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List of Illustrations
The Cathedral Series
The following, each 1 vol., library
12mo, cloth, gilt top, profusely illustrated.

The Cathedrals of Northern

The Cathedrals of Southern

The Cathedrals of England
The following, each 1 vol., library
12mo, cloth, gilt top, profusely illustrated.
Net, $2.00

The Cathedrals and Churches

The Cathedrals of Northern
New England Building, Boston, Mass.

(See page 154)


Copyright, 1905
By L. C. Page & Company
All rights reserved

Published October, 1905

Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
Boston, U. S. A.





It is à la mode to write prefaces. Some of us write good ones, others bad, and most of us write neither good nor bad ones.

The chapter entitled "General Remarks" is the real introduction to the book, so in these lines I shall pen a few words of self-introduction to such readers as belong to the class to whom I have dedicated this volume.

My love for Spain is unbounded. As great as is my love for the people, so great also is my depreciation for those who have wronged her, being her sons. Who are they? They know that best themselves.

Spain's architecture is both agreeable and disagreeable, but it is all of it peculiarly Spanish. A foreigner, dropping as by accident across the Pyrenees from France, can do nothing better than criticize all architectural monuments he meets with in a five days' journey across Spain with a Cook's ticket in his pocketbook. It is natural he should do so. Everything is so totally different from{4} the pure (sic) styles he has learned to admire in France!

But we who have lived years in Spain grow to like and admire just such complex compositions as the cathedrals of Toledo, of Santiago, and La Seo in Saragosse; we lose our narrow-mindedness, and fail to see why a pure Gothic or an Italian Renaissance should be better than an Iberian cathedral. As long as harmony exists between the different parts, all is well. The moment this harmony does not exist, our sense of the artistically beautiful is shocked—and the building is a bad one.

Personality is consequently ever uppermost in all art criticism or admiration. But it should not be influenced by the words pure, flawless, etc. Were such to be the case, there would be but one good cathedral in Spain, namely, that of Leon, a French temple built by foreigners on Spanish soil. Yet nothing is less Spanish than the cathedral of Leon.

Under the circumstances, it is necessary, upon visiting Spain, to discard foreignisms and turn a Spaniard, if but for a few days. Otherwise the tourist will not understand the country's art monuments, and will be inclined{5} to leave the peninsula as he entered it, not a whit the wiser for having come.

To help the traveller to understand the whys and wherefores of Spanish architecture, I have written the "Introductory Studies." I hope they will enable him to become a Spaniard, or, at least, to join the enthusiastic army of Hispanófilos.

C. Rudy.

Madrid, July, 1905



  Part I. Introductory Studies  
I. General Remarks 13
II. Historical Arabesques 18
III. Architectural Arabesques 35
IV. Conclusion 66
Part II. Galicia
I. Santiago de Campostela 75
II. Corunna 89
III. Mondoñedo 95
IV. Lugo 102
V. Orense 110
VI. Tuy 120
VII. Bayona and Vigo 131
Part III. The North
I. Oviedo 137
II. Covadonga 145
III. Leon 150
IV. Astorga 167
V. Burgos 174
VI. Santander 188
VII. Vitoria 192{8}
VIII. Upper Rioja 196
IX. Soria 209
Part IV. Western Castile
I. Palencia 219
II. Zamora 230
III. Toro 244
IV. Salamanca 251
V. Ciudad Rodrigo 269
VI. Coria 278
VII. Plasencia 284
Part V. Eastern Castile
I. Valladolid 293
II. Avila 302
III. Segovia 312
IV. Madrid-Alcalá 321
V. Sigüenza 335
VI. Cuenca 342
VII. Toledo 349
  Appendices 369
  Bibliography 385
  Index 387


Leon Cathedral (See page 154) Frontispiece
Cloister Stalls in a Monastic Church at Leon 48
Typical Retablo (Palencia) 50
Mudejar Architecture (Sahagun) 64
Santiago and Its Cathedral 82
Church of Santiago, Corunna 92
General View of Mondoñedo 96
Mondoñedo Cathedral 98
Northern Portal of Orense Cathedral 116
Tuy Cathedral 128
Oviedo Cathedral 140
Cloister of Oviedo Cathedral 144
Apse of San Isidoro, Leon 164
Burgos Cathedral 180
Crypt of Santander Cathedral 190
Cloister of Nájera Cathedral 202
Santa Maria la Redonda, Logroño 204
Western Front of Calahorra Cathedral 207
Cloister of Soria Cathedral 212
Palencia Cathedral 226
Zamora Cathedral 238
Toro Cathedral 248
Old Salamanca Cathedral 260{10}
New Salamanca Cathedral 266
Cuidad Rodrigo Cathedral 272
Façade of Plasencia Cathedral 288
Western Front of Valladolid Cathedral 300
Tower of Avila Cathedral 310
Segovia Cathedral 316
San Isidro, Madrid 326
Alcalá de Henares Cathedral 332
Toledo Cathedral 360


Introductory Studies



The Cathedrals
of Northern Spain



History and architecture go hand in hand; the former is not complete if it does not mention the latter, and the latter is incomprehensible if the former is entirely ignored.

The following chapters are therefore historical and architectural; they are based on evolutionary principles and seek to demonstrate the motives of certain artistic phenomena.

Many of the ideas superficially mentioned in the following essays will be severely discussed, for they are original; others are based on two excellent modern historical works, namely, "The History of the Spanish{14} People," by Major Martin Hume, and "Historia de España," by Señor Rafael Altamira. These two works can be regarded as the dernier mot concerning the evolution of Spanish history.

Unluckily, however, the author has been unable to consult any work on architecture which might have given him a concise idea of the story of its gradual evolution and development, and of the different art-waves which flowed across the peninsula during the stormy period of the middle ages, which, properly speaking, begins with the Arab invasion of the eighth century and ends with the fall of Granada, in the fifteenth.

Several works on Spanish architecture have been written (the reader will find them mentioned elsewhere), but none treats the matter from an evolutionary standpoint. On the contrary, most of them are limited to the study of a period, of a style or of a locality; hence they cannot claim to be a dernier mot. Such a work has still to be written.

Be it understood, nevertheless, that the author does not pretend—Dios me libre!—to have supplied the lack in the following pages. In a couple of thousand words it would be utterly impossible to do so. No;{15} a complete, evolutionary study of Spanish architecture would imply years of labour, of travel, and of study. For so much on the peninsula is hybrid and exotic, and yet again, so much is peculiar to Spain alone. Thus it is often most difficult to determine which art phenomena are natural—that is, which are the logical results of a well-defined art movement—and which are artificial or the casual product of elements utterly foreign to Spanish soil.

Willingly the author leaves to other and wiser heads the solving of the above riddle. He hopes, nevertheless, that they (those who care to undertake the mentioned task) will find some remarks or some observations in the following chapters to help them discover the real truth concerning the Spaniard's love, or his insensibility for architectural monuments, as well as his share in the erection of cathedrals, palaces, and castles.

Spanish architecture—better still, architecture in Spain—is peculiarly strange and foreign to us Northerners. We admire many edifices in Iberia, but are unable to say wherefore; we are overawed at the magnificence displayed in the interior of cathedral churches and at a loss to explain the reason.{16}

As regards the former, it can be attributed to the Oriental spirit still throbbing in the country; not in vain did the Moor inhabit Iberia for nearly eight hundred years!

The powerful influence of the Church on the inhabitants, an influence that has lasted from the middle ages to the present day, explains the other phenomenon. Even to-day, in Spain, the Pope is supreme and the princes of the Church are the rulers.

Does the country gain thereby? Not at all. Andalusia is in a miserable state of poverty, so are Extremadura, La Mancha, and Castile. Not a penny do the rich, or even royalty, give to better the country people's piteous lot; neither does the Church.

It is nevertheless necessary to be just. In studying the evolutionary history of architecture in Spain, we must praise the tyranny of the Church which spent the millions of dollars of the poor in erecting such marvels as the cathedral of Toledo, etc., and we must ignore the sweating farmer, the terror-stricken Jew, the accused heretic, the disgraced courtier, the seafaring conquistador, who gave up their all to buy a few months' life, the respite of an hour.

And the author has striven to be impartial{17} in the following pages. Once in awhile his bitterness has escaped the pen, but be it plainly understood that not one of his remarks is aimed against Spain, a country and a people to be admired,—above all to be pitied, for they, the people, are slaves to an arrogant Church, to a self-amusing royalty, and to a grasping horde of second-rate politicians.{18}



The history of Spain is, perhaps, more than that of any other nation, one long series of thrilling, contradictory, and frequently incomprehensible events.

This is not only due to the country's past importance as a powerful factor in the evolution of our modern civilization, but to the unforeseen doings of fate. Fate enchained and enslaved its people, moulded its greatness and wrought its ruin. Of no other country can it so truthfully be said that it was the unwitting tool of some higher destiny. Most of the phenomena of its history took place in spite of the people's wishes or votes; neither did the different art questions, styles, periods, or movements emanate from the people. This must be borne in mind.

The Romans were the first to come to Spain with a view to conquering the land, and to organizing the half-savage clans or{19} tribes who roamed through the thickets and across the plains. But nowhere did the great rulers of the world encounter such fierce resistance. The clans were extremely warlike and, besides, intensely individual. They did not only oppose the foreigner's conquest of the land, but also his system of organization, which consisted in the submission of the individual to the state.

The clans or tribes recognized no other law than their own sweet will; they acted independently of each other, and only on rare occasions did they fight in groups. They were local patriots who recognized no fatherland beyond their natal vale or village.

This primary characteristic of the Spanish people is the clue to many of the subsequent events of the country's history. Against it the Romans fought, but fought in vain, for they were not able to overcome it.

Christianity dawned in the East and was introduced into Spain, some say by St. James in the north, others by St. Peter or St. Paul in the south.

The result was astonishing: what Roman swords, laws, and highroads had been unable to accomplish (as regards the organization of the savage tribes) Christianity brought{20} about in a comparatively short lapse of time.

The reason is twofold. In the first place, the new form of religion taught that all men were equal; consequently it was more to the taste of the individualistic Spaniard than the state doctrines of the Roman Empire.

Secondly, it permitted him to worship his deity in as many forms (saints) as there were days in the year; consequently each village or town could boast of its own saint, prophet, or martyr, who, in the minds of the citizens, was greater than all other saints, and really the god of their fervent adoration.

Hence Christianity was able to introduce into the Roman province of Hispania a social organization which was to exert a lasting influence on the country and to acquire an unheard-of degree of wealth and power.

When the temporal domination of Rome in Spain had dwindled away to nothing, other foreigners, the Visigoths, usurped the fictitious rule. Their state was civil in name, military in organization, and ecclesiastical in reality.

They formed no nation, however, though they preserved the broken fragments of the West Roman Empire. The same spirit of{21} individualism characterized the tribes or people, and they swore allegiance to their local saint (God) and to the priest who was his representative on earth (Church)—but to no one else.

Consequently it can be assumed that the Spanish nation had not as yet been born; the controlling power had passed from the hands of one foreigner to those of another: only one institution—the Church—could claim to possess a national character; around it, or upon its foundations, the nation was to be built up, stone by stone, and turret by turret.

The third foreigner appeared on the scene. He was doubtless the most important factor in the formation of the Spanish nation.

It is probable that the Church called him over the Straits of Gibraltar as an aid against Rodrigo, the last Visigothic king, who lost his throne and his life because too deeply in love with his beautiful Tolesian mistress.

Legends explain the Moor's landing differently. Sohail, as powerfully narrated by Mr. Cunninghame-Graham, is one of these legends, beautifully fatalistic and exceptionally interesting. According to it, the destiny{22} of the Moors is ruled by a star named Sohail. Whither it goes they must follow it.

In the eighth century it happened that Sohail, in her irregular course across the heavens, was to be seen, a brilliant star, from Gibraltar. Obeying the stellar call, Tarik landed in Spain and moved northwards at the head of his irresistible, fanatic hordes. The star continued its northerly movement, visible one fine night from the Arab tents pitched on the plains between Poitiers and Tours. The next night, however, it was no longer visible, and Charles Martel drove the invading Moors back to the south.

Centuries went by and Sohail appeared ever lower down on the southern horizon. One night it was only visible from Granada, and then Spain saw it no more. That same day—'twas in the fifteenth century—Boabdil el Chico surrendered the keys of Granada, and the Arabs fled, obeying the retreating star's call.

To-day they are waiting in the north of Africa for Sohail to move once again to the north: when she does so, they will rise again as a single man, and regain their passionately loved Alhambra, their beautiful kingdom of Andalusia.{23}

Tradition is fond of showing us a nucleus of fervent Christian patriots obliged by the invading Arab hordes to retire to the north-western corner of the Iberian peninsula. Here they made a stand, a last glorious stand, and, gradually increasing in strength, they were at last able to drive back the invader inch by inch until he fled across the straits to trouble Iberia no more.

Nothing is, however, less true. The noblemen and monarchs of Galicia, Leon, and Oviedo—later of Castile, Navarra, and Aragon—were so many petty lords who, fighting continually among themselves, ruled over fragments of the defeated Visigothic kingdom. At times they called in the Arab enemy—to whom in the early centuries they paid a yearly tribute—to help them against the encroachments of their brother Christians. Consequently they lacked that spirit of patriotism and of national ambition which might have justified their claims to be called monarchs or rulers of Spain.

The Church was no better. Its bishops were independent princes who ruled in their dioceses like sovereigns in their palaces; they recognized no supreme master, not even{24} the Pope, whose advice was ignored, and whose orders were disobeyed.

It was not until the twelfth or thirteenth century that the Christian incursions into Moorish territory took the form of patriotic crusades, in which fervent Christians burnt with the holy desire of weeding out of the peninsula the Saracen infidel.

This holy crusade was due to the coming from France and Italy of the Cluny monks. Foreigners,—like the Romans, the Church, the Visigoths, and the Moors,—they created a situation which facilitated the union of the different monarchs, prelates, and noblemen, by showing them a common cause to fight for. Besides, anxious to establish the supreme power of the Pope in a land where his authority was a dead letter, they crossed the Pyrenees and broke the absolute power of the arrogant prelates.

The result was obvious: the Church became uniform throughout the country, and its influence waxed to the detriment of that of the noblemen. Once again the kings learnt to rely upon the former, thus putting an end to the power of the latter. Once more the Church grew to be an ecclesiastical organization{25} in which the role of the prelates became more important as time went on.

In short, if the coming of the Moors retarded for nearly six hundred years the birth of the Spanish nation, this birth was directly brought about by the political ability of the Cluny monks; the Moors, on the other hand, exerted a direct and lasting influence on the shaping and moulding of the future nation.

Christian Spain, at the time of the death of the pious warrior-king San Fernando, was roughly divided into an eastern and a western half, into the kingdom of Castile (and Leon) and that of Aragon. The fusion of these two halves by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabel, two hundred years later, marks the date of the birth of Spain as a nation.

It is true, nevertheless, that the people had little or no voice in the arrangement of matters. They were indifferent to what their crowned rulers were doing, and ignorant of the growing power, wealth, and learning of the prelates. All they asked for was individual liberty and permission to pray to the God of their choice. Neither had as yet the spirit of patriotism burned in their breasts, and they were utterly insensible to any and all{26} politics which concerned the peninsula as a unity.

But the Church-state had successfully evolutionized, and Catholic kings sat on the only available throne. The last Moor had been driven from the peninsula, the Jews had been expelled from the Catholic kingdom, and the Inquisition—now that the Church could no longer direct its energy against the infidel—strengthened the Pope's hold on the land and increased the importance and magnificence of the prelates themselves.

A word as to heresy (the Reformation) and the Inquisition. The latter was not directed against the former, for it would have been impossible for the people to accept the reformed faith in the fifteenth century. For the Spaniard the charm of the Christian religion was that it placed him on an equal footing with all men; hence, it flattered his love of personal liberty and his self-consciousness or pride. The charm of Catholicism was that it enabled him to adore a local deity in the shape of a martyred saint; thus, it flattered his vanity as a clansman, and his spirit of individualism.

It was not so much the God of Christianity{27} he worshipped as Our Lady of the Pillar, Our Lady of Sorrows, of the Camino, etc., and he obeyed less readily the archbishop than the custodian priest of his particular saint, of whom he declared "that he could humiliate all other saints."

Consequently Protestantism, which tended to kill this local worship by upholding that of a collective deity, could never have taken a serious hold of the country, and it is doubtful if it ever will.

On the other hand—as previously remarked—the Spanish Inquisition helped to centralize the Church's power and obliged the people to accept its decisions as final. The effect of Torquemada's policy is still to be felt in Spain—could it be otherwise?

Had successive events in this stage of Spain's history followed a normal course, and had the education of the people been fostered by the state instead of being cursed by the Church, it is more than probable that the map of Europe would have been different to-day from what it is. For the Spanish people would have learnt to think as patriots, as a nation; they would have developed their country's rich soil and thickly populated the{28} vast vegas; they would have taken the offensive against foreign nations, and would have chased and battled the Moor beyond the Straits of Gibraltar.

It was not to be, however. An abnormal event was to take place—and did take place—which repeated in fair Iberia the retrograde movement initiated by the Arab invasion 750 years earlier.

A foreigner was again the cause of this new phenomenon, a harebrained Genoese navigator whom the world calls a genius because he was successful, but who was an evil genius for the new-born Spanish nation, one who was to load his adopted country with unparalleled fame and glory before causing her rapid and clashing downfall.

Christopher Columbus came to Spain from the east; he sailed westwards from Spain and discovered—for Spain!—two vast continents.

The importance of this event for Spain is apt to be overlooked by those who are blinded by the unexpected realization of Columbus's daring dreams. It was as though a volcanic eruption had taken place in a virgin soil, tossing earth and grass, layers and strata of stone, hither and thither in utter{29} confusion, impeding the further growth of young plantlets and forbidding the building up of a solid national edifice.

Instead of devoting their energies to the interior organization of the country, Spaniards turned their eyes to the New World. In exchange for the gold and precious stones which poured into the land, they gave that which left the country poor and weak indeed: their blood and their lives. The bravest and most intrepid leaders crossed the seas with their followers, and behind them sailed thousands upon thousands of hardy adventurers and soldiers.

But the Spaniards could not colonize. They lacked those qualities of collectivity which characterized Rome and England. The individualistic spirit of the people caused them to go and to come as they chose without possessing any ambition of establishing in the newly acquired territories a home and a family; neither did the women folk emigrate—and hence the failure of Spain as a colonizing power.

On the other hand, those who had sailed the seas to the Spanish main, and had hoarded up a significant treasure, invariably returned, not to Spain exactly, but to their{30} native town or village. Upon arriving home, their first act was to bequeath a considerable sum to the Church, so as to ease their conscience and to assure themselves homage, respect, and unrestrained liberty.

The effects produced by this phenomenon of individualism were manifold. They exist even to-day, so lasting were they.

A new nobility was created—wealthy, powerful, and generally arrogant and unscrupulous, which replaced the feudal aristocracy of the middle ages.

Secondly, oligarchy—or better still, caciquismo, an individualistic form of oligarchy—sprung up into existence, and rapidly became the bane of modern Spain; that is, ever since the Bourbon dynasty ruled the country's fate. As can easily be understood, this caciquismo can only flourish there where individualism is the leading characteristic of the people.

Thirdly, all hopes of the country's possessing a well-to-do middle class—stamina of a wealthy nation, and without which no people can attain a national standard of wealth—vanished completely away.

Lastly the Church, which had become wealthy beyond the dreams of the Cluny{31} monks, retained its iron grip on the country, and retarded the liberal education of the masses. To repay the fidelity of servile Catholics, it canonized legions of local prophets and martyrs, and organized hundreds of gay annual fiestas to honour their memory. The ignorant people, flattered at the tribute of admiration paid to their deities, looked no further ahead into the growing chaos of misery and poverty, and were happy.

The crash came—could it be otherwise? Beyond the seas an immense territory, hundreds of times larger than the natal solar, or mother country, stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific; at home, a stillborn nation lay in an arid meadow beside a solemn church, a frivolous, selfish throne, and a mute and gloomy brick-built convent.

The Spanish Armada sailed to England never to return, and Philip II. built the Escorial, a melancholy pantheon for the kings of the Iberian peninsula.

One by one the colonies dropped off, fragments of an illusory empire, and at last the mother country stood once more stark naked as in the days before Columbus{32} left Palos harbour. But the mother's face was no longer young and fresh like an infant's: wrinkles of age and of suffering creased the brow and the chin, for not in vain was she, during centuries, the toy of unmerciful fate.

Such is, in gigantic strides, the history of Spain.

The volcanic eruption in the fifteenth century has left, it is true, indelible traces in the country's soil. Nevertheless, on the very day when the treaty of Paris was signed and the last of the Spanish colonies de ultramar were lost for ever, that day a Spanish nation was born again on the disturbed foundations of the old.

There is no denying it: when Ferdinand and Isabel united their kingdoms a nation was born; it fell to pieces (though apparently not until a later date) when Columbus landed in America.

Anarchy, misrule, and oppression, ignorance and poverty, now frivolity and now austerity at court, fill the succeeding centuries until the coronation of Alfonso XII. During all those years, but once did Spain—no longer a nation—shine forth in history{33} with an even greater brilliancy than when she claimed to be mistress of the world. But, on this occasion, when she opposed, in brave but disbanded groups, the invasion of the French legions, she gave another proof of the individualistic instincts of the race, as opposed to all social and compact organization of the masses.

The Carlist wars need but a passing remark. They were not national; they were caused by the ambitions of rulers and noblemen, and fought out by the inhabitants of Navarra and the Basque Provinces who upheld their fueros, by paid soldiery, and by aldeanos whose houses and families were threatened.

New Spain was born a few years ago, but so far she has given no proof of vitality. As it is, she is cumbered by traditions and harassed by memories. She must fight a sharp battle with existing evil institutions handed down to her as a questionable legacy from the past.

If she emerge victorious from the struggle, universal history will hear her name again, for the country is not gastado or degenerate, as many would have us believe.{34}

If she fail to throw overboard the worthless and superfluous ballast, it is possible that the ship of state will founder—and then, who knows?

In the meantime, let us not misjudge the Spaniard nor throw stones at his broken glass mansion. To help us in this, let us remember that unexpected vicissitudes, entirely foreign to his country, were the cause of his illusory grandeur in the sixteenth century. Besides, no more ardent a lover of individual (not social) freedom than the Spaniard breathes in this wide world of ours—excepting it be the Moor.

Under the circumstances he is to be admired—even pitied.{35}




The different periods mentioned in the preceding chapter are characterized by a corresponding art-movement.

The germs of these movements came invariably from abroad. In Spain they lingered, were localized and grew up, a species of hybrid plants in which the foreign element was still visible, though it had undergone a series of changes, due either to the addition of other elements, to the inventive genius of the artist-architect, or else peculiar to the locality in which the building was erected.

Other conclusive remarks arrived at in the foregoing study help to explain the evolution of church architecture. Five were the conclusions: (1) The power and wealth of the Church, (2) the influence exerted{36} by foreigners on the country's fate, (3) the individualistic spirit of the clanspeople, (4) the short duration of a Spanish nation, nipped in the bud before it could bloom, and (5) the formation of an oligarchy (caciquismo) which hindered the establishment of an educated bourgeoisie.

The first of the above conclusive observations needs no further remarks, considering that we are studying church architecture. It suffices to indicate the great number of cathedrals, churches, hermitages, monasteries, convents, cloisters, and episcopal palaces to be convinced of the Church's influence on the country and on the purses of the inhabitants.

The Spaniard, psychologically speaking, is no artist; it is doubtful if illiterate and uneducated people are, and the average inhabitant of Spain forms no exception to this rule. His artistic talents are exclusively limited to music, for which he has an excessively fine ear. But beauty in the plastic arts and architecture leave him cold and indifferent; he is influenced by mass, weight, and quantity rather than by elegance or lightness, and consequently it is the same to him whether a cathedral be Gothic or{37} Romanesque, as long as it be dedicated to the deity of his choice.

The difference between Italian and Iberian is therefore very marked. Even the landscapes in each country prove it beyond a doubt. In Italy they are composed of soft rolling lines; the colours are varied,—green, red, and blue; the soil is damp and fruitful. In Spain, on the contrary, everything is dry, arid, and savage; blue is the sky, red the brick houses, and grayish golden the soil; the inhabitants are as savage as the country, and the proverbial "ma é piu bello" of the Italian does not bother the former in the slightest.

All of which goes to explain the Spaniard's insensibility to the plastic arts, as well as (for instance) the universal use of huge retablos or altar-pieces, in which size and bright colours are all that is required and the greater the size, the more clashing the colours, the better.

Neither is it surprising that the Spaniard created no architectural school of his own. All he possesses is borrowed from abroad. His love of Byzantine grotesqueness and of Moorish geometrical arabesques is inherited, the one from the Visigoths, and the other{38} directly from the Moors. The remaining styles are northern and Italian, and were introduced into the country by such foreigners—monks and artists—as crowded to Spain in search of Spanish gold.

These artists (it is true that some, and perhaps the best of them, were Spaniards) did not work for the people, for there was no bourgeoisie. They worked for the wealthy prelates, for the aristocracy, and for the caciques. These latter had sumptuous chapels decorated, dedicated an altar to such and such a deity, and erected a magnificent sepulchre or series of sepulchres for themselves and their families.

This peculiar phenomenon explains the wealth of Spanish churches in lateral chapels. Not a cathedral but has about twenty of them; not a church but possesses its half a dozen. Moreover, some of the very finest examples of sepulchral art are not to be found in cathedrals, but in out-of-the-way village churches, where some cacique or other laid his bones to rest and had his effigy carved on a gorgeous marble tomb.

These chapels are built in all possible styles and in all degrees of splendour and magnificence, according to the generosity{39} of the donor. Here they bulge out, deforming the regular plan of the church, or else they take up an important part of the interior of the building. There they are Renaissance jewels in a Gothic temple, or else ogival marvels in a Romanesque building. They are, as it were, small churches—or important annexes like that of the Condestable in Burgos, possessing a dome of its own—absolutely independent of the cathedral itself, rich in decorative details, luxurious in the use of polished stone and metal, of agate and golden accessories, of gilded friezes, low reliefs, and painted retablos. They constitute one of the most characteristic features of Spanish religious architecture and art in general, and it is above all due to them that Iberia's cathedrals are museums rather than solemn places of worship.

But the Spanish people did not erect them; they were commanded by vain and death-fearing caciques, and erected by artists—generally foreigners, though often natives. The people did not care nor take any interest in the matter; so long as the village saint was not insulted, nor their individual liberty (fuero) infringed upon,{40} the world, its artists and caciques, could do as it liked.

This insensibility helped to hinder the formation of a national style. Besides, as the duration of the Spanish nation was so exceedingly short, there was no time at hand to develop a national art school. In certain localities, as in Galicia, a prevailing type or style was in common use, and was slowly evolving into something strictly local and excellent. These types, together with Moorish art, and above all Mudejar work, might have evolved still further and produced a national style. But the nation fell to pieces like a dried-up barrel whose hoops are broken, and the nation's style was never formed.

Besides, contemporary with the birth of the nation was the advent of the Renaissance movement. This was the coup de grâce, the final blow to any germs of a Spanish style, of a style composed of Christian and Islam principles and ideals:

"Es wär zu schön gewesen,
Es hätt' nicht sollen sein!"

Under the circumstances, the art student in Spain, however enthusiastic or one-sided{41} he may be, cannot claim to discover a national school. He must necessarily limit his studies to the analysis of the foreign art waves which inundated the land; he must observe how they became localized and were modified, how they were united both wisely and ridiculously, and he must point out the reasons or causes of these medleys and transformations. There his task ends.

One peculiarity will strike him: the peninsula possesses no pure Gothic, Romanesque, or Renaissance building. The same might almost be stated as regards Moorish art. The capitals of the pillars in the mezquita of Cordoba are Latin-Romanesque, torn from a previous building by the invading Arab to adorn his own temple. The Alhambra, likewise, shows animal arabesques which are Byzantine and not Moorish. Nevertheless, Arab art is, on the whole, purer in style than Christian art.

This transformation of foreign styles proves: (1) That though the Spanish artist lacked creative genius, he was no base imitator, but sought to combine; he sought to give the temple he had to construct that heavy, massive, strong, and sombre aspect{42} so well in harmony with the religious and warlike spirit of the different clanspeople; and (2) that the same artist failed completely to understand the ideal of soaring ogival, of simple Renaissance, or of pure Romanesque (this latter he understood better than either of the others). For him, they—as well as Islam art—were but elements to be made use of. Apart from their constructive use, they were superfluous, and the artist-architect was blind to their ethical object or æsthetical value. With their aid he built architectural wonders, but hybrid marvels, complex, grand, luxurious, and magnificent.

Be it plainly understood, nevertheless, that in the above paragraphs no contempt for Spanish cathedrals is either felt or implied. Facts are stated, but no personal opinion is emitted as to which is better, a pure Gothic or a complicated Spanish Gothic. In art there is really no better; besides, comparisons are odious and here they are utterly superfluous.

Cathedral Churches

Before accompanying the art student in his task of determining the different foreign{43} styles, we will do well to examine certain general characteristics common to all Spanish cathedrals. We will then be able to understand with greater ease the causes of the changes introduced into pure styles.

The exterior aspect of all cathedrals is severe and massive, even naked and solemn. Neither windows nor flying buttresses are used in such profusion as in French cathedrals, and the height of the aisles is greater. The object is doubtless to impart an idea of strength to the exterior walls by raising them in a compact mass. An even greater effect is obtained by square, heavy towers instead of elegant spires. (Compare, however, chapters on Leon, Oviedo, Burgos, etc.) The use of domes (cimborios, lanterns, and cupolas) is also frequent, most of them being decidedly Oriental in appearance. The apse is prominent and generally five-sided, warlike in its severe outline. Stone is invariably used as the principal constructive element,—granite, berroqueña (a soft white stone turning deep gray with age and exposure), and sillar or silleria (a red sandstone cut into similar slabs of the size and aspect of brick). Where red sandstone is used, the weaker parts of the{44} buildings are very often constructed in brick, and it is these last-named cathedrals that are most Oriental in appearance, especially when the brick surface is carved into Mudejar reliefs.

Taken all in all, the whole building often resembles a castle or fortress rather than a temple, in harmony with the austere, arid landscape, and the fierce, passionate, and idolatrous character of the clanspeople or inhabitants of the different regions.

The principal entrance is usually small in comparison to the height and great mass of the building. The pointed arch—or series of arches—which crowns the portal, is timid in its structure, or, in other words, is but slightly pointed or not at all.

The interior aspect of the church is totally different. As bare and naked as was the outside, so luxurious and magnificent is the inside. Involuntarily mediæval Spanish palaces come to our mind: their gloomy appearance from the outside, and the gay patio or courtyard behind the heavy, uninviting panels of the doors. The Moors even to this day employ this system of architecture; its origin, even in the case of Christian churches, is Oriental.{45}

Leaving aside all architectural considerations, which will be referred to in the chapters dedicated to the description of the various cathedrals, let us examine the general disposition of some of the most interesting parts of the Spanish church.

The aisles are, as a rule, high and dark, buried in perpetual shadow. The lightest and airiest part of the building is beneath the croisée (intersection of nave and transept), which is often crowned by a handsome cimborio.

The nave is the most important member of the church, and the most impressive view is obtained by the visitor standing beneath the croisée.

To the east of him, the nave terminates in a semicircular chapel, the farther end of which boasts of an immense retablo; to the west, the choir, with its stalls and organs, interrupts likewise the continuity of the nave. Both choir and altar are rich in decorative details.

Behind the high altar runs the ambulatory, joining the aisles and separating the former from the apse and its chapels. The rear wall of the high altar (in the ambulatory) is called the trasaltar, where a small altar{46} is generally situated in a recess and dedicated to the patron saint, that is, if the cathedral itself be dedicated to the Virgin, as generally happens.

Sometimes an oval window pierces the wall of the trasaltar and lets the light from the apsidal windows enter the high altar; this arrangement is called a transparente.

The choir, as wide as the nave and often as high, is rectangular; an altar-table generally stands in the western extremity, which is closed off by a wall. The rear of this wall (facing the western entrance to the temple) is called the trascoro, and contains the altar or a chapel; the lateral walls are also pierced by low rooms or niches which serve either as chapels or as altar-frames.

The placing of the choir in the very centre of the church, its width and height, and its enclosure on the western end by a wall, render impossible a view of the whole building such as occurs in Northern cathedrals, and upon which the impression of architectural grandeur and majesty largely depends. It was as though Spanish architects were utterly foreign to the latter impression, or wilfully murdered it by substituting{47} another more to their taste, namely, that of magnificence and sumptuousness. Nowhere—to the author's knowledge—is this impression more acutely felt than in a Spanish cathedral, viewed from beneath the croisée.

Glittering brilliancy, dazzling gold, silver, or gilt, polished marble, agate, and jasper, and a luxuriance of vivid colours meet the visitor's eyes when standing there. The effect is theatrical, doubtless, but it impresses the humble true believer as Oriental splendour; and what, in other countries, might be considered as grotesque and unhealthy art, must in Spain be regarded as the very essence of the country's worship, the very raison d'être of the cathedral. Neither can it be considered as unhealthy: with us in the North, our religious awe is produced by the solemn majesty of rising shafts and long, high, and narrow aisles; this fails to impress the Iberian of to-day; and yet, the same sentiment of religious awe, of the terrible unknown, be it saint, Saviour, Virgin, or God, is imparted to him by this brilliant display of incalculable wealth.

To produce this magnificence in choir and high altar, decorative and industrial{48} art were given a free hand, and together wrought those wonders of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries which placed Spain in a prominent position in the history of art. Goldsmiths and silversmiths, masters of ironcraft, sculptors in stone and wood, painters and estofadores, together with a legion of other artists and artisans of all classes and nationalities, worked together in unison to create both choir and high altar.

Therefore, from an artistic point of view, the Spanish cathedral is for the foreigner a museum, a collection of art objects, pertaining, most of them, to the country's industrial arts, for which Iberia was first among all nations.

Choir Stalls.—Space cannot allow us to classify this most important accessory of Spanish cathedrals. Carved in walnut or oak, now simple and severe, now rich and florid, this branch of graphic art in low relief constitutes one of Spain's most legitimate glories. It is strange that no illustrated work dedicated exclusively to choir stalls should have been published in any language. The tourist's attention must nevertheless be drawn to{49} this part of religious buildings; it must not escape his observation when visiting cathedral and parish churches, and above all, monastical churches.



Retablo.—The above remarks hold good here as well, when speaking about the huge and imposing altar-pieces so universally characteristic of Spain.

The eastern wall of the holy chapel in a cathedral is entirely hidden from top to bottom by the retablo, a painted wooden structure resembling a huge honeycomb. It consists of niches flanked by gilded columns. According to the construction of these columns, now Gothic shafts, now Greek or composite, now simple and severe, the period to which the retablo belongs is determined.

Generally pyramidically superimposed, these niches, of the height, breadth, and depth of an average man, contain life-size statues of apostle or saint, painted and decorated by the estofadores in brilliant colours (of course, as they are intended to be seen from a distance!), in which red and blue are predominant, and which produce a gorgeous effect rehaussé by the gilt columns of the niches. (Compare with the{50} Oriental taste of Mudejar work in ceilings or artesonados.)

The whole retablo, in the low reliefs which form the base, and in the statues or groups in the niches, represents graphically the life of the Saviour or the Virgin, of the patron saint or an apostle; some of them are of exquisite execution and of great variety and movement; in others, greater attention has been paid to the decoration of the columns or shafts by original floral garlands, etc. Foment, Juni, and Berruguete are among the most noted retablo sculptors, but space will not permit of a more prolific classification or analysis.

Gold and Silversmiths.—The vessels used on the altar-table, effigies of saints, processional crosses, etc., in beaten gold and silver, are well worth examination. So is also the cathedral treasure, in some cases of an immense value, both artistic and intrinsic. Cloths, woven in coloured silks, gold, and precious stones, are beautiful enough to make any art lover envious.

The central niche of the retablo, immediately above the altar-table, is generally occupied by a massive beaten silver effigy,{51} the artistic value of which is unluckily partially concealed beneath a heap of valuable cloths and jewels.



But where the silversmith's art is purest and most lavishly pronounced is in the sagrarios. These are solid silver carved pyramids about two or three feet high: they represent miniature temples or thrones with shafts or columns supporting arches, windows, pinnacles, and cupolas. In the interior, an effigy of the saint, or the Virgin, etc., to whom the cathedral is dedicated, is to be seen seated on a throne.

In all cases the workmanship of these miniature temples is exquisite, and has brought just fame to Spain's fifteenth and sixteenth century silversmiths.

