페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

DURING the middle ages, and even later, education was principally confined to the monks, the students of learned or scientific professions, and a few (very few) of the higher orders. Hence, priests, bishops, and cardinals were frequently to be seen grasping the helm of State, and either chosen for, or elevating themselves to become the prime uninisters of sovereigns, and their advisers or controllers in worldly affairs, as well as the keepers of their consciences in things spiritual. Amongst these princes of the church and lights of legislation, Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros is entitled to hold a prominent, if not the very foremost position. His predecessor, Cardinal Mendoza, recommended him, on his deathbed, as the most eligible man in Spain, to succeed him in the office of minister and chancellor, which, for twenty years, he had filled with such undisputed ascendancy, under Ferdinand and Isabella, that he was called by the courtiers, "the third king of Spain." The same sobriquet was afterwards applied to Richelieu in France, under similar circumstances. Mendoza had previously obtained for Ximenes the appointment of confessor to the Queen, and thus by double steps assisted him to mount the ladder of preferment. But the patron and his protégé were widely opposed in personal character. Mendoza had been a libertine in his youth, after the usual practice of the Spanish clergy of his day and more than one noble family

Cardinal Fleury, minister of Louis XIV., ap

pears to have been a vintnang svention

suffered ambition to predominate over his conscience, his faith, and his moral rectitude. A stern confessor he undoubtedly was, and one whom, in the discharge of his duty, even a royal penitent could not awe into compromise; but we never find that he indulged in the tyranny of personal rudeness, or abused the license permitted to his clerical function. It was not so with the general of the Cordeliers, who being alarmed at the sweeping reforms of Ximenes, came from Rome, to confer with Isabella on the subject, and to oppose the measures which interfered with his own views. In an interview with the Queen, he conducted himself with so much intemperance, that she asked him, when he had finished a violent harangue, if he was in his senses, and recollected whom he was addressing?

"Yes," replied the insolent monk, "I am in my perfect senses, and know very well that I am speaking to Isabella, Queen of Castile; a mere handful of dust and ashes, no better than myself."

ligently pursued his studies for six years
more. The death of his father recalled him
to Spain, whither he returned, with a bull
from the Pope preferring him to the first be-
nefice that might fall vacant in the see of
Toledo. No such promotion opened to him
until 1473; he then prepared to avail him-
self of his grant; but Carillo, the archbishop
of the diocese, had promised the post to one
of his own followers, and resisted the claim
of Ximenes. The latter maintained it stoutly,
whereupon the prelate, using the strong arm
of power, imprisoned him in the castle of
Santorcaz, for six dreary years.
The mere
privations and hardships to which he was
subjected were of no little moment to a man
of his self-denial, who long afterwards, under
the purple robe of the cardinal, wore his old
habit of the order of St. Francis, with a hair
shirt; and, in the midst of all his ministerial
splendor, contented himself with a bed of
straw and one frugal meal. On his liberation,
he obtained possession of his benefice, but,
in 1480, exchanged it for the chaplaincy of
Seiguenza. His long imprisonment had
deepened the natural austerity of his dispo-

ous enthusiast. He became altogether wea-
ried of secular avocations; and, in the year
following, having duly performed his noviti-
ate, became a Franciscan monk, of the most
rigid section of the order. During this
translation, he practised towards himself un-
flinching discipline-enduring vigils, fasts,
and flagellations, with patience and persever-
ance seldom equalled, and never surpassed.
He then assumed the Christian name of
Francisco, in compliment to the patron saint
and founder of the society, and abandoned
that of Gonzalo, by which he had been bap-
tized.

Ximenes has found many biographers. His career is inseparably mixed up with all general histories of the period; but his indi-sition, and tended to convert him into a religi vidual life has been ably treated by Alvaro Gomez de Castro, in Latin; by Quintanilla, and other Spanish writers of inferior note. Two French authors of celebrity-Flechier, Bishop of Nismes, and Marsollier-have also employed themselves on the same subject. We are not aware that any of these works have been translated into English, although quoted and referred to as authorities by all writers in our language, down to Prescott inclusive the latest and the best on the list. Flechier deals with Ximenes as if he was exclusively a saint. Marsollier describes him as a universal genius-a sort of an Admirable Crichton-and mixes up in his narrative more of fable than reality. De Castro depicts the man nearly as he was; and Quintanilla, who was employed to procure from the Vatican the canonization of his hero, inclines somewhat more to the marvellous than modern readers will be disposed to follow.

