" I trust there can now be no longer any delay to the
celebration of our union, by holy church," observed the
king, in continuation of the subject. "All that can be re
quired of us both, as those entrusted with the cares and
interests of realms, hath been observed, and I may have a
claim to look to my own happiness. We are not strangers
to each other, Dona Isabella ; for our grandfathers were
brothers and from infancy up, have I been taught to
reverence thy virtues, and to strive to emulate thy holy
duty to God."
" I have not betrothed myself lightly, Don Fernando,"
returned the princess, blushing even while she assumed the
majesty of a queen ; " and with the subject so fully dis
cussed, the wisdom of the union so fully established, and
the necessity of promptness so apparent, no idle delays
shall proceed from me. I had thought that the ceremony
might be had on the fourth day from this, which will give
us both time to prepare for an occasion so solemn, by
suitable attention to the offices of the church."
" It must be as thou wiliest," said the king, respectfully
bowing ; " and now there remaineth but a few preparations,
and we shall have no reproaches of forgetfulness. Thou
knowest, Dona Isabella, how sorely my father is beset by
his enemies, and I need scarce tell thee that his coffers are
empty. In good sooth, my fair cousin, nothing but my
earnest desire to possess myself, at as early a day as pos
sible, of the precious boon that Providence and thy good
" Mingle not, Don Fernando, any of the acts of God
and his providence, with the wisdom and petty expedients
of his creatures," said Isabella, earnestly.
" To seize upon the precious boon, then, that Providence
appeared willing to bestow," rejoined the king, crossing
himself, while he bowed his head, as much, perhaps, in
deference to the pious feelings of his affianced Avife, as in
deference to a higher Power " would riot admit of delay,
and we quitted Zaragosa better provided with hearts loyal
towards the treasures we were to find in Valladolid, than
MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 45
with gold. Even that we had, by a mischance, hath gone
to enrich some lucky varlet in an inn."
" Dona Beatriz de Bobadilla hath acquainted me with the
mishap," said Isabella, smiling ; " and truly we shall com
mence our married lives with but few of the goods of the
world in present possession. I have little more to offer
thee, Fernando, than a true heart, and a spirit that I think
may be trusted for its fidelity."
" In obtaining thee, my excellent cousin, I obtain suffi
cient to satisfy the desires of any reasonable man. Still,
something is due to our rank and future prospects, and
it shall not be said that thy nuptials passed like those of a
" Under ordinary circumstances it might not appear
seemly for one of my sex to furnish the means for her
own bridal," answered the princess, the blood stealing to
her face until it crimsoned even her brow and temples ;
maintaining, otherwise, that beautiful tranquillity of mien
which marked her ordinary manner " but the well-being
of two states depending on our union, vain emotions must
be suppressed. I am not without jewels, and Valladolid
hath many Hebrews : thou wilt permit me to part with the
baubles for such an object."
" So that thou preservest for me the jewel in which that
pure mind is encased," said the King of Sicily, gallantly,
" I care not if I never see another. But there will not be
this need ; for our friends, who have more generous souls
than well-filled coffers too, can give such warranty to the
lenders as will procure the means. I charge myself with
this duty, for henceforth, my cousin may I not say my
" The term is even dearer than any that belongeth to
blood, Fernando," answered the princess, with a simple
sincerity of manner that set at nought the ordinary affecta
tions and artificial feelings of her sex, while it left the
deepest reverence for her modesty " and we might be ex
cused for using it. I trust God will bless our union, not
only to our own happiness, but to that of our people."
" Then, my betrothed, henceforth we have but a common
fortune, and thou wilt trust in me for the provision for thy
46 MERCEDES OF CASTILE.
" Nay, Fernando," answered Isabella, smiling, " imagine
what we will, we cannot imagine ourselves the children of
two hidalgos about to set forth in the world with humble
dowries. Thou art a king, even now ; and by the treaty
of Toros de Guisando, I am solemnly recognized as the
heiress of Castile. We must, therefore, have our separate
means, as well as our separate duties, though I trust hardly
our separate interests."
" Thou wilt never find me failing in that respect which
is due to thy rank, or in that duty which it bentteth me to
render thee, as the head of our ancient House, next to thy
royal brother, the king."
