Imatges de pàgina


CHAP: Arragon, of Portugal and of Castille ; each

more eminent champion acquiring for himself an independent territory, and laying the foundation of a new dynasty. The smaller sovereignties however were gradually swallowed up in the greater ; and the principal monarch of the peninsula, though styling himself king of Castille and Leon, might at this time with sufficient propriety have been styled king of Spain, there remaining of the Christian principalities which have since been annexed to the dominions of his descendants only the little kingdom of Arragon. · Peter, the fugitive suppliant at the court of the Black Prince, was the lineal representative of St. Ferdinand, who about a century before had united in his own person the monarchies of Castille and Leon, and wrested from the Moors the opulent cities of Seville and Cordova.

Peter, the prince with whose history we are at present concerned, had undoubtedly degenerated from the virtues of his ancestors. His adversaries charged him 'with having murdered his wife that he might'marry his

Roign of


tions upon

mistress '; and it is certain that he was a slave chap. to avarice, and practised a multitude of vexa

his subjects that he might swell his treasures * By the acts of which he was guilty, and in some degree by the artifice of the dynasty which finally superseded him in the throne, he has acquired the odious appellation of Peter the Cruel. Encouraged by Ambitious the unpopularity of his administration, his Henry of 'natural brother, Henry of Transtamare, aspired to the crown. One of the circumstances which occurred in the growing animosity of the possessor of, and the aspirant to, the crown, deserves to be mentioned as an evidence of the barbarous manners then prevailing in Spain, and so far serving as an extenuation of some acts of Peter; which, though revolting to us, were seen with less aggravation by his contemporaries. Henry,

Transia. mare.



The queen unfaithful to his bed, and one of the present noble families of Spain boasts of being the issue of his illicit amours. Voltaire, Histoire Générale, Chap. LXV.

* Memoires de Du Guesclin, Chap. xiv. xv, apud Collection Universelle.



CHAP. instigated as it is said by the grandees of Cas

tille, undertook to expostulate with the king upon the impropriety of some of his measures; he expressed himself with warmth ; and one of the counsellors of Peter, who happened to be present, came forward to vindicate the conduct of his master. The bastard grew exasperated at this opposition, drew his dag

ger, and laid the minister dead at the feet of Goes into his sovereign. For this conduct he was oblig

ed to fly from court, and took refuge in the neighbouring kingdom of Arragon. The king of Arragon received him with much kindness, and (as the historian with perfect naiveté goes on to assure us) was astonished to find, from Henry's narration, “ that Peter persecuted him, and obliged him to fly his country, for having taken the liberty to represent to him the horror which every one felt at his repeated acts of cruelty'.'

Henry was now more earnest than ever to take the place of his brother on the throne

His cabals.

· Mémoires de Du Guesclin, Chap. XX.



of Castille. He practised with the king of CHAP Arragon; he gained the support of Charles V. king of France; and he prevailed upon

the pope to excommunicate and pronounce a sentence of deposition against Peter The times were favourable to his enterprise. The long wars between France and England, left at their conclusion a multitude of military adventurers in the former of these kingdoms, indisposed to every other occupation, and having no longer a legitimate opportunity for exercising that to which they were accustomed. These men refused all the laws of subordination, and subsisted by acts of plunder. The king of France therefore willingly entered into the scheme of drawing them off upon an expedition into Spain; and, to cover his real purpose, it was given out that the object was a crusade against the Moors of Grenada". The Black Prince became the 'dupe of this pretence, and piously

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Froissart, Chap. ccxXX.

Froissart, ubi supra. Mémoires de Du Guesclin, Chap.


CHAP, encouraged the individuals among these out

laws, who had served under him, or were natives of England or Aquitaine, to engage in the expedition, which was headed by the ce

lebrated adventurer Bertrand du Guesclin. 1366. The undertaking was successful ; Peter was Obtains the taken by surprise ; and, after a short struggle,

was obliged to seek his safety in flight. He first endeavoured to engage the king of Portugal to espouse his cause°; and, being 'repulsed there, he immediately resorted to the court of the Black Prince at Bourdeaux.

This renowned hero felt as the heir of one of Peter at of the first monarchies in Europe might be

expected to feel. If Peter had been expelled by the resentment and concerted revolt of his countrymen,

be believed that Edward, full of the high notions he derived from his illustrious ancestry, would have decided that kings are not to be arraigned at the bar of their rebellious subjects, and would have condemned their insolence. But that a

Favourable reception



• Mémoires de Du Guesclin, Chap. xix.

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