His reputation for holiness crowded his confessional, until it resembled the levee of a sovereign. This disturbed his thoughts, and induced him to retire into a lonely convent, situated amidst mountains and forests, where he dwelt in a small cabin built by himself, and passed a life of ascetic infliction Francisco Ximenes was born at Tordela- which the anchorites of old-Anthony, Paul, guna, in Spain, in the year 1436. He and Hilarion-could scarcely have emulated. sprang from a noble, but decayed family. The great powers of his mind were wasted Quintanilla carries up his genealogical tree to his genealogical tree to in these mistaken mortifications, which renremote royalty; but a pedigree is more dered him visionary and ecstatic, and reduced easily alleged than provided. At fourteen him to what would now be considered a he entered the college of Salamanca, and at state of dreaming insanity. From this usetwenty received the degree of bachelor in less condition of vegetative existence, supecivil and canonical law, from that renowned rior command transferred him to the convent and punctilious university. Three years of Salzeda, of which community he was after this he repaired to Rome where he di- I soon appointed guardian, where active duties

[graphic]

recalled him from his sublimated reveries. In 1492, he was selected for the Queen's confessor, but the advancement produced no change in his manners or mode of life. His coarse friar's dress, emaciated form, and haggard countenance, contrasted strangely with the glittering throng of courtiers and lovely ladies, with whom, in spite of himself, he was sometimes compelled to mingle. But all sense of enjoyment was dead within him -temptation was powerless; and if ambition whispered to his heart, the voice was so low that he heeded it not. In 1494, Queen Isabella obtained a bull from Pope Alexander VI. (of infamous memory), to reform the conventual abuses, which existed to such an extent throughout Spain, that the whole nation rang with their notoriety. Ximenes, being appointed provincial of his order, was empowered to carry out the edict; and never did reformer labor with more untiring zeal, or enforce precept by more unswerving example. In 1495, Cardinal Mendoza died, and vacated the dignities of Archbishop of Toledo and Grand Chancellor of Castile. The revenues of the see alone amounted to 80,000 ducats, or something like £175,000 sterling of our present money. The sum is nearly incredible, yet does not appear to have been exaggerated by historians. The political and religious importance of the joint office placed the possessor on a level with princes, and second only to the Pope himself. In preference to many candidates, and in spite of strong interest in other quarters, the Queen conferred the post on Ximenes; who, taken thoroughly by surprise at the announcement, positively refused to accept the proffered dignities. He was at that time verging on his sixtieth year; and if ever he had encouraged ambitious thoughts, now came the opportunity to indulge them, which was not likely to occur again. Still he persisted resolutely in his denial, saying he was too old for public life, for which he had neither capacity nor inclination. That he was sincere appears certain; and he only yielded when a second bull from the Pope positively commanded his obedience to the sovereign authority of the Church. Ximenes then acquiesced, and became minister of Spain, most unquestionably against his will.

He cannot be justly accused of hypocrisy, and it may be said with truth that he was called back from the grave to the world. But though not desirous of power, and inexperienced in its exercise, having once accepted, he used it promptly, and soon proved that he

the energy of enforcing obedience. Soon after his elevation, the troops revolted for want of pay. As Ximenes was addressing them, in the hope of producing a better disposition of mind, one of the soldiers cried out, "Give us our arrears, and no more speeches!" Ximenes, without the least emotion, turning to the ranks from whence the voice proceeded, found out the speaker, had him hung upon the spot, and then went on with his harangue. The high grandees, as a matter of course, looked upon him as an obscure upstart, thrust into a position which they considered as exclusively belonging to their own order. He cared not for their impatience or opposition, acted fearlessly, and spoke without reserve. enemies were more disgusted by his speeches than by his actions. 'By God's help," he was wont to say, "and with my girdle of St. Francis, I will bring every great man to his duty, and with my sandals I will stamp upon the insolence of the nobility." The latter exclaimed loudly against his authority, and a party of them entered his palace one day without ceremony, and abruptly demanded to know by what right he governed the kingdom. "By virtue," answered he, "of the power that was given to me by my late sovereign, Ferdinand, and which has since been confirmed by his successor, Charles V." "But Ferdinand," retorted the malcontents, "being only the administrator of the kingdom, had not the power of appointing a regent; the Queen alone could lawfully do that." "Well, then," said Ximenes, retreating with them into a balcony, from whence a battery of cannon was discovered, which was at that moment thundering forth a furious discharge, "behold the power with which I have governed, and with which I intend still to govern!" They departed in silence, and complaints ceased on the instant.

