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A History of Aragon and Catalonia
H. J. Chaytor

12
Pedro IV
[166] His character. He exiles his stepmother. Alliance with Castile against the Moors. Quarrel with James of Mallorca. Capture of the island. Quarrel with the nobles. Civil war. Victory of the Crown. Pedro's reprisals. Revolt of Sardinia. War with Castile. Henry of Trastamara. Invasion of Aragon. Peace concluded and broken. The battle of Nájera. War with Henry of Trastamara. Claims to Sicily. Pedro's death.

Alfonso left five sons and two daughters by his wife, Teresa de Entenza. The first son had died in infancy, and the second, Pedro, who was born on September 5, 1319, succeeded to the throne. He was an under-sized man, said to have been prematurely born, and gained the name of "El Ceremonioso" from his insistence upon forms and ceremonies. His punctiliousness, however, did not restrain him from tyranny and murder when these courses happened to suit his purpose, and he was also known as "El del Punyalet," from the dagger which he usually wore at his belt. If he had a conscience, it was rather his accomplice than his guide; he was a born intriguer, whose weapons were duplicity and hypocrisy; and the strain of caution in his character which directed these vices has alone saved him from the dismal reputation of the homicidal maniac, Pedro I, who occupied the throne of Castile for the greater part of his reign. He showed dislike and suspicion of his relatives he drove his brother-in-law out of Mallorca and probably poisoned one brother and assassinated another. Arbitrary and domineering, he early declared his principle of government, "axi volem que fos e que non sen devia altre fer": "thus will we have it and nothing else ought to be done." He was no doubt tenacious in disaster, and a tendency to champion the cause of the poor against the rich has been urged in his favour, though it is likely that here he was merely following the policy of promoting the interests of the towns against the [167] nobles, by which other kings both of Aragon and Castile strove to secure their positions. It should, however, be said that some of his legislation shows an enlightenment beyond his age, especially that which deals with the use of torture and corporal punishment; he had a strong sense of the importance of literature and the advantages of education; he founded the University of Lérida and was himself an author and a parliamentary orator of skill and eloquence; if his Chronicle and other works attributed to him owed probably more to his secretaries than to himself, they are evidence of his undoubted literary interest and culture.

Pedro's first business was to summon the Cortes to Zaragoza for his coronation, which was celebrated with festivities similar to those which had marked the opening of the previous reign. He placed his own crown on his own head, as an indication to the papal representatives present that he did not accept the surrender to the papacy made by Pedro II. He also took the usual oaths to observe the laws and liberties of the Aragonese. Some weeks afterwards he repeated this ceremony in Catalonia, but aroused some dissatisfaction among the Catalans by summoning them to Lérida instead of to Barcelona, and by giving the Aragonese priority in this ceremony, whereas his father had met the Catalans first. One reason for the change was Pedro's anxiety to anticipate his stepmother, Queen Eleanor, in her attempts to stir up trouble in the south of his kingdom. Shortly before Alfonso's death Eleanor had met her brother, the King of Castile, and secured a promise of help from him in case her stepson should attempt to deprive her of the donations which she had extorted from her husband. Immediately after the King's death, the King of Castile, therefore, sent a knight to his sister, professing his readiness to protect her and her sons. The said messenger, Pedro de Ejérica, conducted her to Albarracin, and a Castilian embassy met Pedro in Zaragoza, requesting him to confirm the donations made by his father to Eleanor. Pedro sent an ambiguous answer. He was prepared to treat the Queen with all respect, but not to pronounce upon the legality of the donations. Shortly afterwards, when he arrived in Valencia, he deprived the Queen of her income and outlawed her protector, Pedro de Ejérica. Remonstrances from Castile produced no effect, and, if [168] Alfonso of Castile had not been occupied by a war with Portugal, be might have been induced to begin hostilities against Aragon. Eleanor had a party of followers in Aragon, who seemed likely to find a leader in Pedro de Ejérica, and the King therefore thought it advisable to crush this nobleman once and for all. Pedro de Ejérica was obliged to flee into Castile, where he became the chief supporter of the exiled Eleanor, and it was not until 1338 that the intervention of the papal legates secured some measure of agreement. It was agreed that the King of Aragon should take Pedro de Ejérica again into his service and compensate him for the loss he had incurred, that the Queen should hold the domains and revenues granted her by her late husband, and that the King should allow her the right of administering justice within them. He was the more anxious to come to some arrangement as Spain was at that moment threatened by a considerable invasion from the Moors. In other parts of the kingdom peace prevailed. In Sardinia, his officer, Ramon de Cardona, had defeated the Genoese and pacified the island for the moment, while the differences between James of Mallorca and the Crown of Aragon had been temporarily settled. Pedro then married Maria, the second daughter of the King of Navarre, in the summer of 1338, and thus secured an ally on his northern frontier.

Some time previously reports had reached him that the King of Morocco, Abu-l-Hassan, who had also conquered Tremecen in Tunis, had been invited by the King of Granada to invade Spain, and was making great preparations for the enterprise. He had already sent his son across the Straits with 5000 cavalry, and captured Algeciras and Gibraltar. Apprehensions of a desperate struggle were widespread through Spain, and particularly in Aragon, as it was thought that the efforts of the invaders would be chiefly directed against Valencia, where the considerable Moorish population might be expected to support them. It was said that in Africa an army of 70,000 cavalry and an infinite number of infantry had been collected with a fleet of over a hundred galleys, some forty of which were provided by Genoa. Pedro, therefore, concluded his alliance with the King of Castile in May 1339, and hurried on his naval preparations. He was anxious to form a combined fleet to which the Kings of [169] Mallorca, Castile and Portugal should send contingents. When the difficulties concerning Eleanor and her sons had been settled, and the alliance with Castile had been definitely concluded, Pedro sent his fleet to join the Castilian contingent near the Straits of Gibraltar, and fortified the coasts and the main strongholds of Valencia as best he could. The son of the King of Morocco invaded Castile with an army towards the end of 1339, but was defeated and killed upon the frontier, and to avenge his death Abu-l-Hassan sent a numerous army and fleet to Spain in the early months of 1340. The Spanish navy, inferior in numbers, was out-manúuvred and completely defeated. For the next four months a continual stream of reinforcements from Africa accompanied by their women and children came over to Spain, until the King of Morocco arrived in person and began the siege of Tarifa, in company with the King of Granada. A Castilian army with Portuguese reinforcements relieved the town, and gained a brilliant victory over the Moors on October 29 on the Salado, which has been compared with the great day of Las Navas de Tolosa; the King of Morocco was obliged to retreat to Africa without delay and all danger from that quarter was ended.

