upon our problem. In that year Reinel's map was made, and, although Newfoundland forms part of terra firma, the openings north and south of it are plainly indicated by unclosed lines. Cape Race has received its permanent name, "Raso" and, although only the east coast of Newfoundland is named, there is no possibility of mistaking the easternmost point of Cape Breton. Just opposite (ex adverso) is laid down and named the island of Sam Joha, in latitude 46°, the precise latitude of Scatari Island. Here, then, in 1505, is in this island of St. John an independent testimony to the landfall of 1497—not off Cape North, which does not yet appear, nor inside the gulf, for it is not even indicated—but in the Atlantic Ocean, at the cape of Cape Breton—the "Cavo descubierto" of La Cosa.

I have not considered it necessary to prove that if Cabot's landfall were Cape North he could not have discovered the low lying shore of Prince Edward Island on the same day. I have preferred to show that Prince Edward Island was not known as an island and did not appear on any map for one hundred years after John Cabot's death. If Cabot had possessed a modern map, and had been looking for Prince Edward Island, and had pushed on without landing at the north cape of Cape Breton, and had shaped his course southward, he might have seen it in a long Midsummer Day, but Cabot did not press on. He landed and examined the country, and found close to it St. John's Island, which he also examined. Upon that easternmost point of this Nova Scotian land of our common country John Cabot planted the banner of St. George on June 24, 1497, more than one year before Columbus set foot upon the main continent of America, and now, after four hundred years, despite all the chances and changes of this Western World, that banner is floating there, a witness to our existing union with our distant mother-land across the ocean.


A.D. 1498

The same goal which attracted the Spaniards westward drew the Portuguese south, the desire to find a sea route to India, and thus garner the enormous profits of the trade in spices and other Indian wealth. In the early years of the fifteenth century the Portuguese, overshadowed by the Spanish kingdom, which almost enclosed their country, realized that they could extend their territory only by colonizing beyond seas. They began, therefore, to send out expeditions, and in 1410 discovered the island of Madeira. Soon afterward discoveries were undertaken by Prince Henry, called the "Navigator," whose whole life was given to these enterprises. Before his death, 1460, his Portuguese mariners, in successive voyages, had worked their way well down the western coast of Africa. In 1462 an expedition reached Sierra Leone, almost half way down the continent. Nine years later the equator was passed, and in 1486 Bartholomew Dias sailed around the southern point of Africa, which he had been sent to discover. On his return voyage, 1487, he found the Cape of Good Hope, having before doubled it without knowing that he had done so.[2]

To Portuguese navigators the way to India by this route was soon made clear. In 1497 Vasco da Gama was placed by King Emanuel I of Portugal in command of an expedition of three small ships sent to discover such a route. He sailed from Lisbon in July of that year, in November doubled the Cape of Good Hope, arrived at Calicut, on the Malabar coast of India, in May, 1498, and in September, 1499, returned to Lisbon. He was accompanied by his brother Paulo, who, with other of the celebrated navigator's companions, appears in the following account of this great achievement. The quaint narrative was written by the chronicler who accompanied the expedition in person.

The ships being equipped and ready, one Sunday the King went with Queen Dona Maria to hear mass, which was said pontifically by the bishop Calcadilha, who also made a discourse in praise of the voyage, and holy design of the King in regard to the new discovery which he was commanding to be made; and he called upon the people to pray to the Lord that the voyage might be for his holy service, and for the exalting of his holy faith, and for the increase of the good and honor of the kingdom of Portugal. At the mass the good brothers Da Gama and their associates were present, richly dressed, and the King showed them great honor and favor, as they stood close to the curtain, where also were the principal lords of the realm and gentlemen of the court. Mass being over, the King came out from the curtain and spoke to the captains, who placed themselves on their knees before him; and they spoke to him, saying:

"Sire, the honor we are receiving from your highness is so great that with a hundred bodies and lives which we might expend in your service we never could repay the least part of it, since greater honors were never shown by a sovereign to his vassals than you have shown us, as the great prince, king, and lord that you are, with such magnanimity and honor that, if at this very moment we should die, our lineage should remain in the highest degree of honor which is possible, only because your highness has chosen and sent us for this work, while you have so many and such noble vassals to whom to commit it; for which we are already recompensed before rendering this service, and until we end our lives in performing it. For this we beg of the mercy of the Lord, that he direct us, and we may perform such works that he, the Lord, and your highness also, may be served in some measure in this so great favor that has been shown us, as he knows that such is our desire; and should we not be deserving to serve him in this voyage, and so holy undertaking, may the Lord be pleased though we may pay with our lives for our shortcomings in the work. We promise your highness that our lives will be the matters of least moment that we shall adventure in this so great favor that has been shown us, and that we will not return before your highness with our lives in our bodies without bringing some certain information of that which your highness desires."

And they all again kissed the hands of the King and of the Queen. Then the King came forth from the cathedral and went to his palace, which then was in the residence of the alcazar in the castle. There went before him the captains, and before them the standard which was carried by their ensign in whom they trusted, and on arriving at the palace the King dismissed them, and they again kissed his and the Queen's hand. Vasco da Gama on a horse, with all the men of the fleet on foot, richly dressed in liveries, and accompanied by all the gentlemen of the court, went down to the wharf on the bank, and embarked in their boats, and the standard went in that of Paulo da Gama. Then, taking leave of the gentlemen, they went to the ships, and on their arrival they fired all their artillery, and the ships were dressed out gayly with standards and flags and many ornaments, and the royal standard was at once placed at the top of the mast of Paulo da Gama; for so Vasco da Gama commanded. Discharging all their artillery, they loosened the sails, and went beating to windward on the river of Lisbon, tacking until they came to anchor at Belen, where they remained three days waiting for a wind to go out.

There they made a muster of the crews, and the King was there all the time in the monastery, where all confessed and communicated. The King commanded that they should write down in a book all the men of each ship by name, with the names of their fathers, mothers, and wives of the married men, and the places of which they were native; and the King ordered that this book should be preserved in the House of the Mines, in order that the payments which were due should be made upon their return. The King also ordered that a hundred crusadoes should be paid to each of the married men for them to leave it to their wives, and forty crusadoes to each of the single men, for them to fit themselves out with certain things; for, as to provisions, they had not got to lay them in, for the ships were full of them. To the two brothers was paid a gratification of two thousand crusadoes to each of them, and a thousand to Nicolas Coelho.

When it was the day of our Lady of March (the 25, 1497), all heard mass; they then embarked, and loosened the sails, and went forth from the river, the King coming out to accompany them in his boat, and addressing them all with blessings and good wishes. When he took leave of them, his boat lay on its oars until they disappeared, as is shown in the painting of his city of Lisbon. Vasco da Gama went in the ship São Rafael, and Paulo da Gama in the São Gabriel, and Nicolas Coelho in the other ship, São Miguel. In each ship there were as many as eighty men, officers and seamen, and the others of the leader's family, servants and relations, all filled with the desire to undertake the labor that was fitting for each, and with great trust in the favors which they hoped for from the King on their return to Portugal.

Paulo da Gama, as he went out with the Lisbon river, hauled down the royal standard from the masthead; but at the great supplications of his brother, who gave him good reasons why it was fitting that he should carry it, he again hoisted it. The two companions, standing out to sea, as I have said, made their way toward Cape Verd, and for that purpose they stood well out to sea to make the coast, which they knew they would find, as it advanced much to seaward, as they learned from the sailors who had been in the caravels of Janinfante. They ran as far as they could to sea in the direction of the wind, to double the land without difficulty; and thus they navigated until they made the coast, and, having reconnoitred it, they tacked and stood out to sea, hauling on the bowline as much as they could, as so they ran for many days.

And as it seemed to them that now they could double the land, they again tacked toward the coast, also on the bowline, against the wind, until they again saw the coast, much farther on than where the caravels had reached, which the masters knew from the soundings which they got written down from the voyage of Janinfante, and the days which they found to have less sun by the clocks. Having well ascertained this, they stood out again to sea; thus forcing the ships to windward, they went so far out to the sea toward the south that there was almost not six hours of sunlight in the day; and the wind was very powerful, so that the sea was very fearful to see, without ever being smooth either by day or night, but they always met with storms, so that the crews suffered much hardship. After a month that they had run on this tack, they stood into shore and went as long as they could, all praying to the Lord that they might have doubled beyond the land; but when they again saw it they were very sad, though they found themselves much advanced by the signs of the soundings which the pilots took, and they saw land of another shape which they had not before seen.

Seeing that the coast ran out to sea, the masters and pilots were in great confusion, and doubtful of standing out again to sea, saying that the land went across the sea and had no end to it. This being heard of by Vasco da Gama—according, as it was presumed, to the information he had from the Jew Zacuto—he told the pilots that they should not imagine such a thing, and that without doubt they would find the end of that land, and beyond it much sea and lands to run by, and he said to them: "I assure you that the cape is very near, and, with another tack standing out to sea, when you return you will find the cape doubled." This Vasco da Gama said to encourage them, because he saw that they were much disheartened, and with the inclination to wish to put back to Portugal. So he ordered them to put the ships about to sea, which they did, much against their will; for which reason Vasco da Gama determined to stand on this tack so long as to be able to double the end of the land, and besought all not to take account of their labors, since for that purpose they had ventured upon them; and that they should put their trust in the Lord that they would double the cape.

Thus he gave them great encouragement, without ever sleeping or taking repose, but always taking part with them in hardship, coming up at the boatswain's pipe as they all did. So they went on standing out to sea till they found it all broken up with the storm, with enormous waves and darkness. As the days were very short, it always seemed night; the masts and shrouds were stayed, because with the fury of the sea the ships seemed every moment to be going to pieces. The crews grew sick with fear and hardship, because also they could not prepare their food, and all clamored for putting back to Portugal, and that they did not choose to die like stupid people who sought death with their own hands; thus they made clamor and lamentation, of which there was much more in other ships. But the captains excused themselves, saying that they would do nothing except what Vasco da Gama did; and he and his companions underwent great labor.

As he was a very choleric man, at times with angry words he made them be silent, although he well saw how much reason they had at every moment to despair of their lives; and they had been going for about two months on that tack, and the masters and pilots cried out to him to take another tack; but the captain-major did not choose, though the ships were now letting in much water, by which their labors were doubled, because the days were short and the nights long, which caused them increased fear of death; and at this time they met with such cold rains that the men could not move. All cried out to God for mercy upon their souls, for now they no longer took heed of their lives. It now seemed to Vasco da Gama that the time was come for making another tack, and he comforted himself very angrily, swearing that if they did not double the cape he would stand out to sea again as many times until the cape was doubled, or there should happen whatever should please God. For which reason, from fear of this, the masters took much more trouble to advance as much as they could; and they took more heart on nearing the land, and escaping from the tempest of the sea; and all called upon God for mercy, and to give them guidance, when they saw themselves out of such great dangers.

Thus approaching the land, they found their labor less and the seas calmer, so they went on running for a long time, steering so as to make the land and to ease the ships, which they were better able to do at night when the captain slept, which the other ships did also, as they followed the lantern which Vasco da Gama carried; at night the ships showed lights to one another so as not to part company. Seeing how much they had run, and did not find the land, they sailed larger so as to make it; and as they did not find it, and as the sea and wind were moderate, they knew they had doubled the cape; on which great joy fell among them, and they gave great praise to the Lord on seeing themselves delivered from death. The pilots continued to sail more free, spreading all the sails; and, running in this manner, one morning they sighted some mountain peaks which seemed to touch the clouds; at which their pleasure was so great that all wept with joy, and all devoutly on their knees said the Salve. After running all day till night, they were not able to reach it, and discovered great mountain ridges; so, as it was night, they ran along the coast, which lay from east to west; and they took in all the sails, only running under large sails, for these were the orders of the captain-major.

The next day at dawn they again set all the sails and ran to the land, so that at midday they saw a beach which was all rocky, and, running along it, they saw deep creeks, and such large bays that they could not see the land at the end of them; they also found the mouths of great rivers, from which water came forth to the sea with a powerful current; here also, near the land, they found many fish, which they killed with fish-spears. The watchmen in the tops were always on the lookout to see if there were shoals ahead. The crews grew sick with fever from the fish which they ate, on which account they ate no more. The pilots, on heaving the lead, found no bottom; so they ran on for three days, and at night they kept away from the land and shortened sail.

Sailing in this manner, they fell in with the mouth of a large river, and the captain-major ordered a boat to be lowered, and the pilot to sound the entrance of the river; and he said it was superfluous, because if there was a shoal it would be burst through. Then they took in the sails, excepting the great one with which they entered the river, which was very large; and they went up it, the boat going before and sounding, and, approaching land, where they found twelve fathoms, they anchored. There they found very good fish, for the river was of fresh water; but in the whole of the river they found no beach, for there was nothing but rocks and crags. Then Vasco da Gama went to see his brother, and so did Nicolas Coelho, and they all dined with great satisfaction, talking of the hardships they had gone through.

When they had finished dining, Vasco da Gama ordered Nicolas Coelho to go in his boat up the river to see if he found any village. He went up more than five leagues, without finding anything besides many streams which came from between the mountains to pour into the river; there were no woods in the country, nothing but stones on both sides of the river; upon which he returned to the captain-major. Then the following day, before the morning, Vasco da Gama again ordered Nicolas Coelho to go in a boat with sails and oars, and with provisions to eat, and told him to go as far as the head of the river, to see if he could find anyone to speak to, to learn what country they were in. He went up the river a distance of more than twenty leagues, and returned without having found anything.

Then they decided on going out again, and they took in water and wood of the dry trees, which it seems the river brings down when it comes from the mountain. On that account the captain-major wished himself in person to discover the river up to its head, to see whence could come those trees which they found there dry, but the masters said this would be a labor without profit, and that they ought to go out of the river and make for the country which they wished to seek, and they would find it. This seemed good to the captain-major, and they came out of the river, with much labor, as the wind was contrary and entered the mouth of the river. The strong current of the river, which went out to sea, alone assisted them, and with it they went outside without sails, only towing with the boats which guided them.

When the ships returned to sea they ran along the coast with great precaution, and a good lookout not to run upon any shoals, and they entered other great rivers and bays; and they explored everywhere and searched without ever being able to meet with people, nor boats in the seas, for all the country was uninhabited; and in entering and leaving the rivers they endured much fatigue, and were much vexed at not being able to learn in what country they were. With these detentions and delays they wasted much time, and spent all the summer of that country, so they had to run along the coast because winds were favorable for going ahead, for they were westerly. And because they found everything desolate, without people by land or sea, they agreed unanimously not to enter any more rivers, but to run ahead, and thus they did; for by day they ran under full sail, drawing so near to the land as possible to see if they could make out any village or beach, which as yet they had not seen; and by night they stood away to sea and ran under shortened sail. Navigating in this manner, the wind began to moderate, and fell calm altogether, which happened in November, when they had to struggle with another wind, with which they stood out to sea, fearing some contrary storm might arise; then, taking in all sail, they lay waiting for the springing up of another wind, so they went increasing their distance from the land till they lost sight of it; for the wind increased continually, and the sea rose greatly, for then the winter of that country was setting in.

The masters, seeing that the weather was freshening, took counsel as to returning to land and putting into some river until meeting with a change of weather. This they did, and, putting about to the land, the wind increased so much that they were afraid of not finding a river in which to shelter, and of being lost. On which account they again stood out to sea, and made ready the ships to meet the storm which they saw rising every moment, so that the water should not come in, with ropes made fast to the masts, and with the shrouds passed over the yards so that the masts should remain more secure; and they took away all the pannels from the tops, and the sails, so as not to hold the wind; the small sails and the lower sails all struck, and with the foresails only they prepared to weather the storm.

Seeing the weather in this state, the pilot and master told the captain-major that they had great fear on account of the weather because it was becoming a tempest, and the ships were weak, and that they thought they ought to put in to land and run along the coast and return to seek the great river into which they had first entered, because the wind was blowing that way, and they could enter it for all that there was a storm. But when the captain-major heard of turning backward he answered them that they should not speak such words, because, as he was going out of the bar at Lisbon, he had promised to God in his heart not to turn back a single span's breadth of the way which he had made; that on that account they should not speak in that wise, as he would throw into the sea whomsoever spoke such things. At which the crew, in despair, abandoned themselves to the chances of the sea, which was broken up with the increase of the tempest and rising of the gale, which many times chopped round, and blew from all parts, and at times fell; so that the ships were in great peril from their great laboring in the waves, which ran very high. Then the storm would again break with such fury that the seas rose toward the sky, and fell back in heavy showers which flooded the ships. The storm raging thus violently, the danger was doubled; for suddenly the wind died out, so that the ships lay dead between the waves, lurching so heavily that they took in water on both sides; and the men made themselves fast not to fall from one side to the other; and everything in the ships was breaking up, so that all cried to God for mercy.

Before long the sea came in with more violence, which increased their misfortune, with the great difficulty of working the pumps; for they were taking in much water, which entered both above and below; so they had no repose for either soul or body, and the crews began to sicken and die of their great hardships. At this the pilot and masters and all the people poured out cries and lamentations to the captains, urgently requiring them to put back and seek an escape from death, which they were certain of meeting with by their own will if they did not put about. To which the captains gave no other reply than that they would do no such thing unless the captain-major did it. The captain-major, seeing the clamors of his crew, answered them with brave words, saying that he had already told them that backward he would not go, even though he saw a hundred deaths before his eyes; thus he had vowed to God; and let them look to it that it was not reasonable that they should lose all the labors which they had gone through up to this time; that the Lord, who had delivered them until now, would have mercy upon them; they should remember that they had already doubled the Cape of Storms and were in the region which they had come to seek, to discover India, on accomplishing which, and returning to Portugal, they would gain such great honor and recompenses from the King of Portugal for their children; and they should put their trust in God, who is merciful, and who, from one hour to another, would come with his mercy and give them fair weather, and that they should not talk like people who distrusted the mercy of God. But, although the captain-major always spoke to them these and other words of great encouragement, they did not cease from their loud clamor and protestations that he would give an account to God of their deaths of which he would be the cause, and of the leaving desolate their wives and children; all this accompanied by weeping and cries, and calls to God for mercy.

While they went on this way with their souls in their mouths, the sea began to go down a little, and the wind also, so that the ships could approach to speak one another, and all clamored with loud cries that they should put about to seek some place where they could refit the ships, as they could not keep them afloat with the pumps. The crews of the other ships spoke with more audacity, saying that the captain-major was but one man, and they were many; and they feared death, while the captains did not fear it, nor took any account of losing their lives. The captain-major chose that the two other ships should know his design, and he said and swore by the life of the King his sovereign that from the spot where he then was he had not to turn back one span's breadth, even though the ships were laden with gold, unless he got information of that which they had come to seek, and that even if he had near there a very good port he would not go ashore, lest some of them should retire to a certain death on shore, allowing themselves to remain there, rather than go on with the ships trusting to the mercy of God, in which they had such small reliance that they made such exclamations from the weakness of their hearts, as if they were not Portuguese; on which account he would undeceive them all, for to Portugal they would not return unless they brought word to the King of that which he had so strongly commended to them, and that he took the same account of death as did any one of them.

While they were at this point a sudden wind arose, with so great a concussion of thunder and darkness, and a stronger blast than they had yet experienced, and the sea rose so much that the ships could not see one another, except when they were upheaved by the seas, when they seemed to be among the clouds. They hung out lights so as not to part company, for the anxiety and fear which the captain-major felt was the losing one of the ships from his company, so that the seamen would put back to Portugal by force, as, indeed, they had very much such a desire in their hearts.

But the captains took very great care of this, because Vasco da Gama, before going out to Lisbon, when conversing alone with the Jew Zacuto in the monastery, had received from him much information as to what he should do during his voyage, and especially recommendations of great watchfulness never to let the ships part company, because if they separated it would be the certain destruction of all of them.

Vasco da Gama took great care of this, personally, and by means of his servants and relations in whom he trusted; and this they attended to with much greater solicitude after they heard the sailors say that they were many, and the captains only a few single men, and in fact they had in their minds such an intention of rising up against the captains, and by force putting back to Portugal, and they thought that, if it became necessary to arrest them for this and bring them before the King, he would have mercy upon them, and, should they not find mercy, they preferred rather to die there where their wives and children and fathers were, and in their native country, and not in the sea to be eat by the fishes. With such thoughts they all spoke to one another secretly, determining to carry it out, and trusting that the King would not hang them all for the good reasons which they would give him; or else to secure their lives they would go to Castile until they were pardoned. This was the greatest insolence they were guilty of; and so they decided upon executing their plan. In taking this decision they did not perceive the danger of death, into which they were going more than ever.

In the ship of Nicolas Coelho there was a sailor who had a brother who lived with Nicolas Coelho, and was foster-brother of a son of his; and the sailor brother told this boy of what they had all determined to do. This boy, being very discreet, said to his brother that they should all preserve great secrecy, so as not to be found out, for it was a case of treason, and he warned his brother not to tell anyone that he had mentioned such a thing to him. The boy, on account of the affection which he had for his master Nicolas Coelho, discovered the matter to him in secret, and he at once gave the boy a serious warning to be very discreet in this matter, that they should not perceive that he had told him anything of the kind. With the firm determination which Nicolas Coelho at once formed to die sooner than allow himself to be seized upon, he became very vigilant both by day and night, and warned the boy to try to learn with much dissimulation all that they wanted to do and by what means. The boy told him that they would not do it unless they could first concert with the other ships, so that they all should mutiny; at that Nicolas Coelho remained more at ease, but was always very much on his guard for himself.

