Page:Romance of History, Mexico.djvu/27
THE AWAKENING OF SPAIN
valleys beneath them were rich cities where art, literature, and science were springing to a glorious life, but to the Christians who broke forth from their strongholds in the mountains to ravage with fire and sword the prosperous land around, one art alone was known—a truceless warfare with the infidel Moor.
Curiously intermingled with their fierce joy in battle was an equally fierce passion for the Christian faith. Bereft of pleasure in their life on earth they had ever before them the thought of a heaven in the life to come, where they would reap a rich reward while their enemies writhed in the everlasting flames of hell. Even in their mountain caverns they practised with scrupulous piety the rites and ceremonies of their religion, and they rushed to battle fortified by the belief that God and the saints were fighting on their side.
"He who shall perish here with his face to the foe," said one of their priests as he "shrived them clean" before a battle, "his sins I take upon me, and God will receive his soul." Thus armed, the Christians of Asturias by perpetual forays drove the Moors farther and farther south, and won back step by step their lost dominions. With their conquests they spread over Spain the fervent but fanatic faith bred by the frowning mountains. This dark bigotry, lying like a pall o'er the sunny land, was to prove in the years to come a blight upon their race. It left on the Spanish character an impress which time has never effaced. It explains not only the hold which the Inquisition with its hideous tortures had on Spain, but the callous