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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And consisted of an annual subsidy of 420


[Sidenote:

Tremendous increase in taxation in Castile.]

It is no wonder that the people through their representatives in the _Cortes_ began to ask for peace and the termination of military adventures, even in the period when victories were frequent; the nobles also favored an end of the wars,--when the kings endeavored to get them, too, to grant a subsidy. One result of the greater financial requirements of the state was an increase in taxation, both in the collection of the existing taxes at a higher rate, and in the imposition of new ones. The grants, or _servicios_, of the Castilian _Cortes_ were frequent and large in amount. In 1538 there appeared the new tax of the _millones_, so-called because it was calculated in millions of ducats. This was an excise on articles of prime necessity,--meat, wine, oil, and vinegar. It was extended soon to powder, lead, sulphur, red ochre, vermilion, sealing-wax, and playing cards, which together were called the _siete rentillas_ (seven little rents). Salt, gold, silver, mercury, and many other materials were the subject of a state monopoly, and to them were added in the reign of Philip IV the monopoly on tobacco, which was to prove an exceptionally profitable source of revenue. The _diezmo_ and _cruzada_ (otherwise Bula) continued to be collected from the church, together with several new rents which were authorized by the pope. One of these was the _subsidio de galeras_ (subsidy of the galleys), or _galeras_, so-called

because it was theoretically designed to assist in the expenses of the galleys used in fighting the Moslem peoples. This was granted in 1561, and consisted of an annual subsidy of 420,000 ducats (over $6,000,000). The _alcabala_ and the various customs duties were increased. Stamp taxes were extended to new types of documents. The nobles were required to pay a tax called _lanzas_ (lances) in lieu of military service. Various offices and titles were made subject to the _media anata_ (half annates), a discount of a half year's salary, or rents, in the first year of enjoyment. The transmission of a title of nobility to one's heir was also taxed. Vanity was seized upon as likely to yield a revenue, and money was collected in return for the privilege of using the word "_Don_" before one's Christian name. In like manner illegitimate children were pronounced legitimate on payment of a specified sum. Other methods were employed to obtain ready cash which tended ultimately to dry up certain sources of revenue: the coinage was debased; portions of the government rents were disposed of; public offices and royal towns were granted in perpetuity; and the title of _hidalgo_ was sold to many persons, who thereby entered the non-taxpaying class. Other ways of acquiring funds were made use of, ranging from the high-handed to the shameless. Under the name of _donativos_ (gifts) the government resorted to forced loans, or even trickery, to exact money from the nobles and churchmen; confiscations of goods for offences against religion and for other delinquencies were frequently ordered; and most disgusting of all was the _limosna al rey_ (alms for the king), which was collected by gentlemen of the court, each accompanied by a parish priest and a friar, in a house to house canvass of the citizens, who were asked to give what they could spare. If the kings and their favorites thought of the most obvious way to accumulate funds, economy in expenditures, they at least did not try to put it into practice; the court _fiestas_ were held, even if the king's gentlemen had to beg the money and the nation had to starve.


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