Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/404

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that of Aragon. In 1515 King Ferdinand visited Aragon for the last time, and held Cortes at Calatayud. His arbitrary temper had grown upon him, and, when supply was refused, he struck a last fierce blow at his country's liberties by angrily dismissing the deputies and imprisoning their president. When his end was known to be near (September, 1515) the Flemish party sent to Adrian of Utrecht to act in the name of his former pupil, the Infante Charles.

King Ferdinand died in the village of Madrigalejo (January, 1516) leaving behind him a reputation for political wisdom, astonishing when it is remembered that he was an unlettered man. But it was his unscrupulousness that left the deepest mark upon the age. During Isabel's lifetime he had screened his grasping policy behind her religious enthusiasm, and had used her haughty and upright spirit as an instrument for attaining his selfish ends. He had never sought to be loved, and after her death his character stood revealed in its native harshness. "No reproach attaches to him," says Guicciardini, "save his lack of generosity and his faithlessness to his word." Shortly before his death he revoked a will which favoured his younger grandson and namesake, and now bequeathed to him only a pension so modest as to preclude all chance of rivalry with his brother. He left the Crowns of Aragon and the two Sicilies to his daughter Juana, Queen of Castile, appointing her son Charles regent in her name. To Ximenes he entrusted the government of Castile, and to his bastard son, the Archbishop of Saragossa, that of Aragon.

Ximenes, although more than eighty years old, undertook the charge with his wonted energy. Acting under instructions from Flanders, and disregarding the protests of the Castilians, he proclaimed Charles as King conjointly with his mother (May, 1516). He reformed the household of Queen Juana, who had been ill-treated by a brutal governor. He fixed the seat of government at Madrid, on account of its central position. He secured the person of the Infante Ferdinand, whose discontent was being fomented by interested advisers. By sheer force of character he set aside Adrian of Utrecht, who had been sent to share the regency. He revoked all grants of lands and pensions made since Isabel's death; when a commission of grandees waited upon him to enquire by virtue of what power he had taken this step, he pointed to the artillery massed below his palace.

Not content with the regular forces of the Crown, he attempted to revive in more efficient form the old militia, and sent commissioners to enrol a force of 31,000 men. Exemption from taxation was promised to all who gave in their names. A certain number in each district were to be armed and drilled, and to receive pay when called out. The nobles took alarm, and stirred up the municipalities to resist what was represented as a new burden and an encroachment on their liberties. Valladolid and other cities rose in revolt, and forwarded a protest to