Riches are of little avail in many of the calamities to which mankind are liable: yet riches are able to solder up abundance of flaws. "Look you, friend Sancho,” said the duke, "I can give away no part of heaven, not even a nails breadth; for God has reserved to himself the disposal of such favors; but what it is in my power to give, I give you with all my heart; and the island I now present to you is ready made, round and sound, well proportioned, and above measure fruitful, and where, by good management, you may yourself, with the riches of the earth, purchase an inheritance in heaven." "Well, then," answered Sancho, "let this island be forthcoming and it shall go hard with me but I will be such a governor that, in spite of rogues, heaven will take me in. Nor is it out of covetousness that I forsake my humble cottage and aspire to greater things, but the desire I have to taste what it is to be a governor." "If once you taste it, Sancho,” quoth the duke, "you will lick your finders after it: so sweet it is to command and be obeyed.” "Faith, sir, you are in the right." quoth Sancho: "it is pleasant to govern, though it he hut a flock of sheep."
Spain, once mistress of the world, as were each in turn Chaldea and Carthage, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, has still remaining some of the great achievements of the human race. Many of these, it is true, were the work of Arabs, and the crowning glory of the nation came in the form of a gift from a Genoese sailor nevertheless the Spanish monarchs had many shiploads of gold to spend, which it was hardly possible to do without leaving something whereby to remember them, though it were but a plat upon the perspective of history, like the huge Escorial, erected in honor of a saint. Yet for all that can be said, Spain's glory was very great; likewise her power and her wealth: for great and singular had been opportunity, of which to some extent she made avail. The harvesting, temporal and spiritual, begun by Ferdinand and Isabella at Granada, and continued by Charles V and Philip II, was the result of a long seed time and rare good fortune—seven centuries of what proved in the main successful warfare and half a world thrown like a gift into the lap of several sovereigns for him to accept who would. Without able rulers, opportunity would have availed little; and Spain had able rulers, had great and gifted men for monarchs, though more who were insignificant and detestable; yet the foolish kings did not always bring on the nation her most grievous calamities, nor were the wisest always wise; better far had their catholic Majesties kept their Moors and Jews for useful labor, and let go the many golden isles and lands beyond the seas which finally wrought their country’s undoing.
In the evolution of the modern Spaniard the old Iberian and Celt, or Celtiberian, united with the Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Vandal, Goth, and Arabian, all of widely different races, contributed of their characteristics, the Romans in the main predominating. Thus to the Roman the Spaniard owes his stateliness and pride, to the Arab his fiery temperament and much of his art and learning, while in his national institutions are traces of Teutonic influence.
Soil, climate, and whatever goes to make up the natural wealth of a country were better in Spain before her forests were destroyed, and dry and desolating winds permitted to sweep at random over sierra and plateau. Vast areas became valueless, or less valuable, as happened on the elevated table-lands of La Mancha and Castile, though still are fair forests of oak and other merchantable woods in the Sierra Nevada, the Sierra Morena, and the Pyrenees.
The varied configuration of the Spanish peninsula, the varied origin of populations, and the conditions of settlement united to form widely different peoples. There are the lofty Pyrenees along the northern boundary, and in the south, rising from the heated plains of Andalusia, the chill summits of the Sierra Nevada; there are the central high plateau, the intersecting lesser sierras, the low well-watered plains, and the warm fertile valleys. Cut into physical divisions internally, the peninsula is likewise separated by physical barriers from the rest of the world. The five large and five lesser rivers are of little value as navigable streams; there are many salt lakes, especially in Catalonia and Aragon, and of mineral springs there are 2,000 or more.
Hence, as I have said, the varied peoples and conditions,—the rugged Basque, prepared for the cold blasts from the Atlantic, and the sparkling Andalusian, his blood warmed by the sensuous breezes from the Mediterranean; the grave and thrifty Catalonian, the humble and hard working Galician, and the proud native of Aragon. Along the eastern or Mediterranean side, in an atmosphere pure and brilliant, grow olives and oranges, cotton and sugar-cane, date-palms and bananas; Valencia is an African garden set in a Sicilian landscape; here and at the northern end are golden grain, the vine, and all tropical fruits and nuts,—pomegranates and pineapples, figs dates almonds and the like. Andalusia is a paradise of perennial youth and freshness, a paradise also of luxury and laziness.
On the western or Atlantic seaboard of the peninsula are raised in profusion grain, fruits, and the vine, with trees of hardy growth, as the oak and chestnut. There are still in Catalonia forests of beech and pine; Biscay is also well wooded; the two Castiles are almost bare of woods; Aragon produces grain, flax, hemp, the vine, and dye-stuffs, and affords pasture for sheep and cattle. Galicia on its limited area of arable land, raises fruits in abundance, as well as wheat, barley, corn, and flax. The Gallegos as the inhabitants are called, are the servants of Spain, and speak a dialect different from others; the men swarming at certain seasons of the year into the towns of Spain and Portugal, where they find work, leaving their wives to conduct affairs at home. Estremadura, encircled by mountains, has a fertile soil which produces wheat and barley, but the people are improvident, and when inclined to industry in any form prefer the raising of sheep and cattle. Indeed the high plateaus are almost entirely given up to this industry, migratory flocks and herds roaming over the country to the injury of all who attempt legitimate farming. Murcia, Granada, and Valencia cultivate mulberry trees for silk-worms. Leon, in the Pyrenees, where Pelayo lived and planned the future redemption of Spain, is unfitted for husbandry through extremes of heat and cold, in early times breeding only patriots. In Navarre grain, hemp, flax, wine, oil, and liquorices are produced. Murcia has little good land except on the banks of streams, but is well supplied with minerals.
Metals and minerals are well distributed in many portions of Spain, though at present but little worked; iron in Biscay, silver in Andalusia; gold pearls and rubies, copper coal and petroleum, cinnabar and marble at various points. The rich mines of gold and silver which attracted the ancients to these shores are, with the exception of the silver mine of Guadalcanal and the gold mine of Adissa in Portugal either exhausted or abandoned; but the more useful metals are found throughout the peninsula, with precious stones in places. The best lead mines are at Linares and in the Sierra de Gador. Tin ores are worked on a small scale in Galicia; near Oporto is good coal; also in Aragon, La Mancha and Asturias.
From the earliest times of which we have record the Carthaginians and after them the Romans, knew of and worked the gold and silver mines of Spain, traces of their engineering achievements still in existence, commanding our astonishment. In the Sierra Morena are rich deposits of gold, silver, iron, copper, and lead, and the quicksilver mines of Almaden gave to the Roman women the cinnabar with which they delighted to redden their hair, just as the savages of California resorted to the spot called by white men New Almaden for material wherewith to paint their faces.
At least a thousand years before the Christian era Phoenician navigators took possession of the Mediterranean seaboard, of Granada, Murcia, Valencia, and founded colonies, notably Tartessus, or Tarshish, and Gades, or Cadiz, where figured the Tyrian Hercules. The metalliferous Gaudalquiver attracted their attention, and Malaga, Cordova, and Seville show signs of Phœnician presence. A century later appeared the Greeks, and established themselves, among other places, at Emporiae that is to say Ampurias, on the coast of Catalonia, and Saguntum, later Murviedro, in Valencia. Then came the Carthaginians, led by Hamilcar and Hasdrubal, and planted a new Carthage on the Spanish shore, teaching the rude tribes how to work their mines and grow grain, giving in exchange for their products goods from Tyre and old Carthage. Presently the Carthaginians dominated not only the natives, but the colonies of all other nations; for their city had become strong and rich, was well fortified, and commanded an extensive commerce. The Greeks appealed to Rome for protection, and the Punic wars followed, in which the Scipios finally gained possession of the coast from the Pyrenees to Cartagena, but not until after a death struggle with Hannibal, the Carthaginian. Not many years later Rome was in possession of the entire peninsula, except the Basque provinces, and during this conquest occurred many brilliant episodes, as the storming of Cartagena, the treasure city of the Punic provinces, and the vast riches secured by Publius Cornelius Scipio.
The Carthaginians vanquished and the country finally reduced to submission after many a vain attempt to shake off the yoke. Spain became one of the richest of Roman possessions, at once a source of supply and a seat of Roman learning, where were born Trajan and Hadrian. Quintilian and Martial, where Cato was consul, and over which Pompey and Caesar quarreled. Among Greek and Roman remains, are those of Murviedro, or Old Walls, showing where 2,100 years ago stood Saguntum, a powerful and opulent city, strongly walled, and with aqueduct, amphitheater, palaces, and temples. Also there is the palace of Augustus at Tarragona, now serving as a prison; the Trajan arch of Bara; the bridges of Alcantara, Salamanca, and Calatrava; the aqueducts of Tarragona and Seville; the bridge and aqueduct of Evora and of Segovia. On every side we have material evidence of the presence of the Goths; and as for the Arabs, take away their palaces and mosques, their thousands of artistic treasures, and we lose much that is best worth preserving in the art and architecture of Spain.
Christianized in the time of Constantine, Spain has ever since remained intensely Christian. Upon the fall of Rome the German tribes found little difficulty in taking possession of the peninsula, the Suevi occupying Galicia, the Alani Portugal, and the Vandals Andalusia. The Romans appealed for aid to the Visigoths, or western Goths, then in the south of France, and soon these people were masters of the peninsula, Euric, the greatest of their kings, putting an end to Roman rule in 471, and giving a code of laws to Spain. Another famous Gothic king was Leovigild, who held court at Toledo, and was the first to array himself in royal purple and occupy a throne. Among Gothic customs was the execution of such kings as did not please them, and to prevent his own assassination. Leovigild had a number of his nobles put out of the way from time to time, until he felt himself firmly seated in his chair of state, making Toledo his capital.
Standing, as did ancient Rome, on a circle of seven hills, and encompassed on three sides by the Tagus, spanned toward the east by a gigantic Moorish bridge in a single arch with the towers on its ancient ramparts half Gothic, half Arabic, with its forest of church pinnacles and the red walls of its Alcazar towering above city and river, Toledo presents a most picturesque and imposing aspect. Enter, and you find yourself thrown back more than 2,000 years into the heart of the past. Captured by the Romans some two centuries before the Christian era, it became alternately the capital of Visigoth, Moorish, and Spanish kings, the impress left by each still visible, and the religio-military spirit of the stern and somber middle age still conspicuous. As might be expected, there is in its byways and buildings an admixture of the royal and Episcopal; palaces and churches mingling with fortress and convents; high, top-heavy houses with roofs projecting over secretive melancholy streets, with 20,000 somber-visaged inhabitants where in the days of Mohammedan domination were 200,000 contented and prosperous people. On a mountain spur guarding the town is the ruined castle of Cervantes, and at its foot, closed at either end by a gate tower, the bridge of the bridge, as the Alcantara is sometimes called.
At a bend of the terraced road is seen through the transparent atmosphere the Puerto del Sol, a massive Moorish gateway of rich orange-red color embossed with finest tracery. All is of striking aspect as we proceed, the massive and gloomy buildings of medieval architecture, in the midst of which is the zocodover, or Moorish plaza, overhung in places by balconies and whence the only wide street leads to the ever obtrusive cathedral with its crowd of filthy, whining beggars! Though to some extent stripped of its decorations, there is still much to admire in this cathedra, with its picturesque interior containing 100 columns, its sculptured figures, its spacious naves, carved stalls, and glass sparkling in ruby, sapphire, and emerald hues. Behind the Puerto del Sol is the church of El Christo de la Luz, once a mosque with low vaulted nave and graceful Moorish arches.
As the light of the Goths expires, the star of the East arises. Roderic, the last of the Gothic kings is betrayed by Count Julian, whose daughter he had seduced, to the Moors, already threatening the portals of the peninsula, and in a battle of seven days duration, fought at Xeres de la Frontera in 711, the Gothic sovereign appearing in an ivory chariot drawn by milk-white mules at the head of 90,000 men, the fate of Spain is determined. Roderic is defeated; the Moors under Taric take possession of the country, and for the next seven centuries Spain is given over to Islamism. Christ the crucified is put away, and the watchword becomes "God is great and Mohammad is his prophet!" Art and architecture change with the mutation of religions; now the cathedral is a mosque only for the mosque in due time to become again a cathedral.