Ironcraft.—Last to be mentioned, but not least in importance, are the artisans who worked in iron. They brought their trade up to the height of a fine art of universal fame; their artistic window rejas, in the houses and palaces of the rich, are the wonder of all art lovers, and so also are the immense rejas or grilles which close off the high altar and the choir from the transept, or the entrance to chapels from the{52} aisles. Though this art has completely degenerated to-day, nevertheless, a just remark was made in the author's hearing by an Englishman, who said:

"Even to-day, Spaniards are unable to make a bad reja."

The reader's and tourist's attention has been called to the salient artistic points of a Spanish cathedral. They must be examined one by one, and they will be admired; the view of the ensemble will puzzle and amaze him, yet it will be wise for him not to criticize harshly the lack of unity of style. Frequently the choir stalls are ogival, the retablo Renaissance, the rejas plateresque, and the general decoration of columns, etc., of the most lavish grotesque.

This in itself is no sin, neither artistic nor ethical, as long as the religious awe comes home to the Spaniard, for whom these cathedrals are intended. Besides, it is an open question whether the monotony of a pure style be nobler than a luxurious moulding together of all styles. The whole question is, do the different parts harmonize, or do they produce a criard impression.

The answer in all cases is purely personal.{53} Yet, even if unfavourable, the utility of the art demonstration must be borne in mind and considered as well. And as regards the Spaniard, the utility does exist beyond a doubt.

Architectural Styles

Let us now follow the art student in his task. He will determine the different styles, and, to make the matter clearer, he will employ a rhetorical figure:

There is an island in the sea. Huge breakers roar on the beach and dash against the rocky cliffs. Second, third, and fourth breakers of varying strength and energy race with the first, and are in their turn pushed relentlessly on from behind until they ripple in dying surf on the golden sands and boil in white spray in hidden clifts and caves. With the years that roll along the island is shaped according to the will of the waves.

Spain, figuratively speaking, is that island, or a peninsula off the southwestern coast of the Old World, barred from France by the impassable Pyrenees, and forming the link between Africa and Europe: the{54} first stepping-stone for the former in its northern march, the last extremity or the rear-guard of the latter.

The breakers represent the different art movements which, born in countries where compact nations were fighting energetically for an existence and for an ideal, flooded with terrible force the civilized lands of the middle ages, and sought to outdo and conquer their rivals.

These breakers were: from the east, early Christian (both Latin-Lombard and Byzantine); from the north, Gothic; from the south, Arab, or, to be more accurate, Moorish. The first two were advocates of one civilization, the Christian or Occidental; the latter was the propagandist of another, the Neo-Oriental or Mohammedan.

The Renaissance was but a second or third breaker coming from the east, which breathed new life into antiquated constructive and decorative elements by adapting them to a new religion or faith.

Later architectural forms were but the periodical revival or combination of one or another of the already existing elements.

Spain, thanks to her unique position, was the point where all these contradictory waves{55} met in a final endeavour to crush their opponents. In Spain, Byzantine pillars fought against Lombard shafts, and Gothic pinnacles rose haughtily beside the horseshoe arch and the arc brisé. In Spain Christianity grappled with the Islam faith and sent it bleeding back to the wilds of Africa; in Spain the polygon, circle, and square struggled for supremacy and lost their personality in the complex blending of the one with the other, and minarets, cupolas, and spires combined in bizarre fantasy and richness of decoration to serve the ambitions of mighty prelates, fanatic kings, and death-fearing noblemen.

Such is, rhetorically speaking, the history of architecture of Spain. Cathedrals had a cachet of their own, either national (in certain characteristics) or else local. But the elements of which they were composed were foreign. That is, excepting in the case of Spanish-Moorish art.

Moorish art! In the second volume (Southern Spain), the author of these lines will dedicate several paragraphs to the art of the Moors in Spain. Suffice to assert in the present chapter the following statements.{56}

(1) Moorish art in Spain is peculiar to the Arabs who inhabited the peninsula during seven hundred years. Consequently this art, born on Iberian soil, cannot be regarded as foreign.

(2) Much of what is called Moorish art owes its existence to the Christians, to the Muzarabs and Jews who inhabited cities which were dependent upon or belonged to the Moors. In the same way, much of the Oriental taste of the Spanish Christians was inherited from the Moors and received in Spain the generic name of Mudejar.

(3) The art of the Moors, though largely used in Spain, especially in the south, rarely entered into cathedral structures, though often noticeable in churches, cloisters, and in decorative motives.

(4) The Moors learnt more art motives in Spain than they introduced into the country.

These and many other points of interest will have to be neglected in the present chapter. For the cathedrals of the north are (as regards the ideal which brought about their erection) radically opposed to Moorish art.{57}

Prehistoric Roman and Visigothic (?) art are equally unimportant in this study, as neither the one nor the other constructed any Christian temple standing to-day. That is to say, cathedral; for Visigothic or early Latin and Byzantine Romanesque churches do exist in Asturias, and a notable specimen in Venta de Baños. They are peculiarly strange edifices, and it is to be regretted that they are not cathedrals, for their study would be most interesting, not only as regards Iberian art, but above all as regards the history of art in the middle ages. So far, they have been completely neglected, and, unfortunately, are but little known abroad.

Romanesque.—The origin of Romanesque is greatly discussed. Some attribute it to Italy, others to France; others again are of the conviction that all Christian (religious) art previous to the birth of Gothic is Romanesque, etc., etc. The most plausible theory is that the style in question evolved out of the early Latin-Christian (basilique) style, at the same time borrowing many decorative details from the Byzantine-Christian style.{58}

In Spain, pre-Romanesque Christian architecture (or Visigothic) shows decided Byzantine influence, more so, probably, than in any other European country. This peculiarity influences also Romanesque, both early and late. It is not strange, either, considering that an important colony of Bizantinos (Christians) settled in Eastern Andalusia during the Visigothic period.

In the tenth century churches, and in the eleventh cathedrals, commenced to be erected in Northern Spain. Byzantine influence was very marked in the earlier monuments.

Was Romanesque a foreign style? Was it introduced from Italy or France, or was it a natural outcome or evolutionary product of decadent early Christian architecture? In the latter case there is no saying where it evolved, possibly to the north or to the south of the Pyrenees, possibly to the east or to the west of the Alps. What is more, the Pyrenees in those days did not serve as a strict frontier line like to-day; on the contrary, both Navarra and Aragon extended beyond the mountainous wall, and the dukes of Southern France occasionally{59} possessed immense territories and cities to the south of the Pyrenees.

Be that as it may, Romanesque, as a style, first dawned in Spain in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Its birth coincided with that of the popular religious crusade against the Moor who had inhabited the peninsula during four centuries; it coincided also with the great church-erecting period of Northern Spanish history, when the Alfonsos of Castile created bishoprics (to aid them in their political ambitions) as easily as they broke inconvenient treaties and savagely murdered friends, relatives, and foes alike. Consequently, many were the Romanesque cathedrals erected, and though the greater part were destroyed later and replaced by Gothic structures, several fine specimens of the former style are still to be seen.

Needless to say, Romanesque became localized; in other words, it acquired certain characteristics restricted to determined regions. Galician Romanesque and that of Western Castile, for instance, are almost totally different in aspect: the former is exceedingly poetical and possesses carved wall decorations both rich and excellent; the latter is intensely strong and warlike, and{60} the decorations, if employed at all, are Byzantine, or at least Oriental in taste.

Transition.—Many of the cathedrals of Galicia belong, according to several authors, to this period in which Romanesque strength evolved into primitive Gothic or ogival airiness. In another chapter a personal opinion has been emitted denying the accuracy of the above remark.

There is no typical example of Transition in Spain. Ogival changes introduced at a later date into Romanesque churches, a very common occurrence, cannot justify the classification of the buildings as Transition monuments.

Nor is it surprising that such buildings should be lacking in Spain. For Gothic did not evolve from Romanesque in the peninsula, but was introduced from France. A short time after its first appearance it swept all before it, thanks to the Cluny monks, and was exclusively used in church-building. In a strict sense it stands, moreover, to reason that the former (Transition) can only exist there where a new style emerges from an old without being introduced from abroad.{61}

Ogival Art.—The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries are, properly speaking, those of the great northern art wave which spread rapidly through the peninsula, bending all before its irresistible will. Romanesque churches were destroyed or modified (the introduction of an ambulatory in almost all Romanesque buildings), and new cathedrals sprung up, called into existence by the needs and requirements of a new people, a conquering, Christian people, driving the infidel out of the land, and raising the Holy Cross on the sacred monuments of the Islam religion.

The changements introduced into the new style tended to give it a more severe and defiant exterior appearance than in northern churches,—a scarcity of windows and flying buttresses, timidly pointed arches, and solid towers. Besides, round-headed arches (vaultings and horizontal lines) were indiscriminately used to break the vertical tendency of pure ogival; so also were Byzantine cupolas and domes.

The solemn, cold, and naked cathedral church of Alcalá de Henares is a fine example of the above. Few people would consider it to belong to the same class as the eloquent{62} cathedral of Leon and the no less imposing see of Burgos. Nevertheless, it is, every inch of it, as pure Gothic as the last named, only, it is essentially Spanish, the other two being French; it bears the sombre cachet of the age of Spanish Inquisition, of the fanatic intolerant age of the Catholic kings.

Later Styles.—Toward the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries, Italian Renaissance entered the country and drove Gothic architecture out of the minds of artists and patronizing prelates.

But Italian Renaissance failed to impress the Spaniard, whose character was opposed to that of his Mediterranean cousin; so also was the general aspect of his country different from that of Italy. Consequently, it is not surprising that we should find very few pure Renaissance monuments on the peninsula. On the other hand, Spanish Renaissance—a florid form of the Italian—is frequently to be met with; in its severest form it is called plateresco.

In the times of Philip II., Juan Herrero created his style (Escorial), of which symmetry, grandeur in size, and poverty in{63} decoration were the leading characteristics. The reaction came, however, quickly, and Churriguera introduced the most astounding and theatrical grotesque imaginable.

The later history of Spanish architecture is similar to that of the rest of Europe. As it is, the period which above all interests us here is that reaching from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries, embracing Romanesque, ogival, and plateresque styles. Of the cathedrals treated of in this volume, all belong to either of the two first named architectural schools, excepting those of Valladolid, Madrid, and, to a certain extent, the new cathedral of Salamanca and that of Segovia.

Mudejar Art.—Previous to the advent of Italian Renaissance in Spain, a new art had been created which was purely national, having been born on the peninsula as the complex product of Christian and Islam elements. This art, known by the generic name of Mudejar, received a mortal blow at the hands of the new Italian art movement. Consequently, the only school which might have been regarded as Spanish, degenerated sadly, sharing the fate of the new-born nation. {64} Rather than a constructive style, the Mudejar or Spanish style is decorative. With admirable variety and profusion it ornamented brick surfaces by covering them with reliefs, either geometrical (Moorish) or Gothic, either sunk into the wall or else the latter cut around the former.

The aspect of these Mudejar buildings is peculiar. In a ruddy plain beneath a dazzling blue sky, these red brick churches gleam thirstily from afar. Shadows play among the reliefs, lending them strength and vigour; the alminar tower stands forth prominently against the sky and contrasts delightfully with the cupola raised on the apse or on the croisée.

Among the finest examples of Mudejar art, must be counted the brilliantly coloured ceilings, such as are to be seen in Alcalá, Toledo, and elsewhere. These artesonados, without being Moorish, are, nevertheless, of a pronounced Oriental taste. A geometrical pattern is carved on the wood of the ceiling and brilliantly painted. Prominent surfaces are preferably golden in hue, and such as are sunk beneath the level are red or blue. The effect is dazzling.



Unluckily, but little attention has been{65} paid out of Spain to Mudejar art, and it is but little known. Even Spanish critics do not agree as to the national significance of this art, and it is a great pity, as unfortunately the country can point to no other art phenomena and claim them to be Spanish. How can it, when the nation had not as yet been born, and, once born, was to die almost simultaneously, like a moth that flies blindly and headlong into an intense flame?




Spain geographically can be roughly divided into two parts, a northern and southern, separated by a mountain chain, composed of the Sierras de Guaderrama, Gredos, and Gata to the north of Madrid.

Such a division does not, however, explain the historical development of the Christian kingdoms from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, nor is it advisable to adopt it for an architectural study.

During the great period of church-building, the nine kingdoms of Spain formed four distinct groups: Galicia, Asturias, Leon, and Castile; Navarra and Aragon; Barcelona and Valencia; Andalusia.

The first group gradually evolved until Castile absorbed the remaining three kingdoms, and later Andalusia as well; the second and third groups succumbed to the royal house of Aragon.{67}

From an architectural point of view, there are three groups, or even four: Castile, Aragon, the Mediterranean coast-line, and Andalusia. In the last three the Oriental influence is far more pronounced than in the first named.

Further, Spain is divided into nine archbishoprics: four corresponding to Castile (Santiago, Burgos, Valladolid, and Toledo); one to Aragon (Zaragoza); two to the Mediterranean coast (Tarragon and Valencia); and two to Andalusia (Sevilla and Granada).

It was the author's object to preserve as far as possible in the following chapters and in the general subdivision of his work, not only the geographical, but the historical, architectural, and ecclesiastical divisions as well. Better still, he sacrificed the first when incompatible with the latter three.

But—and here the difficulty arose—what title should be chosen for each of the two volumes which were to be dedicated to Spain? Because two volumes were necessary, considering the eighty odd cathedrals to be described.

"Cathedrals of Northern Spain" as opposed to "Cathedrals of Southern Spain"—{68}was one of the titles. "Gothic cathedrals of Spain"—as opposed to "Moorish Cathedrals of Spain"—was another; the latter had to be discarded, as only one Moorish mezquita converted into a Christian temple exists to-day, namely, that of Cordoba.

There remained, therefore, the first title.

The first volume, discarding Navarra and Aragon (in the north), is dedicated to Castile, as well as its four archbishoprics.

The narrow belt of land, running from east to west, from Cuenca to Coria, to the south of the Sierra de Guaderrama, and constituting the archbishopric of Toledo, has been added to the region lying to the north and to the northwest of Madrid.

Moreover, to aid the reader, the present volume has been divided into parts, namely: Galicia, the North, and Castile; the latter has been subdivided into western and eastern, making in all four divisions.

(1) Galicia. Santiago de Campostela is, from an ecclesiastical point of view, all Galicia. Thanks to this spirit, the entire region shows a decided uniformity in the style of its churches, for that of Santiago (Romanesque) served as a pattern or model to be adopted in the remaining sees. The{69} character of the people is no less uniform, and the Celtic inheritance of poetry has drifted into the monuments of the Christian religion.

The episcopal see of Oviedo falls under the jurisdiction of Santiago; the Gothic cathedral shows no Romanesque motives excepting the Camara Sagrada, and has therefore been included in—

(2) The North. With the exception of Oviedo, all the bishoprics in this group fall under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Burgos. The two finest Gothic temples in Northern Spain pertain to this group: Burgos and Leon.

There is, however, but little uniformity in this northern region, for Santander and Vitoria have but little in common with the remaining sees.

(3) Western Castile. A certain degree of uniformity is seen to exist among the sees of Western Castile, namely, the warlike appearance of the Byzantine Romanesque edifices. Besides, the use of sandstone and brick is here universal, and the immense plain of Old Castile to the north of the Sierra de Gata, and of Northern Extremadura to the south of the same range, have a peculiar{70} ruddy aspect, dry and Oriental (African?), that is perfectly delightful.

The sees to the north of the mentioned mountain chain belong to Valladolid; those of the south to Toledo.

(4) Eastern Castile extends from Valladolid in the north (archbishopric) to Toledo in the south (archbishopric), from Avila in the west to Sigüenza in the east, and to Cuenca in the extreme southeast of New Castile.

In the middle ages the Christian kings of Asturias (Galicia?) grew more and more powerful, and their territory stretched out to the south and to the east.

On the Miño River, Tuy and Orense were frontier towns, to populate which, bishoprics were erected. To the south of Oviedo, and almost on a line with the two Galician towns, Astorga, Leon and Burgos were strongly fortified, and formed an imaginary line to the north of which ruled Christian monarchs, and to the south Arab emirs.

Burgos at the same time served as fortress-town against the rival kings of Navarra to the north and east; the latter, on the other hand, fortified the Rioja against Castile{71} until at last it fell into the hands of the latter. Then Burgos, no longer a frontier town, grew to be capital of the new-formed kingdom of Castile.

Slowly, but surely, the Arabs moved southwards, followed by the implacable line of Christian fortresses. At one time Valladolid, Palencia, Toro, and Zamora formed this line. When Toledo was conquered it was substituted by Coria, Plasencia, Sigüenza, and, slightly to the north, by Madrid, Avila, Segovia, and Salamanca. At the same time Sigüenza, Segovia, Soria, and Logroño formed another strategic line of fortifications against Aragon, whilst in the west Plasencia, Coria, Toro and Zamora, Tuy, Orense, and Astorga kept the Portuguese from Castilian soil. In the extreme southwest Cuenca, impregnable and highly strategical, looked eastwards and southwards against the Moor, and northwards against the Aragonese.

In all these links of the immense strategical chain which protected Castile from her enemies, the monarchs were cunning enough to erect sees and appoint warrior-bishops. They even donated the new fortress-cities with special privileges or fueros, in virtue{72} of which settlers came from all parts of the country to inhabit and constitute the new municipality.

Such—in gigantic strides—is the story of most of Castile's world-famed cities. In each chapter, dates, anecdotes, and more details are given, with a view to enable the reader to become acquainted not only with the ecclesiastical history of cities like Burgos and Valladolid, but also with the causes which produced the growing importance of each see, as well as its decadence within the last few centuries.








When the Christian religion was still young, St. James the Apostle—he whom Christ called his brother—landed in Galicia and roamed across the northern half of the Iberian peninsula dressed in a pilgrim's modest garb and leaning upon a pilgrim's humble staff. After years of wandering from place to place, he returned to Galicia and was beheaded by the Romans, his enemies.

This legend—or truth—has been poetically interwoven with other legends of Celtic origin, until the whole story forms what Brunetière would call a cycle chevaleresque with St. James—or Santiago—as the central hero.

According to one of these legends, it would appear that the apostle was persecuted by his great enemy Lupa, a woman of singular beauty whom the ascetic pilgrim had mortally offended. Thanks to certain{76} accessory details, it is possible to assume that Lupa is the symbol of the "God without a name" of Celtic mythology, and it is she who finally venges herself by decapitating the pilgrim saint.

The disciples of St. James laid his corpse in a cart, together with the executioner's axe and the pilgrim's staff. Two wild bulls were then harnessed to the vehicle, and away went cart and saint. As night fell and the moon rose over the vales of Galicia, the weary animals stopped on the summit of a wooded hill in an unknown vale, surrounded by other hillocks likewise covered with foliage and verdure.

The disciples buried the saint, together with axe and staff, and there they left him with the secret of his burial-ground.

This must have happened in the first or second century of the Christian era. Six hundred years later, and one hundred years after the Moors had landed in Andalusia, one Theodosio, Bishop of Iria (Galicia), took a walk one day in his wide domains accompanied by a monk. Together they lost their way and roamed about till night-fall, when they found themselves far from home.{77}

Stars twinkled in the heavens as they do to this day. Being tired, the bishop and his companion dreamt as they walked along—at least it appears so from what followed—and the stars were so many miraculous lights which led the wanderers on and on. At last the stars remained motionless above a wooded hill standing isolated in a beautiful vale. The prelate stopped also, and it occurred to him to dig, for he attributed his dreams to a supernatural miracle. Digging, a coffin was revealed to him, and therein the saintly remains of St. James or Santiago.

Giving thanks to Him who guides all steps, Theodosio returned to Iria, and, by his orders, a primitive basilica was erected some years later on the very spot where the saint had been buried, and in such a manner as to place the high altar just above the coffin. A crypt was then dug out and lined with mosaic, and the coffin, either repaired or renewed, was laid therein,—some say it was visible to the hordes of pilgrims in the tenth and eleventh centuries.

The shrine was then called Santiago de Campostela.—Santiago, which means St.{78} James, and Campostela, field of stars, in memory of the miraculous lights the Bishop of Iria and his companion had perceived whilst sweetly dreaming.

The news of the discovery spread abroad with wonderful rapidity. Monasteries, churches, and inns soon surrounded the basilica, and within a few years a village and then a city (the bishop's see was created previous to 842 A. D.) filled the vale, which barely fifty years earlier had been an undiscovered and savage region.

Throughout the middle ages, from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, Santiago de Campostela was the scene of pilgrimages—not to say crusades—to the tomb of St. James. From France, Italy, Germany, and England hundreds and thousands of men, women, and children wandered to the Galician valley, then one of the foci of ecclesiastical significance and industrial activity. The city, despite its local character, wore an international garb, much to the benefit of Galician, even Spanish, arts and literature. It is a pity that so little research has been made concerning these pilgrimages and the influences they brought to bear on the history of the country. A book treating{79} of this subject would be a highly interesting account of one of the most important movements of the middle ages.

The Moors under Almanzor pillaged the city of Santiago in 999; then they retreated southwards, as was their wont. The Norman vikings also visited the sacred vale, attracted thither by the reports of its wealth; but they also retreated, like the waves of the sea when the tide goes out.

After the last Arab invasion, an extemporaneous edifice was erected in place of the shrine which had been demolished. It did not stand long, however, for the Christian kings of Spain, whose dominions were limited to Asturias, Leon, and Galicia, ordered the construction of a building worthy of St. James, who was looked upon as the god of battles, much like St. George in England.

So in 1078 the new cathedral, the present building, was commenced, and, as the story runs, it was built around the then existing basilica, which was left standing until after the vault of the new edifice had been closed.

The history of Spain at this moment helped to increase the religious importance of Santiago. The kingdom of Asturias{80} (Oviedo) had stretched out beyond its limits and died; the Christian nuclei were Galicia, Leon, and Navarra. In these three the power of the noblemen, and consequently of the bishops and archbishops, was greater than it had ever been before. Each was lord or sovereign in his own domains, and fought against his enemies with or without the aid of the infidel Arab armies, which he had no compunction in inviting to help him against his Christian brothers. Now and again a king managed to subdue these aristocratic lords and ecclesiastical prelates, but only for a short time. Besides, nowhere was the independent spirit of the noblemen more accentuated than in Galicia; nowhere were the prelates so rebellious as in Santiago, the Sacred City, and none attained a greater height of personal power and wealth than Diego Galmirez, the first archbishop of Santiago, and one of the most striking and interesting personalities of Spanish history in the twelfth century, to whom Santiago owes much of her glory, and Spain not little of her future history.

The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were thus the period of Santiago's greatest fame and renown. Little by little the central{81} power of the monarchs went southwards to Castile and Andalusia, and little by little Santiago declined and dwindled in importance, until to-day it is one city more of those that have been and are no longer.

For the city's history is that of its cathedral, of its shrine. With the birth of Protestantism and the death of feudal power, both city and cathedral lost their previous importance: they had sprung into life together, and the existence of the one was intricately interwoven with that of the other.

The stranger who visits Santiago to-day does not approach it fervently by the Mount of Joys as did the footsore pilgrims in the middle ages. On the contrary, he steps out of the train and hurries to the cathedral church, which sadly seems to repeat the thoughts of the city itself, or the words of Señor Muguira:

"To-day, what am I? An echo of the joys and pains of hundreds of generations; a distant rumour both confused and undefinable, a last sunbeam fading at evening and dying on the glassy surface of sleeping waters. Never will man learn my secrets, never will he be able to open my granite{82} lips and oblige them to reveal the mysterious past."

As is generally known, the cathedral is a Romanesque building of the eleventh and twelfth centuries mutilated by posterior additions and recent ameliorations (sic). It was begun in 1078, and, though finished about 150 years later, no ogival elements drifted into the construction until long after its completion. As will be seen later on, it served as the model for most of Galicia's cathedrals. On the other hand, it is generally believed to be an imitation—as regards the general disposition—of St. Saturnin in Toulouse: a combatable theory, however, as the churches were contemporaneous.

Seen from the outside, the Cathedral of Santiago lacks harmony; few remains of the primitive structure are to be discovered among the many later-date additions and reforms. The base of the towers and some fine blinded windows, with naïve low reliefs in the semicircular tympanum, will have to be excepted.

The Holy Door—a peculiarly placed apsidal portal on the eastern front—is built up of decorative elements saved from{83} the northern and western façades when they were torn down.



The best portal is the Puerta de la Plateria, opening into the southern arm of the transept. It is, unluckily, depressed and thrown into the background by the cloister walls on the left, and by the Trinity Tower on the right. Nevertheless, both handsome and sober, it can be counted among the finest examples of its kind—pure Romanesque—in Spain, and is rendered even more attractive by the peculiar Galician poetry which inspired its sculptors.

Immediately above the panels of the door, which are covered with twelfth-century metal reliefs, there is a stone plaque or low relief, representing the Passion scene; to the left of it is to be seen a kneeling woman holding a skull in her hand. Evidently it is a weeping, penitent Magdalene. The popular tongue has invented a legend—perhaps a true one—concerning this woman, who is believed to symbolize the adulteress. It appears that a certain hidalgo, discovering his wife's sins, killed her lover by cutting off his head; he then obliged her to kiss and adore the skull twice daily throughout her life,—a rather cruel punishment and a{84} slow torture, quite in accordance with the mystic spirit of the Celts.

The apse of the church, circular in the interior, is squared off on the outside by the addition of chapels. As regards the plateresque northern and western façades, they are out of place, though the former might have passed off elsewhere as a fairly good example of the severe sixteenth-century style.

The general plan of the building is Roman cruciform; the principal nave is high, and contains both choir and high altar; the two aisles are much lower and darker, and terminate behind the high altar in an ambulatory walk. The width of the transept is enormous, and is composed of a nave and two aisles similar in size to those of the body of the church. The croisée is surmounted by a dome, which, though not Romanesque, is certainly an advantageous addition.

Excepting the high altar with its retablo, the choir with its none too beautiful stalls, and the various chapels of little interest and less taste, the general view of the interior is impressively beautiful. The height of the central nave, rendered more elegant{85} by the addition of a handsome Romanesque triforium of round-headed arches, contrasts harmoniously with the sombre aisles, whereas the bareness of the walls—for all mural paintings were washed away by a bigoted prelate somewhere in the fifteenth century—helps to show off to better advantage the rich sculptural decorations, leaf and floral designs on capitals and friezes.

The real wonder of the cathedral is the far-famed Portico de la Gloria, the vestibule or narthex behind the western entrance of the church, and as renowned as its sculptural value is meritorious.

So much has already been written concerning this work of art that really little need be mentioned here. Street, who persuaded the British Government to send a body of artists to take a plaster copy of this strange work, could not help declaring that: "I pronounce this effort of Master Mathews at Santiago to be one of the greatest glories of Christian art."

And so it is. Executed in the true Romanesque period, each column and square inch of surface covered with exquisite decorative designs, elaborated with care and not hastily, as was the habit of later-day{86} artists, the three-vaulted rectangular vestibule between the body of the church and the western extremity where the light streams in through the rose window, is an immense allegory of the Christian religion, of human life, and above all of the mystic, melancholy poetry of Celtic Galicia. Buried in half-lights, this song of stone with the statue of the Trinity and St. James, with the angels blowing their trumpets from the walls, and the virtues and vices of this world symbolized by groups and by persons, is of a sincere poetry that leaves a lasting impression upon the spectator. Life, Faith, and Death, Judgment and Purgatory, Hell and Paradise or Glory, are the motives carved out in stone in this unique narthex, so masterful in the execution, and so vivid in the tale it tells, that we can compare its author to Dante, and call the Portico de la Gloria the "Divina Commedia" of architecture.

At one end there is the figure of a kneeling man, the head almost touching the ground in the body's fervent prostration in front of the group representing Glory, Trinity, and St. James. Is it a twelfth-century pilgrim whom the artist in a moment of realistic enthusiasm has portrayed here, in{87} the act of praying to his Creator and invoking his mercy? Or is it the portrait of the artist, who, even after death, wished to live in the midst of the wonders of his creation? It is not positively known, though it is generally supposed to be Maestro Mateo himself, kneeling in front of his Glory, admiring it as do all visitors, and watching over it as would a mother over her son.

If the chapels which surround the building have been omitted on account of their artistic worthlessness, not the same fate awaits the cloister.

Of a much later date than the cathedral itself, having been constructed in the sixteenth century, it is a late Gothic monument betraying Renaissance additions and mixtures; consequently it is entirely out of place and time here, and does not harmonize with the cathedral. Examined as a detached edifice, it impresses favourably as regards the height and length of the galleries, which show it to be one of the largest cloisters in Spain.

The cathedral's crypt is one of its most peculiar features, and certainly well worth examining better than has been heretofore{88} done. It is reached by a small door behind the high altar (evidently used when the saint's coffin was placed on grand occasions on the altar-table) or by a subterranean gallery leading down from the Portico de la Gloria, a gallery as rich in sculptural decorations as the vestibule itself.

The popular belief in Galicia is that in this crypt the cathedral reflects itself, towers and all, as it would in the limpid surface of a lake. Hardly; and yet the crypt is a nude copy of the ground floor above, with the corresponding naves and aisles and apsidal chapels. The height of the crypt is surprising, the architectural construction is pure Romanesque,—more so than that of the building itself,—and just beneath the high altar the shrine of St. James is situated where it was found in the ninth century.




Corunna, seated on her beautiful bay, the waters of which are ever warmed by the Gulf Stream, gazes out westwards across the turbulent waves of the ocean as she has done for nearly two thousand years.

Brigandtia was her first known name, a centre of the Celtic druid religion. The inhabitants of the town, it is to-day believed, communicated by sea with their brethren in Ireland long before the coming of the Phœnicians and Greeks who established a trading post and a tin factory, and built the Tower of Hercules.

The Roman conquest saved Brigandtium from being great before her time. For the Latin people were miserable sailors, and gazed with awe into the waves of the Atlantic. For them Brigandtia was the last spot in the world, a dangerous spot, to be shunned. So they left her seated on her{90} beautiful bay beside the Torre de Hercules, and made Lugo their capital.

In the shuffling of bishops and sees in the fifth and sixth centuries, Corunna was forgotten. Unimportant, known only for its castle and its tower, it passed a useless existence, patiently waiting for a change in its favour.

This change came in the fifteenth century as a result of the discovery of America. Since then, and with varying success, the city has grown in importance, until to-day it is the most wealthy and active of Galicia's towns, and one of the largest seaports on Spain's Atlantic coast.

Its history since the sixteenth century is well known, especially to Englishmen, who, whenever their country had a rupture with Spain, were quick in entering Corunna's bay. From here part of the Invincible Armada sailed one day to fight the Saxons and to be destroyed by a tempest; ten years later England returned the challenge with better luck, and her fleets entered the historical bay and burned the town. During the war with Napoleon, General Moore fought the French in the vicinity and lost his life, whereas a few years earlier an English{91} fleet defeated, just outside the bay, a united French and Spanish squadron.

To-day, the old city on the hill looks down upon the new one below; the former is poetic and artistic, the latter is straight-lined, industrial, and modern. Nevertheless, the aspect of the city denies its age, for it is more modern than many cities that are younger. What is more, tradition does not weigh heavily on its brow, and depress its inhabitants, as is the case in Lugo and Tuy and Santiago. The movement on the wharves, the continual coming and going of vessels of all sizes, commerce, industry, and other delights of modern civilization do not give the citizens leisure to ponder over the city's two thousand years, nor to preoccupy themselves about art problems. Moreover, the tourist who has come to Spain to visit Toledo and Sevilla hurries off inland, gladly leaving Corunna's streets to sailors and to merchants.

There are, nevertheless, two churches well worth a visit; one is the Colegiata (supposed to have been a bishopric for a short time in the thirteenth century) or suffragan church, and the other the Church of Santiago. The latter has a fine Romanesque portal{92} of the twelfth century, reminding one in certain decorative details of the Portico de la Gloria in Santiago. The interior of the building consists of one nave or aisle spanned by a daring vault, executed in the early ogival style; doubtless it was originally Romanesque, as is evidently shown by the capitals of the pillars, and was most likely rebuilt after the terrible fire which broke out early in the sixteenth century.

Santa Maria del Campo is the name of the suffragan church dedicated to the Virgin. The church itself was erected to a suffragan of Santiago in 1441. The date of its erection is doubtful, some authors placing it in the twelfth and others in the thirteenth century. Street, whom we can take as an intelligent guide in these matters, calls it a twelfth-century church, contemporaneous with and perhaps even built by the same architect who built that of Santiago de Campostela. Moreover, the mentioned critic affirms this in spite of a doubtful inscription placed in the vault above the choir, which accuses the building of having been completed in 1307.



The primitive plan of the church was doubtless Romanesque, of one nave and two{93} aisles. As in Mondoñedo and Lugo, the former is surmounted by an ogival vault, and the aisles, lower in height, are somewhat depressed by the use of Romanesque plein-cintré vaultings. The form of the building is that of a Roman cross with rather short arms; the apse consists of but one chapel, the lady-chapel. As regards the light, it is horrible, for the window in the west is insignificant and, what is more, has recently been blinded, though only Heaven knows why. The towers emerging from the western front are unmeaning, and not similar, which detracts from the harmony of the whole. As regards the different façades, the western has been spoilt quite recently; the northern and southern are, however, Romanesque, though not pure, as ogival arches are used in the decoration of the tympanum.

In other words, the Church of Santiago at Corunna is more important, from an archæological point of view, than the Colegiata. The fishing folk do not think so, however; they care but little for such secondary details, and their veneration is entirely centred in the suffragan church—"one of the three Virgins," as they call her to whom{94} it is dedicated. To them this particular Mary is the estrella del mar (sea star), and she is the principal object of their devotion. It is strange—be it said in parenthesis—how frequently in Galicia mention is made of stars: they form a most important feature of the country's superstitions. Blood will out—and Celtic mythology peeps through the Christian surface in spite of centuries of true belief.




A village grown to be a city, and yet a village. A city without history or tradition, and a cathedral that has been spoilt by the hand of time, and above all by the hands of luckless artists called upon to rebuild deteriorated parts.

To the north of Lugo, at a respectable distance from the railway which runs from the latter to Corunna, and reached either by means of a stage or on horseback, Mondoñedo passes a sleeping existence in a picturesque vale surrounded by the greenest of hills. Rarely bothered by the tourist who prefers the train to the stage, it procures for the art lover many moments of delight—that is, if he will but take the trouble to visit the cathedral, the two towers of which loom up in the vale, and though rather too stumpy to be able to lend elegance to the ensemble, add a poetic charm to the valley and to the village itself.{96}

How on earth did it ever occur to any one to raise the church at Mondoñedo to a bishopric? Surely the sees in Galicia were badly shuffled; and yet, where can a quieter spot be found in this wide world of ours for the contemplation of a cathedral—and a Romanesque one, to boot!

It is to the Norman vikings that is due the establishment of a see in this lonely valley. Until the sixth century it had been situated in Mindunietum of the Romans, when it was removed to Ribadeo, remaining there until late in the twelfth century. Both these towns were seaports, and both suffered from the cruel incursions and piratical expeditions of the vikings, and so after the total pillage of the church in Ribadeo, the see was removed inland out of harm's way, to a village known by the name of Villamayor or Mondoñedo. There it has remained till the present day, ignored by the tourist who "has no time," and who follows the beaten track established by Messrs. Cook and Company, in London.



As will have been seen, Mondoñedo is a city without history, and without a past; doubtless it will for ever remain a village without a future. Its doings, its raison{97} d'être, are summed up in the cathedral that stands in its centre, just as in Santiago, though from different motives.

It is, perhaps, the most picturesque spot in Galicia, a gently sloping landscape buried in a violet haze, reminding one of Swiss valleys in the quiet Jura. Besides, the streets are silent and often deserted, the village inn or fonda is neither excellent nor very bad, and as for the villagers, they are happy, simple, and hospitable dawdlers along the paths of this life.

According to a popular belief, the life of one man, a bishop named Don Martin (1219-48), is wrapped up in Mondoñedo's cathedral, so much so, in fact, that both their lives are one and the same. He began building his see; he saw it finished and consecrated it—construxit, consumavit et consacravit; then he died, but the church and his name lived on.

Modern art critics disagree with the above belief; the older or primitive part of the church dates from the twelfth and not from the thirteenth century. Originally, as can easily be seen upon examining the older part of the building, it was a pure Romanesque basilica, the nave and the two aisles running{98} up to the transept, where they were cut off, and immediately to the east of the latter came the apse with three chapels, the lady-chapel being slightly larger than the lateral ones.

