The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
PREPARATIONS FOR A THIRD VOYAGE—DISAPPOINTMENTS AND
DELAYS.

[ 1497.]

It was not until the following spring of 1497 that the concerns of Columbus and of the New World began to receive serious attention from the sovereigns. The fleet had returned from Flanders with the Princess Margarita of Austria. Her nuptials with Prince Juan, the heir-apparent, had been celebrated at Burgos, the capital of Old Castile, with extraordinary splendor. All the grandees, the dignitaries, and chivalry of Spain, together with ambassadors from the principal potentates of Christendom, were assembled on the occasion. Burgos was for some time a scene of chivalrous pageant and courtly revel, and the whole kingdom celebrated with great rejoicings this powerful alliance, which seemed to insure to the Spanish sovereigns a continuance of their extraordinary prosperity.

In the midst of these festivities, Isabella, whose maternal heart had recently been engrossed by the marriages of her children, now that she was relieved from these concerns of a tender and domestic nature, entered into the affairs of the New World with a spirit that showed she was determined to place them upon a substantial foundation, as well as clearly to define the powers and reward the services of Columbus. To her protecting zeal all the provisions in favor of Columbus must be attributed; for the king began to look coldly on him, and the royal counsellors, who had most influence in the affairs of the Indies, were his enemies.

Various royal ordinances dated about this time manifest the generous and considerate disposition of the queen. The rights, privileges, and dignities granted to Columbus at Santa Fé, were again confirmed; a tract of land in Hispaniola, fifty leagues in length and twenty-five in breadth, was offered to him with the title of duke or marquess. This, however, Columbus had the forbearance to decline; he observed that it would only increase the envy which was already so virulent against him, and would cause new misrepresentations; as he should be accused of paying more attention to the settlement

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