" Thou hast well considered, Don Fernando, the treaty
of marriage, and accepted cheerfully, 1 trust, all of its
several conditions ?"
"As becometh the importance of the measures, and; the
magnitude of the benefit I was to receive."
" I would have them acceptable to thee, as well as expe
dient ; for, though so soon to become thy wife, I can never
cease to remember that I shall be Queen of this country."
" Thou mayest be assured, my beautiful betrothed, that
Ferdinand of Aragon will be the last to deem thee aught
" I look on my duties as coming from God, and on my
self as one rigidly accountable to him for their faithful dis
charge. Sceptres may not be treated as toys, Fernando,
to be trifled with ; for man beareth no heavier burthen,
than when he beareth a crown."
" The maxims of our House have not been forgotten in
Aragon, my betrothed and I rejoice to find that they are
the same in both kingdoms."
" We are not to think principally of ourselves in enter
ing upon this engagement," continued Isabella, earnestly
" for that would be supplanting the duties of princes by the
feelings of the lover. Thou hast frequently perused, and
sufficiently conned the marriage articles, I trust 1"
" There hath been sufficient leisure for that, my cousin,
as they have now l>een signed these nine months."
" If I may have seemed to thee exacting in some parti
culars," continued Isabella, with the same earnest and
beautiful simplicity as usually marked her deportment in
MERCEDES OF CA8TILH. 47
all the relations of life " it is because the duties ot a sove
reign may not be overlooked. Thou knowest, moreover,
Fernando, the influence that the husband is wont to acquire
over the wife, and wilt feel the necessity of my protecting
my Castilians, in the fullest manner, against my own weak
" If thy Castilians do not suffer until they suffer from
that cause, Dona Isabella, their lot will indeed be blessed."
" These are words of gallantry, and I must reprove their
use on an occasion so serious, Fernando. I am a few
months thy senior, and shall assume an elder sister's rights,
until they are lost in the obligations of a wife. Thou hast
seen in those articles, how anxiously I would protect my
Castilians against any supremacy of the stranger. Thou
knowest that many of the greatest of this realm are op
posed to our union, through apprehension of Aragonese
s-vay, and wilt observe how studiously we have striven to
appease their jealousies."
" Thy motives, Dona Isabella, have been understood, and
\hy wishes in this and all other particulars shall be re
" i vyould be thy faithful and submissive wife," returned
the prihcess, with an earnest but gentle look at her be
trothed ; " but I would also that Castile should preserve her
rights and ho r independence. What will be thy influence,
the maiden ttont freely bestoweth her hand, need hardly
say ; but we most preserve the appearance of separate
" Confide in me, my cousin. They who live fifty years
hence will say that Bon Fernando knew how to respect his
obligations and to discharge his duty-"
" There is the stipulation, \oo, to war upon the Moor. I
shall never feel that the Christians of Spain have been true
to the faith, while a follower c>f the arch^impostor of Mecca
remaineth in the Peninsula."
"Thou and thy archbishop could not have imposed a
more agreeable duty, than to place my lance in rest against
the Infidels. My spurs have been gained m those wars,
already; and no sooner shall we be crowned, than thou
wilt see my perfect willingness to aid in driving back the
miscreants to their original sands."
48 MERCEDES OF CASTILE.
" There rcmaineth but one thing more upon my mind,
gentle cousin/ Thou knowest the evil influence that besets
my brother, and that it hath disaffected a large portion of
his nobles as well as of his cities. We shall both be sorely
tempted to wage war upon him, and to assume the sceptre
before it pleaseth God to accord it to us, in the course of
nature. I would have thee respect Don Enriquez, not only
as the head of our royal house, but as my brother and
anointed master. Should evil counsellors press him to at
tempt aught against our persons or rights, it will be lawful
to resist ; but I pray thee, Fernando, on no excuse seek to
raise thy hand in rebellion against my rightful sovereign."
" Let Don Enriquez, then, be chary of his Beltraneja !"
answered the prince, with warmth. " By St. Peter ! I have
rights of mine own that come before those of that ill -be
gotten mongrel ! The whole House of Trastamara hath
an interest in stifling that spurious scion which hath bee^i
so fraudulently engrafted on its princely stock !"