As the storm did not abate, but rather seemed to increase, and as the cries and clamor of the people were very great, beseeching him to put back, Nicolas Coelho dissembled with them, saying: "Brothers, let us strive to save ourselves from this storm, for I promise you that as soon as I can get speech with the captain-major I will require him to put back, and you will see how I will require it of him." With this they remained satisfied. Some days having passed thus with heavy storms, the Lord was pleased to assuage the tempest a little and the sea grew calm, so that the ships could speak one another; and Nicolas Coelho, coming up to speak, shouted to the captain-major that "it would be well to put about, since every moment they had death before their eyes, and so many men who went in their company were so piteously begging with tears and cries to put back the ships. And if we do not choose to do so, it would be well if the men should kill or arrest us, and then they would put back or go where it was convenient to save their lives; which we also ought to do. If we do not do it, let each one look out for himself, for thus I do for my part, and for my conscience' sake, for I would not have to give an account of it to the Lord."

Paulo da Gama, who also had come up within speaking distance, heard all this. When they had heard these words of Nicolas Coelho, who, on ending his speech, at once begun to move away, the captain-major answered him that he would hold a consultation with the pilot and his crew, and that, whatever he determined to do, he would make a signal to him of his resolution. During this time they lay hove to in the smooth water, because the wind never changed from its former point. Vasco da Gama, as he was very quick-witted, at once understood what Nicolas Coelho's words meant, and called together all the crew, and said to them that he was not so valiant as not to have the fear of death like themselves, neither was he so cruel as not to feel grieved at heart at seeing their tears and lamentations, but that he did not wish to have to give account to God for their lives, and for that reason he begged them to labor for their safety, because if the bad weather came again he had determined to put back, but, to disculpate himself with the King, it was incumbent upon him to draw up a document of the reasons for putting back, with their signatures.

At this they all raised their hands to heaven, saying that its mercy was already descending upon them, since it was softening the heart of the captain-major and inclining him to put back, and they said they all would sign the great service which he would render to God and to the King by putting back. Then the captain-major said that there was no need of the signatures of all, but only of those who best understood the business of the sea. Then the pilot and master named them, and they were three seamen. Upon this the captain-major retired to his cabin, and told his servants to stand at the door of the cabin, and put inside the clerks to draw up the document, and ordered the three seamen to enter; and, dissembling, he made inquiries as to returning to port, and all was written down and they signed it. He then ordered them to go down below to another cabin which he had beneath his own for a store-cabin, and he ordered the clerk to go down also with them, and he summoned the master and pilot and ordered them below also, telling them to go and sign, as the clerk was there.

Then he called up the seamen, one by one, and ordered them to be put in irons by his servants in his cabin, and heavy irons for the master and pilot. All being well ironed and bound, the captain-major turned them out, and called all the men, ordering the master and pilot at once to give up to him all the articles which they had belonging to the art of navigation, or, if not, that he would at once execute them. Being greatly afraid they gave everything up to him. Then Vasco da Gama, holding the instruments all in his hand, flung them into the sea and said: "See here, men, that you have neither master nor pilot, nor anyone to show you the way from henceforward, because these men whom I have arrested will return to Portugal below the deck, if they do not die before that [for he was aware that they had agreed among one another to rise up and return by force to Portugal, and on that account had cast everything into the sea]; and I do not require master nor pilot, nor any man who knows the art of navigation, because God alone is the master and pilot who has to guide and deliver us by his mercy if we deserve it, and, if not, let his will be done. To him you must commend yourselves and beg mercy. Henceforward let no one speak to me of putting back, for know from me for a certainty that, if I do not find information of what I have come to seek, to Portugal I do not return."

Seeing and hearing these things, the crew became much more terrified, and with much greater fear of death, which they held as certain, not having either pilot or master, nor anyone who knew how to navigate a ship. Then the prisoners and all the crew on their knees begged him for mercy, with loud cries; the prisoners saying that they, being ignorant men and of faint heart, had come to an understanding to put the ship about and return to the King and offer themselves for death, if he chose to give it them, and they would have taken him a prisoner, that the King might see that he was not to blame for putting back; but this was not to have been done, except with the will of all the people of the other ships; but since God had discovered this to him before they had carried it out, let him show them clemency; for well they saw that they deserved death from him, which was more than the chains which they bore. All the crew frequently called out to him for clemency, and not to put the prisoners below the decks, where they would soon die. Then the captain-major, showing that he only did it at their entreaty, and not for any need which he had of them, ordered them to remain in their cabins in the forecastle, still in irons, and forbade their giving any directions for the navigation of the ship, except only for the trimming of the sails and the work of the ship.

Vasco da Gama then ran alongside of the other ships and spoke them, saying that he had put his pilot and master in irons, in which he would bring them back to the kingdom, if God pleased that they should return there; and, that they should not imagine that he had any need of their knowledge, he had flung into the sea all the implements of their art of navigation, because he placed his hopes in God alone, who would direct them and deliver them from the perils among which they were going, and on that account, since he had now made his men secure, let them secure themselves as they pleased; and without waiting for an answer he sheered off.

Nicolas Coelho felt great joy in his heart on hearing from the captain-major that he had got his pilot and master thus secured from rising against him, since he had put them in irons; and without much dissimulation he spoke to master and pilot and seamen, saying that he was much grieved at the captain-major's way of treating his ship's officers, whom he stood so much in need of in the labors they were undergoing, but what he had done was because of his being of so strong and thorough a temperament, as they all knew, and he had not chosen to wait for them to make entreaty for the liberty of the prisoners, but that whenever the ships again spoke one another he would do this. This all the crew begged him to do, with loud cries of mercy, since they would follow the flag-ship wherever it went. This Nicolas Coelho promised them, so they remained contented.

Paulo da Gama had other conversations with the officers of his ship, with much urbanity, for he was a man of gentle disposition; he also promised them that he would entreat his brother on behalf of the prisoners, and bade all pray God for the saving of their lives, and that all would end well; so that all remained consoled.

While these things were happening the wind did not shift its direction, but, the sea being smoother, the ships were more easy, though they let in so much water that they never left off pumping. The captain-major saw this and that the ships had an absolute need of repairs; and also because they had no more water to drink, because, with the tossing about in the storm, many barrels had broken and given way; under such great pressure, he stood in to land under sail, for the weather was moderate and was beginning to be favorable; all were praying to God for mercy, and that he would grant them a haven of safety. Which God was pleased to do in his mercy, for presently he showed them land, at which it seemed that all were resuscitated from the death which they looked upon as certain if the ships were not repaired. After that the wind came free, and they sailed along the land for several days without finding where to put in; this was now in January of the year 1498. Thus they ran close to the land, with a careful lookout, for they did not dare to leave the land, from the great peril in which the ships were from the great leakage.

Proceeding in this way, one day they found themselves at dawn in the mouth of a large river, into which the captain-major entered, for he always went first; and all entered, and found within a large bay sheltered from all winds, in which they anchored, and all exclaimed three times, "The mercy of the Lord God!" for which reason they gave this river the name of the River of Mercy. Here they soon caught much good fish, with which the sick improved, as it was fresh food, and the water of the river was very good.

Now, at this time, in all the ships there were not more than a hundred fifty men, for all the rest had died. Soon after arriving at this place the captain-major went to see his brother and Nicolas Coelho, and they conversed, relating their hardships; and Nicolas Coelho related the treason which his men were preparing, to take him prisoner and return to Portugal, and they did not do it from the fear they had that the captain-major would follow after them, and if he caught them would have hanged them all; and they only waited for all to agree to mutiny; and he had sought those feigned words which he had spoken, and it had pleased God that Vasco da Gama had understood them, so that by his imprisoning his officers at once all had remained secure. So all gave praise to the Lord for having delivered them from such great perils.

Then they settled about refitting the ships, for they had all that was necessary for doing it. Although they had a beach and tides for laying the ships aground, for greater security it was ordered that they should be heeled over while afloat, and thus it was arranged for by all of them. While they were on the quarter deck, Paulo da Gama entreated his brother to set the prisoners at liberty, which he did, setting free the sailors, and the master and pilot, with the condition that, if God should bring them back to Lisbon, when he went before the King he would present them to him in the same manner in chains, not to do them any harm, but only that his difficulties might be credited, and that for this he would give him greater favors; at which all the crews felt much satisfaction. Afterward they spoke with all the officers, and arranged for careening the ships, and went to look at them.

They found there was no repairing the ship of Nicolas Coelho, as it had many of the ribs and knees broken. For that reason they at once decided to break it up; and then they cut out its masts, and much timber and planks of the upper works, which, with the yards and spars of the other ships, they lashed together and fastened, and made a great frame, which they put under the side of the ship to raise it more out of the water; for this purpose they then discharged from the captain-major's ship into that of his brother, which was brought alongside, all that they could of the stores and goods; and everything heavy below decks they put on one side of the ship, which caused it to heel over very much, and with the timber under the side, and the tackle fitted to the main-mast, they canted the ship over on one side so much that they laid her keel bare; and on the outer side they put planks, upon which all the crew got to work at the ship, some cleaning the planks from the growth of sea-weed, others extracting the calking, which was quite rotten, from the seams; and the calkers put in fresh oakum and then pitched it over, for they had a stove in a boat where they boiled the pitch.

The captains were occupied with their own work day and night, and gave much food and drink to the crews, so that they used such despatch that in one day and one night, by morning they had finished one side of the ship, very well executed, though with great labor in drawing out the water from the ship, which leaked very much lying thus on one side. When she was upright they turned her over on the other side, and did the same work, much better performed because the ship did not leak so much; and when it was completed and the ship upright, it was so sound and water-tight that for two days there was no water in the pump.

Then they loaded it again with its stores, and transshipped to it the stores of the other ship, upon which they executed the before-mentioned calking and repairs, so that it became like new. They then fitted them inside with several knees and ribs and inner planking, and all that was requisite, with great perfection, and collected the yards, spars, and all that they had need of belonging to the ship São Miguel; and the captain-major took Nicolas Coelho on board of his ship, entertaining him well. They then took away from the ship much wood for their use and beached the ship, and took away its rudder and undid it, and stowed away its wood and iron-works, in case of its being wanted for the other ships, because they had all been built of the same pattern and size, as a precaution that all might be able to take advantage of any part of them. Then they burned the ship in order to recover the nails, which were in great quantity, and a great advantage for other necessities which they met with later.

After they had thus repaired the ships, the captain-major sent Nicolas Coelho with twenty men in a boat to go and discover the river; and he, after ascending it for two leagues, found woods and verdure, and farther on he found some canoes which were fishing, and the men in them were dark, but not very black; they were naked, having only their middles covered with leaves of trees and grass. These men, when they saw the boat, came to it and entered it in a brutish manner, and were in a state of amazement. No one knew how to speak to them, and they did not understand the signs which were made to them. So Nicolas Coelho made them go back to their canoes, and returned to the ships, but of the canoes one followed after the boat, and the others returned to take the news to their villages. These men who came with the boat, at once, without any fear, entered the ship and sat down to rest, as if they were old acquaintance; no one knew how to speak to them. Then they gave them biscuit and cakes and slices of bread with marmalade; this they did not understand until they saw our people eat, then they ate it, and, as they liked the taste, they ate in a great hurry, and would not share with one another. While this was going on they saw many canoes coming, and larger ones, with many of those people also naked, with tangled hair like Kaffirs, without any other arms than some sticks like half lances, hardened in the fire, with sharp points greased over.

The captain-major, seeing the other canoes coming, ordered the first come to go to their canoe, which they did unwillingly, and went out and remained to speak with those that were arriving, and went their way. The others arrived, and all wanted to come on board; as they were more than a hundred, the captain-major would not allow them, only ten or twelve, who brought some birds which were something like hens, and some yellow fruit of the size of walnuts, a very well-tasted thing to eat, which our men would not touch, and they, seeing that, ate them for our people to see, who, on tasting them, were much pleased with them; they killed one of the birds, and found it very tender and savory to eat, and all its bones were like those of a fowl. The captain-major ordered biscuit and wine to be given them, which they would not touch till they saw our people drink. He also ordered a looking-glass to be given them; and when they saw it they were much amazed, and looked at one another, and again looked at the mirror, and laughed loudly and made jokes, and spoke to the others who were in the canoe.

They went away with the looking-glass, highly delighted, and left six birds and much of the fruit, and all went away; and in the afternoon they came again, but bringing a quantity of those birds, at which our men rejoiced very much, and filled hencoops with them, because they gave them and were satisfied with anything that was given them, especially white stuffs; so that the seamen cut their shirts in pieces, with which they bought so many of these birds that they killed and dried them in the sun, and they kept very well. Here it was observed that in this river there were no flies, for they never saw any all the time they were there, which was twenty days; and they went away because the crew began to fall ill. It seems that it was from that fruit, which was very delicious to eat; and the principal ailment was that their gums swelled and rotted, so that their teeth fell out, and there was such a foul smell from the mouth that no one could endure it. The captain-major provided a remedy for this, for he ordered that each one should wash his mouth with his own water each time he passed it, by doing which in a few days they obtained health.

The captain-major made a hole with pickaxes in a stone slab at the entrance of this river, and set up a marble pillar, of which he had brought many for that purpose, which had two escutcheons, one of the arms of Portugal, and another, on the other side, of the sphere, and letters engraved in the stone which said, "Of the Lordship of Portugal, Kingdom of Christians." The captain-major, seeing how much the seamen and masters and pilots worked, especially his own, notwithstanding the imprisonment which he had inflicted upon them, when he was about to quit this River of Mercy, made them all come to his ship, where he addressed them all, beseeching them not to suffer weakness to enter their hearts, which would induce them to wish to commit another such error by harboring thoughts of treason, which is so hideous before God, and always brings a bad end to those who engage in it; he said that he well saw that faint-heartedness was the cause of what had passed, and that he forgave all. And that since the Lord had been pleased to deliver them from so many dangers as they had passed up to that time, by his great mercy, therefore they should put their trust in him, who would conduct them in such manner as to obtain the result which they were going in search of; by which they would gain such great honors and favors as the King would grant them on their return to Portugal; and he would present them to the King, and would relate their great labors and services, and that they ought to bear in remembrance these great advantages, which would be such a cause of rejoicing for all of them. They, with tears of joy, all answered, "Amen, amen, may the Lord so will it of his great mercy." And they weighed anchors and went out of the river with a land-breeze.

Sailing with a fair wind, they got sight of land, which the pilots foretold before they saw it; this was a great mountain which is on the coast of India, in the kingdom of Cananor, which the people of the country in their language call the mountain Delielly, and they call it of the rat, and they call it Mount Dely, because in this mountain there were so many rats that they never could make a village there. As it was the custom to give the fees of good news to the pilots when they see the land, they gave to each of the pilots a robe of red cloth and ten testoons; and they went on approaching the land until they saw the beach, and they ran along it and passed within sight of a large town of thatched houses inside a bay, which the pilots said was named Cananor, where many skiffs were going about fishing, and several came near to see the ships and were much surprised and went ashore to relate that these ships had so much rigging and so many sails and white men; which having been told to the King he sent some men of his own to see, but the ships had already gone far, and they did not go.

In this country of India they are much addicted to soothsayers and diviners, especially on this coast of India, which is named the country of Malabar, and they call these diviners canayates. According to what was known later, there had been in this country of Cananor a diviner so diabolical, in whom they believed so much, that they wrote down all that he said, and preserved it like prophecies which would come to pass. They held a legend from him in which it was said that the whole of India would be taken and ruled over by a very distant king, who had white people, who would do great harm to those who were not their friends; and this was to happen a long time later, and he left signs of when it would be. In consequence of the great disturbance caused by the sight of these ships, the King was very desirous of knowing what they were, and he spoke to his diviners, asking them to tell him what ships were those and whence they came. The diviners conversed with their devils, and told him that the ships belonged to a great king and came from very far; and according to what they found written, these were the people who were to seize India by war and peace, as they had already told him many times, because the period which had been written down was concluded. The King, much moved, asked them whether his kingdom would receive much injury. They replied that our people would do no harm except to those who did it to them.

Upon this the King became very thoughtful, and talked of this frequently with his people, who very much contradicted what the diviners said, and they told him not to believe them, for in this they never hit upon the truth, because at the time that our ships arrived more than four hundred years had elapsed since in one year more than eight hundred sail of large and small ships had come to India from the ports of Malacca and China and the Lequeos, with people of many nations, and all laden with merchandise of great value, which they brought for sale; and they had come to Calicut, and had run along the coast and had gone to Cambay; and they were so numerous that they had filled the country, and had settled as dwellers in all the towns of the sea-coast, where they were received and welcomed like merchants, which they were. When those people arrived thus on the coast of Malabar everybody considered that they were the people whom their prophecies mentioned as those who would take India, and they had inquired of the diviners, who, looking at their records, told them not to be afraid, since the time when India was to be taken had not yet arrived.

Thus it was; for those people had gone over all India, trading and selling their merchandise during many years, in which many of them married and established their abodes and became naturalized in the country, and mixed up with the inhabitants of the country. Many others returned to their own country, and as no more ever arrived, they went on diminishing in number, until they came to an end; but a numerous progeny remained from them, and because they were people of large property, and numerous in the towns where they resided, they had a quarter set apart, like as in Portugal and Castile in other times there used to be Jewries and Moorish quarters set apart; and they built houses for their idols, sumptuous edifices, which are to be seen at this day; and in the space of a hundred years there did not remain one. All this they had got thus recorded in their legends, and since at that time so many people did not take India, how was it to be taken now by people who came from such a distance, and who would not come in sufficient numbers to be able to conquer it? and they mocked at what the soothsayers said. But the King, who put great trust in them, and whose heart divined what was going to come to pass, spoke to a soothsayer in whom he placed great belief, and told him to look and see upon what grounds he made his assertions; because, if it was as he had been saying, he would labor to establish peace with the Portuguese in such a manner as to make his kingdom secure forever, and in this he would spend part of his treasure. The soothsayer answered: "Sire, I am telling you the truth, that these men will not bring so many people with them to seize upon countries and realms, but those who come, in whatever number they may be, will be able to prevail more with their ships than all as many as go upon the sea, on which account they must be masters of the sea, in which case of necessity the people of the land must obey them; and when they shall have become powerful at sea, what will happen to your kingdom if you have not secured peace with them? I tell you the truth, and you will see it with your eyes; and now follow what counsel you please."

The King answered, "My heart tells me that you are speaking the truth, and I will do that which is incumbent upon me." The diviner said to him, "If before five years you do not see that I have told you the truth, order my head to be cut off." Upon which the King remained quite convinced, and determined in his heart to establish with the Portuguese all the peace and friendship that was possible. And because soon after news arrived that our people were at the city of Calicut, which is twelve leagues from Cananor, the King sent men to Calicut who always came to tell him of what happened there to our men.

The ships continued running along the coast close to land, for the coast was clear, without banks against which to take precautions; and the pilots gave orders to cast anchor in a place which made a sort of bay, because there commenced the city of Calicut. This town is named Capocate, and on anchoring there a multitude of people flocked to the beach, all dark and naked, only covered with cloths half way down the thigh, with which they concealed their nakedness. All were much amazed at seeing what they had never before seen. When news was taken to the King he also came to look at the ships, for all the wonder was at seeing so many ropes and so many sails, and because the ships arrived when the sun was almost set; and at night they lowered out the boats, and Vasco da Gama went at once for his brother and Nicolas Coelho, and they remained together conversing upon the method of dealing with this King, since here was the principal end which they had come to seek; it seemed to him that it would be best to comport himself as an ambassador, and to make him his present, always saying that they had been separated from another fleet which they came to seek for there, and that the captain-major had come and brought him letters from the King.

This they agreed upon together, and that Vasco da Gama should go on shore with that message sent by the captain-major, who carried the standard at the peak; they also talked of the manner in which these things were to be spoken of. When all was well decided upon, Nicolas Coelho returned to the ship, and Vasco da Gama remained with his brother talking with the Moor Taibo (the broker), who told him not to go on shore without hostages; that such was the custom of men who newly arrived at the country; and the Moor said that this King of Calicut was the greatest king of all the coast of India, and on that account was very vain, and he was very rich from the great trade he had in this city.

[Footnote 1: Translated from the Portuguese by Henry E. J. Stanley.]

[Footnote 2: Herodotus tells us that Phoenicians rounded this cape as early as B.C. 605.]


A.D. 1498

On September 25, 1493, Columbus sailed from Palos and began his second voyage of discovery. He had seventeen vessels and about fifteen hundred men. In November he discovered Dominica in the West Indies. Arriving at La Navidad, Española (Haiti), he found that the colony which he had left there on returning from his first visit had been killed by the Indians. At a point farther east he founded Isabella, the first European town in the New World.

In April, 1594, he, sailed westward and along the south shore of Cuba, which he mistook for a peninsula of Asia. He next discovered Jamaica, and in September returned to Isabella. The Indians rose in rebellion against the Spaniards, who had ill-used them, and Columbus quelled the insurrection, in a battle on the Vega Real, April 25, 1495. He had before planned for the enslavement of hostile Indians, an act from which his reputation has somewhat suffered.

Owing to hardship and discontent, some of the colonists carried complaints to Spain. Bishop Fonseca, who had charge of colonial affairs, upheld the complainants, and in 1495 Juan Aguado was sent as royal commissioner to Española. Aguado prepared a report, fearing the effects of which, Columbus returned to Spain at the same time (1496) with him. A brother of Columbus was left in charge of the government at Española. The Spanish sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, dismissed the charges against Columbus, and on May 30, 1498, he sailed from San Lucar on his third voyage to the New World.

The great navigator was no longer the powerful, enduring man of six years before. Exposure, months of sleepless watching, anxiety, and tropical fevers had at length done their work. The bright intellect, the vivid imagination, the great heart, the generous nature, would be the same until death, but the constitution was shattered. The admiral now suffered from ophthalmia, gout, and a complication of diseases. The last six years of his life were destined to be a time of much and cruel suffering, aggravated by ingratitude, perfidy, and injustice.

In fitting out the third expedition every petty annoyance and obstruction that the malice of Bishop Fonseca could invent was used to thwart and delay the admiral. Each subordinate official knew that insolence to the object of the Bishop's envy and dislike, and neglect of his wishes, were the surest ways to the favor of his chief. One creature of Fonseca, named Jimeno de Briviesca, carried his insolence beyond the bounds of the endurance even of the dignified and long-suffering admiral, who very properly took him by the scruff of the neck on one occasion and kicked him off the poop of the flag-ship. The delays of Fonseca and his agents caused incalculable injury to the public service, as will presently appear.