Pedro of Aragon had no part in this victory, as he was occupied by disturbances in Sardinia, and also by a quarrel with the King of Mallorca. In 1336 a peace had been concluded between Genoa and Aragon, but certain landholders had been included in the negotiations as Genoese, not as Aragonese, citizens. They proceeded to reopen intrigues with Pisa and Genoa, and war broke out again. Pedro, however, was anxious first to deal with King James III of Mallorca, for whom he cherished an implacable hatred. Alfonso III had conquered the Balearic Islands, as a consequence of the treacherous behaviour of their King James to his brother Pedro III. James, thus driven out by his nephew, was left with Montpellier and Roussillon as his sole possessions. Alfonso's brother and successor, James II, restored the islands to his uncle in 1294, who thus resumed his rule as James II of Mallorca. He had married Esclaramunda of Foix and his second son Sancho was recognized as his heir by the Cortes of Gerona in 1302. James died in 1311; his third son Fernando, had taken service under Fadrique of [170] Sicily and had been sent by him to command the Catalans in the East. After his capture by the Venetians and his release, he fought for Aragon against the Moors and returned to Sicily, when his brother-in-law, Robert of Naples, attacked Fadrique. He then married Isabella, daughter of the Count of Andria, and so claimed the Morea through his wife. While fighting in this cause he was killed in 1316, leaving an infant boy who was brought back to Aragon by the chronicler Muntaner. This child became James III of Mallorca, being adopted as heir by Sancho, who had succeeded James II in 1311 and had no children of his own. Sancho died in 1324 and James III married Constance, daughter of Alfonso IV of Aragon, and was thus the brother-in-law of Pedro IV, the Ceremonious. James had failed to show him those forms of respect which their mutual positions of feudal overlord and vassal implied, and Pedro suspected him of intriguing with the Kings of France, Castile and Naples against himself. Pedro soon found an opening for attack. James had refused to recognize the disputed French supremacy of Montpellier and, when threatened with a French attack, appealed for help to his overlord in 1341. Pedro was afraid to bring down the wrath of France upon himself, if he responded to the appeal and to weaken his feudal rights over Mallorca, if he refused it. He therefore summoned James to a Cortes to be held in Barcelona. James neither came himself, nor sent any representative, and Pedro, therefore, considered himself relieved from his duty as overlord, and called his vassal to account before him. Apart from this so-called infringement of a vassal's duty, Pedro could further complain that James had been coining and circulating money of his own in the counties of Roussillon and Cerdagne, although it was well-known that the right of coinage was a royal monopoly. The question really turned upon the feudal position of the ruler of Roussillon, and upon old custom, but Pedro found sufficient excuse for declaring James to be a refractory vassal, and for proceeding against him in the usual form. Clement VI, who had recently been appointed Pope, induced Pedro to grant James a meeting at Barcelona, at which the papal representatives were present. These efforts, however, came to nothing, and Pedro circulated a story that James intended to capture him and carry him to Mallorca [171] with the intention of extorting concessions. The plot was said to have been revealed by his sister, the Queen of Mallorca. Pedro had determined to secure the island by force, if negotiation failed, and James realizing this fact returned to Mallorca, and prepared for war, while in February 1343 Pedro declared, before a solemn assembly of the nobles, that James had failed in his duty as a vassal, that his goods and land were confiscate to the Crown of Aragon and that he was to be considered as an enemy of the kingdom. The island had certainly prospered under the rule of James: piracy had been put down, the traditional privileges of the inhabitants had been confirmed and codified in the so-called Palatine law, which Pedro afterwards copied in his Royal Ordinances. But James appears to have been highly unpopular with his subjects, who were overburdened with taxes and who conceived that they would have better prospects of peace and security, if the island formed part of the kingdom of Aragon. One of their representatives assured Pedro that the inhabitants of Mallorca would rise in his favour as soon as the Aragonese fleet appeared off the coast. Pedro also undertook to confirm the privileges of the town of Mallorca, as James I had granted them after the conquest. All officials were to be natives of the country, any appointments that he might make would be restricted to Catalans, the Jurats of the town of Mallorca would have full representation upon the commercial board, and general Cortes to deal with the affairs of the island would be held every five years. Pedro secured the assent of his own Cortes to these proposals, recalled his fleet from the blockade of Algeciras and appeared off Mallorca in the month of May. An army assembled by James ran away, the Aragonese marched into the capital and received the homage, not only of the island itself, but also of Menorca and Iviza. Pedro then returned to Barcelona and shortly afterwards prepared to invade Roussillon and the Cerdagne. James made repeated proposals for peace, which were rejected, while the mediation of Pope Clement VI was equally unsuccessful; and in March 1344 Pedro declared that the possessions of the King of Mallorca were incorporated forever in those of the Aragonese Crown, and that his successors were to swear to maintain this incorporation before their vassals or subjects could be under obligation to take the [172] oath of allegiance. Roussillon was speedily overrun, and James was obliged to surrender unconditionally. On the receipt of a promise of safe-conduct he appeared before Pedro in person, admitted that he had wronged his overlord, and surrendered his lands. Pedro made no proposal to return even a portion of them, and was willing only to provide the dethroned monarch with a pension, on condition that he renounced all claim to the royal title. James made several attempts to recover his position, and in 1349 sold his rights over Montpellier for a sum which enabled him to enlist an army of mercenaries. Juana, Queen of Naples, lent him a fleet and he succeeded in landing his forces in Mallorca. He was immediately attacked by the governor of the island and killed; his troops were scattered and his son James taken prisoner. His wife Constance, sister of Pedro IV, had died in 1346; his only daughter had married the Marquis of Montferrat in 1358, and his son James, as will be seen, married Juana of Naples in 1362.

