The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

tion of honors and rewards for the promulgation of knowledge; she fostered the art of printing recently invented, and encouraged the establishment of presses in every part of the kingdom; books were admitted free of all duty, and more, we are told, were printed in Spain, at that early period of the art, than in the present literary age.*

It is wonderful how much the destinies of countries depend at times upon the virtues of individuals, and how it is given to great spirits by combining, exciting, and directing the latent powers of a nation, to stamp it, as it were, with their own greatness. Such beings realize the idea of guardian angels, appointed by Heaven to watch over the destinies of empires. Such had been Prince Henry for the kingdom of Portugal; and such was now for Spain the illustrious Isabella.


CHAPTER II.
COLUMUS AT THE COURT OF SPAIN.

When Columbus arrived at Cordova he was given in charge to Alonzo de Quintanilla, comptroller of the treasury of Castile, but was disappointed in his expectation of receiving immediate audience from the queen. He found the city in all the bustle of military preparation. It was a critical juncture of the war. The rival kings of Granada, Muley, Boabdil the uncle, and Mohammed Boabdil the nephew, had just formed a coalition, and their league called for prompt and vigorous measures.

All the chivalry of Spain had been summoned to the field; the streets of Cordova echoed to the tramp of steed and sound of trumpet, as day by day the nobles arrived with their retainers, vying with each other in the number of their troops and the splendor of their appointments. The court was like a mihtary camp; the king and queen were surrounded by, the flower of Spanish chivalry; by those veteran cavaliers who had distinguished themselves in so many hardy conflicts with the Moors, and by the prelates and friars who mingled in martial council, and took deep interest and agency in this war of the Faith.

____________________
*
Elogio de la Reina Catholica, por Diego Clemencin. Madrid, 1821.

-57-

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