" Thou art warm, Don Fernando, and even the eye of
Beatriz de Bobadilla reproveth thy heat. The unfortunate
Joanna never can impair our rights to the throne, for tb^rc
are few nobles in Castile so unworthy as to wish to see the
crown bestowed where it is believed the blood of relay o
doth not flow."
" Don Enriquez hath not kept faith with ttee, Isabella,
since the treaty of Toros de Guisando !"
" My brother is surrounded by wickedx:ounsellors and
then, Fernando" the princess" blush*! crimson as she
spoke" neither have we been abl? rigidly to adhere to
that convention, since one of its .conditions was that my
hand should not be bestowed vtfhout the consent of the
" He hath driven us into .this measure, and hath only to
reproach himself with our failure on this point."
" I evdeavour so to view it, though many have been my
prayers for forgiveness of this seeming breach of faith. I
am not superstitions, Fernando, else might I think God
would frown on a union that is contracted in the face of
pledges like these. But, it is well to distinguish between
motives, and we have a right to believe that He who read-
eth the heart, will not judge the well-intentioned severely.
MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 49
Had not Don Enriquez attempted to seize my person, with
the plain purpose of forcing me to a marriage against my
will, this decisive step could not have been necessary, and
would not have been taken."
" I have reason to thank my patron saint, beautiful cou
sin, that thy will was less compliant than thy tyrants had
" I could not plight my troth to the King of Portugal, or
to Monsieur de Guienne, or to any that they proposed to
me, for my future lord," answered Isabella, ingenuously.
" It ill ben'tteth royal or noble maidens to set up their own
inexperienced caprices in opposition to the wisdom of their
friends, and the task is not difficult for a virtuous wife to
learn to love her husband, when nature and opinion are not
too openly violated in the choice ; but I have had too much
thought for my soul to wish to expose it to so severe a trial,
in contracting the marriage duties."
" I feel that I am only too unworthy of thee, Isabella
but thou must train me to be that thou wouldest wish : I
can only promise thee a most willing and attentive scholar."
The discourse now became more general, Isabella in
dulging her natural curiosity and affectionate nature, by
making many inquiries concerning her different relatives in
Aragon. After the interview had lasted two hours or more,
the King of Sicily returned to Duenas, with the same pri
vacy as he had observed in entering the town. The royal
pair parted with feelings of increased esteem and respect,
Isabella indulging in those gentle anticipations of domestic
happiness that more properly belong to the tender nature of
The marriage took place, with suitable pomp, on the
morning of the 19th October, 1469, in the chapel of John
de Vivero's palace ; no less than two thousand persons,
principally of condition, witnessing the ceremony. Just as
the officiating priest was about to commence the offices, the
eye of Isabella betrayed uneasiness, and turning to the
Archbishop of Toledo, she said,
" Your grace hath promised that there should be nothing
wanting to the consent of the church on this solemn occa
sion. It is known that Don Fernando of Aragori and I
stand within the prohibited degrees."
VOL. I. 5
50 MBRCEOES OF CASTItB.
'' Most true, my lady Isabella," returned the prelate, with
a composed mien and a paternal smile. " Happily, our
Holy Father Pius hath removed this impediment, and the
church smileth on this blessed union in every particular."
The archbishop then took out of his pocket a dispensa
tion, which he read in a clear, sonorous, steady voice ;
when every shade disappeared from the serene brow of
Isabella, and the ceremony proceeded. Years elapsed be
fore this pious and submissive Christian princess discovered
that she had been imposed on, the bull that was then read
having been an invention of the old King of Aragon and
the prelate, not without suspicions of a connivance on the
part of the bridegroom. This deception had been practised
from a perfect conviction that the sovereign pontiff was too
much under the influence of the King of Castile, to consent
to bestow the boon in opposition to that monarch's wishes.
It was several years before Sixtus IV. repaired this wrong,
by granting a more genuine authority.