During the latter period of Pedro's struggles with Mallorca, the kingdom of Aragon was disturbed by a serious constitutional conflict, for the outbreak of which the King was entirely to blame. Pedro had as yet no male heir, and the immediate successor to the Crown was his brother James, whom he disliked, as he suspected him to be supporting the cause of the King of Mallorca. He declared, therefore, that he wished to nominate his daughter Constance as heir to the throne, in case he should die without male issue, and that in so doing he was merely following the common law which allowed a daughter to succeed to her father's possessions. This proposal was discussed in 1347 by a conference of twenty-two distinguished ecclesiastics and lawyers at Valencia, nineteen of whom were prepared to support the proposal that Constance should be regarded as the heiress to the throne. On the other hand, a strong party of influential people, including Arnaldo de Morera, the Vice-Chancellor of the kingdom, insisted that the custom of other kingdoms which excluded women from the succession should also be followed in Aragon, and that James I in his testament had definitely laid down the principle of male succession, which was not to be varied so long as male heirs were to be found. Pedro, however, was not to be persuaded, and on March 23 [173] he publicly proclaimed his daughter as his successor, in case he should have no male heir. James was at that time holding the post of Governor-General of the kingdom, which was usually occupied by the heir to the throne, and collected a strong party of supporters in Valencia, whereupon Pedro ordered him to resign this office, and to withdraw from Valencia, forbade him to appear in any other large town, such as Zaragoza, Barcelona or Lérida, and assigned to him as a residence the villa of Montblanch. He dismissed the officials whom the Infante, in virtue of his office, had appointed, and replaced them with men devoted to himself and prepared to work in the interests of Constance. Homage was paid to her as the King's successor by his uncle, Pedro, by various bishops and barons and the knights of the Royal household, on the condition that their oaths should not be regarded as binding should the King desire to make other arrangements for the succession. At this moment the Queen gave birth to a son, but the child lived only for a few hours and the Queen herself died four days later. Pedro lost no time in contracting a second marriage with Leonor, the daughter of the King of Portugal; she reached Barcelona in November 1346, the year in which his first wife, Maria of Navarre, had died.

Meanwhile, James had gone to Fuentes, invited the barons and knights who had gathered in Zaragoza to meet him, and induced them to abandon all personal quarrels and to unite in defence of the legal succession to the throne. He then led them to Zaragoza, invited the Princes Ferdinand and John, his stepbrothers, whom Pedro's animosity had driven into Castile, to join him, and sent out a general call to form a Union in the defence of the laws and privileges of the kingdom. The formation of such a Union was, as we have seen, legalized by the concessions which had been extorted from, previous kings. This fact induced the majority of those invited to assemble in Zaragoza, where the Union was regularly formed, and a seal was struck representing the King upon the throne with his people before him pleading for justice with outstretched hands and with an ominous line of spears in the background. The King was then invited to hold Cortes at Zaragoza, and informed that the formation of the Union was intended merely to maintain those constitutional forms [174] upon which the safety of the kingdom depended. Pedro then made his way from Valencia to Barcelona, but learned upon the road that the inhabitants of Valencia had followed the example of the Aragonese, and were prepared to join them. Pedro de Ejérica, whom the King had reinstated in his service on the conclusion of his quarrel with his stepmother, was governor of Valencia and succeeded in forming a royalist party by no means negligible, but not strong enough to counteract the movement in Aragon which steadily increased in numbers and represented all who held aloof as traitors to the country. Their programme was the repeal of the King's illegal proposals, the protection of all members of the Union from the oppression of the royalist party, the restoration of dismissed officials and the right of Valencia to appoint a Justicia of its own with powers equivalent to those of the Justicia of Aragon.

Pedro delayed for some time in summoning Cortes to Zaragoza, and did his best to strengthen the number of his own adherents; but when it became clear that he was completely outnumbered, he went to Zaragoza, where he found the Princes Ferdinand and John, who were supported by 400 Castilian knights. He also found, to his considerable alarm, that the Unidos of Valencia had joined those of Aragon and were preparing for war, if they failed to secure their demands. Pedro opened the Cortes at the Church of San Salvador with a lengthy speech, in which he explained that important business, and in particular his war against the King of Mallorca, had prevented him from meeting the Cortes at an earlier date, that he was prepared to recognize the Union, but begged them all to demand only what he could grant and they could reasonably ask, and concluded his speech with a eulogy of Aragon, which aroused general satisfaction. He then retired to his palace, and the several Estates, expecting that he might attempt to sow discord among them, passed a resolution that no individual should communicate with him, but that all negotiations should be conducted between the King and themselves collectively. The Catalans had remained loyal to the Crown and the first demand of the Union was that certain Catalan knights who had accompanied Pedro should be excluded from the deliberations, and to this the King was obliged to agree. They then [175] demanded his confirmation of the privileges of the Union, obliging the King to summon annual Cortes, and giving the Union the power to nominate royal councillors. Pedro objected to this, upon the ground that such privileges had not been enforced for sixty years, and had therefore fallen into disuse. The Estates, however, insisted and intimated that they were prepared to elect another king. Pedro was obliged to give way, though he declared to individuals that he did so only under compulsion, and gave hostages as a guarantee of the fulfilment of his promises. His chief support at this moment was Bernardo de Cabrera, his major-domo, a man whose unshakable fidelity was equalled only by his sagacity and energy. He had already handed over his county of Cabrera to his son, and was proposing to retire from the world to a monastery, but the King, who was well aware of his high qualities, persuaded him to return to personal attendance upon himself. Bernardo was convinced that the King ruled by divine right, that opposition to his wishes was a sinful dereliction of duty, that no compact with refractory vassals should be made, and that real peace was only possible when the royal supremacy was undisputed. By promises of high positions and valuable offices, he succeeded in forming a royalist party in Zaragoza itself, securing the support of Álvaro Darín, of Lope de Luna, who had married his aunt Violante, and of other barons not much less influential than these two important persons. The presence of the two princes with their Castilian following was also a cause of dissatisfaction to many of the Aragonese. The formation of this party was kept secret, and Pedro proposed to return to Catalonia, where he knew he could secure further support. His design, however, was revealed at the final meeting of the Cortes, when he provoked a bitter quarrel between himself and his brother James, whom he accused of treachery to the kingdom. When the supporters of James raised a general call to arms, the royalist party disclosed its existence, and conducted the King back to his palace, and the Union began to realize that the royalist party was a serious danger to their own existence. Cabrera advised Pedro to leave Zaragoza, but he declined to abandon the hostages he had given to the Union. On the excuse that alarming news from Sardinia required his whole attention, he granted [176] the demands of the Union, restored his brother to his office, revoked the dispositions that he had made to secure the succession of his daughter, and dissolved the Cortes at the end of October 1347. He then returned to Catalonia, delighted, as he said, to enter a country which was loyal to himself, and resolved to gather an army and attack the Union, whose hostility was not decreased by the fact that his brother James suddenly died of a mysterious disease, which was naturally attributed to poison. While convincing evidence is lacking, there is no doubt that popular sentiment accused Pedro of fratricide, and that no serious attempt has since been made to refute this accusation.

