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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Jaime distributed the lands among his Catalan followers


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by the sentiment of most of Catalonia, which desired territorial and commercial expansion in the Mediterranean, Jaime now planned a career of conquest. Many of the Aragonese and western Catalonian nobles declined to join him in this enterprise; so he had to find means as best he could without their aid. In 1229 he entered the island of Majorca, which for centuries had been successively a pirate and Moslem stronghold. Having achieved the conquest, which proved an easy matter, Jaime distributed the lands among his Catalan followers. In 1232 Minorca was subjected, and in 1235 Ibiza, too. Thus the Balearic Islands fell into Jaime's power and received a Catalan civilization, which they still possess. The greatest prize, however, was the rich kingdom of Valencia. Although handicapped by the lukewarm support of his nobles Jaime proceeded to the conquest with such success that he won the aid of those who had previously failed to help him, and in 1238 the city of Valencia fell,--an event comparable with the capture of Seville by Ferdinand III. The rest of the kingdom was not long in falling into Jaime's power, and the lands were distributed among his nobles, but the Moslems were so numerous that they were able to rise in rebellion on two occasions before the end of the reign. On achieving the conquest of Valencia, Jaime had agreed with the king of Castile that the southern boundary of that kingdom should be the limit of the Aragonese conquest, while Murcia, which became tributary to Ferdinand
III in 1241, was reserved for the ultimate definitive conquest of Castile. The unquenchable military ardor of Jaime I would not allow him to rest on his laurels, however, and he engaged to conquer Murcia for the king of Castile. This he accomplished in the years 1265 and 1266, giving the lands to his Catalan nobles, who were subjected to the Castilian king, whereupon Jaime withdrew. These relations between the kings of Castile and Aragon not only instanced a somewhat rare good faith, but also marked a tendency which was gradually manifesting itself toward the ultimate unity of Spain. Next, the restless warrior-king planned to go on a crusade to Palestine, but his fleet was wrecked, and he gave up the project, although some Catalan boats did reach their destination. In 1273 Jaime wanted to conquer Granada for Castile, but this time he could not persuade his Catalan nobles to follow him. He did, however, send a fleet to attack the coast of Morocco.

[Sidenote: Other characteristics of Jaime's rule.]

Jaime was not only a great conqueror; he was also a great administrator. Owing to the entry of feudalism into northeastern Spain his nobles had such power that even the able Jaime was obliged often to compromise or to yield to their wishes. He took steps to reduce their power, at the cost of civil war, and in many other respects bettered the administration of his kingdom. Though deeply religious he was far from being an ascetic, as is evidenced by the many illegitimate children descended from him, and although usually magnanimous in character he was capable of acts of ferocious cruelty,--such, for example, as that of ordering the tongue of the bishop of Gerona to be torn out for the latter's having revealed to the pope a secret of the confession. In 1276 when the great king died he left a will which contradicted the policies of centralization and the aggrandizement of the kingdom which in his lifetime he had unfailingly pursued. He divided his realms, giving Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia to his eldest son, Pedro, and Majorca and the Roussillon (southern France) to his son Jaime. The division was not to endure long, however.


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