Xeres, that is to say Sherry; or, rather, the first speaking of the word Sherry was an abortive attempt to say Xeres—is today a very wealthy little town, the richest in Spain, if not in the world, for its size, and all by reason of its wines, of which the land thereabouts produces 2,000,000 gallons a year, the choicest vintages when ten or twelve years old selling for as much as $20 a gallon. After saying this, it is barely worthwhile to speak of the woolen stuffs and the morocco there manufactured, or of the grain there grown and exported. The wine interest is mainly in the hands of foreigners; and glory enough it is for one little town to make the good liquor which connoisseurs everywhere like so well to drink.
After gaining the victory over Roderic, Taric somewhat exceeded the authority given him by his master Musa, chief general of the Muslim forces in Africa, taking possession of Seville, Merida, and other cities; but was not severely censured for his transgression. Malaga offered no resistance; Granada was taken by storm; Cordova fell after feeble resistance, and in five years the entire peninsula, with the exception of Asturia, Cantabria, and Navarre, came under the new domination. At first the conquered country belonged to the caliphate of Baghdad; but in 756 an independent caliphate was established at Cordova by Abdurrahman I, and under the third Abdurrahman, and his son Hakem II, attained to great prosperity.
The old towns of Spain have each its several histories. In Roman Cordova, for example, were born Seneca and the poet Lucan; Arabian Córdova was the rival of Baghdad and Damascus, the capital of the Ommiades, the birthplace of Avenzour and Averroes, the cradle of captains, the nurse of science, and for three centuries the home of wealth, learning, and refinement.
Spanish Córdova, Living largely on the glories of what had gone before, brought forth Juan de Mena, Ambrosio Morales, and the great captain, Gonzalez. It is today a city of the past, a city dead but not buried; grass grows in the streets, and where were formerly 200,000 bright and active minds, 40,000 dull-witted citizens doze away their harmless lives. Of all its ancient glories there remains little of mark except the mosque, which in some respects is unrivalled. The building was founded, it is said, in 786 by the first Abdurrahman, who worked at it with his own hands for an hour every day and spent thereon 100,000 pieces of gold. It was intended to rival the mosque at Baghdad in architectural and decorative scheme, and successive sultans contributed freely for its construction and support. La Mezquita, it is called, from the Arabic mezgad, to worship. The site was first occupied by a Roman temple of Janus; then by a cathedral, which became a mosque, afterward to be again transformed into a cathedral. The Arabs were more tolerant of the faith of their vanquished foes than the Christians later proved themselves to be. When in the eighth century the Moors took Córdova, and found there this cathedral, they deprived the Christians of only half their place of worship, leaving them to use the remainder as they chose. Later, wishing to make of it a beautiful temple, they paid them well for their portion, enough indeed wherewith to build a better church elsewhere.
Córdova has now some 50,000 inhabitants; when the Moors were in possession the population was 1,000,000, with hundreds of mosques, 28 suburbs, 113,000 houses, and 1,000 public baths. Among royal abodes were the palace of Contentment, the palace of Flowers, and the palace of Lovers; there were also a thousand mansions belonging to the rich and noble, some of them opening on the river on one side and with a garden on the other; not a few being connected with the sultan's mosque by vaulted passages, carpeted and lighted by jeweled lamps, while the ceilings of others rested on columns of marble or porphyry. It is said that on the palace which Abdurrahman built for his best beloved, Zahra, 10,000 men and 4,000 horses labored for a quarter of a century. There were 15,000 bronze doors covered with silken portieres, and in the room called the caliphs hall was a lake of quicksilver of dazzling brilliance Zahra's servants numbering 10,000 males and 6,000 females. The throne was resplendent with gold and gems; Persian rugs covered the mosaic floors, and around the main edifices were 1,000 pavilions and terraced gardens.
A native is rich with very little in Córdova; a few pesetas will buy him dried fish and oranges for a month, and the king can find no greater comfort than hundreds of beggars derive from sunning themselves in the alameda, or in the court of the mosque, where for 900 years has sparkled the fountain which waters the tall cypresses and palms. One may still lose oneself in the interior of this massive if care be not taken; of the forest of pillars, pile 1,200 in number, of jasper marble and porphyry, which originally separated the 40 or 50 transverse naves, 1,000 still remain. In the little Ceca chapel, under a shell-like roof carved from a single block of marble and adorned with mosaics sent by Romanus II from Constantinople was kept the Koran; and nearby, paved with silver, was the chapel of the Maksurah, where the caliph worshipped. There were many beautiful and holy things in this temple when the Muslims were there, one being a stand for the Koran, costing, it is said, a sum equal to $5,000,000, as money is counted at the present day.
The intelligent reader will doubtless form his own opinion as to the truth of these Arabian stories; but certain it is that at this period luxurious living readied an extreme point; for here were present all the conditions of luxury and excess, —money, power, beautiful women, passions with all the means at hand for their utmost gratification, art science and learning; in a word, material for the complete indulgence of every appetite, physical or intellectual.
Abdurrahman I was a hard worker, and became a very rich man; indeed all Spain was his or as much of it as he chose to take, the gold of Jew or Christian being equally at his disposal. He loved poetry as well as money, and gave himself to works of public utility, building dykes along the Guadalquiver, and planting in Spain the date-palm and other trees of oriental origin.
Hakem II, son and successor of Abdurrahman III, who reigned at Cordova in true oriental state, was a learned man and a patron of literature, having agents at Damascus Cairo and Baghdad who bought or copied all the best works that could be found. A portion of his office was occupied as library and workshop, and filled with copyists illuminators and binders. His volumes numbered 400,000, and 44 others were filled with the catalogue. Schools were established; and the university of Cordova, where were taught Arabian jurisprudence, Islamism, and poetry, became famed throughout the east as well as in the west. For several centuries the peninsula prospered under Saracen domination. Art and science went hand in hand with commerce and agriculture, and so famous became the educational institutions of the Spanish Mohammedans that students flocked to their colleges from every quarter of Europe. In 1031, with the deposition of Hakem III, the decline of the caliphate began, the former provinces becoming independent kingdoms, of which there were twenty, those of Toledo, Saragossa, Granada, Seville, Cordova, and Valencia being among the number.
As the Greeks brought culture into Italy, so the Arabs brought learning into Spain. Besides law, theology, poetry, art, and architecture, the latter were well advanced in all the sciences. At Seville, in 1196, was erected by Geber the first astronomical observatory of which we have authentic record. Among other branches, his countrymen—though whether Geber was an Arabian is a matter of dispute—were skilled in mathematics, hydraulics, medicine, metallurgy, and chemistry. They constructed great systems of irrigation and were deft workers in gold, silver, copper, steel, and porcelain. At Cordova they tanned leather with pomegranate rind, and this was highly valued. But in nothing were the Arabs so expert as in architecture; for not satisfied with what they already knew when they set forth on their campaigns, the grand and beautiful buildings found in conquered cities incited them to build others yet grander and more beautiful, the nations amply sufficing means obtained from the subjugation of wealth for the gratification of their tastes. Moreover, the foremost architects and artisans of the foremost nations, Grecian Persian Syrian, were ever at their command; hence the splendid specimens of Muslim art seen in the palaces and mosques of Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem and Damascus, Constantinople and Granada.
The country between Cordova and Malaga is fertile, producing in abundance; hence and for other reasons the latter is a great and prosperous city, its exports of wine and raisins being especially large. In the alameda is a fountain brought by Charles V from Genoa, and a Graeco-Roman cathedral, built in the sixteenth century, stands on the site of a mosque near the Moorish quarter, in which is also the castle of Gibralfaro. As in other opulent cities of southern Europe and the East, where the inhabitants are thriftless lazy and improvident, commerce and manufactures are mainly in the hands of foreigners, who become wealthy and build for themselves elegant homes in the most desirable quarters.
As it comes to us in the sober narrative of history it is difficult to believe the account given of the development of commerce and industries, and the gathering of riches by the Muslims during the earlier part of their occupation. A country which today has but a scant population of 17,000,000 at most, had in the time of Augustus 70,000,000, and under the Arabs 100,000,000. The state revenues of the latter were equivalent to 540,000,000; there were thousands of silk and cotton factories; indigo and cochineal were cultivated; gold was taken from the Darro, coral from the coast of Andalusia, and pearls from Tarragona. Agriculture and stock raising assumed greater proportions even than mining and manufactures. A thousand cities flourished all over the land, and the smaller towns no man could number. Twelve thousand men in costly array, glittering in steel and gold, constituted the caliph’s body guard.
While the Muslims are thus fattening on the fertile fields of Spain, wrapped in the enervating luxury which always precedes a nation’s downfall, a few patriots under Pelayo still retain their nationality in the fastnesses of the Pyrenees. Limited at first to Oviedo, their kingdom is enlarged by the conquest of Galicia, with portions of Leon and Castile by Alfonso the Catholic, who thus becomes king of Austrias. Other small kingdoms spring up in the Northern provinces, as those of Leon, Navarre, and Catalonia, and later, Castile, Aragon, and Portugal. These and others at times uniting to fight the Moors, though more often making war on each other, gradually force southward the Saracens, enlarge the Christian dominion, and wrest piece by piece their native land from infidel rule. After a great victory gained over the Almohades at Tolosa by the united Christian powers under the leadership of Alfonso IX of Castile, only Cordova and Granada are left to the Moors. Finally by the union of Ferdinand of Aragon with Isabella of Castile all Christian Spain is united into one kingdom.
While Christian and Muslim were thus engaged in the long struggle which was to determine forever the fate of Islam in Europe, all over the land cities and provinces were subject, as elsewhere, to the ebb and flow of fortune. Though dating back to earliest times, Barcelona is in aspect and character a modern rather than an ancient city, one of the few really prosperous and progressive towns in Spain; and this not because it is the capital of a province, the see of a bishop, and the residence of a captain-general, nor because of its university, its colleges, hospitals orphanages, and other charitable institutions; but on account of its factories, especially of its manufactories of cotton, wool, and silk, causing the place to rank for many centuries as the commercial and industrial center of eastern Spain.
Exceedingly rich also in earlier days was Alcala de Henares, with its 38 churches, its university rivaling in reputation and learning that of Salamanca, and its 19 colleges, among them San Ildefonso, founded by Cardinal Ximenes, with patios in Doric, Ionic, and Berruguete styles, a half Gothic, half Moorish chapel. Here was printed, at a cost of 52,000 ducats, the polyglot Bible known as the Complutensian. Though numbered with the cities of the past, Alcala still lives as the birthplace of Cervantes, the day being the 9th of October 1547, this fact being well established notwithstanding that the honor is claimed by eight other cities, Seville, Toledo and Madrid, among the number.
Then there is Burgos, the former capital of Old Castile, the city of the Cid, the city of ancient legends, with a weird uncanny past and a moldy present. Everywhere are pointed arches, gates of pilgrimage and pardon, antique doorways, statues and seraphs; but most remarkable of allis the cathedral with its clustered spires and pinnacles, built in the most florid of Gothic styles and more than three centuries in the building. Though with a population diminished from 80,000 to less than 30,000, it has still a considerable trade, with exports of linens and woolens fashioned in imitation of English goods.
High in the pines under Guadarrama, and resting on the slope of the sierra, is the real sitio of La Granja, upon which Philip V spent some millions of pesos, and where, let us hope, he passed some happy days—if monarchs are ever happy. A pretty picture is this airy palace, a veritable chateau en Espagne, with its cluster of roof-points, its balconies and fountains its classic Corinthian columns, and a garden sportive with graces and goddesses in marble and bronze.
Avila has streets of quaint old houses, little changed since Saracenic times, some of them handsomely ornamented, but for the most part plain, though occupied by wealthy families. There is a Gothic cathedral erected early in the twelfth century and there are the usual churches with the usual apses and arches, lofty pinnacles, and stained-glass windows in doubtful taste. Still is preserved the ancient wall, with towers and breastwork, though much of the town is built outside its circuit. Beyond is a desert, or little more than a desert, affording scant means of support for the present population of 7,000 or 8,000 souls.