Meanwhile, war had already broken out in Valencia. The royalist party was defeated near Xátiva, but Pedro de Ejérica was able to gather an army which included some Moorish allies, and the Union of Aragon was prepared to march to the help of Valencia on hearing of their difficulties. Pedro sent his uncle, the Infante Pedro, to support the royalist party with a force of 200 knights, but before he could arrive, Ejérica was attacked by a force of 30,000 men and was defeated on December 80. The royalist cause, however, was not crushed, and he continued to gather reinforcements from the loyal towns. Pedro hurried to Murviedro, which he proposed to make his base of operations against the rebels of Valencia. The town, however, revolted, while his forces began to melt away, as they had not received their arrears of pay, and Pedro was confronted by the fact that a numerous Aragonese army was invading Valencia. Nothing remained for him but to yield. He declared Ferdinand as his successor should he leave no male issue, and gave him the post of Governor-General. He confirmed the Union of Valencia, and legalized its junction with that of Aragon, for the purpose of defending the laws, privileges and liberties of the realm, allowed the Union of Valencia to choose a Justicia with powers equivalent to those of the Justicia of Aragon, and undertook to exclude from his council Bernardo de Cabrera, and other persons obnoxious to the Union. By these means he hoped to arouse some confidence in himself, but an attempt to escape from Murviedro, which had been organized by Cabrera and Ejérica, was betrayed by some of his followers to the Jurados of the town. The population [177] flew to arms, surrounding the palace and demanded the transference of the King to Valencia, where he was to be kept in the custody of the Union, to remove him from the influence of his own councillors. Pedro was obliged to go to Valencia in March 1348, where he was followed by his second wife Eleanor, the daughter of the King of Portugal. An uproar broke out in Valencia, in the course of the celebrations which marked the reconciliation of King and people: when Pedro appeared in person to quell the disturbance, a body of rioters who suspected him of plotting an escape, sang a couplet under his windows:

Malhaja qui sen irá
Encara ni encara.
"Ill to him who shall go away now or ever." The leader of the chorus was a barber named Gonzalo, to whom the King, as he relates in his Chronicle, gave no answer at that time. The barber received an answer at a later date. Cabrera repeatedly urged Pedro to leave Valencia, if not openly, by stealth, and return to Catalonia, where he would find adequate support. The King was convinced that this course was too dangerous, and Cabrera therefore returned to Catalonia and began to organize the royalist forces. Pedro meanwhile did his best to satisfy the demands of the Union and to distract their attention from the preparations of Cabrera in Catalonia. At that moment an unexpected ally made its appearance; the Black Death, which had ravaged most of Europe, appeared also in Spain in the month of May 1348. The towns of Valencia and Catalonia suffered severely. The members of the Union were alarmed for their safety, and were anxious to return to Aragon, which was comparatively free from the plague. When the King desired to withdraw to Teruel, no one was willing to take the responsibility of keeping him in Valencia.

Meanwhile the King's party had been steadily growing stronger, and his supporters, Bernardo de Cabrera, Pedro de Ejérica and Lope de Luna, made continual efforts to secure adherents for his cause, and to break up the Union. It became obvious, however, that war between the two parties was inevitable, in spite of the efforts of the Justicia of Aragon, Garci-Fernández de Castro, to maintain the [178] peace. He succeeded in securing an armistice which lasted for a couple of months, but, when the Infante Fernando arrived at Zaragoza, the Union began hostilities against Lope de Luna and his forces. These had entrenched themselves at Epila, awaiting assistance from the King of Castile, who was then besieging Tarazona. Pedro immediately hastened to join Lope de Luna, and shortly afterwards the battle of Epila took place. The Union was completely defeated, many of its leaders were killed or taken prisoner, Ferdinand himself was wounded, and the banners of the Union were captured and preserved in Epila as trophies. Ferdinand, fortunately for himself, was captured by Pedro's Castilian auxiliaries and taken to Castile. The supremacy of the King was not afterwards questioned, and the privileges conceded by Alfonso III, which had given the nobility a legal right to combine against the Crown, ceased from this moment to be operative. Pedro was on his way to Zaragoza at the head of his victorious army, when he was met by ambassadors from the town, who requested him to enter it, not as a conqueror in triumph, but as a king prepared for the work of pacification. They were prepared to abandon any insistence upon their rights and privileges and to throw themselves upon the royal mercy. On the advice of his council, the King sent a conciliatory answer. The leaders of the Union were arrested, and thirteen of them are said to have been executed, but it must be said that the King, in view of the vindictiveness which his character afterwards displayed upon many occasions, showed a moderation wholly unexpected in the immediate emergency. Cortes were held in Zaragoza in October to settle the constitutional question. It was agreed that, as the Union of the kingdom of Aragon, which had previously been set up to maintain the laws and privileges of the kingdom, had infringed those laws and impaired the rights of the Crown, the several Estates, desiring to offer their due homage to the King, should now dissolve the Union, and they were prepared to destroy the documents which had conceded its former privileges, together with the seal of the Union, and to regard its previous acts as illegal and invalid. The two documents conceding the privileges which had been granted by Alfonso III, and the confirmation of them issued in the previous year, together with the [179] ordinances and books of the Union, were then publicly burned, and the seal was broken. Pedro is said to have cut one of the documents in pieces with the dagger which he habitually carried, and to have gashed his hand in the process, explaining that privileges which had cost so much blood could only be wiped out by royal blood. On the next day, at a general assembly of the Estates, in the Church of San Salvador, Pedro gave an address offering a general amnesty to all except certain leaders, undertaking to observe the laws and customs of the realm, promising that imprisonment, banishment or corporal punishment should never be inflicted without legal trial, and defining more exactly the powers of the Justicia. Discussions on this point were continued at Teruel, as the plague was raging in Zaragoza itself. Henceforward the Justicia was to act as judge between the Crown and its inferiors in case of dispute, and was also to uphold the law against officials or councillors who might attempt to infringe it. Should the interpretation of the law be in any case doubtful, the Justicia was to hold himself in readiness to deal with the point, and his decision would be final. If found incompetent or corrupt, the Justicia could be impeached by the Cortes, to whom he was ultimately responsible, and dismissed for ever from his office. It may be said, therefore, that the result of the struggle was to leave this official in a stronger position than he would probably have been able to obtain under the Union.

