THE Spanish peninsula, separated from France on the north by the Pyrenees, and bounded on the three remaining sides by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, con-tains an area of 225,600 square miles, being a little larger than France. Nature has reared a very formidable barrier between Spain and France, for the Pyrenees, extending in a straight line 250 miles in length, from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, and often rising in peaks more than ten thou-sand feet in height, offer but three defiles which carriages can traverse, though there are more than a hundred passes which may be surmounted by pedestrians or the sure-footed mule. The soil is fertile; the climate genial and salubrious; and the face of the country, diversified with meadows and mountains, presents, in rare combination, the most attractive features both of loveliness and sublimity. History does not inform us when and how this beautiful peninsula—called Hispania by the Romans—first became in-habited. Whether the earliest emigrants crossed the straits of Gibraltar from Africa, or came from Asia, coasting the shores of the Mediterranean, or descended from France through the defiles of the Pyrenees, can now never be known. The first glimpse we catch of Spain, through the haze of past ages, reveals to us the country inhabited by numerous barbaric tri-bes, fiercely hostile to each other, and constantly engaged in bloody wars. The mountain fastnesses were infested with robber bands, and rapine and violence everywhere reigned. The weapons grasped by these fierce warriors consisted of lances, clubs, and slings, with sabres and hatchets, of rude fashion but of keen edge. Their food was mainly nuts and ro-ots. Their clothing consisted of a single linen garment, girded around the waist; and a woollen tunic, surmounted by a cloth cap, descended to the feet. As in all barbarous nations, the hard work of life was performed by the women. The names even of most of these tribes have long since perished; a few however have been transmitted to our day, such as the Celts, the Gallicians, the Lusitanians, and the Iberians. Several ages before the foundations of Rome or of Carthage were laid, it is said that the Phoenicians, exploring in their commercial tours the shores of the Mediterranean, established a mercantile colony at Cadiz. The colonists growing rich and strong, extended their dominions and founded the cities of Malaga and Cordova. About 800 years before Christ, a colony from Rhodes settled in the Spanish peninsula, and established the city of Rosas. Other expeditions, from various parts of Greece, also planted colonies and engaged in successful traffic with the Spanish natives. In the year 235 B.C., Hamilcar, the father of the illustrious Hannibal, compelled nearly all the tribes of Spain to ack-nowledge his sway. For eight years Hamilcar waged almost an incessant battle with the Spaniards. Still it was merely a military possession which he held of the country, and he erected Barcelona and several other fortresses, where his soldiers could bid defiance to assaults, and could overawe the surrounding inhabitants.
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[Illustrated & Engraved & Mapped]
John S.C. Abbott
Illustrated by Christine M. Demain
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2017 by e-Kitap Projesi
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THE EARLY HISTORY OF SPAIN
SPAIN, ROMAN AND GOTHIC
THE MOORISH INVASION
THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE MOORS AND THE CHRISTIANS
SPAIN A BATTLE-FIELD
CHIVALRY AND CRIME
MARRIAGE OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA
THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA
THE NEW WORLD
THE GLORY AND THE SHAME OF THE SPANISH COURT
SUBSEQUENT VOYAGES OF COLUMBUS
CHARLES V AND HIS SON PHILIP
THE REIGN OF PHILIP II
PHILIP II., III., AND IV.
THE SPANISH BOURBONS
CHARLES IV. AND MARIA LOUISA
THE EXILE AND RETURN OF THE SPANISH COURT
IF the word Romancenecessarily implies fiction, it is inappropriately used in the title page of this volume. But if it may also imply that which is strange and wonderful, though true, then it is appropriately used. It has become a common remark that truth is stranger than fiction. To give a minute narrative of all the important events in Spanish history would occupy folio volumes. The writer has endeavored to glean, from the many centuries which have passed away, those well-authenticated incidents which, in his judgment, would prove most interesting and instructive to American readers. He is not aware that there is any statement in these pages which will be called in question by any well-instructed student of History. The writer cherishes the hope that this volume may aid in luring the eager readers of our land from the present engrossing devotion to fiction, to the far more instructive and not less romantic incidents of real history. Should these pages prove, in that respect, a success, the work may be followed by others giving the history of the birth, the struggles, the career, of other great kingdoms of the globe.
JOHN S.C. ABBOTT
FAIR HAVEN, Conn. Sep, 1869
(From 500 B.C. to 44 B.C.)
Geography of Spain.—Its Aborigines.—Colonial Settlements.—Its Conquest by Carthage.—Designs of Rome upon Spain.—Strife between Rome and Carthage for its Possession.—Siege of Saguntum.—Campaigns of the Scipios.—Roman Extortion.—Exploits of Viriatus.—His Assassination —Achievements of Sertorius.—Campaign of Pompey.—Governorship of Julius Cesar.
Roman Empire About 400 B.C.
THE Spanish peninsula, separated from France on the north by the Pyrenees, and bounded on the three remaining sides by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, contains an area of 225,600 square miles, being a little larger than France. Nature has reared a very formidable barrier between Spain and France, for the Pyrenees, extending in a straight line 250 miles in length, from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, and often rising in peaks more than ten thousand feet in height, offer but three defiles which carriages can traverse, though there are more than a hundred passes which may be surmounted by pedestrians or the sure-footed mule. The soil is fertile; the climate genial and salubrious; and the face of the country, diversified with meadows and mountains, presents, in rare combination, the most attractive features both of loveliness and sublimity.
History does not inform us when and how this beautiful peninsula—called Hispania by the Romans—first became inhabited. Whether the earliest emigrants crossed the straits of Gibraltar from Africa, or came from Asia, coasting the shores of the Mediterranean, or descended from France through the defiles of the Pyrenees, can now never be known. The first glimpse we catch of Spain, through the haze of past ages, reveals to us the country inhabited by numerous barbaric tribes, fiercely hostile to each other, and constantly engaged in bloody wars. The mountain fastnesses were infested with robber bands, and rapine and violence everywhere reigned. The weapons grasped by these fierce warriors consisted of lances, clubs, and slings, with sabres and hatchets, of rude fashion but of keen edge. Their food was mainly nuts and roots. Their clothing consisted of a single linen garment, girded around the waist; and a woollen tunic, surmounted by a cloth cap, descended to the feet. As in all barbarous nations, the hard work of life was performed by the women.
