unexpectedly called upon — O God ! — to take the
helm of state." So complained Godoy in years long
after. But the hour itself found him resolute and
undismayed. Its perils loomed larger in the retrospect.
His mind was made up. All other considerations
The King^s Favourite 6i
were to be subordinated to the necessity of serving
Louis of France. Such were Charles's imperative
orders, and such was the new minister's own desire.
He adopted the only course by which that end could
have been effected. The veteran diplomatists sneered
at his ignorance and giggled over his blunders in
matters of detail ; but his policy, perhaps because
of the frankness with which he stated it, they could
not for a long time penetrate.
Pressed to act by Zinoviev, he replied : *' Spain
will do all she can to help the good cause, as she has
done hitherto. But she cannot act alone, for she
wants troops ; moreover, she is France's neighbour.
Russia is in a different position : she is the most
powerful State in Europe, her resources are inex-
haustible ; we are nothing in comparison with her."
Let Russia, then, pull the chestnuts out of the fire.
The Prussian minister so little understood him that he
told his Government that the queen and Godoy desired
peace at any price, in order to dispose of the public
money. His excellency would have done well as a
political journalist in our own day.
" If all the armies of all the Powers in Europe
attacked France to-day, they could not rescue the
king from his dangerous position," wrote Godoy to
Lord St. Helens in vindication of his policy.' Con-
ciliate the republicans and then intercede on behalf
of the deposed monarch : this was the plan which
he proposed to Charles IV., who, we are told, approved
it with tears. Aranda protested. He approached
his successor, pointing out the danger of irritating the
revolutionaries by any remonstrances or appeals.
* Record Office, F.O. Spain, vol. xxvi., January i, 1793.
62 Godoy: the Queen's Favourite
If the intercession of the king of Spain were rejected,
war, he argued, must result ; if it were accepted,
Spain would have to act as hostage and guarantee
for Louis and his family. " The king of France,"
replied the young minister, *' will no doubt faithfully
comply with the conditions of a treaty which shall
have saved him from the scaffold. I can have no
better pledge of this than his Christian virtues. In
the extraordinary situation in which France is placed,
something must be left to chance, and we must choose,
between two extremes, that which accords most
with our honour and humanity."
The old statesman retired, nettled, it is alleged,
by the rejection of his counsels. Godoy coldly re-
ceived the French envoy, but agreed to the treaty
of neutrality which had been proposed to Aranda.
In the first of two notes, Spain bound herself to
maintain a complete neutrality in the war in which
France was engaged with other Powers ; in the second,
she agreed to withdraw her troops from the frontiers,
provided France did the same. Both notes were valid
only when exchanged against identical undertakings
by the Provisional Government of France.
Not a word was said in either note as to the ex-
king. There was no hint of menace or remonstrance
in either. But the Chevalier Ocariz, who had re-
mained in Paris during the progress of the revolution
as Spain's unofficial agent, at the same time handed
to the French foreign minister, Lebrun, a moderately
worded offer of mediation on the part of Charles IV.
between his wretched relative and the Convention.
Lebrun communicated both the treaty and the letter
to the president of the Assembly, observing that the
The King's Favourite 6$
motive of the one was sufficiently indicated by the
tenor of the other.
The two notes and the letter were read at the as-
sembly of the Convention on December 20. Ocariz
laid stress on the friendly disposition of his sovereign
towards France, as testified in the treaty. To con-
solidate the friendship of the two nations, all that was
needed was a display on the part of France of gener-
osity towards their royal captive. The king of Spain
was not to be suspected of any wish to interfere in the
affairs of an independent State ; his voice was the
voice of nature and compassion raised on behalf of
a kinsman and an old ally. Louis and his family
handed over to the safe-keeping and custody of Spain,
would be a living testimony at once to the magnani-
mity and strength of the French people.
This appeal was listened to in deep silence. A
moment later the ferocious Thuriot sprang to his feet.