The King then moved to Valencia in order to crush opposition in that quarter, where the Union still maintained a considerable force. A battle was fought near the capital, in which the royalists were again victorious. Valencia threw itself upon the mercy of the King, who at first declared his intention of razing the town to the ground and sowing it with salt, but the earnest representations of his councillors dissuaded him from punishing the innocent with the guilty and inflicting great and unnecessary loss upon his own kingdom. The leaders, however, were forced to surrender their persons to the King, and in the case of the dead their property was confiscated. All the privileges of the town were revoked, and it was left to the King to decide what concessions should be made in future. Pedro's cruelty was upon this occasion unrestrained; the bell which called the members of the [180] Union together was melted down and poured down the throats of some of the leaders of the nobility. The barber Gonzalo was captured and Pedro then replied to his couplet:

E qui nous rossogará
Susara e susara?
"Who will not drag you down now and ever?" The barber was hanged, and a continual series of executions took place, until the district was completely terrorized.

Meanwhile, disturbances had broken out in Sardinia, while relations with Castile were in a state of extreme tension, and it therefore appeared that there was occupation enough for all adventurous and unruly spirits within the kingdom of Aragon. Pedro had already secured his possession of Sardinia, but in 1347 a revolt broke out which was led by the family of Oria. The Aragonese forces in the island were completely routed and only the loyalty of the family of Arborea enabled the remnants to reach security. The expulsion of the rebellious leaders merely drove them into the arms of the Genoese, who continued to press their claims to the town of Sassari. Pedro did not grapple with the difficulty until 1351; he was occupied in negotiations for a third marriage, which he eventually contracted in 1349 with Leonor, a daughter of Pedro and Isabel, the rulers of Sicily. The maintenance of Aragonese or Catalan influence in Sicily and the negotiation of an alliance with Castile also diverted his attention from Sardinia until 1351, when an embassy from Venice, which was at war with Genoa, came to ask for help. Pedro made an alliance with Venice, a fact which immediately induced the Genoese to send an embassy in the hope that Pedro might be dissuaded from helping their enemies. The King, however, determined to continue his friendship with the Venetians, who were a richer and more powerful state, especially upon the sea. A Catalan fleet joined the Venetian naval forces, pursued the Genoese as far as Constantinople, and brought them to action in 1352. They gained a complete victory, but lost many of their ships through their ignorance of the coast-line, and the Genoese continued their attacks upon Sardinia and Corsica, the most prominent leader being a certain Mariano de Arborea who claimed the title of King of Sardinia. Pedro, therefore, renewed his alliance with [181] Venice in 1352 for a period of five years, and in the naval battle of Alghero in 1353 the allies inflicted a severe defeat upon the Genoese, who began to doubt their capacity to defend their own town, and placed themselves under the protection of the ruler of Milan. With his help, the Judge of Arborea who had quarrelled with the Catalans, was able to recover his position. He induced a number of Sardinian towns to join him, until the Aragonese were left with little more than Sassari and a few fortified places in the neighbourhood. In the summer of 1354 Pedro sailed to Sardinia with his numerous fleet; he captured the town of Alghero after a long siege, but was unable to improve the general situation, and returned to Barcelona after nearly a year's absence. In 1356 a second attack obliged the Sardinian aspirant to sue for peace, which Pedro was the more inclined to grant, as Pope Innocent VI had secured an agreement between Genoa and Venice in which he was not himself included, while Mariano de Arborea was expecting help from Milan; moreover, the war with Castile required Pedro's undivided attention. Disturbances again broke out, and by 1368 Mariano de Arborea was on the point of securing supremacy over the whole island when he suddenly died. His successor was an oppressive and cruel tyrant who speedily alienated his supporters. He was eventually murdered. His daughter had married a member of the family of Oria, and Pedro was obliged to allow him to occupy the greater part of the island until 1386 when he captured him and secured a treaty upon the basis of that previously concluded with the Judge of Arborea.

Relations between Aragon and Castile had been strained from the outset of the reign of Pedro I of Castile, generally and reasonably known as the Cruel. In 1352 he had concluded with Aragon the alliance of Atienza, but in spite of that fact he supported the unfounded claims of the Infante Ferdinand two years later to the Crown of Aragon. Pedro IV replied by supporting Count Henry of Trastamara and the other illegitimate sons of King Alfonso XI of Castile, who were the objects of their brother's implacable hatred. Ferdinand had ceded Alicante and Orihuela to Pedro of Castile, and Pedro IV realized that the possession of these towns was almost an invitation to invade Valencia. Both [182] kings, however, were occupied by domestic disturbances, and the peace remained outwardly unbroken until 1356, when a war began which was carried on with great ferocity on either side, to the infinite damage of both kingdoms. A somewhat insignificant event led to the outbreak of hostilities. One Francisco de Perellós, a distinguished nobleman of the King's household, was leading a naval squadron to France in fulfilment of feudal obligations. Off Cádiz he met two Genoese merchantmen which he captured, as Genoa was then at war with Aragon, and when the King of Castile, who was present at the time, objected to such action in his waters, he was unable to obtain any redress from Aragon. He considered that Perellós had been commissioned to begin hostilities, and replied by arresting all the Catalan merchants in Seville, by confiscating their property and protesting to the King of Aragon concerning this and other alleged infringements of the peace. He also began hostilities at some parts of the Aragonese frontier. Pedro IV was anxious to avoid a war, as he was then fully occupied with the affairs of Sardinia, but, in view of what had happened, he denounced the treaty between himself and the King of Castile; nor could the efforts of Pope Innocent VI preserve the peace between the two monarchs. The King of Aragon was obliged to remain for the moment upon the defensive. He invited the Castilian nobles who had taken refuge in France, including Henry of Trastamara, to take service under himself, made them his vassals by conferring fiefs upon them and did his best to stir up hostilities in Castile. Pedro the Cruel invaded Aragon in March 1357, and conquered Tarazona. Pedro IV took the field prepared for a pitched battle, when the papal legate intervened and arranged an armistice, during which peace was discussed. The King of Castile, however, broke the conditions of the convention, and, undeterred by the papal interdict laid upon his country by the legate, made energetic preparations for the prosecution of the war, concluded a treaty with the Genoese and began negotiations for a league with France, England and Navarre. Pedro of Aragon, in view of this urgent danger, summoned Cortes to consider the question of defence. The security of the capital was entrusted to the Justicia with full powers. An alliance was concluded with the Kings of Fez and Morocco, [183] and also with the Infante Louis of Navarre, who was governing on behalf of his father then held prisoner in France. Louis was also joined by his brother Ferdinand, who was unwilling to trust himself any longer to the ferocity and uncertain temper of the King of Castile. War broke out again in 1358 and the King of Aragon was speedily involved in troubles. Not only was Guardamar conquered by the enemy, but party quarrels broke out in Catalonia, and not until they had been quelled by the King's uncle, the Infante Pedro, was it possible for the Aragonese to retaliate for the devastation of their territory by making an incursion into Castile. Pope Innocent worked incessantly to restore peace, and sent Cardinal Guido of Bologna to the King of Castile. He professed himself ready for a pacification, but as he demanded the expulsion from Aragon of all the exiled Castilian nobles and the cession to himself of Guardamar, Alicante and other places, Pedro of Aragon refused conditions both disastrous and insulting to himself, and determined to continue the war in spite of the representations concerning the superior power of the enemy which the papal legate advanced. In 1359 a numerous Castilian fleet, led by the King, appeared off the coast of Valencia, joined the Genoese contingent at the mouth of the Ebro and reached Barcelona in June. The harbour was then nearly empty of ships, as the naval forces were absent, either in Sardinia or were helping King Frederick of Sicily. However, such ships as were available prepared for defence. The coast defences were reinforced, and the citizens of Barcelona marched out in a body, enraged at this threat to their coasts where their maritime power had hitherto been undisputed. The Castilian fleet was manned with picked soldiers, and its superior numbers made it confident of victory, but two separate attacks were beaten off with heavy loss; the Catalans had mounted a "bombard" on their largest ship, probably the earliest use made of marine artillery. The King of Castile gave up the attempt and retired to the harbour of Iviza to repair his losses and attempt the conquest of the Balearic Islands. The capital of Iviza was strongly fortified and bravely defended. While the Castilians were engaged in the siege they were surprised by the appearance of Pedro of Aragon with a hastily collected fleet, who obliged them to retire with such precipitation that they [184] abandoned all their siege engines. The failure of this enterprise merely roused the fury of the King of Castile. He made an alliance with the King of Granada, and announced a war of extermination against the Aragonese throughout his kingdom. His continual outbursts of cruelty steadily alienated the loyalty of his subjects, while Pedro of Aragon found support in many quarters, especially from the Catalans and from the Count of Trastamara, who induced many knights to take service with the Aragonese and to guard the Castilian frontier.