In the primitive construction of the building—and excepting all later-date additions, of which there are more than enough—early Gothic and Romanesque elements are so closely intermingled that one is perforce obliged to consider the monument as belonging to the period of Transition, as being, perhaps, a unique example of this period to be met with in Galicia or even in Spain. Of course, as in the case of the other Galician cathedrals, the original character of the interior, which if it had remained unaltered would be both majestic and imposing, has been greatly deformed by the addition of posterior reforms. The form of the apse has been completely changed by the introduction of an ambulatory or circular apsidal aisle dating at least from the fifteenth century, as shown by the presence of the late Gothic and Renaissance elements.



The general plan is rectangular, 120 feet long by seventy-one wide, and seen from the outside is solid rather than elegant,{99} a fortress rather than a temple. The height of the nave, crowned by a Gothic vaulting, is about forty-five feet; a triforium (ogival) runs around the top. The lateral aisles are slightly more than half as high and covered by a Romanesque vaulting reposing on capitals and shafts of the finest twelfth century execution.

The original basilica form of the church has, unluckily, been altered by the additional length given to the arms of the transept, and, as mentioned already, by the ambulatory walk characteristic of Spanish cathedrals; the workmanship of the latter, though lamentably out of tune in this old cathedral, is, taken by itself, better than many similar additions in other churches.

The western façade, which is the only one worthy of contemplation, is as good an example of Romanesque, spoilt by the addition at a recent date of grotesque and bizarre figures and monsters, as can be seen anywhere.

The buttresses are more developed than in either Lugo or Santiago, and though these bodies, from a decorative point of view, were evidently intended to give a certain seal of elegance to the ensemble, the stunted{100} towers and the few windows in the body of the church only help to heighten its fortress-like aspect.

In a previous paragraph it has been stated that this cathedral is perhaps a unique example of the period of Transition (Romanesque and early Gothic). It is an opinion shared by many art critics, but personally the author of these lines is inclined to consider it as an example of the Galician conservative spirit, and of the fight that was made in cathedral chapters against the introduction of early Gothic. For the temple at Santiago was Romanesque; therefore, according to the narrow reasoning peculiar to Galicia, that style was the best and consequently good enough for any other church. As a result, we have in this region of Spain a series of cathedrals which are practically Romanesque, but into the structure of which ogival elements have filtered. Further, as there is no existing example of a finished Gothic church in Galicia, it is rather difficult to speak of a period of Transition, by which is meant the period of passing from one style to another. In Galicia, there was no passing: the conservative spirit of the country, the poetry of the Celtic inhabitants,{101} and above all of their artists, found greater pleasure in Romanesque than in Gothic, and consequently the cathedrals are Romanesque, with slight Gothic additions, when these could combine or submit in arrangement to the heavier Romanesque principles of architecture.

Later, in other centuries, the spirit of architecture had completely died out in Spain, and the additions made in these days are so many lamentable signs of decadence. Not so the ogival introduction in Romanesque churches, which in many cases improved the Romanesque appearance.




What Santiago was as regards ecclesiastical politics, Lugo, one of the three cities on the Miño River, was as regards civil power. It was the nominal capital of Galicia, and at one time, in the reign of Alfonso the Chaste, it was intended to make it the capital of the nascent Spanish kingdom, but for some reason or other Oviedo was chosen instead as being more suitable. Since then the city of Lugo has completely fallen into ruins and insignificance.

It first appears in history when the Romans conquered it from the Celts. It was their capital and their Holy City; in its centre was Lupa's Bower, where the Romans built a magnificent temple to Diana. Some mosaics of this edifice have been discovered recently, and the peculiar designs prove beyond a doubt that the mythological attributions of the Celts were made use of{103} and intermingled with those of the Latin race—not at all a strange occurrence, as Lupa and Diana seem to have enjoyed many common qualities.

Under the Roman rule, the city walls, remains of which are still standing in many places, were erected, and Locus Augusti became the capital of the northern provinces.

All through the middle ages, when really Oviedo had usurped its civil, and Santiago its religious significance, Lugo was still considered as being the capital of Galicia, a stronghold against Arab incursions, and a hotbed of unruly noblemen who lost no opportunity in striking a blow for liberty against the encroaching power of the neighbouring kingdom of Asturias, and later on of Leon. When at last the central power of the Christian kings was firmly established in Leon and Castile, in Lugo the famous message of adhesion to the dynasty of the Alfonsos was voted, and the kingdom of Galicia, like that of Asturias, faded away, the shadow of a name without even the right to have its coat of arms placed on the national escutcheon.

The ecclesiastical history of the city of Lugo is neither interesting nor does it differ{104} from that of other Galician towns. Erected to a see in the fifth century, its cathedral was a primitive basilica destroyed by the Moors in one of their powerful northern raids in the eighth century. The legendary bishop Odoario lost no time in building a second basilica, which met the same fate about two hundred years later, in the tenth century. Alfonso the Chaste, one of the few kings of Asturias to take a lively interest in Galician politics, ordered either the reconstruction of the old basilica or the erection of a new temple.

Those were stormy times for the city: between the rise and stand of ambitious noblemen, who, pretending to fight for Galicia's freedom, fought for their own interests, and the continual encroachments of the proud prelates on the rights and privileges of the people, barely a year passed without Lugo being the scene of street fights or sieges. As in Santiago, one prince of the Church lost his life, murdered by the faithful (sic) flocks, and many, upon coming to take possession of their see, found the city gates locked in their faces, and were obliged to conquer the cathedral before entering their palace.{105}

The new basilica suffered in consequence, and had to be entirely rebuilt in the twelfth century. The new edifice is the one standing to-day, but how changed from the primitive building! Thanks to graceless additions in all possible styles and combinations of styles, the Romanesque origin is hardly recognizable. Consequently, the cathedral church of Lugo, which otherwise might have been an architectural jewel, does not inspire the visitor with any of those sentiments that ought to be the very essence of time-worn religious edifices of all kinds.

The general disposition of the church is Roman cruciform; the arms of the cross are exceedingly short, however, in comparison to their height; the croisée is surmounted by a semicircular vaulting (Spanish Romanesque).

The nave shows decided affinity to early Gothic, as shown by the ogival arches and vaulting. The presence of the ogival arches (as well as those of the handsome triforium, perhaps the most elegant in Galicia) shows this church to be the first in Galicia to have submitted to the infiltration of Gothic elements. This peculiarity is explained by the fact that, in 1129, the{106} erection of the cathedral was entrusted to one Maestro Raimundo, who stipulated that, in the case of his death before the completion of the church, his son should be commissioned to carry on the work. He died, and his son, a generation younger and imbued with the newer architectural theories, even went so far as to alter his father's plans; he built the nave higher than was customary in Romanesque churches, and gave elegance to the whole structure by employing the pointed arch even in the triforium, otherwise a copy of that of Santiago.

The most curious and impressive part of the building is that constructed by Maestro Raimundo, father, namely the aisles, especially that part of them to the right and left of the choir; they are, with the croisée, the best interior remains of the primitive Romanesque plans: short, even stumpy, rather dark it is true, for the light that comes in by the narrow windows is but poor at its best, they are, nevertheless, rich in decorative designs. The wealth of sculptural ornaments of pure Romanesque in these aisles is perhaps the cathedral's best claim to the tourist's admiration, and puts{107} it in a prominent place among the Romanesque cathedrals of Spain.

Not the same favourable opinion can be emitted when it is a question of the exterior. The towers are comparatively new; the apse—with the peculiar and salient addition of an octagonal body revealing Renaissance influence—is picturesque, it is true, but at the same time it has spoilt the architectural value of the cathedral as a Romanesque edifice.

The northern façade, preceded by an ogival porch so common in Galicia, contains a portal of greater beauty than the Puerta de la Plateria in Santiago, and stands forth in greater prominence than the other named example of twelfth-century art, by not being lost among or depressed by flanking bodies of greater height and mass. As regards the sculptural ornamentation of the door itself, it is felt and not only portrayed: the Christ standing between the immense valves of the vesica piscis which crowns the portal is an example of twelfth-century sculpture. The iron-studded panels of the doors have already been praised by Street, who placed their execution likewise in the twelfth century.{108}

Excepting this portal—a marvel in its class with its rounded tympanum richly ornamented—the portion of the building doubtless more strongly imbued than any other with the general spirit of the edifice is that part of the apse independent of the octagonal addition previously mentioned, and which is dedicated to "La Virgen de los Ojos Grandes"—the Virgin of the Large Eyes. (She must have been Andalusian!) Of the true apse, the lower part has ogival arched windows of singular elegance; the upper body, also semicircular in form, but slightly smaller, has round-headed windows. Both the ogival windows of the first and the Romanesque windows of the second harmonize wonderfully, thanks to the lesser height and width of the upper row. The buttresses, simple, and yet alive with a gently curving line, are well worth noticing. It is strange, nevertheless, that they should not reach the ground, but only support the upper body, and unite it with the lower, forming thus a sort of crown for the latter's benefit.

Personally—and the author must be excused if he emit his opinion—he considers the old apse of the cathedral in Lugo to be{109} one of the finest pieces of architecture to be met with in Galicia. It belongs to what has been called the period of Transition (compare previous remarks in another chapter concerning this style), and yet it has a character of its own not to be found elsewhere, and the harmony of ogival and Romanesque has been so artfully revealed that it cannot fail to appeal to the tourist who contemplates it carefully.




Coming by rail from Lugo or Monforte toward Tuy and Vigo, the train suddenly escapes from the savage cañon where the picturesque Miño rushes and boils beside the road, and emerges into a broad and fertile valley where figs, grapes, and olives grow in profusion. This valley is broad, its soil is of golden hue, and the sky above it is as brilliantly blue as a sapphire. In its centre Orense, heavy Orense, which claims as its founder a Greek hero fresh from the pages of the Iliad, basks in the sun beside the beautiful Miño; the while its cathedral looms up above the roofs of the surrounding houses.

The history of the town is as agitated as any in Galicia and shows the same general happenings. The Romans appreciated it for its sulphur baths and called it Auria (golden) from the colour of the soil, of the{111} water, and perhaps also on account of certain grains of gold discovered in the sands of the Miño.

The Suevos, who dominated Galicia and proved so beneficial to Tuy, did not ignore the importance of Orense: one of the first bishoprics, if not the first historical one in Galicia, was that of Orense, dating from before the fourth century, at least such is the opinion of to-day.

More than any other Galician city, excepting Tuy, it suffered from the Arab invasions. Entirely destroyed, razed to the ground upon two occasions, it was ever being rebuilt by the returning inhabitants who had fled. Previous to these Arab incursions the cathedral had been dedicated to St. Martin de Tours (France), and yearly pilgrimages took place to the Galician shrine, where some relics belonging to the saint were revered. But with the infidels these relics, or whatever they were, were dispersed, and the next century (the eleventh) saw the new cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mother (?). Besides, the inhabitants seemed to have forgotten the patronage of St. Martin, he who protects the vine-grower's métier—and this in spite of{112} the fact that the valley of Orense is and was famous above all Galician regions for the cultivation of vines. Even Froissart, the French historian, could not speak of the town without mentioning its wine. He passed a season in the valley, accompanying, I believe, the Duke of Lancaster and his English soldiers. The wine was so good and strong, wrote the historian, that the soldiers clamoured for it; after they had drunk a little they toppled over like ninepins.

The Arabs defeated and thrown out of the peninsula, the vikings' last business trip to Galicia over, and the Portuguese arms driven to the valley of Braga beyond the Miño, Orense settled down to a peaceful life, the monotony of which was broken now and again—as it usually was in this part of the country—by squabbles between noblemen, prelates, and the bons bourgeois. If no prince of the Church was killed here, as happened in Lugo, one at least died mysteriously in the hands of his enemies. Not that it seemed to have mattered much, for said bishop appears to have been a peculiar sort of spiritual shepherd, full of vice, and devoid of virtue, some of whose doings have been caricatured—according to the popular belief{113}—in the cornices and friezes of the convent of San Francisco.

Otherwise, peace reigned in the land, and Orense passed a quiet existence, a circumstance that did not in the slightest add to its importance, either as an art, commercial, or industrial centre. To-day, full of strangers in summer, who visit the sulphurous baths as did the Romans, and empty in winter, it exists without living, as does so many a Spanish town.

Nevertheless, with Vigo and Corunna, it is one of the cities with a future still before it. At least, its situation is bound to call attention as soon as ever the country is opened up to progress and commerce.

The cathedral of Orense, like those of Tuy, Santiago, and Lugo, was erected in a castro. These castros were circular dips in the ground, surrounded by a low wall, which served the druids as their place of worship. The erection of Christian churches in these sacred spots proves beyond a doubt that the new religion became amalgamated with the old, and even laid its foundations on the latter's most hallowed castros.

Perhaps the question presents itself as to why a cathedral was erected in Orense previous{114} to any other city. From a legend it would appear that the king of the Suevos, Carrarick, had a son who was dying; thanks to the advice of a Christian monk, a disciple of St. Martin, and, one is inclined to think, fresh from Tours, the king dipped his son in the baths of Orense, invoking at the same time the help of St. Martin. Upon pulling his offspring out of the water, he discovered that he had been miraculously cured. The grateful monarch immediately became a stout Christian, and erected a basilica—destroyed and rebuilt many a time during the dark ages of feudalism and Arab invasion—in honour of his son's saviour. What is more wonderful still is that, soon afterward, the relics of the French saint were cherished in Orense without its being positively known whence they came!

The present cathedral, the date of the erection of which is a point of discussion to-day, is generally believed to have been built on the spot occupied by the primitive basilica. It is dedicated to Santa Maria la Madre according to the official (doubtful?) statement, and to St. Martin of Tours, Apostle of Gaul, according to the popular version.{115}

The general appearance of the cathedral proclaims it to have been begun, or at least planned, in the twelfth century, and not, as Baedeker states, in 1220. As a twelfth-century church we are not obliged to consider it for more reasons than one, and especially because, as we have seen, the twelfth century was the great period of Galician church-building. It was in this century that the northwest shone forth in the history of Spain as it had not done before, nor has done since.

The church is another Romanesque specimen, but less pure in its style than any of the others mentioned so far: the ogival arch is prevalent, but rather as a decorative than as an essentially constructive element. As it is, it was commenced at least fifty years after the cathedral of Lugo, and though both are twelfth-century churches, the one is an early and the other presumably a late one; the employment of the ogival arch to a greater degree in Orense than in Lugo is thus easily explained.

In short, the cathedral of Orense is another example of the peculiar Romanesque of Galicia, which, withstanding the invasion of Gothic, created a school of its own, pretty{116} in details, bold in harmony, though it be a hybrid school after all.

The influence of the cathedral of Santiago is self-evident in the cathedral of Orense. How could it be otherwise, when the bishop Don Diego, who sat on the chair, was a great friend and a continual visitor of that other Don Diego in Santiago who erected the primate cathedral of Galicia?

This influence is above all to be seen in the Portico del Paraiso, an interior narthex leading from the western front to the body of the church. It is a handsome area of Romanesque sculpture covered by an ogival vaulting, and would be an important monument if its rival and prototype in Santiago were not greater, both as regards its perfection of design, and the grand idea which inspired it.

Of the three doors which lead into the cathedral, the western is crowned by three rounded arches reposing on simple columns. The tympanum as a decorative element is lacking, as is also the low relief, which is usually superimposed above the upper arches. The latter are, however, carved in the most elaborate manner. As regards the other two portals, the northern and southern, their composition, as far as generalities are concerned,{117} is the same as the western, excepting that they are surrounded by a depressed semicircular arch in relief, the whole of a primitive design.



The towers of the cathedral are not old. The general impression of the building from the outside—unluckily it cannot be contemplated from any distance, as the surrounding houses impede it—is agreeable. To be especially observed are some fine fourteenth-century (?) windows which show ogival pattern, but either of timid execution or else of a bold endeavour on the artist's part to subdue solemn Gothic to the Romanesque traditions of the country.

The interior has been restored and changed many a time. In its original plan it consisted of two aisles and a nave with a one-aisled transept, and, just as in Lugo, an apse formed by three semicircles, of which the central was the largest, and contained the high altar. To-day, though the general appearance or disposition of the church (Roman cruciform with exceedingly short lateral arms) is the same, an ambulatory walk surrounds the high altar, which has been moved nearer the transept in the principal nave. The vaulting is ogival, reposing on solid and{118} severe shafts; the aisles are slightly lower than the central nave, and the croisée is surmounted, as in Santiago, by a handsome cupola similar in construction to that of Valencia, though more reduced in size, and of a less elegant pattern.

The lack of triforium is to be noted, and its want is felt.

The northern aisle has no chapels let into its exterior wall, but a long row of sepulchres and sepulchral reliefs to replace them. Some of them are severe and beautiful. The choir has finely carved stalls, and the Gothic retablo is the only one of its kind in Galicia, and one of the best in Spain.

Many more details could be given concerning the worthy cathedral of Orense, second only in richness of certain elements to that of Santiago. The additions, both in Romanesque and ogival styles, are better than in most other cathedrals in Galicia, though, as far as Renaissance is concerned, Galicia showed but little love for Italia's art. This was due to the regional Celtic taste of the inhabitants, or else to the marked signs of art decadence in this part of Spain, when the Renaissance was introduced into the country.{119}

As regards the cloister,—small and rather compact in its composition,—it is held by many to be a jewel of the fifteenth century in the ogival style, handsome in its general outlines, and beautiful in its wealth of sculptural decoration.




The last Spanish city on the Miño, the Rhine of Galicia, as beautiful as its German rival, and as rich in architectural remains, both military and ecclesiastical, is Tuy, the Castellum Tude of the Romans, lying half-way on the main road from Braga (Portugal) to Lugo and Astorga in Spain.

The approach to the city by rail from Orense is simply superb. The valley of the Miño is broad and luxuriant, with ruins of castles to the right and to the left, ahead and behind; in the distance, time-old Tuy, the city of a hundred misfortunes, is seated on an isolated hill, the summit of which is crowned by a fortress-cathedral of the twelfth century.

Tuy sits on her hill, and gazes across the river at Valença do Minho, the rival fortress opposite, and the first town in Portugal. A handsome bridge unites the enemies—{121}friends to-day. Nevertheless, the cannons' mouths of the glaring strongholds are for ever pointed toward each other, as though wishing to recall those days of the middle ages when Tuy was the goal of Portuguese ambitions and the last Spanish town in Galicia.

Before the Romans conquered Iberia, Tuy, which is evidently a Celtic name, was a most important town. This is easily explained by its position, a sort of inland Gibraltar, backed by the Sierra to the rear, and crowning the river which brought ships from the ocean to its wharves. The city's future was brilliant.

Matters changed soon, however. The Romans drew away much of its power to cities further inland, as was their wont. The castle remained standing, as did the walls, which reached on the northern shores of the river down to Guardia, situated in the delta about thirty miles away. Remains of the cyclopean walls which crown the mountain chain on the Spanish side of the Miño are still to be seen to-day, yet they give but a feeble idea of the city's former strength.

After the Romans had been defeated by the invasion of savage tribes from the north,{122} Tuy became the capital of the Suevos, a tribe opposed to the Visigoths, who settled in the rest of Spain, and for centuries waged a cruel war against the kings whose subjects had settled principally in Galicia and in the north of Portugal.

The power of the Suevos, who were seated firmly in Tuy, was at last completely broken, and the capital, its inhabitants fighting energetically to the end, was at length conquered. It was the last stronghold to fall into the hands of the conquerors. A century later Witiza, the sovereign of the Visigoths, made Tuy his capital for some length of time, and the district round about is full of the traditions of the doings of this monarch. Most of these legends denigrate his character, and make him appear cruel, wilful, and false. One of them, concerning Duke Favila and Doña Luz, is perhaps the most popular. According to it, Witiza fell in love with the former's wife, Doña Luz, and, to remove the husband, he heartlessly had his eyes put out, on the charge of being ambitious, and of having conspired against the throne. The fate that awaited Doña Luz, who defended her honour, was no better, according to this legend.{123}

After the return of Witiza to Toledo, the city slowly lost its importance, and since then she has never recovered her ancient fame.

Like the remaining seaports of Galicia,—or such cities as were situated near the ocean,—Tuy was sacked and pillaged by Arabs and vikings alike. The times were extremely warlike, and Galicia, from her position, and on account of the independent spirit of the noblemen, was called upon to suffer more than any other region, and Tuy, near the ocean, and a frontier town to boot, underwent greater hardships than any other Galician city. Of an admirable natural position, it would have been able to resist the attacks of Gudroed and Olaf, of the Portuguese noblemen and of Arab armies, had it been but decently fortified. The lack of such fortifications, however, and the neglect and indifference with which it was, as a rule, regarded by the kings of Asturias, easily account for its having fallen into the hands of enemies, of having been razed more than once to the ground, of having been the seat of ambitious and conspiring noblemen who were only bent on thrashing their neighbours, Christians and infidels alike.{124}

In the sixth century Tuy had already been raised to the dignity of a city, but until after the eleventh century the prelates of the church, tyrants when the times were propitious, but cowardly when danger was at hand, were continually removing their see to the neighbouring villages and mountains to the rear. They left their church with surprising alacrity and ease to the mercy of warriors and enemies, to such an extent, in fact, that neither are documents at hand to tell us what happened exactly in the darker ages of mediæval history, nor are the existing monuments in themselves sufficient to convince us of the vicissitudes which befell the city, its see, and the latter's flocks.

Since the last Arab and Norseman raid, matters seemed to have gone better with fair Tuy, for, excepting the continual strife between Portuguese and Galician noblemen, who were for ever gaining and losing the city on the Miño, neither infidels nor pirates visited its wharves. It was then that the foundations of the present cathedral were laid, but not without disputes between the prelates (one of whom was taken prisoner, and had to give a handsome ransom to be released) and the noblemen who called themselves{125} seigneurs of the city. Between the claims and struggles of these two factions, those who suffered most were the citizens themselves, who had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Between the bishops who pretended to possess the whole city, and the noblemen who endeavoured to leave the prelates without a groat, the ignored inhabitants of the poorer quarters of the town passed a miserable life.

Since the middle ages, or better still, since the time when the Miño became definitely the frontier line between Spain and Portugal, the city of Tuy has been heard of but little. Few art students visit it to-day, and yet it is one of the most picturesquely situated cities in Galicia, or even in Spain. Its cathedral, as well as the Pre-Roman, Roman, Gothic, and middle age remains,—most of them covered over with heaps of dust and earth,—are well worth a visit, being highly interesting both to artists and to archæological students.

In short, Tuy on her hill beside the Miño, glaring across an iron bridge at Portugal, is a city rich in traditions and legends of faded hopes and past glories. Unluckily for her,{126} cities of less historical fame are better known and more admired.

As has already been mentioned, the cathedral crowns the hill, upon the slopes of which the city descends to the river; moreover, the edifice occupies the summit only,—a castro, as explained in a previous chapter. Therefore, for proofs are lacking both ways, it is probable that the present building was erected on the same spot where the many basilicas which we know existed and were destroyed in one or another of the many sieges, stood in bygone days.

The present cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, like that in Orense, was most likely begun in the first half of the twelfth century; successive earthquakes suffered by the city, especially that felt in Lisbon in 1755, obliged the edifice to be repaired more than once, which accounts for many of the base additions which spoil the ensemble.

From the general disposition of the building, which is similar in many details to the cathedral at Lugo, it has been thought probable that Maestro Raimundo (father?) was the builder of the church; definite proofs are, however, lacking.

The ground-plan is rectangular, with a{127} square apse; the interior is Roman cruciform, consisting of a nave and two aisles; the transept, like that of Santiago, is also composed of a nave and two aisles; the four arms of the cross are all of them very short, and almost all are of the same length. Were it not for the height of the nave, crowned by a Romanesque triforium of blinded arches, the interior would be decidedly ugly. However, the height attained gives a noble aspect to the whole, and what is more, renders the ensemble curious rather than beautiful.

The large and ungainly choir spoils the general view of the nave, whereas the continuation of the aisles, broad and light to the very apse, where, facing each aisle, there is a handsome rose window which throws a flood of coloured light into the building, cannot be too highly praised.

The walls are devoid of all decoration, and if it were not for the chapels, some of which in default of pure workmanship are richly ornamented, this see of Tuy would have to pass as a very poor one indeed.

The roof of the building has been added lately, doubtless after one of the many earthquakes. It is of a simple execution, neither good nor bad, composed of a series of{128} slightly rounded arches with pronounced ribs.

It is outside, however, that the tourist will pass the greater part of his time. Unluckily, the houses which closely surround the building forbid a general view from being obtained of any but the western front, yet this is perhaps a blessing, for none of the other sides are worthy of special notice.

As mentioned, the appearance of the church is that of a fortress rather than of a temple, or better still, is that of a feudal castle. The crenelated square tower on the western front is heavy, and no higher than the peaked and simple crowning of the handsome Romanesque window above the narthex; the general impression is that of resistance rather than of faith, and the lack of all decoration has caused the temple to be called sombre.

The handsome narthex, the summit of which is crenelated like the tower, is the simplest and noblest to be found in Galicia, and is really beautiful in its original severity. Though dating from a time when florid ogival had taken possession of Spain, the artist who erected it (it is posterior to the rest of the building—early fifteenth century{129}) had the good taste to complete it simply, without decoration, so as to render it homogeneous with the rest of the building. It is also possible that there were no funds at hand for him to erect it otherwise!



The doors stand immediately behind this narthex. The portal is carved or decorated in an elaborate late Romanesque style, one of the most richly ornamented porticos belonging to this school in Spain, and a handsome page in the history of Galician art in the twelfth century. The low reliefs above the door and in the tympanum of the richly carved arcade, are felt and are admirably executed.

The northern entrance to the building is another fine example of twelfth-century Spanish, or Galician Romanesque. Though simpler in execution than the western front, it nevertheless is by some critics considered purer in style (earlier?) than the first mentioned.

The tower which stands to the left of the northern entrance is one of the few in the Romanesque style to be seen in northern Spain; it is severe in its structure and pierced by a series of round-headed windows.

The cloister dating from the fourteenth{130} and fifteenth centuries is another of Galicia's monuments well worth a visit, which proves the local mixture of Romanesque and ogival, and is, perhaps, the last example on record, as toward the fifteenth century Renaissance elements had completely captured all art monuments.

Such is the cathedral of Tuy, a unique example of Galician Romanesque in certain details, an edifice that really ought to be better known than it is.




The prettiest bay in Galicia is that of Vigo, which reaches inland to Redondela—a village seated, as it were, on a Swiss lake, with two immense viaducts passing over its head where the train speeds to Tuy and Santiago. There is no lovelier spot in all Spain.

The city of Vigo, with its suffragan church on the hillside, is a modern town dedicated to commerce; its wharves are important, and the water in the bay is deep enough to permit the largest vessels afloat to enter and anchor. The art student will not linger here, however, but will go by boat to Bayona outside the bay and to the south near the Portuguese frontier.

Here, until quite recently, stood for an unknown length of time the suffragan church which has now been removed to Vigo. But Bayona, once upon a time the most important{132} seaport in Galicia, is a ruin to-day, a delightful ruin, and one of the prettiest in its ensemble, thanks to the beautiful and weird surroundings.

Its history extends from the times of the Phœnicians, Greeks, and Romans,—even earlier, as remains of lake-dwellers have been found. This statement is not an exaggeration, though it may appear to be one, for the bay is as quiet as a lake.

After the defeat of the Armada, Bayona was left a prey to Drake and his worthy companions. They dealt the city a death-blow from which it has never recovered, and Vigo, the new, the commercial, has usurped its importance, as it did its church, which once upon a time, as is generally believed, was a bishopric.

The present ruinous edifice of Bayona is peculiarly Galician and shows the same characteristics as the remaining cathedrals we have spoken about so far. It was ordained in 1482 by the Bishop of Tuy. The windows of the nave (clerestory) are decidedly pointed or ogival; those of the aisles are pure Romanesque. The peculiar feature is the use of animal designs in the decorative elements of the capitals,—a unique example{133} in Galicia, where only floral or leaf motives were used in the best period of Romanesque. The design to be noticed here on one of the capitals is a bird devouring a toad, and it is so crudely and rustically carved that one is almost inclined to believe that a native of the country conceived and executed it. {134}



The North





"Oviedo was born of a religious inspiration; its first building was a temple (monastery?), and monks were its first inhabitants."

In the valley adjoining Cangas, in the eighth century, the most important village in Asturias, a religious sect erected a monastery. Froila or Froela, one of the early noblemen (now called a king, though he was no king in those days) who fought against the Moors, erected in the same century a church in the vicinity of Cangas (in Oviedo?), dedicating it to the Saviour; he also built a palace near the same spot. His son, Alfonso the Chaste, born in this palace, was brought up in a convent near Lugo in Galicia. Upon becoming king he hesitated whether to establish his court in Lugo, or in the new village which had been his birthplace, namely Oviedo. At length, remembering{138} perhaps his father's love for the country near Cangas, he established it in the latter place in the ninth century, and formed the kingdom of Asturias as opposed to that of Galicia; the capital of the new kingdom was Oviedo.

"The king gave the city to the Saviour and to the venerable church built by his father, and which, like a sun surrounded by its planets, he placed within a circle of other temples.

"He convocated an ecclesiastical council with a view to establish a primate see in Oviedo; he maintained an assembly of prelates who lent lustre to the church, and he gave each a particular residence; the spiritual splendour of Oviedo eclipsed even the brilliancy of the throne."

This was in 812, and the first bishop consecrated was one Adulfo.

The subsequent reign of Alfonso was signalized by the discovery in Galicia of the corpse of St. James the Apostle. The sovereign, it appears, showed great interest in the discovery, established a church on the sacred spot, and generously donated the nascent town. Not without reason did posterity{139} celebrate his many Christian virtues by calling him the Chaste, el Casto.

Two hundred years only did Oviedo play an important part in the history of Spain as capital of the Christian Kingdom. In 1020 its civil dignities were removed by Alfonso V. to Leon in the south. From then on the city remained important only as the alleged cradle of the new dynasty, and its church—that of the Salvador—was used as the pantheon of the kings.

In the twelfth century the basilica was in a ruinous state, and almost completely destroyed. The fate of the Romanesque edifice which was then built was as short as the city's glory had been ephemeral, for in 1380 it was destroyed by flames, and in its place the first stone of the present building was laid by one Bishop Gutierre. One hundred and seventy years later the then reigning prelate placed his coat of arms on the spire, and the Gothic monument which is to-day admired by all who visit it was completed.

The history of the city—an ecclesiastical and civil metropolis—is devoid of interest since the tenth century. It was as though the streets were too crowded with the legends of the fictitious kingdom of Asturias, to be{140} enabled to shake off the depression which little by little spread over the whole town.

Apart from its cathedral, Oviedo and the surrounding country possesses many of the earliest religious monuments in Spain, dating from the eighth century. These, on account of their primary Romanesque and basilica style, form a chapter apart in the history of ecclesiastical architecture, and ought to be thoroughly studied. This is not the place, however, to speak about them, in spite of their extreme age and the great interest they awaken.

Nothing could be more graceful than the famous tower of the cathedral of Oviedo, which is a superb Gothic flèche of well-proportioned elements, and literally covered over and encrusted with tiny pinnacles. Slender and tapering, it rises to a height of about 280 feet. It is composed of five distinct bodies, of which the penultimate betrays certain Renaissance influences in the triangular cornices of the windows, etc.; this passes, however, entirely unperceived from a certain distance. The angles formed by the sides of the tower are flanked by a pair of slender shafts in high relief, which tend to{141} give it an even more majestic impression than would be the case without them.



The cathedral itself is a late ogival building belonging to the fifteenth century; though it cannot compare in fairy-like beauty with that of Leon, nor in majesty with that of Burgos, it is nevertheless one of the richest Gothic structures in Spain, especially as regards the decoration of the interior.

The western front is entirely taken up by the triple portal, surmounted by arches that prove a certain reluctance on the builder's part to make them pointed; the northern extremity of the front is devoid of a tower, though the base be standing. It was originally intended to erect a second flèche similar to the one described, but for some reason or other—without a doubt purely financial—it was never built.

Of the three portals, that which corresponds to the central nave is the larger; it is flanked by the only two statuettes in the whole front, namely, by those of Alfonso the Chaste and Froela, and is surmounted by a bold low relief. The arches of the three doors are richly carved with ogival arabesques, and the panels, though more modern, have been wrought by the hand of a master.{142}

Taken all in all, this western front can be counted among the most sombre and naked in Spain, so naked, in fact, that it appears rather as though money had been lacking to give it a richer aspect than that the artist's genius should have been so completely devoid of decorative taste or imagination.

The interior of the Roman cruciform building, though by no means one of the largest, is, as regards its architectural disposition, one of the most imposing Gothic interiors in Spain. High, long, and narrow, the central nave is rendered lighter and more elegant by the bold triforium and the lancet windows of the upper clerestory wall. The wider aisles, on the other hand, are dark in comparison to the nave, and tend to give the latter greater importance.

This was doubtless the intention of the primitive master who terminated the aisles at the transept by constructing chapels to the right and to the left of the high altar and on a line with it. The sixteenth-century builders thought differently, however, and so the aisles were prolonged into an apsidal ambulatory behind the high altar. This part of the building is far less pure in style than the primitive structure, and the chapels{143} which open to the right and to the left are of a more recent date, and consequently even more out of harmony than the plateresque ambulatory. The three rose windows in the semicircular apse are richly decorated with ogival nervures, and correspond, one to the nave and one to each of the aisles; they belong to the primitive structure, having illuminated the afore-mentioned chapels.

Standing beneath the croisée, under a simple ogival vaulting, the ribs of which are supported by richly carved capitals and elegant shafts, the tourist is almost as favourably impressed by the view of the high altar to the east and of the choir to the west, as is the case in Toledo. For in Oviedo begins that series of Gothic churches in which the æsthetic impression is not restricted to architectural or sculptural details alone, but is also produced by the blinding display of metal, wood, and other decorative accessories.

The retablo—a fine Gothic specimen—stands boldly forth against the light coming from the apse in the rear, while on the opposite side of the transept handsome, deep brown choir stalls peep out from behind a magnificent iron reja. So beautiful is the view of the choir's ensemble that the spectator{144} almost forgives it for breaking in upon the grandeur of the nave.

The chapels buried in the walls of the north aisle have most of them been built in too extravagant a manner; the south aisle, on the other hand, is devoid of such characteristic rooms, but contains some highly interesting tomb slabs.

The cloister to the south of the church is a rich and florid example of late ogival; it is, above all, conspicuous for the marvellous variety of its decorative motives, both as regards the sculptural scenes of the capitals (which portray scenes in the lives of saints and Asturian kings, and are almost grotesque, though by no means carved without fire and spirit) and the fretwork of the arches which look out upon the garth.

The Camara Santa, or treasure-room, is an annex to the north of the cathedral, and dates from the ninth or tenth century; it is small, and was formerly used as a chapel in the old Romanesque building torn down in 1380. Beside it, in the eleventh century, was constructed another and larger room in the same style, with the characteristic Romanesque vaulting, the rounded windows, and the decorative motives of the massive pillars and capitals.






To the battle of Covadonga modern Spain owes her existence, that is, if we are to believe the legends which have been handed down to us, and which rightfully or wrongfully belong to history. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that the gratitude of later monarchs should have erected a church on the site of the famous battle, and should have raised it to a collegiate church.

Covadonga lies in the vicinity of Oviedo, in a ravine lost in the heart of the Picos de Europa; it is at once the Morgarten and Sempach of Spanish history, and though no art monuments, excepting the above named monastic church and two Byzantine-Romanesque tombs, are to be seen, there is hardly a visitor who, having come as far north as Oviedo, does not pay a visit to the cradle of Spanish history.

Nor is the time lost. For the tourist who{146} leaves the capital of Asturias with the intention of going, as would a pilgrim, to Covadonga (by stage and not by rail!) will be delightfully surprised by the weird and savage wildness of the country through which he is driven.

Following the bed of a river, he enters a ravine; up and up climbs the road bordered by steep declivities until at last it reaches a wall—a cul-de-sac the French would call it—rising perpendicularly ahead of him. Half-way up, and on a platform, stands a solitary church; near by a small cave, with an authentic (?) image of the Virgin of Battles and two old sepulchres, is at first hidden from sight behind a protruding mass of rock.

The guide or cicerone then explains to the tourist the origin of Spanish history in the middle ages, buried in the legends, of which the following is a short extract.

Pelayo, the son of Doña Luz and Duke Favila, who, as we have seen, was killed by Witiza in Tuy, fled from Toledo to the north of Spain, living among the savage inhabitants of Asturias.