The names even of most of these tribes have long since perished; a few however have been transmitted to our day, such as the Celts, the Gallicians, the Lusitanians, and the Iberians. Several ages before the foundations of Rome or of Carthage were laid, it is said that the Phoenicians, exploring in their commercial tours the shores of the Mediterranean, established a mercantile colony at Cadiz. The colonists growing rich and strong, extended their dominions and founded the cities of Malaga and Cordova. About 800 years before Christ, a colony from Rhodes settled in the Spanish peninsula, and established the city of Rosas. Other expeditions, from various parts of Greece, also planted colonies and engaged in successful traffic with the Spanish natives.
Four hundred years before Christ, the Carthaginian republic was one of the leading powers, and Carthage was one of the most populous and influential cities on the globe. The Carthaginians crossed the narrow straits which separate Africa from Spain, landed in great strength upon the Spanish peninsula, and, after a short but severe conflict, subdued the foreign colonies there, brought the native Spaniards into subjection, and established their own supremacy over all the southern coast. Cadiz became the central point of Carthaginian power, from whence the invaders constantly extended their conquests. Though many of the interior tribes maintained for a time a sort of rude and ferocious independence, still Carthage gradually assumed dominion over the whole of Spain.
In the year 235 B.C., Hamilcar, the father of the illustrious Hannibal, compelled nearly all the tribes of Spain to acknowledge his sway. For eight years Hamilcar waged almost an incessant battle with the Spaniards. Still it was merely a military possession which he held of the country, and he erected Barcelona and several other fortresses, where his soldiers could bid defiance to assaults, and could overawe the surrounding inhabitants. He was a stern conqueror, and the subjugated people regarded him with dread. In one insurrection, which his severity provoked, two-thirds of his army perished, and Hamilcar himself also was slain. His son-in-law, Asdrubal, was intrusted with the supreme command.
Asdrubal adopted a conciliatory policy, courting alliance with those tribes whom he could not easily vanquish. He founded the city of Carthagena, on the gulf to which he gave the same name. He had intended this place for his capital, having formed the plan of organizing Spain into a kingdom, independent of Carthage, over which he designed to assume the monarchy.
Rome was now rising rapidly into power, and, with insatiable lust of conquest, turned her eyes to Spain, wishing to wrest the important province from her rival, Carthage. Asdrubal, with great energy, was preparing for this approaching strife, when he was assassinated by a slave, whose master, a native prince, he had put to death. Hannibal was now twenty-six years of age, when he succeeded his brother-in law in command of the army and as governor of Spain. He was a man of heroic mould; merciless, in accordance with the ferocity of the times, but singularly sagacious, bold, and self reliant, and endowed with the rare ability of embracing the most extensive combinations, while, at the same time, he could attend to the minutest details.
Hannibal when a child, before his father's death, had taken a solemn oath never to make peace with the Romans. He now, with all his amazing energy, made preparations for a death-struggle with Rome, which was then threatening the supremacy of Carthage everywhere, both on the land and on the sea. Rome had entered into alliance with one of the powerful Spanish tribes, the Saguntines. Their principal city, Saguntum, was situated upon the Mediterranean, on the site of the present city of Murviedro. Hannibal commenced his war upon Rome by marching at the head of an army 150,000 thousand strong against Saguntum. The siege and destruction of this city are described by Livy with great graphic skill.
According to the narrative of Livy, the besieged made the most heroic resistance. The destruction of Saguntum is regarded as one of the most sublime and terrible of the tragedies of war. For nine months the storm of battle raged incessantly around the walls. Every assault was successfully repelled. In many fierce sorties the works of the besiegers were demolished, and the plain was strewed with the dead. On one occasion Hannibal himself was very severely wounded. As he effected breaches in the walls with his battering-rams, he found other walls reared behind them still more substantial, and lapping over the gaps. But Hannibal was a man whom no disasters could dishearten. Obstacles only nerved him to greater effort and endurance. He reared enormous towers on wheels, and rolled them up to the walls, that his men might fight on a level with those who defended the ramparts. Thus month after month of this truly demoniac strife lingered away, until famine commenced its cruel devastations in the city. The women and children perished by thousands. Gaunt and skeleton spectres stalked through the streets, none having food but those for whom it was indispensable to enable them to fight. The end now drew nigh. Human endurance could accomplish nothing more. There was plenty in the camp of Hannibal, and his broken ranks were continually filled up by fresh recruits.
The Saguntines, finding that they must fall, resolved with barbaric heroism that their fall should be the sublimest act in the drama; an act which should fill the world with their renown. They accomplished their design. For more than two thousand years, the story of the fall of Saguntum has echoed through the corridors of history.
In the heart of the city they collected an enormous mass of every thing combustible, so that upon the touch of the flambeau it would blaze and glow like a furnace. Upon this vast pile they placed their wives and their children, and all their valuable effects. The fathers, husbands, and brothers capable of bearing arms then formed themselves into solid columns, and suddenly rushing from the gates, fell upon the besiegers with the utmost fury. No man thought of self protection, but strove only to sell his life as dearly as possible. The slaughter was awful. In the midst of the terror, uproar, and tumult, the torch was applied to the majestic pyre, and it flamed, crackling and roaring, to the skies. It was but a short agony ere all the writhing victims were consumed to ashes. The Carthaginians, having overpowered and cut down their desperate assailants, rushed into the city to find it but a mass of flame, with scarcely a living inhabitant. Mercilessly they destroyed the few stragglers who were left in the streets.
Thus perished Saguntum, one of the most flourishing cities of ancient Spain. This event, which occurred in the year 219 B.C., ushered in the Second Punic War—a war which swept nearly the whole then known world with fire, and almost deluged it with blood. The destruction of Saguntum was a fitting prelude to the scenes which ensued. Spain was now a captive in the hands of Carthage; many of the tribes being willingly captive, but others restless and struggling to be free.
The Spanish tribes, who had been hostile to Carthage, were indignant that Rome had not sent her legions to aid her allies, the Saguntines. The remissness of the Romans in this affair seems inexplicable. They, however, as soon as they heard of the fall of Saguntum, prepared to send an army into Spain to conquer the country from Carthage. Ambassadors were dispatched to visit the disaffected tribes, and to incite them to coalition with Rome. But the Spanish chieftains received the ambassadors with great coldness.
"Are you not ashamed," said an Iberian chief, "to expect that we should prefer your friendship to that of the Carthaginians? Can we forget your perfidy to the Saguntines, who perished because you came not to their aid? Go seek allies elsewhere, among those who have not heard of the fate of Saguntum."
The ambassadors could make no reply, and, in confusion, returned to Rome, having entirely failed in their mission. Publius Scipio was then consul at Rome. As Hannibal was marching across the Alps for the invasion of Italy, Publius Scipio sent his brother Cnaeus Scipio, a distinguished general, with an army to Spain by water. He landed at Ampurias, in Catalonia, a little north of the river Ebro, with the very inadequate force of 10,000 infantry and 700 cavalry. Hannibal had left a Carthaginian general by the name of Hanno in command of the troops in Catalonia, though Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, was commander-in-chief in Spain.
