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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Even after serfdom had disappeared


[Sidenote: Backwardness of Navarre.]

The institutions of Navarre at this time were affected by French influences, but in the main resembled those of the rest of the peninsula both in form and in their evolution, except that they displayed a backwardness which was natural in a region so thinly populated. The feudal r?gime persisted, although some gains were made by the servile classes, the towns, and the kings. A corporate sense of society, as manifested in the importance of the family as a whole and in the associations of neighbors and citizens (especially marked in the rural districts), still existed. The Mud?jares and Jews were comparatively numerous, and their lot was the same as in other parts of the peninsula. The marriage _? yuras_ was sanctioned in Navarre longer than elsewhere, although at length it was banished. _Barragan?a_ (much resorted to by churchmen) survived, and received a measure of acceptance. The customs of chivalry were greatly in vogue, and bull-fighting and ball-games[50] were very popular. Agriculture, with the aid of irrigation, and stock-raising were the principal occupations. In intellectual culture and the fine arts Navarre was rather a continuation of France than a part of Spain. The country was markedly backward in these respects, however, as evidenced by the ignorance of the clergy, compared with churchmen in other regions, and by the fact that the kings rarely had any

books other than those of prayer. Although Basque was the national tongue, such books as were written usually appeared in Latin or in Castilian,--one more demonstration of the intellectual predominance of central Spain. French Gothic prevailed in architecture, sculpture, gold work, and painting.

_The Basque provinces_

[Sidenote: Unique character of Basque institutions.]

The three Basque provinces of ?lava, Vizcaya, and Guip?zcoa have always been unique in their history and institutions, and are the subject of many popular legends more or less founded on fact, such as the one already discussed that the Basques have never been conquered, and another that they are all nobles. In this period they were becoming more and more Castilian in customs, but they still retained much that was indigenous.

[Sidenote: The social and political system in ?lava.]

In general social organization ?lava did not differ from other Spanish regions. It was technically a _behetr?a de mar ? mar_ (free town from sea to sea): made up of a group of small seigniorial estates, both noble and ecclesiastical, whose rulers were free to elect a common lord without being restrained to a determinate family. The untitled inhabitants were rural laborers, who were either serfs or in a state but little removed from serfdom, and the free, popular classes of the towns, but neither of these elements exercised great influence. After the incorporation of ?lava into Castile in 1332, the older type of government, based primarily on the _Cofrad?a_ of Arriaga and the elected lord, underwent a radical change. The overlordship became fixed in the crown of Castile, and the _cofrad?a_ disappeared, although a similar body soon developed. The king was represented at times by an _adelantado_ as well as by lesser royal officials, and reserved high justice to himself, besides rights to military service and a certain few taxes. Local government was carried on by various assemblies, reaching in a hierarchy from the lesser regional institutions to the general assembly for the entire province. The general assembly was both a legislative and an administrative body, but its principal function was the inspection of royal orders to see if they conformed to the regional charters. A juridical difference existed between the towns and the country, for the former were ruled by Castilian law and the latter by ancient custom, resulting in the economic dependence of the rural laboring classes, even after serfdom had disappeared.

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