A few years later, when Rodrigo, who was king at the time, and by some strange coincidence{147} Pelayo's cousin as well, lost the battle of Guadalete and his life to boot, the Arabs conquered the whole peninsula and placed in Gijon, a seaport town of Asturias, a garrison under the command of one Munuza. The latter fell desperately in love with Pelayo's sister Hermesinda, whom he had met in the village of Cangas. Wishing to get the brother out of the way, he sent him on an errand to Cordoba, expecting him to be assassinated on the road. But Pelayo escaped and returned in time to save his sister; mad with wrath and swearing eternal revenge, he retreated to the mountainous vales of Asturias, bearing Hermesinda away with him. He was joined by many refugee Christians dissatisfied with the Arab yoke, and aided by them, made many a bold incursion into the plains below, and grew so daring that at length Munuza mustered an army two hundred thousand (!) strong and set out to punish the rebel.

Up a narrow pass between two high ridges went the pagan army, paying little heed to the growing asperity and savageness of the path it was treading.

Suddenly ahead of the two hundred thousand a high sheet of rock rose perpendicularly{148} skywards; on a platform Pelayo and his three hundred warriors, who somehow or other had managed to emerge from a miraculous cave where they had found an effigy of the Virgin of Battles, made a last stand for their lives and liberties.

Immediately a shower of stones, beams, trunks, and what not was hurled down into the midst of the heathen army by the three hundred warriors. Confusion arose, and, like frightened deer, the Arabs turned and fled down the path to the vale, pushing each other, in their fear, into the precipice below.

Then the Virgin of Battles arose, and wishing to make the defeat still more glorious, she caused the whole mountain to slide; an avalanche of stones and earth dragged the remnants of Munuza's army into the ravine beneath. So great was the slaughter and the loss of lives caused by this defeat, that "for centuries afterward bones and weapons were to be seen in the bed of the river when autumn's heat left the sands bare."

This Pelayo was the first king of Asturias, the first king of Spain, from whom all later-date monarchs descended, though neither in a direct nor a legitimate line, be it remarked in parenthesis. The tourist will{149} be told that it is Pelayo's tomb, and that of his sister, that are still to be seen in the cave at Covadonga. Perhaps, though no documents or other signs exist to bear out the statement. At any rate, the sepulchres are old, which is their chief merit. The monastical church which stands hard by cannot claim this latter quality; neither is it important as an art monument.




The civil power enjoyed by Oviedo previous to the eleventh century moved southwards in the wake of Asturias's conquering army. For about a century it stopped on its way to Toledo in a fortress-town situated in a wind-swept plain, at the juncture of two important rivers.

Leon was the name of this fortress, one of the strategical points, not only of the early Romans, but of the Arabs who conquered the country, and later of the nascent Christian kingdom of Asturias. In the tenth century, or, better still, toward the beginning of the eleventh, and after the final retreat of the Moors and their terrible general Almanzor, Leon became the recognized capital of Asturias.

When the Christian wave first spread over the Iberian peninsula in the time of the Romans, the fortress Legio Septima, established{151} by Trajanus's soldiers, had already grown in importance, and was considered one of the promising North Spanish towns.

The inhabitants were among the most fearless adherents of the new faith, and it is said that the first persecution of the martyrs took place in Leon; consequently, it is not to be wondered at that, as soon as Christianity was established in Iberia, a see should be erected on the blood-soaked soil of the Roman fortress. (First known bishop, Basilides, 252 A. D.)

Marcelo seems to have been the most stoically brave of the many Leonese martyrs. A soldier or subaltern in the Roman legion, he was daring enough to throw his sword at the feet of his commander, who stood in front of the regiment, saying:

"I obey the eternal King and scorn your silent gods of stone and wood. If to obey Cæsar is to revere him as an idol, I refuse to obey him."

Stoic, with a grain of sad grandeur about them, were his last words when Agricolanus condemned him to death.

"May God bless you, Agricolano."

And his head was severed from his body.

The next religious war to be waged in{152} and around Leon took place between Christians and the invading Visigoths, who professed a doctrine called Arrianism. Persecutions were, of course, ripe again, and the story is told of how the prior of San Vicente, after having been beheaded, appeared in a dream to his cloister brethren trembling behind their monastic walls, and advised them to flee, as otherwise they would all be killed,—an advice the timid monks thought was an explicit order to be immediately obeyed.

The conversion of Recaredo to Christianity—for political reasons only!—stopped all further persecution; during the following centuries Leon's inhabitants strove to keep away the Arab hordes who swept northwards; now the Christians were overcome and Allah was worshipped in the basilica; now the Asturian kings captured the town from Moorish hands, and the holy cross crowned the altar. Finally the dreaded infidel Almanzor burnt the city to the ground, and retreated to Cordoba. Ordoño I., following in his wake, rebuilt the walls and the basilica, and from thenceforward Leon was never again to see an Arab army within its gates.

Prosperity then smiled on the city soon to{153} become the capital of the kingdom of Asturias. The cathedral church was built on the spot where Ordoño had erected a palace; the first stone was laid in 1199.

The traditions, legends, and historical events which took place in the kingdom's capital until late in the thirteenth century belong to Spanish history, or what is known as such. Ordoño II. was mysteriously put to death, by the Counts of Castile, some say; Alfonso IV.—a monk rather than a king—renounced his right to the throne, and retired to a convent to pray for his soul. After awhile he tired of mumbling prayers and, coming out from his retreat, endeavoured to wrest the sceptre from the hands of his brother Ramiro. But alas, had he never left the cloister cell! He was taken prisoner by his humane brother, had his eyes burnt out for the pains he had taken, and died a few years later.

Not long after, Alfonso VII. was crowned Emperor of Spain in the church of San Isidoro, an event which marks the climax of Leon's fame and wealth. Gradually the kings moved southwards in pursuit of the retreating Moors, and with them went their court and their patronage, until finally the{154} political centre of Castile and Leon was established in Burgos, and the fate that had befallen Oviedo and Lugo visited also the one-time powerful fortress of the Roman Legio Septima.

To-day? A dormant city on a baking plain and an immense cathedral pointing back to centuries of desperate wars between Christians and Moors; a collegiate church, far older still, which served as cathedral when Alfonso VII. was crowned Emperor of Spain.

Pulchra Leonina is the epithet applied to the beautiful cathedral of Leon, dedicated to the Ascension of Our Lady and to Nuestra Señora de la Blanca.

The first stone was laid in 1199, presumably on the spot where Ordoño I. had erected his palace; the construction of the edifice did not really take place, however, until toward 1250, so that it can be considered as belonging to the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.

"Two hundred years only did the temple enjoy a quiet life. In the sixteenth century, restorations and additions were begun; in 1631 the simple vault of the croisée fell in and was replaced by an absurd dome; in 1694 Manuel Conde destroyed and rebuilt{155} the southern front according to the style then in vogue, and in 1743 a great number of the arches of the aisles fell in. Different parts of the building were continually tumbling down, having become too weak to support the heavier materials used in the construction of additions and renovations."

The cathedral was closed to the public by the government in 1850 and handed over to a body of architects, who were to restore it in accordance with the thirteenth-century design; in 1901 the interior of the building had been definitely finished, and was opened once more to the religious cult.

The general plan of the building is Roman cruciform, with a semicircular apse composed of five chapels and an ambulatory behind the high altar.

As peculiarities, the following may be mentioned: the two towers of the western front do not head the aisles, but flank them; the transept is exceptionally wide (in Spanish cathedrals the distance between the high altar and the choir must be regarded as the transept, properly speaking) and is composed of a broad nave and two aisles to the east and one to the west; the width also of the{156} church at the transept is greater by two aisles than that of the body itself,—a modification which produces a double Roman cross and lends exceptional beauty to the ensemble, as it permits of an unobstructed view from the western porch to the very apse.

Attention must also be drawn to the row of two chapels and a vestibule which separate the church from the cloister (one of the most celebrated in Spain as a Gothic structure, though mixed with Renaissance motives and spoilt by fresco paintings). Thanks to this arrangement, the cathedral possesses a northern portal similar to the southern one. As regards the exterior of the building, it is a pity that the two towers which flank the aisles are heavy in comparison to the general construction of the church; had light and slender towers like those of Burgos or that of Oviedo been placed here, how grand would have been the effect! Besides, they are not similar, but date from different periods, which is another circumstance to be regretted.

The second bodies of the western and southern façades also clash on account of the Renaissance elements, with their simple horizontal{157} lines opposed to the vertical tendency of pure Gothic. But then, they also were erected at a later date.

Excepting these remarks, however, nothing is more airily beautiful and elegant than the superb expression of the razonadas locuras (logical nonsense) of the ogival style in all its phases, both early and late, or even decadent. For examples of each period are to be found here, corresponding to the century in which they were erected.

The ensemble is an astonishing profusion of high and narrow windows, of which there are three rows: the clerestory, the triforium, and the aisles. Each window is divided into two by a column so fragile that it resembles a spider's thread. These windows peep forth from a forest of flying buttresses, and nowhere does the mixture of pinnacles and painted panes attain a more perfect eloquence than in the eastern extremity of the polygonal apse.

The western and southern façades—the northern being replaced by the cloister—are alike in their general design, and are composed of three portals surmounted by a decidedly pointed arch which, in the case of the central portals, adorns a richly sculptured{158} tympanum. The artistic merit of the statuary in the niches of both central portals is devoid of exceptional praise, that of the southern façade being perhaps of a better taste. As regards the stone pillar which divides the central door into two wings, that on the south represents Our Lady of the Blanca, and that on the west San Froilan, one of the early martyr bishops of Leon.

Excepting the Renaissance impurities already referred to, each portal is surmounted by a row of five lancet windows, which give birth, as it were, to one immense window of delicate design.

Penetrating into the interior of the building, preferably by the lateral doors of the western front, the tourist is overcome by a feeling of awe and amazement at the bold construction of aisles and nave, as slender as is the frost pattern on a spotless pane. The full value of the windows, which are gorgeous from the outside, is only obtained from the interior of the temple; those of the clerestory reach from the sharp ogival vaulting to the height of the triforium, which in its turn is backed by another row of painted windows; in the aisles, another series of panes rose in the sixteenth century{159} from the very ground (!), though in recent times the bases have unluckily been blinded to about the height of a man.

The pillars and columns are of the simplest and most sober construction, so simple that they do not draw the spectator's attention, but leave him to be impressed by the great height of nave and aisles as compared with their insignificant width, and above all by the profuse perforation of the walls by hundreds upon hundreds of windows.

Unluckily, the original pattern of the painted glass does not exist but in an insignificant quantity: the northern window, the windows of the high altar, and those of the Chapel of St. James are about the only ones dating from the fifteenth century that are left standing to-day; they are easily recognizable by the rich, mellow tints unattained in modern stained glass.

As accessories, foremost to be mentioned are the choir stalls, which are of an elegant and severe workmanship totally different from the florid carving of those in Toledo. The high altar, on the other hand, is devoid of interest excepting for the fine ogival sepulchre of King Ordoño II; the remaining chapels, some of which contain art objects{160} of value, need not claim the tourist's special attention.

By way of conclusion: the cathedral of Leon, restored to-day after years of ruin and neglect, stands forth as one of the master examples of Gothic workmanship, unrivalled in fairy-like beauty and, from an architectural point of view, the very best example of French ogival to be met with in Spain.

Moreover, those who wrought it, felt the real principles of all Gothic architecture. Many are the cathedrals in Spain pertaining to this great school, but not one of them can compare with that of Leon in the way the essential principle was felt and expressed. They are all beautiful in their complex and hybrid style, but none of them can claim to be Gothic in the way they are built. For wealth, power, and luxury in details is generally the lesson Spanish cathedrals teach, but they do not give their lancets and shafts, their vertical lines and pointed arches, the chance to impress the visitor or true believer with those sentiments so peculiar to the great ogival style.

The cathedral of Leon is, in Spain, the unique exception to this rule. Save only{161} those constructive errors or dissonances previously referred to, and which tend to counteract the soaring characteristic, it could be considered as being pure in style. Nevertheless, it is not only the truest Gothic cathedral on the peninsula, but one of the finest in the world.

At the same time, it is no less true that it is not so Spanish as either the Gothic of Burgos or of Toledo.

In 1063 the King of Leon, Fernando I., signed a treaty with the Arab governor of Sevilla, obliging the latter to hand over to the Catholic monarch, in exchange for some other privileges, the corpse of San Isidoro. It was conveyed to Leon, where a church was built to contain the remains of the saint; the same building was to serve as a royal pantheon.

About a century later Alfonso VII. was battling against the pagans in Andalusia when, in the field of Baeza, the "warlike apparition of San Isidoro appeared in the heavens and encouraged the Christian soldiers."

Thanks to this divine aid, the Moors were beaten, and Alfonso VII., returning to Leon,{162} enriched the saint's shrine, enlarged it, and raised it to a suffragan church, destined later to serve as the temporary see while the building of the real cathedral was going on.

In 1135 Alfonso VII. was crowned Emperor of the West Roman Empire with extraordinary pomp and splendour in the Church of San Isidoro. The apogee of Leon's importance and power coincides with this memorable event.

The emperor's sister, Sancha, a pious infanta, bequeathed her vast fortune as well as her palace to San Isidoro, her favourite saint; the church in Leon became, consequently, one of the richest in Spain, a privilege it was, however, unable to retain for any length of time.

In 1029, shortly after the erection of the primitive building, its front was sullied, according to the tradition, by the blood of one Count Garcia of Castile. The following is the story:

The King of Asturias at the time was Bermudo II., married to Urraca, the daughter of Count Sancho of Castile. Political motives had produced this union, for the Condes de Castile had grown to be the most{163} important and powerful feudal lords of the kingdom.

To assure the count's assistance and friendship, the king went even further: he promised his sister Sancha to the count's son Garcia, who lost no time in visiting Leon so as to become acquainted with his future spouse.

Three sons of the defeated Count of Vela, a Basque nobleman whom the Counts of Castile had put to death, were in the city at the time. Pretending to be very friendly with the young fiancé, they conspired against his life, and, knowing that he paid matinal visits to San Isidoro, they hid in the portal one day, and slew the youth as he entered.

The promised bride arrived in haste and fell weeping on the body of the murdered man; she wept bitterly and prayed to be allowed to be buried with her sweetheart. Her prayer was, of course, not granted: so she swore she would never marry. She was not long in breaking this oath, however, for a few months later she wedded a prince of the house of Navarra.

The present state of the building of San Isidoro is ruinous, thanks to a stroke of{164} lightning in 1811, and to the harsh treatment bestowed upon the building by Napoleon's soldiers during the War for Independence (1808).

Seen from the outside, the edifice is as uninteresting as possible; the lower part is constructed in the early Latin Romanesque style; the upper, of a posterior construction, shows a decided tendency to early Gothic.

The apse was originally three-lobed, composed of three identical chapels corresponding to the nave and aisles; in the sixteenth century the central lobe was prolonged and squared off; the same century saw the erection of the statue of San Isidoro in the southern front, which spoiled the otherwise excellently simple Romanesque portal.

In the interior of the ruin—for such it is to-day—the only peculiarity to be noted is the use of the horseshoe arches in the arcades which separate the aisles from the nave, as well as the Arab dentated arches of the transept. It is the first case on record where, in a Christian temple of the importance of San Isidoro, Arab or pagan architectural elements were made use of in the decoration; that is to say, after the invasion,{165} for previous examples were known, having most likely penetrated into the country by means of Byzantine workmen in the fifth and sixth centuries. (In San Juan de Baños.)



Instead of being lined with chapels the aisles are covered with mural paintings. These frescoes are of great archæological value on account of their great age and the evident Byzantine influence which characterizes them; artistically they are unimportant.

The chief attraction of the building is the pantheon, a low, square chapel of six arches, supported in the centre by two gigantic pillars which are crowned by huge cylindrical capitals. Nothing more depressing or gloomy can be seen in the peninsula excepting the pantheon in the Escorial; it is doubtful which of the two is more melancholy. The pure Oriental origin (almost Indian!) of this pantheon is unmistakable and highly interesting.

The fresco paintings which cover the ceiling and the massive ribs of the vaulting are equally morbid, representing hell-scenes from the Apocalypse, the massacre of the babes, etc.

Only one or two of the Romanesque marble{166} tombs which lined the walls are remaining to-day; the others were used by the French soldiers as drinking-troughs for their cavalry horses!




The Asturica Augusta of the Romans was the capital of the northern provinces of Asturias and the central point of four military roads which led to Braga, Aquitania, Saragosse, and Tarragon.

During the Visigothic domination, and especially under the reign of Witiza, Astorga as well as Leon, Toledo, and Tuy were the only four cities allowed to retain their walls.

According to some accounts, Astorga was the seat of the earliest bishopric in the peninsula, having been consecrated in the first century by Santiago or his immediate followers; historically, however, the first known bishop was Dominiciano, who lived about 347 A. D.

In the fourth and fifth centuries several heresies or false doctrines were ripe in Spain. Of one of these, Libelatism, Astorga was the centre; the other, Priscilianism, originally{168} Galician, found many adherents in the fortress-town, more so than elsewhere, excepting only Tuy, Orense, and Palencia.

Libelatism.—Its great defender was Basilides, Bishop of Astorga. Strictly speaking, this faith was no heresy, but a sham or fraud which spread out beyond the Pyrenees to France. It consisted in denying the new faith; those who proclaimed it, or, in other words, the Christians, who were severely persecuted in those days, pretended to worship the Latin gods so as to save their skins. With this object in view, and to be able to prove their sincerity, they were obliged to obtain a certificate, libelum (libel?), from the Roman governor, stating their belief in Jupiter, Venus, etc. Doubtless they had to pay a tax for this certificate, and thus the Roman state showed its practical wisdom: it was paid by cowards for being tyrannical. But then, not all Christians are born martyrs.

Priscilianism.—Of quite a different character was the other heresy previously mentioned. It was a doctrine opposed to the Christian religion, proud of many adherents, and at one time threatening danger to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Considering{169} that it is but little known to-day (for after a lingering life of about three or four centuries in Galicia it was quite ignored by philosophers and Christians alike), it may be of some use to transcribe the salient points of this doctrine, in case some one be inclined to baptize him or herself as prophet of the new religion. It was preached by one Prisciliano in the fourth century, and was a mixture of Celtic mythology and Christian faith.

"Prisciliano did not believe in the mystery of the Holy Trinity; he believed that the world had been created by the devil (perhaps he was not wrong!) and that the devil held it beneath his sway; further, that the soul is part of the Divine Essence and the body dependent upon the stars; that this life is a punishment, as only sinful souls descend on earth to be incarnated in organic bodies. He denied the resurrection of the flesh and the authenticity of the Old Testament. He defended the transmigration of souls, the invocation of the dead, and other ideas, doubtless taken from native Galician mythology. To conclude, he celebrated the Holy Communion with grape and milk instead of with wine, and admitted that all true believers{170} (his true believers, I suppose, for we are all of us true believers of some sort) could celebrate religious ceremonies without being ordained curates."

Sinfosio, Bishop of Astorga in 400, was converted to the new religion. But, upon intimation that he might be deprived of his see, he hurriedly turned Christian again, putting thus a full stop to the spread of heresy, by his brave and unselfish act.

Toribio in 447 was, however, the bishop who wrought the greatest harm to Priscilianism. He seems to have been the divine instrument called upon to prove by marvellous happenings the true religion: he converted the King of the Suevos in Orense by miraculously curing his son; when surrounded by flames he emerged unharmed; when he left his diocese, and until his return, the crops were all lost; upon his return the church-bells rang without human help, etc., etc. All of which doings proved the authenticity of the true religion beyond a doubt, and that Toribio was a saint; the Pope canonized him.

During the Arab invasion, Astorga, being a frontier town, suffered more than most cities farther north; it was continually being{171} taken and lost, built up and torn down by the Christians and Moors.

Terrible Almanzor conquered it in his raid in the tenth century, and utterly destroyed it. It was rebuilt by Veremundo or Bermudo III., but never regained its lost importance, which reverted to Leon.

When the Christian armies had conquered the peninsula as far south as Toledo, Astorga was no longer a frontier town, and rapidly fell asleep, and has slept ever since. It remained a see, however, but only one of secondary importance.

It would be difficult to state how many cathedral churches the city possessed previous to the eleventh century. In 1069 the first on record was built; in 1120 another; a third in the thirteenth century, and finally the fourth and present building in 1471.

It was the evident intention of the architect to imitate the Pulchra Leonina, but other tastes and other styles had swept across the peninsula and the result of the unknown master's plans resembles rather a heavy, awkward caricature than anything else, and a bastard mixture of Gothic, plateresque, and grotesque styles.

The northern front is by far the best of{172} the two, boasting of a rather good relief in the tympanum of the ogival arch; some of the painted windows are also of good workmanship, though the greater part are modern glass, and unluckily unstained.

Its peculiarities can be signalized; the windows of the southern aisle are situated above the lateral chapels, while those of the northern are lower and situated in the chapels. The height and width of the aisles are also remarkable—a circumstance that does not lend either beauty or effect to the building. There is no ambulatory behind the high altar, which stands in the lady-chapel; the apse is rounded. This peculiarity reminds one dimly of what the primitive plan of the Oviedo cathedral must have resembled.

By far the most meritorious piece of work in the cathedral is the sixteenth-century retablo of the high altar, which alone is worth a visit to Astorga. It is one of Becerra's masterpieces in the late plateresque style, as well as being one of the master's last known works (1569).

It is composed of five vertical and three horizontal bodies; the niches in the lower are flanked by Doric, those of the second by{173} Corinthian, and those of the upper by composite columns and capitals. The polychrome statues which fill the niches are life-size and among the best in Spain; together they are intended to give a graphic description of the life of the Virgin and of her Son.

In some of the decorative details, however, this retablo shows evident signs of plateresque decadence, and the birth of the florid grotesque style, which is but the natural reaction against the severity of early sixteenth-century art.




Burgos is the old capital of Castile.

Castile—or properly Castilla—owed its name to the great number of castles which stood on solitary hills in the midst of the plains lying to the north of the Sierra de Guaderrama; one of these castles was called Burgos.

Unlike Leon and Astorga, Burgos was not known to the Romans, but was founded by feudal noblemen in the middle ages, most likely by the Count of Castilla prior to 884 A. D., when its name first appears in history.

Situated almost in the same line and to the west of Astorga and Leon, it entered the chain of fortresses which formed the frontier between the Christian kingdoms and the Moorish dominion. At the same time it looked westwards toward the kingdom of Navarra, and managed to keep the ambitious sovereigns of Pamplona from Castilian soil.{175}

During the first centuries which followed upon the foundation of the village of Burgos at the foot of a prominent castle, both belonged to the feudal lords of Castile, the celebrated counts of the same name. This family of intrepid noblemen grew to be the most important in Northern Spain; vassals of the kings of Asturias, they broke out in frequent rebellion, and their doings alone fill nine of every ten pages of mediæval history.

Orduño III.—he who lost the battle of Valdejunquera against the Moors because the noblemen he had ordered to assist refrained from doing so—enticed the Count of Castile, together with other conspirators, to his palace, and had them foully murdered. So, at least, saith history.

The successor to the title was no fool. On the contrary, he was one of the greatest characters in Spanish history, hero of a hundred legends and traditions. Fernan Gonzalez was his name, and he freed Castile from owing vassalage to Asturias, for he threw off the yoke which bound him to Leon, and lived as an independent sovereign in his castle of Burgos. This is the date of Castile's first appearance in history as one{176} of the nuclei of Christian resistance (in the tenth century).

Nevertheless, against the military genius of Almanzor (the victorious), Fernan Gonzalez could do no more than the kings of Leon. The fate that befell Santiago, Leon, and Astorga awaited Burgos, which was utterly destroyed with the exception of the impregnable castle. After the Arab's death, hailed by the Christians with shouts of joy, and from the pulpits with the grim remark: "Almanzor mortuus est et sepultus et in inferno," the strength of Castile grew year by year, until one Conde Garcia de Castilla married one of his daughters to the King of Navarra and the other to Bermudo III. of Leon. His son, as has already been seen in a previous chapter, was killed in Leon when he went to marry Bermudo's sister Sancha. But his grandson, the recognized heir to the throne of Navarra, Fernando by name, inherited his grandfather's title and estates, even his murdered uncle's promised bride, the sister of Bermudo. At the latter's death some years later, without an heir, he inherited—or conquered—Leon and Asturias, and for the first time in history,{177} all the Christian kingdoms of the peninsula were united beneath one sceptre.

Castile was now the most powerful state in the peninsula, and its capital, Burgos, the most important city north of Toledo.

Two hundred years later the centralization of power in Burgos was an accomplished fact, as well as the death in all but name of the ancient kingdom of Leon, Asturias, and Galicia. Castile was Spain, and Burgos its splendid capital (1230, in the reign of San Fernando).

The above events are closely connected with the ecclesiastical history, which depends entirely upon the civil importance of the city.

A few years after Fernando I. had inaugurated the title of King of Castile, he raised the parish church of Burgos to a bishopric (1075) by removing to his new capital the see that from time immemorial had existed in Oca. He also laid the first stone of the cathedral church in the same spot where Fernan Gonzalez had erected a summer palace, previous to the Arab raid under Almanzor. Ten years later the same king had the bishopric raised to an archiepiscopal see.{178}

San Fernando, being unable to do more than had already been done by his forefather Fernando I., had the ruined church pulled down, and in its place he erected the cathedral still standing to-day. This was in 1221.

So rapidly was the main edifice constructed, that as early as 1230 the first holy mass was celebrated in the altar-chapel. The erection of the remaining parts took longer, however, for the building was not completed until about three hundred years later.

Burgos did not remain the sole capital of Northern Spain for any great length of time. Before the close of the thirteenth century, Valladolid had destroyed the former's monopoly, and from then on, and during the next three hundred years, these two and Toledo were obliged to take turns in the honour of being considered capital, an honour that depended entirely upon the caprices of the rulers of the land, until it was definitely conferred upon Madrid in the seventeenth century.

As regards legends and traditions of feudal romance and tragedy, hardly a city excepting Toledo and Salamanca can compete with Burgos. Historical events, produced by throne usurpers and defenders, by continual{179} strife, by the obstinacy of the noblemen and the perfidy of the monarchs,—all interwoven with beautiful dames and cruel warriors—are sufficiently numerous to enable every house in and around Burgos to possess some secret or other, generally gruesome and licentious, which means chivalrous. The reign of Peter the Cruel and of his predecessor Alfonso, the father of four or five bastards, and the lover of Doña Leonor; the heroic deeds of Fernan Gonzalez and of the Cid Campeador (Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar); the splendour of the court of Isabel I., and the peculiar constitution of the land with its Cortes, its convents, and monasteries,—all tend to make Burgos the centre of a chivalrous literature still recited by the people and firmly believed in by them. Unluckily their recital cannot find a place here, and we pass on to examine the grand cathedral, object of the present chapter.

The train, coming from the north, approaches the city of Burgos. A low horizon line and undulating plains stretch as far as the eye can reach; in the distance ahead are two church spires and a castle looming up against a blue sky.{180}

The train reaches the station; a mass of houses and, overtopping the roofs of all buildings, the same spires as seen before, lost as it were in a forest of pinnacles, emerging from two octagonal lanterns or cimborios. In the background, on a sandy hill, are the ruins of the castle which once upon a time was the stronghold of the Counts of Castile.

Burgos! Passing beneath a four-hundred-year-old gateway—Arco de Santa Maria—raised by trembling bourgeois to appease a monarch's wrath, the visitor arrives after many a turn in a square situated in front of the cathedral.

A poor architectural element is this western front of the cathedral as regards the first body or the portals. Devoid of all ornamentation, and consequently naked, three doors or portals, surmounted by a peculiar egg-shaped ogival arch, open into the nave and aisles. Originally they were richly decorated by means of sculptural reliefs and statuary, but in the plateresque period of the sixteenth century they were demolished. The two lateral doors leading into the aisles are situated beneath the 275 feet high towers of excellent workmanship.




The central door is surmounted by a plateresque-Renaissance pediment imbedded in an ogival arch (of all things!); the side doors are crowned by a simple window.

Vastly superior in all respects to the lower body are the upper stories, of which the first is begun by a pinnacled balustrade running from tower to tower; in the centre, between the two towers, there is an immense rosace of a magnificent design and embellished by means of an ogival arch in delicate relief; the windows of the tower, as well as in the superior bodies, are pure ogival.

The next story can be considered as the basement of the towers, properly speaking. The central part begins with a prominent balustrade of statues thrown against a background formed by twin ogival windows of exceptional size. The third story is composed, as regards the towers, of the last of the square bodies upon which the flèche reposes; these square bases are united by a light frieze or perforated balustrade which crowns the central part of the façade and is decorated with ogival designs.

Last to be mentioned, but not least in importance, are the flèches. Though short{182} in comparison to the bold structure at Oviedo, they are, nevertheless, of surprising dignity and elegance, and richly ornamented, being covered over with an innumerable amount of tiny pinnacles encrusted, as it were, on the stone network of a perforated pyramid.

The northern façade is richer in sculptural details than the western, though the portal possesses but one row of statues. The rosace is substituted by a three-lobed window, the central pane of which is larger than the lateral two.

As this northern façade is almost fifteen feet higher than the ground-plan of the temple,—on account of the street being much higher,—a flight of steps leads down into the transept. As a Renaissance work, this golden staircase is one of Spain's marvels, but it looks rather out of place in an essentially Gothic cathedral.

To avoid the danger of falling down these stairs and with a view to their preservation, the transept was pierced by another door in the sixteenth century, on a level with the floor of the building, and leading into a street lower than the previous one; it is situated on the east of the prolonged transept,{183} or better still, of the prolonged northern transept arm.

On the south side a cloister door corresponds to this last-named portal. Though the latter is plateresque, cold and severe, the former is the richest of all the portals as regards sculptural details; the carving of the panels is also of the finest workmanship. Beside it, the southern front of the cathedral coincides perfectly with the northern; like the Puerta de la Plateria in Santiago, it is rendered somewhat insignificant by the cloister to the right and by the archbishop's palace to the left, between which it is reached by a paved series of terraces, for on this side the street is lower than the floor of the cathedral. The impression produced by this alley is grand and imposing, unique in Spain.

Neither is the situation of the temple exactly east and west, a rare circumstance in such a highly Catholic country like Spain. It is Roman cruciform in shape; the central nave contains both choir and high altar; the aisles are prolonged behind the latter in an ambulatory.

The lateral walls of the church, enlarged here and there to make room for chapels{184} of different dimensions, give an irregular outline to the building which has been partly remedied by the free use of buttresses, flying buttresses, and pinnacles.

The first impression produced on the visitor standing in either of the aisles is that of size rather than beauty; a close examination, however, of the wealth of statues and tombs, and of the sculptural excellence of stone decoration, will draw from the tourist many an exclamation of wonder and delight. Further, the distribution of light is such as to render the interior of the temple gay rather than sombre; it is a pity, nevertheless, that the stained glasses of the sixteenth century see were all destroyed by a powder explosion in 1813, when the French soldiers demolished the castle.

The unusual height of the choir mars the ensemble of the interior; the stalls are lavishly carved, but do not inspire the same feeling of wonderful beauty as do those of Leon and Toledo, for instance; the reja or grille which separates the choir from the transept is one of the finest pieces of work in the cathedral, and, though massive, it is simple and elegant.

The retablo of the high altar, richly gilt,{185} is of the Renaissance period; the statues and groups which fill the niches are marvellously drawn and full of life. In the ambulatory, imbedded in the wall of the trascoro, there are six plaques in low relief; as sculptural work in stone they are unrivalled in the cathedral, and were carved, beyond a doubt, by the hand of a master. The croisée and the Chapel of the Condestable are the two chief attractions of the cathedral church.

The last named chapel is an octagonal addition to the apse. Its walls from the exterior are seen to be richly sculptured and surmounted by a lantern, or windowed dome, surrounded by high pinnacles and spires placed on the angles of the polygon base. The croisée is similar in structure, but, due to its greater height, appears even more slender and aerial. The towers with their flèches, together with these original octagonal lanterns with their pinnacles, lend an undescribable grace, elegance, and majesty to what would otherwise have been a rather unwieldy edifice.

The Chapel of the Condestable is separated from the ambulatory (in the interior of the temple) by a good grille of the sixteenth{186} century, and by a profusely sculptured door. The windows above the altar are the only ones that retain painted panes of the sixteenth century. Among the other objects contained in this chapel—which is really a connoisseur's collection of art objects of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries—can be mentioned the two marvellously carved tombs of the Condestable and of his wife.

The croisée, on the other hand, has been called the "cathedral's cathedral." Gazing skyward from the centre of the transept into the high cimborio, and admiring the harmony of its details, the wealth of decorative elements, and the no less original structure of the dome, whose vault is formed by an immense star, one can understand the epithet applied to this majestic piece of work, a marvel of its kind.

Strange to say, the primitive cupola which crowned the croisée fell down in the sixteenth century, the date also of Burgos's growing insignificance in political questions. Consequently, it was believed by many that the same fate produced both accidents, and that the downfall of the one necessarily involved the decadence of the other.{187}

To conclude: The Gothic cathedral of Burgos is, with that of Leon and perhaps that of Sevilla, the one which expresses in a greater measure than any other on the peninsula the true ideal of ogival architecture. Less airy, light, and graceful than that of Leon, it is, nevertheless, more Spanish, or in other words, more majestic, heavier, and more imposing as regards size and weight. From a sculptural point of view—stone sculpture—it is the first of all Spanish Gothic cathedrals, and ranks among the most elaborate and perfect in Europe.




The foundation of Santander is attributed to the Romans who baptized it Harbour of Victory. Its decadence after the Roman dominion seems to have been complete, and its name does not appear in the annals of Spanish history until in 1187, when Alfonso, eighth of that name and King of Castile, induced the repopulation of the deserted hamlet by giving it a special fuero or privilege. At that time a monastery surrounded by a few miserable huts seems to have been all that was left of the Roman seaport; this monastery was dedicated to the martyr saints Emeterio and Celedonio, for it was, and still is, believed that they perished here, and not in Calahorra, as will be seen later on.

The name of the nascent city in the times of Alfonso VIII. was Sancti Emetrii, from that of the monastery or of the old town,{189} but within a few years the new town eclipsed the former in importance and, being dedicated to St. Andrew, gave its name to the present city (San-t-Andres, Santander).

As a maritime town, Santander became connected with all the naval events undertaken by young Castile, and later by Philip II., against England. Kings, princes, princess-consorts, and ambassadors from foreign lands came by sea to Santander, and went from thence to Burgos and Valladolid; from Santander and the immediate seaports the fleet sailed which was to travel up the Guadalquivir and conquer Sevilla; in 1574 the Invincible Armada left the Bay of Biscay never to return, and from thence on until now, Santander has ever remained the most important Spanish seaport on the Cantabric Sea.

Its ecclesiastical history is uninteresting—or, rather, the city possesses no ecclesiastical past; perhaps that is one of the causes of its flourishing state to-day. In the thirteenth century the monastical Church of San Emeterio was raised to a collegiate and in 1775 to a bishopric.

The same unimportance, from an art point of view, attaches itself to the cathedral{190} church. No one visits the city for the sake of the heavy, clumsy, and exceedingly irregularly built temple which stands on the highest part of the town. On the contrary, the great attraction is the fine beach of the Sardinero which lies to the west of the industrial town, and is, in summer, the Brighton of Spain. The coast-line, deeply dentated and backed by the Cantabric Mountains, is far more delightful and attractive than the Gothic cathedral structure of the thirteenth century.

Consequently, little need be said about it. In the interior, the height of the nave and aisles, rendered more pronounced by the pointed ogival arches, gives the building a somewhat aerial appearance that is belied by the view from without.



The square tower on the western end is undermined by a gallery or tunnel through which the Calle de Puente passes. To the right of the same, and reached by a flight of steps, stands the entrance to the crypt, which is used to-day as a most unhealthy parish church. This crypt of the late twelfth century or early thirteenth shows a decided Romanesque tendency in its general appearance: it is low, massive, strong, and crowned{191} by a semicircular vaulting reposing on gigantic pillars whose capitals are roughly sculptured. The windows which let in the little light that enters are ogival, proving the Transition period to which the crypt belongs; it was originally intended as the pantheon for the abbots of the monastery. But unlike the Galician Romanesque, it lacks an individual cachet; if it resembles anything it is the pantheon of the kings in San Isidoro in Leon, though in point of view of beauty, the two cannot be compared.

The form of the crypt is that of a perfect Romanesque basilica, a nave and two aisles terminating a three-lobed apse.

In the cathedral, properly speaking, there is a baptismal font of marble, bearing an Arabic inscription by way of upper frieze; it is square, and of Moorish workmanship, and doubtless was brought from Cordoba after the reconquest. Its primitive use had been practical, for in Andalusia it stood at the entrance to some mezquita, and in its limpid waters the disciples of Mahomet performed their hygienic and religious ablutions.




If the foreigner enter Spain by Irun, the first cathedral town on his way south is Vitoria.

Gazteiz seems to have been its Basque name prior to 1181, when it was enlarged by Don Sancho of Navarra and was given a fuero or privilege, together with its new name, chosen to commemorate a victory obtained by the king over his rival, Alfonso of Castile.

