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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Luis Vives was one of the representatives of these ideas


jurisprudence and politics

Spanish writers gained an indisputable title to originality of thought, of positive influence on the civilization of other countries. This was due in part to the continuous warfare, the grave religious problems, and the many questions arising out of the conquest, colonization, and retention of the Americas, but it was also a result of a natural tendency in Spanish character to occupy itself with the practical aspects of affairs, directing philosophical thought toward its applications in actual life,--for example, in the case of matters to which the above-mentioned events gave rise. Spanish jurists achieved renown in various phases of jurisprudence, such as in international, political, penal, and canonical law, in the civil law of Rome and of the Spanish peninsula, and in legal procedure. Not Grotius (1583-1645), but his Spanish predecessors of the sixteenth century laid the foundations for international law, and the great Dutch jurist more than once acknowledged his indebtedness to Spaniards, who, like Vitoria and V?zquez, had provided him with rich materials for the thesis he set forth. Among the writers on political law may be mentioned Sol?rzano, whose _Pol?tica indiana_, or Government of the Indies (1629-1639), was a noteworthy exposition and defence of the Spanish colonial system. In economics, too, the Spaniards were necessarily outstanding figures in their day, since the Spanish empire was the greatest and for a time the most powerful of the period. National resources,
the income and expenditures of the state, and the method of the enjoyment of landed property were the three principal questions to engage the attention of the Spanish economists. When Mart?nez de la Mata declared that labor was the only true source of wealth, he was in so much the precursor of Adam Smith (1723-1790). Some economists expressed ideas which sound strangely like those set forth by Spencer, Wallace, Tolstoy, and others in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as the following: that immovable property should be taken away from the private individuals possessing it, and be redistributed under the control of the state; and that society should be considered as having legal title to lands, giving only the user to individuals. Luis Vives was one of the representatives of these ideas. The principles of these economists found little support in practice, and cannot be said to have attained general acceptance among the Spanish writers on these subjects.

[Sidenote: P?ez de Castro and the new sense of historical content.]

The advance of historical studies in this period, especially in the sixteenth century, was nothing short of remarkable. For the first time history won a right to be considered apart from polite literature. Two novelties marked the era, one of them relative to the content of history, and the other concerning the methods of investigation and composition. Formerly history had reduced itself to little more than the external political narrative, dealing with wars, kings, and heroes, being more rhetorical in form than scientific. The new sense of content was represented principally by the philosopher Luis Vives and by the historian P?ez de Castro, one-time chronicler of Charles I. Vives gave his opinion that history should deal with all the manifestations of social life. P?ez de Castro stands forth, however, as the man who most clearly expressed the new ideas. According to him the history of a land should include the study of its geography, of the languages of its peoples, of the dress, laws, religions, social institutions, general customs, literature, arts, sciences, and even the aspects of nature of the land in so far as these things affected the actions of men. P?ez de Castro was also a follower of P?rez de Guzm?n and Hernando del Pulgar in his appreciation of the psychological element in history. The most exacting methodologists of the present day do not require more than did P?ez de Castro nearly four centuries ago. Incidentally, it becomes clear that the credit ordinarily assigned to Voltaire (1694-1778) and Hume (1711-1776) as innovators in this respect belongs rather to Spaniards of the sixteenth century. Vives and P?ez de Castro were not alone in their concept of history. On the other hand they were not able to put their ideas into practice, and were not followed by the majority of the writers on methodology. Nevertheless, all were agreed that the education of the historian should be encyclopedic in character,--an ideal which necessarily involved a measurable attainment of the plan of P?ez de Castro.


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