A 'Price One Penny' Edition

August 2, 1845

Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: July 26, 1845 Next: August 16, 1845

Charles the Fifth

Early on the following morning the Apostle and Stephen proceeded in the direction of the palace by way of Toledo Street.106 That thoroughfare was then composed almost entirely of small taverns, where “man and beast” were alike lodged. On reaching the street, Don Stephen was perfectly surprised at the number of persons of both sexes that encumbered the way. Nevertheless, there was no murmuring sound which usually characterises popular assemblies: but there were some cries of pity—few and far between!

“What means this concourse?” enquired Don Stephen, surprised.

“It is most probably an execution,” said John of Avila: “a wretch whose crimes demand human justice!”107

A man, mounted upon an ass whose ears had been cropped (in accordance with the custom of the time, so that the animal used by the public executioner might always be recognised, as it was considered disgraceful for any one, save a criminal, to ride upon the beast), was now approaching the spot where the two travellers had paused for a moment to watch the proceedings of the concourse. That man, clad in a white tunic, and with a green handkerchief twisted round his head, bent towards a priest who extended a cross towards him. A double range of soldiers protected the escort; and a number of Brethren of the Orders of Peace and Charity accompanied the procession.108

The cavalcade proceeded, Don Stephen and the Apostle being carried along with those rolling waves of people, until the foot of the gibbet was reached.

The balconies and windows all around the square, where the execution was to take place were filled with young and lovely women, some of whom held children in their arms to contemplate the horrible spectacle.

The culprit dismounted from the ass, and, falling upon his knees, prayed for a length of time aloud and fervently. The executioner fixed a cord around his neck, and threw the other extremity over the iron-beam of the gibbet. Then when the malefactor’s prayers were over, the executioner ascended the ladder attached to the gallows, and drew the criminal up from the ground by means of the halter.

A dead silence now prevailed amongst the multitude: even the voices of the priests were hushed.

“Holy Virgin!” cried a young girl: “the executioner now stands upon the murderer’s shoulders!”

Then arose the sound of the chaplain’s voice, chanting the Belief, a profession of faith in which the entire multitude joined.109 The executioner now hung upon the shoulders of the victim, who swang backwards and forwards in the air; while the bells of Saint Milanus rang forth the funeral knell.110

Suddenly the cord broke; and culprit and executioner fell down together. At the same moment the multitude thundered forth, “He is saved! he is saved!”

The Brethren of Peace and Charity raised the unhappy wretch from the ground: he still breathed; the strangulation was not completely effected.

“What will become of this man who has been so miraculously saved?” asked Don Stephen of the Apostle.

“He now belongs to the Brethren of Charity.”

“And what will become of him?”

“He will be admitted as a lay-brother into one of their religious houses.”

A gipsey, who overheard these words, burst into a loud laugh: John of Avila turned round, and immediately recognised a member of the Order of Garduna.

“That man, I fear, will derive no benefit from this awful lesson,” said the Apostle, pointing towards the criminal, who was now being borne away by the Brethren of Charity.

“And wherefore?” asked Stephen.

“Because, by the laugh with which that gipsey received an observation that I made, I have no doubt the resuscitated murderer is a member of the filthy Society of Garduna. But let us not delay our own business: come, the crowd is rapidly dissipating! The way leading to the palace is already clear.”

The two travellers accordingly struck into the street leading to the royal dwelling.

Royal audiences were not at that period so characterised by ceremony in Spain as one would be inclined to suppose, judging by the rigour of the etiquette which is preserved at the Spanish court in the present day.

The king usually granted audiences between ten in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Stephen and John of Avila entered an antechamber, without experiencing the least hindrance from the two sentinels who guarded the door; and they seated themselves on a bench covered with red cloth. The ante-chamber had three doors in addition to that by which the two travellers had entered it: one opened into the throne-room, a second into the royal apartments, and the third into the suites of rooms inhabited by the princes.

In a few minutes several persons, male and female, thronged the ante-room. We should have observed that each individual soliciting an audience, received from the officer in attendance a piece of ivory on which a number was inscribed: thus the supplicants were admitted to the royal presence in the order in which they had arrived at the palace.

Shortly after ten, an officer issued from the throne-room, and summoned Number One in a loud tone.

