Overcoming challenges to the crown

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Military orders

F & I took over military orders - 5 Orders of Chivalry

By 1500, F was master of 3 orders (Alcantara, Santiago, Calatrava)

Main purpose of members of orders was to be crusaders and regain land taken by Muslims

During Granada war - 1/6 of cavalry came from military orders

Orders had authority over approx. 1 million vassals

Many nobles involved with orders so could use members for private armies

Orders were wealthy (annual income from from lands was 145,000 ducats)

Potential challenge to the crown due to power, however not as powerful as nobles as they were still taxed

Taking over orders was great achievement for F & I - showed authority + wealth

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Privileges of aristocracy

Castilian aristocracy were very wealthy

13 dukes worth 565,000 ducats in annual income, 13 marquises had between them 330,000 ducats a years, other nobles had 414,000 ducats per annum

If accused of crimes, they weren't tortured/imprisoned

Isy "destroyed"/"tamed" aristocracy and replaced them with well-educated bureuacrats

Nobles were able to move into industry (e.g. Admiral of Castile given dyestuffs monopoly by monarchs)

F & I saw nobles as potential and necessary allies

Nobility often supported by other officials (e.g. most of their work carried out by lawyers)

Nobility were a threat - had retainers, fortified their homes

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Controlling the nobles

Letrados given posts in local govt., not nobility, were trained well, more reliable than nobles

Churchmen recruited less frequently from nobility

Nobles given grants of land in Spain or new territories - removed feuding from centre of power, gave them opportunity to build fortunes

Nobles attended Royal Council meetings but couldn't vote

Nobles encouraged to participate in Granada war (many did enthusiastically)

Encouraged to attend royal court

They retained their titles (e.g. Constable) but had limited power - "empty dignitaries"

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Nobility after Isy's death

F really needed noble support and had to rely on their loans to pursue his foreign policy

Some nobles took advantage and reverted to old behaviours (seizing land)

F did nothing to stop excess of noble privilege

Became a factor in Comuneros revolt in 1520

Majority of nobles remained a military class who would challenge the crown or others if they chose but overall remained loyal to monarchy when times were good

By 1516, 1,000 patents of nobility has been issued

Woodward - monarchy had to "forge a partnership with the nobility if it was to survive"

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Role of justicia

Law and order were major problems - monarch's authority varied between C + A

A - all laws had to be approved by Cortes, who were powerful, monarchy disliked this and often reluctant to call Cortes, limited power of monarch

At beginning of F & I's reign, they dealt with judicial matters personally, but this became less practical as their reign continued 

Justicia - had to see that liberties were protected in a kingdom, hereditary role, could question King's decisions

As early as 1493, F gained agreement that justicia could be advised by 5 letrados or lawyers, appointed by the crown, giving the monarch some influence

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Development of Cortes


  • All laws had to be approved by Cortes
  • Cortes could refuse to grant money
  • Monarchs had to gain consent of Cortes to amend laws + introduce administrative changes
  • Cortes was infrequently summoned


  • One Cortes for all of Castile
  • Weak Cortes that couldn't control monarch, laws could be made without Cortes approval
  • Main role was to approve grants of money to monarch to run the govt.
  • Monarchs could dispense with advice of nobles + clergy at will
  • 18 cities normally represented (i.e. 2 burgesses per city = 36 delegate)
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Law and order

F & I dispensed justice personally (unusual for time period)

At first, Isy presided over court every Friday in Madrid

More courts were established in places like Seville

Important development - proposal to codify laws

Corregidores were implemented (in 64 towns), Kamen - they were "most effective in Granada"

Punishments imposed by courts could be severe

Hermandades in particular were widely feared

Monarchs eager to see law + order well established

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