Scipio, conscious of his weakness, moved with great caution, doing every thing in his power to conciliate the natives, and to enlist them on his side. He was extremely affable and friendly, complimenting the chiefs upon their bravery, and soon he so won their confidence that large numbers gathered around his banners. Ere long he was in a condition to offer battle to Hanno, and, encountering him upon the plains of Catalonia, defeated him with great loss. His little fleet also met the Carthaginian fleet near the mouth of the Ebro, and sinking a portion of the ships, dispersed the rest. Thus the whole of Catalonia and the coast from the Ebro to the Pyrenees fell into the hands of the Romans.
These successes were followed by others still more decisive. Many of the tribes joined the conquering Romans. The consul, Publius Scipio, soon embarked for Spain with large re-enforcements, and joined his brother. By their vigorous co-operation nearly the whole peninsula was soon wrested from the Carthaginians, and Spain became a Roman province. A few fortresses only still held at bay the legions of Scipio. But Hasdrubal possessed many of the qualities of his heroic brother Hannibal. He gathered re-enforcements from Carthage, formed alliance with several tribes, and wretched Spain became the bloody battle-field where Rome and Carthage struggled for the supremacy of the world. The fortunes of war as usual ebbed and flowed on many a hard-fought field; now the banners of the one party, and again those of the other, floating amidst the huzzahs of victory. At length, in two terrible battles, both Publius and Cnaeus Scipio were slain, and the Roman army was nearly exterminated.
The Carthaginians, flushed with victory, approached the fortified camp where the remnants of the Roman legions were entrenched. Their escape was hopeless, and their doom seemed sealed. A Roman general, Lucius Martins, by an earnest harangue roused the soldiers to the bold resolve to avenge the death of the Scipios, and to sell their lives as dearly as possible. At midnight he led his whole band, who were inspired with the energies of despair, into the Carthaginian camp, bursting the barriers with shrieks and fury as of incarnate fiends. The Carthaginians were totally unprepared for such an attack, not dreaming that their crushed foes would dare to leave their ramparts.
Every Roman had his especial duty assigned him; some fired the tents; some plunged into them with sword and battle-axe; some guarded the avenues to cut off the fugitives. The flames, the clamor, the butchery, the utter bewilderment of the Carthaginians, the heroic efforts of the Romans, the gloom of night illumined by the lurid flames of the conflagration, presented a scene of horror which can not be conceived. The massacre was awful, and before the morning dawned nearly the whole Carthaginian army was destroyed. All who were not slain were dispersed in wild disorder, leaving the whole Carthaginian camp in the hands of those whom, the evening before, the Carthaginians had regarded but as victims awaiting their execution.
The Roman Senate, animated by this astonishing achievement, immediately dispatched a strong armament to Spain under the leadership of Publius Cornelius Scipio, a son of the consul who had recently perished in battle. This young man, then but twenty-four years of age, who subsequently obtained the surname of Africanus, in honor of his exploits in Africa, had already acquired much celebrity in Rome, not only for his heroism, but for the earnest religious character which he had remarkably exhibited. Being peculiarly endowed with those qualities which attract the affections as well as the admiration of men, he soon became the idol of the army, and many of the Spanish chieftains with enthusiasm espoused his cause.
But Hasdrubal was not wanting either in energy or sagacity. He gathered large re-enforcements from Carthage and from his Spanish allies, and was soon again in condition to take the field. Both parties prepared with great vigor to submit the possession of Spain to the arbitrament of battle. Scipio, upon landing, marched directly upon Carthagena, and laid siege to the city. This movement was so rapid and unexpected, and the siege was prosecuted with such vigor, that the city was soon compelled to capitulate, and all its vast pecuniary and military treasures fell into the hands of the conqueror.
The conduct of Scipio on this occasion has given him great and enviable renown. There was among his captives a native maiden princess, of marvellous beauty, who at sight inspired him with the most passionate attachment. But so soon as Scipio learned that she was the affianced bride of a young Spanish chieftain, Allucius, he restored her to her lover. The parents of the maiden were overjoyed, and, in their gratitude, sent Scipio a very large present, as the gift-ransom for their child. Scipio bestowed this ransom upon the youthful pair, as the dowry of the maiden. Allucius immediately entered the Roman service, attached himself enthusiastically to Scipio, and contributed very essential aid to his subsequent enterprises.
The magnanimous victor, instead of making, according to the custom of the times, the citizens of Carthagena slaves, and sending them to the market to replenish his purse, gave them all their liberty, and restored to them their property. He did all in his power to alleviate the inevitable horrors of war, and to promote the happiness of the vanquished. Such conduct was as politic as it was unparalleled in those dark and cruel days. The fame of his clemency spread rapidly, and his popularity daily increased. Still the Carthaginians were too strongly established in Spain to be easily driven out. Campaign after campaign ensued, with all their awful accompaniments of tumult, blood, and woe.
After three campaigns in as many years, which campaigns extended the devastations of war over nearly the whole peninsula, the Romans attained the decisive superiority. Steadily now Scipio advanced in his conquests, wresting fortress after fortress from the Carthaginians, until they were left in possession of Cadiz alone. Finding it impossible to hold this city, the Carthaginian troops abandoned it, escaping in their ships, and thus the whole Spanish peninsula was surrendered to Rome. The conquerors divided their prize into two provinces, which they called Hither and Farther Spain, the River Ebro constituting the boundary between them. Each of these domains was intrusted to a Roman governor, who sometimes held the title of proconsul, and again that of praetor. Tarragona was the capital of Hither Spain. Farther Spain being of larger extent, the governor moved about, closing his place of residence according to his pleasure. Such was the condition of the Spanish peninsula 200 years B.C.
Most of the Roman governors were inexorable tyrants, who made it the primary object of their administrations to wring as much money as possible from the miserable people. Their oppressions and outrages were constantly goading the tribes to revolt, which revolts were quelled by cavalry charges and dripping swords. For half a century there was seldom a day in which some of the tribes were not in open insurrection. Not unfrequently nearly the whole peninsula would be in a blaze of war. Some of the mountain tribes, indeed, were never thoroughly subjugated, but in their wild retreats maintained a rude independence. Occasionally a Roman governor would be ignominiously defeated, but then some successor of surpassing energy would regain all that his predecessor had lost. War was the normal condition of the people; peace its transient exception.