" Away with the influence of kings ! " he cried. " Let
us not allow the ministers of foreign courts to come
among us, to intimate to us the orders of crowned
ruffians. Would the Spanish despot threaten us ? "
" There is not a word of threat," interjected a
solitary voice. " No," cried Thuriot, " not a word
of threat for those who will not see or understand
the machinations of crime and perversity ! Let us
baffle royal intrigues . . . ! " The voice of humanity
was silent. The offer of mediation was contemptu-
The Spanish envoy blenched at this insult to his
sovereign and his nation ; but, previously instructed
by Godoy, he courageously persisted in his efforts.
His credit was unlimited. He had all the wealth of
64 Godoy : the Queen^s Favourite
Spain and the Indies to draw upon. He bribed, he
entreated, he flattered members of the Convention.
When the voting on the fate of the king began on
the evening of January 17 he made a last appeal.
He offered to transmit to Madrid any honourable
condition the Convention might impose, provided
they w^ould grant a reprieve. These unworthy re-
publicans merely howled for blood. Danton de-
manded that war should at once be declared against
Spain. All discussion of the proposal was stifled by
the order of the day, and amid yells and applause
from the galleries.
On January 31 Godoy learnt that all his efforts
had been vain. The head of Louis XVI. had fallen.
The whole Spanish nation thrilled with horror.
The king and queen were plunged into the deepest
sorrow. The court was ordered into mourning for
three months. The solemn mass celebrated for the
repose of the soul of the dead monarch was attended
by an enormous concourse of Spaniards of all ranks.
The execution of an anointed king seemed to this
catholic people an act of blasphemy.
War was now inevitable, but Godoy wisely curbed
his own and the nation's impatience. He had hurried
on his preparations, but things in Spain move slowly ;
moreover, he was not without apprehensions for the
family of the dead king, still in the hands of his slayers.
He contented himself, for the moment, with refusing
to see the French envoy, who found it prudent to
confine himself to his residence.
A few days before the fatal tidings the French rati-
fication of the treaty of neutrality had been received
with reservations to which Spain had demurred.
The King's Favourite 65
Bourgoing begged for a private and unofficial inter-
view. This v;^as granted by Godoy, who stated that
Spain would resume negotiations with France on
two conditions only : that his catholic majesty
should be allowed to treat for the release of the
prisoners in the Temple, and that France should revoke
all the decrees proclaiming or implying war against
the monarchical principle. The Frenchman replied
that he was instructed to demand the instant and
unconditional ratification of the treaty of neutrality.
If Spain did not at once disarm, she must face the
bayonets of France. The Prime Minister shrugged
his shoulders. Bourgoing demanded his passports,
which he received on February 19, addressed to
" The late ambassador of the Most Christian King."
Four days later he was on his way to France, narrowly
escaping an attack by the mob at Valencia.
" I was weak enough to wish to remain at peace
with France," said Charles IV. bitterly, " but I
see now that it is impossible to treat with such a
Government as theirs." Aranda did not think so.
At the eleventh hour he begged his king to hold his
hand. In a memorandum which he presented on
February 27, the old man adjured his sovereign not
to allow himself to be led to forget the real interests
of his people by indignation at the murder of his
kinsman. Spain, he persisted, should still play a
waiting game. The united Powers were about to
attack France. If they were successful, by joining
them at the moment of victory, Spain's task would be
the easier ; if France, on the other hand, emerged
victorious from the struggle, she would be glad enough
to spare herself more danger and fatigue by negotiating
66 Godoy : the Queen's Favourite
with a neutral nation fully armed and prepared.
Moreover, to weaken France meant to strengthen
England, Spain's natural enemy. As to crushing
the revolutionary Government, the best policy for
nations, as for individuals, was for each to mind his
These arguments, as might have been expected,
did not weigh with a king whose offer of mediation
had been flung back in his face and whose cousin's
blood had hardly dried on the scaffold of Paris. As
to the propriety of Spain's minding her own business,
Godoy could point derisively to the proclamation of
the Convention promising fraternity and help to all
nations desirous of recovering their liberty, or, in other
words, of shaking off the yoke of kings. By standing
neuter when all Europe was marching to avenge
the death of his kinsman, Charles of Bourbon would
have covered himself with Infamy. Considering the
aggressive action of the Convention towards other
States, I doubt, too, if a declaration of neutrality would
have saved Spain from invasion. It would certainly
not have hindered the revolutionary communities
already established at Bayonne and Perpignan from
actively fomenting insurrectionary movements in the
northern provinces of the kingdom.