The sovereigns had ordered that six million maravedis—about ten thousand dollars—should be granted for the equipment of the expedition, and that eight vessels should be provided. The contractor for provisions was Jonato Berardi, a Florentine merchant settled at Seville; and, owing to his death, the contracting work fell upon his assistant Amerigo Vespucci, who was very actively employed on this service from April, 1497, to May, 1498. In 1492 Vespucci came to Spain as a partner of an Italian trader at Cadiz named Donato Nicolini, and he afterward became the chief clerk or agent of Berardi. It was thus that Columbus first became acquainted with Amerigo Vespucci, when the admiral had reached the ripe age of forty-five. As for his provisions, a good deal of the meat turned bad on the voyage, and the contract was not very satisfactorily carried out. It is strange that this beef and biscuit contractor should have given his name to the New World, but perhaps not more strange than that a bacon contractor should be the patron saint of England and of Genoa.

The admiral was most anxious to despatch supplies and re-enforcements to his brother, and he succeeded in sending off two caravels in advance, under the command of Hernandez Coronel, who had been appointed chief magistrate of Espafiola. The other vessels consisted of two naos, or ships of a hundred tons, and four caravels. After months of harassing and unnecessary delay, they dropped down the Guadalquiver from Seville and the admiral sailed. He touched at Porto Santo and Madeira, and reached Gomera on May 19th. Columbus had become aware, through information collected from the natives of the islands, that there was extensive land, probably a continent, to the southward. He had also received a letter from a skilled and learned jeweller named Jaime Ferrer, dated August 5, 1495, in which it was laid down that the most valuable things came from very hot countries, where the natives are black or tawny. These and other considerations led him to determine to cross the Atlantic on a lower parallel than he had ever done before; and he invoked the Holy Trinity for protection, intending to name the first land that was sighted in their honor. But he was impressed with the importance of sending help to the colony without delay.

He therefore detached one ship and two caravels from Gomera to make the voyage direct. The ship was commanded by Alonzo Sanchez de Carbajal of Baeza. One caravel was intrusted to Pedro de Arana, brother of Beatriz Enriquez and brother-in-law of the admiral. The other had for her captain a Genoese cousin, Juan Antonio Colombo. It will be remembered that Antonio, the brother of Domenico Colombo and uncle of the admiral, lived at the little coast village of Quinto, near Genoa, and had three sons—Juan Antonio, Mateo, and Amighetto. When these cousins heard of the greatness and renown of Christopher, they thought at least one of them might get some benefit from his prosperity. So the younger ones gave all the little money they could scrape together to enable the eldest to go to Spain. His illustrious kinsman welcomed him with affection, and as he was a sailor he received charge of a caravel, in which trust he proved himself, as Las Casas tells us, to be careful, efficient, and fit for command. The three vessels sailed from Gomera direct for Española on June 21st. Columbus continued his voyage of discovery with one vessel and two caravels. Pero Alonzo Niño, the pilot of the Niña in the first voyage, was with him. Herman Perez Matteos was another pilot, and there were a few other old shipmates in the squadron. The admiral touched at Buena Vista, one of the Cape de Verd Islands, remaining at anchor for a few days, and on July 5th he sailed away into the unknown ocean, for many days on a south-west course. His intention was to go south as far as the latitude of Sierra Leone, 8° 30' N., and then to steer west until he reached land.

After ten days the vessels were in regions of calms, and the people began to suffer from the intense heat. The sun melted the tar of the rigging, and the seams of the decks began to open. For days and days the scorching heat continued, but at length there were some refreshing showers, and light breezes sprang up from the west. But their progress was very slow, and their stock of water nearly exhausted. So the admiral ordered the course to be altered to northwest, in hopes of reaching Dominica. It was July 31st, the people were parched with thirst, and yet no land had been seen. In the afternoon of that day the admiral's servant, Alonzo Perez of Huelva, went to the masthead, and reported land in the shape of three separate peaks. Columbus had declared his intention of naming the first land sighted after the Holy Trinity, and the coincidence of its appearing in the form of three peaks made a deep impression on his mind. The island of Trinidad retains its name to this day. The admiral gave heartfelt thanks to God, and all the crews chanted the Salve Regina and other hymns of prayer and praise. Meanwhile the little squadron glided through the water, approaching the newly discovered land, and Columbus named the most eastern point "Cabo de la Galera," by reason of a great rock off it, which at a distance looked like a galley under sail. All along the coast the trees were seen to come down to the sea, the most lovely sight that eyes could rest on; and at last, on August 1st, an anchorage was found, and they were able to fill up with water from delicious streams and fountains. The main continent of South America was seen to the south, appearing like a long island, and it received the name of "Isla Santa." The point near the watering-place was called "Punta de la Playa."

The western end of the island was named "Punta del Arenal," and here an extraordinary phenomenon presented itself. A violent current was rushing out through a channel or strait not more than two leagues wide, causing great perturbation of the sea, with such an uproar of rushing water that the crews were filled with alarm for the safety of the vessels. The admiral named the channel "La Boca de la Sierpe." He piloted his little squadron safely through it and reached the Gulf of Paria, named by him "Golfo de la Ballena." The land to the westward, forming the mainland of Paria, received the name of "Isla de Gracia." Standing across to the western side of the Gulf, the admiral was delighted with the beauty of the country and with the view of distant mountains. Near a point named "Aguja" the country was so fruitful and charming that he called it "Jardines," and here he saw many Indians, among them women wearing bracelets of pearls, and when they were asked whence the pearls were obtained they pointed to the westward. As many pearls as could be bartered from the natives were collected for transmission to the sovereigns, for here was a new source of wealth, another precious commodity from the New World.

Columbus was astonished at the vast mass of fresh water that was pouring into the Gulf of Paria. He correctly divined the cause, and made the deduction that a river with such a volume of water must come from a great distance. His prescient mind showed him the mighty river Orinoco, the wide savannas, and the lofty range of the Andes; but the trammels of the erroneous measurements of astronomers bound them to Asia, and prevented him from picturing them to himself in the New World he had really discovered. That the land must be continuous appeared to be proved, not only from the deductions of science, but also from the Word of God. For he believed it to be established from the revealed Word (II Esdras vi. 42) that the ocean only covered one-seventh of the globe, and that the other six-sevenths was dry land. Moreover, his splendid intellect was united with a powerful imagination. When he had grasped the facts with masterly intuition, his fancy often raised upon them some strange theory, derived partly from his extensive reading, partly from his own teeming brain. Thinking that a long and rapid course was insufficient to account for the volume of water and the violence of the currents, he conceived the idea that the earth, though round, was not a perfect sphere, and that it rose in one part of the equinoctial line so as to be somewhat of a pear shape. Thus he accounted for the exceptional volume of water by the motion of rivers flowing down from the end of the pear. One step farther in the realms of fancy, and he indulged in a dream that this centre and apex of the earth's surface, with its mighty rivers, could be no other than the terrestrial paradise. Writing as one thought coursed after another in his teeming fancy, we find these passing whims of a vivid imagination embodied in the journal intended for the information of the sovereigns.

But time was passing on, and it was important that he should convey the provisions with which his vessels were loaded to his infant colony. He had seen that another narrow channel led from the northern side of the gulf, and had named it "Boca del Dragon." On August 12th he had piloted his vessels to the Punta de Paria, and prepared to pass through the channel. At that critical moment it fell calm, while the two currents flowed violently toward the opening, where they met and formed a broken, confused sea. But the admiral made use of the currents, and by the exercise of consummate seamanship took his three vessels clear of the danger and out into the open sea. The islands of Tobago and Granada were sighted, receiving the names of "Asuncion" and "Concepcion." Then the rocks and islets to the westward came in view, named the "Testigos" and "Guardias," and the island "Margarita." The latter name shows that the admiral had obtained the correct information from the natives of Paria respecting the locality of the pearl-fishery.

The admiral now crowded all sail to reach Espanola, intending to make a landfall at the mouth of the river Azuma, where he knew that his brother, the Adelantado (Governor), had founded the new city, and named it Santo Domingo, in memory of their old father, Domenico Colombo. But the current carried him far to the westward, and on August 19th he sighted the coast fifty leagues to leeward of the new capital. On hearing of his arrival on the coast, Bartolome got on board a caravel and joined him; but it was not until the 31st that the two brothers entered San Domingo together, the admiral for the first time. Young Diego, the third and youngest brother, welcomed them on their arrival. The admiral had been absent for two years and a half, during which time the Adelantado had conducted the government of the colony with remarkable vigor and ability. Yet, owing to the mutinous conduct of the worst of the settlers, there was a very disastrous report to make.

When the Adelantado assumed the command on the departure of the admiral for Spain in March, 1496, his first step, in compliance with the instructions he had received, was to proceed to the valley on the south side of the island, in which the gold mine of Hayna was situated, and to build a fort, which he named "San Cristoval." He next, having received supplies and reënforcements, together with letters from the admiral, by the caravels under Nino, took steps for the foundation of the new capital. Still following his brother's instructions, he selected a site at the mouth of the river Azuma, where there were good anchorage in the bay and a fertile valley along the banks of the river. On a bank commanding the harbor a fortress was erected, and named "Santo Domingo," while the city was subsequently built on the east bank of the river. It became the capital of the colony. Before long Isabella, on the north coast, was entirely abandoned. Trees soon grew upon the streets and through the roofs of the houses. It presented a scene of wild desolation, and ghosts were believed to wander in crowds through the abandoned city. Ruins of the house of Columbus, of the church, and the fort can still be traced out by those who penetrate into the dense jungle which now covers that part of the coast.

The next proceeding of the indefatigable Adelantado was the settlement of the beautiful province of Xaragua, forming the southwestern portion of the island. It was ruled over by a chief named Behechio, with whom dwelt the famous Anacaona, his sister, widow of Caonabo, but, unlike that fierce Carib, a constant friend of the Spaniards. Behechio met the Adelantado in battle array on the banks of the river Neyva, the eastern boundary of his dominions. But as soon as they were informed that the errand of the Spanish Governor was a peaceful one, both Behechio and Anacaona, who was a princess of great ability and of a most amiable disposition, received him with cordial hospitality. When, after a time, he opened the subject of tribute to them, they showed opposition. But Bartolome proved himself to be a masterly diplomatist, and in the end Behechio not only consented to impose a tribute, the details of which were amicably arranged, but undertook to collect and deliver it periodically to the Spanish authorities. These Indians were quite ready to submit to beings who appeared to be superior in power and intelligence to themselves. If the sovereigns of Spain had trusted Columbus and his brothers fully and completely, had established trading-stations and imposed a moderate tribute, and had absolutely prohibited the overrunning of the country by penniless and worthless adventurers, they would have had a rich and prosperous colony. The discontent and rebellion of the natives were solely caused by the misconduct of the Spaniards.

An insurrection broke out in the Vega Real, headed by the chief Guarionex, who, after suffering innumerable wrongs from the Spaniards, was at last driven to desperation by an outrage on his wife. He assembled a number of dependent caciques, but the news was promptly communicated to the garrison of Fort Concepcion and forwarded to Santo Domingo. The Adelantado stamped out the rebellion with his accustomed vigor. He came by forced marches to Concepcion, and thence, without stopping, to the camp of the natives, who were completely taken by surprise. Guarionex and the other caciques were captured, and their followers dispersed. Always generous after victory, Bartolome Columbus released Guarionex at the prayer of his people, a measure which was alike magnanimous and politic. But it was impossible to rule over the natives satisfactorily unless the Spanish settlers could be forced to submit to the laws, and the Adelantado was not powerful enough to keep the bad characters in subjection. The loyal and decent men of the colony were in a small minority. The consequence was that the unfortunate Guarionex was again goaded into insurrection. On the approach of the Adelantado he fled into the mountains of Ciguey, on the northeast coast, and took refuge with a dependent cacique named Mayobanex, whose residence was near Cape Cabron, the western extreme of the Samana peninsula. A difficult and arduous mountain campaign followed, which Bartolome conducted with remarkable military skill. It ended in the capture and imprisonment of both the chiefs.

Behechio now announced that he had collected the required tribute, consisting of a very large quantity of cotton, and that it was ready for delivery. The Adelantado therefore proceeded to Xaragua, and not only found this great store of cotton, but received an offer from the generous chief to supply him with as much cassava-bread as he needed for the use of the colony. This was a most acceptable present, for the lazy, ill-conditioned settlers had neglected to cultivate their fields, and a famine was imminent. The Adelantado ordered a caravel to be sent round to Xaragua to be freighted with cotton and bread, and returned himself to Isabella after taking a cordial farewell of his native friends. He had shown extraordinary talent in his government of the native population, and his rule had been a complete success. Always moderate in victory, he had suppressed the insurrections without bloodshed, and had conciliated the people by his moderation. He had made long and difficult marches, had subdued opposition by his readiness of resource and energy, and had administered the native affairs with humanity and excellent judgment.

Unfortunately his power was insufficient to cope successfully with the insubordinate Spaniards. The ringleader of the mutineers was Francisco Roldan, a man whom Columbus had raised from the dust. He had been a servant; and the admiral, noting his ability, had intrusted him with some judicial functions. When he sailed for Spain he appointed Roldan chief justice of the colony. This ungrateful miscreant fostered discontent and mutiny by every art of persuasion and calumny at his command, and soon had a large band of worthless and idle ruffians ready to follow his lead. His first plan was to murder the Adelantado and seize the government, but he lacked the courage or the opportunity to put it into execution. His next step was to march into the Vega Real with seventy armed mutineers, and attempt to surprise Fort Concepcion. The garrison was commanded by a loyal soldier named Miguel Ballester, who closed the gates and defied the rebels, sending to the Adelantado for help. Bartolome at once hastened to his assistance, and on his arrival at Fort Concepcion he sent a messenger to Roldan, remonstrating with him, and urging him to return to his duty. But Roldan found his force increasing by the adhesion of all the discontented men in the colony, and his insolence increased with his power. All would probably have been lost but for the opportune arrival of Pedro Hernandez Coronel in February, 1498, who had been despatched from San Lucar by the admiral in the end of the previous year with reënforcements. He also brought out the confirmation of Bartolome's rank as Adelantado.

The Adelantado was thus enabled to leave Fort Concepcion and establish his head-quarters at Santo Domingo. He sent Coronel as an envoy to Roldan, to endeavor to persuade him to return to his duty; but the mutineer feared to submit, believing that he had gone too far for forgiveness. He marched into the province of Xaragua, where he allowed his dissolute followers to abandon themselves to every kind of excess. The three caravels which had been despatched from Gomera by the admiral unfortunately made a bad landfall, and appeared off Xaragua. Roldan concealed the fact that he was a leader of mutineers, and, receiving the captains in his official capacity, induced them to supply him with stores and provisions, while his followers busily endeavored to seduce the crews, and succeeded to some extent. When Roldan's true character was discovered, the caravels put to sea with the loyal part of their crews, while Alonzo Sanchez de Carbajal, a loyal and thoroughly honest man, who was zealous for the good of the colony, remained behind to endeavor to persuade Roldan to submit to the admiral's authority. He only succeeded in obtaining from him a promise to enter into negotiations with a view to the termination of the deplorable state of affairs he had created, and with this Carbajal proceeded to Santo Domingo.

Such was the state of affairs when Columbus arrived at the new seat of his government. His brother had ruled with ability and vigor during his absence, had administered native affairs very successfully, but his power had been insufficient to subdue the band of Spanish miscreants who were still in open mutiny. The admiral was filled with grief and disappointment at the turn affairs had taken. A thoroughly loyal man himself, with no thought or desire but for the good of the colony, he was thwarted by treacherous miscreants, who cared for nothing but the accumulation of riches for themselves, and a life of indulgence and licentious ease. After long consideration he resolved upon a policy of conciliation. The unsettled state of affairs was bringing ruin on the island, and the restoration of peace was an absolute necessity. The magnanimous Genoese was incapable of personal resentment. The men themselves were, indeed, beneath his contempt; but he felt bound to treat with them, and even to make great concessions, if necessary, for the good of the public service. The welfare of the colony was his sole object, and he did not hesitate to sacrifice every personal feeling to his sense of duty. It is with some impatience that one finds the grand schemes of discovery and colonization interrupted by such contemptible means, and the course of the narrative checked by the necessity for recording, however briefly, the paltry dissensions of vile miscreants such as Roldan and his crew.

The mutineers were most unwilling to make any agreement. They were leading the sort of lawless and licentious life that exactly suited them, and were disinclined to submit to any authority. The interests of their leaders, however, were not quite the same, and the acceptance of advantageous terms would suit them. Carbajal was employed by the admiral to conduct the negotiations, while the veteran Ballester returned to Spain in November, 1498, with the news of the rebellion, and a request from the admiral that a learned and impartial judge might be sent out to decide all disputes.

It was finally agreed that Roldan should return to his duty, still retaining the office of chief justice; that all past offences should be condoned, and that he and his followers should receive grants of land, with the services of the Indians. The admiral consented to these terms most unwillingly, and under the conviction that this was the only way to avoid the greater evil of civil dissension. He resolved, however, that any future outbreak must be firmly and vigorously suppressed by force. Although Roldan had now resumed his position as a legitimate official ready to maintain order, it could hardly be expected that his fatal example would not be followed by other unprincipled men of the same stamp when the opportunity offered.

Trouble arose owing to the conduct of a young Castilian named Hernando de Guevara. Roldan was established in Xaragua, when the youthful gallant arrived at the house of his cousin, Adrian de Mujica, one of the ringleaders in Roldan's mutiny, and fell in love with Higueymota, the daughter of Anacaona. Guevara, for some misconduct, had been ordered by the admiral to leave the island, but instead of obeying he had made his way to Xaragua, and caused trouble by this love passage, for he had a rival in Roldan himself, who ordered him to desist from the pursuit of the daughter of Anacaona, and to return to Santo Domingo. Guevara refused to obey, but he was promptly arrested and sent as a prisoner to the capital. When his cousin Mujica, who was then in the Vega Real, received the news, he raised a mutiny, offering rewards to the soldiers if they would follow him in an attempt to rescue Guevara. The admiral, though suffering from illness, showed remarkable energy on this occasion. Marching very rapidly at the head of eighteen chosen men, he surprised the mutineers, captured the ringleader, and carried him off to the fort of Concepcion. Some severity had now become incumbent upon the authorities, and Mujica was condemned to death. The admiral regretted the necessity, but in no other way could a motive be supplied to deter others from keeping the country in a constant state of lawless disorder. Guevara, Riqueline, and other disorderly characters were imprisoned in the fort at Santo Domingo, and by August, 1500, peace was quite established throughout the island.

Thus had Columbus restored tranquillity to the colony. By prudent and conciliatory negotiations, during which he had exercised the most wonderful self-abnegation and patience, he had succeeded in averting the serious danger caused by the formidable revolt of Roldan. But as the habit of disorder was threatening to become chronic, he wisely took another way with the sedition of Mujica, maintaining order by a resort to prompt and vigorous action, and making a salutary example which was calculated to be deterrent in its effects.

With the restoration of peace, trade revived and prosperity began to return. The receivers of grants of land found that they had a stake in the country, and sought to derive profit from their crops. Similar activity appeared at the mines, and the building at Santo Domingo progressed rapidly. The admiral began to hope that the first troubles incident to an infant colony were over, and that the time had arrived for Spain to feel the advantages of his great achievement. He now looked forward to further and more important discoveries followed by colonization on the main continent.

Yet at this very time a blow was about to come from a quarter whence it was least to be expected, which was destined to shatter all the hopes of this long-suffering man, and dissipate all his bright visions of the future[1].

[Footnote:1 On the arrival (August 24, 1500) of Francisco de Boabdilla as royal commissioner, he deposed Columbus and his brothers and sent them in chains to Spain. Although they were immediately released, Columbus was not reinstated in his dignities. His fourth and final voyage (1502-1504) came far short of his anticipations].


A.D. 1499

The powerful family of the Hapsburgs, still rulers of the Tyrol, or eastern portion of the Alps, long claimed authority over the western part as well. The severity of their rule led to an organized resistance on the part of the mountaineers, and the natural strength of the country secured to its defenders victory after victory. The battles of Morgarten (1315) and of Sempach (1386) were each accepted as final by their own generation; but the house of Hapsburg never formally relinquished its ancient rights, and its heads grew in power. From being dukes of Austria they advanced to be hereditary emperors of all Germany, and at length in 1499 the powerful Emperor Maximilian determined to enforce his double authority as duke and emperor. His projects were encouraged by the discord rife among the little states or cantons which composed the Swiss league.

The following account of the war that ensued is from the pen of a well-known Swiss historian, and is perhaps colored by rather more enthusiasm and racial pride than historic accuracy. Yet the struggle was final. Never after did German or Austrian dispute the independence of the Swiss. The unfortunate consequences brought by success upon the natives are not only true, but profoundly worthy of note.

Fortunately danger and trouble soon appeared from abroad. This united all the cantons anew, and was therefore salutary.

Maximilian I of Austria was Emperor of Germany. He had received from France the country of Lower Burgundy, and, to hold it more securely, incorporated it with the German empire as a single circle. He wished to make Switzerland, also, such a German imperial circle. The Confederates refused, preferring to remain by themselves as they had been until then. In Swabia, the existing states had formed a league among themselves for the suppression of small wars and feuds. This pleased the politic Emperor; by becoming an associate, he placed himself at the head of the league, which he was able to direct for the aggrandizement of his house of Austria. He desired that the Confederates, also, should enter the Swabian League. The Swiss again refused, preferring to remain by themselves as before.

