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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

This action was not taken for Catalonia until 1716


whose first opportunity came

as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession, when Philip V was opposed by many of the non-Castilian parts of Spain. In 1707 the special statutes and privileges of Aragon and Valencia were abolished and their place taken by the laws and practices of Castile. In both regions a royally appointed _audiencia_ and captain-general were set up. This action was not taken for Catalonia until 1716. In that year it was provided by the so-called decree of the "new plan" (_Nueva Planta_) that the laws and customs of Castile were to apply in Catalonia; that the Catalan language was not to be used in the administration of justice; that an _audiencia_ and captain-general of royal selection were to serve as the principal governmental agencies of the region; that Catalonia was to be divided into twelve districts, over which _corregidores_ named by the king should rule; and that the twenty-four _regidores_ (councilmen) of the _ayuntamiento_ of Barcelona, which city had been deprived of its former type of government, should also be royally appointed. The decree of 1716 did not attempt to establish complete unification with Castile, however. Many former Catalan rights continued to exist until the nineteenth century,--such, for example, as the Catalan system of criminal law and the issue of Catalan coins. Furthermore, there was no appeal from the decisions of the _audiencia_ to the central government,--an exceptional case. Nevertheless, the principles of centralization and unification had been
in the main attained, and later measures tended to secure these ends still more completely. Philip's opponents in the War of the Spanish Succession were persecuted, and the royal ideas were furthered by the acts of the influential partisans of the king; in 1717 the bishop of Gerona, Taverner, summoned a provincial council with a view to "threatening with the wrath of God and the excommunication of the church" whoever should be unfaithful to Philip V and to ordering confessors to treat such infidelity as a sin. In Majorca the king placed an _audiencia_ and a commandant-general, appointing also the local councillors of Palma and Alcudia, while the _audiencia_ named those of the other towns. The special privileges of the Basque provinces were respected in theory, but, without apparent change in the laws, the central government gradually obtained control through the inspection or the intervention of ministers of state and the _Consejos_. Much the same course was followed with Navarre, in which the former agencies of government were left apparently undisturbed. The policy of centralization was also manifested in other respects than those of a purely regional application. Thus exemptions from military service were limited; the reversion of seigniorial rights to the king was facilitated; and, in fine, the tendency was to reduce all forms of jurisdiction, territorial or otherwise, to the king or his representatives in the central administration. Many regions continued to have at least the vestiges of their former institutions, but enough was done so that the Spanish kingdom may fairly be said to have become unitary for the first time in history.

[Sidenote: Changes in administrative machinery.]

The most notable change in the machinery of government concerned the development of the secretariats. There got to be five of them, corresponding to the more important of the _Consejos_ under the _Consejo de Castilla_, as follows: state (_Estado_); grace and justice (_Gracia y Justicia_); war and finance (_Guerra y Hacienda_); navy (_Marina_); and the Indies (_Indias_). There were variations from this arrangement at different times; for example, the navy and the Indies were often a single secretariat in the first half century of the era. Gradually it became the custom to call the secretaries ministers, and these officials began to absorb the powers formerly


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