With one voice the Spaniards clamoured for war.
The French declaration of war w^as received on
March 7 ; it was replied to by the Spanish Govern-
ment a fortnight later. Enthusiasm possessed every
class of the people. Upwards of seventy-three millions
of francs were rapidly subscribed towards the expense
of the campaign, as compared with five millions
raised by the Convention on the other side of the
The King's Favourite 6"]
Pyrenees. The blind street-singers of Madrid proudly
contributed their mite — sometimes, out of their secret
hoard, they were able to offer a gift which the wealthy
might not have disdained. Peasants forsook the
plough to join in the crusade ; widows offered their
only sons. The smugglers of the Sierra Morena
offered their services to the Government they had
hitherto set at defiance. Manufacturers, who had
no money to spare, sent supplies. The Carthusians of
Paular sent a million ounces of silver to the Treasury
and bound themselves to supply forage for the cavalry.
The chapter of Toledo melted down their plate and
poured their wealth into the war-chest. Munici-
palities levied special rates to equip local bodies of
volunteers. The duke del Infantado and many other
nobles raised corps at their own expense. Godoy
equipped and maintained a regiment from his native
The French declaration of war, wrote Lord St.
Helens to Lord Grenvillc on March 22, produced
no surprise or alarm in Spain " since, owing to the
prudent and vigorous measures of precaution which
had been taken by the Government, particularly since
the last change in the administration, they are not
only fully prepared to resist any attack but to act
upon the offensive." * In reality Spain was prepared
only because her adversary was unprepared. The
utmost efforts of Godoy and of his predecessor had
produced a force by no means worthy of the nation
or sufficient for the enterprise in hand.
" Our land and sea forces, at the approach of an
unavoidable war, scarcely amounted, on the whole,
* Record Office, F.O. Spain, Tol. ixvi.
68 Godoy: the Queen^s Favourite
to more than thirty-six thousand men. The cavalry-
were dismounted, the arsenals empty, our manufactures
of arms falling to decay, and our effective forces every-
where inadequate, with the exception of the royal
navy, to the upkeep of which our fear of England had
compelled us to devote all our resources." This is
Godoy's own picture of the situation of his country
at the outbreak of the war. Though drawn to excuse
his failures and to magnify his achievements, it seems
substantially correct. A modern Spanish historian
estimates the strength of the army in 1792 at forty-
four regiments of foot, twelve of cavalry, and six
battalions of artillery ; but the French Intelligence
Department assessed the total effective force at 40,000
men, and Lord St. Helens considered 42,000 — the
figure given by the Spanish War Office — a decided
Godoy proposed to profit by Spain's naval strength
by transporting a large expeditionary force to the
coast of Normandy and thence striking at Paris. The
plan seems to me a good one. The distance from
Spain would have been no drawback, as the army
could have drawn all its supplies from England, which
was now in alliance with King Charles. Such af
descent, too, would have materially assisted the allies
attacking from the side of Flanders.
Instead, it was resolved to defend the line of
the Pyrenees and to invade France at its eastern
extremity, in the hope of rallying the royalists of
Languedoc and Provence. By incorporating bodies
of the local militia with the regulars, the Government
was able to place an army of 34,000 men, supported
by 30,000 volunteers, in northern Catalonia, under
The King's Favourite 71
the command of General Ricardos. The prince of
Castel Franco and General Caro, with forces num-
bering respectively 32,000 and 38,000 regulars and
irregulars, defended the passes of Aragon, Navarre,
The first shots were exchanged on April 17, when
Ricardos crossed the frontier into Roussillon and
drove the French before him. They rallied and were
soundly beaten at Masdeu. The Spaniards besieged
and took Bellegarde. The veteran Dagobert was
defeated by the invaders at Trouillas, but he was
reinforced and turned the tables on his opponents
by penetrating into northern Catalonia. Heedless of
this manoeuvre, Ricardos continued his advance north-
wards. On November 7 he defeated the French left
wing at Ville Longue and drove them beneath the
guns of Perpignan. He then took up winter quarters in
the valley of the Tech — this being the only frontier,
as Thiers remarks, on which the campaign had not
terminated gloriously for the arms of the republic.