The Emperor was irritated at this, and at Innspruck he said to the deputies of the Confederates: "You are refractory members of the empire; some day I shall have to pay you a visit, sword in hand." The deputies answered and said: "We humbly beseech your imperial majesty to dispense with such a visit, for our Swiss are rude men, and do not even respect crowns."

The boldness of the Confederates wounded the Swabian League no less. Many provocations and quarrels took place, here and there, between the people on the borders, so that the city of Constance, for her own security, joined the Swabian League. For, one day, a band of valiant men of Thurgau, incited by the bailiff from Uri, had tried to surprise the city, in order to punish her for her bravadoes against the Swiss.

Neither were the Austrians good neighbors to the Grisons. The Tyrol and Engadine were constantly discussing and disputing about markets, privileges, and tolls. Once, indeed, in 1476, the Tyrolese had marched armed into the valley of Engadine, but were driven back into their own country, through the narrow Pass of Finstermunz, with bloody heads. Now there was a fresh cause of quarrel. In the division of the Toggenburger inheritance, the rights of Toggenburg in the Ten Jurisdictions had fallen to the counts of Matsch, Sax, and Montfort, and afterward, 1478-1489, by purchase, to the ducal house of Austria. Hence much trouble arose.

As the Grisons had equal cause with the Confederates to fear the power and purposes of Emperor Maximilian, the Gray League, 1497, and that of God's House, 1498, made a friendly and defensive alliance with Zurich, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, and Glarus. The Ten Jurisdictions dared not join them for fear of Austria.

Then the Emperor restrained his anger no longer. And, though already burdened with a heavy war in the Netherlands, he sent fresh troops into the Tyrol, and the forces of the Swabian League advanced and hemmed in Switzerland from the Grison Pass, near Luziensteig, between the Rhetian mountains and Germany, along the Lake of Constance and the Rhine, as far as Basel.

Then Switzerland and Rhetia were in great danger. But the Grisons rose courageously to defend their freedom, as did all the Confederates. The Sargansers, also, and the Appenzellers hastened to the Schollenberg; the banners of Valais, Basel, and Schaffhausen soon floated in view of the enemy. No man stayed at home.

It was in February, 1499, that the strife began. Then eight thousand imperialists entered the Grison territory of Munsterthal and Engadine; Louis of Brandis, the Emperor's general, with several thousand men, surprised and held the Pass of Luziensteig, and, by the treachery of four burghers, the little city of Maienfeld. But the Grisons retook the Luziensteig, and eight hundred Swabians here found their death; the rest fled to Balzers. Then the Confederates passed the Rhine near Azmoos, and, with the Grisons, obtained a great victory near Treisen. The Swabian nobility, with ten thousand soldiers, were posted near St. John's, at Hochst and Hard, between Bregenz and Fussach. Eight thousand Confederates killed nearly half of the enemy's army, ascended as far as the forests of Bregenz, and imposed contributions on the country. Ten thousand other Confederates passed victoriously over the Hegau, and in eight days burned twenty villages, hamlets, and castles. Skirmish followed quickly upon skirmish, battle upon battle.

The enemy, indeed, issuing from Constance, succeeded in surprising the Confederate garrison of Ermatingen while asleep, and in murdering in their beds sixty-three defenceless men. But they bloodily expiated this in the wood of Schwaderlochs, whence eighteen thousand of them, vanquished by two thousand Confederates, fled in such haste that the city gates of Constance were too narrow for the fugitives, and the number of their dead exceeded that of the Swiss opposed to them. A body of Confederates on the upper Rhine penetrated into Wallgau, where the enemy were intrenched near Frastenz, and, fourteen thousand strong, feared not the valor of the Swiss. But when Henry Wolleb, the hero of Uri, had passed the Langengasterberg with two thousand brave men, and burned the strong intrenchment, his heroic death was the signal of victory to the Confederates. They rushed under the thunder of artillery into the ranks of Austria and dealt their fearful blows. Three thousand dead bodies covered the battle-field of Frastenz. Such Austrians as were left alive fled in terror through woods and waters. Then each Swiss fought as though victory depended on his single arm; for Switzerland and Swiss glory, each flew joyously to meet danger and death, and counted not the number of the enemy. And wherever a Swiss banner floated, there was more than one like John Wala of Glarus, who, near Gams in Rheinthal, measured himself singly with thirty horsemen.

The Grisons, also, fought with no less glory. Witness the Malserhaide in Tyrol, where fifteen thousand men, under Austrian banners, behind strong intrenchments, were attacked by only eight thousand Grisons. The ramparts were turned, the intrenchments stormed. Benedict Fontana was first on the enemy's wall. He had cleared the way. With his left hand holding the wide wound from which his entrails protruded, he fought with his right and cried: "Forward, now, fellow-leaguers! let not my fall stop you! It is but one man the less! To-day you must save your free fatherland and your free leagues. If you are conquered, you leave your children in everlasting slavery." So said Fontana and died. The Malserhaide was full of Austrian dead. Nearly five thousand fell. The Grisons had only two hundred killed and seven hundred wounded.

When Emperor Maximilian, in the Netherlands, heard of so many battles lost, he came and reproached his generals, and said to the princes of the German empire: "Send to me auxiliaries against the Swiss, so bold as to have attacked the empire. For these rude peasants, in whom there is neither virtue nor noble blood nor magnanimity, but who are full of coarseness, pride, perfidy, and hatred of the German nation, have drawn into their party many hitherto faithful subjects of the empire."

But the princes of the empire delayed to send auxiliaries, and the Emperor then learned, with increasing horror, that his army sent over the Engadine mountains to suppress the Grison League had been destroyed in midsummer by avalanches, famine, and the masses of rock which the Grisons threw down from the mountains; then that on the woody height of Bruderholz, not far from Basel, one thousand Swiss had vanquished more than four thousand of their enemies; that, shortly after, in the same region near Dornach, six thousand Confederates had obtained a brilliant victory over fifteen thousand Austrians, killing three thousand men, with their general, Henry of Furstenberg. Then the Emperor reflected that within eight months the Swiss had been eight times victorious in eight battles. And he decided to end a war in which more than twenty thousand men had already fallen, and nearly two thousand villages, hamlets, castles, and cities been destroyed.

Peace was negotiated and concluded on September 22, 1499, in the city of Basel. The Emperor acknowledged the ancient rights and the conquests of the Confederates, and granted to them, moreover, the ordinary jurisdiction over Thurgau, which, with the criminal jurisdiction and other sovereign rights, had, until then, belonged to the city of Constance. Thenceforward the emperors thought no more of dissolving the Confederacy, or of incorporating it with the German empire. In the fields of Frastenz, of Malserhaide, and Dornach were laid the first foundation-stones of Swiss independence of foreign power.

The confederated cantons thankfully acknowledged what Basel and Schaffhausen had constantly done in these heroic days for the whole Confederacy, and that warlike Appenzell had never been backward at the call of glory and liberty. Therefore Basel, June 9, 1501, and flourishing Schaffhausen, August 9, 1501, were received into the perpetual Swiss bond, and finally, 1513, Appenzell, already united in perpetual alliance with most of the cantons, was acknowledged as coequal with all the Confederates.

Thus, in the two hundred fifth year after the deed of William Tell, the Confederacy of the Thirteen Cantons was completed. But Valais and Grisons were considered as cantons allied to the Confederacy, as were St. Gallen, Muhlhausen, Rothweil in Swabia, and other cities—all free places, subject to no prince—united with the Swiss by a defensive alliance.

At that period, the thirteen cantons of the Swiss Confederacy were not yet, as now, equal in virtue of the bond, nor bound together directly by one and the same covenant. They were properly united only with the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, as with a common centre, but among themselves by special treaties. Each canton was attentive to its own interests and glory, seldom to those of the others or to the welfare of the whole Confederacy. Fear of the ambition and power of neighboring lords and princes had drawn them together more and more. So long as this fear lasted, their union was strong.

As the governments were independent of each other so far as their covenants allowed, and of foreign princes also, they called themselves free Swiss. But within the country districts there was little freedom for the people. Only in the shepherd cantons—Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, also Zug, Glarus, and Appenzell—did the country people possess equal rights, and, in the city cantons, only the burghers of the cities; and often, even among these latter, only a few rich or ancient families. The rest of the people, dependent on the cities, having been either purchased or conquered, were subjects, often indeed serfs, and enjoyed only the limited rights which they had formerly possessed under the counts and princes. Even the shepherd cantons held subjects, whom they, like princes, governed by their bailiffs. And the Confederate cantons and cities would by no means allow their subjects to purchase their freedom, as the old counts and lords had formerly permitted the Confederates themselves to do.

But the people cared little for liberty; made rude and savage by continued wars, they loved only quarrels and combats, revels and debauchery, when there was no war in their own country. The young men, greedy of booty, followed foreign drums and fought the battles of princes for hire. There were no good schools in the villages, and the clergy cared little for this. Indeed, the morals of the clergy were often no less depraved than those of the citizens and country people; even in the convents great disorders frequently prevailed with great wealth. Many of the priests were very ignorant; many drank, gambled, and blasphemed; many led shameless lives.

In the chief cities of the cantons, debauchery and dissipation were rife. There was much division between citizens and councillors; envy and distrust between the different professions. The lords, when once seated in the great and small councils—legislative and executive—cared more for themselves and their families than for the welfare of the citizens; they endeavored to advance their sons and relatives, and to procure lucrative offices for them. In all the cantons there were certainly some great, patriotic souls who preferred the interests of their country to their own, but no one listened to them.

As Switzerland had now no foreign wars to fear, and the neighboring kings and princes were pleased to have in their armies Swiss, for whose life and death they cared much less than for the life and death of their own subjects, the principal families of the city and country cantons took advantage of these circumstances to open fountains of wealth for themselves. The desire of the kings to enlist valiant Swiss favored the avidity of the council lords, as did the wish of the young men to get booty. In spite of the positive prohibition of the magistrates, thousands of young men often enlisted in foreign service, where most of them perished miserably, because no one cared for them. Therefore the governments judged it best to make treaties with the kings for the raising of Swiss regiments, commanded by national officers, subject to their own laws and regularly paid, so that each government could take care of its subjects when abroad. "Confederates! you require a vent for your energies," had Rudolf Reding of Schwyz already said, when, years before, he saw the free life of the young men after the Burgundian war.

Now began the letting out of Swiss, Grisons, and Valaisians to foreign military service, by their governments. The first treaty of this nature was made by the King of France, 1479-1480, with the Confederates in Lucerne. Next the house of Austria hired mercenaries, 1499; the princes of Italy did the same, as did others afterward. Even the popes themselves wanted a lifeguard of Swiss; the first, 1503, was Pope Julius II, who was often engaged in war.

Switzerland suffered much from this course. Many a field remained untilled, many a plough stood still, because the husbandman had taken mercenary arms. And, if he returned alive, he brought back foreign diseases and vices, and corrupted the innocent by evil example, for he had acquired but little virtue in the wars. Only the sons of the patricians and council lords obtained captaincies, commands, and riches, by which they increased their influence and consideration in the land, and could oppress others. They prided themselves on the titles of nobility and decorations conferred by kings, and imagined these to be of value, and that they themselves were more than other Swiss.

When the kings perceived the cupidity and folly of the Swiss, they took advantage of them for their own profit, sent ambassadors into Switzerland, distributed presents, granted gratifications and pensions to their partisans in the councils, and for these the council lords became willing servants of foreign princes. Then one canton was French, another Milanese; one Venetian, another Spanish; but rarely was one Swiss. This redounded greatly to the shame of the Swiss. When the German Emperor and the King of France were, at the same time, canvassing the favor of the cantons and bargaining in competition for troops, so great was the contempt or insolence of the French ambassador at Bern, 1516, that he distributed the royal pensions to the lords by sound of trumpet. At Freiburg he poured out silver crowns upon the ground, and, while he heaped them up with a shovel, said to the bystanders, "Does not this silver jingle better than the Emperor's empty words?" So much had love of money debased the Swiss.

The twelve cantons, Appenzell being the only exception, were at one moment allied with Milan against France, at the next with France against Milan. Milan was rightly called the Schwyzer's grave. It was not unusual for Confederates to fight against Confederates on foreign soil, and to kill each other for hire. The ecclesiastical lord, Matthew Schinner, Bishop of Sion in Valais, a very deceitful man, helped greatly to occasion this. According as he was hired, he intrigued in Switzerland, sometimes for the King of France, sometimes against France for the Pope, who, in payment, even made him cardinal and ambassador to the Confederacy.

The mercenary wars of the Swiss upon foreign battle-fields were not wars for liberty or for honor; but these hirelings of princes maintained their reputation for valor even there. With the aid of several thousand Confederates, the King of France subjected the whole of Lombardy in the space of twenty days. But the expelled Duke of the country soon returned with five thousand Swiss, whom he had enlisted contrary to the will of the magistracy, to drive out the French. Then the King of France received twenty thousand men from the cantons with whom he was allied; maintained himself in Italy, and gave to the three cantons, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, 1502-1503, the districts of Palenza, Riviera, and Bellenz. But, as soon as the King thought he could do without the Swiss, he paid them badly and irregularly. Cardinal Schinner, pleased at this, immediately shook a bag of gold, with fifty-three thousand guilders, in favor of the Pope and of Venice. At once, 1512, twenty thousand Swiss and Grisons crossed the high Alps and joined the Venetians against the French. The Grisons took possession of Valtelina, Chiavenna, and Bormio. They asserted that, a century before, an ejected duke of Milan had ceded these valleys to the bishopric of Coire. The Confederates of the twelve cantons subjected Lugano, Locarno, and Valmaggia. The French were driven out of Lombardy, and the young duke Maximilian Sforza, son of him who had been dispossessed by them, was reinstated in his father's inheritance at Milan. Victorious for him, the Confederates beat the French near Novara, June 6, 1513; two thousand Swiss fell, it is true, but ten thousand of the enemy. Still more murderous was the two-days' battle of Melegnano, September 14, 1515, in which barely ten thousand Swiss fought against fifty thousand French. They lost the battle-field, indeed, but not their honor. They sadly retreated to Milan, with their field-pieces on their backs, their wounded in the centre of their army. The enemy lost the flower of their troops, and called this action the "Battle of the Giants."

Then the King of France, Francis I, terrified by a victory which resembled a defeat, made, in the next year, a perpetual peace with the Confederates, and, by money and promises, persuaded some to furnish him with troops; the others, that they would allow no enrolling by his enemies. Thus the Confederates once more helped him against the Emperor and Pope and against Milan, and the King concluded a friendly alliance with them in 1521. During many years they shed their blood for him on the battle-fields of Italy, without good result, without advantage, except that the Confederacy stood godmother to his new-born son. Each canton sent to Paris, for the fête, a deputy with a baptismal present of fifty ducats. More agreeable to the King than this present was the promptitude with which the Swiss sent sixteen thousand of their troops to his assistance in Italy. However, as they had lost, April 20, 1522, three thousand men near Bicocca; as of nearly fifteen thousand who entered Lombardy, 1524, hardly four thousand came back; as, finally, in the battle near Pajia, February 24, 1525, in which the King himself became prisoner to the Emperor, the Swiss experienced a fresh loss of seven thousand men, they by degrees lost all taste for Italian wars.



It was the claim of Amerigo Vespucci that he accompanied four expeditions to the New World, and that he wrote a narrative of each voyage. According to Amerigo, the first expedition sailed from Spain in 1497; the second, of which his own account is here given, in 1499; both by order of King Ferdinand. Grave doubt has been thrown upon the first of these expeditions, the sole authority for which is Vespucci himself.

The name America was given to two continents in honor of this naval astronomer on the authority of an account of his travels published in 1507, in which he is represented as having reached the mainland in 1497. The justice of this naming has always been and still remains a matter of warm dispute among historical critics.

But at the age of almost fifty—he was born in Florence in 1451—Vespucci unquestionably promoted and made a voyage to the New World. In May, 1499, he sailed from Spain with Alonzo de Ojeda, who commanded four vessels. During the summer they explored the coast of Venezuela ("Little Venice"), a name first given by Ojeda to a gulf of the Caribbean Sea, on the shores of which were cabins built on piles over the water, reminding him of Venice in Italy. Ojeda, who was but little acquainted with navigation, entered upon this voyage more as a marauding enterprise than an expedition of discovery, and he gladly availed himself of Amerigo's scientific ability. Vespucci was also able to command the financial support of his wealthy acquaintances. It is said that many of the former sailors of Columbus shipped with this expedition.

The following account was written by Amerigo in a letter to Lorenzo Pier Francesco, of the Medici family of Florence, from whom Vespucci had held certain business commissions in Spain. Respecting this letter an Italian critic observes that "it is the most ancient known writing of Amerigo relating to his voyages to the New World, having been composed within a month after his return from his second voyage, and remaining buried in our archives for a long time. It is a precious monument, for without it we should have been left in ignorance of the great additions which he made to astronomical science. The most rigorous examination of this letter cannot bring to light the least circumstance proving anything for or against the accuracy of his first voyage. The diffidence with which he commences the matter is, however, a strong indication that he had previously written an account of his first voyage to the same Lorenzo de' Medici, to whom he addressed this communication."


It is a long time since I have written to your excellency, and for no other reason than that nothing has occurred to me worthy of being commemorated. This present fetter will inform you that about a month ago I arrived from the Indies, by the way of the great ocean, brought, by the grace of God, safely to this city of Seville. I think your excellency will be gratified to learn the result of my voyage, and the most surprising things which have been presented to my observation. If I am somewhat tedious, let my letter be read in your more idle hours, as fruit is eaten after the cloth is removed from the table. Your excellency will please to note that, commissioned by his highness the King of Spain, I set out with two small ships, on May 18, 1499, on a voyage of discovery to the southwest, by way of the great ocean, and steered my course along the coast of Africa, until I reached the Fortunate Islands, which are now called the Canaries. After having provided ourselves with all things necessary, first offering our prayers to God, we set sail from an island which is called Gomera, and, turning our prows southwardly, sailed twenty-four days with a fresh wind, without seeing any land.

At the end of these twenty-four days we came within sight of land, and found that we had sailed about thirteen hundred leagues, and were at that distance from the city of Cadiz, in a southwesterly direction. When we saw the land we gave thanks to God, and then launched our boats, and, with sixteen men, went to the shore, which we found thickly covered with trees, astonishing both on account of their size and their verdure, for they never lose their foliage. The sweet odor which they exhaled—for they are all aromatic—highly delighted us, and we were rejoiced in regaling our nostrils.

We rowed along the shore in the boats, to see if we could find any suitable place for landing, but, after toiling from morning till night, we found no way or passage which we could enter and disembark. We were prevented from doing so by the lowness of the land, and by its being so densely covered with trees. We concluded, therefore, to return to the ships, and make an attempt to land in some other spot.

We observed one remarkable circumstance in these seas.

It was that at fifteen leagues from the land we found the water fresh like that of a river, and we filled all our empty casks with it. Having returned to our ships, we raised anchor and set sail, turning our prows southwardly, as it was my intention to see whether I could sail around a point of land which Ptolemy calls the Cape of Cattegara, which is near the Great Bay. In my opinion it was not far from it, according to the degrees of latitude and longitude, which will be stated hereafter. Sailing in a southerly direction along the coast, we saw two large rivers issuing from the land, one running from west to east, and being four leagues in width, which is sixteen miles; the other ran from south to north, and was three leagues wide. I think that these two rivers, by reason of their magnitude, caused the freshness of the water in the adjoining sea. Seeing that the coast was invariably low, we determined to enter one of these rivers with the boats, and ascend it till we either found a suitable landing-place or an inhabited village.

Having prepared our boats, and put in provision for four days, with twenty men well armed, we entered the river, and rowed nearly two days, making a distance of about eighteen leagues. We attempted to land in many places by the way, but found the low land still continuing, and so thickly covered with trees that a bird could scarcely fly through them. While thus navigating the river, we saw very certain indications that the inland parts of the country were inhabited; nevertheless, as our vessels remained in a dangerous place in case an adverse wind should arise, we concluded, at the end of two days, to return.

Here we saw an immense number of birds, of various forms and colors; a great number of parrots, and so many varieties of them that it caused us great astonishment. Some were crimson-colored, others of variegated green and lemon, others entirely green, and others, again, that were black and flesh-colored. Oh! the song of other species of birds, also, was so sweet and so melodious, as we heard it among the trees, that we often lingered, listening to their charming music. The trees, too, were so beautiful and smelled so sweetly that we almost imagined ourselves in a terrestrial paradise; yet not one of those trees, or the fruit of them, was similar to the trees or fruit in our part of the world. On our way back we saw many people, of various descriptions, fishing in the river.

Having arrived at our ships, we raised anchor and set sail, still continuing in a southerly direction, and standing off to sea about forty leagues. While sailing on this course, we encountered a current which ran from southeast to northwest; so great was it, and ran so furiously, that we were put into great fear, and were exposed to great peril. The current was so strong that the Strait of Gibraltar and that of the Faro of Messina appeared to us like mere stagnant water in comparison with it. We could scarcely make any headway against it, though we had the wind fresh and fair. Seeing that we made no progress, or but very little, and the danger to which we were exposed, we determined to turn our prows to the northwest.

As I know, if I remember right, that your excellency understands something of cosmography, I intend to describe to you our progress in our navigation, by the latitude and longitude. We sailed so far to the south that we entered the torrid zone and penetrated the circle of Cancer. You may rest assured that for a few days, while sailing through the torrid zone, we saw four shadows of the sun, as the sun appeared in the zenith to us at midday. I would say that the sun, being in our meridian, gave us no shadow; but this I was enabled many times to demonstrate to all the company, and took their testimony of the fact. This I did on account of the ignorance of the common people, who do not know that the sun moves through its circle of the zodiac. At one time I saw our shadow to the south, at another to the north, at another to the west, and at another to the east, and sometimes, for an hour or two of the day, we had no shadow at all.

