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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Especially among the so called majos


[Sidenote: Struggle between the French and the native styles in dress.]

The simplicity and severity of Spanish customs were not maintained in matters of dress. There was a century-long conflict between the French and the native styles, the former represented by the military cut of clothing more in keeping with that of the present day, and the latter by the slouched hat and long cape, as symbolic of the indigenous modes. On grounds of morality and public safety the government opposed the native type, which lent itself too easily to the facilitation of disguise, and the methodical Charles III even considered the imposition of a national dress which should omit the traditional features. A law of 1766 ordered their abandonment and the adoption of a short cape or riding coat and the three-cornered cocked hat. The decree was the occasion of riots throughout Spain, and had to be recalled, while Squillace, the minister who had proposed it, lost his post. Aranda, his successor, achieved the desired end by indirect methods. He caused the slouched hat to be made the official head-piece of the hangman, wherefore it began to lose prestige, and the French styles were soon decisively victorious. It is to be noted, however, that the three-cornered cocked hat and other French styles of the Bourbon era were retained in Spain after they were no longer in fashion in republican and imperial France. Women's dress was also reformed in a similar direction. Three outstanding features characterized the well-dressed woman: the skirt of silk or velvet; the _mantilla_, or veil, worn over the head instead of a hat; and the fan. Fans of a most luxurious type were used, with ribs of shell, mother-of-pearl, or ivory, and with ornaments of gold, while the principal part was hand-painted, often by artists of note, to represent scenes of a mythological, pastoral, or historical character. Even among the common people, especially among the so-called _majos_, or low-class dandies (both male and female) of Madrid, there were special types of elegant dress. Ladies' dress-combs of unusual size, not infrequently half a foot or more in height above the hair, may be mentioned as one phase of the _majo_ styles, which stood for a reaction against French modes, though with scant knowledge or regard for ancient Spanish customs. _Majismo_, both in dress and in customs, invaded the aristocracy, and has been immortalized in some of the paintings of Goya. The common people of the country were much more conservative in maintaining the earlier styles of dress, which have survived to the present day, although the uniformity of modern life has tended to make them peculiarities, rather than the prevailing modes of the different regions in which they are found.

[Sidenote: Fondness of the general Spanish public for diversion and sport.]

The monotony of Spanish life did not prevent Spaniards from being fond of diversions. On the contrary they seemed to welcome a chance to escape from the narrow course of their humdrum existence. Public feast-days were numerous and very popular; events in Christian history were the occasion of most of them. People generally, unlike the monarchs, the nobles, and their imitators among the wealthy bourgeoisie, were very fond of dancing, the theatre, and bull-fighting. Dances to the accompaniment of the guitar were held on every possible occasion; on Sundays they took place in the public square of the city. The days of the waltz, onestep, and other dances now in vogue in many lands (though not in Spain) had not yet come; rather, the dances were very largely national or regional, such as the


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