In the midst of Catalonian olive orchards stands Lerida, a picturesque pile of purple rock, 300 feet high, crowned by fortifications of heavy masonry, by a cathedral with lofty spire and cloistered arches, and at the base a line of antiquated houses, a quay, an old mill, and a yellow stone bridge,—a somewhat desolate, but to the artist a quaint and pleasing picture.
Tarragona has a fine cathedral, built in the years between 1089 to 1131, with rose windows and Romanesque arches; there are also the chapel of Santa Tecla, and the cloister, which with its arcaded court and garden is most attractive of all. On the shore of the sea, three miles away, is, as tradition relates, the tomb of the Scipios, a massive Roman structure like some of which traces are still to be found on the Appian Way. There are here about the remains of many Roman monuments, buildings, bridges, and aqueducts, among others fragments of the palace which Augustus occupied a few years before the birth of Christ.
Among the mountains near Tarragona, on a lonely spot, where, as was said, mystic lights revealed the resting place of a pious hermit who there had taken refuge from the Moors, was founded in 1140, by Ramon Berenger IV, king of Aragon, what became in time one of the largest religious establishments in the world.
Poblet was the hermit's name, and the place became known as the convent of Poblet. It was situated in a solitary dell amid tangled woods overhanging craggy hills, between which and the buildings were orange groves whose gnarled and venerable trees were twisted into fantastic forms. Succeeding monarchs each added something to the extent and magnificence of the buildings, or to the wealth and beauty of the place. It became to them not merely a royal retreat for penitential meditation and prayer, where for a time conventual life might be enjoyed with profit to the soul, but presently arose royal tombs on either side of the choir, and around the principal cloister dukes and grandees occupied each his chosen niche. Marquises and counts had burial ground assigned them around the apse; the place for famous warriors was in the nave and anti-chapel; a portion of the transept was dedicated to the bishops of Lerida and Tarragona; while the abbots of Poblet, mightier and more honored than archbishop, prince, or potentate, reserved for themselves the chapter-house, their imposing effigies significant of strength and dignity. But in this Westminster abbey thus planted among the mountains of Spain, shrine or cemetery was not all nor the greater part of Poblet. It was a place of happiness for the living, as well as of rest for the dead. Its fame was noised abroad, and its wealth and magnificence increased, until among the regular occupants were numbered 500 monks of St. Bernard, who arrayed themselves in costliest robes and fed on the fat of the land. Far and wide extended the conventual domains, and the vestures and church furnishings were the richest that money would purchase. Books were gathered, until the Poblet library became one of the best in Spain. Vineyards were planted on the mountain sides, presses were erected, and great cellars were filled with the vintage which under the name of Priorato was most in favor of all the choice wines of the peninsula.
More and more reserved and exclusive became these monks of Poblet. The number was reduced from 500 to 66, and none were admitted to the fraternity save those of noble blood. Each had two servants and all rode on milk-white mules, the latter being in the eyes of the vulgar almost as sacred as their riders; for such animals commanded enormous prices, and Spain was ransacked to secure them. Traffic and the useful arts were the handmaids of religion, and the holy men were served by those who ministered to their needs. Hospitals and houses of entertainment were erected for the use of pilgrims; likewise a palace for sovereigns, grandees, and men of royal lineage; for these also had bodies to feed and souls to save in common with the poor and sick and suffering.
Thus were made gorgeous the appendages of righteousness, as immorality and crime came on apace under cover of still more stringent rules, somber sanctimoniousness and external formalities being but a cloak for the raging fires of passion within. Sovereigns of sovereigns dictators to monarchs and princes, the holy men of Poblet became, yet more autocratic as the wealth, power, and popularity of their convent increased, issuing their commands to rich and poor alike as from God's vicegerents on earth.
And all the while their rules were apparently of the strictest; for herein lay one element of their strength and influence the restrictions, and penances laid upon themselves being likewise imposed upon others; so that the dictatorial spirit grew upon these pious power-loving mortals, even politics and governments being largely influenced by them. Then darker and yet more sinister became their purposes and deeds, until presently it was noticed that some who entered the convent were never known to leave it. Where were they and what were these fearsome mysteries about which men were whispering? The wars of Don Carlos brought on the climax; among the monks of Poblet dissensions and divisions arose; some were Carlists, some for the opposition, and all were ready for the agencies of knives, dungeons, and tortures. Things went from bad to worse until the country around became thoroughly aroused, and men of authority and power were filled with horrible suspicions.
And so one night there came to the convent a roaring multitude of country people, towns-folk, and men at arms, and breaking down the doors they poured through court and cloisters into the rack-rooms and dungeons, where they found human bones and emaciated forms, with such dreadful enginery of torture and cruelty as set them wild with fury. “To the ground with the accursed pile!” they cried, and straightway the work of demolition began, and ceased not until proud Poblet, with all its wealth of luxury and beauty strewed the convent grounds. Books were brought out and burned; shrines and statues, pictures altar-pieces and priceless works of art and ornament fell under the general demolition, the destruction being finished by setting fire to the buildings, and burning all that could be consumed.
What now remains? The very abomination of desolation, says Augustus Hare. The old olive trees still line the rugged rock-hewn way of approach, and beyond projecting buttresses are the hills glowing in perennial verdure. Tall crosses rise on lofty pedestals, stained with golden lichen, myrtle, and lentisck, while at the cross-ways are groups of saintly figures amid the solitary groves where friars loved to walk. An avenue with broken seats at intervals on either side leads up to the convent walls, a clear sparkling mountain torrent surging by its side, overflowing a basin filled with ferns and tall water plants. After skirting the enclosure for some distance, the visitor is admitted by an ancient gateway to the ruins of the interior where the story of the past is written on rifted walls filled with fragments of sculpture of rare beauty and delicacy; on the ruins of spacious courts, of numberless cloisters, of broken marble pillars and stonework with exquisite tracery everywhere strewing the ground. Still may be seen the little decorated chapel of St. George; the remains of frescoes telling of the Moorish invasion; towers, broken statues, and the bare skeleton of the hospital, while around the tombs of kings donkeys have now their stalls.
One can see much of Spain in Saragossa. Though modernized in places there are still tin marks of medieval Christianity intermingled with traces of Muslim supremacy, relics of the auto-da-fé and inquisition standing forth in unpleasant contrast with the milder memorials of the followers of the prophet. Crossing the bridge from the grand plaza, there is on the left the cathedral of El Seo, which with the archiepiscopal palace and the lonja, or exchange, occupy conspicuous places in the square. Entering from the yellow sunlight the somber vaults of the cathedral, visions of beauty and grandeur float before the eye as though descending from another sphere. Under Gothic arches and among shrines and altars are renaissance sculptures with bas-reliefs and paintings by the great masters. More celebrated even than the Seo is Nuestra Dama del Pilar, with its Byzantine suggestions, yellow varnished tiles, and domes resplendent in orange green and blue. The shrine, to which thousands of pilgrims resort, is of itself a temple within a temple, where the virgin appears descending on a pillar, arrayed in velvet and brocade and resplendent in gold and diamonds. The streets, market-places, statues, and towers are unique, and life in this old Aragonese town is seen as only it can be seen in Spain. In the suburbs is Aljaferia, the ancient palace of the kings of Aragon, now used as a barrack, the kitchen having been once a Moorish pavilion with beautiful arabesques, and the boot-room the chamber where Isabella, queen of Portugal, was born. The palace and prison of the inquisition were likewise a part of this now dishonored pile, whence thousands of human souls have been sent with cries of agony into the unknown.
In the old Castilian town of Segovia, with its cathedral of many pinnacles and its ancient amphitheater, a Trajan aqueduct of gray and black granite blocks cemented together and with arches a hundred feet high attest the solidity of Roman workmanship.
Near the convent of San Gabriel this in aqueduct serves as a bridge, underlying which are 320 arches, double rows, one superimposed upon the other some of them, having been destroyed when the Saracens plundered Segovia. In 1483 Isabella ordered them to be restored; but even now the Roman arches can readily be distinguished from the Spanish, owing to the inferiority of the latter. It is a crowded town red-roofed houses jostling each other, and all intermingled with old Romanesque churches and high lofty towers. In 1494 the marquis de Villena built at the end of the alameda the Geronimite monastery of El Parral, in token of gratitude to heaven for enabling him to overcome three antagonists at once in a duel fought upon its site. It is regarded as one of the most remarkable buildings in Spain; and though parts of it have disappeared through vandalism and decay, there still remain the carved pulpit of the refectory, the cloisters, and a room fitted up as a pantheon, filled with monuments of legendary and local lore. In 1204 was erected by Honorius II the Vera Cruz, copied after the church of the holy sepulcher in Jerusalem. Not far from the site of the old alcazar, whence Isabella went forth to be proclaimed queen of Castile, are the tower of San Esteban and the cathedral, begun in 1525, and one of the last of the great Gothic structures of Spain. As with many other cities, Segovia under Saracenic rule was rich and prosperous; at one time 25,000 pieces of cloth were made there annually, giving employment to 14,000 workmen; now not more than 200 pieces are manufactured, and the place is but a shadow of its former Self.
In the fourteenth century the university of Salamanca had 10,000 students; now it has 1,000; the collegiate of learning; now they are for the most part in ruins, or let to poor families, though one buildings were palaces is occupied by a governor and another is a college. And the decay continues; opposite the university buildings, or what is left of them, is the cathedral, gorgeous in yellow stone and florid Gothic detail. The plaza of Salamanca, among the largest in Europe, is surrounded with Corinthian arches, the municipal buildings occupying one of the sides. There are two cathedrals, of which the older structure belongs to the thirteenth century and is a fine specimen of the later Romanesque. Worthy of mention also is the bridge across the Tormes, 500 feet long and with arches of Roman workmanship, for this is one of the oldest of Spanish towns.
The church of Santa Catalina at Valencia, which stands on the site of a Roman temple of Diana, is thrown into the shade by its octagonal Gothic tower, called El Miguelete from the first ringing of its bells on San Miguel's day. It was intended to be carried up 350 feet, but reached a height of only 160 feet. For forty miles around Valencia the country is a garden of orange groves and vineyards, the irrigating canals constructed by the Moors retaining the fertility of a soil naturally rich. Water is a fundamental source of wealth throughout the larger part of the peninsula, and such is the quantity diverted from the streams for agricultural purposes that when the rivers reach the sea their volume is greatly diminished. Its use is regulated by law, the water-court of Valencia, composed of twelve farmers, meeting once a week to settle disputes. The houses of the old nobility have Gothic windows and open arcades in the upper story, a style of architecture that finds no favor with the modern Spaniard.
French invasion and the vis inertiæ, nowhere more palpable than in Spain, have reduced to a wreck the capital of Juan 11 of Castile, glorious in the days of Charles V and Philip II. Yet the broad plaza of Valladolid is pleasant to look upon and still there remains Herrera’s imposing cathedral founded in 1585. More beautiful is the church of Santa Maria de la Antigua standing near it. Then there is the Dominican convent of San Pablo, rebuilt in 1463 by Torquemada, patron of art and promoter of autos-da-fé for the spiritual delectation of his patroness Isabella the Catholic. The city can boast of the university and royal palaces which once were there, while pointing to the tiered balconies, shops, and arcades, the theaters, libraries, and picturesque plazas which abound in the modern city.
With the consolidation of petty provinces and kingdoms, and the union of Aragon and Castile, a new nation comes upon the scene. Already former sovereigns of Castile had wrested from the Moors Cordova Seville, Cádiz, and other Saracenic, possessions in southern Spain, and had attached them to their dominions. When Seville was taken by the Castilians, it was in truth a beautiful city, much larger than at the present day, and enclosed within a Moorish wall having sixty-six towers and fifteen gates, while the city itself was teeming with life and gaiety, and beyond was the broad valley of the Guadalquiver, verdant with olive and orange orchards, palm-groves and vineyards, Sephela, the Carthaginians called it, erecting to Astarte, goddess of love, a temple which has since done service as a Roman fane, a Gothic church, a Moorish mosque, and now a catholic cathedral, with a tower 350 feet in height, two large organs, and a library.
