Strengthening the State, 1500 - 1516 (part 2)

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Strengthening the State, 1500 - 1516

Challenges to the Crown:

  • Early 16th C. arose out of the context of the earlier period of political disorder, religious division, extremes of wealth + poverty & the changes that had already begun to take place in terms of religion + society
  • HOWEVER = historians often focused on only one or other of these issues
  • Kamen = explains relationship between Catholics, Muslims and Jewss
  • Fernandez-Armesto = considers interplay of political & personal issues
  • Elliott = social and economic factors that underpinned other developments

Military Orders:

  • Major achievement of Ferdinand + Isabella = generating peace + order in Spain
  • 1500 Ferdinand was master of each of three orders: Alcantara, Santiage and Calatrava
  • Papacy confirmed this 1523
  • Two other orders based in Aragon: the orders of Montesa and St. John
  • Each order had several hundred members and owned land, towns & fortresses
  • During war with Granada, the Order of Santiago alone had organised more than 1,750 cavalry and provided Catholic Monarchs with weapons, horses etc. to support campaign
  • Many nobles were involved in the orders and as such were able to control their strongholds and use the rental income from the lands of all the orders was 145,000 ducats
  • Nobles held towns, fortresses and large amounts of land or encomiendas on Castilian borders
  • They presented as a potential serious challenge to the crown and to each other as there were frequent internal disputes
  • HOWEVER = orders were possibly not as powerful as the nobility who were not taxed, owned much more land and controlled regional politics
  • Taking over these orders was a great achievement for F + I = made a statement about the Catholic Monarchs authority + brought them wealth and property
  • Significantly ending the risk of the nobility having a power base in the orders
  • Revenue from this source grew over time + was useful as collateral when the crown wanted loans from bankers
  • Council was established that regulated their activites
  • When Ferdinand found himself in conflict between Philip the Handsome and Joanna the Mad over the throne of Castile after Isabella's death, he eventually accepted defeat
  • Although he lost Castile at that point he retained the asterships of the orders

The Privileges of the Aristocracy:

  • Early 16th C. Castilian artistocracy = very wealthy group of individuals
  • Had privileges such as being able to keep their hats on in the prescence of the monarchs who called them "cousins"
  • Accused of crime, they could not be tortured or imprisoned
  • Isabella noted as having eventually "destroyed" or "tamed" the artistocracy of Castile, replacing them with well-educated bureaucrats
  • Nobles who could invest time + capital were able to move into industry
  • Honorary Admiral of Castile e.g. was given a dyestuffs monopoly by the monarchs; another duke had his own fleet of trading ships; others invested in sugar + other similar commodities
  • Projects increased their contribution to the state. but also added to their wealth
  • F + I began to see the nobles as potential + necessary allies;


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