Stephen and the Apostle were immediately introduced into the throne-room. This was a place of inconceivable magnificence. On the right and left, at equal distances, four vast doors opened into the apartments of the king and the princes; and between these doors were placed statues or vases beautifully sculptures. Three enormous crystal lustres were suspended to the ceiling, which was slightly arched and covered with masses of gilding. At the farther end of the apartment was a throne of velvet and of gold, raised upon a dais ornamented with emblems of all kinds, the most remarkable of which was a pelican opening its breast to nourish its young. In the middle were emblazoned the arms of Spain. Large and ample windows threw a torrent of light upon all this magnificence.

Here and there were groups of nobles and paladins, conversing in a low tone, while the king, slightly pre-occupied, walked backwards and forwards near the throne.

The moment the Apostle entered the apartment, the king, who instantly recognised him, advanced towards him, and said in a kind tone. “What wouldst thou with me?”

“Justice, sire,” answered the Apostle, dropping upon one knee and kissing the hand of him who was monarch of Spain and Germany: “justice against the Inquisition, which abuses its power and compromises your majesty by its unequalled cruelties.”

At the mention of the word “INQUISITION,” Charles the Fifth, that proud despot, could not conquer a slight emotion: and perceiving that the conversation was likely to become more grave than he had supposed, he made a sign to the nobles present to withdraw.

When he was alone with Don Stephen and John of Avila, the king, assuming an austere and arbitrary tone, said to the Apostle, “Do you know, holy father, that it requires great courage to complain openly of the Inquisition?”

“No, sire,” answered the Apostle: “it only requires a great love of justice.”

“That love is dangerous and rare in these troublous times,” answered the king.

And that is wherefore I have come to seek it at the foot of the throne, finding it nowhere else,” said the Apostle.

“Then let me hear the particulars. What has been done to thee?”

“To me nothing, sire,” was the reply. “But you had a faithful servitor, named Manuel Argoso——”

“Governor of Seville, I believe?” interrupted the king, interrogatively.

“The same,” answered the Apostle. “Your Majesty conferred that distinction upon him; and never was man so deserving of his sovereign’s favour as he. But the Grand Inquisidor, Peter Arbuez, was anxious to recompense one of his creatures: he therefore threw Don Manuel into prison, and gave his place to a man of low birth, contemptible, and whose only desire seems to be to deserve, at any price, the smiles of his master.”

“True—I recollect,” said the king, after a moment’s reflection: “I myself signed the nomination of this new governor who was so strongly recommended by the Grand Inquisidor of Seville. I was assured that he had rendered eminent services to religion. But do you know, holy father, that the accusation against the former governor was very grave. He is accused of heresy; and I cannot stop a suit111 that is instituted against him by the Holy Office.”

“And does your Majesty believe that this process is based upon justice?” said the Apostle.

“Had Don Manuel any enemies;” demanded the king.

“None, sire—except one man——”

“Who is that man?”

“The Grand Inquisidor of Seville, sire.”

“Holy father,” said the monarch, in a severe tone, “to accuse thus lightly a high dignitary of the Inquisition, manifests on your part a breech of that respect which we all, and ecclesiastics especially, should entertain towards the Holy Office and all belonging to it.”

“Sire,” answered the priest, “I am the last man to speak irreverently of any institution really devoted to the service of religion; but I protest against the hypocrisy and deceit of those ministers of the gospel who profane the holiest doctrines by rendering them the instrument of their bad passions.”

Charles the Fifth was a man of genius: he loved courage, and admired audacity; and, although his terror of the Inquisition was great, he contemplated with profound admiration that bold and daring individual who, even in the presence of his king, threw an anathema112 upon that institution whose name that sovereign himself only pronounced with fear and trembling.

“Holy father,” he said, after a long pause, “what proof have you of the enmity of Peter Arbuez against the late governor of Seville, and of the injustice of his proceedings with regard to him?”

“Sire,” answered John of Avila, alluding to the confidence which Dolorez had placed in him, and the statements she had made concerning the Grand Inquisidor, “there are certain matters which belong to the secrecy of confession, and which we are not permitted to divulge. Nevertheless, I swear to your Majesty that the Inquisidor of Seville has acted against Don Manuel through pure vengeance, and has falsely accused him of heresy.”

“Who can prove that this accusation is false?” demanded the king. “Heresy is the true scourge of the country: the doctrines of Luther have penetrated everywhere; and that man has thrown a burning brand of discord into all the nations of Christendom. His doctrine is abominable and pernicious; and we cordially approve the zeal which our Inquisidors manifest in suppressing it. Do not defend Luther, holy father: we detest him and his principles.”

