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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Although there were many Moriscos



[Sidenote: The gypsies.]

Although objections were raised to the enslavement of the Indians in the Americas, the institution of slavery itself was generally recognized; even charitable and religious establishments possessed slaves. Moslem prisoners and negroes (acquired through war or purchase), together with their children, made up the bulk of this class, although there were some slaves of white race. Conversion to Christianity did not procure emancipation, but the slaves were allowed to earn something for themselves with which to purchase their freedom. Certain restrictions--such, for example, as the prohibition against their living in quarters inhabited by newly converted Christians, or against their entering the guilds--were placed upon them once they had become free. Only a little higher in status than the slaves were the Egipcianos, or gypsies. About the middle of the fifteenth century they had entered Spain for the first time by way of Catalonia, and, thenceforth, groups of them wandered about the peninsula, stealing and telling fortunes for a living, and having a government of their own. A law of 1499 required them to settle down in towns and ply honest trades on pain of expulsion from Spain or of enslavement, but the gypsies neither left Spain nor abandoned their nomadic ways, and they were a continual problem to the kings of the House of Austria. Various royal orders provided that they must

take up an occupation, although their choice was virtually limited by law to the cultivation of the soil; they were not to live in the smaller villages, were forbidden to use their native language, dress, or names, or to employ their customs in marriage and other matters, and were prohibited from dwelling in a separate quarter of their own. Fear lest the Christian population become contaminated by gypsy superstitions and a regard for public security were the guiding motives for this legislation. Severe penalties were attached, but the evil was not eradicated; similar laws had to be enacted as late as the eighteenth century.

[Sidenote: Forced conversion of the Mud?jares of the kingdom of Aragon.]

After the time of the Catholic Kings there were no free Mud?jares in Castile, although there were many Moriscos, but in Aragon, Catalonia, and especially in Valencia the Mud?jares were numerous. Many elements, including the majority of the clergy (the officers of the Inquisition in particular), the king, and the Christian masses were in favor of their forcible conversion with a view to the establishment of religious unity in the country, although other reasons were alleged as well. The nobles were warmly opposed, mainly on economic grounds because the Mud?jares formed the principal element among their agricultural workers. Many of the higher clergy joined with them for the same reason, although some of them voiced their objections on the ground that compulsory baptism would only result in apostasy. During the social war in Valencia early in the reign of Charles I the popular faction had forcibly converted a number of the Mud?jares who had fought against them on the side of the lords. The question arose whether these baptisms were valid. Charles decided that they were, and ordered the children of the Mud?jares, who had thus unwillingly become Moriscos, to be baptized also. This provoked a storm of protest on the part of the lords, for the continuance of such a policy might result in emigrations or uprisings, much to their detriment. They cited the royal oath of Ferdinand and of Charles himself to the _Cortes_ of Aragon not to compel the Mud?jares to abjure their faith, but this difficulty was easily overcome. The pope was persuaded to absolve Charles from his oath, and gave his consent to the forcible conversion of the free Mud?jares, on pain of perpetual enslavement or expulsion from Spain. In 1525 Charles published a decree in accordance with the terms of the papal license. The objections of the nobles and the _Cortes_ were overruled, and several isolated rebellions were put down. While many Mud?jares went to Africa, thousands accepted conversion, and, although it was clear that they did not do so of their own free will, were at once made subject to the usual rules applying to converts, including the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. Soon afterward, however, Charles consented to exempt them from religious persecution for a number of years.

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