The Roman Government was thoroughly detested by the Spanish people; and if the tribes had possessed sufficient intelligence and virtue to combine, the invaders might easily have been driven from the land. But the Romans, with superior sagacity, ever succeeded in fomenting the jealousy of the tribes, and thus, by arraying them against each other, held them all in subjection. The enormities perpetrated by these Roman governors in Spain can never be described. Let but one be mentioned in illustration of many. A Roman army was marching along the banks of the Tagus, on an expedition of conquest and plunder. A deputation from several tribes waited upon Lucullus, the proconsul in command of the army, offering to submit to Rome on certain terms which they proposed. Lucullus received them with apparent cordiality, and, with strong expressions of sympathy for the hardships to which they were exposed, said:
"Come to us, and we will conduct you to happier homes. We have, in Italy, abundance of uncultivated land, very fertile, beneath bright and sunny skies. There you can live almost without labor, and your lives will glide along like a cloudless summer day. Come in as large numbers as you please, and we will conduct you safely to those new homes, will provide farms for you all, and I will be your father."
The poor mountaineers, rendered wretched by war and anarchy, were delighted with these cheering prospects. Thirty thousand of them were soon assembled in the Roman camp. Lucullus received them with great cordiality, and divided them into three bands, as he alleged, in preparation for their march. He relieved them of their arms, which he said would be only an encumbrance to them on their way. Then, when they were disarmed and helpless, he fell fiercely upon them with his prepared legions, and ten thousand were speedily slain. The remaining twenty thousand were bound, and driven off into Gaul, where they were sold as slaves. Lucullus was now prepared to return to Rome, enriched by the spoil which he had thus amassed.
A few escaped the massacre and the captivity. Among them was a man by the name of Viriatus, who subsequently performed exploits which have given him world-wide renown. Fleeing to the mountains, he soon gathered around him a bold band of Lusitanians, who acknowledged him as their leader. With an eagle eye he watched the invaders, and not a magazine could be left unguarded or a detachment leave the Roman camp, but his heroic band was urged to the assault with the speed of the whirlwind and the destructive energies of the thunderbolt. Totally disregarding for himself the wealth he thus acquired, he distributed it to his impoverished countrymen, to whom he was a most bountiful benefactor. Incessantly harassing the Romans wherever they presented the slightest exposure, when assailed by a superior force he retired to the mountain fastnesses.
His wonderful achievements spread his name far and wide, and his followers so rapidly increased that soon several powerful tribes were rallied around him as their chieftain. From the cloud-enveloped cliffs his well-trained bands were ever descending, like the mountain storm, upon the plains of Lusitania. More than once he braved the veteran legions of Rome in a pitched battle, and vanquished them. The energies of the provincial governments of both Hither and Farther Spain were combined to crush this insurgent chief. Viriatus met their united armies on the banks of the Tagus, and they were scattered before the impetuous charges of his horsemen.
Passing from victory to victory, the heroic conqueror was soon in possession of one-half of the peninsula, and Rome herself was alarmed lest Spain should be wrested from her. The Senate consequently dispatched the consul, Quintus Fabius Maximus, at the head of 17,000 troops, to combine with the broken legions in Spain and overwhelm their bold assailant. For twelve months he did not venture to meet the Spanish chieftain on the field, waiting for his forces to acquire the discipline and the endurance of veterans. At length the opposing hosts met again and again in the shock of war. Roman diplomacy succeeded in detaching several tribes from the ranks of Viriatus, and he was compelled to retreat to the mountains. The Romans eagerly and incautiously pursued. Viriatus turned upon them, and routed them with terrible slaughter. The war had now proved so destructive to the Roman arms, and the prospect of success seemed so remote, that the Romans proposed terms of peace, to which Viriatus acceded.
But Rome, with characteristic treachery, after ratifying this solemn treaty sent Caepio as proconsul to Farther Spain, with secret orders to take advantage of the defenselessness of Viriatus, who, unsuspicious of treachery, had dismissed most of his forces. Caepio, watching his opportunity, and having lured Viriatus into a trap, as he supposed, fell fiercely upon the heroic little band he had surrounded. But Viriatus, eluding his foe, escaped into Castile, where he soon rallied another army. With characteristic magnanimity, he sent three ambassadors to the camp of Caepio to inquire the reasons for an aggression apparently so perfidious. Caepio, by the proffer of immense rewards, bribed these barbaric messengers to assassinate their chief. On their return they stole into his tent when he was asleep, and plunged their swords into his bosom. The murderers lost their reward; for Caepio doubled his infamy by refusing to pay the thirty pieces of silver, through the promise of which he had incited them to their Judas-like treachery.
For eleven years this heroic chieftain had held at bay the legions of Rome. His enemies stigmatize him as a rebel and a robber. He was neither. He owed Rome no allegiance; but, with exalted patriotism, he struggled to deliver his country from remorseless plunderers. Even his most bitter foes can not withhold their tribute of admiration for his heroism, his genius, his magnanimity, the temperance of his habits and the purity of his life. But the death of Viriatus did not terminate the war. His followers, exasperated by the treachery which had deprived them of their chieftain, chose a new leader, and the conflict was prosecuted with renewed bitterness, and with the usual vicissitudes of victories and defeats. Cities were besieged, and taken by storm. The tempest of war swept shrieking over extended plains, and many battle-fields were drenched with blood. Campaign succeeded campaign, as Romans and Spaniards, in the deadly strife, devastated the fair land with smouldering ruins, famine, and woe.
Numantia, in the north-east corner of Old Castile, on the River Douro, where Soira now stands, was the stronghold of the Spanish patriots. The Romans resolved to destroy the city, and invested it with an army 60,000 strong. The fortress was garrisoned by but 6000 Spaniards. The Romans constructed wall against wall, and bastion against bastion, resolved, by a strict blockade, to avoid all the risks of battle, and to subdue their foes by the simple yet terrible energies of famine. The Roman consul, Scipio Aemilianus, a son of the renowned Scipio Africanus, conducted the siege. He had already attained celebrity in his wars in Africa against Carthage, which city was now entirely demolished. As months passed away, during which the beleaguered garrison made many but unavailing sorties, every thing which by any possibility could be eaten was consumed. Famine was now slaying its thousands, and there was no alternative for the survivors but to die, or to surrender themselves to slavery; a doom worse than death. The indomitable Spaniards scorned to capitulate. The account which the ancient historians unite in giving of the scene which ensued seems absolutely incredible. And yet we have no light but such as they give to guide us, and their narrative is apparently well authenticated.