The Spanish fleet had been sent to co-operate with
the English before Toulon ; but, on the fall of that
royalist stronghold, the allies had separated with
mutual recriminations and suspicions. Nevertheless,
the first year of Godoy's administration had not
proved on the whole dishonourable or disadvantageous
to Spain. She alone had dared to intercede on behalf
of the captive king ; her flag alone waved over a por-
tion of French soil. As Godoy has been reproached
with every disaster, from an earthquake to the failure
of a penny bank, which has overtaken his country,
it is but fair that he should be credited with a
share in its good fortune. The troops must have
72 Godoy: the Quecn^s Favourite
been pretty well equipped to repulse the elsewhere-
invincible warriors of the republic, and their generals
must have been well chosen by the Government at
But even the happy conduct of the war could not
persuade the count of Aranda of its wisdom. On
March 7, 1794, he addressed to the king another
memorandum, setting forth much the same objections
as before to the continuance of hostilities, and pro-
phesying that, if his counsels were disregarded, the
French would ere long water their horses at the
fountains of the Prado. The Council of State met on
the 14th of the month. According to one authority,
Godoy refused to read the memorandum, but briefly
acquainted the king with its contents and angrily
demanded the punishment of its author. Manuel
himself says that the memorandum was read, and that
he replied to it in an impassioned speech which
occupies seventeen pages of print. The count's argu-
ments might have been refuted in fewer sentences.
Taunted by the veteran with his youth, the young
minister is reported to have answered : " It is true
I am only twenty-six years old, but I work fourteen
hours a day and sleep only four, and am at all hours
at the service of the State." He says nothing of this
himself, but relates that, the king having called on
Aranda to reply to his rejoinder, the old man refused
with ironical deference. It was plain, he said, that
the Prime Minister's arguments were agreeable to his
majesty, and, this being so, who would venture to
offer advice of a contrary tendency ?
The king rose abruptly. " Enough for the day,"
he said, and walked towards the door. As he passed.
The King's Favourite 73
Aranda muttered some words presumably of apology.
All the councillors heard the king reply : " In your
intercourse with my father you were always head-
strong and wanting in respect ; but you never went
so far as to insult him in full council."
Two hours later the old statesman was arrested
by the governor of the palace, escorted to a travelling
carriage which was in readiness, and hurried off to
Jaen, in Andalusia, which the king had appointed to
be his place of banishment. His fall, like his pre-
decessor's, is of course ascribed to Godoy. If this
is true, then at least the favourite proved himself a
generous enemy. The Church had never forgiven
Aranda for his bitter attacks ; now in the hour of his
disgrace, the Inquisition demanded that he should be
handed over to its tender mercies on the charge of
Here, if Godoy had wished it, was a sure means of
ridding himself of his powerful antagonist ; instead,
he interfered to prevent any allusion being made to
the count's opinions, political or religious, in the
prosecution presently instituted against him. Aranda
was found guilty solely of want of respect to the king,
for which offence he was held as a prisoner at large in
the delightful palace of the Alhambra for the rest of the
year. He was then permitted to return to his native
province of Aragon, thanks to the man whom he never
ceased to pursue with rancorous hatred till the day
of his death.
Spain could spare him better than her best general,
Ricardos, who died before the renewal of the cam-
paign in Roussillon. By some oversight on the part
of historians, his death has not been attributed to
74 Godoy: the Quecn^s Favourite
Godoy. It has not even been suggested that this
favourite endeavoured to prevent the appointment
of his highly capable successor, the count de la Union.
But the French were emulous of the glory achieved
by their comrades on every other frontier, and were
now commanded by the able Dugommier, fresh from
the taking of Toulon. The luck turned. The
Spaniards were driven back into Catalonia. The
rival commanders fell in a desperate engagement at
the head of their troops. Rosas and Bellegarde were
closely invested by the republicans ; the strong
fortress of Figueras fell into their hands. At the
other end of the Pyrenees they assumed the offensive^
They took Fuenterrabia and San Sebastian and
threatened Pampeluna; but the Spaniards resisted
so stubbornly at all points that the invaders dared
not encamp for the winter beyond the southward
shadow of the Pyrenees.