Ximenes, while he jealously watched the interference of the nobility and curbed the license of their tongues, allowed the lower classes to canvass the acts of his government and express their opinions freely. He used occasionally to say, "When a man is in power, and has nothing to reproach himself with, the wisest course he can adopt is to permit the people to enjoy the wretched consolation of avenging their wrongs by their speeches." He was in the right. Open grumbling is less nearly allied to rebellion than moody, brooding silence. Frederick the Great acted on this maxim of the Spanish cardinal, and to a much greater extent. Being asked one day why he permitted so

answered "Myself and my subjects are come to a composition: I do as I please, and they write as they please.

In the distribution of ecclesiastical preferment, Ximenes acted with strict impartiality, regardless of interest or any recommendation beyond personal merit.* Very soon after he became minister he was applied to by the friends of Don Pedro de Mendoza to confirm him in the government of Cazorla (one of the best places in the gift of the Archbishop of Toledo), with which he had been entrusted by his brother, the late grand cardinal. They urged the obligations conferred on Ximenes by his predecessor, and the anxious desire of the Queen. He refused peremptorily to consent, declaring that, as minister, he acknowledged no private ties; that the Sovereign might send him back to the cloister again, whither he was ready to depart on the instant, but that no personal considerations should ever operate with him in distributing the honors of the Church. After a reasonable interval, when no longer importuned with solicitations, he restored Mendoza to the place, observing that he did so because his own judgment told him he was qualified to fill it with credit. "I will choose my officers," said he," but I will not have them chosen for me, neither shall they select themselves. Personal application indicates either want of merit or want of humility in the applicant." The conclusion is a little strained, but may pass as a ministerial apothegm.

The reforms of Ximenes, as might be expected, raised against him a host of enemies who had even influence enough with the Pope to obtain his interference. But he resisted in this instance the sovereign head of the Church, and, supported by Queen Isabella, who, though more mildly disposed, was equally firm, carried out his plans in defiance of opposition, and succeeded in obtaining the warm co-operation of the apostolic nuncio. In 1499, he resolved, at all hazards and at any price, to convert the Moors of Granada, and went to work with his characteristic energy. All means were employed which persuasion, money, or force could bring into play. The proselytes were numerous and willing, but many were obstinate, and seemed determined to brave persecution even to death in defence of their faith. Ximenes resolved

Flechier, Bishop of Nismes, furnishes an instance of a man held back by his merit. When Louis XIV. at last promoted him, he did it with this rather unsatisfactory compliment: "I should have rewarded you much sooner, but that I was unwilling to lose the pleasure of your discourses.'

to root out the very characters in which the abominations of Mohammedanism were recorded, and caused a mighty holocaust to be be made of every Arabic manuscript he could lay his hands on; thus committing to the flames more copies of the Koran and other works connected with the theology of that compilation, than the Caliph Omar had sacrificed at Alexandria, of Christian and classical literature, eight centuries before. A few hundred volumes on medical science, in which the Moors of that day were pre-eminently skilled, he preserved, to enrich the newlyfounded University of Alcalà; but invaluable lore on many other subjects was destroyed for ever. The over-zealous prelate, no doubt, persuaded himself that in this conflagration he was wielding the brand of retributive justice. His violent proceedings called up an insurrection; the Moorish populace rose in defence of their expiring creed, and besieged him in his palace. When urged to fly while there was yet an opportunity of escape, Ximenes refused with the blended spirit of a hero and a martyr. He cared not for life, proclaimed his determination to die at his post rather than desert his faithful followers, and held out manfully until relieved by reinforcements. The violence of the cardinal in this matter drew on him the displeasure of his sovereigns, which, however, he soon dispersed by powerful declamation, and in the end he carried his point, for many of the most influential Mohammedans compelled to sell their estates and emigrate to Barbary, and when peace was restored it was found that about fifty thousand converts were added to the ranks of Christianity. From this date the proud Moors of the Peninsula began to decline in influence and numbers, until the race gradually degenerating, disappeared altogether. the means were objectionable, the end was obtained, and, as measures are usually estimated by results, the reputation of Ximenes received a prodigious advance from this proud victory. "He has achieved a greater triumph," said the virtuous Archbishop Talavera, "than even Ferdinand and Isabella; they conquered only the soil, but he has gained the souls of Granada."