John of Avila took Stephen by the hand, and presented him to the king, saying, “This young man is Don Stephen de Vargas. His father was named member of the council of Castille by King Philip the First:113 he was a pious Christian, and a zealous defender of the monarchy. Stephen has followed the example of his father: and Peter Arbuez, being unable to proceed against him judicially, has attempted his life.”

“What say you?” cried Charles severely.

“I have the authentic proof of what I state, sire; and I can satisfy your Majesty on that head.”

“Silence, holy father,” cried the king: “you have said enough to set all Spain by the ears. But, tell us, daring priest, what is thy name—for as yet we know not with whom we are conversing.”

“John of Avila,” answered the Apostle meekly.

At that name which was revered throughout Spain, and which was associated with every virtue, Charles the Fifth contemplated the priest with a lively sentiment of admiration.

“We are now no longer astonished at your courage, holy father,” said Charles; “and we may candidly tell you that we ourselves are aware of the abuses that exist in the Inquisition.”

The love of Charles for that awful tribunal was far from sincere; he merely affected attachment thereto as a matter of policy.

“Holy father,” he continued. “I know that in your presence I can speak frankly: I would give half my empire to suppress the abuses of the Inquisition; but how can I struggle against a power which has become more influential than Rome herself?”

“The Emperor and King Charles the Fifth,” said John of Avila firmly, “once dared to struggle with the pope in respect to a bull which the papal sovereign launched against Spain: cannot that same monarch, who is still Emperor of Germany and King of Spain, combat with equal success against the Inquisition—in the cause of humanity?”

Charles the Fifth regarded the priest kindly, and said, “Tell me holy father, in which way we can prove to you our anxiety to serve you. Endeavour at all events to reconcile justice and the interests of royalty. Let us prevent the abuses of the Inquisition, but not strike the Inquisition. It is a serpent which turns upon and bites the person who dares to touch it; and its wounds are always mortal.”

“The lion fears not the bite of the serpent, and your Majesty is a king to command,” answered the Apostle. “Sire, a man has been falsely accused and unjustly tortured. The Grand Inquisidor of Seville has committed this crime: it is for him to repair it. Will your Majesty command Peter Arbuez to set Don Manuel Argoso at liberty?”

“I cannot do that,” answered the king in a pensive manner.

“Ah! sire,” exclaimed John of Avila, “shall it have been in vain that your beautiful kingdom of Spain saluted with such loud acclamations the accession of your Majesty to the throne? Oh! sire, Don Manuel Argoso is innocent; and your Majesty must protect the innocent!”

“Is that young man a relation of Don Manuel Argoso?” demanded the king, glancing towards Don Stephen.

“I was to have become his son-in-law,” replied Stephen in a modest but firm tone.

“Manuel Argoso has then a daughter?”

“An angel,” answered the Apostle: “the most beautiful and chaste maiden in all Spain. Does your Majesty now comprehend why the late governor of Seville has been accused of heresy?”

Charles the Fifth bit his lips: this was not the first time that a similar accusation had been made against the Inquisidors of the kingdom. Approaching a writing-table the king said, “Don Stephen, will you on this occasion act as my secretary?”

“I am at your Majesty’s commands,” replied Stephen.

“Write!” said the king.

Stephen took up the pen, and spread paper before him. The king continued to dictate the ensuing words in a rapid manner:—

“My lord,

“Don Manuel Count of Cervallos, at this moment a prisoner in the Holy Office of Seville, has constantly been our faithful servitor, and we have ever looked upon him as a good and zealous catholic. The accusation of heresy, now laid against him, appears to us to have be an exaggeration; and that accusation may have been the invention of some enemy interested in his downfall.—Therefore we desire that your eminence will endeavour to discover the real truth, and render justice to our faithful servitor. We moreover request your Eminence to terminate the process against Don Manuel Argoso as speedily as possible, and in the manner most conformable with justice and Christianity.

“Given at our palace of Madrid, this 20th of May, 1534.


The king sealed this letter with the royal signet.115 He then handed the document to John of Avila, saying, “We are charmed, holy father, at having had this opportunity of conversing with the Apostle of Andalusia. And you, young man,” the monarch added, turning towards Don Stephen, “when you shall be the son-in-law of Don Manuel Argoso, return to our court, I will confer upon you a post worthy of the name which you bear.”

“My deepest gratitude is due to your Majesty,” said the young man: “my heart and my arm are devoted to you, sire, as well as my life.”

The king bowed graciously to Don Stephen, and returned into his own apartments.

That day Stephen and John of Avila took their departure from Madrid.

Dark Suspicions

Upwards of fifteen days had passed since the audience which was awarded to John of Avila and Stephen de Vargas by Charles the Fifth.