A noted spot is that where the Carthaginians used to burn their children to please their god, afterward used as a parade ground for Roman soldiers, as a barrack for Moorish cavalry, and later as a bull-ring capable of seating 11,000 persons. A tall structure is the so-called Tower of Gold, built by the Romans and used as a place of observation, whence looking down on the paradise that lay below, the observer was fanned by fresh, cool breezes from the silvery Guadalquiver winding through fragrant gardens of fruits and flowers.
At Seville one sees at his best the gay and volatile Andalusian, with his mercurial temperament and happy environment, a type as different from the old Castilian as Segovia is different from Seville; quite different both from those who dwell in the somber shades of Cordova and Granada. Probably no city in Europe was more greatly affected by New World influence than Seville, and the effects of that influence are seen today in the crowded streets, the busy shops, and general air of alertness among the people, so greatly in contrast with the general apathy of the orthodox Spaniard.
Seated by the Guadalquiver, smiling in the sunshine, the very name of Seville is significant of all that is bright and beautiful. The place is as full of happy life as is Burgos of mournful meditation. White houses with green balconies embellished with flowers and filigree line the clean shaded streets, while the patios and plazas with their cooling fountains are perfumed by the orange or citron, the banana and almond trees, through whose foliage flit birds of sweet song and bright plumage.
Though there is so much in Seville that is American there is more that is Arabian, many of the people being proud of their Saracen antecedents.
The streets and shops are Moorish, and care is taken to preserve Moorish edifices in all their characteristic originality; pride being taken even in the construction of the narrow streets which render this "oven of Spain" not only endurable but to the native comfortable during the hot months of summer. Next to the Alhambra of Granada the Alcazar of Seville is the finest monument of Arabian architecture. After suffering disgraceful devastation and abuse, the edifice has of late years been restored by the duke of Montpensier, so that it is now like a palace of the fairies, its walls seemingly covered with silk and gold. The pavement of the patio is of marble, having in the center a fountain surrounded with beds of flowers, the gallery resting on graceful columns supporting open arcades. This Alcazar, Al Kasr, or house of Caesar, though begun in 1181, was in great part rebuilt under the direction of Moorish architects by Pedro the Cruel a tyrant full worthy of his cognomen.
As with the Alcazar, so with the Giralda tower, said to surpass in beauty and harmony all Christian belfries. So lofty is it that the detail of Arabic ornament on pale pink is soon lost to the eye, and so spacious that one may ride on horseback to the summit. From the top may be seen the whole city, and the graceful Guadalquiver winding among the fruitful plantation bordered with aloes. There are ninety-three stained windows in the cathedral, and every chapel is a gallery of painting and sculpture. In architecture it is of the as before stated, and simplest Gothic, though built upon the site of the ancient mosque, preserving its walls and porticos and Moorish arch. The tower is used as the campanile of the cathedral. Built by the caliph Yakub-al-Mansour about the year 1,200, it is square in form and was intended for an observatory. The services in the church are equaled only by those of St. Peter, the gigantic pipes of the two organs having been compared to the columns of Fingal's Cave. The bronze image which surmounts the tower stands upon a dizzy height, the cathedral and tower being about equal to St. Paul’s, but showing to better advantage on account of the large open space around them. The entire structure, which is 378 feet long and 254 feet wide, has been compared to a stately ship at sea under full sail. Nine doors lead into the court of Oranges and within the church are five aisles in a maze of columns. In the choir are 117 carved stalls; in one of the chapels is a silver tabernacle, and in that which is known as the royal chapel are emblems and relics in gold and bronze. From the expenditure in past times at this sanctuary some idea may be formed not only of the piety but of the wealth of the worshippers. In the illumination 20,000 pounds of wax were annually consumed; 500 masses a day were said at 80 altars; and in the sacraments 18,000 liters of wine were used. The canons arrived in splendid equipages, and jeweled fans in the hands of smooth-visaged clerks cooled their brows during service. In the sacristy were priceless Murillos, rich vestments, and relics in gold and precious stones in profusion, a single article having 1,200 diamonds, while before one of the monuments, on certain occasions, 114 lamps and 453 tapers were burned. The tower, lifting its pinnacle in gray and yellow, has been likened to a spike of gold, its sparkle visible in the sunshine for miles around.
Two bridges cross the Guadalquiver at Seville, connecting the city with its gypsy suburb. In a stately building facing the botanical garden, one that might be taken for a royal palace, is the government tobacco factory, where 6,000 women find work. Bronze, brass, pottery, glass, silk, and other articles are also manufactured. The palace of San Elmo, once an ancient college, is the residence of the duke of Montpensier, who has converted it to some extent into a museum, and surrounded it with park and garden of exquisite beauty. Not far away, and once a bastion of the Alcazar, is the Torre del Oro, before mentioned, so-called from the gilt tiles which roofed it, one says; but the name is generally accredited to the storage here of precious metal as it came from the New World—gold principally, as there was also the tower of silver. The suburb of Triana was formerly defended by a castle where were first the headquarters of the inquisition at Seville.
To Seville Spain is indebted for many of her most illustrious painters and poets, among the former being Murillo, Velasquez, Zarbaran, and Cespedes, and among the latter Herrera, La Cueva, and Carvajal. Here also were born or lived men famous on sea and land, sailors and scientists, archbishops and generals, authors and adventurers. To Seville came Julius Caesar in 45 BC, capturing and making of it a Roman colony as a foil to Cordova the favorite city of Pompey. The Goths at first established here their seat of government, afterward removing it to Toledo. It was held by the Saracens until 1248, when it fell into the possession of Ferdinand III of Castile. In 1810 it was plundered by the French under Soult, and despoiled to the value of 530,000,000. There are many monuments and buildings within its precincts worthy of mention-instance the hospital, founded by Miguel de Manana; the convent a with its rare paintings; the casa del Ajuntamiento, where the autos da fé took place, outside the walls. Then there is the casa de Pilato, or house of Pilate, built by the marquis of Tarifa in imitation of the so-called Pilate's house which he saw in Jerusalem in 1520, and later passing into the hands of the dukes of Medina Celi. In Seville lived, in 1196, a Moorish architect, Abu Jusuf Yacub, who built the Giralda tower and the great mosque, repaired the city walls and the Roman aqueduct, and a bridge of boats across the Guadalquiver. The Alcazar was constructed in part a Roman and in part a Moorish structure, with attempted restoration of the whole by the Spaniards.
Cadiz, founded by the Phoenicians, known as Gades to the Romans, when Spain became a Roman province conquered by the Arabs, and regained by the Spaniards in 1262, came into prominence as the seaport of Seville during the palmy days of New World commerce. While still the chief commercial city of Spain was then the chief commercial city of the world. The entrance to the harbor from Puerto de Santa Maria is protected on either side by the forts of Matagorda and Puntales, among other points of interest being the navy yard and arsenal of La Caraca.
As seen from the bay, with its spires and observation towers it is in truth a beautiful city, though formed for utility, with great warehouses and factories for the making of fans, mantillas, gloves, and guitars. Hither for three centuries came the great galleons from Mexico and other parts of Spain’s vast possessions, bringing gold to the value of thousands of millions of dollars.
The promontory of Gibraltar, which with Centa opposite was called by the ancients the pillars of Hercules, and supposed to be the western limit of the world is a fortified rock 1,600 feet high and seven miles in circumference, occupied as a point d’appui by the English, and therefore, though properly a part of Spain, there is little that is Spanish about it. The rock is perforated with caverns; one side is almost perpendicular, while the other slopes to the water’s edge, where are the town and principal fortifications. At the cost of immense sums of money, amounting, a score of years ago, to more than $250,000,000, the fortress has been made impregnable, galleries and passages being cut through it miles in extent and portholes pierced for guns. While the Saracens were in possession they built a tower which still remains as the only surviving monument of the Moorish occupation.
An ancient Arab writer says of Almeria, "It is city where if thou walkest the stones are pearls, the dust gold, and the gardens a paradise.'' That is to say, apart from the oranges and figs and lemons which grew in abundance, it was an exceedingly prosperous place, made so largely no doubt by its being at that time a noted pirate’s nest. When we consider that the centuries of continuous warfare in Spain were largely for religion's sake, we are not surprised to find the priesthood occupying positions of authority and often amassing enormous wealth. The power wielded by Torquemada and Ximenes, which was something more than royal, inasmuch as it was superior to the mandates of earthly princes and potentates, are examples of what the clergy were able to accomplish during these times. To their credit, be it said, their means and influence were used in the main for worthy purposes, as for the support of hospitals and education, and to them is largely due the existence of many monuments of learning and charity.
Castile and the kingdoms adjacent had, besides the religious fraternities, a large class of the ricos hombres or higher nobility, including princes, who were exempt from fines, imprisonment, and taxation, and were little inferior to the king, often indeed disputing authority with him.
There were likewise the inferior gentry, hidalgos and caballeros, who were of little use except as fighting men. All these the common people labored for and supported as their superiors; there was no strong, intelligent middle class, furnishing the wealth and controlling the policy of the government. But so it was everywhere in those days; and hence we see few great works among the earlier nations of the earth save temples, palaces, and tombs, little in the way of general utility or for the benefit of the people.
Chivalry arose, uniting the temporal and spiritual; the power of such institutions as the Hermanadad, and the military orders of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara, with the wealth which they acquired, or alight acquire, being limited only by the limit of their influence and prowess. Bringing into the field thousands of mailed knights, uniting to conquer and dividing to fight for the spoils, whatever they might win was theirs by light of conquest, and their castles, towns, and convents were numbered by thousands.
It now remained for Ferdinand and Isabella to bring to an end these seven centuries of war by attacking the Muslims in their last stronghold. Driven from every other part of Spain, the Moors had taken refuge in Granada, and unable there to maintain war against the Castilians, had sent them 12,000 ducats as annual tribute. The place was strongly fortified. There were 70,000 houses, enclosed by a high wall fifteen feet thick and three leagues in circumference, with 1,030 towers and twelve gates and a fortified palace for a garrison of 40,000 men. In city and country were luxurious living and boundless prodigality. Even the lower class of women had anklets of silver and gold, while those of the upper class wore a profusion of jewelry, including finely wrought bracelets and girdles of gold studded with precious gems, with braided and bejeweled hair, and garments delicately fashioned of woolen and silk.
The men were likewise brilliantly arrayed in clothes of finest finish, their scimitars and armor chased and enameled, their daggers and sword-blades of Damascus steel, and their horses richly caparisoned.
It is on the purple-clad slope of the Sierra Nevada, about 2,500 feet above the sea that this city stands; a city in whose history is much romance and in whose study is much of pleasure and profit. Well built houses of antique oriental construction line the narrow, crooked streets which lead from the principal plazas. After the Alhambra, of which I will presently speak further, the Moorish monuments in Granada are the old Saracenic post-office, the casa del Carbon, now a coal depot but once a beautiful structure with handsome Moorish gate; and the ancient silk market, with its columns and arcades producing a charming effect. Conspicuous among the buildings are Nuestra Senora de las Augustias, with its stately towers and richly decorated altar; the Gothic cathedral, embellished with jasper and colored marble, and the monastery of San Geronimo.
As early as the year 767 a castle was built there by Ibu-Abdurrahman and in 1238 Ibrahim Ben Akmar, under the title of Mohammed I, founded the kingdom of Granada, which endured for two and a half centuries, or until the expulsion of the Moors by the catholic sovereigns. Within the lines marked out by the founder, this latter prince began the erection of the Alhambra, Kasr-al-hamra, or the Red Castle, so- called presumably from the red earth of which the bricks were made. The work was continued by succeeding rulers until 1333, when it was completed by Yusuf I; and then it was that Granada reached the height of her power and prosperity. Upon the fall of Cordova and Seville, 200,000 families took refuge there, and to these are probably due in part that internal dissension which rendered possible the conquest of Granada.
Few of the world's great monuments have held the interest and admiration of mankind so long and completely as the Alhambra. Elevated above the sultry plain, shaded by noble groves of elm, built in the most sumptuous of oriental designs and yet in exquisite taste, embowered in fragrant gardens made musical by the song of nightingales and the murmur of fountains, it would seem that if only walls could keep out wars and luxury could bring content, here indeed was a glimpse of paradise such as should satisfy Mohammedan or Christian. On every side broad avenues cross each other and climb the wooded slopes, while stretches of lawn and bubbling brooks impart a freshness and fragrance to the air. The buildings, as they stand today, consist of four distinct palaces, three of them the old Moorish structures, and one, begun but never finished, belonging to the days of Charles V.
