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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The royal practice of residing in Castile


Triumph of Roman principles in Castilian private law.]

In private law, especially as regards the family, the long struggle of the Roman principles to gain a predominant place in Castilian jurisprudence ended in triumph. The victory came with the legislation of the _Cortes_ of Toledo in 1502, but as it was not published until the time of the _Cortes_ of Toro in 1505 it became known as the _Leyes de Toro_ (Laws of Toro). For example, the complete emancipation of children after marriage, the prohibition of the gift of all one's possessions to other than the heirs, the increase in the formalities required in the case of wills, and the lengthening of terms of years on which to base claims by prescription were all recognized in the new laws.

[Sidenote: General social customs.]

[Sidenote: Dress.]

In immorality and luxury the reign of the Catholic Kings differed little from the preceding era; abundant evidence thereof appears in the literary works of this period and the opening years of the next. The most extravagant taste was exhibited both by men and women in matters of dress. Clothing was made up of ruffs and puffs, ribbons and rings, many-materialed and many-colored component parts, clothes which dragged behind and clothes which were immodestly short, open-work waists and cloaks which were not infrequently used to cover adventures, fancy laces,

daggers, purses, pouches, and a host of other accessories which must have been considered ornamental, since they were only slightly useful. Isabella herself, serious-minded and religious though she was, liked to appear in public richly gowned and bejewelled. This lavish magnificence seems only to have been on display for gala occasions; at other times Spaniards lived and dressed soberly and modestly. As an Italian traveller expressed it, the Spaniard was prodigal on holidays, and lived sadly the rest of the year, for his occasional extravagances demanded more protracted economies. This was true, even in the palace, for, numerous as were the employes there, the annual expenditure was the equivalent of only about $100,000. Other social customs, such as sports, including bull-fighting, did not undergo any changes sufficient to require comment.



[Sidenote: Tendency toward Spanish unity under Castile.]

It has already been pointed out that the union of Castile and Aragon under the Catholic Kings lacked a real political or institutional basis. Both monarchs signed papers applicable to the two kingdoms and exercised personal influence, each with the other, but although Ferdinand assisted his consort in Castilian affairs, Isabella was clearly regarded as ruler in Castile, as Ferdinand was in Aragon. The latter's will advised Charles I to maintain the separation of the kingdoms and to conduct their affairs through native officials. Nevertheless, the long continuance of the same royal family at the head of both was bound to produce a greater unity eventually. Castile was drawn into European politics through the medium of the Aragonese wars in Italy. On the other hand, she tended to become the centre of authority and influence on account of the greater extent of her territory (especially with the addition of Granada, Navarre, and the Americas), her greater wealth, the royal practice of residing in Castile, and the more advanced social and political condition of Castile as the result of Isabella's reforms.

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