On his return to Seville, Stephen’s first care was to inquire after Dolorez. Joseph had recommended him never to go without him to the dwelling of Juanna; and, as he could not call at the inquisitorial palace where the favorite of Peter Arbuez resided, Stephen proceeded at night-fall to the tavern in Gipsies’ Alley, hoping that the alguazil Joachim or his sister Graciosa might furnish him with the information he sought.

When Stephen de Vargas approached the tavern, he beheld the pretty Graciosa standing at the door—a sure sign that there were no customers in the house at that moment.

Stephen entered the public-room, and was rejoiced to find it empty. He accordingly took a seat, with his back towards the door.

“What shall I serve you with, senor?” inquired Graciosa, in that soft and pearly tone which distinguishes the women of Andalusia.

“A cup of chocolate,” answered Stephen, laying aside his broad brimmed hat.

“What a handsome cavalier!” thought Graciosa, within herself.

As she placed the cup of chocolate before him, Stephen said. “Sit down, Graciosa: I wish to speak to you.”

“Speak to me, senor?” cried Graciosa. “What can I do to serve you, senor?”

“You know Donna Dolorez, the daughter of the late governor of Seville?” said Stephen.

Graciosa surveyed him with unfeigned surprise, and then, after a little hesitation, replied, “I am not acquainted, senor, with the person to whom you allude.”

“You know her—and you know the Apostle also,” said Stephen, who saw that distrust had alone dictated the former answer. “Fear nothing. Graciosa, it is the Apostle who sends me, and who desires to know if Dolorez be still at the house where his Reverence Don Joseph placed her. Speak—speak, Graciosa: why should you mistrust me?” cried Stephen, observing that the brown and fresh cheeks of the Andalusian maiden suddenly became as pale as ashes.

But Graciosa, instead of replying, exclaimed, “My cauldron is running over now,” and hurried into her little kitchen.

At that moment the tavern door opened, and Joachim himself, dressed in his alguazil’s costume, entered the room. The moment this individual saw Stephen, he recognised him; and a sorrowful expression spread over his countenance.

“You at least will answer my question,” said Don Stephen, “for I have vainly interrogated your sister. Sit by me, Joachim, and tell me what has passed since I left Seville.”

Graciosa impelled by curiosity, advanced towards the door of her kitchen: the alguazil remained standing, with an embarrassed air, in the presence of Don Stephen.

“Speak—speak, I implore you!” ejaculated Don Stephen: “is Donna Dolorez ill?”

“Senor, I am really at a loss,” began Joachim. “—I dare not—”

“What mean you?” demanded Don Stephen impetuously.

The alguazil hung down his head and gave no reply: Stephen, driven to despair; rushed towards Graciosa, took her two hands in his, and pressing them with phrenetic violence, ejaculated, “Speak Graciosa; what has become of the Governor’s daughter?”

The young woman glanced towards her brother.

“You may tell all,” said Joachim; “for I could not! This cavalier is the intended husband of the Senora.”

“Senor,” began Graciosa, “do not give way to affliction—”

“But what is it?” cried Stephen, in a state of undefinable agony.

“Senor, your affianced bride—”

“Proceed! Speak!”

“Is—” murmured Graciosa.

“Where? in the name of God, keep me not in suspense!”

“In the Inquisition,” added Graciosa, in a low and tremulous tone.

“Oh!” cried Don Stephen, beating his forehead “I should have suspected as much, when a Dominican—”

“Senor, accuse not Don Joseph,” interrupted Joachim with vivacity: “he is innocent of the least particle of treachery!”

But the protestations of Joachim were of no avail to extinguish the suspicion that had been excited within him; and he threw all the blame upon the youthful favourite of the Grand Inquisidor.

“You have then seen Donna Dolorez,” said Stephen, “since your duty frequently carries you into that abominable prison?”

“No, senor,” answered the alguazil, “but his Reverence Don Joseph has visited her several times, and is at the moment occupying himself with her deliverance.”

A bitter and sarcastic smile wandered upon the lips of the young lover; and a terrible suspicion entered his soul. He knew the standard of ecclesiastical morality; and he would rather have heard of the death of Dolorez than receive any confirmation of the dread idea which now haunted him.

Weighed down with so many emotions, the young man placed his elbows upon the table and buried his face in his hands.

Presently the sound of voices fell upon his ears; he raised his eyes, and observed that two more guests had just entered the room;—one a cavalier wearing an elegant costume, the other an elderly man clothed in a sordid and negligent manner.