Fortune did not smile for any length of time on Don Sancho, for seventeen years later Alfonso VIII. incorporated the city in his kingdom of Castile, and it was lost for ever to Navarra.

As regards the celebrated fueros given by the last named monarch to the inhabitants of the city, a curious custom was in vogue in the city until a few years ago, when the Basque Provinces finally lost the privileges they had fought for during centuries.{193}

When Alfonso VIII. granted these privileges, he told the citizens they were to conserve them "as long as the waters of the Zadorria flowed into the Ebro."

The Zadorria is the river upon which Vitoria is situated; about two miles up the river there is a historical village, Arriago, and a no less historical bridge. Hither, then, every year on St. John's Day, the inhabitants of Vitoria came in procession, headed by the municipal authorities, the bishop and clergy, the clerk of the town hall, and the sheriff. The latter on his steed waded into the waters of the Zadorria, and threw a letter into the stream; it flowed with the current toward the Ebro River. An act was then drawn up by the clerk, signed by the mayor and the sheriff, testifying that the "waters of the Zadorria flowed into the Ebro."

To-day the waters still flow into the Ebro, but the procession does not take place, and the city's fueros are no more.

In the reign of Isabel the Catholic, the Church of St. Mary was raised to a Colegiata, and it is only quite recently, according to the latest treaty between Spain and Rome, that an episcopal see has been established in the city of Vitoria.{194}

Documents that have been discovered state that in 1281—a hundred years after the city had been newly baptized—the principal temple was a church and castle combined; in the fourteenth century this was completely torn down to make room for the new building, a modest ogival church of little or no merit.

The tower is of a later date than the body of the cathedral, as is easily seen by the triangular pediments which crown the square windows: it is composed of three bodies, as is generally the case in Spain, the first of which is square in its cross-section, possessing four turrets which crown the angles; the second body is octagonal and the third is in the form of a pyramid terminating in a spire.

The portal is cut into the base of the tower. It is the handsomest front of the building, though in a rather dilapidated state; the sculptural decorations of the three arches, as well as the aerial reliefs of the tympanum, are true to the period in which they were conceived.

The sacristy encloses a primitive wooden effigy of the Virgin; it is of greater historic than artistic value. There is also a{195} famous picture attributed now to Van Dyck, now to Murillo; it represents Christ in the arms of his mother, and Mary Magdalene weeping on her knees beside the principal group. The picture is known by the name of Piety or La Piedad.

The high altar, instead of being placed to the east of the transept, as is generally the case, is set beneath the croisée, in the circular area formed by the intersection of nave and transept. The view of the interior is therefore completely obstructed, no matter where the spectator stands.




To the south of Navarra and about a hundred miles to the west of Burgos, the Ebro River flows through a fertile vale called the Rioja, famous for its claret. It is little frequented by strangers or tourists, and yet it is well worth a visit. The train runs down the Ebro valley from Miranda to Saragosse. A hilly country to the north and south, well wooded and gently sloping like the Jura; nearer, and along the banks of the stream, huertas or orchards, gardens, and vineyards offer a pleasant contrast to the distant landscape, and produce a favourable impression, especially when a village or town with its square, massive church-tower peeps forth from out of the foliage of fruit-trees and elms.

Such is Upper Rioja—one of the prettiest spots in Spain, the Touraine, one might almost say, of Iberia, a circular region of about{197} twenty-five miles in radius, containing four cities, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Nájera, and Calahorra.

The Roman military road from Tarragon to Astorga passed through the Rioja, and Calahorra, a Celtiberian stronghold slightly to the south, was conquered by the invaders after as sturdy a resistance as that of Numantia itself. It was not totally destroyed by the conquering Romans as happened in the last named town; on the contrary, it grew to be the most important fortress between Leon and Saragosse.

When the Christian religion dawned in the West, two youths, inseparable brothers, and soldiers in the seventh legion stationed in Leon, embraced the true religion and migrated to Calahorra. They were beheaded after being submitted to a series of the most frightful tortures, and their tunics, leaving the bodies from which life had escaped, soared skywards with the saintly souls, to the great astonishment of the Roman spectators. The names of these two martyr saints were Emeterio and Celedonio, who, as we have seen, are worshipped in Santander; besides, they are also the patron saints of Calahorra.{198}

The first Bishop of Calahorra took possession of his see toward the middle of the fifth century; his name was Silvano. Unluckily, he was the only one whose name is known to-day, and yet it has been proven that when the Moors invaded the country two or three hundred years later, the see was removed to Oviedo, later to Alava (near Vitoria, where no remains of a cathedral church are to be seen to-day), and in the tenth century to Nájera. One hundred years later, when the King of Navarra, Don Garcia, conquered the Arab fortress at Calahorra, the wandering see was once more firmly chained down to the original spot of its creation (1030; the first bishop de modernis being Don Sancho).

Near by, and in a vale leading to the south from the Ebro, the Moors built a fortress and called it Nájera. Conquered by the early kings of Navarra, it was raised to the dignity of one of the cathedral towns of the country; from 950 (first bishop, Theodomio) to 1030 ten bishops held their court here, that is, until the see was removed to Calahorra. Since then, and especially after the conquest of Rioja by Alfonso VI. of Castile, the city's significance died out{199} completely, and to-day it is but a shadow of what it previously had been, or better still, it is an ignored village among ruins.

Still further west, and likewise situated in a vale to the south of the Ebro, Santo Domingo de la Calzada ranks as the third city. Originally its parish was but a suffragan church of Calahorra, but in 1227 it was raised to an episcopal see. Quite recently, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, when church funds were no longer what they had been, only one bishop was appointed to both sees, with an alternative residence in either of the two, that is to say, one prelate resided in Calahorra, his successor in Santo Domingo, and so forth and so on. Since 1850, however, both villages—for they are cities in name only—have lost all right to a bishop, the see having been definitely removed to Logroño, or it will be removed there as soon as the present bishop dies. But he has a long life, the present bishop!

The origin of Santo Domingo is purely religious. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries a pious individual lived in the neighbourhood whose life-work and ambition it was to facilitate the travelling pilgrims to Santiago in Galicia. He served as guide,{200} kept a road open in winter and summer, and even built bridges across the streams, one of which is still existing to-day, and leads into the town which bears his name.

He had even gone so far as to establish a rustic sort of an inn where the pilgrims could pass the night and eat (without paying?). He also constructed a church beside his inn. Upon dying, he was canonized Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Domingo was his name, and calzada is old Spanish for highroad). The Alfonsos of Castile were grateful to the humble saint for having saved them the expense and trouble of looking after their roads, and ordained that a handsome church should be erected on the spot where previously the humble inn and chapel had stood. Houses grew up around it rapidly and the dignity of the new temple was raised in consequence.

Of the four cities of Upper Rioja, the only one worthy of the name of city is Logroño, with its historical bridge across the Ebro, a bridge that was held, according to the tradition, by the hero, Ruy Diaz Gaona, and three valiant companions against a whole army of invading Navarrese.

The name Lucronio or Logroño is first{201} mentioned in a document toward the middle of the eleventh century. The date of its foundation is absolutely unknown, and all that can be said is that, once it had fallen into the hands of the monarchs of Castile (1076), it grew rapidly in importance, out-shining the other three Rioja cities. It is seated on the southern banks of the Ebro in the most fertile part of the whole region, and enjoys a delightful climate. Since 1850 it has been raised to the dignity of an episcopal see.

As regards the architectural remains of the four cities in the Upper Rioja valley, they are similar to those of Navarra, properly speaking, though not so pure in their general lines. In other words, they belong to the decadent period of Gothic art. Moreover, they have one and all been spoiled by ingenious, though dreadful mixtures of plateresque, Renaissance, and grotesque decorative details, and consequently the real remains of the old twelfth and thirteenth century Gothic and Romanesque constructions are difficult to trace.

Nájera.—Absolutely nothing remains of the old Romanesque church built by the king Don Garcia. A new edifice of decadent{202} Gothic, mixed with Renaissance details, and dating from the fifteenth century, stands to-day; it contains a magnificent series of choir stalls of excellent workmanship, and similar to those of Burgos. The cloister, in spite of the Arab-looking geometrical tracery of the ogival arches, is both light and elegant.

This cathedral was at one time used as the pantheon of the kings of Navarra. About ten elaborate marble tombs still lie at the foot of the building.

Santo Domingo de la Calzada.—The primitive ground-plan of the cathedral has been preserved, a nave and two aisles showing Romanesque strength in the lower and ogival lightness in the upper tiers. But otherwise nothing reminds one of a twelfth or thirteenth century church.

The cloister, of the sixteenth century, is a handsome plateresque-Renaissance edifice, rather small, severe, and cold. The great merit of this church lies in the sepulchral tombs in the different chapels, all of which were executed toward the end of the fifteenth and during the first years of the seventeenth centuries, and any one wishing to form for himself an idea of this particular{203} branch of Spanish monumental art must not fail to examine such sepulchres as those of Carranza, Fernando Alfonso, etc.



The effigy of the patron saint (Santo Domingo) is of painted wood clothed in rich silver robes, which form a striking antithesis to the saint's humble and modest life. The chapel where the latter lies is closed by a gilded iron reja of plateresque workmanship. The saint's body lies in a simple marble sepulchre, said to have been carved by Santo Domingo himself, who was both an architect and a sculptor. The truth of this version is, however, doubtful.

Of the square tower and the principal entrance no remarks need be made, for both are insignificant. The retablo of the high altar has been attributed to Foment, who constructed those of Saragosse and Huesca. The attribution is, however, most doubtful, as shown by the completely different styles employed by the artist of each. Not that the retablo in the Church of Santo Domingo is inferior to Foment's masterworks in Aragon, but the decorative motives of the flanking columns and low reliefs would prove—in case they had been executed by the{204} Aragonese Foment—a departure from the latter's classic style.

In one of the niches of the cloister, in a simple urn, lies the heart of Don Enrique, second King of Castile of that name, the half-brother (one of the bastards mentioned in a previous chapter and from whom all later Spanish monarchs are descended) of Peter the Cruel. The latter was murdered by his fond relative, who usurped the throne.

Logroño.—In 1435 Santa Maria la Redonda was raised to a suffragan church of Santo Domingo de la Calzada; about this date the old building must have been almost entirely torn down, as the ogival arches of the nave are of the fifteenth century; so also are the lower windows which, on the west, flank the southern door.

Excepting these few remains, nothing can bring to the tourist's mind the fifteenth-century edifice, and not a single stone can recall the twelfth-century church. For the remaining parts of the building are of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and successive centuries, and to-day the interior is being enlarged so as to make room for the see which is to be removed here from Santo Domingo and Calahorra.




The interior is Roman cruciform with a high and airy central nave, in which stands the choir, and on each hand a rather dark aisle of much smaller dimensions.

The trascoro is the only peculiarity possessed by this church. It is large and circular, closed by an immense vaulting which turns it into a chapel separated from the rest of the church (compare with the Church of the Pillar of Saragosse).

True to the grotesque style to which it belongs, the whole surface of walls and vault is covered with paintings, the former apparently in oil, the latter frescoes. Vixés painted them in the theatrical style of the eighteenth century.

From the outside, the regular features of the church please the eye in spite of the evident signs of artistic decadence. The two towers, high and slender, are among the best produced by the period of decadence in Spain which followed upon Herrero's severe style, if only the uppermost body lacked the circular linterna which makes the spire top-heavy.

Between the two towers, which, when seen from a distance, gain in beauty and lend to the city a noble and picturesque aspect, the{206} façade, properly speaking, reaches to their second body. It is a hollow, crowned by half a dome in the shape of a shell which in its turn is surmounted by a plateresque cornice in the shape of a long and narrow scroll.

The hollow is a peculiar and daring medley of architectural elegance and sculptural bizarrerie and vice versa. From Madrazo it drew the exclamation that, since he had seen it, he was convinced that not all monuments belonging to the grotesque style were devoid of beauty.

The date of the erection of the western front is doubtless the same as that of the trascoro; both are contemporaneous—the author is inclined to believe—with the erection of the Pillar in Saragosse; at least, they resemble each other in certain unmistakable details.

Calahorra.—The fourth of the cathedral churches of Upper Rioja is that of Calahorra. After the repopulation of the town by Alfonso VI. of Castile in the eleventh century, the bodies of the two martyr saints Emeterio and Celedonio were pulled up out of a well (to be seen to-day in the cloister) where they had been hidden by the Christians,{207} when the Moors conquered the fortress, and a church was built near the same spot. Of this eleventh-century church nothing remains to-day.



In the twelfth century, a new building was begun, but the process of construction continued slowly, and it was not until two hundred years later that the apse was finally finished. The body of the church, from the western front (this latter hideously modern and uninteresting) to the transept, is the oldest part,—simple Gothic of the thirteenth century.

The numerous chapels which form a ring around the church have all been decorated in the grotesque style of the eighteenth century, and with their lively colours, their polychrome statues, and overdone ornamentation, they offer but little interest to the visitor. The retablo of the high altar is one of the largest to be seen anywhere; but the Renaissance elegance of the lower body is completely drowned by the grotesque decoration of the upper half, which was constructed at a later date.

The choir stalls are fine specimens of that style in which the artist preferred an intricate composition to simple beauty. Biblical{208} scenes, surrounded and separated by allegorical personages and symbolical lines in great profusion, show the carver's talent rather than his artistic genius.




The Duero River, upon leaving its source at the foot of the Pico de Urbión (near Vinuesa), flows eastward for about fifty miles, then southward for another fifty miles, when it turns abruptly westward on its lengthy journey across the Iberian peninsula.

The circular region, limited on three sides by the river's course, is the historical field of Soria—part of the province of the same name, Numantia, Rome's great enemy and almost the cause of her ruin, lay somewhere in this part of the country, though where is not exactly known, as the great Scipio took care to destroy it so thoroughly that not even a stone remains to-day to indicate where the heroic fortress stood.

In the present day, two cities and two cathedrals are seated on the banks of the Duero within this circle; the one is Soria, the other Osma. The latter was a Roman{210} town, an early episcopal see, and later an Arab fortress; the former was founded by one of the Alfonsos toward the end of the eleventh century, as a frontier fortress against Aragon to the east, the Moors to the south, and Navarra to the north.

The town grew apace, thanks to the remarkable fueros granted to the citizens, who lived as in a republic of their own making—an almost unique case of self-government to be recorded in the middle ages.

The principal parish church was raised to a suffragan of Osma in the twelfth century. Since then, there has been a continual spirit of rivalry between the two cities, for the former, more important as a town and as the capital of a province, could not bend its head to the ecclesiastical authority of a village like Osma. Throughout the middle ages the jealousy between the two was food for incessant strife. Pope Clement IV., at Alfonso VIII.'s instigation, raised the Collegiate at Soria to an episcopal see independent of Osma, but the hard-headed chapter of the last named city refused to acknowledge the Pope's order, and no bishop was elected or appointed.

This bitter hatred between the two rivals{211} was the origin of many an amusing incident. Upon one occasion the Bishop of Osma, visiting his suffragan church in Soria, had the house in which he was stopping for the night burnt about his ears. He moved off to another house, and on the second night this was also mysteriously set on fire. His lordship did not await the third night, afraid of what might happen, but bolted back to his episcopal palace at Osma.

In 1520 the chapter of the Collegiate in Soria sent a petition to the country's sovereign asking him to order the erection of a new church in place of the old twelfth-century building, and in another part of the town. The request was not granted, however, so what did the wily chapter do? It ordered an architect to construct a chapel in the very centre of the church, and when it was completed, admired the work with great enthusiasm, excepting only the pillar in front of it which obstructed the uninterrupted view. This pillar was the real support of the church, and though the chapter was told as much (as though it did not know it!) the architect was ordered to pull it down. After hesitating to do so, the latter acceded: the pillar was pulled down, and{212} with it the whole church tumbled down as well! But the chapter's game was discovered, and it was obliged to rebuild the cathedral on the same spot and with the same materials.

Consequently, the church at Soria is a sixteenth-century building of little or no merit, excepting the western front, which is the only part of the old building that did not fall down, and is a fine specimen of Castilian Romanesque, as well as the cloister, one of the handsomest, besides being one of the few twelfth-century cloisters in Spain, with a double row of slender columns supporting the round-headed arches. This modification of the conventional type lends an aspect of peculiar lightness to the otherwise heavy Romanesque.

As regards the settlement of the strife between Soria and Osma, the see is to-day a double one, like that of Madrid and Alcalá. Upon the death of the present bishop, however, it will be transported definitely to Soria, and consequently the inhabitants of the last named city will at last be able to give thanks for the great mercies Allah or the True God has bestowed upon them.



Osma.—From an historical and architectural{213} point of view, Osma, the rival city on the Duero River, is much more important than Soria.

According to the tradition, St. James preached the Holy Gospel, and after him St. Peter (or St. Paul?), who left his disciple St. Astorgio behind as bishop (91 A. D.). Twenty-two bishops succeeded him, the twenty-third on the list being John I., really the first of whose existence we have any positive proof, for he signed the third council in Toledo in the sixth century. In the eighth century, the Saracens drove the shepherd of the Christian flock northward to Asturias, and it was not until 1100 that the first bishop de modernis was appointed by Archbishop Bernardo of Toledo. The latter's choice fell on Peter, a virtuous French monastic monk, who was canonized by the Pope after his death, and figures in the calendar as St. Peter of Osma.

When the first bishop took possession of his see, he started to build his cathedral. Instead of choosing Osma itself as the seat, however, he selected the site of a convent on the opposite banks of the Duero (to the north), where the Virgin had appeared to a shepherd. Houses soon grew up around{214} the temple and, to distinguish it from Osma, the new city was called Burgo de Osma, a name it still retains.

In 1232, not a hundred years after the erection of the cathedral, it was totally destroyed, excepting one or two chapels still to be seen in the cloister, by Juan Dominguez, who was bishop at the time, and who wished to possess a see more important in appearance than that left to him by his predecessor, St. Peter.

The building as it stands to-day is small, but highly interesting. The original plan was that of a Romanesque basilica with a three-lobed apse, but in 1781 the ambulatory walk behind the altar joined the two lateral aisles.

Two of the best pieces of sculptural work in the cathedral are the retablo of the high altar, and the relief imbedded in the wall of the trascoro—both of them carved in wood by Juan de Juni, one of the best Castilian sculptors of the sixteenth century. The plastic beauty of the figures and their lifelike postures harmonize well with the simple Renaissance columns ornamented here and there with finely wrought flowers and garlands.{215}

The chapel where St. Peter of Osma's body lies is an original rather than a beautiful annex of the church. For, given the small dimensions of the cathedral, it was difficult to find sufficient room for the chapels, sacristy, vestuary, etc. In the case of the above chapel, therefore, it was necessary to build it above the vestuary; it is reached by a flight of stairs, beneath which two three-lobed arches lead to the sombre room below. The result is highly original.

The same remarks as regard lack of space can be made when speaking about the principal entrance. Previously the portal had been situated in the western front; the erection of the tower on one side, and of a chapel on the other, had rendered this entrance insignificant and half blinded by the prominent tower. So a new one had to be erected, considered by many art critics to be a beautiful addition to the cathedral properly speaking, but which strikes the author as excessively ugly, especially the upper half, with its balcony, and a hollow arch above it, in the shadows of which the rose window loses both its artistic and its useful object. So, being round, it is placed within a semicircular sort of avant-porche or recess,{216} the strong contours of which deform the immense circle of the window.

To conclude: in the cathedral of Osma, bad architecture is only too evident. The tower is perhaps the most elegant part, and yet the second body, which was to give it a gradually sloping elegance, was omitted, and the third placed directly upon the first. This is no improvement.

Perhaps the real reason for these architectural mishaps is not so much the fault of the architects and artists as that of the chapter, and of the flock which could not help satisfactorily toward the erection of a worthy cathedral. Luckily, however, there are other cathedrals in Spain, where, in spite of reduced funds, a decent and homogeneous building was erected.

The cloister, bare on the inner side, is nevertheless a modest Gothic structure with acceptable lobulated ogival windows.



Western Castile





The history of Palencia can be divided into two distinct parts, separated from each other by a lapse of about five hundred years, during which the city was entirely blotted out from the map of Spain.

The first period reaches from before the Roman Conquest to the Visigothic domination.

Originally inhabited by the Vacceos, a Celtiberian tribe, it was one of the last fortresses to succumb to Roman arms, having joined Numantia in the terrible war waged by Spaniards and which has become both legendary and universal.

Under Roman rule the broad belt of land, of which Palencia, a military town on the road from Astorga to Tarragon, was the capital, flourished as it had never done before. Consequently it is but natural that one of the first sees should have been established{220} there as soon as Christianity invaded the peninsula. No records are, however, at hand as regards the names of the first bishops and of the martyr saints, as thick here as elsewhere and as numerous in Spain as in Rome itself. At any rate, contemporary documents mention a Bishop Toribio, not the first to occupy the see nor the same prelate who worked miracles in Orense and Astorga. The Palencian Toribio fought also against the Priscilian heresy, and was one of the impediments which stopped its spread further southward. Of this man it is said that, disgusted with the heresy practised at large in his Pallantia, he mounted on a hill, and, stretching his arms heavenwards, caused the waters of the river to leave their bed and inundate the city, a most efficacious means of bringing loitering sheep to the fold.

Nowhere did the Visigoths wreak greater vengeance or harm on the Iberians who had hindered their entry into the peninsula than in Palencia. It was entirely wrecked and ruined, not one stone remaining to tell the tale of the city that had been. Slowly it emerged from the wreck, a village rather than a town; once in awhile its bishops{221} are mentioned, living rather in Toledo than in their humble see.

The Arab invasion devastated a second time the growing town; perhaps it was Alfonso I. himself who completely wrecked it, for the Moorish frontier was to the north of the city, and it was the sovereign's tactics to raze to the ground all cities he could not keep, when he made a risky incursion into hostile country.

So Palencia was forgotten until the eleventh century, when Sancho el Mayor, King of Navarra, who had conquered this part of Castile, reëstablished the long-ignored see. He was hunting among the weeds that covered the ruins of what had once been a Roman fortress, when a boar sprang out of cover in front of him and escaped. Being light of foot, the king followed the animal until it disappeared in a cave, or what appeared to be such, though it really was a subterranean chapel dedicated to the martyrs, or to the patron saint of old Pallantia, namely, San Antolin.

The hunted beast cowered down in front of the altar; the king lifted his arm to spear it, when lo, his arm was detained in mid-air by an invisible hand! Immediately the{222} monarch prostrated himself before the miraculous effigy of the saint; he acknowledged his sacrilegious sin, and prayed for forgiveness; the boar escaped, the monarch's arm fell to his side, and a few days later the see was reëstablished, a church was erected above the subterranean chapel, and Bernardo was appointed the first bishop (1035). After Sancho's death, his son Ferdinand, who, as we have seen, managed to unite for the first time all Northern Spain beneath his sceptre, made it a point of honour to favour the see his father had erected a few months before his death, an example followed by all later monarchs until the times of Isabel the Catholic.

A surprising number of houses were soon built around the cathedral, and the city's future was most promising. Its bishops were among the noble-blooded of the land, and enjoyed such exceptional privileges as gave them power and wealth rarely equalled in the history of the middle ages. But then, the city had been built for the church and not the church for the city, and it is not to be marvelled at that the prelates bore the title of "hecho un rey y un papa"—king and pope. The greater part of these princes, it is true,{223} lived at court rather than in their episcopal see, which is, perhaps, one of the reasons why Palencia failed to emulate with Burgos and Valladolid, though at one time it was the residence of some of the kings of Castile.

Moreover, being only second in importance to the two last named cities, Palencia was continually the seat of dissident noblemen and thwarted heirs to the throne; because these latter, being unable to conquer the capital, or Valladolid, invariably sought to establish themselves in Palencia, sometimes successfully, at others being obliged to retreat from the city walls. The story of the town is consequently one of the most adventurous and varied to be read in Spanish history, and it is due to the side it took in the rebellion against Charles-Quint, in the time of the Comuneros, that it was finally obliged to cede its place definitely to Valladolid, and lost its importance as one of the three cities of Castilla la Vieja.

It remains to be mentioned that Palencia was the seat of the first Spanish university (Christian, not Moorish), previous to either that of Salamanca or Alcalá. In 1208 this educational institution was founded by Alfonso VIII.; professors were procured{224} from Italy and France, and a building was erected beside the cathedral and under its protecting wing. It did not survive the monarch's death, however, for the reign of the latter's son left but little spare time for science and letters, and in 1248 it was closed, though twenty years later Pope Urbano IV. futilely endeavoured to reëstablish it. According to a popular tradition, it owed its definite death to the inhabitants of the town, who, bent upon venging an outrage committed by one of the students upon a daughter of the city, fell upon them one night at a given signal and killed them to the last man.

In the fourteenth century, the cathedral, which had suffered enormously from sieges and from the hands of enemies, was entirely pulled down and a new one built on the same spot (June, 1321). The subterranean chapel, which had been the cause of the city's resurrection, was still the central attraction and relic of the cathedral, and, according to another legend, no less marvellous than that of Toribio, its genuineness has been placed definitely (?) without the pale of skeptic doubts. It appears that one Pedro, Bishop of Osma (St. Peter of Osma?), was praying before the effigy of San Antolin when the{225} lights went out. The pious yet doubting prelate prayed to God to give him a proof of the relic's authenticity by lighting the candles. To his surprise (?) and glee, the candles lit by themselves!

Let us approach the city by rail. The train leaves Venta de Baños, a junction station with a village about two miles away possessing a seventh-century Visigothic church which offers the great peculiarity of horseshoe arches in its structure, dating from before the Arab invasion.

Immediately upon emerging from the station, the train enters an immense rolling plain of a ruddy, sandy appearance, with here and there an isolated sand-hill crowned by the forgotten ruins of a mediæval castle.

The capital of this region is Palencia.

The erection of the cathedral church of the town was begun in 1321; it was dedicated to the Mother and Child, and to San Antolin, whose chapel, devoid of all artistic merit, is still to be seen beneath the choir.

This edifice was finished toward 1550. The same division as has been observed in the history of the city can be applied to the temple: at first it was intended to construct{226} a modest Gothic church of red sandstone; the apse with its five chapels and traditional ambulatory was erected, as well as the transept and the high altar terminating the central nave. Then, after about a hundred years had passed away, the original plan was altered by lengthening the body of the building. Consequently the chapel of the high altar was too small in comparison with the enlarged proportions, and it was transformed into a parish chapel. Opposite it, and to the west of the old transept, another high altar was constructed in the central nave, and a second transept separated it from the choir which followed.

In other words, and looking at this curious monument as it stands to-day, the central nave is surmounted by an ogival vaulting of a series of ten vaults. The first transept cuts the nave beneath the sixth, and the second beneath the ninth vault. (Vault No. 1 is at the western end of the church.) Both transepts protrude literally beyond the general width of the building. The choir stands beneath the fourth and fifth vaults, and the high altar between the two transepts, occupying the seventh and eighth space. Beneath the tenth stands the parish chapel or ex-high{227} altar, behind which runs the ambulatory, on the off-side of which are situated the five apsidal chapels. Consequently the second transept separates the old from the new high altar.



In spite of the low aisles and nave, and the absence of sculptural motives so pronounced in Burgos, the effect produced on the spectator by the double cross and the unusual length as compared with the width is agreeable. The evident lack of unity in the Gothic structure is recompensed by the original and pleasing plan.

The final judgment that can be emitted concerning this cathedral church, when seen from the outside, is that it shows the typical Spanish-Gothic characteristic, namely, heaviness as contrasted to pure ogival lightness. There is poverty in the decorative details, and solemnity in the interior; the appearance from the outside is of a fortress rather than a temple, with slightly pointed Gothic windows, and a heavy and solid, rather than an elegant and light, general structure. Only the cathedral church of Palencia outgrew the original model and took the strange and exotic form it possesses to-day, without losing its fortress-like aspect.{228}

Though really built in stone (see the columns and pillars in the interior), brick has been largely used in the exterior; hence also the impossibility of erecting a pure Gothic building, and this is a remark that can be applied to most churches in Spain. The buttresses are heavy, the square tower (unfinished) is Romanesque or Mudejar in form rather than Gothic, though the windows be ogival. There is no western façade or portal; the tower is situated on the southern side between the true transepts.

Of the four doorways, two to the north and two to the south, which give access to the transepts, the largest and richest in sculptural decoration is the Bishop's Door (south). Observe the geometrical designs in the panels of the otherwise ogival and slightly pointed doorway. The other portal on the south is far simpler, and the arch which surmounts it is of a purer Gothic style; not so the geometrically decorated panels and the almost Arabian frieze which runs above the arches. This frieze is Moorish or Mudejar-Byzantine, and though really it does not belong in an ogival building, it harmonizes strangely with it.

In the interior of the cathedral the nakedness{229} of the columns is partially recompensed by the richness in sculptural design of some sepulchres, as well as by several sixteenth-century grilles. The huge retablo of the high altar shows Gothic luxuriousness in its details, and at the same time (in the capitals of the flanking columns) nascent plateresque severity.

Perhaps the most interesting corner of the interior is the trascoro, or the exterior side of the wall which closes the choir on the west. Here the patronizing genius of Bishop Fonseca, a scion of the celebrated Castilian family, excelled itself. The wall itself is richly sculptured, and possesses two fine lateral reliefs. In the centre there is a Flemish canvas of the sixteenth century, of excellent colour, and an elegantly carved pulpit.

In the chapter-room are to be seen some well-preserved Flemish tapestries, and in an apsidal chapel is one of Zurbaran's mystic subjects: a praying nun. (This portrait, I believe, has been sold or donated by the chapter, for, if I am not mistaken, it is to be seen to-day in the art collection of the Spanish royal family.)




Whatever may have been the origin of Zamora, erroneously confounded with that of Numantia, it is not until the ninth century that the city, or frontier fortress, appears in history as an Arab stronghold, taken from the Moors and fortified anew by Alfonso I. or by his son Froila, and necessarily lost and regained by Christians and Moors a hundred times over in such terrible battles as the celebrated and much sung día de Zamora in 901. In 939 another famous siege of the town was undertaken by infidel hordes, but the strength of the citadel and the numerous moats, six it appears they were in number, separated by high walls surrounding the town, were invincible, and the Arab warriors had to retreat. Nevertheless, between 900 and 980 the fortress was lost five times by the Christians. The last Moor to take it was Almanzor, who razed it to the ground and{231} then repopulated it with Arabs from Andalusia.

Previously, in 905, the parish church had been raised to an episcopal see; the first to occupy it being one Atilano, canonized later by Pope Urbano II.

Ten years after this bishop had taken possession of his spiritual throne, he was troubled by certain religious scruples, and, putting on a pilgrim's robe, he distributed his revenues among the parish poor and left the city. Crossing the bridge,—still standing to-day and leading from the town to Portugal,—he threw his pastoral ring into the river, swearing he would only reoccupy the lost see when the ring should have been given back into his hands; should this happen, it would prove that the Almighty had pardoned his sins.

For two years he roamed about visiting shrines and succouring the poor; at last one day he dreamed that his Master ordered him to repair immediately to his see, where he was sorely needed. Returning to Zamora, he passed the night in a neighbouring hermitage, and while supping—it must have been Friday!—in the belly of the fish he was eating he discovered his pastoral ring.{232}

The following day the church-bells were rung by an invisible hand, and the pilgrim, entering the city, was hailed as a saint by the inhabitants; the same invisible hands took off his pilgrim's clothes and dressed him in rich episcopal garments. He took possession of his see, dying in the seventh year of his second reign.

Almanzor el terrible, on the last powerful raid the Moors were to make, buried the Christian see beneath the ruins of the cathedral, and erected a mezquita to glorify Allah; fifteen years later the city fell into the hands of the Christians again, and saw no more an Arab army beneath its walls.

It was not, however, until 125 years later that the ruined episcopal see was reëstablished de modernis, the first bishop being Bernardo (1124).

But previous to the above date, an event took place in and around Zamora that has given national fame to the city, and has made it the centre of a Spanish Iliad hardly less poetic or dramatic than the Homerian legend, and therefore well worth narrating as perhaps unique in the peninsula, not to say in the history of the middle ages.

When Fernando I. of Castile died in{233} 1065, he left his vast territories to his five children, bequeathing Castile to his eldest son Sancho, Galicia to Garcia, Leon to Alfonso, Toro to Elvira, and Zamora to Urraca, who was the eldest daughter, and, with Sancho, the bravest and most intrepid of the five children.

According to the romance of Zamora, she, Doña Urraca, worried her father's last moments by trying to wheedle more than Zamora out of him; but the king was firm, adding only the following curse:

" 'Quien os la tomara, hija,
¡La mi maldición le caiga!'—
Todos dicen amén, amén,
Sino Don Sancho que calla."

Which in other words means: "Let my curse fall on whomsoever endeavours to take Zamora from you.... Those who were present agreed by saying amen; only the eldest son, Don Sancho, remained silent."

The latter, being ambitious, dethroned his brothers and sent them flying across the frontier to Andalusia, then Moorish territory. Toro also submitted to him, but not so Zamora, held by the dauntless Urraca and the governor of the citadel, Arias Gonzalo.{234} So it was besieged by the royal troops and asked to surrender, the message being taken by the great Cid from Don Sancho to his sister. She, of course, refused to give up the town. Wherefore is not known, but the fact is that the Cid, the ablest warrior in the hostile army, after having carried the embassy to the Infanta, left the king's army; the many romances which treat of this siege accuse him of having fallen in love with Doña Urraca's lovely eyes,—a love that was perhaps reciprocated,—who knows?

In short, the city was besieged during nine months. Hunger, starvation, and illness glared at the besieged. On the point of surrendering, they were beseeched by the Infanta to hold out nine days longer; in the meantime one Vellido Dolfo, famous in song, emerged by the city's postern gate and went to King Sancho's camp, saying that he was tired of serving Doña Urraca, with whom he had had a dispute, and that he would show the king how to enter the city by a secret path.

According to the romances, it would appear that the king was warned by the inhabitants themselves against the traitorous intentions of Vellido. "Take care, King Sancho,"{235} they shouted from the walls, "and remember that we warn you; a traitor has left the city gates who has already committed treason four times, and is about to commit the fifth."

The king did not hearken, as is generally the case, and went out walking with the knight who was to show him the secret gate; he never returned, being killed by a spear-thrust under almost similar circumstances to Siegfried's.

The father's curse had thus been fulfilled.

The traitor returned to the city, and, strange to say, was not punished, or only insufficiently so; consequently, it is to-day believed that the sister of the murdered monarch had a hand in the crime. Upon Vellido's return to the besieged town, the governor wished to imprison him—which in those days meant more than confinement—but the Infanta objected; it is even stated that the traitor spoke with his heartless mistress, saying: "It was time the promise should be fulfilled."

In the meanwhile, from the besieging army a solitary knight, Diego Ordoñez, rode up to the city walls, and accusing the inhabitants of felony and treason, both men and women, young and old, living and dead,{236} born and to be born, he challenged them to a duel. It had to be accepted, and, according to the laws of chivalry, the challenger had to meet in single combat five champions, one after another, for he had insulted, not a single man, but a community.

The gray-haired governor of the fortress reserved for himself and his four sons the duty of accepting the challenge; the Infanta beseeched him in vain to desist from his enterprise, but he was firm: his mistress's honour was at stake. At last, persuaded by royal tears, according to the romance, he agreed to let his sons precede him, and, only in case it should be necessary, would he take the last turn.

The eldest son left the city gates, blessed by the weeping father; his helmet and head were cleft in twain by Diego Ordoñez's terrible sword, and the latter's ironical shout was heard addressing the governor:

"Don Arias, send me hither another of your charming sons, because this one cannot bear you the message."

A second and third son went forth, meeting the same fate: but the latter's wounded horse, in throwing its rider, ran blindly into Ordoñez and knocked him out of the ring;{237} the duel was therefore judged to be a draw.

Several days afterward Alfonso, the dead king's younger brother, hurried up from Toledo, and after swearing in Burgos that he had had nothing to do with the felonious murder, was anointed King of Castile, Leon, and Galicia. His brave sister Urraca lived with him at court, giving him useful advice, until she retired to a convent, and at her death left her palace and her fortune to the Collegiate Church at Leon.

The remaining history of Zamora is one interminable list of revolts, sieges, massacres, and duels. As frontier fortress against Portugal in the west, its importance as the last garrison town on the Duero was exceptional, and consequently, though it never became important as a metropolis, as a stronghold it was one of Castile's most strategical points.