Among the many towers were the Vermilion towers, the tower of the Infanta, the tower of the Vigil, of the Beaks, and of the Seven Portals, through which Boabdil, last of the Saracen rulers in Spain, took his departure as the Spanish army entered.
Approaching the Alhambra under a canopy of elms, along one of the several terraces on which the structure rests, entrance is made by the gate of Justice, or Babu shariah, the gate of the Law, as the Arabs called it, because, like the Jewish sovereigns, Moorish monarchs here settled disputes arising among their people. It was built in 1348 by Abu el walid Yusuf, who wrote over the inner arch, "May the All-powerful make this gate a bulwark of protection, and record its erection among the imperishable actions of the just.”
By a narrow vaulted passage is reached the upper esplanade, or place of Cisterns, with yellow towers enclosing the citadel on the left, and on the right the bright yellow stone structure of the Spanish monarch, the interior a circular court, the exterior a quadrangle, and beyond gardens and trees, a church convent and mosque, and a miniature town, all within the tower girdled precincts of the castellated hill. In the court of myrtles, paved in blue and white, and in the center of which is a pool with goldfish, are some of the most exquisite specimens of Arabian art, their charms intensified by the luminous air. The largest patio is the court of Ambassadors, conspicuous for its arches and decorations. It is about 40 feet square, and the vaulted ceiling, of cedar incrusted with mother-of-pearl , is 75 feet high, filling the base of the tower of Comares, 200 feet in height, beneath whose , shadow runs the Darro, roaring down the sierra with the fury of a mountain torrent. But most exquisite of all, and a masterpiece of Moorish art, is the court of Lions, surrounded by a portico with 124 columns, a marvel of elegance and beauty. Open arcades of graceful mould and airy lightness are supported by two pavilions projecting into the patio. Opening upon this court are several chambers of medium size—the hall of Two Sisters, the hall of the Abencerrages, the private apartments of the sultan; also the baths of the sultanas and the pavilion of the queen. The delicacy of finish in this part of the palace is exceeded only by the profusion of its decorations. Embroideries with interlacing designs emerging one out of another without beginning or end, in every pattern and color, cover walls, arches, gates, windows, and friezes.
The Alhambra is an oriental dream, a vision of eastern art and architecture nestling in this elevated foothill of the snowy sierra. The sunlight is rendered opaque and tremulous, the massive walls and narrow windows subduing the heat and light, which nevertheless make luminous the fountains. It is characteristic of eastern architecture to invent contrivances for keeping out the fierce rays of the sun, while providing space for cooling waters and fragrant flowers. In the ruins of Theban palaces the private apartments of sovereigns may be discovered by their narrow limits, low ceilings, and narrow windows; but Thebes was outdone by Granada in the blending of symmetry, grandeur, and wealth of decoration, united with comfort and luxury.
The principal Moorish street of Granada is El Zacatin, and near it are two narrow passageways, embellished in sculpture and stucco work and called El Alcaiceria, or the silk bazaar. The first archbishop of Granada was Isabella’s confessor, Talavera, by whom was built in 1497 the church of San Geronimo for the purpose of converting the Moors. The Generalife, or architect's garden, as the word implies, was so-called by its original owner, an inspector of public works. It was afterward purchased and turned into a pleasure house by one of the Moorish monarchs. On the further side of the Darro are the quarters of the gypsies, whose houses are excavations in the rocks on the southern side of the hill of Albaicin.
Muley Abul Hassan ruled in Granada when in 1476 Ferdinand sent Juan de Vera to demand the annual tribute which had not been remitted of late. The kingdom then consisted of fourteen cities and several hundred fortified castles, so that Abul Hassan felt himself strong enough to defy the sovereign of Castile. Thus when Juan de Vera brought back the message of the ruler of the Moors, "Tell your master that they who pay tribute are dead; the mints of Granada now coin only swords,” Ferdinand replied, "I will pick the seeds from this pomegranate one by one," Granada signifying the pomegranate, and the seeds the fortified castles.
This having been done, Muley Abul Hassan and Malaga being among the picked pomegranate seeds, in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella appeared with their army before the walls of Granada to receive the keys of the citadel from Boabdil el Chiquito.
The terms of capitulation were that Christian captives should be liberated, and the Moors become the subjects of Castile, to be governed by their own cadis, protected as to their prosperity and religion, and exempt from tribute for three years, after which they should pay only the same as to their former rulers, whosoever might desire to depart receiving free passage to Africa.
At the portal of the Seven Floors, as he came forth amid thundering of cannon into the presence of a vast multitude where mounted on richly caparisoned steeds were Ferdinand and Isabella, Boabdil said, as he presented the keys, “Thus ends the Arabian empire in Spain; God is great! Remember, O king, your promises." How the Spanish sovereigns kept their pledges history relates. Christian writers have stamped the Moor as cowardly, and so perhaps he was; but rather should we call him sick at heart on leaving home and country; for had not this beautiful land been his and his people's for nearly eight hundred years, a longer period than the Spanish nation had existed prior to the coming of the Moors? On leaving the palace forever, while turning to look upon it for the last time, he exclaimed, as the tears sprang to his eyes, "Allah; alas! it is the will of Allah; when was misfortune like mine?” Replied the mother, made of sterner stuff, “You do well, indeed, to weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man!"
Two important events occurred while the Spanish sovereigns were at Granada; one was an edict expelling the Jews, and the other the agreement with Columbus concerning his voyage westward. The Jews were rich; Ferdinand and Isabella needed money, and it is never difficult to bring false charges or to reconcile the conscience to any wrong committed in the name of right. It was said that the Jews kidnapped Christian children; Isabella did not believe it when 30,000 ducats were offered by the Jews for permission to remain. She did not believe it even when her confessor Torquemada rushed into the presence of the sovereigns, saying. "Judas sold his master for thirty pieces; you would sell him for thirty thousand.” Nevertheless she signed the decree for their expulsion, as did also her husband. A yet more serious charge against the two sovereigns was the breaking of their pledge to the Moors, at the instigation of Ximines. After all the promises made, they were coolly informed that they must become Christians or leave the country; whereupon 3,000,000 took their departure as the record stands, between 1492 and 1610. Neither Jew nor Moor were permitted t o take with them their money or other valuables, and many thousands both of Moors and Jews were burned at the stake by order of Ferdinand and Isabella and their successors. Yet these unfortunates suffered for no crime; they were obedient, God fearing, and hard working men, the best of farmers and artisan, and were more learned and refined than those who put them to death. Saving faith! which was the more efficacious, the faith of those who persecuted or of those who were persecuted for righteousness sake?
After all that has appeared on the pages of history as to the abominations of the Arabs , their superstitions and polygamies, their Mecca pilgrimages and holy-sepulcher holding, much may be said in their favor. Compare Ibu-Abdurrahman's Alhambra with the Escurial of Philip II; the Cordova of Abdurrahman the Great with the Madrid of Charles V. The Spanish kings, together with their people, fattened on the gold of America and fell into decay; the Muslims, it is true, had fattened and died before them, but their glory remains in visible form, in the libraries they founded, the schools they established, and the palaces and temples which they erected. But for their paving the way in promoting agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, and science, there would have been small achievements to record of the Spaniards who came after them.
It likewise appears from the written pages even of European history that the plighted word, the charity and integrity of the Mohammedan were superior to those of the Christian. How wise and humane the policy of these followers of the prophet; how tolerant to the Spanish Christians and also to the Jews, who were left to worship in their own way! No sooner had the Spaniards acquired the supremacy than their course was marked by fraud and treachery. Not only Moorish religion but Moorish civilization must be eradicated. Following the decree of 1492, aimed specially at the Jews, ordering all who did not become Christians to leave Spain in four months and forbidding them to carry away even their gold and silver, an edict which, according to the Spanish historian. Mariana, drove 50,000 families into exile, came the persecution of the Arabs, who at the capitulation of Granada had been guaranteed all their civil rights, with freedom to worship and non-interference with their customs. But with such monarchs as Ferdinand, and Isabella and Philip, promises went for little. First the Moors were restricted in their worship; then in their language their dress, and their amusements. It was part of the life of these sovereigns, of almost all sovereigns of that day and the days and years which followed, so to dictate and dominate as to make their people unhappy. The very fact that they lived honestly, labored faithfully, and were prosperous counted against them. And so the third Philip in 1609 drove out the Moors, huddled them on board ship and cast them on desolate shores where many met their death. From the single province of Valencia went 140,000; Catalonia was well nigh depopulated; the Sierra Morena, covered with vineyards and cornfields, became a wilderness. To this day the curse of it remains; between Malaga and Granada, and all along the Guadalquiver where were thousands of villages and tens of thousands of happy homes there remain only a few wretched villages.
The successful expedition of Columbus was followed by the swarming of adventurers to the New World, who flooded Spain with the gold they had gathered. The slave trade was also profitable, as was likewise the conversion of the Indians. Kings, clergy, grandees, and dukes became exceedingly rich. The higher nobility had large landed estates, many towns and villages, and large incomes. The half million dollars a year which the duke of Alva's income equaled, would buy as much as two millions at the present day. Gonsalvo de Cordova’s income, or rather that of his family, was almost as large, and that of the duke of Medina Sidonia was larger. The duke of Infantado could bring 30,000 of his own men into the field, while the archbishop of Toledo's revenue was equal to about $4,000,000 as now is the purchasing power of money.
The Moors had lived extravagantly, but the Spaniards sought to outdo them. Rich clothing and the richest of fare, a profusion of costly jewels, and sumptuous dwellings with delicate carvings and mosaic floors, resulted from the conquests of Pizarro and Cortes.
With all their faults and follies, Ferdinand Charles and Philip were astute and powerful sovereigns, and under their rule Spain became very great. But a century of inactivity luxury and vice is more than any nation can endure without decay or death. It is the old story, with the inevitable result. Had Spain kept her Jews and Moors, kept in thriving condition her agriculture and manufactures, kept free her commerce, and been governed less by greed and fanaticism, she might have enjoyed a longer and a nobler supremacy. As it was, decadence began before the death of Philip, who indeed was somewhat decayed himself when death delivered the world of him. Under the third Philip, who was imbecile as well as fanatical, enjoying all his predecessor's vices with none of his virtues, the country lapsed into a state of absolute decrepitude. The absence of that healthful bloodletting which the Moors had so long administered, and the wars of Charles V with France Germany and the Netherlands, with Italy Tunis and Algiers had kept from too sudden stoppage, was one cause of disease. Then Philip III found 600,000 Moors who had been overlooked in the previous exterminations, and these he drove out, leaving the industries of Spain to the worthless remnant of the population. Philip IV lost Portugal; Germany and the Netherlands followed; then Naples and Sicily; then Sardinia, Parma, and Milan; then Gibraltar and Minorca, and finally most of India and America,—in all a quarter of the world, at least. But these losses of Spain cannot be considered other than as a great gain to the world at large and the change came none too soon.
It is neither pleasurable nor profitable to follow the footsteps of a great nation in its decline. As notable specimens of folly, posterity points to the Escorial and the Armada. While Madrid was yet a hamlet, Burgos, Toledo, Seville, and Valladolid had been each in turn the Spanish capital. While Charles V was yet a boy, Cardinal Ximenes carried the government to Madrid, and later Philip II held court there, building his Escorial not far away, because, ill-natured people say, those were the most unpleasant places in Spain for the purpose.
Spain has many interesting cities; but one of the least picturesque of all is Madrid, chosen as the capital because of the gout of Charles V. From the cowardice of Philip sprang the Escorial, and here we have the origin of these historic places.
Few subjects in history have been more severely criticized than Philip and his Escorial. Why should a monarch of limitless resources choose so desolate a spot for the site of a pleasure palace? asks one. Another calls it the architectural nightmare which Charles IV wisely declined to inhabit, building instead a pretty little toy palace of his own. Even the gardens with their box terraces show more of architecture than of flowers, while the books in the library are arranged with their backs turned to the wall. Doubtless Philips greatest pleasure was in his heavenly meditations, for he was ever on serious thoughts intent, and as somber minded as he was selfish.