“You here, Stephen?” said the latter, extending his hand towards the young man.

“As you see me, Don Rodriguez,” replied Stephen.

“It is an age since I saw you,” proceed Rodriguez de Valero, to whom the reader was introduced on the occasion of the festival at the palace of the Count of Mondejar. “I am delighted to see you once more; and I take leave to present to you one of my friends, Don Ximenes de Herrera, an Arragonese nobleman, who will be charmed to form your acquaintance.”

The two young cavaliers exchanged the politeness in usage at that epoch; and it was then that Don Rodriguez de Valero observed the pale countenance of Don Stephen.

“What ails you?” demanded Valero, in a paternal tone.

“Nothing,” returned the young man, in a voice his looks belied.

“You will not make me your confidant,” said Rodriguez, “and yet you know that you might do so with safety.”

“I know it—I know it,” answered Don Stephen. “I am well aware that you are a staunch enemy of the Inquisition; but that young noble?—”

“Is a generous and independent soul, in whom you can trust,” said Valero: “otherwise, should I have introduced him as my friend? Speak, then in all confidence.”

“Will you believe, gentlemen,” continued Stephen, thus encouraged, “that, not content with immuring the late Governor of Seville in the Inquisition, Peter Arbuez has arrested his daughter also—the loveliest, the most noble-hearted maiden in all Spain?”

“Donna Dolorez;” cried Don Ximenes.

“It is as I expected,” said Don Rodriguez; and he then briefly related to Stephen de Vargas all that had taken place in reference to Dolorez at the festival at the Count of Mondejar’s house.

Stephen listened with a profound admiration for Dolorez, and a sovereign contempt for her persecutors: but his terrors were augmented, for he suspected Joseph and he knew Peter Arbuez!

Toledo Street This North-South street links the Puerta de Toledo to the Plaza Mayor.
execution The French text specifies that the characters have reached the Plaza de la Cebada, adding in a footnote that liberal opponents to absolutism such as Rafael del Riego were executed there in the nineteenth century. Previously, they were held in the Plaza Mayor. The setting of this execution scene is thus anachronistic.
Brethren of the Orders of Peace and Charity Members of the Hermandad de la Paz y Caridad, who accompanied prisoners condemned to death in the days leading up to their execution and offered them a Christian burial. Written proof of the brotherhood’s existence date back to the mid-eighteenth century. The authors are thus probably introducing an anachronism.

The French text continues to reveal how surprisingly well disposed the authors are to the brotherhood: ‘this honourable corporation not having been instituted for any object of fanaticism or gain, but solely in a spirit of charity’ (p. 196).

Belief The Apostles’ Creed.
Saint Milanus San Millán Church stood on the east corner of Plaza de la Cebada until it was demolished in 1869.
suit ‘Pursuit; prosecution, legal process’ (OED).
anathema ‘The formal act, or formula, of consigning to damnation’ (OED).
council of Castille Governing body second only to the monarch, dealing with administrative and judicial matters.

King Philip the First Charles V’s father.

‘This letter is apocryphal so far as the date and subject are concerned; but it is true as a type and a fact, Charles V. wrote several to the same purport; these letters were often regarded as through they had not been received by the inquisitors [...]. In addition, we should remark, that very frequently, letters which the emperor wrote in favour of some victims of the inquisition, were neutralized by other letters which the emperor took care to despatch after them. Besides, the duplicity of Charles V. is well known; who does not know the manner in which the emperor treated Francis I., whilst that monarch was a prisoner at Madrid? Francis being very sick from grief, occasioned by the loss of his liberty, Charles V. went to see him.

“Have you come to see if death will soon relieve you of your prisoner?” asked the king of France.

“You are not my prisoner,” replied Charles V., “but my brother and my friend; I have no other intention but to restore you to liberty, and afford you every satisfaction which you can expect of me;” then he embraced him.

The promises of the emperor produced a salutary effect, and Francis I. regained his health after a tedious convalescence. When the emperor found his prisoner restored to perfect health, he again became stern and cold in his deportment. It was in vain that Francis I. reminded Charles of the promise which he had made him during his illness; Charles did not release his prey until after having obtained, January 15, 1520, the treaty which purchased the liberty of the king of France at so onerous a price for the nation.’ (p. 213*)

signet ‘The seal originally used by the sovereigns of England and Scotland for private purposes, and later used on behalf of the sovereign to authenticate royal warrants and other official documents.’ (OED)
Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: July 26, 1845 Next: August 16, 1845
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