We sailed so far south in the torrid zone that we found ourselves under the equinoctial line, and had both poles at the edge of the horizon. Having passed the line, and sailed six degrees to the south of it, we lost sight of the north star altogether, and even the stars of Ursa Minor, or, to speak better, the guardians which revolve about the firmament, were scarcely seen. Very desirous of being the author who should designate the other polar star of the firmament, I lost, many a time, my night's sleep while contemplating the movement of the stars around the southern pole, in order to ascertain which had the least motion, and which might be nearest to the firmament; but I was not able to accomplish it with such bad nights as I had, and such instruments as I used, which were the quadrant and astrolabe. I could not distinguish a star which had less than ten degrees of motion around the firmament; so that I was not satisfied within myself to name any particular one for the pole of the meridian, on account of the large revolution which they all made around the firmament.

While I was arriving at this conclusion as the result of my investigations, I recollected a verse of our poet Dante, which may be found in the first chapter of his Purgatory, where he imagines he is leaving this hemisphere to repair to the other, and, attempting to describe the antarctic pole, says:

"I turned to the right hand and fixed my mind On the other pole, and saw four stars Not seen before, since the time of our first parents: Joyous appeared the heavens for their glory. Oh, northern lands are widowed Since deprived of such a sight."

It appears to me that the poet wished to describe in these verses, by the four stars, the pole of the other firmament, and I have little doubt, even now, that what he says may be true. I observed four stars in the figure of an almond, which had but little motion, and if God gives me life and health I hope to go again into that hemisphere, and not to return without observing the pole. In conclusion, I would remark that we extended our navigation so far south that our difference of latitude from the city of Cadiz was sixty degrees and a half, because, at that city, the pole is elevated thirty-five degrees and a half, and we had passed six degrees beyond the equinoctial line. Let this suffice as to our latitude. You must observe that this our navigation was in the months of July, August, and September, when, as you know, the sun is longest above the horizon in our hemisphere, and describes the greatest arch in the day and the least in the night. On the contrary, while we were at the equinoctial line, or near it, within four to six degrees, the difference between the day and the night was not perceptible. They were of equal length, or very nearly so.

As to the longitude, I would say that I found so much difficulty in discovering it that I had to labor very hard to ascertain the distance I had made by means of longitude. I found nothing better, at last, than to watch the opposition of the planets during the night, and especially that of the moon, with the other planets, because the moon is swifter in her course than any other of the heavenly bodies. I compared my observations with the almanac of Giovanni da Monteregio, which was composed for the meridian of the city of Ferrara, verifying them with the calculations in the tables of King Alfonso, and, afterward, with the many observations I had myself made one night with another.

On August 23, 1499—when the moon was in conjunction with Mars, which, according to the almanac, was to take place at midnight, or half an hour after—I found that when the moon rose to the horizon, an hour and a half after the sun had set, the planet had passed in that part of the east. I observed that the moon was about a degree and some minutes farther east than Mars, and at midnight she was five degrees and a half farther east, a little more or less. So that, making the proportion, if twenty-four hours are equal to three hundred and sixty degrees, what are five hours and a half equal to? I found the result to be eighty-two degrees and a half, which was equal to my longitude from the meridian of the city of Cadiz, then giving to every degree sixteen leagues and two-thirds, which is five thousand four hundred sixty-six miles and two-thirds. The reason why I give sixteen leagues to each degree is because, according to Tolomeo and Alfagrano, the earth turns twenty-four thousand miles, which is equal to six thousand leagues, which, being divided by three hundred sixty degrees, gives to each degree sixteen leagues and two-thirds. This calculation I certified many times conjointly with the pilots, and found it true and good.

It appears to me, most excellent Lorenzo, that by this voyage most of those philosophers are controverted who say that the torrid zone cannot be inhabited on account of the great heat. I have found the case to be quite the contrary. I have found that the air is fresher and more temperate in that region than beyond it, and that the inhabitants are also more numerous here than they are in the other zones, for reasons which will be given below. Thus it is certain that practice is of more value than theory.

Thus far I have related the navigation I accomplished in the south and west. It now remains for me to inform you of the appearance of the country we discovered, the nature of the inhabitants, and their customs, the animals we saw, and of many other things worthy of remembrance which fell under my observation. After we turned our course to the north, the first land we found to be inhabited was an island at ten degrees distant from the equinoctial line. When we arrived at it we saw on the sea-shore a great many people, who stood looking at us with astonishment. We anchored within about a mile of the land, fitted out the boats, and twenty-two men, well armed, made for land. The people, when they saw us landing, and perceived that we were different from themselves—because they have no beard and wear no clothing of any description, being also of a different color, they being brown and we white—began to be afraid of us, and all ran into the woods. With great exertion, by means of signs, we reassured them and negotiated with them. We found that they were of a race called cannibals, the greater part or all of whom live on human flesh.

Your excellency may rest assured of this fact. They do not eat one another, but, navigating with certain barks which they call 'canoes,' they bring their prey from the neighboring islands or countries inhabited by those who are enemies or of a different tribe from their own. They never eat any women, unless they consider them outcasts. These things we verified in many places where we found similar people. We often saw the bones and heads of those who had been eaten, and they who had made the repast admitted the fact, and said that their enemies always stood in much greater fear on that account.

Still they are a people of gentle disposition and beautiful stature. They go entirely naked, and the arms which they carry are bows and arrows and shields. They are a people of great activity and much courage. They are very excellent marksmen. In fine, we held much intercourse with them, and they took us to one of their villages, about two leagues inland, and gave us our breakfast. They gave whatever was asked of them, though I think more through fear than affection; and after having been with them all one day, we returned to the ships, still remaining on friendly terms with them.

We sailed along the coast of this island, and saw by the seashore another large village of the same tribe. We landed in the boats, and found they were waiting for us, all loaded with provisions, and they gave us enough to make a very good breakfast, according to their ideas of dishes. Seeing they were such kind people, and treated us so well, we dared not take anything from them, and made sail till we arrived at a gulf which is called the Gulf of Paria. We anchored opposite the mouth of a great river, which causes the water of this gulf to be fresh, and saw a large village close to the sea. We were surprised at the great number of people who were seen there. They were without arms, and seemed peaceably disposed. We went ashore with the boats, and they received us with great friendship, and took us to their houses, where they had made very good preparations for breakfast. Here they gave us three sorts of wine to drink, not of the juice of the grape, but made of fruits, like beer, and they were excellent. Here, also, we ate many fresh acorns, a most royal fruit. They gave us many other fruits, all different from ours and of very good flavor, the flavor and odor of all being aromatic.

They gave us some small pearls and eleven large ones, and they told us by signs that if we would wait some days they would go and fish for them and bring us many of them. We did not wish to be detained, so with many parrots of various colors, and in good friendship, we parted from them. From these people we learned that those of the before-mentioned island were cannibals and ate human flesh. We issued from this gulf and sailed along the coast, seeing continually great numbers of people, and when we were so disposed we treated with them, and they gave us everything we asked of them. They all go as naked as they were born, without being ashamed. If all were to be related concerning the little shame they have, it would be bordering on impropriety; therefore it is better to suppress it.

After having sailed about four hundred leagues continually along the coast, we concluded that this land was a continent, which might be bounded by the eastern parts of Asia, this being the commencement of the western part of the continent, because it happened often that we saw divers animals, such as lions, stags, goats, wild hogs, rabbits, and other land animals which are not found in islands, but only on the mainland. Going inland one day with twenty men, we saw a serpent which was about twenty-four feet in length, and as large in girth as myself. We were very much afraid of it, and the sight of it caused us to return immediately to the sea. I oftentimes saw many very ferocious animals and serpents.

Thus sailing along the coast, we discovered every day a great number of people, speaking various languages. When we had navigated four hundred leagues along the coast we began to find people who did not wish for our friendship, but stood waiting for us with arms, which were bows and arrows, and with some other arms which they use. When we went to the shore in our boats, they disputed our landing in such a manner that we were obliged to fight with them. At the end of the battle they found that they had the worst of it, for, as they were naked, we always made great slaughter. Many times not more than sixteen of us fought with two thousand of them, and in the end defeated them, killing many and robbing their houses.

One day we saw a great many people, all posted in battle array to prevent our landing. We fitted out twenty-six men, well armed, and covered the boats, on account of the arrows which were shot at us, and which always wounded some of us before we landed. After they had hindered us as long as they could, we leaped on shore, and fought a hard battle with them. The reason why they had so much courage and fought with such great exertion against us was that they did not know what kind of a weapon the sword was, or how it cuts. While thus engaged in combat, so great was the multitude of people who charged upon us, throwing at us such a cloud of arrows, that we could not withstand the assault, and, nearly abandoning the hope of life, we turned our backs and ran to the boats. While thus disheartened and flying, one of our sailors, a Portuguese, a man of fifty-five years of age, who had remained to guard the boat, seeing the danger we were in, jumped on shore, and with a loud voice called out to us, "Children! turn your faces to your enemies, and God will give you the victory!" Throwing himself on his knees, he made a prayer, and then rushed furiously upon the Indians, and we all joined with him, wounded as we were. On that, they turned their backs to us and began to flee, and finally we routed them and killed one hundred fifty. We burned their houses also, at least one hundred eighty in number. Then, as we were badly wounded and weary, we returned to the ships, and went into a harbor to recruit, where we stayed twenty days, solely that the physician might cure us. All escaped except one, who was wounded in the left breast.

After being cured, we recommenced our navigation, and, through the same cause, we often were obliged to fight with a great many people, and always had the victory over them. Thus continuing our voyage, we came upon an island, fifteen leagues distant from the mainland. As at our arrival we saw no collection of people, the island appearing favorably, we determined to attempt it, and eleven of us landed. We found a path, in which we walked nearly two leagues inland, and came to a village of about twelve houses, in which there were only seven women, who were so large that there was not one among them who was not a span and a half taller than myself. When they saw us, they were very much frightened, and the principal one among them, who was certainly a discreet woman, led us by signs into a house, and had refreshments prepared for us.

We saw such large women that were about determining to carry off two young ones, about fifteen years of age, and make a present of them to their king, as they were, without doubt, creatures whose stature was above that of common men. While we were debating this subject, thirty-six men entered the house where we were drinking; they were of such large stature that each one was taller when upon his knees than I when standing erect. In fact, they were of the stature of giants in their size and in the proportion of their bodies, which corresponded well with their height. Each of the women appeared a Pantasilea, and the men Antei. When they came in, some of our own number were so frightened that they did not consider themselves safe. They had bows and arrows, and very large clubs made in the form of swords. Seeing that we were of small stature, they began to converse with us, in order to learn who we were and from what parts we came. We gave them fair words, for the sake of peace, and said that we were going to see the world. Finally, we held it to be our wisest course to part from them without questioning in our turn; so returned by the same path in which we had come, they accompanying us quite to the sea, till we went on board the ships.

Nearly half the trees of this island are dye-wood, as good as that of the East. We went from this island to another in the vicinity, at ten leagues' distance, and found a very large village, the houses of which were built over the sea, like Venice, with much ingenuity. While we were struck with admiration at this circumstance, we determined to go and see them; and as we went to their houses, they attempted to prevent our entering. They found out at last the manner in which the sword cuts, and thought it best to let us enter. We found their houses filled with the finest cotton, and the beams of their dwellings were made of dye-wood. We took a quantity of their cotton and some dye-wood and returned to the ships.

Your excellency must know that in all parts where we landed we found a great quantity of cotton, and the country filled with cotton-trees, so that all the vessels in the world might be loaded in these parts with cotton and dye-wood.

At length we sailed three hundred leagues farther along the coast, constantly finding savage but brave people, and very often fighting with them and vanquishing them. We found seven different languages among them, each of which was not understood by those who spoke the others. It is said there are not more than seventy-seven languages in the world, but I say there are more than a thousand, as there are more than forty which I have heard myself.

After having sailed along this coast seven hundred leagues or more, besides visiting numerous islands, our ships became greatly sea-worn and leaked badly, so that we could hardly keep them free with two pumps going. The men also were much fatigued and the provisions growing short. We were then, according to the decision of the pilots, within a hundred twenty leagues of an island called Hispaniola, discovered by the admiral Columbus six years before. We determined to proceed to it, and, as it was inhabited by Christians, to repair our ships there, allow the men a little repose, and recruit our stock of provisions; because from this island to Castile there are three hundred leagues of ocean, without any land intervening.

In seven days we arrived at this island, where we stayed two months. Here we refitted our ships and obtained our supply of provisions. We afterward concluded to go to northern parts, where we discovered more than a thousand islands, the greater part of them being inhabited. The people were without clothing, timid, and ignorant, and we did whatever we wished to do with them. This last portion of our discoveries was very dangerous to our navigation, on account of the shoals which we found thereabout. In several instances we came near being lost. We sailed in this sea two hundred leagues directly north, until our people had become worn down with fatigue, through having been already nearly a year at sea. Their allowance was only six ounces of bread for eating, and but three small measures of water for drinking, per diem. And as the ships became dangerous to navigate with much longer, they remonstrated, saying that they wished to return to their homes in Castile, and not to tempt fortune and the sea any more. Whereupon we concluded to take some prisoners as slaves, and, loading the ships with them, to return at once to Spain. Going, therefore, to certain islands, we possessed ourselves by force of two hundred thirty-two, and steered our course for Castile. In sixty-seven days we crossed the ocean and arrived at the islands of the Azores, which belong to the King of Portugal and are three hundred leagues distant from Cadiz. Here, having taken in our refreshments, we sailed for Castile, but the wind was contrary and we were obliged to go to the Canary Islands, from there to the island of Madeira, and thence to Cadiz.

We were absent thirteen months on this voyage, exposing ourselves to awful dangers, and discovering a very large country of Asia and a great many islands, the largest part of them inhabited. According to the calculations I have several times made with the compass, we have sailed about five thousand leagues. To conclude, we passed the equinoctial line six and a half degrees to the south, and afterward turned to the north, which we penetrated so far that the north star was at an elevation of thirty-five degrees and a half above our horizon. To the west we sailed eighty-four degrees distant from the meridian of the city and port of Cadiz. We discovered immense regions, saw a vast number of people, all naked and speaking various languages. On the land we saw numerous wild animals, various kinds of birds, and an infinite number of trees, all aromatic. We brought home pearls in their growing state, and gold in the grain; we brought two stones, one of emerald color and the other of amethyst, which was very hard, and at least a half a span long and three fingers thick. The sovereigns esteem them most highly, and have preserved them among their jewels. We brought also a piece of crystal, which some jewellers say is beryl, and, according to what the Indians told us, they had a great quantity of the same; we brought fourteen flesh-colored pearls, with which the Queen was highly delighted; we brought many other stones which appeared beautiful to us, but of all these we did not bring a large quantity, as we were continually busied in our navigation, and did not tarry long in any place.

When we arrived at Cadiz we sold many slaves, finding two hundred remaining to us; the others, completing the number of two hundred thirty-two, having died at sea. After deducting the expense of transportation, we gained only about five hundred ducats, which, having to be divided into fifty-five parts, made each share very small. However, we contented ourselves with life, and rendered thanks to God that, during the whole voyage, out of fifty-seven Christian men, which was our number, only two had died, they having been killed by Indians.

I have had two quartan agues since my return, but I hope, by the favor of God, to be well soon, and they do not continue long now, and are without chills. I have passed over many things worthy of remembrance, in order not to be more tedious than I can help, all which are reserved for the pen and in the memory.

They are fitting out three ships for me here, that I may go on a new voyage of discovery; and I think they will be ready by the middle of September. May it please our Lord to give me health and a good voyage, as I hope again to bring very great news and discover the island of Trapodana, which is between the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Ganges. Afterward I intend to return to my country and seek repose in the days of my old age. I have resolved, most excellent Lorenzo, that, as I have thus given you an account by letter of what has occurred to me, to send you two plans and descriptions of the world, made and arranged by my own hand skill. There will be a map on a plane surface, and the other a view of the world in spherical form, which I intend to send you by sea, in the care of one Francesco Lotti, a Florentine, who is here. I think you will be pleased with them, particularly with the globe, as I made one not long since for these sovereigns, and they esteem it highly. I could have wished to have come with them personally, but my new departure for making other discoveries will not allow me that pleasure. There are not wanting in your city persons who understand the figure of the world, and who may, perhaps, correct something in it. Nevertheless, whatever may be pointed out for me to correct, let them wait till I come, as it may be that I shall defend myself and prove my accuracy.

I suppose your excellency has learned the news brought by the fleet which the King of Portugal sent two years ago to make discoveries on the coast of Guinea. I do not call such a voyage as that one of discovery, but only a visit to discovered lands; because, as you will see by the map, their navigation was continually within sight of land, and they sailed round the whole southern part of Africa, which is proceeding by a way spoken of by all cosmographical authors. It is true that the navigation has been very profitable, which is a matter of great consideration in this kingdom, where inordinate covetousness reigns. I understand that they passed from the Red Sea and extended their voyage into the Persian Gulf to a city called Calicut, situated between the Persian Gulf and the river Indus. More lately the King of Portugal has received from sea twelve ships very richly laden, and he has sent them again to those parts, where they will certainly do a profitable business if they arrive safely.

May our Lord preserve and increase the exalted state of your noble excellency as I desire. July 18, 1500.

Your excellency's humble servant, AMERIGO VESPUCCI.


A.D. 1502

The commencement of the sixteenth century found Italy suffering from the foreign interference of France and Spain. The chief Italian states at this period were the kingdom of Naples, the Papal States, the duchy of Milan, and the republics of Venice, Florence, and Genoa. Ferdinand V of Aragon and Louis XII of France, who had hereditary claims through his grandmother Valentina Visconti, had concluded a secret and perfidious treaty for the partition of the kingdom of Naples, the effects of which Frederick II, the King, vainly sought to avert. They conquered Naples in 1501, but disagreed over the division of the spoil, and, the French army being defeated by the Spanish on the Garigliano in 1503, Spanish influence soon after became dominant in Italy.

In the march of the French army on Naples in 1501, the French commander had for lieutenant Caesar Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, whose career furnishes a vivid illustration of the internal conditions of Italy at this period. Borgia, who had resigned from the cardinalate conferred on him by his father, had been created Duke of Valentinois by the King of France, had married the daughter of the King of Navarre, and was invested with the duchy of Romagna by his father in 1501.

By force and treachery he reduced the cities of Romagna, which were ruled by feudatories of the papal see, and, with the assistance of his relations, endeavored to found an independent hereditary power in Central Italy.

The contemporaneous account of these events, by the celebrated Niccolo Machiavelli, possesses a fascinating interest, which is greatly enhanced by the fact that Machiavelli himself was a participant in the events of which he writes.

A Florentine by birth, Machiavelli was sent by his fellow-citizens, in 1502, on a mission to Borgia, who had just returned from a visit to the King of France in Lombardy. During Borgia's absence, friends and former colleagues, alarmed at his ambition and cruelty, had entered into a league with his enemies, and invited the Florentines to join them. The Florentines refused, but sent Machiavelli to make professions of friendship and offers of assistance to the Duke, and at the same time to watch his movements, to discover his real intentions, and endeavor to obtain something in return for their friendship. Borgia, who had the reputation of being the closest man of his age, had to deal with a negotiator who, though young, was a match for him, and the account of the mission is very curious; there was deep dissimulation on both sides.

Machiavelli returned to Florence in January, 1503, after three eventful months passed in the court and camp of Borgia.

The treatise The Prince has been described as "a display of cool, judicious, scientific atrocity on the part of Caesar Borgia (Duke Valentino), which seemed rather to belong to a fiend than to the most depraved of men. Principles which the most hardened ruffian would scarcely hint to his most trusted accomplice, or avow without the disguise of some palliating sophism even to his own mind, are professed without the slightest circumlocution, and assumed as the fundamental axioms of all political science."

On being reproved for the maxims contained in the work, Machiavelli replied, "If I taught princes how to tyrannize, I also taught the people how to destroy them"; and in these words posterity has vindicated the reputation of the talented Italian statesman and author.

Those who from a private station have ascended to the dignity of princes, by the favor of fortune alone, meet with few difficulties in their progress, but encounter many in maintaining themselves on the throne. Obstructed by no impediments during their journey, they soar to a great height, but all the difficulties arise after they are quietly seated. These princes are chiefly such as acquire their dominions by money or by favor. Such were the men whom Darius placed in Greece, in the cities of Ionia and of the Hellespont, whom, for their own security and glory, he raised to the rank of sovereigns.

Such were the emperors who from a private station arrived at the empire by corrupting the soldiery. They sustained their elevation only by the pleasure and fortune of those who advanced them, two foundations equally uncertain and insecure. They had neither the experience nor the power necessary to maintain their position. For, unless men possess superior genius or courage, how can they know in what manner to govern others who have themselves always been accustomed to a private station? Deficient in knowledge, they will be equally destitute of power for want of troops on whose attachment and fidelity they can depend. Besides, those states which have suddenly risen, like other things in nature of premature and rapid growth, do not take sufficient root in the minds of men, but they must fall with the first stroke of adversity; unless the princes themselves—so unexpectedly exalted—possess such superior talents that they can discover at once the means of preserving their good-fortune, and afterward maintain it by having recourse to the same measures which others had adopted before them.

To adduce instances of supreme power attained by good-fortune and superior talent, I may refer to two examples which have happened in our own time, viz., Francis Sforza and Caesar Borgia. The former, by lawful means and by his great abilities, raised himself from a private station to the dukedom of Milan, and maintained with but little difficulty what had cost him so much trouble to acquire. Caesar Borgia, Duke of Valentinois—commonly called the duke of Valentino—on the other hand, attained a sovereignty by the good-fortune of his father, which he lost soon after his father's decease; though he exerted his utmost endeavors, and employed every means that skill or prudence could suggest, to retain those states which he had acquired by the arms and good-fortune of another. For, though a good foundation may not have been laid before a man arrives at dominion, it may possibly be accomplished afterward by a ruler of superior mind; yet this can only be effected with much difficulty to the architect and danger to the edifice. If therefore we examine the whole conduct of Borgia, we shall see how firm a foundation he had laid for future greatness. This examination will not be superfluous—for I know no better lesson for the instruction of a prince than is afforded by the actions and example of the Duke—for, if the measures he adopted did not succeed, it was not his fault, but rather owing to the extreme perversity of fortune. Pope Alexander VI, wishing to give his son a sovereignty in Italy, had not only present but future difficulties to contend with. In the first place, he saw no means of making him sovereign of any state independent of the Church; and, if he should endeavor to dismember the ecclesiastical state, he knew that the Duke of Milan and the Venetians would never consent to it, because Faenza and Rimini were already under the protection of the latter; and the armies of Italy, from whom he might expect material service, were in the hands of those who had the most reason to apprehend the aggrandizement of the papal power, such as the Orsini, the Colonni, and their partisans.