were

If

The death of the Queen, in November, 1504, deprived Ximenes of his constant friend and unvarying supporter. Ferdinand respected the abilities of the minister, but Isabella venerated the virtues of the man. The confidence placed in him by the latter was unlimited. The former mixed up a little duplicity with his apparent cordiality. When the

think it an honor to expose his life for his religion. I have many examples before me in my valiant predecessors." As soon as his victorious troops had obtained possession of the town, he entered the gate, attended by his train of monkish brethren, and repeated aloud the language of the Psalmist “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise and the power given!" The spoil, amounting to half a million of gold ducats (more than a million of our present sterling money), was placed at his disposal for distribution, and his heart was rejoiced by the liberation of three hundred Christian captives. He burst into tears on seeing the number of dead that were lying on the ground, and was heard to say to himself—

cardinal in person superintended the expedi- urged an immediate attack, in opposition to tion against Oran, the King wrote a private the doubts expressed by Navarro, his geneletter to Navarro, a rude captain who com- ral. The advice and the triumphal issue manded under him, in which he said, "Hinder were both naturally ascribed to inspiration by our good man from coming back to Spain his superstitious and elevated followers. Betoo soon. We must make all the use we can fore the Spanish army marched up to the of his person and of his money." In 1507, walls, Ximenes mounted his mule, and rode Ximenes received the cardinal's hat from along the ranks. He wore his pontifical robes Pope Julius II., and soon after added to his and a sword was girded by his side. He adother high appointments the office of Inquisi- dressed his soldiers in a suitable harangue, tor-General of Castile. No further honors and inflamed their courage with the promise could now, by any possible turn of Fortune's of the plunder of the infidel city. He was wheel, be heaped upon him, except the pa- attended by a monk on horseback, who bore pacy itself. His catholic zeal expanded with a massive silver cross, his archiepiscopal stanhis power, and became firmer as he declined dard of Toledo. As the men passed by with into old age; while his ambition, so long loud cheers and reverential enthusiam-"Go mortified and dormant, glowed with all the on, go on, my children," exclaimed the cardiardor of early manhood. Still he was un-nal; "I am at your head. A priest should selfish, and thought only how to advance religion with the advancing influence of his country. Like Richelieu, he possessed the spirit of a soldier, and in earlier ages would undoubtedly have headed a crusade. He even thought of such an enterprise, but determined to commence by an expedition nearer home-the conquest of Oran, on the opposite coast of Barbary. He not only volunteered to lead the armament, but to advance from his private funds the necessary supplies of money. We shall search many pages of many histories before we find a minister so thoroughly disinterested. The nobles, who hatThe nobles, who hated Ximenes, derided his preparations, and prognosticated failure. "What," said they, "could be more ridiculous than the idea of a monk fighting the battles of Spain, while the great captain, Gonzalvo de Cordova, was left to stay at home, and count his beads like a hermit?" Ximenes would willingly have given the command to that renowned chieftain, had the King consented. Perhaps, Ferdinand, in his heart, desired to get rid of his minister, and thought the opportunity a tempting one. The energy displayed by Ximenes was almost miraculous; and it must be remembered that, in addition to a life of cloistered solitude, and habits all unfitted to the trade of war, he was oppressed with physical infirmities, and had passed the seventieth year of his age. Narses is the only other general we can recollect who took the field for the first time when most men are preparing for the grave. The campaign was short and decisive. The army landed on the 17th of May, 1609, and on the evening of the following day the city was carried by storm. The most respectable authorities have gravely declared, that the miracle of Joshua was re

"

[ocr errors]

They were indeed infidels, but they might have become Christians. By their death they have deprived me of the principal advantage of the victory we have gained over them."

The easy capture of Oran stimulated Ximenes to enterprises of a more extended nature. Already he contemplated the conquest of every Mohammedan city on the coast of Barbary; but Navarro, disgusted at being controlled in the direction of the army by an ecclesiastic, demurred against his authority, and claimed the right of independent command. The King, too, seemed inclined to desire the cardinal's absence for some political schemes of his own; and these combined reasons induced the latter to give up the further prosecution of the crusade he had so successfully begun ;* and leaving behind him

The Spanish army under Navarro, after the de parture of Ximenes, pursued a rapid course of victory, and took in succession Bugia, Algiers, Tunis, Tremecen, and Tripoli, until their conquests were checked by an unexpected defeat in the island of

« 이전계속 »