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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Certain consulados had special functions


foreign cargoes. Taxes were

numerous in kind and heavy in amount, wherefore smuggling and graft overcame some of the beneficial effects which might have been expected from this legislation. Protective tariffs and prohibitions were also employed to encourage Spanish manufactures and trade, but particular exigencies often caused a reversal of this policy in the case of certain items of foreign make. Thus the importation of foreign muslins was forbidden in 1770, but in 1789 the prohibition was removed when it was found that local manufacture did not suffice for the country's needs. A series of decrees by Charles III endeavored also to reduce the coinage to systematic order, but the multiplicity of coins and the retention of provincial moneys militated against complete success. The prohibition against the export of coin was maintained, but licenses to take out certain quantities were granted on payment of a three per cent duty. Practically, the prohibition was a dead letter, owing to the prevalence of smuggling, and it served as a hindrance to commerce. An ineffectual attempt was made in 1801 to unify the system of weights and measures. Lack of an adequate merchant marine and an insufficiency of good ports, despite the efforts to remedy the situation in both cases, were still further obstacles to Spanish trade, whereas such an excellent port as Vigo had no suitable highway to connect it with the interior. Bands of mules continued to be used as the principal carrying agency in land commerce. Improper methods
of keeping books were a handicap, but the paternalistic nature of the government made itself felt, requiring business men to employ a good method of accounting, and specifying the precise way in which they should do it. Finally, trading had usually been considered incompatible with nobility. The stigma was in a measure removed, although only in the case of business on a large scale, and some of the nobles became merchants.

[Sidenote: Mercantile machinery of the era.]

Mercantile machinery found its highest official expression in the _Junta de Comercio y Moneda_. This was reorganized in 1705, at which time it was provided that the Councils of Castile, the Indies and Finance (_Hacienda_) should be represented respectively by three, five, and two members, the _Casa de Contrataci?n_ by one, and the French nation by two, besides one of the royal secretaries. The importance of the American and French trades was clearly manifested in this arrangement. This body served as a court with jurisdiction in all matters concerning trade. In 1730 it was succeeded by the _Junta de Moneda_ (_Junta_, or Council, of Coinage), to which was added jurisdiction in matters concerning mines (1747), foreigners (1748), and the "five greater guilds of Madrid" (1767 and 1783). Regional _juntas_ were also created. The _consulados_, though of private origin, occupied an intermediate position between the other private and the official bodies, owing to the intervention of the state and to the reorganization of the _consulados_ in the middle and later eighteenth century. In addition to their functions as a mercantile court they acquired a vast number of duties of a public character, such as the care of ports and the creation of schools of navigation. Certain _consulados_ had special functions,--for example, the _consulado_ of C?diz attended to supplying the province with grain and flour, and had charge of the establishment of tariffs and lotteries. The _consulados_ were repaid for these services by a grant of a portion of the customs duties, a right worth 6,000,000 _reales_ ($375,000) a year in C?diz and one third of that amount in Alicante. They compromised their wealth


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