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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Due largely to the loss of the Moriscos


Handicaps on agriculture.]

Agriculture did not advance much from its wretched state of the previous era. The economists, giving undue importance to the accumulation of specie, and obsessed by a desire to develop manufactures, did not appreciate the fundamental value of agriculture; grazing was favored at the expense of farming; agricultural labor, never plentiful, was still more scarce after the expulsion of the Moriscos; and the evil of _latifundia_ tended to reduce the amount of land cultivated. The laws encouraged agriculture only when it did not interfere with what were considered the more important industries. Legislation was frequent forbidding the cultivation of lands which had ever been devoted to grazing and compelling their restoration to that industry, and the old privileges of the _Mesta_ were maintained to the detriment of the farmers. The scarcity of agricultural labor caused an immigration from other countries, especially from France, and this increased after the expulsion of the Moriscos. It did not solve the problem, as the foreigners were wont to return home, after they had accumulated savings. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that agricultural production did not meet the needs of the peninsula. Something was done to protect farm laborers, and some government projects of irrigation were undertaken, but not enough was done to offset the handicaps which the state itself imposed. Intensive cultivation by small proprietors

was one of the needs of the time, and one attempt to bring this about in Granada was made. Some 12,500 Castilian, Asturian, and Galician families were sent there to replace in a measure the several hundred thousand expelled Moriscos. The experiment was successful, and the colonization took root, but it was not repeated. Nevertheless, eastern and southern Spain had their period of relative prosperity, especially through the cultivation of the vine and the olive. The Americas offered a rich field for the export of wine, since the growing of vines was prohibited there, and the soil, climate, irrigation canals, and Morisco labor (prior to the expulsion) of Valencia, Granada, and Andalusia were well adapted to provide the desired supply. Even this form of agriculture suffered a serious decline in the seventeenth century, due largely to the loss of the Moriscos.

[Sidenote: Comparative prosperity of Spanish commerce.]

[Sidenote: Prosperity of Seville and Medina del Campo.]

Spanish commerce had its era of splendor and its period of decline, but the former was prolonged much more than in the case of the manufacturing industry, because of Spain's serving as a medium for distribution between foreign countries and the Americas, and because of the continued exchange of raw materials for the foreign finished product after Spain herself had ceased to be a serious competitor in manufacturing. Seville was by far the most prosperous port in the country, since

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