The year 1360 was chiefly spent in frontier raids, but in 1361 Pedro of Aragon resolved upon a greater undertaking. All preparations had been made for a pitched battle between the two kingdoms, when the indefatigable efforts of the papal legate once more induced the Kings to open negotiations which were carried on between Bernardo de Cabrera and two Castilian plenipotentiaries. In May 1361 at Tudela a peace was agreed upon on condition that all conquests should be returned by either side, and that Pedro of Aragon should undertake to give no further support to the Infante Ferdinand or to the Count of Trastamara. These and many other Castilian nobles resident in Aragon were not to approach within thirty miles of the Castilian frontier. Pedro of Aragon declared his willingness to accept these conditions and proposed a marriage between his daughter Eleanor and Alfonso, the heir to the throne of Castile. Pedro of Castile professed his willingness to consider the proposal. He had been brought to reason by a Moorish invasion in Andalucía, and as this danger was now past his treacherous instincts gained the upper hand. After concluding an agreement with the Kings of Navarre and Portugal, the Count of Foix and other Gascon nobles, he advanced upon the Aragonese frontier, under the pretext of protecting Spain from the raids of the so-called Free or White Companies, mercenary contingents under the command of leaders of more or less distinction, whose services the Aragonese had used and of whom the most famous was Bertrand du Guesclin. Pedro the Cruel crossed the Aragonese frontier and captured several fortresses. He met with little opposition, as the King of Aragon was then in Perpignan protecting Roussillon against a threatened attack from the mercenary bands, while Aragon [185] itself was unprepared and exhausted by the previous war. The King of Castìle besieged Calatayud, Pedro of Portugal attacked Daroca, Charles of Navarre threatened Tarazona, and the Counts of Foix and Armagnae with other Gascon noblemen descended from the Pyrenees to the districts of Exea. The Governor of Zaragoza and his brother, who was then major-domo, collected the prelates, barons and knights resident in Zaragoza to make such preparations as were possible for the defence of the kingdom. The King himself summoned meetings for the same purpose in Barcelona and Valencia. Meanwhile Calatayud had defended itself desperately against the enemy, but a relief force sent by Pedro was intercepted on its route and the town found itself obliged to surrender in September, under an honourable capitulation.

This siege had occupied the King of Castile during the whole of the year, but early in 1363 he resumed the attack, captured a number of fortresses, including Borja and Tarazona, and began to threaten Zaragoza itself. The King of Aragon therefore accelerated negotiations with the Count of Trastamara who, with other exiled Castilians, had retired to Provence on the conclusion of peace, and undertook to help him to conquer Castile on condition of receiving a sixth part of any conquests he might make. The King of Navarre was also detached from his alliance with Castile, and Pedro IV collected his army in the neighbourhood of Zaragoza, with the intention of fighting a decisive battle. The Castilians, however, turned southwards against the undefended province of Valencia, captured Teruel, Segorbe, Murviedro and other fortresses without resistance, and Pedro of Castile was able to take up his residence in the royal palace at the gates of Valencia, until the approach of the King of Aragon with his army obliged him to move his quarters to Murviedro. Once again the papal nuncio interfered, and with the support of King Charles of Navarre arranged a peace on condition that the King of Castile should marry Juana of Aragon and hand over the conquered towns of Calatayud, Teruel and Tarazona as her dowry, while Alfonso, the King of Aragon's son, who was still an infant, was to marry Isabella of Castile and retain the conquests in Valencia. If the King of Castile did not fulfil [186] these conditions, Charles of Navarre who had formed a secret treaty with the King of Aragon, undertook to act against him. The Infante Ferdinand, disliking this peace, prepared to go to France. Pedro was afraid that he would be followed by his adherents and that the King of Castile would then resume the war. There is also a story of a secret treaty between the two Kings, providing for the murders both of Ferdinand and of the Count of Trastamara. The fact remains, that Pedro soothed Ferdinand's suspicions with a show of friendship, but ordered him to be arrested and to be killed if he resisted. Force became necessary, and the Infante was killed, to the general indignation of the army and the people. As he had no children his great possessions reverted to the Crown, especially the towns of Albarracín and Tortosa.

