Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/406

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their utmost to prevent a meeting. Ximenes was accordingly checked by a letter in which Charles thanked him for his services and invited him to an interview, after which he was ordered to retire to his diocese and take such rest as his health demanded. Ximenes did not survive his political downfall. His death (November 8) left Spain entirely in the hands of the foreigners, among whom his honours were speedily divided. Adrian was made Cardinal, Chievres became chief minister of the Crown; his youthful nephew, William de Croy, Archbishop of Toledo; and Jean le Sauvage, Chancellor. Ximenes' policy had been directed to assure the supremacy of the Crown while giving to the people such rights and cohesion as should balance the power of the nobles. He had also attempted to found a Spanish empire in Africa. The latter scheme was intermittently prosecuted after his death; but its special importance was lost sight of amid dreams of universal empire. .The natural development of the political rights of the people was checked, and their hardly-won municipal liberties were crushed, in the struggles that followed. Charles aimed from the first at the absolute power which in the end swallowed up the liberties of nobles and commons alike.

After a brief visit to his mad mother at Tordesillas, where she passed fifty years of her life, Charles made a triumphal entry into Valladolid (November, 1517). Here, in the following spring, the Castilian Cortes assembled. The grandees were disgusted to find that all favours fell to foreigners. The sessions opened stormily; for Spanish jealousy had been aroused by the appointment of a Fleming to preside in conjunction with the Bishop of Badajoz, a known ally of the foreign party. Two legal assessors watched the proceedings on behalf of the Crown. The commons had hoped to profit by the inexperience of the prince in order to extend their rights. Led by Dr Zumel, proctor of Burgos, they adopted a haughty tone, reminded Charles of his duties as King and actually addressed him as "our hireling." They claimed, contrary to custom, that he should swear to observe their liberties before receiving the oath of allegiance, and should hear petitions before they granted supply. Charles submitted to the former demand, and was acknowledged as sovereign in conjunction with his mother. This was a disappointment; for he had hoped to rule alone. The Cortes voted a supply of somewhat more than the usual amount, spread over three years. In answer to a long list of petitions, the King promised to learn to speak Spanish; to forbid illegal exportation of gold and silver; to grant no further offices or letters of naturalisation to foreigners; to keep his brother in Spain till the succession should be assured; not to alienate Crown property; and not to give up Navarre.

Charles then hurried on to hold Cortes at Saragossa. The Aragonese proved more stubborn. Freed from Ferdinand's strong hand, the nobles had shaken off all respect for the Crown, and moreover, Charles was thoroughly distrusted. Regardless of his late promises, he had sent his