If by his subjects esteemed as a great monarch, he was not, as I have intimated, a great warrior. While the battle of St. Quentin was raging, for instance, instead of joining in the fray, he found it more to his taste to remain at home and make vows to the virgin,—hence the origin of the Escorial, at once a royal palace and a monastery, for Philip in remembering his maker never forgot himself. It is an imposing pile, standing in grim solitude at the foot of the sierra de Guadarma, fourteen leagues west of Madrid, 3,683 feet above sea level, and was pronounced on its completion the eighth wonder of the world. Lorenzo—he who was roasted—was the saint to whom Philip believed himself specially indebted for victory; hence the stupendous mass of buildings with surpassing external decorations took the form of a gridiron, the interior being riddled with square courts. About a mile in circumference, the structure has 1,860 rooms, 12.000 doors and windows, 80 flights of stairs, 73 fountains, 48 wine cellars, 51 bells, 8 organs, and 1,560 oil and fresco paintings. There are also a library, a college, and the mausoleum of the Austrian and Bourbon kings of Spain. Into the wall near the top of one of the buildings the king had inserted a plaque of gold, three feet square and an inch in thickness, where age after age it glitters in the sun to the confusion of all who declared that this massive pile would be the builder's ruin. The convent, now deserted, was presented by Philip to the Hieronymites, one of the largest and richest of the religious orders in Spain, whose members, under the protection and regulation of St. Jerome and St. Augustine, devoted themselves to the advancement of science and agriculture.
In the midst of gardens and parks, not far from Madrid by rail, appear, like oases in the desert, the two palaces of Aranjuez, one a rambling chateau, the other the casa del Labrador, about a mile distant, made infamous by the doings of Charles III, Maria Louisa, and her lover Godoy.
The low walls of the rooms are hung with elaborate silk embroidery, and in each of the smaller chambers are half a dozen clocks, several of the sovereigns of Spain having been possessed with a mania for timepieces. Aranjuez has been called the Versailles of Madrid; but in truth it is as little like Versailles as Madrid is like Paris. The place is occupied only in the three months of summer, when the grass-grown streets lined by large low houses are alive with the gaiety of court and courtiers.
Under the reign of Charles II, the population of Spain fell in number to 8,000,000, and here is perhaps the most conclusive proof of what has been said, as to the wisdom and polity of the Arabs compared with the Spaniards. The Saracens found the peninsula in the half civilized half developed condition in which the wars and intermixtures of Romans and Goths had left it; they departed leaving a great and prosperous country teeming with beneficent industries, a paradise of luxury wealth and beauty, but sown, alas! with the seeds whose rank and noxious growth has choked to death successive nations.
The present century opens with a war with Portugal, which results in no good to either nation, as is usually the case with European wars, attended as they are with so much suffering and bloodshed, to say nothing of the enormous expense of armies and munitions. Then comes Napoleon from Corsica and overturns the world, a feeble world indeed to be so unhinged, and held prostrate under this little boot-heel. But to the disgraceful treaty of Fontainebleau Spain must submit; French troops are sent to the peninsula, and Brother Joseph becomes king of Spain. After Bonaparte's disaster in Russia, Spain is relieved of French troops, or rather the French are driven by Wellington across the Pyrenees. Attempts to recover the revolted American colonies fail; Florida is sold to the United States for 55,000,000; external wars and internal revolutions continue to occupy attention, and still the wheels of destiny revolve.
The glory of Spain has indeed departed. Why is it so? Will it ever return? The conditions are plainly to be seen; the cause is not difficult to trace; as to the future, the question can best be answered with the answer to other questions. Will the glory of Egypt ever return? When the West shall have become as old as now is the East, will the East then have renewed its youth and be sending antiquarians to study the monuments of the West? Look at Andalusia as it is today, a region that has ever been the garden of Spain, in every respect favored of heaven with soil still so rich that it enriches man with but little care or labor. Along the banks of the Guadalquiver were once 12,000 smiling villages, there are now less than 800. Extensive irrigation and drainage canals constructed by the Arabs have been allowed to go to ruin. In other places the contrast between the present and the past is still more striking, a sterile soil, marsh lands, and miasmas taking the place of productive and populous areas.
Spain's greatness came through the shaping of great events by great men, who nevertheless hindered as well as aided progress. Prince Henry of Portugal and the Genoese sailor did more for Spain than Charles V and his son Philip; yet these monarchs were great as compared with those who succeeded them, though hampering themselves with follies and fanaticisms such as were eventually to undermine the stability of the state. With the expulsion of the Moors and Jews, Ferdinand and Isabella deprived Spain of her best artisans farmers, and men of business. When Philip and his successors restricted the traffic of the colonies to dealings with the mother country, under the infatuation that to deluge the land with American gold was to establish therein the foundations of wealth and grandeur, they were merely sowing the dragon’s teeth of luxury and laziness which were to stifle industry, crush out commerce, and transfer to England those industries which aided in making her one of the greatest of nations.
The short-sighted policy of these rulers over many peoples left to the nation itself no people, no men of brawn and brain to give support to the non-working aristocracy on the one hand and the non-working beggars on the other, no tiers etat, or middle class, made substantial and respectable by intelligence, labor, and economy, such as is to be found in the more progressive of European countries.
While Spain was laying under tribute islands and continents before unknown, but abounding in wealth of precious metals, precious stones, and all the products of tropic and temperate climes, was creating new and unlimited markets for the cloths of Segovia the leather of Cordova the blades of Toledo, and the silks of Seville, her military and political power were such as to make all the world tremble. Eight centuries of fighting at home and abroad, with all the hardening effects of war and self-denial, had made strong the arm of the nation, soon to become weak and nerveless under boundless prosperity. Commerce and manufactures were the first to vanish and then the dominion itself. Spain was ruined by gold, while in, Mexico and Peru adventurers perpetrated in her name atrocities and treacheries such as should make Satan blush, yet sanctioned by Spain which pocketed greedily the reward. The gold-laden galleons from the New World fed the lust of wealth and spread moral and industrial disease throughout the peninsula. Then there were the iniquitous tax of mortmain, the licensed monopolies in favor of the nobility, and the system of migratory flocks and herds which ruined agriculture, all uniting to destroy commerce and manufactures. As a natural sequence what could be expected but social, industrial, and political decadence, a retrogression in art, literature, and intellectual refinement? Here is probably the true reason that all efforts at a republican form of government have proved abortive; for such a government requires an intelligent and dependent middle class, a factor ever the body politic of Spain.
Portugal, the Lusitania of the Romans, was early visited by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Greeks for purposes of trade with the ancient Celtic tribes. In political and international affairs it has usually followed the fortunes of Spain, being sometimes an integral part of that monarchy and sometimes independent. In common with the rest of the world, this country has its attractions, and though poorer than some, it is by no means the poorest of European countries. Lisbon, with its hills and vales, is one of the most picturesque of cities. The praco de Rocio, the praco de Commercio, and praco de Ouro, or place of Gold, are spacious plazas with beautiful public buildings, the second named with one side open to the river. Of striking appearance, occupying the highest point of the city, is the citadel of St. George. The old prisons of the inquisition in the praco de Rocio are now fitted up as offices of the ministry. Besides the residences of the nobility and rich merchants, the basilicas of San Roque and the Coracas de Jesus present an imposing appearance, as do the royal palaces of Ajuda Bemposta, and Nesessidades. Outside the city, on the bank of the Tagus, is the monastery of Belem, built by king Emanuel in 1499, and whose site marks the spot whence Vasco da Gama embarked on the voyage which resulted in the Portuguese occupation of the Indies.
At Evora, the capital of Alemtejo, are Roman antiquities, including a temple of Diana, the present money value of which it were difficult to determine, though doubtless worth something to see and talk about.
Oporto is famous throughout the world for its export of good wine, as a seaport, and as a city of churches. It is built along and back from the banks of the river, and occupies also the slopes of two hills as far as their summits, presenting a pleasing appearance. A quay, two miles in length, also extends along the river. Of eleven public squares the praco de Constituicao and the campo de Cordaria are the largest. Eighty churches, built at various times, are still in existence, while fifteen convents are used for secular purposes. A large suspension bridge attracts notice; also the hospital and various manufactures. Braga has in some antiquities; at Guimaræns is made cutlery and linen, and at Lima are fishing industries, though these might be largely and profitably increased were the people so inclined, for the people of Lima are lacking in enterprise, in common with most of their countrymen.
The Romans held Portugal from it BC 140 until the coming of the Visigoths in the fifth century, the latter being disturbed in their possession by the Arabs, and these yielding finally to Alfonso of Leon and Castile, whose grandson founded the kingdom of Portugal in 1139. By his son and successor Dom Sancho I, the Moors were further humiliated, and the nation raised to wealth and power, which reached its climax under John I, who died in 1433. It is said that at this time there were no people in Europe more enlightened or enterprising than the Portuguese. Under the energetic rule of Prince Henry, son of John I and properly surnamed the Great, arose the spirit of enterprise which prepared for Columbus the path of discovery, and rested not until all the world was laid open to European civilization. The more immediate results of the prince's efforts were the expansion of geographical knowledge, and carrying forward explorations along the African coast, extended during the reign of Dom Emanuel the Fortunate in the voyage round the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco da Gama. Assuming the supremacy in the Indian ocean, by judicious management Portugal was enabled to maintain her hold for nearly a century on all that was best worth possessing on the southern coast of Asia and the eastern coast of Africa. Through the discovery of Brazil by a Portuguese navigator in 1501, she also dominated this vast section of South America for more than 300 years.
In due time came the inevitable decline. In the government the and the weak succeeded the strong, feeble-minded took the place of the wise.
Philip II seized the crown upon the death of Dom Henry in 1580 without direct heirs, and for sixty years the yoke of Spain was worn. Then arose revolt, followed by a long war, and Portugal was again free. The French under Napoleon held the country in 1807, until expelled by Wellington's forces, since which time the spirit of insurrection has not been idle.
Portugal has a population of from three and a half to four millions, though except Lisbon and Oporto there are no cities having more than 20,000 inhabitants. There is much good soil but it is poorly cultivated, owing to the thriftlessness of the people and imperfect implements of husbandry. Citrons, almonds, peaches, figs, and melons spring from the ground spontaneously; wheat wine and olives are staple products; and cornmeal bread and goats milk the common food of the people. Hemp and flax are grown, likewise sugar cane and rice; all the fruits are raised abundantly and of trees there are the cork, bay, licorice, chestnut, myrtle, laurel, and others. Gold and silver were mined during the Roman occupation, and even now a little gold is taken from the beds and banks of streams. There are hot and mineral springs with reputed healing waters; coal and iron are plentiful; copper exists near Oporto and cinnabar at Couna, besides which lead antimony and plumbago are found in places. Great quantities of salt are exported, and there are quarries of marble, limestone, and other minerals, with beds of porcelain clay. Of the $40,000,000 estimated as the annual value of agricultural products, wine is placed at $12,000,000, grain at $10,000,000, and wool at $7,000,000. Most of the manufacturing is done at Lisbon, and as a rule not on a very large scale. Among the articles produced are cotton and woolen cloths, pottery and porcelain, iron and tin ware, jewelry and silk, glass and paper. Transportation facilities have never been good, poor roads, the absence of canals, and the obstructions in the streams uniting with the general indolence and apathy of the people as barriers to progress and prosperity.
The nobility and aristocracy of Lisbon have their villas in the suburbs, beyond which are picturesque farms and vineyards. The summer they often spend at Cintra, a dozen miles away, near where the Tagus meets the sea. The latter is approached under long arcades of trees, through which appear orchards of lemons and gardens of myrtle and fuchsias. Here on a terraced mountainside overlooking the ocean is the Portuguese Alhambra, palace prison and church, built originally by Moorish sultans, completed by Dom Joas I and Dom Manuel, and occupied with equal pleasure by Muslim and Christian. A clustered pile covering an entire hill, with its mixed Arabian and Portuguese buildings, it is more striking at first view than the Alhambra of Granada. Stretches of deep green verdure are broken by buildings of conventual appearance, the common court being entered by a large gateway and the palace by a flight of stairs. The interior is not gorgeous, though some of the rooms are brilliant in many colors, and in one is a marble mantel fashioned by Michael Angelo. In the palace are the hall of Swans, the hall of Magpies, and the hall of Stags; a garden blooms on the hillside, the entire surface of which is watered by fountains and artificial streams, some of the former with imposing figures and columns.