According to these accounts, the indomitable inhabitants of Numidia resolved upon mutual and entire extermination. Deliberately and determinedly they entered upon this enterprise. Husbands killed their wives; parents their children. Some fell upon their own swords. Some solicited friends to perform the kind act of death. Some set fire to their houses and perished in the flames. Thus every individual in Numidia was slain. Not a solitary inhabitant survived. And when the Romans clambered over the walls, they found a smouldering city without a living being in its streets. Not a captive remained to grace their triumph. Not a gem could be found for the Roman coronet. Life and wealth had been consumed together.
If this narrative be true, it is the most extraordinary event in the annals of war. The fall of Saguntum was awful. But the fall of Numantia stands without a parallel as the most energetic act of desperation time has witnessed.
This tragic event took place 132 years B.C. The destruction of Numantia paralyzed the energies of the Spanish patriots, and two-thirds of the peninsula despairingly submitted to the Roman sway. Nearly all the tribes tremblingly sent deputations to implore the clemency of the conqueror. A few of the mountain clans, in their inaccessible retreats, who, in their poverty, were not worth the trouble of conquering, remained in independence. But still the extortions of the Romans were continually goading the enslaved people to insurrection; and the peace of Spain was only that peace to which the plantation slaves submit when crouching beneath the uplifted lash. Rapacity, lust, cruelty ever marked Roman domination in Spain. For half a century from this time the whole peninsula continued to exhibit the same unvarying picture of abject bondage. Occasionally, goaded to desperation, the victim would turn upon his oppressor but to be smitten with a mailed hand in bloody death.
In the year 81 B.C. the merciless dictator Sylla was at the height of his power in Rome. Among the innumerable victims on his proscription list, there was an illustrious general by the name of Quintus Sertorius. He was then in the prime of life, and was endowed with great physical energy and mental vigor. As a leader of armies he had no superior; and his ambition was as boundless and unscrupulous as was that of Sylla, before the terror of whose arm he had been compelled to flee.
Sertorius, in his flight, succeeded in reaching Spain. The natives, ever eager for an opportunity to rise against their oppressors, encouraged by his military renown and his inextinguishable hatred of the Roman usurper, rallied around him. He soon found himself at the head of 9000 troops, ripe for any enterprise, no matter how desperate. But the Romans, to hold the restless Spaniards in subjection, had four armies in the field, amounting, all together, to 120,000 men. With amazing energy and military skill, Sertorius baffled his foes and multiplied his victories, until he united the two powerful tribes—nations they were then—called the Lusitanians and Celtiberians, into one central republic. Giving them a government exactly similar to that of Rome, he advanced in such a career of conquest, and of accumulating resources, that Spain seemed upon the eve of being rescued entirely from its foreign oppressors.
He established two capitals, Evora, in the heart of Lusitania, and Osca, now Huesca, in Celtiberia. Both of these capitals were embellished with the noblest works of art. A Senate, consisting of 300 of the most distinguished citizens, most of them Romans by birth, administered the general affairs of the nation. The army was organized upon the Roman model. There was a university established at Huesca, to which Sertorius invited distinguished Latin and Greek professors, and which attained very considerable renown, attracting students from all parts of the peninsula. Industry, in all its branches, was encouraged. Arms were manufactured, arsenals reared, mines opened, and the hour of Roman expulsion and of Spanish disenthrallment seemed to be at hand.
The imperious Sylla, alarmed at the strength rebellion was assuming in Spain, dispatched the consul Metellus Pius, at the head of several Roman legions, to crush the audacious foe. Sertorius hurled upon them his exultant troops, and trampled them in the dust: Sylla died miserably, and went to the bar of God with the blood upon his soul of one hundred thousand men whom he had sent to the scaffold. The Roman Senate, conscious that the emergency of Spanish affairs demanded the most decisive action, sent to the peninsula several veteran legions, under Cnaeus Pompey, a young general whose star was just beginning to rise, lurid and gleaming, over a war-scathed and smouldering world. The storm of battle now swept Spain with terrible devastation. When Pompey and Sertorius crossed swords, then the mightiest energies of the demon of war were called into requisition. There were many fierce and sanguinary battles, in which both parties struck their swiftest and heaviest blows, and then rested from the conflict, bleeding, panting, and equally exhausted. Rome poured in her re-enforcements to replenish the thinned ranks of Pompey. But with equal ardor the Spanish tribes contributed their recruits to strengthen the diminished battalions of Sertorius.
At one time the Spanish forces were so pressed by the Roman legions marching upon them in overwhelming masses, that they could not even hope for a successful encounter. Sertorius dispersed his army, at a given signal, through a hundred diverse paths, leaving the foe utterly bewildered by their sudden vanishment. In a few days they were all re-assembled, with recruited strength, at an appointed rendezvous. Rome now offered an immense reward for the head of Sertorius, hoping thus to secure his assassination by some of his followers. Perpenna, one of the generals of Sertorius, entered into a conspiracy to overthrow the illustrious chieftain, not for the sake of the offered reward, but to obtain the supreme command. At a convivial supper in celebration of a victory, Sertorius fell, pierced to the heart by a dozen poniards.
Perpenna attained his object, and was recognized as the leader of the army. But in his first battle the genius of Pompey triumphed over him; his troops were slain or dispersed, and he was taken captive. The wretch sought to purchase pardon by acts of the utmost perfidy and meanness. Pompey, despising him, sent him to the scaffold. With the death of Sertorius, the last glimmer of Spanish independence expired; but his memory was cherished by the natives with undying love. The genius of Pompey now dominated over Spain. Most of the tribes submitted to the conqueror, and as he swept his armies from Andalusia to the Pyrenees, he found no occasion to draw his sword. Thus Spain, in the year 72 B.C., became again subject to Rome; and the tranquility of the vanquished people for twenty years was disturbed but by occasional and partial insurrections, which were promptly crushed, and with merciless severity.
Pompey, from this successful expedition, returned to Rome, and for a time Julius Caesar, a young man whose fame was rapidly rising, and who married a daughter of Pompey, was intrusted with the governorship of Spain. Though the tremendous energy of Caesar overawed all opposition, still, as he espoused the popular cause, in opposition to the aristocracy, he was decidedly a favorite with the masses. By his military prowess, and his wonderful administrative skill, he obtained much celebrity, and soon returned to Rome laden with the wealth which, in accordance with universal custom, he had extorted from the Spanish people. By means of this wealth he secured his election to the consulship, the highest office to which a Roman could then attain. Becoming thus powerful, he entered into a coalition with Pompey and Crassus, thus forming that famous triumvirate, who divided between themselves the dominion of the then known world.
(From 44 B.C. to 673 A.D.)