The best view of the city is obtained from the southern shore of the Duero; on a low hill opposite the spectator, the city walls run east and west; behind them, to the left, the castle towers loom up, square and Byzantine in appearance; immediately to the right the cathedral nave forms a horizontal{238} line to where the cimborio practically terminates the church. Thus from afar it seems as though the castle tower were part of the religious edifice, and the general appearance of the whole city surrounded by massive walls cannot be more warlike. The colour also of the ruddy sandstone and brick, brilliant beneath a bright blue sky, is characteristic of this part of Castile, and certainly constitutes one of its charms. What is more, the landscape is rendered more exotic or African by the Oriental appearance of the whole town, its castle, and its cathedral.

The latter was begun and ended in the twelfth century; the first stone was laid in 1151, and the vaults were closed twenty-three years later, in 1174; consequently it is one of the unique twelfth-century churches in Spain completed before the year 1200. It is true that the original edifice has been deformed by posterior additions and changes dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Excepting these abominable additions, the primitive building is Romanesque; not Romanesque as are the cathedrals we have seen in Galicia, but Byzantine, or military{239} Romanesque, showing decided Oriental influences. Would to Heaven the cathedral of Zamora were to-day as it stood in the twelfth century!



The form of the church is that of a basilica. Like the cathedral of Palencia, it lacks a western front; the apse is semicircular, strengthened by heavy leaning buttresses; the upper, towerless rim of this same body is decorated with an ogival festoon set off by means of the primitive pinnacles of the top of the buttresses. The northern (Renaissance or plateresque) front is, though beautiful and severe in itself, a calamity when compared with the Romanesque edifice, as is also the new and horrid clock-tower.

The view of the southern end of the transept, as seen from the left, is the most imposing to be obtained of the building. Two flights of steps lead up to the Romanesque portal, flanked by three simple pillars, which support three rounded arches deeply dentated(!). Blind windows, similar in structure to the portal, occupy the second body of the façade, and are surmounted in their turn by a simple row of inverted crenelated teeth, showing in their rounded edges the timid use of the horseshoe arc. The{240} superior body is formed by two concentric and slightly ogival arches embedded in the wall.

The greatest attraction, and that which above all gives a warlike aspect to the whole building, is the cimborio, or lantern of the croisée. Flanked by four circular turrets, which are pierced by round-topped windows and surmounted by Oriental domes that add a stunted, solid appearance to the whole, the principal cupola rises to the same height as the previously mentioned turrets. The whole is a marvel of simple architectural resource within the narrow limits of the round-arched style. What is more, though this cupola and that of Santiago belong to the same period, what a world of difference between the two! Seen as indicated above, the factura of the whole is intensely Oriental (excepting the addition of the triangular cornices emerging from beneath the cupola), and, it may be said in parenthesis, exceptionally fine. Besides, the high walls of the aisles, as compared with the stunted growth of the cimborio, and with the compact and slightly angular form of the entire building, lend an unrivalled aspect of solidity, strength, and resistance to the twelfth-century cathedral{241} church, so intrinsically different from that of Santiago.

The interior is no less peculiar, and particularly so beneath the lantern of the croisée. The latter is composed of more than a dozen windows, slightly ogival in shape, though from the outside the pillars of the flanking turrets support round-headed arches; these windows are separated from each other by simple columns or shafts. Again, what a difference between this solid and simple cimborio and the marvellous lantern of the cathedral at Burgos! Two ages, two generations, even two ideals, are represented in both; the earlier, the stronger, in Zamora; the later, the more aerial and elaborate, in Burgos.

Another Romanesque characteristic is the approximate height of nave and aisles. This circumstance examined from within or from without is one of the causes of the solid appearance of the church; the windows of the aisles—unimportant, it is true, from an artistic point of view—are slightly ogival; those of the nave are far more primitive and round-headed.

The transept, originally of the same length as the width of the church, was prolonged in{242} the fifteenth century. (On the south side also?... It is extremely doubtful, as the southern façade previously described is hardly a fifteenth-century construction; on the other hand, that on the north side is easily classified as posterior to the general construction of the building.)

Further, the western end, lacking a façade, is terminated by an apse, that is, each aisle and the central nave run into a chapel. The effect of this double apse is highly peculiar, especially as seen from within, with chapels to the east and chapels to the west.

The retablo is of indifferent workmanship; the choir stalls, on the other hand, are among the most exquisitely wrought—simple, sober, and natural—to be seen in Spain, especially those of the lower row.

The chapels are as usual in Spanish cathedrals, as different in style as they are in size; none of those in Zamora can be considered as artistic jewels. The best is doubtless that which terminates the southern aisles on the western end of the church, where the principal façade ought to have been placed. It is Gothic, rich in its decoration, but showing here and there the decadence of the northern style.{243}

The cloister—well, anywhere else it might have been praised for its plateresque simplicity and severity, but here!—it is out of date and place.

To conclude, the general characteristics of the cathedral of Zamora are such as justify the opinion that the edifice, especially as its Byzantine-Oriental and severe primitive structure is concerned, is one of the great churches that can still be admired in Spain, in spite of the reduced size and of the additions which have been introduced.

Note.—To the traveller interested in church architecture, the author wishes to draw attention to the parish church of La Magdalen in Zamora. The northern portal of the same is one of the most perfect—if not the most perfect—specimen of Byzantine-Romanesque decoration to be met with in Spain. It is perhaps unique in the world. At the same time, the severe Oriental appearance of the church, both from the outside and as seen from within, cannot fail to draw the attention of the most casual observer.




To the west of Valladolid, on the river Duero, Toro, the second of the two great fortress cities, uplifts its Alcázar to the blue sky; like Zamora, it owed its fame to its strategic position: first, as one of the Christian outposts to the north of the Duero against the Arab possessions to the south, and, secondly, as a link between Valladolid and Zamora, the latter being the bulwark of Christian opposition against the ever encroaching Portuguese.

Twin cities the fortresses have been called, and no better expression is at hand to denote at once the similarity of their history, their necessary origin, and their necessary decadence.

Nevertheless, Toro appears in history somewhat later than Zamora, having been erected either on virgin soil, or upon the ruins of a destroyed Arab fortress as late as{245} in the tenth century, by Garcia, son of Alfonso III. At any rate, it was not until a century later, in 1065, that the city attained any importance, when Fernando I. bequeathed it to his daughter Elvira, who, seeing her elder brother's impetuous ambitions, handed over the town and the citadel to him.

Throughout the middle ages the name of Toro is foremost among the important fortresses of Castile, and many an event—generally tragic and bloody—took place behind its walls. Here Alfonso XI. murdered his uncle in cold blood, and Don Pedro el Cruel, after besieging the town and the citadel held in opposition to him by his mother, allowed her a free exit with the gentlemen defenders of the place, but broke his word when they were on the bridge, and murdered all excepting his widowed mother!

In the days of Isabel the Catholic, Toro was taken by the kings of Portugal, who upheld the claims of Enrique IV's illegitimate daughter, Juana la Beltranaja. In the vicinity of the town, the great battle of Pelea Gonzalo was fought, which gave the western part of Castile to the rightful{246} sovereigns. This battle is famous for the many prelates and curates who, armed,—and wearing trousers and not frocks!—fought like Christians (!) in the ranks.

In Toro, Cortes was assembled in 1505 to open Queen Isabel's testament, and to promulgate those laws which have gone down in Spanish history as the Leyes de Toro; this was the last spark of Toro's fame, for since then its fate has been identical with that of Zamora, forty miles away.

Strictly speaking, it is doubtful if Toro ever was a city; at one time it seems to have possessed an ephemeral bishop,—at least such is the popular belief,—who must have reigned in his see but a short time, as at an early date the city was submitted to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Astorga. Later, when the see was reëstablished in Zamora, the latter's twin sister, Toro, was definitely included in the new episcopal diocese.

Be that as it may, the Catholic kings raised the church at Toro to a collegiate in the sixteenth century (1500?) because they were anxious to gain the good-will of the inhabitants after the Portuguese invasion.

Built either toward the end of the twelfth or the beginning of the thirteenth century,{247} Santa Maria la Mayor, popularly called la catedral, closely resembles the cathedral church at Zamora. The style is the same (Byzantine-Romanesque), and the impression of strength and solidity produced by the warlike aspect of the building is even more pronounced than in the case of the sister church.

The general plan is that of a basilica, rectangular in shape, with a three-lobed apse, the central lobe being by far the largest in size, and a transept which protrudes slightly beyond the width of the church. This transept is situated immediately in front of the apse; the croisée is surmounted by the handsome cimborio, larger than that at Zamora, pierced by twice as many round-topped windows, but lacking a cupola, as do also the flanking towers, which are flat-topped. Above and between these latter, the cone-shaped roof of the cimborio, properly speaking, is sloping and triangular in its cross-section.

This body, less Oriental in appearance than the one in Zamora, impresses one with a feeling of greater awe, thanks to the great diameter as compared with the foreshortened height. Crowning as it does the apse (from{248} the proximity of the transept to the head of the church), the croisée, and the two wings of the transept, the cupola in question produces a weird and incomprehensible effect on the spectator viewing it from the southeast. The more modern tower, which backs the cimborio, lends, it is true, a certain elegance to the edifice that the early builders were not willing to impart. The ensemble is, nevertheless, peculiarly Byzantine, and, with the mother-church in Zamora, which it resembles without copying, it stands almost unique in the history of art.

The lateral doors, not situated in the transept, are located near the foot of the church. The southern portal is the larger, but the most simple; the arch which crowns it shows a decided ogival tendency, a circumstance which need not necessarily be attributed to Gothic influence, as in many churches prior to the introduction of the ogival arch the pointed top was known, and in isolated cases it was made use of, though purely by accident, and not as a constructive element.

The northern door is smaller, but a hundred times richer in sculptural design. It shows Byzantine influence in the decoration,{249} and as a Byzantine-Romanesque portal can figure among the best in Spain.



It has been supposed that the western front of the building possessed at one time a narthex, like the cathedral Tuy, for instance. Nothing remains of it, however, as the portal which used to be here was done away with, and in its place a modern chapel with a fine Gothic retablo was consecrated.

Seen from the interior, the almost similar height of the nave and aisles, leaves, as in Zamora, a somewhat stern and depressing impression on the visitor; the light which enters is also feeble, excepting beneath the linterna, where "the difficulty of placing a circular body on a square without the aid of supports (pechinas) has been so naturally and perfectly overcome that we are obliged to doubt of its ever having existed."

Gothic elements, more so than in Zamora, mix with the Romanesque traditions in the decoration of the nave and aisles; nevertheless, the elements of construction are purely Romanesque, excepting the central apsidal chapel which contains the high altar. Restored by the Fonseca family in the sixteenth century, it is ogival in conception and execution, and contains some fine tombs of the{250} above named aristocratic family. But the chapel passes unnoticed in this peculiarly exotic building, where solidity and not grace was the object sought and obtained.




The very position of Salamanca, immediately to the north of the chain of mountains which served for many a century as a rough frontier wall between Christians and Moors, was bound to ensure the city's importance and fame. Its history is consequently unique, grander and more exciting than that of any other city; the universal name it acquired in the fourteenth century, thanks to its university, can only be compared with that of Bologna, Paris, and Oxford.

Consequently its fall from past renown to present insignificance was tremendous, and to-day, a heap of ruins, boasting of traditions like Toledo and Burgos, of two cathedrals and twenty-four parish churches, of twice as many convents and palaces, of a one-time glorious university and half a hundred colleges,—Salamanca sleeps away a useless existence from which it will never awaken.{252}

Its history has still to be penned. What an exciting and stirring account of middle age life in Spain it would be!

The Romans knew Salamantia, and the first notice handed down to us of the city reads like a fairy story, as though predicting future events.

According to Plutarch, the town was besieged by Hannibal, and had to surrender. The inhabitants were allowed to leave, unarmed, and taking away with them only their clothes; the men were searched as they passed out, but not so the women.

Together men and women left the town. A mile away they halted, and the women drew forth from beneath their robes concealed weapons. Together the men and the women returned to their town and stealthily fell upon their foes, slaughtering them in considerable numbers. Hannibal was so "enchanted" (!) with the bravery displayed by the women, that he drew away his army from the town, leaving the patriotic inhabitants to settle again their beloved Salamanca.

The Western Goths, upon their arrival in Spain, found Salamanca in a flourishing state, and respected its episcopal see, the origin of which is ignored. The first bishop we{253} have any record of is Eleuterio, who signed the third Council of Toledo in 589.

The Arabs treated the city more harshly; it was in turn taken and destroyed by infidels and Christians; the former sacking frontier towns, the latter destroying all fortresses they could not hold.

In the eighth century no bishop seems to have existed in Salamanca; in the tenth, date of a partial reëstablishment of the see, seven prelates are mentioned; these did not, however, risk their skins by taking possession of their chair, but lived quietly in the north, either in Santiago—farther north they could not go!—or else in Leon and Burgos. The eleventh century is again devoid of any ecclesiastical news connected with the see of Salamanca; what is more, the very name of the city is forgotten until Alfonso VI. crossed the Guaderrama and fixed his court in Toledo. This bold step, taken in a hostile country far from the centre of the kingdom and from his base of operations, obliged the monarch to erect with all speed a series of fortresses to the north; as a result, Salamanca, Segovia, and Avila, beyond the Guaderrama Mountains, and Madrid to the south, were quickly populated by Christians.{254}

This occurred in 1102; the first bishop de modernis was Jeronimo, a French warrior-monk, who had accompanied his bosom friend el Cid to Valencia, had fought beside him, and had been appointed bishop of the conquered see. Not for any length of time, however, for as soon as el Cid died, the Moors drove the Christians out of the new kingdom, and the bishop came to Leon with the Cristo de las Batallas,—a miraculous cross of old Byzantine workmanship, supposed to have aided the Cid in many a battle,—as the only souvenir of his stay in the Valencian see.

The next four or five bishops fought among themselves. At one time the city had no fewer than two, a usurper, and another who was not much better; the Pope deprived one of his dignity, the king another, the influential Archbishop of Santiago chose a third, who was also deposed—the good old times!—until at last one Berengario was appointed, and the ignominious conflict was peacefully settled.

The inhabitants of the city at the beginning were a strong, warlike medley of Jews (these were doubtless the least warlike!), Arabs, Aragonese, Castilian, French, and{255} Leonese. Bands of these without a commander invaded Moorish territory, sacking and pillaging where they could. On one occasion they were pursued by an Arab army, whose general asked to speak with the captain of the Salamantinos. The answer was, "Each of us is his own captain!" words that can be considered typical of the anarchy which reigned in Spain until the advent of Isabel and Ferdinand in the fifteenth century.

If the bishops fought among themselves, and if the low class people lived in a state of utter anarchy, the same spirit spread to—or emanated from—the nobility, of whom Salamanca had more than its share, especially as soon as the university was founded. The annals of no other city are so replete with family traditions and feuds, which were not only restricted to the original disputers, to their families and acquaintances, but became generalized among the inhabitants themselves, who took part in the feud. Thus it often happened that the city was divided into two camps, separated by an imaginary line, and woe betide the daring or careless individual who crossed it!

One of the most dramatic of these feuds—a {256}savage species of vendetta—was the following:

Doña Maria Perez, a Plasencian dame of noble birth, had married one of the most powerful noblemen in Salamanca, Monroy by name, and upon the latter's death remained a widowed mother of two sons. One of them asked and obtained in marriage the hand of a noble lady who had refused a similar proposition made by one Enriquez, son of a Sevillan aristocrat. The youth's jealousy and anger was therefore bitterly aroused, and he and his brother waited for a suitable opportunity in which to avenge themselves. It soon came: they were playing Spanish ball, pelota, one day with the accepted suitor, when a dispute arose as to who was the better player; the two brothers fell upon their victim and foully murdered him. But afraid lest his brother should venge the latter's death, they lay in wait for him behind a street corner, and as he came along they rapidly killed him as they had his brother. Then they fled across the frontier to Portugal.

The two corpses had in the meantime been carried on a bier by the crowds and laid down in front of Doña Maria's house; the latter{257} stepped out on the balcony, with dishevelled hair; an angry murmur went from one end of the crowd to the other, and a universal clamour arose: vengeance was on every one's lips. But Doña Maria commanded silence.

"Be calm," she said, "and take these bodies to the cathedral. Vengeance? Fear not, I shall venge myself."

An hour later she left the town with an escort, apparently with a view to retire to her estates near Plasencia. Once well away from the city, she divulged her plan to the escort and asked if they were willing to follow her. Receiving an affirmative reply, she tore off her woman's clothes and appeared dressed in full armour; placing a helmet on her head, she took the lead of her troops again, and set out for the Portuguese frontier.

The strange company arrived on the third day at a Portuguese frontier town, where they were told that two foreigners had arrived the night before. By the description of the two Spaniards, Doña Maria felt sure they were her sons' murderers, and consequently she and her escort approached the house where the fugitives were passing the night. Placing the escort beneath the window,{258} she stealthily entered the house and stole to the brothers' room; then she slew them whilst they were sleeping, and, rushing to the window, threw it open, and, spearing the heads of her enemies on her lance, she showed them to her retinue, with the words:

"I'm venged! Back to Salamanca."

Silently, at the head of her troops, and bearing the two heads on her lance, Doña Maria returned to Salamanca. Entering the cathedral, she threw them on the newly raised slabs which covered her sons' remains.

Ever after she was known as Doña Maria la brava, and is as celebrated to-day as she was in the fifteenth century, during the abominable reign of Henry IV. And so great was the feud which divided the city into two camps, that it lasted many years, and many were the victims of the gigantic vendetta.

The city's greatest fame lay in its university, founded toward 1215, by Alfonso IX. of Leon, who was jealous of his cousin Alfonso VIII. of Castile, the founder of the luckless university of Palencia.

The fate of the last named university has been duly mentioned elsewhere; that of Salamanca was far different. In 1255 the{259} Pope called it one of the four lamps of the world; strangers—students from all corners of Europe—flocked to the city to study. Perhaps its greatest merit was the study of Arabic and Arabian letters, and it has been said that the study of the Orient penetrated into Europe through Salamanca alone.

What a glorious life must have been the university city's during the apogee of her fame! Students from all European lands, dressed in the picturesque costume worn by those who attended the university, wended their way through the streets, singing and playing the guitar or the mandolin; they mingled with dusky noblemen, richly dressed in satins and silks, and wearing the rapier hanging by their sides; they flirted with the beautiful daughters of Spain, and gravely saluted the bishop when he was carried along in his chair, or rode a quiet palfrey. At one time the court was established in the university city, lending a still more brilliant lustre to the every-day life of the inhabitants, and to the sombre streets lined with palaces, churches, colleges, convents, and monasteries.

Gone! To-day the city lies beneath an immense weight of ruins of all kinds, that{260} chain her down to the past which was her glory, and impede her from looking ahead into her future with ambitions and hopes.

The cathedrals Salamanca can boast of to-day are two, an old one and a comparatively new one; the latter was built beside the former, a praiseworthy and exceptional proceeding, for, instead of pulling down the old to make room for the new, as happens throughout the world, the cathedral chapter convocated an assembly of architects, and was intelligent enough—another wonder!—to accept the verdict that the old building, a Romanesque-Byzantine edifice of exceptional value, should not be demolished. The new temple was therefore erected beside the former, and, obeying the art impulses of the centuries which witnessed its construction, is an ogival church spoilt—or bettered—by Renaissance, plateresque, and grotesque decorative elements.

The Old Cathedral.—The exact date of the erection of the old see is not known; toward 1152 it was already in construction, and 150 years later, in 1299, it was not concluded. Consequently, and more than in the case of Zamora and Toro, the upper{261} part of the building shows decided ogival tendencies; yet in spite of these evident signs of transition, the ensemble, the spirit of the building, is, beyond a doubt, Romanesque-Byzantine, and not Gothic.



The plan of the church is the same as those of Zamora, Toro, and Coria: a nave and two aisles cut short at the transept, which is slightly prolonged beyond the width of the body of the church; there is no ambulatory walk, but to the east of the transept are three chapels in a three-lobed apse, the central lobe larger than the others and containing the high altar; the choir was placed (originally) in the centre of the nave, and a cimborio crowns the croisée, this latter being a peculiarity of the three cathedral churches of Zamora, Toro, and Salamanca.

Unluckily, the erection of the new building as an annex of the old one required (as in Plasencia, though from different reasons) the demolition of certain parts of the latter; as, for instance, the two towers of the western front, the northern portal as well as the northern half of the apse, and the corresponding part of the transept. Parts of these have either been surrounded or replaced by the new building.{262}

The narthex and the western end are still preserved. They are of the same width as the nave, for, beneath the towers, of which one seems to have been far higher than the other, each of the aisles terminates in a chapel. Byzantine in appearance, the two western doors are, nevertheless, crowned by an ogival arch, and flanked by statuettes of the same style. The façade, repaired and spoilt, is of Renaissance severity.

The interior of the building is more impressive than that of either Zamora or Toro; this is due to the absence of the choir,—removed to the new cathedral,—which permits an uninterrupted view of the whole church, which does not occur in any other temple throughout Spain. Romanesque strength and gloominess is clearly discernible, whereas the height of the central nave (sixty feet) is rendered stumpy in appearance by the almost equal height of the aisles. The strength and solidity of the pillars and columns, supporting capitals and friezes of a peculiar and decided Byzantine taste (animals, dragons, etc.), show more keenly than in Galicia the Oriental influence which helped so thoroughly to shape Central Spanish Romanesque.{263}

Of the chapels, but one deserves special mention, both as seen from without and from within, namely, the high altar, or central apsidal chapel. Seen from without, it is of perfect Romanesque construction, excepting the upper row of rose windows, which are ogival in their traceries; inside, it contains a mural painting of an exceedingly primitive design, and a retablo in low reliefs enchased in ogival arches; it is of Italian workmanship.

Of the remaining chapels, that of San Bartolomé contains an alabaster sepulchre of the Bishop Diego de Anaya—one of the many prelates of those times who was the possessor of illegitimate sons; the bodies of most of the latter lie within this chapel, which can be regarded not only as a family pantheon, but as a symbol of ecclesiastical greatness and human weakness.

The windows which light up the nave are round-headed, and yet they are delicately decorated, as is rarely to be seen in the Romanesque type. The aisles, on the contrary, are not lit up by any windows.

Like the churches of Zamora and Toro, the whole cathedral resembles a fortress rather than a place of worship. The simplicity{264} of the general structure, the rounded turrets buried in the walls, serving as leaning buttresses, the narrow slits in the walls instead of windows, lend an indisputable aspect of strength. The beautiful, the really beautiful lantern, situated above the croisée, with its turrets, its niches, its thirty odd windows, and its elegant cupola, is an architectural body that wins the admiration of all who behold it, either from within the church or from without, and which, strictly Byzantine in conception (though rendered peculiarly Spanish by the addition of certain elements which pertain rather to Gothic military art than to church architecture), is unique—to the author's knowledge—in all Europe. Less pure in style, and less Oriental in appearance than that of Zamora, it was nevertheless, created more perfect by the artistic conception of the architect, and consequently more finished or developed than those of Toro and Zamora. Without hesitation, it can claim to be one of Salamanca's chief attractions.

The thickness of the walls (ten feet!), the admirable simpleness of the vaulting, and the general aspect from the exterior, have won{265} for the church the name of fortis Salamantini.

The New Cathedral.—It was begun in 1513, the old temple having been judged too small, and above all too narrow for a city of the importance of Salamanca.

Over two hundred years did the building of the present edifice last; at times all work was stopped for years, no funds being at hand to pay either artists or masons.

The primitive plan of the church, as proposed by the congress of architects, was Gothic of the second period, with an octagonal apse; the lower part of the church, from the foot to the transept, was the first to be constructed.

The upper part of the apse was not begun until the year 1588, and the artist, imbued with the beauty of Herrero's Escorial, squared the apse with the evident intention of constructing turrets on the exterior angles, which would have rendered the building symmetrical: two towers on the western front, a cupola on the croisée, and two smaller turrets on the eastern end.

The building as it stands to-day is a perfect rectangle cut in its length by a nave (containing{266} the choir and the high altar), and by two aisles, lower than the nave and continued in an ambulatory walk behind the high altar.

The same symmetry is visible in the lateral chapels: eight square huecos on the exterior walls of the aisles, five to the west, and three to the east of the transept, and three in the extreme eastern wall of the apse.

Magnificence rather than beauty is the characteristic note of the new cathedral. The primitive part—pure ogival with but little mixture—contrasts with the eastern end, which is covered over with the most glaring grotesque decoration; most of the chapels are spoiled by the same shocking profusion of super-ornamentation; the otherwise majestic cupola, the high altar, and the choir—all suffer from the same defect.

The double triforium—one higher than the other—in the clerestory produces a most favourable impression; this is heightened by the wealth of light, which, entering by two rows of windows and by the cimborio, falls upon the rich decoration of friezes and capitals. The general view of the whole building is also freer than in most Spanish{267} cathedrals, and this harmony existing in the proportions of the different parts strikes the visitor more favourably, perhaps, than in the severer cathedral at Burgos.



The exterior of the building reflects more truthfully than the interior the different art waves which spread over Spain during the centuries of the temple's erection. In the western front, the rich Gothic portal of the third period, the richest perhaps in sculptural variety of any on the peninsula, contrasts with the high mongrel tower, a true example of the composite towers so frequently met with in certain Spanish regions. The second body of the same façade (western) is highly interesting, not on account of its ornamentation, which is simple, but because of the solid, frank structure, and the curious fortress-like turrets embedded in the angles.

The flank of the building, seen from the north—for on the south side stand the ruins of the old cathedral—is none too homogeneous, thanks to the different styles in which the three piers of windows—of chapels, aisles, and clerestory—have been constructed. The ensemble is picturesque, nevertheless: the three rows of windows,{268} surmounted by the huge cupola and half-lost among the buttresses, certainly contribute toward the general elegance of the granite structure.




In the times of the Romans, the country to the west of Salamanca seems to have been thickly populated. Calabria, situated between the Agueda and Coa Rivers, was an episcopal see; in its vicinity Augustábriga and Miróbriga were two other important towns.

Of these three Roman fortresses, and perhaps native towns, before the invasion, not as much as a stone or a legend remains to relate the tale of their existence and death.

Toward 1150, Fernando II. of Castile, obeying the military requirements of the Reconquest, and at the same time wishing to erect a fortress-town, which, together with Zamora to the north, Salamanca to the west, and Coria to the south, could resist the invasion of Spain by Portuguese armies, founded Ciudad Rodrigo, and twenty years later raised the church to an episcopal see,{270} a practical means of attracting God-fearing settlers. Consequently, the twelfth-century town, inheriting the ecclesiastical dignity of Calabria, if the latter ever possessed it, besides being situated in the same region as the three Roman cities previously mentioned, can claim to have been born a city.

One of the early bishops (the first was a certain Domingo) was the famous Pedro Diaz, about whom a legend has been handed down to us. This legend has also been graphically illustrated by an artist of the sixteenth century; his painting is to be seen to the right of the northern transept door in the cathedral.

Pedro Diaz seems to have been a worldly priest, "fond of the sins of the flesh and of good eating," who fell ill in the third year of his reign. His secretary, a pious servant of the Lord, dreamt he saw his master's soul devoured by demons, and persuaded him to confess his sins. It was too late, for a few days later he died; his death was, however, kept a secret by his menials, who wished to have plenty of time to make a generous division of his fortune. When all had been settled to their liking, the funeral procession moved through the streets of the city, and,{271} to the surprise of all, the dead bishop, resurrected by St. Francis of Assisi, at the time in Ciudad Rodrigo, opened the coffin and stood upon the hearse. He accused his servants of their greed, and at the same time made certain revelations concerning the life hereafter. His experiences must have been rather pessimistic, to judge by the bishop's later deeds, for, having been granted a respite of twenty days upon this earth, he "fasted and made penitence," doubtless eager to escape a second time the tortures of the other world.

Other traditions concerning the lives and doings of the noblemen who disputed the feudal right or señorio over the town, are as numerous as in Plasencia, with which city Ciudad Rodrigo has certain historical affinities. The story of the Virgen Coronada, who, though poor, did not hesitate in killing a powerful and wealthy libertine nobleman whom she was serving; the no less stirring account of Doña Maria Adan's vow that she would give her fair daughter's hand to whomsoever venged her wrongs on the five sons of her husband's murderer, are among the most tragic and thrilling. There are many other traditions beside, which constitute{272} the past's legacy to the solitary city near the Portuguese frontier.

It was in the nineteenth century that Ciudad Rodrigo earned fame as a brave city. The Spanish war for independence had broken out against the French, who overran the country, and passed from Bayonne in the Gascogne to Lisbon in Portugal. Ciudad Rodrigo lay on the shortest route for the French army, and had to suffer two sieges, one in 1810 and the second in 1812. In the latter, Wellington was the commander of the English forces who had come to help the Spanish chase the French out of the peninsula; the siege of the town and the battle which ensued were long and terrible, but at last the allied English and Spanish won, with the loss of two English generals. The Iron Duke was rewarded by Spanish Cortes, with the title of Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, together with the honours of grandee of Spain, which are still retained by Wellington's descendants.



The cathedral church of Ciudad Rodrigo is a twelfth-century building, in which the Romanesque style, similar to those of Zamora and Toro, fights with the nascent ogival style. Notwithstanding these remarks, however,{273} the building does not pertain to the Transition period, but rather to the second or last period of Spanish Romanesque. This is easily seen by the basilica form of the church, the three-lobed apse, the lack of an ambulatory walk, and the apparently similar height of nave and aisles.

The square tower, surmounted by a cupola, at the foot of the church, as well as the entire western front, dates from the eighteenth century; it is cold, anti-artistic, utterly unable to appeal to the poetic instincts of the spectator.

Behind the western front, and leading directly into the body of the church, is a delightful Romanesque narthex which doubtlessly served as the western façade prior to the eighteenth-century additions. It is separated from the principal nave by a door divided into two by a solid pediment, upon which is encrusted a statue of the Virgin with Child in her arms. The semicircular arches which surmount the door are finely executed, and the columns which support them are decorated with handsome twelfth-century statuettes. There is a great similarity between this portal and the principal one (del Obispo) in Toro: it almost seems{274} as though the same hand had chiselled both, or at least traced the plan of their decoration.

Of the two doors which lead, one on the south and the other on the north, into the transept, the former is perhaps the more perfect specimen of the primitive style. Both are richly decorated; unluckily, in both portals, the rounded arches have been crowned in more recent times by an ogival arch, which certainly mars the pureness of the style, though not the harmony of the ensemble.

To the left of these doors, a niche has been carved into the wall to contain a full-length statue of the Virgin; this is an unusual arrangement in Spanish churches.

The exterior of the apse retains its primitive cachet; the central chapel, where the high altar is placed, was, however, rebuilt in the sixteenth century by Tavera, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Toledo, who had at one time occupied the see of Ciudad Rodrigo. It is a peculiar mixture of Gothic and Romanesque, of pointed windows and heavy buttresses; the flat roof is decorated by means of a low stone railing or balustrade composed of elegantly carved pinnacles.{275}

To conclude: excepting the western front and the central lobe of the apse, the tower and the ogival arch surmounting the northern and southern portals, the cathedral of Ciudad Rodrigo is one of the most perfectly preserved Romanesque buildings to the south of Zamora and Toro. It is less grim and warlike than the two last-named edifices, and yet it is also a fair example of severe and gloomy (though not less artistic!) Castilian Romanesque. Its croisée is not surmounted by the heavy cupola as in Salamanca and elsewhere, and it is perhaps just this suppression or omission which gives the whole building a far less Oriental appearance than the others mentioned heretofore.

In the inside, the choir occupies its usual place. Its stalls, it is believed, were carved by Alemán, the same who probably wrought those superb seats at Plasencia. It is doubtful if the same master carved both, however, but were it so, the stalls at Ciudad Rodrigo would have to be classified as older, executed before those we shall examine in a future chapter.

The nave and two aisles, pierced by ogival windows in the clerestory and round-headed windows in the aisles, constitute the church;{276} the croisée is covered by means of a simple ogival vaulting; the arches separating the nave from the aisles are Romanesque, as is the vaulting of the former. It was originally the intention of the chapter to beautify the solemn appearance of the interior by means of a triforium or running gallery. Unluckily, perhaps because of lack of funds, the triforium was never begun excepting that here and there are seen remnants of the primitive tracing.

With the lady-chapel profusely and lavishly ornamented, and quite out of place in this solemn building, there are five chapels, one at the foot of each aisle and two in the apse, to the right and left of the lady-chapel. They all lack art interest, however, as does the actual retablo, which replaces the one destroyed by the French; remnants of the latter are to be seen patched up on the cloister walls.

This cloister to the north of the church is a historical monument, for each of the four sides of the square edifice is an architectural page differing from its companions. Studying first the western, then the southern, and lastly the two remaining sides, the student can obtain an idea of how Romanesque principles{277} struggled with Gothic before dying completely out, and how the latter, having reached its apogee, deteriorated into the most lamentable superdecoration before fading away into the naked, straight-lined features of the Renaissance so little compatible with Christian ideals.




To the west of Toledo and to the south of the Sierra de Gata, which, with the mountains of Gredo and the Guaderrama, formed in the middle ages a natural frontier between Christians and Moors, lies, in a picturesque and fertile vale about twenty miles distant from the nearest railway station, the little known cathedral town of Coria. It is situated on the northern shores of the Alagón, a river flowing about ten miles farther west into the Tago, near where the latter leaves Spanish territory and enters that of Portugal.

Caurium, or Curia Vetona, was its name when the Romans held Extremadura, and it was in this town, or in its vicinity, that Viriato, the Spanish hero, destroyed four Roman armies sent to conquer his wild hordes. He never lost a single battle or skirmish, and might possibly have dealt a{279} death-blow to Roman plans of domination in the peninsula, had not the traitor's knife ended his noble career.

Their enemy dead, the Romans entered the city of Coria, which they immediately surrounded by a circular wall half a mile in length, and twenty-six feet thick (!). This Roman wall, considered by many to be the most perfectly preserved in Europe, is severely simple in structure, and flanked by square towers; it constitutes the city's one great attraction.

The episcopal see was erected in 338. The names of the first bishops have long been forgotten, the first mentioned being one Laquinto, who signed the third Toledo Council in 589.

Two centuries later the Moors raised Al-Kárica to one of their capitals; in 854 Zeth, an ambitious Saracen warrior, freed it from the yoke of Cordoba, and reigned in the city as an independent sovereign.

Like Zamora and Toro, Coria was continually being lost and won by Christians and Moors, with this difference, that whereas the first two can be looked upon as the last Christian outposts to the north of the Duero,{280} Coria was the last Arab stronghold to the north of the Tago.

Toward the beginning of the thirteenth century, the strong fortress on the Alagón was definitely torn from the hands of its independent sovereign by Alfonso VIII., after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. A bishop was immediately reinstated in the see, and after five centuries of Mussulman domination, Coria saw the standard of Castile waving from its citadel.

As happened with so many other provincial towns in Spain, the centralization of power to the north of Toledo shoved Coria into the background; to-day it is a cathedral village forgotten or completely ignored by the rest of Spain. Really, it might perhaps have been better for the Arabs to have preserved it, for under their rule it flourished.

It is picturesque, this village on the banks of the Alagón: a heap or bundle of red bricks surrounded by grim stone walls, over-topped by a cathedral tower and citadel,—the whole picture emerging from a prairie and thrown against a background formed by the mountains to the north and the bright blue sky in the distance.

Arab influence is only too evident in the{281} buildings and houses, in the Alcázar, and in the streets; unluckily, these remembrances of a happy past depress the dreamy visitor obliged to recognize the infinite sadness which accompanied the expulsion of the Moors by intolerant tyrants from the land they had inhabited, formed, and moulded to their taste. Nowhere is this so evident as in Coria, a forgotten bit of mediæval Moor-land. The poet's exclamation is full of bitterness and resignation when he exclaims:

"Is it possible that this heap of ruins should have been in other times the splendid court of Zeth and Mondhir!"

As an architectural building, the cathedral of Coria is a parish church, which, removed to any other town, would be devoid of any and all beauty. In other words, the impressions it produces are entirely dependent upon its local surroundings; eliminate these, and the temple is worthless from an artistic or poetical point of view.

It was begun in 1120, most likely by Arab workmen; it was finished toward the beginning of the sixteenth century. Honestly speaking, it is a puzzle what the artisans did in all those long years; doubtless they{282} slept at their task, or else decades passed away without work of any kind being done, or again, perhaps only one mason was employed at a time.

The interior is that of a simple Gothic church of one aisle, 150 feet long by fifty-two wide and eighty-four high; the high altar is situated in the rounded apse; in the centre of the church the choir stalls of the fifteenth century obstruct the view of the walls, decorated only by means of pilasters which pretend to support the Gothic vaulting.

To the right, in the altar chapel, is a fine marble sepulchre of the sixteenth century, in which the chasuble of the kneeling bishop portrayed is among the best pieces of imitative sculpture to be seen in Spain.

