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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Ferdinand made some attempts to modify the malos usos


[Sidenote: Advance of the rural masses.]

The situation of the former servile classes of Castile, aside from the slaves, had been rendered very nearly satisfactory from a juridical point of view in the previous era, but their new liberty was insecure and was not freely accorded in practice. The Catholic Kings energetically cut short the greater part of the abuses, and definitely decided that a man adscripted to the land (a _solariego_) could sell or carry away his personalty, and go wherever he willed. In Aragon proper the problem was more serious, because of the social backwardness of that region. The first step toward freedom from serfdom was taken at this time, consisting in the frequent uprisings of the serfs. Ferdinand made some attempts to modify the _malos usos_, or evil customs, of the relation of lord and serf, but found the institutions too deeply rooted in his day for remedy. In Catalonia, Ferdinand inherited the problem of the warfare of the serfs with the nobles and the high churchmen, against the latter of whom, particularly the bishop of Gerona, the wrath of the rural classes was especially directed. At the outset he attempted, as had Alfonso V and Juan II before him, to utilize the quarrel to serve his own political and financial ends, accepting bribes from both sides. Finally, an agreement was reached whereby the king was to serve as arbitrator, without appeal, between the warring elements. The Sentence of Guadalupe, so-called because the evidence was taken and the decision rendered at Guadalupe in Extremadura, in 1486, was the judgment pronounced by Ferdinand. It went to the root of the matter by abolishing the _malos usos_ and declaring the freedom of the rural serfs. Furthermore, the lords were deprived of criminal jurisdiction over their vassals, this right passing to the crown, and the same privileges as that just recorded in the case of the _solariegos_ of Castile was granted to the rural masses of Catalonia. On the other hand, the now freed serfs were obliged to pay a heavy ransom to their lords. The decision satisfied neither party to the issue, but was accepted, and proved in fact the solution of the evil. A rural class of small proprietors soon grew up, while many other persons occupied lands for which they paid rent instead of the former irksome services.

[Sidenote: Policy of the Catholic Kings toward the Mud?jares.]

If a policy of benevolent assimilation had been followed by the Christians of Spain with regard to the other great elements of the population, the Mud?jar and the Jewish, it is possible that the two latter might have been made use of to the advantage of the peninsula, for they were Spanish in most of their habits, and had intermarried with Christians, even those of high rank. For centuries, however, a different practice, based primarily on religious intolerance, had tended to promote the adoption of an opposite course, and it was in the reign of the Catholic Kings that the first steps were taken to bring the matter to an issue. The measures by which the Mud?jares were compelled to emigrate from Castile or become converted as Moriscos have already been chronicled, and the same procedure was taken with regard to Navarre and the Basque provinces. Ferdinand, who was less zealous in this undertaking than his pious consort, did not go to the same lengths in Aragon. On the petition of the lords, who had many Moslem vassals and feared to lose them, he confirmed the privileges of the Mud?jares, though forbidding the erection of new mosques, and permitted of preaching to bring about their voluntary conversion.

[Sidenote: Expulsion of the Jews.]

The hatred of the Christians for the Jews was so great that the


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