The Strife between Pompey and Caesar.—The Victory of Caesar.—Spain under the Caesars.—The beneficent Reign of Augustus.—Tiberius Caligula.—Nero.—The four good Emperors.—Invasion of Spain by northern Barbarians.—Introduction of Christianity.—Martyrdom.—The Gothic Invasion and Empire.—Euric.—Theodoric.—The Crown elective.—The Arians and Trinitarians.—Jealousy of the Nobles.—Adoption of the Catholic Faith.—Collection of Wamba.—Whimsical Letter of Paul.
IN the division which the triumvirs made between themselves of the Roman world, Spain, with other vast possessions, was assigned to Pompey. But when civil war arose, and Pompey had been driven out of Italy by the successful usurpation of Caesar, the conqueror marched to Spain, to win that country from the three lieutenants to whom Pompey had intrusted its administration. Surmounting the Alps, and marching through Southern Gaul, Caesar entered Spain by skirting the extreme eastern termination of the Pyrenees, where they abut upon the Mediterranean. The first encounter between the troops of Caesar and those of Pompey was at Lerida, upon the Segre, one of the tributaries of the Ebro. Caesar routed his foes, and was then so strengthened by the native tribes crowding to his banners that Pompey's lieutenants found it impossible to continue the conflict, and were compelled to make an unconditional surrender. Spain thus passed, almost without a struggle, into the hands of Caesar. This great achievement was accomplished, after entering Spain, in a campaign of but forty days. Caesar, thus victorious, assigned the two great provinces of Hither and Farther Spain, one to each of his lieutenants, Cassius and Lepidus, and then returned to Italy to prosecute the war against Pompey.
Upon the fall of Pompey in Africa, his eldest son fled to Spain, with many of his father's partisans. The memory of Pompey was still dear to many of the inhabitants, and several of the tribes rallied around his son. Again there was civil war in Spain. Victory crowned the first efforts of the young Pompey, and soon nearly all the peninsula was in his possession. The emergency was so great that Caesar himself hastened, at the head of his legions, to reconquer the country. After several indecisive battles, the two contending forces met in great strength on the plains of Monda, twenty-four miles from Malaga. It was manifest that, on that day of blood, the fate of the peninsula was to be decided. At the commencement of the battle the tide of war turned against Caesar, and his ranks were rapidly melting away before the stern blows of his assailants. Caesar was for a moment thrown into a state of terrible agitation. Raising his helmet, he spurred his horse into the midst of his soldiers, shouting:
"Soldiers, I am your Caesar! Veterans, after so many victories, will you suffer yourselves to be conquered by a boy? Do you thus abandon your chief? Rather will I perish by my own hand than by the sword of Pompey."
Thus speaking, he made a movement as if determined to kill himself, should the battle continue to go against him. This dramatic appeal accomplished its purpose. The wavering ranks again became firm, and with redoubled vigor they pressed forward, and gained a complete victory.
The young Pompey fled, leaving 30,000 of his followers dead upon the plain. The unhappy son of a sire whose woes had been as great as were his abilities, was pursued, taken, and cruelly put to death. Caesar, deeming the country subdued, returned to Rome, where the dagger of Brutus and his confederates terminated his brilliant career.
Under the long reign of the Roman emperors who succeeded Julius Caesar, the founder of the Empire, Spain continued one of the Roman provinces, with but little to distinguish it from any other part of the realm. Octavius Caesar, the successor of Julius, ascended the throne of the empire about the year 38 B.C. Octavius, who soon, from his achievements, acquired the title of Augustus, relinquished the former division of Spain into Hitherand Farther, and instituted instead a threefold division. The whole north-eastern part of the country was organized into a province, called Tarraconensis. The southern section was called Baetica. The western district, embracing what is now Portugal, and its adjacent sections, was named Lusitania.
Spain, thus organized, thickly peopled with a warlike race, and containing immense resources of revenue, was deemed one of the most important provinces of the Roman Empire, and Augustus Caesar decided to visit it in person. With imperial pomp he traversed the realm, studying its capabilities and the character of its inhabitants. He speedily discerned that the restless disposition of the natives was such that the country could only be held by military occupation. He therefore reared many fortresses, garrisoned them strongly, and quelled the slightest indications of revolt with a relentless hand. Thus the spirit of the nation was subdued, and Spain, under Roman law, shared in the general peace and prosperity, such as they were, which the Roman Empire enjoyed.
Spain had never been so happy before as under the reign of Augustus Caesar. He did what he could to curb the rapacity of the local governors; constructed roads and bridges, and conferred high dignities of government upon deserving natives of the country. The following anecdote is related, illustrative of his magnanimity, and the reputation he acquired.
There was a celebrated robber by the name of Baracota, ranging the mountains, at the head of a determined band. He had for a long time been the terror of the country, either eluding or cutting to pieces all the forces sent to oppose him. At length Augustus offered a large reward for his head. Baracota, knowing that any of his followers would gladly murder him for the reward, boldly delivered himself up to the Emperor, confessing his crimes, promising to abandon his lawless course of life, and demanding the reward which had been offered for his apprehension. The intrepidity of the bandit, and his confidence in the imperial clemency, so touched the Emperor that he pardoned the robber and conferred upon him the proffered reward.
The reign of Tiberius Caesar, who followed Augustus, was a scourge to Spain, as to all other parts of the Roman Empire. His own rapacity was exceeded only by that of the praetors, or governors, who ruled over the province. The taxes were doubled, the property of the rich confiscated; children were deprived of their inheritance, and any person whose property the tyrant coveted was sent into banishment or to the scaffold.
The reign of the infamous Caligula was still more ruinous for Spain than was that of Tiberius Caesar. The remorseless tyrant, having exhausted the revenues of Italy, plundered Spain pitilessly. Claudius and Nero followed in his footsteps, and Spain sank deeper and deeper in the abyss of poverty and woe. At length, goaded beyond endurance by crime and outrage of every kind, Galba, the governor of Tarragona, in Spain, raised the standard of revolt against Nero. He was declared emperor of the army which he had under his command, but was soon assassinated. Vespasian, and after him Titus, endeavored to repair the wrongs which ages of oppression had inflicted upon Spain; and prosperity was just beginning to dawn upon the long-afflicted land, when the accession of Domitian to the throne of the empire, again introduced, through all the provinces of the Roman world, the reign of rapine and misery.