Soon afterwards the peace that had recently been concluded was again broken, the aggressor being the King of Castile who advanced and threatened the Aragonese frontier with a strong force, on the ground that Pedro IV had not fulfilled the condition which obliged him to kill or capture the Count of Trastamara. The King of Navarre made an alliance with the King of Aragon in 1364, to which the Count of Trastamara was a party, declaring their intention of prosecuting the war until they had driven their enemy out of his kingdom which was then to be divided between themselves, the northern provinces and the whole of Castile going to the King of Navarre and the southern provinces to Aragon, while the Count of Trastamara was to have the Basque provinces. While these projects were still under discussion, the King of Castile invaded Valencia by way of Murcia in the winter of 1363, captured Alicante, Elche and other places, and advanced upon Valencia itself, intending to blockade it by land and sea. Pedro sent his eldest son, the Duke of Gerona, with the young man's uncle, the Infante Pedro, to the relief of the town, but was unable himself to take the field until April 1364, as he was occupied by his negotiations with the King of Navarre. When he eventually approached the town, accompanied by the Count of Trastamara with 3000 heavily armed knights, and supported by a fleet from Barcelona, the Castilians raised the siege, and Pedro was able to enter the town on April 28. Shortly afterwards, he accused of treason [187] and brought to trial his chief adviser, Bernardo de Cabrera, to whose energy and counsel he had hitherto been profoundly indebted. The cause and details of this business are obscure. For some unknown reason Queen Leonor had conceived a bitter hatred of the councillor; she was supported by the Count of Trastamara, who may have learned of the compact which was to secure his death together with that of Ferdinand. Other nobles doubtless envied him the King's confidence. Pedro in any case did not wish to offend the Count of Trastamara, and the King's suspicious and uneasy disposition was readily poisoned by hints of a plot against himself. Bernardo had taken refuge with the King of Navarre, who gave him up to Pedro, and he was condemned and executed at Zaragoza in July 1364. In 1381 the King revised his opinion, declared that Bernardo's innocence was proved and conferred his estates upon his grandson. Possibly the indignation of Catalonia at the execution may have contributed to bring about this change of opinion.

After the relief of Valencia, Pedro of Castile avoided any pitched battle, but held out in Murviedro until September, when Pedro IV recaptured the town: an outbreak of sickness obliged the Castilian to return to his own kingdom. His policy appears to have been, while avoiding any general battle, to harass Aragon by continual raids; a policy which he carried on in the following year. But in 1366 Pedro of Aragon and the Count of Trastamara succeeded in hiring the Free Companies under the leadership of Bertrand du Guesclin and other French leaders. These entered Spain early in the year, and the Count, who assumed the title of King in Calahorra, entered Castile at the head of these troops, and was everywhere received with enthusiasm. In less than a month the whole kingdom had declared for him, and Pedro the Cruel had fled to Bayonne by way of Portugal and Galicia, while the Aragonese territory was entirely cleared of the enemy forces which had all been recalled to Castile. The exiled King then allied himself to the King of England and the Black Prince, who undertook to set him on his throne again, while the King of Navarre found it convenient to change sides, and undertook to give the English a free passage through his country and to oppose Aragon. Then followed the battle of Nájera in April 1367, when Henry of Trastamara [188] was completely defeated and driven out of the country, and the frontiers of Aragon again lay open to the enemy. Pedro of Castile was too busy satisfying his passion for murder to pay due attention to the political situation. The Prince of Wales was disgusted both with his behaviour to his own subjects and his refusal to fulfil his treaty obligations, and went over to the side of the King of Aragon, who was also rejoined by the King of Navarre. Henry of Trastamara was therefore able to make a second attempt, supported by the King of France and his brother, the Duke of Anjou, who was then Governor of Languedoc. He re-entered Castile while the Black Prince was on his way to Guyenne. His numerous supporters in the country turned the general hatred of Pedro to the best advantage, and he speedily obtained possession of the greater part of the kingdom. Pedro of Aragon thus saw a reasonable prospect of relief from his bitterest enemy, and with characteristic duplicity, in which respect the King of Navarre was little behind him, began to consider what profit he could make out of the situation. The officials of the two princes held a meeting and agreed to support whichever of the two Castilian Kings was prepared to fulfil their demands, but the greed of the contracting parties prevented them from securing a complete agreement upon all details.

In 1368 war broke out again between England and France. Pedro of Aragon was ready to renew his friendship with the French King, Charles V, who promised to support him against any party in Castile which might oppose his claim to the province of Murcia. While these negotiations were going on, Pedro was actually forming a fresh alliance with the King of England. The contracting parties were to lay their demands before the Castilian Kings, and in the case of refusal, to expel them from Castile with the help of Navarré and Portugal, and to divide the kingdom among themselves. These projects came to nothing, as the King of England was occupied by the war with France, and Pedro of Aragon by the threatened loss of Sardinia, while in March 1369 Henry of Trastamara had defeated and killed Pedro the Cruel and thus secured undisputed possession of the Castilian kingdom. Pedro of Aragon was therefore ready to come to an agreement with the new Castilian ruler, in spite of the fact that he had [189] given away certain properties on the Aragonese frontier to Bertrand du Guesclin as a reward for his help. In particular the town of Molina was in dispute. Pedro took possession of this, and the French leader was preparing to recover it when Henry summoned him to operate against King Ferdinand of Portugal, who declared war. Pedro of Aragon concluded an alliance with the Kings of Portugal and Navarre against Castile, but he could do little more than retain his possession of the frontier towns in dispute, as he was fully occupied with events in Sardinia, while Henry was similarly busied with the war against Portugal until 1373.

