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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And to the position of chancellor of Castile


[33]

This was at the time of the Great Schism in the church. Benedict was an Avignon pope.

[34] Blanche was the unfortunate queen divorced by Henry the Impotent of Castile. Shortly after her imprisonment in Navarre she died suddenly, probably poisoned by order of her sister.

[35] The figure of Pedro L?pez de Ayala (1332-1407) is typical of the nobility of the times, illustrating also the new tendency to win triumphs in court intrigues rather than in warlike pursuits. Despite the facility with which he changed from one side to another, he was able to procure a profit for himself (even out of his reverses) without scandal and under a pretence of serving the public good, being always on the border of immorality without falling openly and resolutely into it. Thus he was able to rise from untitled poverty to nobility and extraordinary wealth, and to the position of chancellor of Castile. He was also the most noted historian of his time.

A worthy successor of the preceding was Pedro T?llez Gir?n, grand master of Calatrava, whose achievements occupied the latter years of Juan II and most of the reign of Henry IV. As a favorite of the latter before he became king he was influential in causing the downfall of ?lvaro de Luna, and profited by that event to secure honors and wealth for himself, so that in the reign of Henry IV he proved to be the most powerful of the Castilian lords. He was

also one of the most turbulent and disloyal of the nobles, and knew how to procure a good price for his services in the civil wars of his time. He would have married Isabella, the successor of Henry IV, if he had lived, and in that event the history of Spain might have taken a different course.

[36] Usually the "royal thirds" amounted to two-ninths. At a later time, both in Spain and the colonies, this tax was specifically called the _dos novenas_ (two-ninths).

[37] The customs of the clergy will be taken up more fully in chapter XIV.

[38] It was still the practice to farm out the revenues for a fixed sum, leaving the contractor to collect them as a private venture.

[39] Despite the existence of bull-fighting in much earlier times,--for example, in the Visigothic period,--there is no clear documentary reference to that game for centuries prior to the reign of Alfonso X.

[40] The earliest recorded petition in their favor in the popular branch of the _Cortes_ was in 1626!

[41] An estimate of 1359 states that there were 25,731 dwellings on royal lands, and 57,278 on those of the lords. As late as the seventeenth century it is said that 1800 cities and towns out of 2400 belonged to the nobles or the church, or three-fourths of the total.

[42] Thus Queen Mar?a felt it incumbent upon her to enact, in 1454, that naked men should not take part in processions of masqueraders.

[43] See page 90, note 1.

[44] Literally "audience," or "hearing." Originally, the king gave "audience" for the decision of cases. Later, he was relieved of this duty by other officials, or bodies, and the name was applied finally to the courts referred to in this volume.

[45] The most famous of these leagues was the _Santa Real Hermandad_ (Royal Holy Brotherhood) of Toledo, Talavera, and Villarreal which lasted until the nineteenth century, although with modifications of its jurisdiction and activities. The members of the league might pursue an offender as far as the borders of Portugal or Aragon. When they caught him they had a banquet, after which the criminal was tied to a post to serve as a target, and a prize was given to the one who first shot him through the heart. When the accused was already dead, a trial was held and he was sentenced. This procedure helps one to visualize the real insecurity of the times,--for the same summary methods were employed which men have used both before and since when the central authority was not strong enough to guarantee public security. The California Vigilance Committees in the days of the gold rush are an instance in point.


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