The Emperor Trajan, who was invested with the imperial crown about the year of our Lord 97, was a Spaniard by birth. He proved one of the noblest sovereigns who ever swayed the Roman sceptre. His reign was a gala-day for Spain. Loving his native land, he did every thing in his power to promote its happiness by encouraging all the arts of peace. New roads were constructed, and magnificent bridges thrown across the streams. Arches, colonnades, and aqueducts arose, and Spain, from the Pyrenees to Europa's point, clapped her hands for joy. Adrian, who succeeded Trajan, was also a Spaniard, and, though he inherited not the high genius of his predecessor, he was equally attached to his native land. Many monuments still remain in the Spanish peninsula indicative of his devotion to the province which gave him birth. His successor, the great and good Antoninus Pius, was a Gaul, and, under his reign, Spain, with all the rest of the Roman world, enjoyed prosperity. He was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius, a Spaniard, who also secured the well-merited affection of his subjects.
The reign of these four good emperors was extended over eighty-two years, and during all that time Spain was prosperous and happy. But then came again the reign of darkness, and the whole world groaned beneath the iron rod of despotism. With all the rest of the empire, Spain was crushed beneath the weight of intolerable oppression. But as years rolled on, and corruption ate into the vitals of the Empire, the imperial arm became weakened, and the governors of the provinces assumed more of independence, and their extortion and tyranny passed all bounds. The people, goaded to madness, were continually rising in blind insurrections, only to be trampled down in blood by the Roman legions. The only object of the government seemed to be plunder; robber bands swept the country, and poverty reigned in all dwellings excepting those of a favored few in the large cities.
To add to these almost unearthly woes, there came, about A.D. 260, a flood of foreign invasion. Barbaric tribes, from the wilds of Germany, fierce as wolves, came sweeping through Gaul, and, clambering the Pyrenees, ravaged Spain with the most savage mercilessness. They trampled down the crops, burned cities and villages, and the wretched inhabitants of the peninsula were exposed to every outrage which the imagination can conceive. For twelve years this inundation of woe rolled over Spain almost unchecked. The wretched Roman Empire was at this time distracted by the conflicts of no less than thirty pretenders to the throne, and anarchy reigned throughout the known world. At length an energetic governor, who had extended his sway over both Spain and Gaul, arrested the barbaric flood and turned it in another direction. But so dreadful had been the ravages of these savage hordes, that they were not repaired by one hundred and fifty years of succeeding peace.
The introduction of Christianity into Spain is lost in the obscurity of the past. It is however certain that, in the early periods of the second century, Christian churches were established in the peninsula, and that the flames of martyrdom had also been kindled there. The martyrdom of Fructuosus, Bishop of the Church of Tarragona during the reign of Galienus, is well authenticated. The Emperor issued a decree commanding the Christians, under penalty of death, to sacrifice to the Roman gods. Fructuosus paid no regard to the decree, and was consequently dragged before Emilianus, then the Roman governor of Spain.
"Art thou acquainted," inquired Emilianus, "with the decree of the Emperor?"
"What is that decree?" replied Fructuosus.
"That thou must sacrifice to the gods of Rome," was the answer.
"I adore one God only," Fructuosus replied, "our Heavenly Father, who has created heaven and earth."
"Art thou ignorant, then, that there are many gods?" responded the governor.
"I am," was the meek reply of the bishop.
The soldiers were commanded immediately to seize him, bind him hand and foot, and lead him to the stake. Ile was seated upon a vast combustible pile, which was prepared to burst into flame at the touch of the torch. Looking around upon his weeping friends, he said:
"My brethren, fear not that you will ever want for pastors. God will never forsake you. Weep not for me. These pangs will soon be over, and I shall enter those joyful realms to which martyrdom conducts me."
As the flames wreathed around him, consuming the cords with which he was bound, he kneeled, amidst the roaring fire, apparently as tranquil as if in his own closet; and with clasped hands, and breathing a fervent prayer, passed away to the martyr's crown.
During the reign of Diocletian the fires of persecution blazed through the whole Spanish peninsula. Sometimes hundreds perished together. The governor of the populous city of Saragossa, weary of hunting out Christians and executing them one by one, issued a decree that if the Christians would abandon the city and meet at an appointed place without the walls, he would pardon them all, and assign them lands, where they might build a city and live by themselves, and enjoy their religion unmolested.
Trusting to the honor of the governor, a great multitude of Christians—men, women, and children—issued from the gates. He then treacherously fell upon them with soldiers held in ambuscade, and every individual was massacred. Their bodies were all thrown together upon one funeral pyre and consumed.
THE MARTYRDOM OF FRUCTUOSUS, BISHOP OF TARRAGONA.
As corruption sapped the foundations of the Roman Empire, the northern barbarians became more bold in their assaults, and wave after wave of invasion rolled over the provinces of Southern Europe. In many localities the barbaric tribes established themselves permanently under their bold and sagacious chieftains. During the whole of the fifth century Spain was the battle-ground where the savage nations of the North met and struggled for the ascendency. In the early part of the century three Germanic tribes, the Suevi, the Alans, and the Vandals, came rushing over the Pyrenees, and, after perpetrating every imaginable enormity upon the native inhabitants, took possession of the country and divided it between them.
But soon there came another people, the Goths, more powerful than the three tribes united which had preceded them, and commenced a desperate struggle to wrest Spain from its conquerors, and to appropriate it to themselves. Many campaigns of blood and woe ensued, with conflagrations, massacres, murders, and violence, which could not have been exceeded had the combatants been demons instead of men. In the progress of this war the Alans were annihilated. Still the war continued with occasional lulls, the Goths gradually gaining ground, until finally the Vandals abandoned the country, and crossing the Straits, a tribe of 80,000 souls, carried the terror of their arms into Africa. This was in March, 427 A.D.
The Suevi and the Goths were now alone left to struggle for the supremacy. It is true that there were some slight lingerings still of Roman power in portions of the peninsula, but so slight as scarcely to deserve notice. In a series of campaigns, extending through ten years, the Suevi gradually gained the entire ascendency.
But they were not permitted long to enjoy their triumph. Another contestant suddenly appeared upon the bloody arena, as the war-cry of the Huns resounded through the defiles of the mountains, and roused anew the clamor of battle. Suevi and Hun now rushed upon each other with gory clubs, and bit the dust together. But again, in the midst of these scenes of demoniac crime and misery, the banners of another host are seen hurrying to the battle. The Heruli landed from their boats upon the coast of Calabria, and plunged eagerly into the thickest of the fight. As wolves frantically struggle over the bones they have already gnawed bare of all their flesh, so did barbarian contend with barbarian over the skeleton remains of miserable Spain. There was no longer any law in the land. Spain had become barbaric. Robbery, violence, murder devasted the country from the Pyrenees to Gibraltar's rock.