When the Portuguese war was ended, the whole force of Castile was turned upon Aragon, while the son of the last King of Mallorca threatened to invade Roussillon. At the same time, the best part of the Aragonese forces was absent in Sardinia, and lively recollections of the sufferings endured in the last war aroused the country to apprehension. Loud complaints were raised over the expense and loss caused by continual reinforcement of the troops in Sardinia, a pestilential island generally thought to be not worth the trouble it had caused. Pedro was glad to avail himself of the good offices of the Duke of Anjou who was able to intervene, and to secure an armistice until the spring of 1374, when it seemed as if war could not be averted. The Infante, who was known as James IV of Mallorca, had been taken prisoner when his father was killed in his attempt to reconquer the island in 149. Pedro had kept him in close confinement in Barcelona; in 1362 he contrived to escape to Naples and married the Queen Juana, but was regarded only as prince-consort and not allowed to use the royal title. He therefore transferred his claim to Mallorca, to his sister Isabella, the wife of the Marquis of Montferrat, in case he should die without male issue, and offered his services to Pedro the Cruel in his war against Aragon. He was captured in Burgos by Henry of Trastamara on his second invasion of Castile: Henry allowed Juana to ransom her husband, in spite of the objections raised by Pedro IV, who would have been glad to exterminate the Mallorcan dynasty, and when Henry began war upon Pedro, James IV with the approval of France and the help of Juana and the Duke of Anjou, began to collect a force at Narbonne to conquer the counties of Roussillon and [190] Cerdagne. A Castilian army was collecting on the Aragonese frontier, and the son of the King of England, the Duke of Lancaster, was in Bordeaux preparing to assert the rights which he considered appertained to him as the husband of Constance, the daughter of Pedro of Castile. The Duke of Lancaster made proposals for an alliance with Aragon. Pedro was not inclined to trust him, but was none the less able to use this possibility as a means of averting war from his country. Eventually a peace with Castile was arranged at Almazan on May 10, 1374. Pedro gave back the town of Molina, but received 180,000 gulden as indemnity for war damages, and his daughter, Eleanor, was betrothed to Henry's son, John. Pedro was thus able to concentrate his forces against the Infante James, when he invaded Aragon in the following year. James was supported by the treachery of some knights in the royal household, but was none the less obliged to take refuge in Castile, where he died shortly afterwards at Soria, according to one chronicle, of poison. All claims to the kingdom of Mallorca were not entirely extinguished with his death. James's sister and heiress, Isabella, transferred her rights to the Duke of Anjou, who made an alliance with the Kings of Portugal and Castile, and prepared to enforce his claims by invasion. The Cardinal de Terouenne strove to secure a peaceful settlement, Pedro made some show of compliance, and the King of Castile was ready to listen, but misunderstandings and differences between King Henry and the Duke delayed the execution of their plans until the death of the Duke in September 1384 relieved the Aragonese ruler from anxiety on his account.

During the latter part of his reign, Pedro gained an opportunity of reuniting Sicily to his dominions. King Frederick III of Sicily died in June 1377. He had declared his only daughter, Maria, as heiress to Sicily and to the dukedoms of Athens and of Neopatria and the adjoining islands. Should she die without issue, these possessions were to pass to his legitimate son William, to whom Gozo and Malta were left, and, if he again died without legitimate children, the kingdom was to pass to the sons of his sister, Eleanor, who had married the King of Aragon. Pedro, without waiting for these possibilities, raised an immediate claim for the whole inheritance, [191] which he based upon the will of King Frederick II, who had died in 1338. The papacy hesitated to recognize this claim, as there were precedents enough for female succession to the Crown, and Pope Urban VI even threatened to deprive Pedro of his kingdom. However, in 1378 he went to Sicily in person with a large fleet, expecting to encounter little resistance, in view of the generally deplorable condition of the country. Four of the chief barons had divided the island and were ruling on their own account, as Maria was unable to enforce her claims. Some of Pedro's councillors were in collusion with the Sicilian barons who were anxious to maintain their independence, and induced him to abandon the adventure; he handed over his claim to his second son, Count Martin of Ejérica and Luna, reserving for himself the royal title and supremacy, while Martin was to govern as his father's representative in Sicily itself. This arrangement was carried out at Barcelona in June 1380, and shortly afterwards the dukedoms of Athens and Neopatria voluntarily submitted to the Aragonese ruler. Hitherto the support of Sicily had secured them against aggression from the Emperor of Constantinople, the Duke of Durazzo, and other local potentates. If they could no longer count upon help from Sicily, they felt that some other support was indispensable and, therefore, sent a deputation to Barcelona offering their allegiance to Pedro and asking him to confirm the liberties granted by previous rulers. Pedro granted their request, sent a fleet for their protection, with the Viscount de Rocaberti as Royal Governor and Captain-General of the two dukedoms. He was received in Athens with much enthusiasm, and, in conjunction with the Venetian Governor of Negroponte, with whom he maintained friendly relations, was able to protect his territory from all hostile aggression. Meanwhile a party struggle was raging in Sicily, the object of which was the possession of the Infante Maria. The late King had put her in the protection of Count Artal de Alagon, who proposed to marry her to Gian Galeazzo Visconti and make him King, but his opponent, the Count of Augusta, secured her person and sent her to Catalonia, where Pedro determined to marry her to his grandson, Martin, who bore the name of his father, Pedro's second son.

An incident at the close of Pedro's reign will explain the [192] respect which his subjects held for his sense of justice, in spite of other defects in his character. His last wife, Sibilla de Forcia, the daughter of a Catalan knight, whom he had married with much solemnity in 1380, strongly disliked his two sons, and induced him to deprive the elder, Juan, of the position of Governor General of the kingdom which was usually held by the heir to the throne. Juan had married, against his father's wishes, Violante, daughter of Duke Robert de Bar, in 1380, when Pedro hoped that he would marry Maria of Sicily. Juan's efforts to recover his father's confidence were unsuccessful. The Queen seems to have acquired a complete ascendancy over her husband, and even induced certain important towns to promise to protect her against her stepson. The Infante Juan, therefore, applied to the Justicia of Aragon, and appealed to him against the command which had illegally deprived him of his office. Domingo Cerdan, who was Justicia at the moment, immediately proclaimed his decision throughout the kingdom, and the business of the Governor General was henceforward carried on in Juan's name. The King made no attempt to interfere with the powers of the Justicia, though he declined any communication with Juan. Pedro died on January 15, 1387, at Barcelona. In the previous year he had celebrated with great splendour the fiftieth anniversary of his accession.

Pedro's wars and expeditions exhausted his dominions and brought little corresponding advantage. He certainly secured the Balearic Islands, but Sardinia was a constant drain, his interference in Sicily was profitless, and the wars with his nobles and with Castile were, from the economic point of view, disastrous. The fact that his legislation did something to improve the liberties of his subjects and that the power of the Justicia was strengthened and extended by his action was due to a line of policy which regarded the Catalan burgess as a means of defence against the Aragonese oligarch and aristocrat, a policy inconsistent with the devouring lust for power which certainly actuated Pedro upon many occasions. The more refractory of the nobles perished in the battle of Epila, and the chief obstacle to absolutism was thus weakened; but Pedro knew how far he could venture to go. A systematic dissembler, utterly untrustworthy, suspicious of everyone's [193] motives and purposes, he none the less was able to restrain his instinctive cruelty from reckless violence, while if policy seemed to demand the commission of the most atrocious of crimes, no humanitarian feelings existed to give him pause. He was a born intriguer, without bowels of mercy, but endowed with all the prudence and caution needed for intrigue.