But by this time Spain had lost all zest for the fight.
In two years the indignation of her people at the
murder of a foreign sovereign had had time to cool.
The amazing prowess of the French, their irresistible
onrush across the Alps, the Rhine, and the Scheldt
filled the more wary Spaniards with dread. They
asked themselves if Aranda's prophecy might not
come true after all. There were those in Spain who
wished that it would. The diligent propaganda
carried on by the republican troops and spies had not
been without effect.
Godoy observed that a faction in Madrid studiously
imitated new French modes, and found that these
were adopted as the symbols of new French ideas.
The revolutionary contagion had spread even to
The Kingfs Favourite 75
religious houses. Addresses were prepared to wel-
come the liberators when they crossed the Ebro.
A man named Picornel was detected in a republican
conspiracy and condemned to death. Godoy disliked
bloodshed, so the sentence was commuted to banish-
ment to the Indies. In their jealousy of the favourite,
certain of the grandees were willing to call in the
slayers of Louis XVI.
Godoy at length perceived that nothing was to
be gained by continuing the war. Spain had pre-
served her honour, and Louis could not be brought
to life again. When Aranda had counselled peace
Spain was one of a formidable coalition which pro-
mised to crush the wild-eyed Maenad of the nations
within its coils. Now her allies were powerless to
help her, and she might soon be left to face the
onslaught of the legions fresh from their triumphs
in Italy and Germany. There was no cohesion among
the enemies of France. The emperor would only
promise not to make peace with the republic without
giving due notice to Spain ; Prussia confessed that
her resources were exhausted, and that she could not
continue the war without the financial help of other
In August 1794 the ministers of Sweden and
Denmark hinted to King Charles that they might
be able to negotiate a peace with France, and subse-
quently a triple alliance with her and the United
States.' But his catholic majesty alone among the
sovereigns of Europe was fighting for the orphan in
the Temple. He had the audacity to propose that
' Mr. Jackson to Lord Grenville, Record Office, F.O, Spain, vol.
76 Godoy : the Queen's Favourite
he should be placed on his father's throne, while
the French republicans should be allowed to form a
little state of their own in America. But when the
Pyrenees were no longer between him and the armies
of France, his majesty's conditions became more
moderate ; he proposed to leave France to her actual
rulers and to found a little kingdom for Louis XVII.
in French Navarre.
Upon the renewal of hostilities in the spring of
1 795 J ^t an unofficial conference between the agents
of the two countries, the conditions were further
reduced, on the part of Spain, to the re-estab-
lishment of the catholic religion in France, the
granting pensions to the family of the dead king, and
an annuity for the emigres. These terms were, of
course, unacceptable by France, but she was none the
less anxious for peace with her southern neighbour.
The fury of the revolution was spent. The dauphin
and his sister were treated more kindly by their
Spain had an ambassador in the heart of the French
Government in the person of Madame Tallien, the
daughter of one of Godoy's secretaries of state,
Cabarrus. Her husband was one of the most in-
fluential members of the Committee of Public Safety.
He intimated to Godoy that, if he earnestly desired
peace, the violence of certain individuals would not
be allowed to hinder it. Thus while Frenchmen and
Spaniards were still shooting each other in Catalonia
and Biscay, negotiations were opened at Bale between
Yriarte, the Spanish envoy to Poland, and Barthelemy,
the French ambassador to Switzerland.
The death of the dauphin removed Charles IV.'s
The King*s Favourite 1^
last scruples to the conclusion of a peace. On
July 22 the treaty of Bale was signed. The republic
restored to Spain all the conquests made on her
territory since the outbreak of the war, engaging
to deliver up all the fortresses already taken in the
state in which they were at the date of the treaty.
In her dealings with other Powers France had taken
care to dismantle all such strongholds before returning
them to their owners. By secret articles, it was
agreed to hand over the dauphin's sister to King
Charles and to accept his mediation between France
and the Pope.
Spain had opposed France since 1789 ; she had
been fairly beaten ; but, thanks to her resolute bearing,
she paid not a dollar by way of indemnity and lost
nothing to France but the eastern half of the island
of Santo Domingo, which had never been worth
the cost and trouble of governing. The concession
was the less liberal on the part of Spain in that the