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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Decline and fall of the guilds

the sale of entailed estates,

provided the funds should be invested in a certain loan announced at that time. Still other laws were passed in this period, with the result that many entails disappeared and others were diminished in size. The nobles resisted the change, and the greater number of the entails remained in existence, although reduced in income. In the same way municipal and ecclesiastical holdings were attacked. In the case of the former (_propios_), laws were passed repeatedly--for example in 1761, 1766, 1767, 1768, and especially in 1770--for the partition of the cultivable and pastoral lands and for their assignment to a number of individuals. Nevertheless, the majority of this type of municipal lands continued in the possession of the towns, for the laws were not fully executed. As concerns lands utilized for the promotion of religious objects, pious foundations were attacked, and either compelled or else permitted to sell their real property, but there was considerable hesitancy about applying the same practice to lands held in mortmain by the regular and secular clergy, although the prevailing opinion of jurisconsults was opposed to these holdings. Some steps were taken, however, to free these lands, as well as other measures to hinder the giving of realty in mortmain. In the various colonization schemes of the century it was customary to forbid the transfer of lands to ecclesiastical institutions. A law of 1763 prohibited further conveyances to the church, and a law of 1798 called for the
alienation of lands owned by charitable institutions, even though they might belong to the church, and some estates accordingly were sold. The resistance of the clergy, together with a certain repugnance to laying hands on the property of the church except in case of extreme necessity, operated to prevent these laws from having their full effect. It will be noticed that all of these measures were markedly individualistic, in accord with Roman principles as opposed to those of medieval society, and favorable to the change in ownership of landed estates and to their division into small holdings. This spirit was manifested even more insistently in attacking titles of a medieval character. Thus the right of farmers to fence lands for their own use was sustained, serving as a check upon the abuses of the _Mesta_, and the various methods of tribute from vassals to a lord (_censos_, _foros_, etc.) were the subject of legislation tending to relieve the former from their burdens. To this epoch, also, belong laws requiring the registry of titles to land. Nevertheless, the spirit of collectivism was still alive, as expressed in doctrines favoring the condemnation of individual property and the establishment of communal inclosures with the drawing of lots for land, but the followers of Roman principles were victorious in the controversy.

[Sidenote: Triumphs of Roman principles.]

[Sidenote: Decline and fall of the guilds.]

The spirit of individualism appeared, also, to give a deathblow to the guilds, even though they actually increased in number; there were ninety guilds in Barcelona at the close of the eighteenth century. Among the factors contributing to the decline were the following:

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