Nevertheless, Ferdinand and Isabella became man and
wife. What followed in the next twenty years must be
rather glanced at than related. Henry IV. resented the
step, and vain attempts were made to substitute his suppo
sititious child, La Beltraneja, in the place of his sister, as
successor to the throne. A civil war ensued, during which
Isabella steadily refused to assume the crown, though often
entreated : limiting her efforts to the maintenance of her
rights as heiress presumptive. In 1474, or five years after
her marriage, Don Henry died, and she then became Queen
of Castile, though her spurious niece was also proclaimed
by a small party among her subjects. The war of the suc
cession, as it was called, lasted five years longer, when
Joanna, or La Beltraneja, assumed the veil, and the rights
of Isabella were generally acknowledged. About the same
time, died Don John II., when Ferdinand mounted the
throne of Aragon. These events virtually reduced the sove
reignties of the Peninsula, which had so long been cut up
into petty states, to four, viz., the possessions of Ferdinand
and Isabella, which included Castile, Leon, Aragon, Va
lencia, and many other of the finest provinces of Spain ;
Navarre, an insignificant kingdom in the Pyrenees ; Portu-
MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 51
gal, much as it exists to-day ; and Granada, the last abiding
place of the Moor, north of the strait of Gibraltar.
Neither Ferdinand, nor his royal consort, was forgetful
of that clause in their marriage contract, which bound the
former to undertake a war for the destruction of the Moor
ish power. The course of events, however, caused a delay
of many years, in putting this long-projected plan in exe
cution ; but when the time finally arrived, that Providence
which seemed disposed to conduct the pious Isabella, through
a train of important incidents, from the reduced condition
in which we have just'described her to have been, to the
summit of human power, did not desert its favourite. Suc
cess succeeded success and victory, victory ; until the
Moor had lost fortress after fortress, town after town, and
was finally besieged in his very capital, his last hold in the
peninsula. As the reduction of Granada was an x event
that, in Christian eyes, was to be ranked second only to
the rescuing of the holy sepulchre from the hands of
the Infidels, so was it distinguished by some features of
singularity, that have probably never before marked the
course of a siege. The place submitted on the 25th No
vember, 1491, twenty-two years after the date of the mar
riage just mentioned, and, it may not be amiss to observe,
on the very day of the year, that has become memorable
in the annals of this country, as that on which the English,
four centuries later, reluctantly yielded their last foothold
on the coast of the republic.
In the course of the preceding summer, while the Span
ish forces lay before the town, and Isabella, with her chil
dren, were anxious witnesses of the progress of events,
asi accident occurred that had well-nigh proved fatal
to the royal family, and brought destruction on the Chris
tian arms. The pavilion of the queen took fire, and was
consumed, placing the whole encampment in the utmost
jeopardy. Many of the tents oT the nobles were also de
stroyed, and much treasure, in the shape of jewelry and
plate, was lost, though the injury went no farther. In order
to guard against the recurrence of such an accident, and
probably viewing the subjection of Granada as the great
act of their mutual reign for, as yet, Time threw his veil
around the future, and but one human eye foresaw the great-
52 MERCEDES OF CASTILE.
est of all the events of the period, which was still in reserve
the sovereigns resolved on attempting a work that, of itself,
would render this siege memorable. The plan of a regular
town was made, and labourers set about the construction
of good substantial edifices, in which to lodge the army ;
thus converting the warfare into that of something like city
against city. In three months this stupendous work was
completed, with its avenues, streets and squares, and re
ceived the name of Santa Fe, or Holy Faith, an appellation
quite as well suited to the zeal which could achieve such a
work, in the heat of a campaign, as to that general reliance
on the providence of God which animated the Christians in
carrying on the war. The construction of this place struck
-terror into the hearts of the Moors, for they considered it
a proof that their enemies intended to give up the conflict
only with their lives ; and it is highly probable that it had
a direct and immediate influence on the submission of Bo-
abdil, the King of Granada, who yielded the Alhambra, a
few weeks after the Spaniards had taken possession of their
Santa Fe still exists, and is visited by the traveller as a
place of curious origin ; while it is rendered remarkable by
the fact real or assumed that it is the only town of any
size in Spain, that has never been under Moorish sway.
The main incidents of our tale will now transport us to
this era, and to this scene ; all that has been related, as
yet, being merely introductory matter, to prepare the reader
for the events that are to follow.
MERCEDES OF CASTILE. 53
What thing a right line is, the learned know;
But how avajles that him, who in the right
Of life and manners doth desire to grow ?
What then are all these humane arts, and lights,
But seas of errors ? In whose depths who sound,
Of truth finde only shadowes, and no ground."