To the right of the high altar, and buried in the cathedral wall, a door leads out into the paseo,—a walk on the broad walls of the city, with a delightful view southwards across the river to the prairie in the distance. Where can a prettier and more natural cloister be found?

The western façade is never used, and is surrounded by the old cemetery,—a rather peculiar place for a cemetery in a cathedral church; the northern façade is anti-artistic,{283} but the tower to the right has one great virtue, that of comparative height. Though evidently intended to be Gothic, the Arab taste, so pronounced throughout this region, got the better of the architect, and he erected a square steeple crowned by a cupola.

Yet, and in spite of criticism which can hardly find an element worthy of praise in the whole cathedral building, the tourist should not hesitate in visiting the city. Besides, the whole region of Northern Extremadura, in which Coria and Plasencia lie, is historically most interesting: Yuste, where Charles-Quint spent the last years of his life, is not far off; neither is the Convent of Guadalupe, famous for its pictures by the great Zurbaran.

As for Coria itself, it is a forgotten corner of Moor-land.




The foundation of Plasencia by King Alfonso VIII. in 1178, and the erection of a new episcopal see twelve years later, can be regarded as the coup de grâce given to the importance of Coria, the twin sister forty miles away. Nevertheless, the Royal City, as Plasencia was called, which ended by burying its older rival in the most shocking oblivion, was not able to acquire a name in history. Founded by a king, and handed over to a bishop and to favourite courtiers, who ruled it indifferently well, not to say badly, it grew up to be an aristocratic town without a bourgeoisie. Its history in the middle ages is consequently one long series of family feuds, duels, and tragedies, the record of bloody happenings, and acts of heroic brutality and bravery.

In 1233 a Moorish army conquered it, shortly after the battle of Alarcos was lost{285} to Alfonso VIII., at that time blindly in love with his beautiful Jewish mistress, Rachel of Toledo. But the infidels did not remain master of the situation, far less of the city, for any length of time, as within the next year or so it fell again into the hands of its founder, who strengthened the walls still standing to-day, and completed the citadel.

The population of the city, like that of Toledo, was mixed. Christians, Jews, and Moors lived together, each in their quarter, and together they used the fertile vegas, which surround the town. The Jews and Moors were, in the fifteenth century, about ten thousand in number; in 1492 the former were expelled by the Catholic kings, and in 1609 Philip III. signed a decree expelling the Moors. Since then Plasencia has lost its municipal wealth and importance, and the see, from being one of the richest in Spain, rapidly sank until to-day it drags along a weary life, impoverished and unimportant.

The Jewish cemetery is still to be seen in the outskirts of the town; Arab remains, both architectural and irrigatory, are everywhere present, and the quarter inhabited by{286} them, the most picturesque in Plasencia, is a Moorish village.

The city itself, crowning a hill beside the rushing Ierte, is a small Toledo; its streets are narrow and winding; its church towers are numerous, and the red brick houses warmly reflect the brilliancy of the southern atmosphere. The same death, however, the same inactivity and lack of movement, which characterize Toledo and other cities, hover in the alleys and in the public squares, in the fertile vegas and silent patios of Plasencia.

The history of the feuds between the great Castilian families who lived here is tragically interesting: Hernan Perez killed by Diego Alvarez, the son of one of the former's victims; the family of Monroye pitched against the Zuñigas and other noblemen,—these and many other traditions are among the most stirring of the events that happened in Spain in the middle ages.

Even the bishops called upon to occupy the see seem to have been slaves to the warlike spirit that hovered, as it were, in the very atmosphere of the town. The first prelate, Don Domingo, won the battle of Navas de Tolosa for his protector, Alfonso VIII.{287} When the Christian army was wavering, he rushed to the front (with his naked sword, the cross having been left at home), at the head of his soldiers, and drove the already triumphant Moors back until they broke their ranks and fled. The same bishop carried the Christian sword to the very heart of the Moorish dominions, to Granada, and conquered neighbouring Loja. The next prelate, Don Adán, was one of the leaders of the army that conquered Cordoba in 1236, and, entering the celebrated mezquita, sanctified its use as a Christian church.

The history of the cathedral church is no less interesting. The primitive see was temporarily placed in a church on a hill near the fortress; this building was pulled down in the fifteenth century, and replaced by a Jesuit college.

Toward the beginning of the fourteenth century a cathedral church was inaugurated. Its life was short, however, for in 1498 it was partially pulled down to make way for a newer and larger edifice, which is to-day the unfinished Renaissance cathedral visited by the tourist.

Parts of the old cathedral are, however, still standing. Between the tower of the new{288} temple and the episcopal palace, but unluckily weighted down by modern superstructures, stands the old façade, almost intact. The grossness of the structural work, the timid use of the ogival arch, the primitive rose window, and the general heaviness of the structure, show it to belong to the decadent period of the Romanesque style, when the artists were attempting something new and forgetting the lessons of the past.

The new cathedral is a complicated Gothic-Renaissance building of a nave and two aisles, with an ambulatory behind the high altar. Not a square inch but what has been hollowed out into a niche or covered over with sculptural designs; the Gothic plan is anything but pure Gothic, and the Renaissance style has been so overwrought that it is anything but Italian Renaissance.

The façade of the building is imposing, if not artistic; it is composed of four bodies, each supported laterally by pillars and columns of different shapes and orders, and possessing a hueco or hollow in the centre, the lowest being the door, the highest a stained glass window, and the two central ones blind windows, which spoil the whole. The floral and Byzantine (Arab?) decoration{289} of pillars and friezes is of a great wealth of varied designs; statuettes are missing in the niches, proving the unfinished state of the church.



Three arches and four pillars, sumptuously decorated, uphold each of the clerestory walls, which are pierced at the top by a handsome triforium running completely around the church. The retablo of the high altar is richly decorated, perhaps too richly; the reja, which closes off the sacred area, is of fine seventeenth-century workmanship.

The choir stalls are of a surprising richness, carved scenes covering the backs and seats. They are famous throughout the country, and the genius, above all the imagination, of the artist who executed them (his name is unluckily not known, though it is believed to be Alemán) must have been notable. Pious when carving the upper and visible seats, he seems to have been exceedingly ironical and profane when sculpturing the inside of the same, where the reverse or the caustic observation produced in the carver's mind has been artfully drawn, though sometimes with an undignified grain of indecency and obscenity not quite in harmony with our Puritanic spirit of to-day. {290}



Eastern Castile





The origin of Valladolid is lost in the shadows of the distant past. As it was the capital of a vast kingdom, it was thought necessary, as in the case of Madrid, to place its foundation prior to the Roman invasion; the attempt failed, however, and though Roman ruins have been found in the vicinity, nothing is positively known about the city's history prior to the eleventh century.

When Sancho II. fought against his sister locked up in Zamora, he offered her Vallisoletum in exchange for the powerful fortress she had inherited from her father. In vain, and the town seated on the Pisuerga is not mentioned again in historical documents until 1074, when Alfonso VI. handed it over, with several other villages, to Pedro Ansurez, who made it his capital, raised the church (Santa Maria la Mayor) to a suffragan of Palencia, and laid the first foundations of{294} its future greatness. In 1208 the family of Ansurez died out, and the villa reverted to the crown; from then until the reign of Philip IV. Valladolid was doubtless one of the most important cities in Castile, and the capital of all the Spains, from the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel to that of Philip III.

Consequently, the history of Valladolid from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century is that of Spain.

In Valladolid, Peter the Cruel, after three days' marriage, forsook his bride, Doña Blanca de Bourbon, and returned to the arms of his mistress Maria; several years later he committed most of his terrible crimes within the limits of the town. Here Maria de Molina upheld her son's right to the throne during his minority, and in Valladolid also, after her son's death, the same widow fought for her grandson against the intrigues of uncles and cousins.

Isabel and Alfonso fought in Valladolid against the proclamation of their niece, Juana, the illegitimate daughter of Henry IV., as heiress to the throne; the citizens upheld the Catholic princess's claims, and it is not surprising that when the princess became queen—the greatest Spain ever had{295}—she made Valladolid her capital, in gratitude to the loyalty of its inhabitants.

In Valladolid, Columbus obtained the royal permission to sail westwards in 1492, and, upon his last return from America, he died in the selfsame city in 1506; here also Berruguete, the sculptor, created many of his chefs-d'œuvres and the immortal Cervantes appeared before the law courts and wrote the second part of his "Quixote."

Unlucky Juana la Loca (Jane the Mad) and her husband Felipe el Hermoso (Philip the Handsome) reigned here after the death of Isabel the Catholic, and fifty years later, when Philip II. returned from England to ascend the Spanish throne, he settled in Valladolid, until his religious fanaticism or craze obliged him to move to a city nearer the Escorial. Then he fixed upon Madrid as his court. Being a religious man, nevertheless, and conscious of a certain love for Valladolid, his natal town, he had the suffragan church erected to a cathedral in 1595, appointing Don Bartolomé de la Plaza to be its first bishop. At the same time, he ordered Juan de Herrero, the severe architect of the Escorial,{296} to draw the plans and commence the building of the new edifice.

The growing importance of Madrid, and the final establishment in the last named city of all the honours which belonged to Valladolid, threw the city seated on the Pisuerga into the shade, and its star of fortune slowly waned. But not to such a degree as that of Salamanca or Burgos, for to-day, of all the old cities of Castile, the only one which has a life of its own, and a commercial and industrial personality, is Valladolid, the one-time capital of all the Spains, and now the seat of an archbishopric. It began by usurping the dignity of Burgos; then it rose to greater heights of fame than its rival, thanks to the discovery of America, and finally it lost its prestige when Madrid was crowned the unica villa.

The general appearance of the city is peculiarly Spanish, especially as regards the prolific use of brick in the construction of churches and edifices in general. It is presumable that the Arabs were possessors of the town before the Christian conquest, though no documental proofs are at hand. The etymology of the city's name, Medinat-{297}el-Walid, is purely Arabic, Walid being the name of a Moorish general.

If the cathedral church was erected as late as the sixteenth century, it must not be supposed that the town lacked parish churches. On the contrary, there is barely a city in Spain with more religious edifices of all kinds, and the greater part of them of far more architectural merit than the cathedral itself. The astonishing number of convents is remarkable; many of them date from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and are, consequently, Romanesque with a good deal of Byzantine taste about them, or else they belong to the period of Transition. Taken all in all, they are really the only architectural attractions to be discovered in the city to-day. The traditions which explain the foundation of some of these are among the most characteristic in Valladolid, and a thread of Oriental romance is more predominant among them than elsewhere. A good example of one of these explains the foundation of the large convent of the Mercedes.

Doña Leonor was the wife of one Acuña, a fearless (?) knight. The King of Portugal unluckily fell in love with Doña Leonor,{298} and, wishing to marry her, had her previous marriage annulled and placed her on his throne. Acuña fled from Portugal and came to Valladolid, where, with unparalleled sarcasm, he wore a badge on his hat proclaiming his dishonour.

Both Acuña and the King of Portugal died, and Doña Leonor, whose morals were none too edifying, fell in love with a certain Zuñiguez; the daughter of these two was handed over to the care of a knight, Fernan by name, and Doña Leonor ordered him to found a convent, upon her death, and lock up her daughter within its walls; the mother was doubtless only too anxious to have her daughter escape the ills of this life. Unluckily she counted without the person principally concerned, namely, the daughter, for the latter fell secretly in love with her keeper's nephew. She thought he was her cousin, however, for it appears she was passed off as Fernan's daughter. Upon her mother's death she learnt her real origin, and wedded her lover. In gratitude for her non-relationship with her husband, she founded the convent her mother had ordered, but she herself remained without its walls!{299}

The least that can be said about the cathedral of Valladolid, the better. Doubtless there are many people who consider the building a marvel of beauty. As a specimen of Juan de Herrero's severe and majestic style, it is second to no other building excepting only that great masterwork, the Escorial, and perhaps parts of the Pillar at Saragosse. But as an art monument, where beauty and not Greco-Roman effects are sought, it is a failure.

The original plan of the building was a rectangle, 411 feet long by 204 wide, divided in its length by a nave and two aisles, and in its width by a broad transept situated exactly half-way between the apse and the foot of the church. The form was thus that of a Greek cross; each angle of the building was to be surmounted by a tower, and the croisée by an immense cupola or dome. (Compare with the new cathedral in Salamanca.) The lateral walls of the aisles were to contain symmetrical chapels, as was also the apse.

From the foregoing it will be seen that symmetry and the Greco-Roman straight horizontal line were to replace the ogival arch and the generally vertical, soaring effect of Gothic buildings.{300}

The architect died before his monument was completed, and Churriguera, the most anti-artistic artist that ever breathed,—according to the author's personal opinion,—was called upon to finish the edifice: his trade-mark covers almost the entire western front, where the second body shows the defects into which Herrero's severe style degenerated soon after his death.

Of the four towers and the cupola which were to render the capitol of Valladolid "second in grandeur to none excepting St. Peter's at Rome," only one tower was erected: it fell down in 1841, and is being reërected at the present time.

In the interior the same disparity is everywhere visible, as well as in the unfinished state of the temple. Greek columns are prevalent, and, contrasting with their simplicity, the high altar, as grotesque a body as ever was placed in a holy cathedral, attracts the eye of the vulgar with something of the same feeling as a blood-and-thunder melodrama. Needless to say, the art connoisseur flees therefrom.



To the rear of the building the remains of the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria la Mayor are still to be seen; what a{301} difference between the rigid, anti-artistic conception of Herrero, ridiculized by Churriguera, and left but half-completed by successive generations of moneyless believers, and the simple but elegant features of the old collegiate church, with its tower still standing, a Byzantine recuerdo of the thirteenth century.




To the west of Madrid, in the very heart of the Sierra de Gredos, lies Avila, another of the interesting cities of Castile, whose time-old mansions and palaces, built of a gray granite, lend a solemn and almost repulsively melancholic air to the city.

Perhaps more than any other town, Avila is characteristic of the middle ages, of the continual strife between the noblemen, the Church, and the common people. The houses of the aristocrats are castles rather than palaces, with no artistic decoration to hide their bare nakedness; the cathedral is really a fortress, and not only apparently so, as in Salamanca and Toro, for its very apse is embedded in the city walls, of which it forms a part, a battlemented, turreted, and warlike projection, sure of having to bear the brunt of an attack in case of a siege.

Like the general aspect of the city is also{303} the character of the inhabitant, and it is but drawing it mildly to state that Avila's sons were ever foremost in battle and strife. Kings in their minority were brought hither by prudent mothers who relied more upon the city's walls than upon the promises of noblemen in Valladolid and Burgos; this trust was never misplaced. In the conquest of Extremadura and of Andalusia, also, the Avilese troops, headed by daring warrior-prelates, played a most important part, and, as a frontier fortress, together with Segovia, against Aragon to the east, it managed to keep away from Castilian territory the ambitions of the monarchs of the rival kingdom.

Avela of the Romans was a garrison town, the walls of which were partly thrown down by the Western Goths upon their arrival in the peninsula. Previously, San Segundo, one of the disciples of the Apostles who had visited Bética (Andalusia), preached the True Word in Avila, and was created its first bishop—in the first century. During the terrible persecution of the Christians under the reign of Trajanus, one San Vicente and his two sisters, Sabina and Cristeta, escaped from Portugal and came to Avila, hoping to be hospitably received. All in vain;{304} their heads were smashed between stones, and their bodies left to rot in the streets. An immense serpent emerged from the city walls and kept guard over the three saintly corpses. The first to approach was a Jew, drawn hither by curiosity; he was immediately enveloped by the reptile's body. On the point of being strangled, he pronounced the word, "Jesus"—and the serpent released him. So grateful was the Jew at being delivered from death that he turned Christian and erected a church in honour of San Vicente, Sabina, and Cristeta, and had them buried within its walls.

This church subsisted throughout the dark ages of the Moorish invasion until at last Fernando I. removed the saintly remains to Leon in the eleventh century. The church was then destroyed, and, it is believed, the present cathedral was built on the same spot.

The Moors, calling the city Abila, used it as one of the fortresses defending Toledo on the north against the continual Christian raids; with varying success they held it until the end of the eleventh century, when it finally fell into the hands of the Christians, and was repopulated a short time before{305} Salamanca toward the end of the same century.

During the centuries of Moorish dominion the see had fallen into the completest oblivion, no mention being made of any bishops of Avila; the ecclesiastical dignity was reëstablished immediately after the final conquest of the region to the north of the Sierra of Guaderrama, and though documents are lacking as to who was the first prelate de modernis, it is generally believed to have been one Jeronimo, toward the end of the eleventh century.

The city grew rapidly in strength; settlers came from the north—from Castile and Leon—and from the east, from Aragon; they travelled to their new home in bullock-carts containing household furniture, agricultural and war implements, wives, and children.

In the subsequent history of Spain Avila played an important part, and many a stirring event took place within its walls. It was besieged by the Aragonese Alfonso el Batallador, whose army advanced to the attack behind its prisoners, sons of Avila. Brothers, fathers, and relatives were thus obliged to fire upon their own kin if they{306} wished to save their city. The same king, it is said, killed his hostages by having their heads cut off and boiled in oil, as though severed heads were capable of feeling the delightful sensation of seething oil!

Of all the traditions as numerous here as elsewhere, the prettiest and most improbable is doubtless that of Nalvillos, a typical chevalier of romance, who fell desperately in love with a beautiful Moorish princess and wedded her. She pined, however, for a lover whom in her youth she had promised to wed, and though her husband erected palaces and bought slaves for her, she escaped with her sweetheart. Nalvillos followed the couple to where they lay retired in a castle, and it was surrounded by him and his trusty followers. The hero himself, disguised as a seller of curative herbs, entered the apartment where his wife was waiting for her lover's return, and made himself known. The former's return, however, cut matters short, and Nalvillos was obliged to hide himself. The Moorish girl was true to her love, and told her sweetheart where the Christian was hiding; brought out of his retreat, he was on the point of being killed when he asked permission to blow a last blast on his bugle{307}—a wish that was readily conceded by the magnanimous lover. The result? The princess and her sweetheart were burnt to death by the flames ignited by Nalvillos's soldiers. The Christian warrior was, of course, able to escape.

In 1455 the effigy of Henry IV. was dethroned in Avila by the prelates of Toledo and other cities, and by an assembly of noblemen who felt that feudalism was dying out, and were anxious to strike a last blow at the weak king whom they considered was their enemy.

The effigy was placed on a throne; the Archbishop of Toledo harangued the multitude which, silent and scowling, was kept away from the throne by a goodly number of obedient mercenary soldiers. Then the prelate tore off the mock crown, another of the conspirators the sceptre, another the royal garments, and so on, each accompanying his act by an ignominious curse. At last the effigy was torn from the throne and trampled under the feet of the soldiers. Alfonso, a boy of eleven, stepped on the dais and was proclaimed king. His hand was kissed by the humble (!) prelates and noblemen, who swore allegiance, an oath they had not the{308} slightest intention of keeping, and did not keep, either.

Philip III.'s decree expelling Moors from Spain, was, as in the case of Plasencia, the coup de grace given to the city's importance; half the population was obliged to leave, and Avila never recovered her lost importance and influence. To-day, with only about ten thousand inhabitants, thrown in the background by Madrid, it manages to keep alive and nothing more.

The date when the erection of the cathedral church of Avila was begun is utterly unknown. According to a pious legend, it was founded by the third bishop, Don Pedro, who, being anxious to erect a temple worthy of his dignity, undertook a long pilgrimage to foreign countries in search of arms, and returned to his see in 1091. Sixteen years later, according to the same tradition, the present cathedral was essentially completed, a bold statement that cannot be accepted because in manifest contradiction with the build of the church.

According to Señor Quadrado, the oldest part of the building, the apse, was probably erected toward the end of the twelfth century. It is a massive, almost windowless,{309} semicircular body, its bare walls unsupported by buttresses, and every inch of it like the corner-tower of a castle wall, crenelated and flat-topped.

The same author opines that the transept, a handsome, broad, and airy ogival nave, dates from the fourteenth century, whereas the western front of the church is of a much more recent date.

Be that as it may, the fact is that the cathedral of Avila, seen from the east, west, or north, is a fortress building, a huge, unwieldy and anti-artistic composition of Romanesque, Gothic, and other elements. The western front, with its heavy tower to the north, and the lack of such to the south, appears more gloomy than ever on account of the obscure colour of the stone; the façade above the portal is of one of the most peculiar of artistic conceptions ever imagined; above the first body or the pointed arch which crowns the portal comes the second body, divided from the former by a straight line, which supports eight columns flanking seven niches; on the top of this unlucky part comes an ogival window. The whole façade is narrow—one door—and high. The effect is disastrous: an unnecessary contortion{310} or misplacement of vertical, horizontal, slanting, and circular lines.

The tower is flanked at the angles by two rims of stone, the edges of which are cut into bolas (balls). If this shows certain Mudejar taste, so, also, do the geometrical designs carved in relief against a background, as seen in the arabesques above the upper windows.

The northern portal, excepting the upper arch, which is but slightly curved and almost horizontal, and weighs down the ogival arches, is far better as regards the artist's conception of beauty; the stone carving is also of a better class.

Returning to the interior of the building, preferably by the transept, the handsomest part of the church, the spectator perceives a double ambulatory behind the high altar; the latter, as well as the choir, is low, and a fine view is obtained of the ensemble. The central nave, almost twice as high and little broader than the aisles, is crowned by a double triforium of Gothic elegance.

Seen from the transept, it would appear as though there were four aisles on the west side instead of two, a peculiar deception produced by the lateral opening of the last chapels, exactly similar in construction to{311} the arch which crowns the intersection of the aisles and transept.



In the northern and southern extremity of the transept two handsome rosaces, above a row of lancet windows, let in the outside light through stained panes.

The impression produced by the interior of the cathedral is greatly superior to that received from without. In the latter case curiosity is about the only sentiment felt by the spectator, whereas within the temple does not lack a simple beauty and mystery.

As regards sculptural details, the best are doubtless the low reliefs to be seen to the rear of the choir, as well as several sepulchres, of which the best—and one of the best Renaissance monuments of its kind in Spain—is that of the Bishop Alfonso Tostado in the ambulatory. The retablo of the high altar is also a magnificent piece of work of the second half of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth.




Avila's twin sister, Segovia, retains its old Celtiberian name; it retains, also, the undeniable proofs of Roman domination in its far-famed aqueduct and in its amphitheatre.

According to the popular tradition, San Hierateo, the disciple of St. Paul, was the first bishop in the first century, but probably the see was not erected until about 527, when it is first mentioned in a Tolesian document; the name of the first bishop (historical) is Peter, who was present at the third Council in Toledo (589).

The local saint is one San Fruto, who, upon the approach of the Saracen hosts, gathered together a handful of fugitives and retired to the mountains; his brother Valentine and his sister Engracia (of Aragonese fame?) died martyrs to their belief. San Fruto, on the other hand, lived the life of a hermit in the mountains and wrought many{313} miracles, such as splitting open a rock with his jack-knife, etc. The most miraculous of his deeds was the proof he gave to the Moors of the genuineness of the Catholic religion: on a tray of oats he placed the host and offered it to a mule, which, instead of munching oats and host, fell on its knees, and perhaps even crossed itself!

Disputed by Arabs and Christians, like all Castilian towns, Segovia lagged along until it fell definitely into the hands of the latter. A Christian colony seems, nevertheless, to have lived in the town during the Arab dominion, because the documents of the time speak of a Bishop Ilderedo in 940.

The exact year of the repopulation of Segovia is not known, but doubtless it was a decade or so prior to either that of Salamanca or Avila.

Neither was the warlike spirit of the inhabitants inferior to that of their brethren in the last named cities. It was due to their bravery that Madrid fell into the hands of the Christians toward 1110, for, arriving late at the besieging camp, the king, who was present, told them that if they wished to pass the night comfortably, there was but one place, namely, the city itself. Without a{314} moment's hesitation the daring warriors dashed at the walls of Madrid, and, scaling them, took a tower, where they passed the night at their ease, and to their monarch's great astonishment.

In 1115, the first bishop de modernis, Don Pedro, was consecrated, and the cathedral was begun at about the same time. Several of the successive prelates were battling warriors rather than spiritual shepherds, and fought with energy and success against the infidel in Andalusia. One, Don Gutierre Girón, even found his death in the terrible defeat of the Christian arms at Alarcon.

The event which brought the greatest fame to Segovia was the erection of its celebrated Alcázar, or castle, the finest specimen of military architecture in Spain. Every city had its citadel, it is true, but none were so strong and invulnerable as that of Segovia, and in the stormy days of Castilian history the monarchs found a safe retreat from the attacks of unscrupulous noblemen behind its walls.

Until 1530 the old cathedral stood at the back of the Alcázar, but in a revolution of the Comuneros against Charles-Quint, the infuriated mob, anxious to seize the castle,{315} tore down the temple and used its stones, beams, stalls, and railings as a means to scale the high walls of the fortress. Their efforts were in vain, for an army came to the relief of the castle from Valladolid; a general pardon was, nevertheless, granted to the population by the monarch, who was too far off to care much what his Spanish subjects did. After the storm was over, the hot-headed citizens found themselves with a bishop and a chapter, but without a church or means wherewith to erect a new one.

The struggles between city and fortress were numerous, and were the cause, in a great measure, of the town's decadence. Upon one occasion, Isabel the Catholic infringed upon the citizens' rights by making a gift of some of the feudal villages to a court favourite. The day after the news of this infringement reached the city, by a common accord the citizens "dressed in black, did not amuse themselves, nor put on clean linen; neither did they sweep the house steps, nor light the lamps at night; neither did they buy nor sell, and what is more, they boxed their children's ears so that they should for ever remember the day." So great were the public signs of grief that it has been{316} said that "never did a republic wear deeper mourning for the loss of its liberties."

The end of the matter was that the queen in her famous testament revoked her gift and returned the villages to the city.

The old cathedral was torn down in November, 1520, and it was not until June, 1525, that the bishop, who had made a patriotic appeal to all Spaniards in behalf of the church funds, laid the first stone of the new edifice. Thirty years later the building was consecrated.

Nowhere else can a church be found which is a more thorough expression of a city's fervour and enthusiasm. It was as though the sacrilegious act of the enraged mob reacted on the penitent minds of the calmed citizens, for rich and poor alike gave their alms to the cathedral chapter. Jewels were sold, donations came from abroad, feudal lords gave whole villages to the church, and the poor men, the workmen, and the peasants gave their pennies. Daily processions arrived at Santa Clara, then used as cathedral church, from all parts of the diocese. To-day they were composed of tradesmen, of Zünfte, who gave their offerings of a few pounds; to-morrow a village would bring{317} in a cartload of stone, of mortar, of wood, etc. On holidays and Sundays the repentant citizens, instead of amusing themselves at the dance or bull-fight, carted materials for their new cathedral's erection, and all this they did of their own free will.



The act of consecrating the finished building constituted a grand holiday. The long aqueduct was illuminated from top to bottom, as was also the cathedral tower, and every house in the city. During a week the holiday-making lasted with open-air amusements for the poor and banquets for the rich.

The date of the construction of the new building was contemporaneous with that of Salamanca, and the architect was, to a certain extent, the same. It is not strange, therefore, that both should resemble each other in their general disposition. What is more, the construction in both churches was begun at the foot (west), and not in the east, as is generally the case. The oldest part of the building is consequently the western front, classic in its outline, but showing among its ogival details both the symmetry and triangular pediment of Renaissance art. The tower, higher than that of Sevilla, and broader than that of Toledo, is simple in its{318} structure; it is Byzantine, and does not lack a certain cachet of elegance; the first body is surmounted by a dome, upon which rises the second,—smaller, and also crowned by a cupola. The tower was twice struck by lightning and partly ruined in 1620; it was rebuilt in 1825, and a lightning conductor replaced the cross of the spire.

Though consecrated, as has been said, in 1558, the new temple was by no means finished: the transept and the eastern end were still to be built. The latter was finished prior to 1580, and in 1615 the Renaissance dome which surmounts the croisée was erected by an artist-architect, who evidently was incapable of giving it a true Gothic appearance.

The apse, with its three harmonizing étages corresponding to the chapels, aisles, and nave, and flanked by leaning buttresses ornamented with delicate pinnacles, is Gothic in its details; the ensemble is, nevertheless, Renaissance, thanks to a perfect symmetry painfully pronounced by naked horizontal lines—so contradictory to the spirit of true ogival. Less regularity and a greater profusion of buttresses, and above all of flying buttresses, would have been more agreeable,{319} but the times had changed and new tastes had entered the country.

Neither does the broad transept, its façade,—either southern or northern,—and the cupola join, as it were, the eastern and the western half of the building; on the contrary, it distinctly separates them, not to the building's advantage.

The interior is gay rather than solemn: the general disposition of the parts is as customary in a Gothic church of the Transition (Renaissance). The nave and transept are of the same width; the lateral chapels, running along the exterior walls of the aisles, are symmetrical, as in Salamanca; the ambulatory separates the high altar from the apse and its seven chapels.

The pavement of the church is of black and white marble slabs, like that of Toledo, for instance; as for the stained windows, they are numerous, and those in the older part of the building of good (Flemish?) workmanship and of a rich colour, which heightens the happy expression of the whole building.

The cloister is the oldest part of the building, having pertained to the previous cathedral. After the latter's destruction, and the successful erection of the new temple, the{320} cloister was transported stone by stone from its old emplacement to where it now stands. It is a handsome and richly decorated Gothic building, containing many tombs, among them those of the architects of the cathedral and of Maria del Salto. This Mary was a certain Jewess, who, condemned to death, and thrown over the Peña Grajera, invoked the aid of the Virgin, and was saved.

Another tomb is that of Prince Don Pedro, son of Enrique II., who fell out of a window of the Alcázar. His nurse, according to the tradition, threw herself out of the window after her charge, and together they were picked up, one locked in the arms of the other.




Though Madrid was proclaimed the capital of Spain in the sixteenth century, it was not until 1850 that its collegiate church of San Isidro was raised to an episcopal see.

The appointment met with a storm of disapproval in the neighbouring town of Alcalá de Henares, the citizens claiming the erection of the ecclesiastical throne in their own collegiate, instead of in Madrid. Their reasons were purely historical, as will be seen later on, whereas the capital lacked both history and ecclesiastical significance.

To pacify the inhabitants of Alcalá, and at the same time to raise Madrid to the rank of a city, the following arrangement was made: the newly created see was to be called Madrid-Alcalá; the bishop was to possess two cathedral churches, and both towns were to be cities.

Such is the state of affairs at present. The{322} recent governmental closure of the old cathedral in Alcalá has deprived the partisans of the double see of one of their chief arguments, namely, the possession of a worthy temple, unique in the world as regards its organization. Consequently, it is generally stated that the title of Madrid-Alcalá will die out with the present bishop, and that the next will simply be the Bishop of Madrid.


The city of Madrid is new and uninteresting; it is an overgrown village, with no buildings worthy of the capital of a kingdom. From an architectural point of view, the royal palace, majestic and imposing, though decidedly poor in style, is about the only edifice that can be admired.

In history, Madrid plays a most unimportant part until the times of Philip II., the black-browed monarch who, intent upon erecting his mausoleum in the Escorial, proclaimed Madrid to be the only capital. That was in 1560; previously Magerit had been an Arab fortress to the north of Toledo, and the first in the region now called Castilla la Nueva (New Castile), to distinguish{323} it from Old Castile, which lies to the north of the mountain chain.

Most likely Magerit had been founded by the Moors, though, as soon as it had become the capital of Spain, its inhabitants, who were only too eager to lend their town a history it did not possess, invented a series of traditions and legends more ridiculous than veracious.

On the slopes of the last hill, descending to the Manzanares, and beside the present royal palace, the Christian conquerors of the Arab fortress in the twelfth century discovered an effigy of the Virgin, in an almudena or storehouse. This was the starting-point for the traditions of the twelfth-century monks who discovered (?) that this effigy had been placed where it was found by St. James, according to some, and by the Virgin herself, according to others; what is more, they even established a series of bishops in Magerit previous to the Arab invasion.

No foundations are of course at hand for such fabulous inventions, and if the effigy really were found in the almudena, it must have been placed there by the Moors themselves, who most likely had taken it as their{324} booty when sacking a church or convent to the north.

The patron saint of Madrid is one Isidro, not to be confounded with San Isidoro of Leon. The former was a farmer or labourer, who, with his wife, lived a quiet and unpretentious life in the vicinity of Madrid, on the opposite banks of the Manzanares, where a chapel was erected to his memory sometime in the seventeenth century. Of the many miracles this saint is supposed to have wrought, not one differs from the usual deeds attributed to holy individuals. Being a farmer, his voice called forth water from the parched land, and angels helped his oxen to plough the fields.

Save the effigy of the Virgin de la Almudena, and the life of San Isidro, Madrid has no ecclesiastical history,—the Virgin de la Atocha has been forgotten, but she is only a duplicate of her sister virgin. Convents and monasteries are of course as numerous as elsewhere in Spain; brick parish churches of a decided Spanish-Oriental appearance rear their cupolas skyward in almost every street, the largest among them being San Francisco el Grande, which, with San Antonio de la Florida (containing{325} several handsome paintings by Goya), is the only temple worth visiting.

As regards a cathedral building, there is, in the lower part of the city, a large stone church dedicated to San Isidro; it serves the stead of a cathedral church until a new building, begun about 1885, will have been completed.

This new building, the cathedral properly speaking, is to be a tenth wonder; it is to be constructed in granite, and its foundations stand beside the royal palace in the very spot where the Virgin de la Almudena was found, and where, until 1869, a church enclosed the sacred effigy; the new building is to be dedicated to the same deity.

Unluckily, the erection of the new cathedral proceeds but slowly; so far only the basement stones have been laid and the crypt finished. The funds for its erection are entirely dependent upon alms, but, as the religious fervour which incited the inhabitants of Segovia in the sixteenth century is almost dead to-day, it is an open question whether the cathedral of Madrid will ever be finished.

The temporary cathedral of San Isidro was erected in the seventeenth century; its{326} two clumsy towers are unfinished, its western front, between the towers, is severe; four columns support the balcony, behind which the cupola, which crowns the croisée, peeps forth.

Inside there is nothing worthy of interest to be admired except some pictures, one of them painted by the Divino Morales. The nave is light, but the chapels are so dark that almost nothing can be seen in their interior.

This church, until the expulsion of the Jesuits, was the temple of their order, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul; adjoining it a Jesuit school was erected, which has been incorporated in the government colleges.

Alcalá de Henares

About twenty miles to the east of Madrid lies the one-time glorious university city of Alcalá, famous above all things for having been the cradle of Cervantes, and the hearth, if not the home, of Cardinal Cisneros.

Its history and its decadence are of the saddest; the latter serves in many respects as an adequate symbol of Spain's own tremendous downfall.



The Romans founded Alcalá; it was their{327} Complutum, of which some few remains have been discovered in the vicinity of the modern city. Yet, notwithstanding this lack of substantial evidence, the inhabitants of the region still proudly call themselves Complutenses.

When the West Goths were rulers of the peninsula, the Roman monuments must have been completely destroyed, for all traces of the strategic stronghold were effaced from the map of Spain. The invading Arabs, possessing to a certain degree both Roman military instinct and foresight, built a fortress on the spot where the State Archives Building stands to-day. This castle was used by them as one of Toledo's northern defences against the warlike Christian kings.

In the twelfth century the fortress fell into the hands of the Christians; in the succeeding centuries it was strongly rebuilt by the cardinal-archbishops of Toledo, who used it both as their palace and as their stronghold.

Outside the bastioned and turreted walls of the castle, the new-born city grew up under its protecting shadows. Known by the Arabic name of its fortress (Al-Kalá), it was successively baptized Alcalá de San Justo,{328} Alcalá de Fenares, and since the sixteenth century, Alcalá de Henares (heno, old Spanish feno, meaning hay). Protected by such powerful arms as those of the princes of the Church, it grew up to be a second Toledo, a city of church spires and convent walls, but of which only a reduced number stand to-day to point back to the religious fervour of the middle ages.

The world-spread fame acquired by Alcalá in the fifteenth century was due to the patronage of Cardinal Cisneros, who built the university, at one time one of the most celebrated in Europe, and to-day a mere skeleton of architectural beauty.

The same prelate raised San Justo to a suffragan church; its chapter was composed only of learned professors of the university, as were also its canons; Leon X. gave it the enviable title of La Magistral, the Learned, which points it out as unique in the Christian world. The Polyglot Bible, published in the sixteenth century, and famous in all Europe, was worked out by these scholars under Cisneros's direction, and the favoured city outshone the newly built Madrid twenty miles away, and rivalled{329} Salamanca in learning, and Toledo in worldly and religious splendour.