About 466 A.D., Euric, at the head of an immense Gothic force, descended from Gaul upon Spain, and soon succeeded in bringing the whole realm into subjection to his sway. The Suevi were driven into the south-west portion of the kingdom, where they were permitted to live in peace, as the vassals of the conqueror. Euric, surrounded by his invincible warriors, was now recognized as the monarch of Spain, and is regarded as the founder of the Gothic kingdom there. The Emperor, Julius Nepos, was glad to make peace with this warlike and triumphant sovereign by surrendering to him not only Spain, but the whole country beyond the Alps. Thus France, then called Gaul, and Spain became one Gothic empire, under Euric, more powerful at that time than decaying Rome itself.
Euric established the seat of his empire at Arles, in Gaul, on the Rhone, about thirty miles from its mouth. The Roman sway had now disappeared from these realms forever. Thus, what is called the Gothic kingdom was founded and consolidated in Spain. All the remnants of the various tribes who had inundated the country were gradually blended, with the native inhabitants, into a homogeneous people. Euric appears to have been a man of much intelligence, and vigorously he engaged in the work of reducing his realms to order. He established the famous code of Gothic law, still known as the Forum Judicum. He was nominally a Christian, though he adopted the Arian doctrine, and with merciless cruelty persecuted those Christians who adhered to the Trinitarian faith. Euric died at Arles in the year 483, and his son, Alaric, was elected by the warlike chieftains to succeed him on the throne.
Alaric was unable to retain the empire which his father's sword had won. Clovis, from Northern Gaul, came down upon him, at the head of his warlike Franks, and the armies of Alaric were dispersed, and the king himself slain. A northern nation, called the Ostrogoths, had now taken possession of Italy, and Theodoric, their king, wrested Spain from Gensealic, the feeble successor of Alaric. Thus the peninsula became a province of the Italian Ostrogoths, governed by a general whom Theodoric intrusted with the administration. This general, Theudis, was also an Arian, but, unlike Euric, he left those of a different faith in the undisturbed enjoyment of their religion. His rule was upright and sagacious. Laws were ordained, churches constructed, public improvements encouraged, and councils convened to settle important and disputed doctrines of the Christian faith. Theodoric was the first who introduced the custom of temporal sovereigns appointing to offices in the Church of Christ. His favorites he placed in the Episcopal chairs, thus secularizing the Church, and placing its offices of influence and honor by the side of those of the army and the navy.
Theodoric, just before his death, surrendered the dominion of Spain, with the southern portion of Gaul, to his grandson, Amalaric, and thus Spain became again an independent kingdom. Seville was chosen as the metropolis of this realm, which embraced the Pyrenees, and extended for many leagues along their northern slopes. But Amalaric soon fell in battle, engaged in a war with the Franks. A Gothic chieftain by the name of Theudis, was elected to the vacant throne. He was soon deprived of his inheritance in Gaul, and his soldiers were driven across the Pyrenees into Spain. The triumphant foe even pursued the fugitives down into the plains of the peninsula, and ravaged its provinces with their merciless arms. After a stormy reign, Theudis fell beneath the dagger of an assassin.
Theudisel succeeded to the throne. He was a monster of wickedness, indulging in brutal passions without restraint, and trampling with grossest violence upon all the most sacred relations of domestic life. A Gothic king in that day was elevated but little above his warrior nobles, and the dagger was the facile instrument with which to remove an obnoxious incumbent from the throne. One evening Theudisel was supping with his court in his palace at Seville, in commemoration of a recent victory, when, at a given signal, the lamps were extinguished, and a dozen swords, wielded by the nervous hands of outraged husbands and fathers, pierced his body.
Agilan succeeded him. His short reign was an incessant tempest. Many parts of Spain refused to acquiesce in his election. Civil war raged cruelly. The king was driven from his capital, and forced to take refuge in Merida. Surrounded by defeat, and with insurrection triumphant all over the land, he was slain by his own soldiers.
Athanagild, a Gothic noble, who was the leading spirit in this triumphant revolt, obtained aid in his rebellion from the Emperor Justinian. The death of Agilan however did by no means end the strife; on the contrary, it was but the signal for a still more deadly conflict among the combatants for the booty. The troops of Justinian were fighting for the Emperor, and not for Athanagild, and they remained for some time in Spain struggling for the possession of its provinces. They were eventually overcome, and the victor, with his sword ever unsheathed, maintained his throne.
In this day, when the Church had come to be regarded as one of the most potent institutions of the State, religious disputes necessarily became the dividing line between political parties. The great conflict between the Arians and the Trinitarians agitated all Christendom. The rancor of feeling was as severe, and the persecution as bitter, as has ever existed between Catholic and Protestant, or Aristocrat and Democrat. It was political rather than religious zeal which envenomed the dispute. It would be tedious to follow the details of the strifes and the battles to which this division led. There was a succession of sovereigns whose reigns were agitated by this politico-religious contest. One of these sovereigns, Leovigild, in his exasperation, caused the head of his son to be cleft by a hatchet, because he refused to abjure the Catholic faith and adopt that of Arius.
Leovigild persecuted the Catholics fiercely. He plundered their churches and monasteries, and extorted vast sums from the rich as the penalty of their faith, while others were sent into exile, to the dungeon, and even to the scaffold. With the money thug acquired, he surrounded his court with unwonted splendor. He was publicly crowned, a pageant in which no other Gothic king had indulged, for the king had heretofore been considered but very slightly elevated above the chieftains who elected him. He reared a magnificent throne in his palace, and studiously surrounded himself with all the pomp and pageantry of royalty. For the first time, under his reign, the effigy of the king was stamped upon the coin, with a diadem upon his brow.
Upon the death of Leovigild, in the year 589, his son, Recared I., was unanimously chosen as his successor. Apparently from sincere conviction he gradually abandoned the tenets of Arius, and espoused the Catholic cause. With singular sagacity, he adopted measures to bring back the whole Arian portion of the Spanish Church to the ancient faith. The treasure which had been wrested from the Catholic Church was restored. Public discussions were encouraged, at which the king presided, exerting a gentle but decided influence in behalf of the cause he had secretly espoused. By a merciful yet firm government, and by great kindness to the poor, he won general popularity. Having thus prepared the way for his attempt to establish unity of religious faith throughout his realms, he assembled a general council of his clergy and nobles at Toledo on the 8th of May, 589. After the council had devoted three days to fasting and prayer, the king, in a carefully prepared speech, opened the subject for which he had convened them. The substance of his address was as follows:
"Religion is a subject more important than all others to man, since it involves not only his prosperity in this life, but also his eternal welfare in the life to come. Unhappily antagonistic schemes of religion divide the Church in Spain. The most careful consideration has convinced me that the ancient Catholic system is the religion of the Bible, and I wish now publicly to make a profession of my Christian faith in connection with that Church. Though my con
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