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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Beginnings of diplomacy


law the kings frequently granted

dispensations which enabled the traffic to be carried on almost continuously. Greater strictness was employed in the Americas lest the privateers should fail to resist the temptation to pick up Spanish merchantmen, but the prohibition there was at length removed, and the Spanish boats rendered great service against pirates and national enemies. During the sixteenth century Spanish fleets were manned by volunteer forces, but this was changed in the seventeenth to compulsory service of the fishermen of the coasts. The heavier work, especially the rowing of the galleys, was done by captives in war and by criminals, who served terms in the galleys rather than in prison. During most of the period the galley, with three banks of oars, was the principal type of vessel. In ocean warfare, the _nao_, or light sailing-vessel, soon came into use, and this was gradually supplanted by heavier ships, until late in the era there developed the _fragata_, or frigate, of over two thousand tons, capable of carrying as many as 120 cannon. While the artillery was the principal arm of the fleet, Spanish tactics were at fault in depending on getting close to the enemy and boarding him, making a military action out of the combat and paying little attention to the use of cannon of long range. The same evils which have been described in connection with the army--graft, irregularity of payments, and laxity of discipline--obtained also in the navy; in the expedition of Charles I against Tunis, room on board
was found for four thousand _enamoradas_ (sweethearts!) of the soldiers and sailors.

[Sidenote: Beginnings of diplomacy.]

In common with other European countries Spain developed a diplomatic service in this period. The sending of special embassies and the making of treaties had been customary since ancient times, but the practice of appointing ministers to reside at foreign courts and that of receiving those sent from abroad did not begin in Spain until the reign of Charles I. The initiative had come earlier from the Italian republics. From this time forward Spanish diplomacy, like that of other countries, took on a modern form, and ambassadors sent reports about the state of the countries to which they were accredited, strove to obtain advantages for Spain, endeavored to check the intrigues of the ambassadors of other nations, and made treaties. The use of spies as an auxiliary to ambassadorial work was general. For a time Spanish diplomacy enjoyed a high reputation for success, but in the later seventeenth century it was quite overshadowed by the French.

[Sidenote: The _Nueva Recopilaci?n_ and other codes.]

The absolutism of the monarchy, its bureaucratic character, and the instinct of the _letrados_ for reducing everything to rules and regulations produced an abundance of legislation, much of which was exceedingly minute in detail and casual in subject-matter. It was natural therefore that there should be a desire for a fresh codification, and this at length took shape in a compilation by Bartolom? de Arrieta in 1567 of the _Nueva Recopilaci?n_ (New Compendium, or Compilation), so-called with reference to the code of Montalvo, its predecessor, of the period of the Catholic


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