It was consequently necessary to dissolve these connections and to throw the Italian states into confusion in order to secure the sovereignty of a part. This was easy to accomplish. The Venetians, influenced by motives of their own, had determined to invite the French into Italy. The Pope made no opposition to their design; he even favored it by consenting to annul the first marriage of Louis XII, who therefore marched into Italy with the aid of the Venetians and the consent of Alexander. He was no sooner at Milan than the Pope availed himself of his assistance to overrun Romagna, which he acquired by the reputation of his alliance with the King of France.

The Duke, having thus acquired Romagna, and weakened the Colonni, wished at the same time to preserve and increase his own principality; but there were two obstacles in his way. The first arose from his own people, upon whom he could not depend, the other from the designs of the French. He feared that the Orsini, of whose aid he had availed himself, might fail at the critical moment, and not only prevent his further acquisitions, but even deprive him of those he had made. And he had reason to apprehend the same conduct on the part of France, and was convinced of the trifling reliance he could place on the Orsini; for after the reduction of Faenza, when he made an attack upon Bologna, they manifested an evident want of activity. As to the King, his intentions were easily discerned; for when he had conquered the duchy of Urbino, and was about to make an irruption into Tuscany, the King obliged him to desist from the enterprise. The Duke determined, therefore, neither to depend on fortune nor on the arms of another prince. He began by weakening the party of the Orsini and the Colonni at Rome, by corrupting all the persons of distinction who adhered to them, either by bribes, appointments, or commands suited to their respective qualities, so that in a few months a complete revolution was effected in their attachment, and they all came over to the Duke.

Having thus humbled the Colonni, he only waited an opportunity for destroying the Orsini. It was not long before one offered, of which he did not fail to avail himself. The Orsini, perceiving too late that the power of the Duke and the Church must be established upon their ruin, called a council of their friends at Magione, in Perugia, to concert measures of prevention. The consequence of their deliberations was the revolt of Urbino, the disturbances of Romagna, and the infinite dangers which threatened the Duke on every side, and which he finally surmounted by the aid of the French. His affairs once reestablished, he grew weary of relying on France and other foreign allies, and he resolved for the future to rely alone on artifice and dissimulation—a course in which he so well succeeded that the Orsini were reconciled to him through the intervention of Signor Paolo, whom he had gained over to his interests by all manner of rich presents and friendly offices. And this man, being deceived himself, so far prevailed on the credulity of the rest that they attended the Duke at an interview at Sinigaglia, where they were all put to death. Having thus exterminated the chiefs, and converted their partisans into his friends, the Duke laid the solid foundations of his power. He made himself master of all Romagna and the duchy of Urbino, and gained the affection of the inhabitants—particularly the former—by giving them a prospect of the advantages they might hope to enjoy from his government. As this latter circumstance is remarkable and worthy of imitation, I cannot suffer it to pass unnoticed.

After the Duke had possessed himself of Romagna, he found it had been governed by a number of petty princes, more addicted to the spoliation than the government of their subjects, and whose political weakness rather served to create popular disturbances than to secure the blessings of peace. The country was infested with robbers, torn by factions, and a prey to all the horrors of civil commotions. He found that, to establish tranquillity, order, and obedience, a vigorous government was necessary. With this view, he appointed Ramiro d'Orco governor, a cruel but active man, to whom he gave the greatest latitude of power. He very soon appeased the disturbances, united all parties, and acquired the renown of restoring the whole country to peace.

The Duke soon deemed it no longer necessary to continue so rigorous and odious a system. He therefore erected in the midst of the province a court of civil judicature, with a worthy and upright magistrate to preside over it, where every city had its respective advocate. He was aware that the severities of Ramiro had excited some hatred against him, and resolved to clear himself from all reproach in the minds of the people, and to gain their affection by showing them that the cruelties which had been committed did not originate with him, but solely in the ferocious disposition of his minister. Taking advantage of the discontent, he caused Ramiro to be massacred one morning in the market-place, and his body exposed upon a gibbet, with a cutlass near it stained with blood. The horror of this spectacle satisfied the resentment of the people and petrified them at once with terror and astonishment.

The Duke had now delivered himself in a great measure from present enemies, and taken effectual means to secure himself by employing against them arms of his own, putting it out of the power of his neighbors to annoy him. To secure and increase his acquisitions, he had nothing to fear from anyone but the French. He well knew that the King of France, who had at last perceived his error, would oppose his further aggrandizement. He resolved, in the first place, to form new connections and alliances, and adopted a system of prevarication with France, as plainly appeared when their army was employed in Naples against the Spaniards who had laid siege to Gaeta. His design was to fortify himself against them, and he would certainly have succeeded if Alexander VI had lived a little longer. Such were the methods he took to guard against present dangers.

Against those which were more remote—as he had reason to fear that the new pope would be inimical to him and seek to deprive him of what had been bestowed on him by his predecessor—he designed to have made four different provisions: In the first place, by utterly destroying the families of all those nobles whom he had deprived of their states, so that the future pope might not reestablish them; secondly, by attaching to his interests all the gentry of Rome, in order, by their means, to control the power of the Pope; thirdly, by securing a majority in the college of cardinals; fourthly and lastly, by acquiring so much power, during the lifetime of his father, that he might be enabled of himself to resist the first attack of the enemy. Three of these designs he had effected before the death of Alexander, and had made every necessary arrangement for availing himself of the fourth. He had put to death almost all the nobles whom he had despoiled, and had gained over all the Roman gentry; his party was the strongest in the college of cardinals; and, for a further augmentation of his power, he designed to have made himself master of Tuscany. He was already master of Perugia and Piombino, and had taken Pisa under his protection, of which he soon afterward took actual possession. His cautious policy with regard to the French was no longer necessary, as they had been driven from the kingdom of Naples by the Spaniards, and both of these people were under the necessity of courting his friendship. Lucca and Sienna presently submitted to him, either from fear or hatred of the Florentines. The latter were then unable to defend themselves; and, if this had been the case at the time of Alexander's death, the Duke's power and reputation would have been so great that he might have sustained his dignity without any dependence on fortune or the support of others.

Alexander VI died five years after he had first unsheathed his sword. He left his son nothing firmly established but the single state of Romagna. All his other conquests were absolutely visionary, as he was not only enclosed between two hostile and powerful armies, but was himself attacked by a mortal disease. The Duke, however, possessed so much ability and courage, was so well acquainted with the arts either of gaining or ruining others as it suited his purpose, and so strong were the foundations he had laid in that short space of time, that if he had either been in health or not distressed by those two hostile armies, he would have surmounted every difficulty.

As a proof of the soundness of the foundation he had laid, Romagna continued faithful to him and was firm to his interest for above a month afterward. Although the Baglioni, the Vitelli, and the Ursini all came to Rome at that time, yet—half dead as he was—they feared to attempt anything against him. If he could not elect a pope of his own choice, he was at least able to prevent the election of one unfriendly to his interests. If he had been in health when Alexander died, he would have succeeded in all his designs; for he said, the very day that Julius II was elected, that he had foreseen every obstacle which could arise on the death of his father, and had prepared adequate remedies, but that he could not foresee that at the time of his father's death his own life would be in such imminent hazard.[1]

Upon a thorough review of the Duke's conduct and actions, I cannot reproach him with having omitted any precaution; and I feel that he merits being proposed as a model to all who by fortune or foreign arms succeed in acquiring sovereignty. For as he had a great spirit and vast designs, he could not have acted otherwise in his circumstances; and if he miscarried in them, it was solely owing to the sudden death of his father, and the illness with which he was himself attacked. Whoever, therefore, would secure himself in a new principality against the attempts of enemies, and finds it necessary to gain friends; to surmount obstacles by force of cunning; to make himself beloved and feared by the people, respected and obeyed by the soldiery; to destroy all those who can or may oppose his designs; to promulgate new laws in substitution of old ones; to be severe, indulgent, magnanimous, and liberal; to disband an army on which he cannot rely, and raise another in its stead; to preserve the friendship of kings and princes, so that they may be ever prompt to oblige and fearful to offend—such a one, I say, cannot have a better or more recent model for his imitation than is afforded by the conduct of Borgia.

One thing blamable in his actions occurred on the election of Julius II to the pontificate. He could not nominate the prelate whom he wished, but he had it in his power to exclude anyone whom he disliked. He ought therefore never to have consented to the election of one of those cardinals whom he had formerly injured, and who might have reason to fear him after his election; for mankind injure others from motives either of hatred or fear. Among others whom he had injured were St. Peter ad Vincula Colonna, St. George, and Ascanius. All the other candidates for the pontificate had cause to fear him except the Cardinal of Rouen and the Spanish cardinals—the latter were united to him by family connections—and the Cardinal d'Amboise, who was too powerfully supported by France to have reason to fear him.

The Duke ought by all means to have procured the election of a Spaniard, or, in case of failure, should have consented to the proposal of the Archbishop of Rouen, but on no account to the nomination of St. Peter ad Vincula. It is an error to think that new obligations will extinguish the memory of former injuries in the minds of great men. The Duke therefore in this election committed a fault which proved the occasion of his utter ruin[2].

[Footnote 1: On August 18, 1503, he and his father drank, by mistake, a poison which they had presumably prepared for one of their guests. The father died, and Borgia's life was for a time in extreme danger.]

[Footnote:2 Within thirteen months he lost all his sovereignties, and was imprisoned, but escaped to Spain, where he was killed in the attack on Viana in 1507.]


A.D. 1508

In the history of the Renaissance the revival of art adds a new glory to that of letters, and among the masters of that revival there is none greater than Michelangelo Buonarroti, sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and heroic man. He was descended from an ancient but not distinguished Florentine family, and was born at Caprese, Italy, March 6, 1475. In 1488 he was apprenticed to the painter Ghirlandajo. He studied antique marbles in the garden of San Marco, where he was discovered by Lorenzo de' Medici, who in 1489 took him into his palace. There the young student remained until his patron's death (1492), improving the great opportunities presented to him. The Mask of a Faun was sculptured during this time.

Before the expulsion of the Medici he went to Bologna, and there executed several works. Returning to Florence in 1495, he was called next year to Rome, where he lived till 1501, producing works which displayed his extraordinary genius, the most important of them being the Pieta di San Pietro (1498). Again returning to Florence, he carved his first David from an immense block of Carrara marble. In 1505 he was summoned again to Rome, by Pope Julius II, to design his tomb, and this work occupied Michelangelo, from time to time, throughout the remainder of his life. He was forced—probably through the intrigues of Bramante, his rival in architecture—to leave Rome, and once more (1506) returned to Florence. In the intervals between all these dates he produced many of his masterpieces.

From this period the historian follows Michelangelo through an important stage of his active career, showing how "the hand that rounded Peter's dome," and created so many other of the greatest works of art, toiled on with patient heroism, in spite of hinderances almost incredible. The painting of the Sistine Chapel, upon which his fame so largely rests, is here described in language that reveals the manhood no less clearly than the artistic genius of Michelangelo.

In 1508 Michelangelo returned to Rome and resumed his labors on the mausoleum. He had soon again to abandon them. Bramante had persuaded the Pope that it was unlucky to have his tomb erected, but advised him to employ Michelangelo in painting the chapel built by his uncle Sixtus IV. It was, in effect, in the beginning of this year that he commenced this gigantic decoration, which was destined to be his most splendid work. We shall see the resistance he first opposed to Julius' desire, and the ardor with which he undertook and the rapidity with which he accomplished the work, once he made up his mind to accept it; but first, since, at the period we have come to, most of the statues which now adorn the tomb of Julius II at San Pietro in Vinculo, and those more numerous that belonged to the original project, but which have been dispersed, were blocked out or finished, I wish to give, in order not to return to the subject, a general idea of this monument, to show what, from reduction to reduction, the original design has become, and what annoyances it occasioned its author.

The original magnificent design remained unmodified until 1513; but on Julius' death, his testamentary executors, the Cardinals Santiquatro and Aginense and the Duke of Urbino, reduced to six the number of statues that were to form the decoration, and reduced from ten thousand to six thousand ducats the sum to be employed on it.

From 1513 to 1521 Leo X, who cared less to complete his predecessor's monument than to endow his native city, Florence, with the works of the great artist, employed Michelangelo almost exclusively in building the façade and sacristy of San Lorenzo. During the short, austere pontificate of Adrian VI, Michelangelo again devoted himself to the sculptures of the monument, but under Clement VII he had again to abandon them in order to execute in Florence the projects of Leo X, which the new Pope had adopted. Toward 1531 the Duke of Urbino at last obtained permission for Michelangelo to suspend the works at San Lorenzo in order to finish the tomb so long since begun. Nevertheless it does not appear that he was allowed much time to devote to it. At last, on the death of Clement VII, he thought he had regained his liberty, and could, after such long involuntary delay, fulfil his engagements; but hardly was Paul III installed than he sent for him, gave him the most cordial reception, and begged him to consecrate his talents to his service. Michelangelo replied that it was impossible; he was bound by treaty to terminate the mausoleum of Julius II Paul flew into a rage and said: "Thirty years have I desired this, and now that I am pope I am not to be allowed to satisfy it! I shall tear up this contract. I mean that you shall obey me." The Duke of Urbino loudly complained, openly accusing Michelangelo of want of good faith.

The sculptor, not knowing which way to turn, besought the Pope to allow him to complete the work he was pledged to. He formed the wildest projects in order to escape the amicable compulsion of Paul, among others that of retiring to Carrara, where he had passed some tranquil years among the mountains of marble. The Pontiff, to put an end to all these discussions, issued a brief, dated September 18, 1537, wherein he declared Michelangelo, his heirs and successors, released from all obligations resulting from the different contracts entered into on the subject of the monument. This fashion of terminating things could not satisfy the Duke of Urbino nor relieve Michelangelo. The negotiations were again resumed, and it ended in their agreement that the monument should be raised in the form in which we now see it in the Church of San Pietro in Vinculo, and should be composed of the statue of "Moses" executed entirely by the hand of Michelangelo; of two figures personifying "Active Life" and "Contemplative Life," which were already much advanced, but were to be finished by Rafaello de Monte Lupo; of two other statues by this master—a "Madonna," after a model by Michelangelo, and the figure of "Julius," by Maso del Bosco.

Such is the very abridged history of this monument, which was not entirely completed till 1550, after having caused for nearly half a century real torment to Buonarroti. The Duke of Urbino was not satisfied, neither was Michelangelo. The figures, originally intended to form part of a colossal whole under the great roof of St. Peter's, appear too large for the place they now occupy. The importance of the statue of "Moses" misleads the mind, suggesting the idea that the monument itself is raised to the memory of the Hebrew legislator, rather than to that of the warrior-pope. At all events, in this statue is centred the principal, we may say the unique, interest of the tomb. This prodigious work must be in the memory of all. Amid the masterpieces of ancient and modern sculpture the "Moses" remains ever unparalleled, a type, not irreproachable, but the most striking, of a new art. I do not speak of the consummate science which Michelangelo displays in the modelling of this statue; the Greeks were learned in another fashion, but were so equally with him. Whence comes it, nevertheless, that in spite of bizarreries needless to defend or to deny, and although this austere figure is far from attaining or pretending to the serene and tranquil beauty which the ancients regarded as the supreme term of art, whence is it that it produces upon the most prejudiced mind an irresistible impression? It is that it is more than human, that it lifts the soul into a world of feelings and ideas of which the ancients knew less than we do. Their voluptuous art, in deifying the human form, held down thought to earth. The "Moses" of Michelangelo beheld God, heard that voice of thunder, and bears the terrible impress of what he saw and heard on Mount Sinai: his profound eye is scrutinizing the mysteries he vaguely sees in his prophetic dreams. Is it the Moses of the Bible? I cannot say. Is it in this way Praxiteles and Phidias would have represented Lycurgus and Solon? We may deny it boldly. The legislators in their hands would have been the embodiment of law; they would have represented an abstraction in a form whose harmonious beauty nothing could alter. Moses is not merely the legislator of a people. Not thought alone dwells beneath this powerful brow; he feels, he suffers, he lives in a moral world which Jehovah has opened to him, and, although above humanity, is a man.

On his return to Rome in 1508, Michelangelo had found Julius II not cooled toward him, but preoccupied by new projects. The Pope made no allusion to his monument, and was absorbed in the reconstruction of St. Peter's, which he had confided to Bramante. Raphael was beginning at the same time the frescoes of the Stanza della Segnatura; and two biographers of Michelangelo, whose testimony, it is true, on this point may be suspected, agree in saying that the architect of St. Peter's, jealous of the superiority of the Florentine sculptor, fearing lest he should discover the mistakes committed in his recent constructions, and the malversations of which perhaps he was not innocent, advised the Pope to confide to him the painting of the ceiling of the chapel built by Sixtus IV, hoping to compromise and ruin him by engaging him in works of which he had no experience.

Julius adopted the idea, sent for Michelangelo, and ordered him to begin forthwith. Buonarroti had had no practice in fresco-painting since his student days under Ghirlandajo. He knew that the painting of a ceiling was not an easy matter. He pleaded every excuse, proposed that the commission should be given to Raphael, saying that for his part, being but a sculptor, he could not succeed. The Pope was inflexible, and Michelangelo began the ceiling on May 10, 1508, the most prodigious monument perhaps that ever sprang from the human mind.

Julius had ordered Bramante to construct the necessary scaffoldings, but the latter did it in so inefficient a manner that Michelangelo was obliged to dispense with his assistance, and construct the whole machinery himself. He had sent for some of his fellow-students from Florence, not, as Vasari, by some strange aberration, states, because he was ignorant of fresco-painting, since all the artists of the time understood it, and the pupil of Ghirlandajo had himself practised it, but because his fellow-students had had more experience in it, and he wished to be helped in a work of this importance. He was, however, so dissatisfied with their work that he effaced all that they did, and, without any assistance, if we are to believe his biographer, even grinding his own colors, he shut himself up in the chapel, beginning at dawn, quitting at nightfall, often sleeping in his clothes on the scaffolding, allowing himself but a slight repast at the end of the day, and letting no one see the works he had begun.

Hardly had he set to work when unforeseen difficulties presented themselves, which were on the point of making him relinquish the whole thing. The colors, while still fresh, were covered with a mist, the cause of which he was unable to discover. Utterly discouraged, he went to the Pope and said: "I forewarned your holiness that painting was not my art; all I have done is lost, and, if you do not believe me, order someone to come and see it." Julius sent San Gallo, who saw that the accident was caused by the quality of the time, and that Michelangelo had made his plaster too wet. Buonarroti, after this, proceeded with the utmost ardor, and in the space of twenty months, without further accident, finished the first half.

The mystery with which Michelangelo surrounded himself keenly excited public curiosity. In spite of the painter's objection, Julius frequently visited him in the chapel, and notwithstanding his great age ascended the ladder, Michelangelo extending a hand that he might with safety reach the platform. He grew impatient; he was eager that all Rome should share his admiration. It was in vain that Michelangelo objected that all the machinery would have to be reconstructed, that half the ceiling was not completed; the Pope would listen to nothing, and the chapel was accordingly opened to the public on the morning of November 1, 1509. Julius was the first to arrive before the dust occasioned by the taking down of the scaffolding was laid, and celebrated mass there the same day.

The success was immense. Bramante, seeing that his evil intentions, far from succeeding, had only served to add to the glory of Michelangelo, who had come triumphant out of the trap he had laid for him, besought the Pope to permit Raphael to paint the other half of the chapel. Notwithstanding the affection he bore his architect, Julius adhered to his resolution, and Michelangelo resumed, after a brief interruption, the painting of the ceiling; but rumors of these cabals reached him. They troubled him, and he complained to the Pope of Bramante's conduct. It is probable that the coolness which always existed between Raphael and Michelangelo dates from this period.

The second part of the ceiling, by much the most considerable, was finished in 1512. It is difficult to explain how Vasari, confusing the dates, and appearing to apply to the whole what referred only to the first part, could have stated that this immense work was completed in the space of twenty months. If anything could astonish, it is that Michelangelo was able in four years to accomplish so gigantic a work. It is needless, for the purpose of exciting our admiration, to endeavor to persuade us that it was done in a space of time materially insufficient.

Such was the impatience of Julius that again he nearly quarrelled with Michelangelo. The latter, requiring to go to Florence on business, went to the Pope for money. "When do you mean to finish my chapel?" said the Pope. "As soon as I can," answered Michelangelo. "'As soon as I can! as soon as I can!'" replied the irascible Pontiff; "I'll have you flung off your scaffoldings;" and he touched him with his stick. Michelangelo went home, set his affairs in order, and was on the point of leaving, when the Pope sent him his favorite Accursio with his apology and five hundred ducats.

This time, again, Michelangelo was unable to finish his work as completely as he would have wished. He desired to retouch certain portions; but, seeing the inconvenience of reërecting the scaffoldings, he determined to do nothing more, saying that what was wanting to his figures was not of importance. "You should put a little gold on them," said the Pope; "my chapel will look very poor." "The people I have painted there," answered Michelangelo, "were poor." Accordingly nothing was changed.

These paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine transcend all description. How give an idea of these countless sublime figures to those who have not trembled and turned pale in this awful temple? The immense superiority of Michelangelo is manifest in this chapel itself, where are paintings of Ghirlandajo, of Signorelli, which pale near those of the Florentine as the light of a lamp does in the light of the sun. Raphael painted about the same time, and under the influence of what he had seen in the Sistine, his admirable "Sibyls of the Pace"; but compare them! He also no doubt attained in some of his works—the "St. Paul" of the cartoon, the "Vision of Ezekiel," the "Virgin" of the Dresden Museum—the summit of sublime art; but that which is the exception with Sanzio is the rule with the great Buonarroti. Michelangelo lived in a superhuman world, and his daring, unexpected conceptions are so beyond and outside the habitual thoughts of men that they repel by their very elevation, and are far from fascinating all minds as do the wonderful and charming creations of the painter of Urbino.

It is necessary, however, to combat the widespread opinion that Michelangelo understood only the extreme feelings, and could express these only by violent and exaggerated movements. All agree that his figures possess the highest qualities of art—invention, sublimity of style, breadth and science in the drawing, appropriateness and fitness of color, and this character, so striking in the ceiling of the Sistine that it is not of the painter that the paintings make you think, that looking at it you say to yourself, "This tragic heaven must have come thus all peopled with its gigantic forms"; and it is by an effort of the mind only we are brought to think of the creator of this sublime work. But it is denied that he understood grace, young and innocent beauty, the forms which express the tender and delicate feelings, those which the divine pencil of Raphael so admirably represented. I own that he took little heed of the pleasurable aspect of things; his austere genius was at ease only in grave thoughts; but I do not agree that he was always a stranger to gentle beauty, to feminine beauty in particular. I shall not cite the "Virgin" of the London Academy, nor in another order the admirable "Captive" of the Louvre Museum; but, without quitting the Sistine, could we dream of anything more marvellously beautiful than his "Adam" awaking for the first time to light? or more chaste, more graceful, more touching than his young "Eve" leaning toward her Creator, and breathing in through her half-opened lips the divine breath that is giving her life?

What is the meaning of this terrible work? What means this long evolution of human destiny? Why did these two beings that we see beautiful and happy in the beginning, why did they people the earth with this ardent, restless, at once gigantic and powerless race? Ah! Greece would have made this ceiling an Olympus, inhabited by happy and divine men! Michelangelo put there great unhappy beings, and this painful poem of humanity is truer than the wondrous fictions of ancient poetry and art. "Michelangelo," says Condivi, "especially admired Dante. He also devoted himself earnestly to the reading of the Scriptures and the writings of Savonarola, for whom he had always great affection, having preserved in his mind the memory of his powerful voice." Besides, the country of the great Florentine, the glorious Italy of the Renaissance, was in a state of dissolution. Such studies, such reminiscences, such and so sad realities, may explain the visions that passed through the mind of the great artist during the four years of almost complete solitude he passed in the Sistine. The precise meaning of these compositions will probably never be known, but so long as men exist they will, as is the object of art, attract minds toward the dim world of the ideal.

The year that followed the opening of the Sistine, and which preceded the death of Julius, appears, as do the first two of Leo X's pontificate, to have been the happiest and calmest of Michelangelo's life. The old Pope loved him, "showing him," says Condivi, "attentions he showed no other of those who approached him." He honored his probity, and even that independence of character of which he himself had more than once had experience; Michelangelo, on his side, forgave him his frequent outbursts of impetuosity, that were ever atoned for by prompt and complete acknowledgment.

Michelangelo's sight, greatly enfeebled by this persistent work of four years, compelled him to take almost absolute repose. "The necessity he was under," says Vasari, "during this period of work of keeping his eyes turned upward, had so weakened his sight that for several months after he could not look at a drawing nor read a letter without raising it above his head." He enjoyed an uncontested glory in this interval of semirepose which followed his great effort. It is probable that his thoughts were now concentrated upon the sepulchral monument of his patron, the works for which he had been forced to postpone. But Leo X had other views. He was all-powerful in Florence, where, by the aid of Julius and the League of Cambray, he had reinstated his family in 1512; he now wished to endow his native city with monuments which, by recalling to the vanquished citizens of this glorious republic the magnificence of their early patrons, might help them to forget the institutions they had lost for the second time. The Church of San Lorenzo, built by Brunelleschi, where several members of his family were buried, had not been completed; he now determined to have the façade constructed. Several artists, among others San Gallo, the two Sanzovino, and Raphael, sent in plans for this important work, but Michelangelo's was preferred, and in 1515 he went to Carrara to order the necessary marbles.

Leo did not leave him there long in quiet. Being informed that at Serrayezza, in the highest part of the mountains of Pietra Santa on the Florentine territory, there was marble equal in quality to that of Carrara, he ordered Michelangelo to go to Pietra Santa and work these quarries. In vain the latter pointed out the enormous expense of opening them, of cutting roads through the mountains, and making the marshes passable, besides the inferior quality of the marble. Leo would not listen. Michelangelo set out, made the roads, raised the marbles, remained from 1516 to 1521 in this desert, and the four years he passed there, in the full force of his age and genius, resulted in the transport of five columns, four of which remained on the seashore, and the fifth of which lies still useless and buried among the rubbish of the piazza of San Lorenzo.

Without meaning to contest the debt which the arts owe Leo X, there are certain reservations that we must make on this score. A man of letters, of amiable manners, astute, somewhat of a mischief-maker, ever fluctuating between France and the Emperor, ever on the watch to provide for his family, and, to redeem these defects, having neither heroism nor the undoubted though mistaken love that Julius II bore to Italy, his political career cannot, I think, be defended. He had the merit of being the patron of Raphael, whose facile, flexible character pleased him, and who, thanks to his protection, marked every instant of his short life by some chef d'oeuvre. It must not be forgotten that it was by the most extravagant largesses, by making a traffic of everything, that he encouraged the pleiad of artists who shed such glory upon his name. His obstinacy in employing Michelangelo for so many years, in spite of his reluctance and entreaties, on a work which his own fickleness and the war in Lombardy ought to have made him abandon, has, there can be no doubt, deprived us of some admirable works. But for it Michelangelo would have finished the tomb of Julius II, and we should now possess a gigantic monument that would, no doubt, have rivalled the grandest works of ancient statuary.

A few words of Condivi's show the grief and discouragement which the capriciousness of Leo, and the inutility of the work the master was employed on, caused Michelangelo. "On his return to Florence he found Leo's ardor entirely cooled. He continued a long time weighed down by grief, unable to do anything, having hitherto, to his great displeasure, been driven from one project to another." It was, however, about this period (1520) that Leo ordered the tombs of his brother Giuliano and his nephew Lorenzo, for the sacristy of the Church of San Lorenzo, which were not executed till ten years later; also plans for the library for the reception of the valuable manuscripts collected from Cosmo and Lorenzo the Magnificent, and which had been dispersed during the troubles of 1494. He was at Florence when the Academy of Santa Maria Novella, of which he was a member, proposed to have transported from Ravenna to Florence the ashes of Dante, and addressed the noble supplication to the Pope which has been preserved by Gore, signed by the most illustrious names of the time, and among others that of Michelangelo, with this addition: "I, Michelangelo, sculptor, also beseech your holiness, and offer myself to execute a suitable monument for the divine poet in some fitting part of the city." Leo did not receive this project favorably, and it was abandoned.

The statue "The Christ on the Cross," that had been ordered by Antonio Matelli, and which is now in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, was, it is probable, executed during Michelangelo's rare visits to Rome under Leo's pontificate. His discouragement had become such that he had it finished and put up, at the end of 1521, by a Florentine sculptor of the name of Federigo Frizzi. The statue of "Christ," one of the most finished, and displaying most knowledge, that issued from the hands of Michelangelo, is far, to my mind, from equalling other works of the great sculptor. Yet it was the rapidly acquired celebrity of the work terminated by Federigo Frizzi that decided Francis I on sending Primaticio to Italy, commissioning him to make a cast of the "Christ" of the Minerva, and to ask Michelangelo to execute a statue for him; also to deliver to him the flattering letter preserved in the valuable collection at Lille.

Leo X died on December 1, 1521, a year after Raphael. His successor, the humble and austere Adrian VI, knew nothing about pictures, except those of Van Eyck and Albert Dürer. His simple manners formed a striking contrast to the ostentatious habits of Leo. During his pontificate, all the great works were stopped at Rome and slackened at Florence. While Michelangelo was obscurely working at the library of San Lorenzo, the great age of art was drawing to its close; Raphael and Leonardo were dead, and their pupils were already hurrying on to a rapid decadence.

Characters were beginning to decline at the same time that talent did, and Michelangelo, who, as it were, opened this grand era, was destined to survive alone, like those lofty summits that first receive the morning light, and which are still lit up while all around has grown obscure and night is already profound.


A.D. 1513

Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the Spanish soldier and discoverer of the Pacific Ocean, was born in 1475, and died near Darien, the scene of his principal achievement, probably in 1517. Unfairly charged with conspiracy, after rendering great services to his country, he was beheaded just as he was completing preparations to explore the "South Sea," as he named the ocean which he had discovered.

He first went to Darien from Española (Haiti) in 1510, promoted a settlement, and was made its alcalde. In 1512 Pasamonte, king's treasurer at Santo Domingo, commissioned him as governor. Balboa undertook many explorations, and was usually on friendly terms with the Indians, who told him of a great sea lying to the south, and of a country (Peru) rich in gold, far down the coast. He set out from Darien September 1, 1513, to discover the great sea and the country of which he thus heard. He had conquered the Indian king Careta, whose friendship he gained and whose daughter he married. He went by sea to his father-in-law's territory, and taking with him some of the King's Indians he moved into the territory of the cacique Ponca, an enemy of Careta.

Quintana, whose account follows, is the favorite historian of this expedition. His Lives of Celebrated Spaniards is regarded as one of the classics of Spanish prose literature.

Ponca, not daring to await the coming of the allies, took refuge in the mountains, abandoning his land to the ravage and ruin prepared for it by the Indians and Spaniards. Balboa, however, did not pursue his success further at present; leaving to the future the conquest, or, as he termed it, the "pacification" of the interior, he returned to the coast, where it was more for the advantage, security, and subsistence of the colony to have his friends or his vassals stationed.

Careta had for a neighbor a cacique called by some Comogre, by others Panquiaco, chief of about ten thousand Indians, among whom were three thousand warriors. Having heard of the valor and enterprise of the Castilians, this chief desired to enter into treaty and friendship with them; and a principal Indian, a dependent of Careta, having presented himself as the agent in this friendly overture, Vasco Nuñez, anxious to profit by the opportunity of securing such an ally, went with his followers to visit Comogre. No sooner was the cacique apprised of this visit than he sailed forth at the head of his principal vassals, and his seven sons, all still youths and the offspring of different wives, to receive the Spaniards. Great was the courtesy and kindness with which he treated his guests, who were lodged in different houses in the town, and provided with victuals in abundance, and with men and women to serve them. What chiefly attracted their attention was the habitation of Comogre, which, according to the memorials of the time, was an edifice of a hundred and fifty paces in length and fourscore in breadth, built on thick posts, surrounded by a lofty stone wall, and on the roof an attic story, of beautifully and skilfully interwoven wood. It was divided into several compartments, and contained its markets, its shops, and its pantheon for the dead; for it was in the corpses of the cacique's ancestors that the Spaniards first beheld these ghastly remains, dried and arranged as above described.

The honors of the hospitality were confided to the eldest son of Comogre, a youth of more sagacity and intelligence than his brothers; he one day presented to Vasco Nuñez and to Colmenares, whom, from their manner and appearance, he recognized as chiefs of the party, sixty slaves, and four thousand pieces of gold of different weight. They immediately melted the gold, and, having separated a fifth for the King, began to divide it among themselves; this division begat a dispute that gave occasion to threats and violence, which being observed by the Indian, he suddenly overthrew the scales in which they were weighing the precious metal, exclaiming: "Why quarrel for such a trifle? If such is your thirst for gold that for its sake you forsake your own country and come to trouble those of strangers, I will show you a province where you may gather by the handful the object of your desire; but to succeed, you ought to be more numerous than you are, as you will have to contend with powerful kings, who will vigorously defend their dominions. You will first find a cacique who is very rich in gold, who resides at the distance of six suns from hence; soon you will behold the sea, which lies to that part," and he pointed toward the south; "there you will meet with people who navigate in barks with sails and oars, not much less than your own, and who are so rich that they eat and drink from vessels made of the metal which ye so much covet."

These celebrated words, preserved in all the records of the times, and repeated by all historians, were the first indications the Spaniards had of Peru. They were much excited on hearing them, and endeavored to extract from the youth further information of the country he had mentioned; he insisted on the necessity of having at least a thousand men, to give them a chance of success in its subjugation, offered to serve them himself as their guide, to aid them with his father's men, and to put his life in pledge for the veracity of his words.

Balboa was transported by the prospect of glory and fortune which opened before him; he believed himself already at the gates of the East Indies, which was the desired object of the government and the discoverers of that period; he resolved to return in the first place to the Darien to raise the spirits of his companions with these brilliant hopes, and to make all possible preparations for realizing them. He remained, nevertheless, yet a few days with the caciques; and so strict was the friendship he had contracted with them that they and their families were baptized, Careta taking in baptism the name of Fernando, and Comogre that of Carlos. Balboa then returned to the Darien, rich in the spoils of Ponca, rich in the presents of his friends, and still richer in the golden hopes which the future offered him.

At this time, and after an absence of six months, arrived the magistrate Valdivia, with a vessel laden with different stores; he brought likewise great promises of abundant aid in provisions and men. The succors, however, which Valdivia brought were speedily consumed; their seed, destroyed in the ground by storms and floods, promised them no resource whatever; and they returned to their usual necessitous state. Balboa then consented to their extending their incursions to more distant lands, as they had already wasted and ruined the immediate environs of Antigua, and he sent Valdivia to Spain to apprise the admiral of the clew he had gained to the South Sea, and the reported wealth of those regions. Valdivia took with him fifteen thousand pieces of gold, which belonged to the King as his fifth, and a charge to petition for the thousand men which were necessary to the expedition, and to prevent the adventurers being compelled to exterminate the tribes and caciques of the Indians, for otherwise, being so few in number, they would be driven, to avoid their own destruction, to the slaughter of all who would not submit themselves. This commission, however, together with the rich presents in gold sent by the chiefs of the Darien to their friends, and Valdivia, with all his crew, were no doubt swallowed by the sea, as no trace of them was ever afterward discovered.

To the departure of Valdivia succeeded immediately the expedition to the gulf and the examination of the lands situated at its inner extremity. There lay the dominions of Dabaibe, of whose riches prodigious reports were spread, especially of an idol and a temple represented to be made entirely of gold. There Cemaco, and the Indians who followed him, had taken refuge, and had never lost either the wish or the hope of driving away the invading horde who had usurped their country.

Balboa marched against them by land with sixty men, and Colmenares went by water with as many more to take the enemy by surprise. The former did not find Cemaco; but Colmenares was more fortunate, for he surprised the savages in Tichiri. He commanded the general to be shot with arrows in his presence, and sentenced the lords to be hanged. And so terrified were the Indians by this example that they never durst in future elevate their thoughts to independence.

It was now deliberated to send new deputies to Spain to acquaint the King with the state of the colony, and on the road to touch at Espanola to entreat for necessary aid in case Valdivia might have perished on the voyage, which event had no doubt taken place. It is said that Balboa required this commission for himself, either ambitious of gaining favor at court or apprehensive that the colony at Darien might inflict upon him punishment due to usurpation; but his companions would not consent to his quitting them, alleging that, in losing him, they should feel deserted and without a guide or governor; he only was respected, and followed willingly by the soldiers; and he only was feared by the Indians. They suspected that, if they permitted of his departure, he would never return to share those labors and troubles which were from time to time accumulating upon them, as had already happened with others. They elected Juan de Caicedo, the inspector, who had belonged to the armament of Nicuesa, and Rodrigo Enriquez de Colmenares, both men of weight and expert in negotiation and held in general esteem. They believed that these would execute their charge satisfactorily, and that both would return, because Caicedo would leave his wife behind him; and Colmenares had realized much property, and a farm in the Darien, pledges of confidence in and adhesion to the country. It being thus impossible for Balboa to proceed to Spain, in protection of his own interests he manoeuvred for gaining at least the good graces of the treasurer, Pasamonte; and probably it was on this occasion that he sent him the rich present of slaves, pieces of gold, and other valuable articles, of which the licentiate Zuazo speaks in his letter to the Senor de Chieves. At the same time the new procurators took with them the fifth which belonged to the King, together with a donative made him by the colony; and, happier than their predecessors, they left the Darien in the end of October, and reached Spain the end of May in the year following.

Soon after this departure, a slight disturbance happened, which, though at first it threatened to destroy the authority of Vasco Nuñez, served in fact to strengthen it. Under pretence that Bartolome Hurtado abused the particular favor of the Governor, Alonzo Perez de la Rua, and other unquiet spirits, raised a seditious tumult; their object was to seize ten thousand pieces which yet remained entire, and divide them at their pleasure. After some contests, in which there were many arrests and a great display of animosity, the malcontents plotted to surprise Vasco Nuñez and throw him into prison. He knew it, and quitted the town as if going to the chase, foreseeing that, when these turbulent men had obtained possession of the authority and the gold, they would so abuse the one and the other that all the rational part of the community would be in haste to recall him. And thus it was; masters of the treasure, Rua and his friends showed so little decency in the partition that the principal colonists, ashamed and disgusted, perceiving the immense distance that existed between Vasco Nuñez and these people, seized the heads of the sedition, secured them, and called back Balboa, whose authority and government they were anxious again to recognize.

In the interim, two vessels, laden with provisions and carrying two hundred men, one hundred fifty of whom were soldiers commanded by Cristoval Serrano, arrived from Santo Domingo. They were all sent by the admiral, and Balboa received from the treasurer Pasamonte the title of governor of that land; that functionary conceiving himself authorized to confer such a power, and having become as favorable as he had formerly been the reverse. Exulting in his title and his opportune success, and secure of the obedience of his people, Vasco Nuñez liberated his prisoners, and resolved to sally forth into the environs and to occupy his men in expeditions and discoveries; but, while engaged in making his preparations, he received, to embitter his satisfaction, a letter from his friend Zamudio, informing him of the indignation which the charges of Encisco, and the first information of the treasurer, had kindled against him at court. Instead of his services being appreciated, he was accused as a usurper and intruder; he was made responsible for the injuries and prejudices of which his accuser loudly complained; and the founder and pacificator of the Darien was to be prosecuted for the criminal charges brought against him.

This alloy, however, instead of subduing his spirit, animated him to new daring and impelled him to higher enterprises. Should he permit another to profit by his toils, to discover the South Sea, and to ravish from him the wealth and glory which were almost within his grasp? He did, indeed, still want the thousand men who were necessary to the projected expedition, but his enterprise, his experience, and his constancy impelled him to undertake it even without them. He would, by so signal a service, blot out the crime of his primary usurpation, and, if death should overtake him in the midst of his exertions, he should die laboring for the prosperity and glory of his country, and free from the persecution which threatened him. Full of these thoughts and resolved on following them, he discoursed with and animated his companions, selected one hundred ninety of the best armed and disposed, and, with a thousand Indians of labor, a few bloodhounds, and sufficient provisions, he set sail in a brigantine with ten canoes.

He ascended first to the port and territory of Careta, where he was received with demonstrations of regard and welcome suitable to his relations with that cacique, and, leaving his squadron there, took his way by the sierras toward the dominion of Ponca. That chief had fled, as at the first time, but Vasco Nuñez, who had adopted the policy most convenient to him, desired to bring him to an amicable agreement, and, to that end, despatched after him some Indians of peace, who advised him to return to his capital and to fear nothing from the Spaniards. He was persuaded, and met with a kind reception; he presented some gold, and received in return some glass beads and other toys and trifles. The Spanish captains then solicited guides and men of labor for his journey over the sierras, which the cacique bestowed willingly, adding provisions in great abundance, and they parted friends.

His passage into the domain of Quarequa was less pacific; whose chief, Torecha, jealous of this invasion and terrified by the events which had occurred to his neighbors, was disposed and prepared to receive the Castilians with a warlike aspect. A swarm of ferocious Indians, armed in their usual manner, rushed into the road and began a wordy attack upon the strangers, asking them what brought them there, what they sought for, and threatening him with perdition if they advanced. The Spaniards, reckless of their bravadoes, proceeded, nevertheless, and then the chief placed himself in front of his tribe, dressed in a cotton mantle and followed by the principal lords, and, with more intrepidity than fortune, gave the signal for combat. The Indians commenced the assault with loud cries and great impetuosity, but, soon terrified by the explosions of the crossbows and muskets, they were easily destroyed or put to flight by the men and bloodhounds who rushed upon them. The chief and six hundred men were left dead on the spot, and the Spaniards, having smoothed away that obstacle, entered the town, which they spoiled of all the gold and valuables it possessed. Here also they found a brother of the cacique and other Indians, who were dedicated to the abominations before glanced at; fifty of these wretches were torn to pieces by the dogs, and not without the consent and approbation of the Indians. The district was, by these examples, rendered so pacific and so submissive that Balboa left all his sick there, dismissed the guides given him by Ponca, and, taking fresh ones, pursued his road over the heights.

The tongue of land which divides the two Americas is not, at its utmost width, above eighteen leagues, and in some parts becomes narrowed a little more than seven. And, although from the port of Careta to the point toward which the course of the Spaniards was directed was only altogether six days' journey, yet they consumed upon it twenty; nor is this extraordinary. The great cordillera of sierras which from north to south crosses the new continent, a bulwark against the impetuous assaults of the Pacific Ocean, crosses also the Isthmus of Darien, or, as may be more properly said, composes it wholly, from the wrecks of the rocky summits which have been detached from the adjacent lands; and the discoverers, therefore, were obliged to open their way through difficulties and dangers, which men of iron alone could have fronted and overcome. Sometimes they had to penetrate through thick entangled woods, sometimes to cross lakes, where men and burdens perished miserably; then a rugged hill presented itself before them; and next, perhaps, a deep and yawning precipice to descend; while, at every step, they were opposed by deep and rapid rivers, passable only by means of frail barks, or slight and trembling bridges; from time to time they had to make their way through opposing Indians, who, though always conquered, were always to be dreaded; and, above all, came the failure of provisions—which formed an aggregate, with toil, anxiety, and danger, such as was sufficient to break down bodily strength and depress the mind.

