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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Granadine architecture


Inter-relations of the Basque provinces.]

Despite community of race and language the three provinces never formed a political unit. At times Guip?zcoa and ?lava had the same _adelantado_ or held general assemblies in common, and there were some instances where the assemblies of all three provinces met to discuss matters of common interest. Alliances were made between towns of the same or different provinces, perhaps including towns in France, for such purposes as the regulation of the use of lands common. In one respect there was a certain amount of unity (in interest at least): in the conflict of the towns against the great lords and their allies, the rural population, in all three provinces. The lords were so turbulent that the kings joined with the towns in attempts to suppress them, and the lords even fought one another, wherefore their power was considerably reduced, though not entirely broken.


[Sidenote: Social and political decadence of Granada.]

[Sidenote: Economic wealth.]

According to modern estimates Granada had a population of three or four millions in its last days, which bespeaks a great density, due largely to the migrations of Mud?jares from Christian lands. In social and political organization Granada was a miniature of the early caliphate. The Arabs reappeared as the principal

element, and furnished the ruling family. They had the same scornful and quarrelsome aristocratic pride as in other days, and were opposed, as before, by the Berbers, who outnumbered them. The most numerous element was that of the Renegados, which was also next in importance to the Arabs. There were many thousands of Christian slaves as well. Signs of social decay were everywhere visible, especially in the passion of the wealthy for luxury and futile diversions at vast expense, while on the other hand there existed the poverty-stricken proletariat.[51] Internal political history reduced itself to a series of riots, assassinations, rebellions, acts of vengeance, and exhibitions of partisan rancor. The influence of Christian Spain was more and more intense, manifesting itself in general customs and dress; even the practices of chivalry were introduced. Given the richness of soil and favoring climate and the great population of Granada, it was natural that there should have been a considerable measure of economic prosperity there. This became less as the period advanced, as a result of political weakness and social decay, but Granada was still wealthy at the time (in the next era) it disappeared as a kingdom.

[Sidenote: Granadine architecture.]

In sciences and letters Granada continued the intellectual traditions of Moslem Spain, but it cannot be said that its influence was great. In the arts, however, Granada introduced features of general importance, and especially in architecture, of which the outstanding example is the palace of the Alhambra in the city of Granada. The most salient note in Granadine architecture was richness in ornamentation, in which it is not surpassed by any other style in the world. The walls were adorned with relief work in stucco, and variegated azulejos tiles were also used in great profusion. The decorative motives were geometrical or floral, and the _tout ensemble_ was not only brilliant in color, but also harmoniously appealing. In structural features, too, Granadine architecture attained to great beauty.

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