Not far distant is Mafra. the Escorial of Portugal, once a palace and mausoleum, with marble clocks and bells, with hundreds of rooms and several thousand doors.
Finally it may be said that in Portugal, as well as in Spain, while Christian sovereigns have not been idle in the prosecution of great works, to the Arabs are due the finest monuments significant of wealth, learning, luxury, and refinement.
When in 1432 Portugal took possession of the Azores, or Western islands, they were uninhabited, and even now contain only about 200,000 people, who cultivate sugarcane, coffee, and various fruits, exporting oranges and lemons, coarse linen, salted beef and pork, wine and brandy.
Madeira was occupied by the Portuguese several years before they laid claim to the Azores. The island was then well wooded; hence the name, Madeira, or as in Latin, material, signifying timber. It has a luxurious climate, world-famous for its healing qualities, though not superior to that of California and other health resorts. In the way of agriculture, mining, or manufactures, the 80.000 or 90,000 inhabitants have little to boast of. After wine, for four centuries the chief article of export comes the cultivation of cochineal, introduced as an industry upon the failure of the grape crop from disease in 1852. The isle is rugged, its geologic formation being little else than basaltic rock; but the scenery is grand, the annual rainfall being about 30 inches, and the mercury ranging from 46" to 80”. From a soil not over exuberant, walled in places and terraced to prevent its being washed into the sea, grow, besides the usual grains and vegetables, sugarcane arrowroot and coffee; also nearly every kind of fruit common to temperate climes, together with the orange fig guava mango pineapple and mulberry. Walnuts are common, and in the mountains are chestnuts, furnishing food for the people. There are no land mammals indigenous to Madeira; but domesticated animals have been introduced to a small extent by the Portuguese, while manufactures consist only of coarse linen and woolen cloth of straw hats, baskets and shoes.
The Canaries, supposed to be the Fortunate islands of the elder Pliny, Plutarch, and Ptolemy, were early occupied by Spain, and have now a population of some 260,000 Spaniards, whose complexions are somewhat darker than with others of their countrymen, either through exposure to the sun, or intermixture with the aboriginal Guanches, now extinct. On the fertile soil are raised in profusion the products of both temperate and tropic zones, among them grain vegetables fruits and tobacco, while of silk and olive oil the yield is also considerable. Until 1853, prior to the grape disease, wine and brandy were largely exported, but the loss has been more than compensated by the introduction of cochineal. Hats and baskets are made of the leaves of the date-palm, and coarse linen silk and woolen fabrics are manufactured for home use.
On the Cape Verde islands, occupied by some 15,000 Portuguese, flourish all the fruits of southern Europe and western Africa, while indigo grows wild. Goats and fowls are prolific, and asses are raised for exportation to the West Indies.
The Balearic Islands have been occupied at various times by the Phoenicians, the Rhodians, and the Carthaginians, not to mention the Romans, Vandals, Goths, and Moors, finally becoming an integral part of the kingdom of Spain. The inhabitants number about 275,000. The soil is fertile and the climate salubrious. The chief products of Majorca and Minorca are grains, fruits, vegetables, and oil, and in the former is a considerable yield of wine and brandy. Both manufactures to a small extent and in both are profitable livestock industries. Ivica is the most productive among the group, but with a scattered and somewhat indolent population.
Miscellany—According to the census taken in 1887, the population of Spain, which since that time has increased but slightly, was 17,565,632, or an average of 88 to the square mile, against 10,061,480 in 1789. At the former date the sexes were about equally divided, but with a slight preponderance of females. Nearly 5,000,000 were engaged in agriculture; less than 250,000 in manufactures, and in trades and arts more than 800,000. There were only five cities with over 100,000 inhabitants,—Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, and Malaga, Madrid having 470,000 people, Barcelona 272,000, and the others from 171,000 to 134,000.
In 1889 more than 68 percent of the population could neither read nor write, and this notwithstanding an elaborate system of primary schools, with compulsory education, at least in name. This may be due in part to the small pay of teachers in the primary grades, ranging from $50 to $100 a year. In the budget for 1887 the total sum appropriated to educational purposes was only $355,000, schools being mainly supported by municipalities, which for 1894 contributed in all nearly $5,000,000, or about one-fourth of the sum expended for like purposes in the single state of New York.
Since time immemorial the finances of Spain have been in a disorganized condition, Charles III for instance increasing what was before a heavy national debt to $250,000,000, while under Ferdinand VII the expenditure was $87,500,000, against $50,000,000 of revenue. For four out of the six years ending with 1893 the public outlay exceeded the income, the expenditure for 1892-1893 being $144,000,000, and the revenue $134,500,000. In 1893 the Spanish debt, reduced in amount and consolidated a few years before, by consent of the parties interested, into a series of four percent bonds, exceeded $1,000,000,000, with floating and other indebtedness, including $570,000 due the United States, but never, as it would seem, to be paid, amounting in all to nearly $200,000,000.
In case of war, an army of nearly 1,000,000 men can be mobilized, the regular forces mustering on a peace footing about 120,000 and the remainder consisting of the active and sedentary reserves, though many of these exist only on paper. There are 13 military schools and all over 19 years of age are liable to conscription. In 1893 there were 97 vessels in the Spanish navy, including those in course of construction. Of these only one, the Pelayo, of 9,900 tons displacement, would be ranked by other powers as a battleship; but in Spain heavily armored cruisers are counted as such.
There were nine cruisers of the first class six, of the second and 46 of the third, with two coast-defense vessels and 33 torpedo boats. The number of seamen was 14,000, and of marines 9,000, the total annual expense of army and navy amounting to nearly $30,000,000.
There are probably at the present day in Spain not less than 3,500,000 landed proprietors and tenant farmers, the number being largely increased within recent years, thus giving hopeful prospects to agricultural industries. Their holdings are small for the most part, some paying no more than one real, or twelve cents, a year as land tax, and at least 1,000,000 paying less than 20 reals. About 80 percent of the soil is classed under agricultural and grazing lands with cereals fruits pulse flax and hemp as the leading crops. But the vine is of more importance than all the rest; for in 1890 more than 5,000,000 acres were devoted to viticulture, producing 640,000,000 gallons of wine, in addition to an enormous quantity of raisins and table grapes. While the yield has since been greatly diminished by disease, it is still on a very considerable scale.
In 1894 no less than 15,000 Spanish mines were registered; but of these not more than 2,000 were worked, the total value of all metallurgical products falling little short of $40,000,000. Iron, copper, lead and quicksilver are the products of most economic value, the ores being largely exported in addition to those which are used for home manufacture. Of iron ore the yield is estimated at 5,500,000 tons, of copper ore 3,500,000, and of lead and argentiferous galena the output is valued at $13,000,000. While the mining industries of Spain are sufficient to give employment to 50,000 or 60,000 men, they are as yet but partially developed; for except as to coal, Spain is probably the richest mineral country in Europe, and one of the richest in the world.
The total of Spanish exports for 1893 amounted to $120,000,000 and of imports to $130,000,000, showing in both cases a reduction of nearly 30 percent since 1890, due mainly to the decrease in exports of wine from $60,000,000 in the latter year to $21,000,000 in the former. It is worthy of note that more than 60 percent of the wines exported from Spain are marketed in France, herself one of the largest wine producing countries in the world; but this is probably for admixture with lighter wines, as with those of California, which after being subjected to French manipulation sell at from three to five times their former price. Next among exports in order of value are iron, copper, and lead, in the ore or manufactured; cottons and woolens; animals and animal products; fruits and timber. Wheat is largely imported; for in common with those of most European countries the crops of Spain do not suffice for home consumption. Raw cotton and wool, coal and coke, wood and wooden ware, drugs and chemicals, tobacco and cigars, machinery and other forms of manufacture figure largely among the imports. The bulk of Spanish commerce is with France, Great Britain, and the Spanish colonies, traffic with all other countries being in comparison of small amount.
In June 1894 the Banco de Espana held gold and silver to the amount of $81,000,000, with deposits of $67,000,000 and a note circulation of $170,000,000, the only paper money issued in Spain. With the rehabilitation of the national credit, caused by a reduction in the capital and interest of the public debt, the standing of the bank has been greatly improved; for it is not very long since its bills were refused in the financial centers of Europe.
The monetary system is founded on that of France, the peseta, which is the unit of value, being the exact equivalent of a franc, with gold coins useless for agricultural or other purposes, though there are several million acres of good farm lands yet uncultivated.
Mineral wealth is abundant; but coal and wood are scarce, and hence many valuable mines remain untouched. About 6,000 men and nearly 1,000 females, many of the latter under 16 years of age, are employed in iron, copper, antimony, manganese, lead, and other mining, a large percentage of the products being exported. Factories are few, and apart from agriculture less than 100,000 persons are engaged in Portuguese industries.
In the main commerce has steadily increased in Portugal within the last 30 or 40 years, imports for 1890 of 5, 10, and 20, and silver coins of 5 and single peseta pieces.
The merchant marine consisted in 1894 of 760 vessels, of which more than one-half were steamers, with a tonnage of 450,000, that of the sailing ships, including smaller craft, being less than 100,000. Entrances for 1893 were 16,200 vessels of 11,450,000 tons, with clearances of about equal amount, nearly one-half of the vessels carrying the Spanish flag.
At the beginning of the present century there were not 500 miles of carriage or wagon road in all the kingdom; in 1894 there were more than 30,000 miles. In 184S was opened the first of Spanish railways, a distance of 17 miles, from Barcelona to Mataro. A few years later railroad building was undertaken on a considerable scale; so that about 7,000 miles are now opened for traffic. All are the property of companies and corporations; but with few exceptions they have received grants or guarantees of interest from the government, to which the various lines would revert after a term of 99 years. There are about 20,000 miles of telegraph lines, and nearly 3,000 post offices, with an efficient postal system.
Nearly one-half of the surface of Portugal exceeding $60,000,000 and exports $37,000,000. For 1893 the figures show a decline of about 20 percent in the former and 10 or 12 percent in the latter. With Spain legitimate traffic is small, not more than $4,000,000 or $5,000,000 a year; but there is probably twice that amount of smuggling. With England the trade is considerable, and next, in the order named, are Germany, France, Brazil, the United States, and Belgium. As in Spain, cereals are largely imported, and wine is the chief article of export, more than 3,000,000 gallons being shipped in 1893 to Great Britain alone, and this the smallest shipment for several years.
From $14,600,000 in 1888, the value of Portuguese wines shipped to all countries fell to $8,800,000 in 1894. For this the phylloxera is chiefly to blame, destroying yearly hundreds of vineyards, and many thousands in all, with disastrous results to the people, who had thrown into this industry their energy and wealth to the neglect of grain and other farming.
Portugal has money, the bank of Portugal holding in June 1894 nearly $11,000,000 in coin, and having notes in circulation to the amount of $57,000,000 while other banks to the number of 37, had in 1890 $16,000,000 in specie, $13,800,000 in notes, and $40,000,000 in deposits. Nevertheless the monetary system is somewhat deranged, the notes of the national bank being mainly used as a circulating medium.
As with Spain, the public indebtedness of Portugal has grown within recent years, until it has become almost unmanageable, amounting to $480,000,000 in 1890. Then came a reduction of interest, but not of the principal, which kept on increasing until in 1894 it exceeded $700,000,000, a heavy burden in truth for a population of less than 5,000,000 and so poor that few can afford an education, and 80 percent can neither read nor write. It is many a long year since the revenue balanced the expenditure, the deficit being met by borrowing, and hence the frightful incubus of debt. Of late, however, vigorous efforts have been made to reduce the outlay, and for 1893-1894 the revenue and expenditure, as estimated at least, were about the same, the latter being a little over $50,000,000, against $64,000,000 for 1891-1892. Of the former sum $5,700,000 was to be expended in maintaining an army of 34,000 men, apart from reserves, and $3,500,000 to be spent on a navy of 45 vessels, great and small.