Madrid grew greater and greater as years went by, and consequently Alcalá de Henares dwindled away to the shadow of a name. The university, the just pride of the Complutenses, was removed to the capital; the cathedral, for lack of proper care, became an untimely ruin; the episcopal palace was confiscated by the state, which, besides repairing it, filled its seventy odd halls with rows upon rows of dusty documents and governmental papers.

To-day the city drags along a weary, inactive existence: soldiers from the barracks and long-robed priests from the church fill the streets, and are as numerous as the civil inhabitants, if not more so; convents and cloisters of nuns, either grass-grown ruins or else sombre grated and barred edifices, are to be met with at every step.

Strangers visit the place hurriedly in the morning and return to Madrid in the afternoon; they buy a tin box of sugar almonds (the city's specialty), carelessly examine the university and the archiepiscopal palace, gaze unmoved at some Cervantes relics, and at the façade of the cathedral. Besides, they are{330} told that in such and such a house the immortal author of Don Quixote was born, which is a base, though comprehensible, invention, because no such house exists to-day.

That is all; perchance in crossing the city's only square, the traveller notices that it can boast of no fewer than three names, doubtless with a view to hide its glaring nakedness. These three names are Plaza de Cervantes, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza de la Constitución, of which the latter is spread out boldly across the town hall and seems to invoke the remembrance of the ephemeral efforts of the republic in 1869.

In the third century after the birth of Christ, two infants, Justo and Pastor, preached the True Word to the unbelieving Roman rulers of Complutum. The result was not in the least surprising: the two infants lost their baby heads for the trouble they had taken in trying to trouble warriors.

But the Vatican remembered them, and canonized Pastor and Justo. Hundreds of churches, sown by the blood of martyrs, grew up in all corners of the peninsula to commemorate pagan cruelty, and to induce all men to follow the examples set by the two babes.{331}

No one knew, however, where the mortal remains of Justo and Pastor were lying. In the fourth century their resting-place was miraculously revealed to one Austurio, Archbishop of Toledo, who had them removed to his cathedral. They did not stay long in the primate city, for the invasion of the Moors obliged all True Believers to hide Church relics. Thus, Justo and Pastor wandered forth again from village to village, running away from the infidels until they reposed temporarily in the cathedral of Huesca in the north of Aragon.

In Alcalá their memory was kept alive in the parish church dedicated to them. But as the city grew, it was deemed preferable to build a solid temple worthy of the saintly pair, and Carillo, Archbishop of Toledo, had the old church pulled down and began the erection of a larger edifice. This took place in the middle of the fifteenth century, when Ximenez de Cisneros, who ruled the fate of Spain and its church, gave it the ecclesiastical constitution previously mentioned.

Fifty years later the weary bodies of the two infants were brought back in triumph to their native town amid the rejoicings and admiration of the people, and were placed{332} in the cathedral of San Justo, then a collegiate church of Toledo.

A few years ago the cathedral church of San Justo was denounced by the state architect and closed. To-day it is a dreary ruin, with tufts of grass growing among the battlements. The chapter, depriving the hoary building of its high altar, its precious relics and paintings, its stalls and other accessories, installed the cathedral in the Jesuit temple, an insignificant building in the other extremity of the town. Recently the abandoned ruin has been declared a national monument, which means that the state is obliged to undertake its restoration.

La Magistral is a brick building of imposing simplicity and severity in its general outlines. Its decorative elements are ogival, but of true Spanish nakedness and lack of elegance. Though Renaissance principles have not entered into the composition, as might have been supposed, considering the date of the erection, nevertheless, the lack of flying buttresses, the scarcity of windows, the undecorated angles of the western front, the barren walls, and flat-topped, though slightly sloping, roofs prove that the "simple and severe style" is latent in the minds of artists.




The apse is well developed, and the croisée surmounted by a cupola; the tower which flanks the western front is massive; it is decorated with blind arches and ogival arabesques.

The ground plan of the building is Latin Cruciform; the aisles are but slightly lower than the nave and join in the apse behind the high altar in an ambulatory walk. The crypt, reached by two Renaissance doors in the trasaltar, is spacious, and contains the bodies of San Justo and San Pastor.

The general impression produced on the mind of the tourist is sadness. The severity of the structure is heightened by the absence of any distracting decorative elements, excepting the fine Mudejar ceiling to the left upon entering.

In the reigning shadows of this deserted temple, two magnificent tombs stand in solitude and silence. They are those of Carillo and Cardinal Cisneros, the latter one of the greatest sons of Spain and one of her most contradictory geniuses. His sepulchre is a gorgeous marble monument of Renaissance style, surrounded by a massive bronze grille of excellent workmanship, a marvel of Spanish metal art of the sixteenth century. The{334} other sepulchre is simple in its ogival decorations, and the prostrate effigy of Carillo is among the best to be admired by the tourist in Iberia.

Carillo's life was that of a restless, ambitious, and worldly man. When he died, he was buried in the Convent of San Juan de Dios, where his illegitimate son had been buried before him, "for," said the archbishop-father, "if in life my robes separated me from my son, in death we shall be united."

But he reckoned without his host, or rather his successor, the man whose remains now lie beside his own in the shadows of the great ruin. "For," said Cisneros, "the Church must separate man from his sin even in death." So he ordered the son to be left in the convent, and the father to be brought to the temple he had begun to erect.




The origin of the fortress admirably situated to the north of Guadalajara was doubtless Moorish, though in the vicinity is Villavieja, where the Romans had established a town on the transverse road from Cadiz to Tarragon, and called by them Seguncia, or Segoncia.

When the Christian religion first appeared in Spain, it is believed that Sigüenza, or Segoncia, possessed an episcopal see; nothing is positively known, however, of the early bishops, until Protogenes signed the third Council of Toledo in 589.

It is believed that in the reign of Alfonso VI., he who conquered Toledo and the region to the south of Valladolid and as far east as Aragon, Sigüenza was repopulated, though no mention is made of the place in the earlier chronicles of the time. All that is known is that a bishop was immediately appointed{336} by Alfonso VII. to the vacancy which had lasted for over two hundred years, during which Sigüenza had been one of the provincial capitals of the Kingdom of Toledo. The first known bishop was Don Bernardo.

The history of the town was never of the most brilliant. In the times of Alfonso VII. and his immediate successors it gained certain importance as a frontier stronghold, as a check to the growing ambitions of the royal house of Aragon. But after the union of Castile and Aragon, its importance gradually dwindled; to-day, if it were not for the bishopric, it would be one historic village more on the map of Spain.

In the reign of Peter the Cruel, its castle—considered with that of Segovia to be the strongest in Castile—was used for some time as the prison palace for that most unhappy princess, Doña Blanca, who, married to his Catholic Majesty, had been deposed on the third day of the wedding by the heartless and passionate lover of the Padilla. She was at first shut up in Toledo, but the king did not consider the Alcázar strong enough. So she was sent off to Sigüenza, where it is{337} popularly believed, though documents deny it, that she died, or was put to death.

The city belonged to the bishop; it was his feudal property, and passed down to his successors in the see. Of the doings of these prelate-warriors, the first, Don Bernardo, was doubtless the most striking personality, lord of a thousand armed vassals and of three hundred horse, who fought with the emperor in almost all the great battles in Andalusia. It is even believed he died wielding the naked sword, and that his remains were brought back to the town of which he had been the first and undisputed lord.

The strong castle which crowns the city did not possess, as was generally the case, an alcalde, or governor; it was the episcopal palace or residence, a circumstance which proves beyond a doubt the double significance of the bishop: a spiritual leader and military personage, more influential and wealthy than any prelate in Spain, excepting the Archbishops of Toledo and Santiago.

During the French invasion in the beginning of the nineteenth century, Sigüenza had already lost its political significance. The invaders occupied the castle, and, as was their custom, threw documents and archives{338} into the fire, to make room for themselves, and to spend the winter comfortably.

Consequently, the notices we have of the cathedral church are but scarce. The fourth bishop was Jocelyn, an Englishman who had come over with Eleanor, Henry II.'s daughter, and married to the King of Castile. He (the bishop) was not a whit less warlike than his predecessors had been; he helped the king to win the town of Cuenca, and when he died on the battle-field, only his right arm was carried back to the see, to the chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury, which the dead prelate had founded in the new cathedral, and it was buried beneath a stone which bears the following inscription:

"Hic est inclusa Jocelini præsulis ulna."

From the above we can conclude that the cathedral must have been begun previous to the Englishman's coming to Spain, that is, in the beginning of the twelfth century. Doubtless the vaulting was not closed until at least one hundred years later; nevertheless, it is one of the unique and at the same time one of the handsomest Spanish monuments of the Transition period.{339}

The city of Sigüenza, situated on the slopes of a hill crowned by the castle, is a village rather than a town; there are, however, fewer spots in Spain that are more picturesque in their old age, and there is a certain uniformity in the architecture that reminds one of German towns; this is not at all characteristic of Spain, where so many styles mix and mingle until hardly distinguishable from each other.

The Transition style—between the strong Romanesque and the airy ogival—is the city's cachet, printed with particular care on the handsome cathedral which stands on the slope of the hill to the north of the castle.

Two massive square towers, crenelated at the top and pierced by a few round-headed windows, flank the western front. The three portals are massive Romanesque without floral or sculptural decoration of any kind; the central door is larger and surmounted by a large though primitive rosace. The height of the aisles and nave is indicated by three ogival arches cut in relief on the façade; here already the mixture of both styles, of the round-arched Romanesque and the pointed Gothic, is clearly visible—as it is also in the windows of the aisles, which are{340} Romanesque, and of the nave, which are ogival—in the buttresses, which are leaning on the lower body, and flying in the upper story, uniting the exterior of the clerestory with that of the aisles. (Compare with apse of the cathedral of Lugo.)

The portal of the southern arm of the transept is an ugly addition, more modern and completely out of harmony with the rest. The rosace above the door is one of the handsomest of the Transition period in Spain, and the stained glass is both rich and mellow.

The interior shows the same harmonious mixture of the stronger and more solemn old style, and the graceful lightness of the newer. But the hesitancy in the mind of the architect is also evident, especially in the vaulting, which is timidly arched.

The original plan of the church was, doubtless, purely Romanesque: Roman cruciform with a three-lobed apse, the central one much longer so as to contain the high altar.

In the sixteenth century, however, an ambulatory was constructed behind the high altar, joining the two aisles, and the high altar was removed to the east of the transept.

What a pity that the huge choir, placed{341} in the centre of the church, should so completely obstruct the view of the ensemble of the nave and aisles, separated by massive Byzantine arches between the solid pillars, which, in their turn, support the nascent ogival vaulting of the high nave! Were it, as well as the grotesque trascoro—of the unhappiest artistic taste—anywhere but in the centre of the church, what a splendid view would be obtained of the long, narrow, and high aisles and nave in which the old and the new were moulded together in perfect harmony, instead of fighting each other and clashing together, as happened in so many Spanish cathedral churches!

One of the most richly decorated parts of the church is the sacristy, a small room entirely covered with medallions and sculptural designs of the greatest variety of subjects. Though of Arabian taste (Mudejar), no Moorish elements have entered into the composition, and consequently it is one of the very finest, if not the very best specimen, of Christian Arab decoration.




To the east of Toledo, and to the north of the plains of La Mancha, Cuenca sits on its steep hill surrounded by mountains; a high stone bridge, spanning a green valley and the rushing river, joined the city to a mountain plateau; to-day the mediæval bridge has been replaced by an iron one, which contrasts harshly with the somnolent aspect of the landscape.

Never was a city founded in a more picturesque spot. It almost resembles Göschenen in Switzerland, with the difference that whereas in the last named village a white-washed church rears its spire skyward, in Cuenca a large cathedral, rich in decorative accessories, and yet sombre and severe in its wealth, occupies the most prominent place in the town.

Of the origin of the city nothing is known. In the tenth and the eleventh centuries Conca{343} was an impregnable Arab fortress. In 1176 the united armies of Castile and Aragon, commanded by two sovereigns, Alfonso VIII. of Castile and Alfonso II. of Aragon, laid siege to the fortress, and after nine months' patience, the Alcázar surrendered. According to the popular tradition, it was won by treachery: one Martin Alhaxa, a captive and a shepherd by trade, introduced the Christians disguised with sheepskins into the city through a postern gate.

As the conquest of Cuenca had cost the King of Castile such trouble (his Aragonese partner had not waited to see the end of the siege), and as he was fully conscious of its importance as a strategical outpost against Aragon to the north and against the Moors to the south and east, he laid special stress on the city's being strongly fortified; he also gave special privileges to such Christians as would repopulate, or rather populate, the nascent town. A few years later Pone Lucio III. raised the church to an episcopal see, appointing Juan Yañez, a Tolesian Muzarab, to be its first bishop (1183).

Unlike Sigüenza, a feudal possession of the bishop, Cuenca belonged exclusively to the monarch of Castile; the castle was consequently{344} held in the sovereign's name by a governor,—at one time there were even four who governed simultaneously. Between these governors and the inhabitants of the city, fights were numerous, especially during the first half of the fifteenth century, the darkest and most ignoble period of Castilian history.

The story is told of one Doña Inez de Barrientos, granddaughter of a bishop on her mother's side, and of a governor on that of her father. It appears that her husband had been murdered by some of the wealthiest citizens of the town. Feigning joy at her spouse's death, the widow invited the murderers to her house to a banquet, when, "después de opípara cena (after an excellent dinner), they passed from the lethargy of drunkenness to the sleep of eternity, assassinated by hidden servants." The following morning their bodies hung from the windows of the palace, and provoked not anger but silent dread and shivers among the terror-stricken inhabitants.

With the Inquisition, the siege by the English in 1706, the invasion of the French in 1808, Cuenca rapidly lost all importance and even political significance. To-day it{345} is one of the many picturesque ruins that offer but little interest to the art traveller, for even its old age is degenerated, and the monuments of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries have one and all been spoilt by the hand of time, and by the less grasping hand of restauradores—or architect-repairers.

The Byzantine character, the Arab taste of the primitive inhabitants, has also been lost. Who would think, upon examining the cathedral, that it had served once upon a time as the principal Arab mosque? Entirely rebuilt, as were most of the primitive Arab houses, it has lost all traces of the early founders, more so than in other cities where the Arabs remained but a few years.

The patron saint of Cuenca is San Julian, one of the cathedral's first bishops, who led a saintly life, giving all he had and taking nothing that was not his, and who retired from his see to live the humble life of a basket-maker, seated with willow branches beneath the arches of the high bridge, and preaching saintly words to teamsters and mule-drivers as they approached the city, until his death in 1207.

In the same century the Arab mosque was{346} torn down and the new cathedral begun. It is a primitive ogival (Spanish) temple of the thirteenth century, with smatterings of Romanesque-Byzantine. Unlike the cathedral of Sigüenza, it is neither elegant, harmonious, nor of great architectural value; its wealth lies chiefly in the chapels, in the doors which lead to the cloister, in the sacristy, and in the elegant high altar.

The cloister door is perhaps one of the finest details of the cathedral church: decorated in the plateresque style general in Spain in the sixteenth century, it offers one of the finest examples of said style to be found anywhere, and though utterly different in ornamentation to the sacristy of Sigüenza, it nevertheless resembles it in the general composition.

The nave, exceedingly high, is decorated by a blind triforium of ogival arches; the aisles are sombre and lower than the nave. On the other hand, the transept, broad and simple, is similar to the nave and as long as the width of the church, including the lateral chapels. The croisée is surmounted by a cimborio, insignificant in comparison to those of Salamanca, Zamora, and Toro.

The northern and southern extremities of{347} the transept differ from each other as regard style. The southern has an ogival portal surmounted by a rosace; the northern, one that is plateresque, the rounded arch, delicately decorated, reposing on Corinthian columns.

The eastern end of the church has been greatly modified—as is clearly seen by the mixture of fifteenth-century styles, and not to the advantage of the ensemble. Byzantine pillars, and even horseshoe arches, mingle with Gothic elements.

Of the chapels, the greater number are richly decorated, not only with sepulchres and sepulchral works, but with paintings, some of them by well-known masters.

Taken all in all, the cathedral of Cuenca does not inspire any of the sentiments peculiar to religious temples. Not the worst cathedral in Spain, by any means, neither as regards size nor majesty, it nevertheless lacks conviction, as though the artist who traced the primitive plan miscalculated its final appearance. The additions, due to necessity or to the ruinous state of some of the parts, were luckless, as are generally all those undertaken at a posterior date.

The decorative wealth of the chapels,{348} which is really astonishing in so small a town, the luxurious display of grotesque elements, the presence of a fairly good transparente, as well as the rich leaf-decoration of Byzantine pillars and plateresque arches, give a peculiar cachet to this church which is not to be found elsewhere.

The same can be said of the city and of the inhabitant. In the words of an authority, "Cuenca is national, it is Spanish, it is a typical rural town." Yet, it is so typical, that no other city resembles it.




A forest of spires and alminar towers rising from a roof-covered hill to pierce the distant azure sky; a ruined cemetery surrounded on three sides by the rushing Tago as it cuts out a foaming path through foothills, and stretching away on the fourth toward the snow-capped Sierra de Gredo in the distance, beyond the fruitful prairies and the intervening plains of New Castile.

Such is Toledo, the famous, the wonderful, the legend-spun primate city of all the Spains, the former wealthy capital of the Spanish Empire!

Madrid usurped all her civic honours under the reign of Philip II., he who lost the Armada and built the Escorial. Since then Toledo, like Alcalá de Henares, Segovia, and Burgos, has dragged along a forlorn existence, frozen in winter and scorched in summer, and visited at all times of the year by gaping tourists of all nationalities.{350}

Even the approach to the city from the mile distant station is peculiarly characteristic. Seated in an old and shaky omnibus, pulled by four thrashed mules, and followed along the dusty road by racing beggars, who whine their would-be French, "Un p'it sou, mouchieur," with surprising alacrity and a melancholy smile in their big black eyes, the visitor is driven sharply around a bluff, when suddenly Toledo, the mysterious, comes into sight, crowning the opposite hill.

At a canter the mules cross the bridge of Alcántara and pass beneath the gateway of the same name, a ponderous structure still guarding the time-rusty city as it did centuries ago when Toledo was the Gothic metropolis. Up the winding road, beneath the solemn and fire-devastated walls of the Alcázar, the visitor is hurriedly driven along; he disappears from the burning sunlight into a gloomy labyrinth of ill-paved streets to emerge a few minutes later in the principal square.

A shoal of yelling, gesticulating interpreters literally grab at the tourist, and in ten seconds exhaust their vocabulary of foreign words. At last one walks triumphantly off beside the newcomer, while the others, with{351} a depreciative shrug of the shoulders and extinguishing their volcanic outburst of energy, loiter around the square smoking cigarettes.

It does not take the visitor long to notice that he is in a great archæological museum. The streets are crooked and narrow, so narrow that the tiny patch of sky above seems more brilliant than ever and farther away, while on each side are gloomy houses with but few windows, and monstrous, nail-studded doors. At every turn a church rears its head, and the cheerless spirit of a palace glares with a sadly vacant stare from behind wrought-iron rejas and a complicated stone-carved blazon. Rarely is the door opened; when it is, the passer catches a glimpse of a sun-bathed courtyard, gorgeously alive with light and many flowers. The effect produced by the sudden contrast between the joyless street and the sunny garden, whose existence was never dreamt of, is delightful and never to be forgotten; from Théophile Gautier, who had been in Northern Africa, land of Mohammedan harems, it wrung the piquant exclamation: "The Moors have been here!"

Every stick, stone, mound, house, lantern,{352} and what not has its legend. In this humble posada, Cervantes, whose ancestral castle is on yonder bluff overlooking the Tago, wrote his "Ilustre Fregona." The family history of yonder fortress-palace inspired Zorilla's romantic pen, and a thousand and one other objects recall the past,—the past that is Toledo's present and doubtless will have to be her future.

Gone are the days when Tolaitola was a peerless jewel, for which Moors and Christians fought, until at last the Believers of the True Faith drove back the Arabs who fled southward from whence they had emerged. Long closed are also the famous smithies, where swords—Tolesian blades they were then called—were hammered so supple that they could bend like a watchspring, so strong they could cleave an anvil, and so sharp they could cut an eiderdown pillow in twain without displacing a feather.

Distant, moreover, are the nights of capa y espada and of miracles wrought by the Virgin; dwindled away to a meagre shadow is the princely magnificence of the primate prelates of all the Spains, of those spiritual princes who neither asked the Pope's advice nor received orders from St. Peter at Rome.{353} Besides, of the two hundred thousand souls proud to be called sons of Toledo in the days of Charles-Quint, but seventeen thousand inhabitants remain to-day to guard the nation's great city-museum, unsullied as yet by progress and modern civilization, by immense advertisements and those other necessities of daily life in other climes.

The city's history explains the mixture of architectural styles and the bizarre modifications introduced in Gothic, Byzantine, or Arab structures.

Legends accuse Toledo of having been mysteriously founded long before the birth of Rome on her seven hills. To us, however, it first appears in history as a Roman stronghold, capital of one of Hispania's provinces.

St. James, as has been seen, roamed across this peninsula; he came to Toledo. So delighted was he with the site and the people—saith the tradition—that he ordained that the city on the Tago should contain the primate church of all the Spains.

The vanquished Romans withdrew, leaving to posterity but feeble ruins to the north of the city; the West Goths built the threatening city walls which still are standing, and, having turned Christians, their King Recaredo{354} was baptized in the river's waters, and Toledo became the flourishing capital of the Visigothic kingdom (512 A.D.).

The Moors, in their northward march, conquered both the Church and the state. Legends hover around the sudden apparition of Berber hordes in Andalusia, and accuse Rodrigo, the last King of the Goths, of having outraged Florinda, a beautiful girl whom he saw, from his palace window, bathing herself in a marble bath near the Tago,—the bath is still shown to this day,—and with whom he fell in love. The father, Count Julian, Governor of Ceuta, called in the Moors to aid him in his righteous work of vengeance, and, as often happens in similar cases, the allies lost no time in becoming the masters and the conquerors.

Nearly four hundred years did the Arabs remain in their beloved Tolaitola; the traces of their occupancy are everywhere visible: in the streets and in the patios, in fanciful arabesques, and above all in Santa Maria la Blanca.

The Spaniards returned and brought Christianity back with them. They erected an immense cathedral and turned mosques{355} into chapels without altering the Oriental form.

Jews, Arabs, and Christians lived peacefully together during the four following centuries. Together they created the Mudejar style tower of San Tomas and the Puerta de Sol. Pure Gothic was transformed, rendered even more insubstantial and lighter, thanks to Oriental decorative motives. In San Juan de los Reyes, the Mudejar style left a unique specimen of what it might have developed into had it not been murdered by the Renaissance fresh from Italy, where Aragonese troops had conquered the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

With the first Philips—and even earlier—foreign workmen came over to Toledo in shoals from Germany, France, Flanders, and Italy. They also had their way, more so than in any other Spanish city, and their tastes helped to weld together that incongruous mass of architectural styles which is Toledo's alone of all cities. Granada may have its Alhambra, and Cordoba its mosque; Leon its cathedral and Segovia its Alcázar, but none of them is so luxuriously rich in complex grandeur and in the excellent—and yet frequently grotesque—confusion of{356} all those art waves which flooded Spain. In this respect Toledo is unique in Spain, unique in the world. Can we wonder at her being called a museum?

The Alcázar, which overlooks the rushing Tago, is a symbol of Toledo's past. It was successively burnt and rebuilt; its four façades, here stern and forbidding, there grotesque and worthless, differ from each other as much as the centuries in which they were built. The eastern façade dates from the eleventh, the western from the fifteenth, and the other two from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

But other arts than those purely architectural are richly represented in Toledo. For Spain's capital in the days following upon the fall of Granada was a centre of industrial arts, where both foreign and national workmen, heathen, Jews, and Christians mixed, wrought such wonders as have forced their way into museums the world over; besides, Tolesian sculptors are among Spain's most famous.

As regards painting, one artist's life is wrapped up in that of the wonderful city on the Tago; many of his masterworks are to be seen in Toledo's churches and in the{357} provincial museum. I refer to Domenico Theotocopuli, he who was considered a madman because he was a genius, and who has been called el Greco when really he ought to have been called el Toledano.

If Toledo is the nation's architectural museum, the city's cathedral, the huge imposing Gothic structure, is, beyond a doubt, an incomparable art museum. Centuries of sculptors carved marble and berroqueña; armies of artisans wrought marvels in cloths, metals, precious stones, glass, and wood, and a host of painters, both foreign and national, from Goya and Ribera to the Greco and Rubens, painted religious compositions for the sacristy and chapels.

Consequently, and besides the architectural beauty of the primate church of Spain, what interests perhaps more keenly than the study of the cathedral's skeleton, is the study of the ensemble, of that wealth of decorative designs and of priceless art objects for which the temple is above all renowned.

Previous to the coming of the Moors in the eighth century, a humble cathedral stood where the magnificent church now lifts its three-hundred-foot tower in the summer{358} sky. It had been built in the sixth century and dedicated to the Virgin, who had appeared in the selfsame spot to San Ildefonso, when the latter, ardent and vehement, had defended her Immaculate Honour before a body of skeptics.

The Moors tore down or modified the cathedral, and erected their principal mosque in its stead. When, three hundred years later, they surrendered their Tolaitola to Alfonso VI. (1085), they stipulated for the retention of their mezquita, a clause the king, who had but little time to lose squabbling, was only too glad to allow.

The following year, however, King Alfonso went off on a campaign, leaving his wife Doña Constanza and the Archbishop Don Bernardo to look after the city in his absence. No sooner was his back turned, when, one fine morning, Don Bernardo arrived with a motley crowd of goodly Christians in front of the mosque. He knocked in the principal door, and, entering, threw out into the street the sacred objects of the Islam cult. Then the Christians proceeded to set up an altar, a crucifix, and an image of the Virgin; the archbishop hallowed his work, and in an hour was the smiling possessor{359} of his see. Strange to say, Don Bernardo was no Spaniard, but a worthy Frenchman.

The news of this outrage upon his honour brought Alfonso rushing back to Toledo, vowing to revenge himself upon those who had seemingly made him break his royal word; on the way he was met by a committee of the Arab inhabitants, who, clever enough to understand that the sovereign would reinstate the mosque, but would ever after look upon them as the cause of his rupture with his wife and his friend the prelate, asked the king to pardon the evil-doers, stating that they renounced voluntarily their mosque, knowing as they did that the other conditions of the surrender would be sacredly adhered to by his Majesty.

Thanks to this noble (cunning) attitude on the part of the outraged Moors, the latter were able to live at peace within the walls of Toledo well into the seventeenth century.

Toward the beginning of the thirteenth century Fernando el Santo was King of Castile, and his capital was the city on the Tago. The growing nation was strong and full of ambition, while the coming of the Cluny monks and Flemish and German{360} artisans had brought Northern Gothic across the frontiers. So it occurred to the sovereign and his people to erect a primate cathedral of Christian Spain worthy of its name. In 1227 the first stone was laid by the pious warrior-king. The cathedral's outline was traced: a Roman cruciform Gothic structure of five aisles and a bold transept; two flanking towers,—of which only the northern has been constructed, the other having been substituted by a cupola of decided Byzantine or Oriental taste,—and a noble western façade of three immense doors surmounted by a circular rosace thirty feet wide.

The size of the building was in itself a guarantee that it would be one of the largest in the world, being four hundred feet long by two hundred broad, and one hundred feet high at the intersection of transept and nave.



It took 250 years for the cathedral to be built, and even then it was not really completed until toward the middle of the eighteenth century. In the meantime the nation had risen to its climax of power and wealth, and showered riches and jewels upon its great cathedral. Columbus returned from America, and the first gold he brought was handed over to the archbishop; foreign{361} artisans—especially Flemish and German—arrived by hundreds, and were employed by Talavera, Cisneros, and Mendoza, in the decoration of the church. Unluckily, additions were made: the pointed arches of the façade were surmounted by a rectangular body which had nothing in common with the principle set down when the cathedral was to have been purely ogival.

The interior of the church was also enlarged, especially the high altar, the base of which was doubled in size. The retablo of painted wood was erected toward the end of the fifteenth century, as well as many of the chapels, which are built into the walls of the building, and are as different in style as the saints to whom they are dedicated.

As time went on, and the rich continued sending their jewels and relics to the cathedral, the Treasury Room, with its pictures by Rubens, Dürer, Titian, etc., and with its sagrario,—a carved image of Our Lady, crowning an admirably chiselled cone of silver and jewels, and covered over with the richest cloths woven in gold, silver, silk, and precious stones,—was gradually filled with hoarded wealth. Even to-day, when Spain has apparently reached the very low{362} ebb of her glory, the cathedral of Toledo remains almost intact as the only living representative of the grandeur of the Church and of the arts it fostered in the sixteenth century.

Almost up to the beginning of the nineteenth century the building was continually being enlarged, modified, and repaired. Six hundred years since the first stone had been laid! What vicissitudes had not the country seen—and how many art waves had swept over the peninsula!

Gothic is traceable throughout the building: here it is flamboyant, there rayonnant. Here the gold and red of Mudejar ceilings are exquisitely represented, as in the chapter-room; there Moorish influence in azulejos (multicoloured glazed tiles) and in decorative designs is to be seen, such as in the horseshoe arches of the triforium in the chapel of the high altar. Renaissance details are not lacking, nor the severe plateresque taste (in the grilles of the choir and high altar), and neither did the grotesque style avoid Spain's great cathedral, for there is the double ambulatory behind the high altar, that is to say, the transparente, a circular chapel of the most gorgeous ultra-decoration to be found anywhere in Spain.{363}

Signs of decadence are unluckily to be observed in the cathedral to-day. The same care is no longer taken to repair fallen bits of carved stone; pigeon-lamps that burn little oil replace the huge bronze lamps of other days, and no new additions are being made. The cathedral's apogee has been reached; from now on it will either remain intact for centuries, or else it will gradually crumble away.

Seen from the exterior, the cathedral does not impress to such an extent as it might. Houses are built up around it, and the small square to the south and west is too insignificant to permit a good view of the ensemble.

Nevertheless, the spectator who is standing near the western façade, either craning his neck skyward or else examining the seventy odd statues which compose the huge portal of the principal entrance, is overawed at the immensity of the edifice in front of him, as well as amazed at the amount of work necessary for the decorating of the portal.

The Puerta de los Leones, or the southern entrance giving access to the transept, is perhaps of a more careful workmanship as regards the sculptural decoration. The door{364} itself, studded on the outside with nails and covered over with a sheet of bronze of the most exquisite workmanship in relief, is a chef-d'œuvre of metal-stamping of the sixteenth century, whilst the wood-carving on the interior is among the finest in the cathedral.

The effect produced on the spectator within the building is totally different. The height and length of the aisles, which are buried in shadows,—for the light which enters illuminates rather the chapels which are built into the walls between the flying buttresses,—astonishes; the factura is severe and beautiful in its grand simplicity.

Not so the chapels, which are decorated in all manner of styles, and ornamented in all degrees of lavishness. The largest is the Muzarab chapel beneath the dome which substitutes the missing tower; except the dome, this chapel, where the old Gothic Rite (as opposed to the Gregorian Rite) is sung every day in the year, is constructed in pure Gothic; it contains a beautiful Italian mosaic of the Virgin as well as frescoes illustrating Cardinal Cisneros's African wars, when the battling prelate thought it was his duty to bear the crucifix and Spanish rights{365} into Morocco as his royal masters had carried them into Granada.

The remaining chapels, some of them of impressive though generally complex structure, will have to be omitted here. So also the sacristy with its wonderful picture by the Greco, and the chapter-room with the portraits of all the archbishops, the elegant carved door, and the well-preserved Mudejar ceiling, etc. And we pass on to the central nave, and stand beneath the croisée. To the east the high altar, to the west the choir, claim the greater part of our attention. For it is here that the people centred their gifts.

The objects used on the altar-table are of gold, silver, jasper, and agate; the monstrance in the central niche of the altar-piece is also of silver, and the garments worn by the effigy are woven in gold, silk, and precious stones. The two immense grilles which close off the high altar and the eastern end of the choir are of iron, tin, and copper, gilded and silvered, having been covered over with black paint in the nineteenth century so as to escape the greedy eyes—and hands!—of the French soldiery. The workmanship of these two rejas is of the most sober Spanish{366} classic or plateresque period, and though the black has not as yet been taken off, the silver and gold peep forth here and there, and show what a brilliancy must have radiated from these elegantly decorated bars and cross-bars in the eighteenth century.

The three tiers of choir stalls, carved in walnut, are among the very finest in Spain, both as regards the accomplished craftsmanship and the astonishing variety in the composition. The two organs, opposite each other and attaining the very height of the nave, are the best in the peninsula, whilst the designs of the marble pavement, red and white in the high altar, and black and white in the choir, only add to the luxurious effect produced by statues, pulpits, and other accessories, either brilliantly coloured, or else wrought in polished metal or stone.

The altar-piece itself, slightly concave in shape, is the largest, if not the best, of its kind. It is composed of pyramidically superimposed niches flanked by gilded columns and occupied by statues of painted and gilded wood. The effect from a distance is dazzling,—the reds, blues, and gold mingle together and produce a multicoloured mass reaching to the height of the{367} nave; on closer examination, the workmanship is seen to be both coarse and naïve,—primitive as compared to the more finished retablos of Burgos, Astorga, etc.

To conclude: The visitor who, standing between the choir and the high altar of the cathedral, looks at both, stands, as it were, in the presence of an immense riddle. He cannot classify: there is no purity of one style, but a medley of hundreds of styles, pure in themselves, it is true, but not in the ensemble. Besides, the personality of each has been lost or drowned, either by ultra-decoration or by juxtaposition. A collective value is thus obtained which cannot be pulled to pieces, for then it would lose all its significance as an art unity—a complex art unity, in this case peculiar to Spain.

Neither is repose, meditation, or frank admiration to be gleaned from such a gigantic potpourri of art wonders, but rather a feeling—as far as we Northerners are concerned—of amazement, of stupor, and of an utter impossibility to understand such a luxurious display of idolatry rather than of faith, of scenic effect rather than of discreet prayer.

But then, it may just be this idolatry and{368} love of scenic effect which produces in the Spaniard what we have called religious awe. We feel it in a long-aisled Gothic temple; the Spaniard feels it when standing beneath the croisée of his cathedral churches.

The whole matter is a question of race.





Map of Archbishoprics and Bishoprics of Northern Spain

Archbishoprics and Bishoprics of Northern Spain


Dimensions and Chronology




































A List of the Provinces of Spain and of the Middle Age States or Kingdoms from which they have evolved.

Principal Kingdoms   Conquered States   Present-day Provinces
Castile Galicia La Coruña*
  Asturias* Oviedo*
  Leon Leon*
  Basque Provinces   Guipuzcua*
  Rioja Logroño*
  Old Castile Santander*
  New Castile Madrid*
  Ciudad Real*
  Extremadura Caceres*
  Andalusia Sevilla
  Granada Granada
  Murcia Murcia
Aragon Aragon Zaragoza
  Cataluña Barcelona
  Valencia Valencia
  Navarra Navarra (Pamplona)


The star (*) indicates the provinces treated of in this volume; the remainder will be treated of in Volume II.

Two provinces have not been mentioned: that of the Balearic Isles (belonged to the old kingdom of Aragon), and that of the Canary Isles (belonged to the old kingdom of Castile).

Dates have not been indicated. For so complicated was the evolution of the different states (regions) throughout the Middle Ages, that a series of tables would be necessary, as well as a series of geographical maps.

The above list, however, shows Spain (minus Portugal) at the death of Fernando (the husband of Isabel) in 1516, as well as the component parts of Castile and Aragon. The division of Spain into provinces dates from 1833.

A bishopric does not necessarily coincide with a province. Thus, the Province of Lugo has two sees (Lugo and Mondoñedo); on the other hand, three Basque Provinces have but one see (Vitoria).

Excepting in the case of Navarra, whose capital is Pamplona, the different provinces of Spain bear the name of the capital. Thus the capital of the Province of Madrid is Madrid, and Jaen is the capital of the province of the same name.







image of inside the book's cover

[Note of Transcriber of the ebook]
Changes made:

Al-Karica => Al-Kárica {1}
Alargón => Alagón
Bartolome => Bartolomé
Guadalquiver => Guadalquivir
Isidore => Isidoro {2 page 163}
Protogones => Protogenes {2}
Theodosia => Theodosio {1 index}
dia de Zamora => día de Zamora {1}
despues de opípera cena => después de opípara cena {1}
Neustra Señora => Nuestra Señora {1 index}
Del Obisco => Del Obispo {1 index}
Maria Del Sarto => Maria Del Salto {2}
Manuza => Munuza {1 index}
Constitutión => Constitución {1 index}
Talaitola => Tolaitola {1 index}






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