At length the Quarequanos, who served as guides, showed them, at a distance, the height from whose summit the desired sea might be discovered. Balboa immediately commanded his squadron to halt, and proceeded alone to the top of the mountain; on reaching it he cast an anxious glance southward, and the Austral Ocean broke upon his sight[1].

Overcome with joy and wonder, he fell on his knees, extending his arms toward the sea, and with tears of delight offered thanks to heaven for having destined him to this mighty discovery. He immediately made a sign to his companions to ascend, and, pointing to the magnificent spectacle extended before them, again prostrated himself in fervent thanksgiving to God. The rest followed his example, while the astonished Indians were extremely puzzled to understand so sudden and general an effusion of wonder and gladness. Hannibal on the summit of the Alps, pointing out to his soldiers the delicious plains of Italy, did not appear, according to the ingenious comparison of a contemporary writer, either more transported or more arrogant than the Spanish chief when, risen from the ground, he recovered the speech of which sudden joy had deprived him, and thus addressed his Castilians: "You behold before you, friends, the object of all our desires and the reward of all our labors. Before you roll the waves of the sea which has been announced to you, and which no doubt encloses the immense riches we have heard of. You are the first who have reached these shores and these waves; yours are their treasures, yours alone the glory of reducing these immense and unknown regions to the dominion of our King and to the light of the true religion. Follow me, then, faithful as hitherto, and I promise you that the world shall not hold your equals in wealth and glory."

All embraced him joyfully and all promised to follow whithersoever he should lead. They quickly cut down a great tree, and, stripping it of its branches, formed a cross from it, which they fixed in a heap of stones found on the spot from whence they first descried the sea. The names of the monarchs of Castile were engraven on the trunks of the trees, and with shouts and acclamations they descended the sierra and entered the plain.

They arrived at some bohios, which formed the population of a chief, called Chiapes, who had prepared to defend the pass with arms. The noise of the muskets and the ferocity of the war-dogs dispersed them in a moment, and they fled, leaving many captives; by these and by their Quarequano guides, the Spaniards sent to offer Chiapes secure peace and friendship if he would come to them, or otherwise the ruin and extermination of his town and his fields. Persuaded by them, the cacique came and placed himself in the hands of Balboa, who treated him with much kindness. He brought and distributed gold and received in exchange beads and toys, with which he was so diverted that he no longer thought of anything but contenting and conciliating the strangers. There Vasco Nuñez sent away the Quarequanos, and ordered that the sick, who had been left in their land, should come and join him. In the mean while he sent Francisco Pizarro, Juan de Ezcarag, and Alonzo Martin to reconnoitre the environs and to discover the shortest roads by which the sea might be reached. It was the last of these who arrived first at the coast, and, entering a canoe which chanced to lie there, and pushing it into the waves, let it float a little while, and, after pleasing himself with having been the first Spaniard who entered the South Sea, returned to seek Balboa.

Balboa with twenty-six men descended to the sea, and arrived at the coast early in the evening of the 29th of that month; they all seated themselves on the shore and awaited the tide, which was at that time on the ebb. At length it returned in its violence to cover the spot where they were; then Balboa, in complete armor, lifting his sword in one hand, and in the other a banner on which was painted an image of the Virgin Mary with the arms of Castile at her feet, raised it, and began to march into the midst of the waves, which reached above his knees, saying in a loud voice: "Long live the high and mighty sovereigns of Castile! Thus in their names do I take possession of these seas and regions; and if any other prince, whether Christian or infidel, pretends any right to them, I am ready and resolved to oppose him, and to assert the just claims of my sovereigns."

The whole band replied with acclamations to the vow of their captain, and expressed themselves determined to defend, even to death, their acquisition against all the potentates in the world; they caused this act to be confirmed in writing, by the notary of the expedition, Andres de Valderrabano; the anchorage in which it was solemnized was called the Gulf of San Miguel, the event happening on that day.

[Footnote 1: Balboa had his first view of the Pacific from this "peak in
Darien" September 25th.]


A.D. 1438-1516
JOHN RUDD, LL.D. A.D. 1438-1516

Events treated at length are here indicated in large type; the numerals following give volume and page.

Separate chronologies of the various nations, and of the careers of famous persons, will be found in the INDEX VOLUME, with volume and page references showing where the several events are fully treated.


1438. Gutenberg commences printing with movable type[1]. See "ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF PRINTING," viii, i.

All Europe ravaged by the plague; it is aggravated in England and France by a direful famine.

1439. Death of Albert II; Ladislaus III, King of Poland, ascends the Hungarian throne.

Pope Eugenius removes his council from Ferrara to Florence; here is signed a treaty for the ostensible union of the Latin and Greek churches.

A standing army voted by the States-General of France.

1440. Frederick III elected Emperor of Germany.


1441. Hadji Kerai separates from the Golden Horde; he establishes the independent khanate of Crim Tartary, or the Crimea.

1442. Alfonso V of Aragon takes the city of Naples; the whole kingdom submits to him; his rival, René of Anjou, returns to Provence.

First modern importation of negro slaves into Europe. See "DISCOVERY OF

1443. Rising of the Albanians, under Scanderbeg, against the Turks.

1444. Battle of Varna; defeat of the Hungarians by the Turks and death of Ladislaus III, King of Poland and Hungary. John Hunyady assumes the government in Hungary during the minority of Ladislaus Posthumus.

On the request of Frederick IV of Germany the Dauphin employs a part of the French army against Switzerland; battle of St. Jacob's; for ten hours 1,600 Swiss resist 30,000 veterans; the Swiss perish; 10,000 of the victors are slain.

1445. Corinth destroyed by the Turks.

1447. Election of Pope Nicholas V, founder of the Vatican Library. See "REBUILDING OF ROME," viii, 46.

Grammar-schools founded in London, England.

1448. Amurath II, or Murad, defeats Hunyady at Cassova.

1449. War between France and England renewed; Normandy conquered by the French; Rouen is surrendered.

1450. Rebellion of Jack Cade in England. He was slain and his head stuck on London bridge.

Milan surrenders to Francesco Sforza (Stormer, i. e., of cities), the natural son of a peasant who became a great condottiere. He is proclaimed duke.

1451. Guienne conquered by the French from the English. Ghent revolts against Philip, Duke of Burgundy.

1453. End of the Eastern empire. See "MAHOMET II TAKES CONSTANTINOPLE," viii, 55.

Submission of Ghent to the Duke of Burgundy after its forces had been defeated at Gaveren.

Battle of Castillon; defeat of the English; loss of all the English conquests in France, except Calais; end of the Hundred Years' War.

Emperor Frederick III creates Austria a duchy.

1454. Mental aberration of Henry VI of England; the Duke of York protector.

Publication of the first-known printing with movable type. See "ORIGIN

Venice by a treaty with Turkey secures trade privileges in Greece.

1455. Beginning of the contest for the crown of England. See "WARS OF THE ROSES," viii, 72.

1456. Battle of Belgrade; victory of Hunyady over the Turks. Athens conquered by the Turks.

1457. Church of the Unitas Fratrum organized in Bohemia. Francis Foscaro, being deposed as doge of Venice after a reign of thirty-four years, dies of grief on hearing the bells rung to celebrate the election of his successor.

At Mainz is published the Book of Psalms, the earliest work printed with its date.

1458. Pope Pius II acknowledges Ferdinand I as King of Naples, strives to restore peace, and unite all powers in resistance to the Turkish aggressions.

Genoa submits to the King of France, Charles VII.

Election of Matthias, son of Hunyady, as King of Hungary.

George Podibrad, leader of the church-reform party, chosen King of
Bohemia. 1459. Silesia submits to Podibrad, King of Bohemia.

1460. James II of Scotland takes up arms against the English; he is killed, by the bursting of a cannon, at the siege of Roxburgh castle; his son, James III, succeeds.

Christian I of Denmark inherits Schleswig and Holstein.

Discovery of the Cape Verd Islands by the Portuguese; they penetrate to the coast of Guinea.

1461. Death of Charles VII of France; his son, Louis XI, involves himself in a contest with his leading nobles.

Prince Henry of Portugal, just prior to his death, sends Peter Covilham and Alfonso Paiva, overland, to explore India.

Trebizond, the last Greek capital, surrenders to the Ottoman Turks.

1462. Accession of Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow. See "IVAN THE GREAT UNITES RUSSIA AND BREAKS THE TARTAR YOKE," viii, 109.

1463. War between Venetians and Turks in Greece.

Conference between the kings of France and Castile; the artful policy of
Louis XI prolongs discord in Spain.

1464. Queen Margaret invades England; her adherents are defeated at Hexham. See "WARS OF THE ROSES," viii, 72.

Pope Pius II attempts the organization of a crusade against the Turks; he dies at Ancona; Paul II elected.

Sforza, Duke of Milan, makes himself master of Milan.

1465. Henry VI of England is imprisoned in the Tower of London.

War between the League of the Public Good and Louis XI of France; treaty of Conflans; the King makes many promises, few of which he performs.

King Matthias invites learned men from Italy to Hungary; he founds the
University and Library of Budapest.

Athens captured and pillaged by the Venetians, under Victor Capello.

1466. Worn out by constant warfare the Teutonic Knights, by the treaty of Thorn, cede West Prussia to Casimir IV of Poland; they retain East Prussia as a fief of Poland.

1467. Charles the Bold succeeds to the Duchy of Burgundy.

A crusade against George Podibrad, King of Bohemia, proclaimed by Pope
Paul II.

1468. Visit of Louis XI to Charles the Bold at Péronne. See "CULMINATION OF THE POWER OF BURGUNDY," viii, 125.

Founding of the Library of Venice.

Ivan III repels an invasion of the Golden Horde and prepares the independence of Russia.

1469. Marriage of Princess Isabella of Castile to Ferdinand of Aragon.

Beginning of the reign of Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence. See "LORENZO

About this time Peter Covilham (see 1461), his companion having died in India, penetrates into Abyssinia and is there detained. 1470. Restoration of Henry VI, by Earl Warwick, to the throne of England.

Siege and capture of Negropont (Euboea) by the Turks; massacre of the inhabitants.

Pomponius Laetus collects a society to study the antiquities of Rome; he is imprisoned and persecuted for his unguarded enthusiasm.

1471. Edward IV reënters England; defeat of the Lancastrians at Barnet; Warwick—the King Maker—slain. See "WARS OF THE ROSES," viii, 72.

Translation by Caxton of Recueil des Histoires des Troyes. See "ORIGIN
AND PROGRESS OF PRINTING" (also plate), viii, 24.

1472. Normandy ravaged by Charles the Bold.

Philippe de Comines, the chronicler, enters into the service of Louis XI.

1473. Resumption of the commotions in France; the Count of Armagnac assassinated; the Duke of Alençon arrested.

1474. Ferdinand and Isabella commence their joint reign in Castile. Caxton publishes his first book, The Game and Playe of the Chesse.

1475. Emperor Frederick IV refuses to give Charles, Duke of Burgundy, the title of king; war ensues; Charles conquers Lorraine.

1476. Switzerland unsuccessfully invaded by the Duke of Burgundy. Assassination of Sforza, Duke of Milan; his son Gian Galeazzo Maria succeeds, under the regency of his mother, Bona.

Sten Sture, Protector of Sweden, founds the University of Upsal; he checks the nobility and priesthood by summoning deputies of the towns and peasantry to attend the national Diet.

1477. Maximilian, son of Emperor Frederick III, marries Mary of Burgundy.

Italy invaded by the Turks; they advance to within sight of Venice.

Publication of the first book printed in England, Caxton's Dictes or
Sayengis of the Philosophers

René of Lorraine and his Swiss mercenaries overwhelm Charles the Bold at
Nancy; he is slain.

Burgundy is seized by Louis XI. See "DEATH OF CHARLES THE BOLD," viii, 155.

Grant of the Great Privilege of Holland and Zealand, by Mary, Duchess of Burgundy. The Groot Privilegie was a recapitulation and recognition of ancient rights. Although afterward violated, and indeed abolished, it became the foundation of the republic.

1478. Condemnation and death of the Duke of Clarence. He is said to have chosen to die by being drowned in a butt of Malmsey, a wine of which he had been inordinately fond.

Conspiracy of the Pazzi, a powerful family of Florence, against the Medici; most of the conspirators massacred by the people; the others judicially punished.

Sultan Mahomet II, of the Ottoman Empire, completes the subjugation of

Novgorod taken by Ivan III, of Russia, who puts an end to its republic.

1479. Battle of Guinegate; Maximilian defeats the French. Ferdinand the Catholic succeeds to the throne in Aragon; union of Castile and Aragon.

1480. Founding of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Spain, by Cardinal Mendozas. See "INQUISITION ESTABLISHED IN SPAIN," viii, 166.

1481. Maine and Provence united to France.

Battle of Bielawesch; the Nogay Tartars crush the Golden Horde and secure the independence of Russia.

1482. Death of Mary of Burgundy; her infant son, Philip, succeeds to the sovereignty of the Netherlands.

Ferdinand and Isabella begin a war for the conquest of Granada.

1483. Usurpation of Richard III; murder of the princes. See "MURDER OF THE PRINCES IN THE TOWER," viii, 192.

Death of Louis XI; Charles VII, his son, succeeds to the French throne.

Renewal of the Union of Kalmar; Sweden and Norway acknowledge John I, but
Sweden retains Sten Stur as Protector.

Birth of Rabelais and Luther.

1485. Landing of the Earl of Richmond in England; Battle of Bosworth; Richard III is slain; end of the Wars of the Roses and of the Plantagenet dynasty; Henry VII (Richmond) inaugurates the Tudor dynasty. See "WARS OF THE ROSES," viii, 72.

Matthias of Hungary captures Vienna; Emperor Frederick III expelled from his hereditary dominions.

1486. Excited to revolt by the severities of the Inquisition, the Aragonese put to death the chief inquisitor, Pedro Arbues.

Unconscious doubling of the southern extremity of Africa by Bartholomew Diaz; he gives it the name of Cabo Tormentoso (Cape Stormy), afterward called the Cape of Good Hope. See "THE SEA ROUTE TO INDIA," viii, 299.

1488. Battle of Sauchie Burn; James III of Scotland defeated and slain by his rebellious nobles.

Citizens of Bruges capture and imprison, for four months, Maximilian,
King of the Romans.

1489. Bartholomew, brother of Christopher Columbus, tries to arouse maritime enterprise in England.

1490. Ferdinand and Isabella conquer Granada. See "CONQUEST OF GRANADA," viii, 202.

Death of Matthias Corvinus; Ladislaus II, King of Bohemia, is elected king of the Hungarians.

1491. Charles VIII of France sends back to her father his affianced bride, Margaret; compels Anne of Brittany to break her engagement to Maximilian and marries her himself, thus uniting Brittany and France.

1492. Imposture of Perkin Warbeck in England. See "CONSPIRACY, REBELLION, AND EXECUTION OF PERKIN WARBECK," viii, 250. Expulsion of Jews from the Spanish dominions; this great exodus, hundreds of thousands in all, of a commercial hard-working race caused enormous injury to the land so depopulated.

Columbus discovers the Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti. See "COLUMBUS DISCOVERS
AMERICA," viii, 224.

1493. Death of Emperor Frederick IV; his son, Maximilian succeeds, the first to take the title Emperor of Germany without being crowned at Rome.

Leaving a garrison in Espanola, Columbus returns to Spain. He starts on his second voyage; discovers Porto Rico.

A papal bull grants to Spain the new world discovered by Columbus, and defines the rights of Spain and Portugal.

1494. A treaty, that of Tordesillas, partitions the ocean between Spain and Portugal.

Formation of the Christian Commonwealth at Florence. See "SAVONAROLA'S
REFORMS AND DEATH," viii, 265.

Sir Edward Poynings, Governor of Ireland, induces the parliament of that country to pass the act bearing his name, which gives full power to all the laws of England.

1495. Conquest of Naples by Charles VIII of France; he retreats to France. Ferdinand II is restored to the throne of Naples.

Maximilian establishes the Imperial Chamber.

Extinction of the right of private warfare in Germany.

1496. Encouraged by the success of Columbus, Henry VII of England sends out John Cabot and his son, Sebastian, on a voyage of discovery.

Emanuel of Portugal fits out an expedition under Vasco da Gama to explore the eastern seas.


Sten Sture offends the Swedish nobility, is defeated and stripped of his protectorate by John II, who enforces the Union of Kalmar; he is crowned at Stockholm.

Pinzon and Vespucci discover Central America.

1498. Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope and reaches India. See "THE SEA ROUTE TO INDIA," viii, 299.

Columbus makes his third voyage across the Western Ocean; he discovers
South America; is arrested and returned to Spain in irons. See "COLUMBUS

Arrest and execution of Savonarola at Florence. See "SAVONAROLA'S REFORMS
AND DEATH," viii, 265.

1499. Conquest of the duchy of Milan by the French. Unsuccessful war of Maximilian against the Swiss. See "ESTABLISHMENT OF Swiss INDEPENDENCE," viii, 336.

Venezuela reached by Ojeda and Vespucci. See "AMERIGO VESPUCCI IN
AMERICA," viii, 346.

In Persia the Shiah sect of Mahometans gain the ascendency which they have since retained. 1500. Voyage to and exploration of Labrador and Newfoundland by Caspar Cortereal, a Portuguese navigator.

Brazil discovered by Pedro Alvarez Cabral, or Cabera; he takes possession of the country for the King of Portugal.

1501. Emperor Maximilian creates the Aulic Council, a court of appeal on decisions by other German courts.

Joint conquest and partition of Naples by Ferdinand of Aragon and Louis
XII of France.

Sten Sture regains ascendency in Sweden.

Caesar Borgia makes himself master of Pesaro, Rimini, and Faenza; he is guilty of numerous atrocities.

1502. Columbus on his fourth and last voyage reaches the isthmus of Panama.

Caesar Borgia fails in his evil course. See "RISE AND FALL OF THE
BORGIAS," viii, 360.

Montezuma elected to the military leadership of the Aztecs.

In Naples the French and Spanish quarrel and commence hostilities.

1503. Marriage of James IV of Scotland with Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England; this brought the Stuarts to the throne of England.

Battle of Cerignola and Garigliano; the Spaniards defeat the French and become masters of Naples.

Death of Sten Sture; the Swedish people support Svante Sture in opposition to the crown, the nobility, and priesthood.

1504. Death of Isabella, Queen of Spain; the throne of Castile passes to her daughter, Joanna, and the latter's husband, Philip.

Jealous of the new Indian trade of the Portuguese, the Venetians incite the mamelukes of Egypt and the sovereign of Calicut to begin hostilities against them.

Citizens of Naples resist by violence the introduction of the

Suppression of the Lordship of the Isles by James IV of Scotland.

1505. Death of Ivan the Great; he is succeeded on the Russian throne by his son, Basil (Vasili IV).

1506. Expulsion by the Genoese of their nobles and the French.

Madagascar discovered by the Portuguese.

Building of the Great Harry, the first ship of the royal navy of England.

Beginning of the erection of St. Peter's, at Rome, by Bramante d'Urbino;
Pope Julius II lays the first stone.

1507. Louis XII goes to crush the revolt in Genoa; he succeeds.

1508. Michelangelo begins the decoration of the Sistine chapel. See "PAINTING OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL," viii, 369.

1509. Death of Henry VII; his son, Henry VIII, succeeds to the English throne; he marries Catherine of Aragon.

Campaign of Cardinal Ximenes in Africa; Oran taken by the Spaniards.

Diego Columbus, son of the discoverer, made governor of Spanish America, which is first settled this year.

Subjugation of Porto Rico by Ponce de Leon; he later becomes governor of that island.

1510. Occupation of Goa by the Portuguese under Albuquerque, Governor of the Indies.

1511. Subjugation of Cuba by the Spaniards under Velasquez.

Malacca taken by the Portuguese; it becomes the centre of their trade in the East.

1512. War declared against France by Henry VIII of England.

Battle of Ravenna; victory of the French; their general, Gaston de
Foix, falls on the field; the revolted cities of Italy submit. Lombardy
evacuated by the French; restoration of the Sforza dynasty, and of the
Medici in Florence.

1513. From the Isthmus of Panama Balboa discovers the Pacific Ocean. See "BALBOA DISCOVERS THE PACIFIC," viii, 381.

Invasion of France by Henry VIII; defeat of the French at Guinegate,
"Battle of the Spurs"; Térouanne and Tournai taken by the English.

Battle of Flodden Field; the Scots, under James IV, having invaded
England, are overwhelmed and their king slain.

Expulsion of the French from Italy.

Juan Ponce de Leon lands in Florida, in his search for the "Fountain of
Eternal Youth."

1514. Peace concluded with France and Scotland by Henry VIII of England.

Smolensko renounces its subjection to Poland and becomes part of Russia.

Ambassadors from Portugal present to Pope Leo X an elephant, a panther, with other animals and products of their new territories in the East.

1515. Wolsey created cardinal, papal legate, and lord chancellor.

Invasion of Italy by Francis I, who this year succeeded Louis XII as King of France; he recovers Genoa and Milan.

1516. Death of Ferdinand the Catholic; Charles, his eldest grandson, succeeds to the throne of Spain.

Publication of the Greek Testament, with a Latin translation, by Erasmus.

Conclusion of the treaty of "Perpetual Peace" between France and

Rise of the piratical power of the Barbarossas in Algiers.

[Footnote:1 Date uncertain.]