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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Majorca Sidenote Outline of Majorcan history


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XVII

INSTITUTIONS OF OUTLYING HISPANIC STATES, 1252-1479

So far as they have not already been discussed, in dealing with Castile and Aragon, the institutions of Majorca, Navarre, the Basque provinces, and Granada may be dealt with here, especially in their original aspects.

_Majorca_

[Sidenote: Outline of Majorcan history.]

By the will of Jaime I, Majorca and the Roussillon were constituted into a kingdom apart from Aragon, but almost immediately afterward Pedro III of Aragon compelled Jaime II of Majorca to acknowledge the overlordship of the peninsula monarch. In 1349 Pedro IV of Aragon annexed Majorca, but the political change was one of monarch only, for Majorca continued to be a separate state with a history of its own. The political life of Majorca centred about the workings of the municipal organization of Palma, its capital city (on which the government of the island was based), and was involved with social problems.

[Sidenote: The peculiar social bases of Majorca.]

After the conquest of the island by Jaime I nearly all of the great nobles who had accompanied the king returned to the peninsula, granting their lands to _caballeros_ of their following, or renting them to plebeian cultivators,

and Jaime I did much the same. Thus the _caballeros_, or nobility of the second grade, were virtually the only representatives of the feudal aristocracy in Majorca, and laws were passed limiting the amount of land which they might hold, so as to avoid the evil of vast estates. The _caballeros_ were reinforced by a Catalan middle class element which constituted a majority of the Christians in the island in the early years following the conquest. From these two elements there emerged a new aristocracy, based on wealth, growing out of Majorcan commerce, an aristocracy open to all, given to pomp and luxury, and dwelling mostly in Palma. Some of the wealthy lived in the country, where there was also a large number of free tillers of the soil. A few of these became wealthy, but there was always a tendency for the rich to migrate to Palma. The position of the rural classes was not satisfactory at any time, but two causes appeared in the fourteenth century to make it worse. One was the increase in taxation after the reincorporation into the crown of Aragon, and the other a change in the form of wealth with the decline of Majorcan commerce in the latter fourteenth century, when the aristocracy of Palma began to buy lands and rights to collect taxes. Thus the rural districts became economically dependent on the absentee landlords at the capital, who were more zealous over the collection of their rents and taxes than in cultivating the land. Society divided itself largely on the lines of the country and the city, with the inhabitants of the former bitterly hostile to the aristocracy of the latter.

[Sidenote: Conversion of the Mud?jares and Jews.]

Of the despised classes the Mud?jares, as such, soon disappeared, despite their great numbers at the time of the conquest. Upon conversion to Christianity or emancipation from slavery they mixed with the lower classes of the Christians, and were completely absorbed. The history of the Jews was almost identical with that of their race in the peninsula, but was involved with the peculiar social problems of Majorca apart from race and religion. The kings collected heavy tributes from them, but protected them, allowing them the free exercise of their business and the practice of their faith, exempting them from all taxation (even municipal) except the royal tributes, aiding them in the collection of debts, and facilitating the entry of Jews and Marranos into Majorca. Numerous attacks were made on them in the fourteenth century, culminating in the sack of the Jewish quarter of the capital in 1391 (the year which was so disastrous to the Jews in other parts of Spain), when some three hundred men and women were killed. In addition to the usual animosities against them because of their religion and the incitement of debtors this attack was in part an outgrowth of the struggle of the rural classes against the landlords, to whom the sack of the Jewish quarter was a severe financial blow, since much of their wealth depended on their relations with the Jews, with whom also they were wont to deposit their jewels. The rioters were able to obtain decrees from the royal governor-general extinguishing debts and interest due to the Jews, confirming the title of those who had taken part in the attack to the money and jewelry they had stolen, pardoning all offences committed, and ordering an immediate conversion of the Jews. The general conversion took place at once, but had to be repeated in 1435.


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