THE morning of the 2d of January, 1492, was ushered
in with a solemnity and pomp that were unusual even in a
court and camp as much addicted to religious observances
and royal magnificence, as that of Ferdinand and Isabella.
The sun had scarce appeared, when all in the extraordinary
little city of Santa Fe were afoot, and elate with triumph.
The negotiations for the surrender of Granada, which had
been going on secretly for weeks, were terminated ; the army
and nation had been formally apprised of their results, and
this was the day set for the entry of the conquerors.
The court had been in mourning for Don Alonso of Por
tugal, the husband of the Princess Royal of Castile, who
had died a bridegroom ; but on this joyous occasion the
trappings of woe were cast aside, and all appeared in their
gayest and most magnificent apparel. At an hour that was
still early, the Grand Cardinal moved forward, ascending
what is called the Hill of Martyrs, at the head of a strong
body of troops, with a view to take possession. While
making the ascent, a party of Moorish cavaliers was met ;
and at their head rode one in whom, by the dignity of his
mien and the anguish of his countenance, it was easy to
recognize the mental suffering of Boabdil, or Abdullah, the
deposed monarch. The cardinal pointed out the position
occupied by Ferdinand, who, with that admixture of piety
and worldly policy which were so closely interwoven in his
character, had refused to enter within the walls of the con
quered city, until the symbol of Christ had superseded the
54 MERCEDES OF CASTILE*
banners of Mahomet ; and who had taken his station at
some distance from the gates, with a purpose and display
of humility that were suited to the particular fanaticism
of the period. As the interview that occurred has often
been related, and twice quite recently by distinguished
writers of our own country, it is unnecessary to dwell on
it here. Abdallah next sought the presence of the purer-
minded and gentle Isabella, where his reception, with less
affectation of the character, had more of the real charity
and compassion of the Christian ; when he went his way
towards that pass in the mountains that has ever since been
celebrated as the point where he took his last view of the
palaces and towers of his fathers, from which it has ob
tained the poetical and touching name of El Ultimo Suspiro
Although the passage of the last King of Granada, from
his palace to the hills, was in no manner delayed, as it
was grave and conducted with dignity, it consequently oc
cupied some time. These were hours in which the multi
tude covered the highways, and the adjacent fields were
garnished with a living throng, all of whom kept their eyes
riveted on the towers of the Alhambra, where the signs of
possession were anxiously looked for by every good Ca
tholic who witnessed the triumph of his religion.
Isabella, who had made this conquest a condition in the
articles of marriage whose victory in truth it was ab
stained, with her native modesty, from pressing forward on
this occasion. She had placed herself at some distance in
the rear of the position of Ferdinand. Still, unless indeed
we except the long-coveted towers of the Alhambra, she
was the centre of attraction. She appeared in royal mag
nificence, as due to the glory of the occasion ; her beauty
always rendered her an object of admiration ; her mildness,
inflexible justice, and unyielding truth, had won all hearts;
and she was really the person who was most to profit by
the victc -y, Granada being attached to her own crown of
Castile, and not to that of Aragon. a country that possessed
little or no contiguous territory.
Previously to the appearance of Abdallah, the crowd
moved freely, in all directions ; multitudes of civilians
having flocked to the camp to witness the entry. Among
MERCEDES OP CASTILE. 55
others were many friars, priests and monks, the war, in
deed, having the character of a crusade. The throng of
the curious was densest near the person of the queen,
where, in truth, the magnificence of the court was the most
imposing. Around this spot, in particular, congregated most
of the religious, for they felt that the pious mind of Isabella
created a sort of moral atmosphere in and near her pre
sence, that was peculiarly suited to their habits, and favour
able to their consideration. Among others, was a friar of
prepossessing mien, and, in fact, of noble birth, who had
been respectfully addressed as Father Pedro, by several
grandees, as he made his way from the immediate presence
of the queen, to a spot where the circulation was easier.
He was accompanied by a youth of an air so much
superior to that of most of those who did not appear that
day in the saddle, that he attracted general attention.
Although not more than twenty, it was evident, from his
muscular frame, and embrowned but florid cheeks, that he
was acquainted with exposure ; and by his bearing, many