The railway mileage in Portugal is about 1,600, most of the lines belonging to the state and the remainder receiving subsidies. In the kingdom itself there are probably 5,000 miles of telegraph lines, and a submarine cable laid between Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro affords communication between the mother country and her former colony.
Spain's possessions on the African coast, including the Chafarinas and Alhucemas islands, the ports of Melilla and Penon de Velez, are mainly used as convict stations.
Returning to the ancient days of Spain may first be mentioned the familiar but somewhat doubtful story as to the men of Saguntum, when their city was about to fall into the hands of Hannibal. It is said that making a great fire in the public square, they threw into it first their gold and silver and then themselves. How much of the metal the conquerors recovered, history does not record.
Early in the annals of Toledo, the Jews, by whom indeed it is said that city was founded, became very rich; so king Wamba robbed them and drove them out of the country. This was in the seventh century, and long before and ever since that date, even to the present decade, the Jews have been constantly liable to confiscation of property and exile. One would think that if it is a righteous and politic measure to rob them, they might be allowed to remain in the country, if only to gather more gold and be robbed again.
When the Spaniards took Toledo from the Moors they taxed every Jew 30 pieces of silver, the price at which Christ was sold. In one year, that of 1492, there were driven from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella 170,000 Hebrews.
Not satisfied with burning Jews and Arabs, Ximenes destroyed books, those otherwise imperishable instructors of mankind. Thousands of Arabic manuscripts, particularly such as related to theology, the worthy bishop committed to the flames.
Pedro the Cruel, coveting the wealth of his faithful adherent Samuel Levi the Jew, who built the synagogue called El Transito in Toledo, was not content to take from him his wealth without cause, but first tortured him and then put him to death.
The cathedral at Toledo has a collection of church vestments which are something wonderful in the way of art needlework, probably the finest specimens in existence of the beauty and magnificence of which that art is capable. In the Virgin's wardrobe is a mantle having embroidered in it 78,000 pearls, besides countless diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.
The Generalife in Granada now belongs to the family of Grimaldi in Genoa. At Hinadamar, not far from Granada, is a Carthusian convent famous for the beauty of its marbles, jaspers, and inlaid ebony and tortoise-shell. At Granada one of the first European postal systems was organized by the Moors, and partly on that system was based the one established in France by Louis XL.
There were once in Salamanca 25 churches, 25 convents, 25 colleges having each 25 professors, and a bridge with 25 arches. The bridge alone remains intact. In the library of Salamanca is a book containing the Lord’s Prayer in 157 languages. The first gold brought from America by Columbus was given out of gratitude to the convent of the Dominicans in this city to gild the retablo of their church.
In one of the sacristies of the Burgos cathedral is the traditional chest which the Cid filled with stone and sand, with a top layer of gold and gems, for the purpose of borrowing money from two wealthy Jews, to whom he displayed what purported to be a great mass of treasure. He succeeded in his purpose.
The Muslim monarch Abdurrahman I, when he had established himself in Spain, demanded as tribute 10,000 ounces of gold, 10,000 pounds of silver, 10,000 horses, 10,000 mules, and 1,000 cuirasses. In the cathedral of Cordova, originally built as a mosque for this sovereign, the pillars, still nearly 700 in number, though many have been destroyed, are of jasper, marble, and porphyry in many tints, forming one of the finest specimens of mosaic work belonging to the Moorish period.
When Abdurrahman III reigned at Cordova, he was called the richest monarch in the world; by systems of irrigation agriculture was developed; commerce, science, and art were at their best, and millions of old pieces filled his coffers, most of which he expended on public works.
Mary, infanta of Portugal, was but fifteen years of age when she came to Spain to marry Philip II who was sixteen. She sat gracefully upon her mule, on a silver saddle, gowned in silver cloth embroidered with gold, and a velvet hat with white and blue plumes. To obtain a good look at her without himself being know, Philip mingled in disguise among the crowd. On the eve of his second marriage,—with bloody Mary—he was about to be mobbed, but the wrath of the people was somewhat quieted by the appearance of cart loads of Mexican and Peruvian silver, which were rolled on before him.
Never was such a gift from father to son, or from one man to another, as that made by Charles V, when 56 years old, to Philip II, then 29. In territory, wealth, and other possessions the gift fell not far short of half the world, and what it contains. Besides Spain and Spanish America, there were Franche-Comte and the Netherlands, Naples and Sicily, and other vast areas in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Eleven archbishops and 62 bishops controlled one-third of the Spanish revenue during the time of Philip II. The clerical class in Spain in 1749 comprised 182,000 persons, of whom 112,000 were in orders. The annual income of the church at this time was not less than 359,000,000 reals.
In Spain, as elsewhere, rulers have often become rich by questionable means, Queen Christina, for instance, making, it is said, $40,000,000 by speculating in stocks. And so with officials; one class acquiring wealth by smuggling; another through bribery, a third through blackmail; the assessors being probably as honest and thrifty as any, unless it was the judges.
There is a royal jewel of Spain, an opal surrounded by diamonds, as unlucky as it is valuable. No less than five owners have died within 20 years, Alfonso XII, who gave it to his cousin Mercides, on her death going to Queen Christina then to the Infanta del Pilar, then to Christina, daughter of the duke of Montpensier. It was finally hung round the neck of the virgin of Almudena, where let us hope it is powerless for evil.
The people of Spain support, besides the royal family, 96 dukes, 900 marquises, 750 counts, 130 viscounts, 76 barons, and 243 grandees, with their relatives and retainers.
The young king of Spain has a civil list of $1,500,000 a year; his mother $100,000; sister $100,000; the ex-queen Isabella, $150,000; and her husband $600,000.
Doubtless the story of the Invincible Armada sounds sweeter to English than to Spanish ears, though the shame of defeat adds little luster to the good fortune of success . The preparations of Philip for the invasion of England were completed in May, 1588. Sixty-five of the 130 vessels were large ships and galleons; there were 25 smaller ships, 19 tenders, 4 galleasses, and 4 galleys. The soldiers numbered 19,295, mariners 8,050 and rowers 2,088. Of this force Portugal supplied 4,623 men. On board the fleet were 2,431 pieces of artillery and 4,575 quintals of powder. Besides the regular soldiers 2,000 volunteers, belonging to the most aristocratic families in Spain, accompanied the expedition. A formidable force was likewise prepared in the Netherlands. The duke of Parma, with 30,000 foot and 4,000 horse in the vicinity of Nieuport and Dunkirk, awaited the arrival of the Spaniards, flat-bottomed boats, built for the most part at Antwerp, and conveyed by river and canal in order to avoid the English vessels which guarded the coast, being ready to transport the troops to British shores.
Queen Elizabeth made ready to meet the foe on sea and land,—on sea with 181 ships and 17,472 men, on land with two armies, one under the earl of Leicester, of 18,449 men to move immediately upon the enemy, the other of 45,362 men under Lord Hunsdon to defend the person and possessions of the queen. There were also forces in the north and west to prevent inroads from Scotland or Wales should any such be attempted.
Ill luck attended Philips efforts from the beginning. First, on the eve of departure, the Marques de Santa Cruz, who had been appointed admiral of the Armada, sickened and died, as did also the vice-admiral, the duke of Paliano,—both able officers, at whose sudden and singular demise suspicions of foul play were entertained. The vacant posts were tilled as quickly as possible, the first by the duke de Medina Sidonia, a nobleman of high repute but with little knowledge of maritime warfare, the other by Martinez de Recaldo, an able and experienced captain.
Setting sail from Lisbon on the 29th of May, the fleet was dispersed by a storm, all but four of the ships, however, reaching Corunna, where they were delayed several weeks undergoing repairs. The report reached England that the Armada was destroyed, whereupon the queen ordered to her secretary to instruct Lord Howard, the English admiral, to lay up four of his largest ships and discharge the seamen. But the admiral begged that he be first allowed to prove the truth of the rumor, offering himself to bear the cost of the delay. Sailing for the coast of Spain, he found that the Armada was not seriously damaged and fearing that the Spaniards might reach England before his return, hastened back to Plymouth, whence he had sailed. Hardly had he cast anchor than he was told that the Armada was in sight; and there indeed it was, in all its imposing array, sailing through the channel in the form of a crescent, seven miles in length, and making direct for the coast of Flanders, there to meet the duke of Parma.
Not strong enough to attack, the English fleet hovered in the wake of the Spaniards, ready to take advantage of whatever might befall in their favor, Sir Francis Drake capturing two vessels, one of which took fire. The Spaniards labored under a disadvantage in these narrow seas owing to the size of their vessels and the height of their guns above water.
Fire ships were sent against them with good effect; and defeated at even turn, with provisions beginning to fail, they decided to return to Lisbon for fresh supplies, passing around the northern end of the British isles for that purpose. But while rounding the Orkneys a storm struck and scattered the fleet, well-nigh destroying it; the coasts of Scotland and Ireland were strewn with wrecks and the crews were captured by the inhabitants; the duke of Medina, by keeping to the open sea, reaching Santanter toward the end of September with sixty sail.
Thus fails Philip "to serve it God, and to return unto his church many contrite souls that are oppressed by the heretics, enemies to our holy catholic faith, which have them subject to their sects," while Elizabeth betakes herself in solemn procession to church and thanks God for the defeat of Philip's plans, extending her hands in blessing on the people in answer to their joyous acclamations.
At the Escorial is shown today the desk at which Philip was writing when Christoval de Moura arrived to tell of the mighty misadventure of an expedition which had cost him eighteen years of careful preparation and a hundred millions of ducats. Calmly he received the announcement, and without the movement of a muscle in his cold, impassive features, “I thank God.'" he said, "for having given me the means of bearing such a loss without embarrassment, and the power to fit out another fleet of equal size. A stream can afford to waste some water when its source is not dried up."
Among the men of the day, interested in greater or less degree in the momentous events at that time transpiring, were Lord Burleigh, master of the robes to Henry VIII and Elizabeth's lord high treasurer; Sir Francis Walsingham, secretary of state; Sir Christopher Hatton, who danced himself into the office of lord high chancellor; Sir John Hawkins, rear admiral of the fleet; Sir Walter Raleigh, who planned the colony of Virginia and wrote a history of the world; Sir Martin Frobisher, one of the most distinguished officers who fought against the Armada; the Earl of Essex first favored and then beheaded by Elizabeth; Sir Thomas Scott, descendant of Baliol, king of Scotland, and commander of the Kentish forces; Sir John Norris, who served the queen in the Netherlands; the earl of Suffolk, an able commander; the earl of Cumberland, or George Clifford, the queen’s champion; the earl of Northumberland, who fought the enemies of land in vessels equipped at his own expense; the earls of Devonshire and Salisbury, who fought in ships hired at their own cost; the earl of Monmouth, who was on board the English fleet when the Armada was scattered; the earl of Exeter, who served against the Armada; the earl of Derby, who was mayor of Liverpool at the coming of the Spaniards, and raised a land force from his private purse; Lord Cobham, one of the commissioners appointed to treat for peace with the duke of Parma at Ostend; the earl of Dorset, who succeeded Burleigh as lord high treasurer; Henry Stanley, another earl of Derby, one of the peers who sat at the trial of the queen of Scots: Cardinal Allen, who urged Philip to undertake the conquest of England; Robert Parsons, a Jesuit who stirred up sedition among the Catholics in England; James VI of Scotland, who succeeded to the English throne on the death of Elizabeth in 1603; Lord Maitland, sometime first minister of James; Prince Maurice of Nassau, who reduced Spain to the necessity of making peace with the Hollanders; Justinus de Nassau, admiral of the Zeeland fleet; Joos de Moor, vice-admiral, sent to oppose the 30,000 troops under the duke of Parma; Henry III of France, whose kingdom was too much distracted to allow him to help Spain against England; Henry IV, who succeeded as king of France and Navarre in 1589; Henri due de Guise, who advised the massacre of St. Bartholomew; Henri de Guzman Olivares, viceroy of Spain; Pope Sixtus V, who purged Rome of outlaws, and while frowning upon the over-reaching ambition of Philip, excommunicated Elizabeth, urged the dispatch of the Armada, and promised pecuniary aid for the subjugation of England. Then there were William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, et alii eis similes, but whose names are hardly to be mentioned in such worshipful company.