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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

By the middle of the thirteenth

_Le?n and Castile_

[Sidenote: Advance of agriculture and stock-raising.]

The advance of the conquests, leaving large areas back from the frontier in the enjoyment of a measure of peace, furthered economic development. There continued to be civil wars in the interior, and personal security against abuses of the lords and the attacks of bandits was none too great, but matters were very much better than before, as a result of legislation favorable to property, the greater importance of the towns, and the emancipation of the servile classes. Agriculture was encouraged,--for example, by laws granting unbroken lands to whoever should cultivate them. The conquest made itself directly felt through the introduction of the vine and the olive of Moslem Spain into regions which had not previously cultivated them. Works of irrigation and the buildings of roads, so important for the agricultural prosperity of Spain, seem not to have been undertaken, however. Stock-raising was much more actively pursued than agriculture, due in part to the traditional importance of that occupation, and in part to the ease with which that form of wealth could be withdrawn from the hazards of war,--an advantage which agriculture, naturally, could not share. The age-long war of the stock-raisers against the farmers was usually favorable to the former, who were wont to appropriate commons for their animals and even to enter cultivated fields and

damage or despoil them. Associations of stock-raisers to protect their interests were already in existence.

[Sidenote: Industrial and commercial beginnings.]

In the thirteenth century Castilian Spain made a beginning of industrial and commercial life, of which Santiago de Compostela had been perhaps the only representative prior to that date. Laborers united in guilds, just as in other western European lands, working together according to the laws of their guild, and living in the same street. Many of them were foreigners, Jews, or Mud?jares. An export trade of raw materials and wine developed between the towns of the north coast and the merchants of Flanders, England, and Germany, and just at the end of the period the capture of Seville added commercial wealth to Castile, through the trade of that city in the western Mediterranean. Interior commerce still encountered the difficulties which had harassed it in earlier times, but some of them were overcome through the development of fairs to facilitate exchange. Certain days in the year, usually corresponding with the feast of the patron saint of the town, were set aside by important centres for a general market, or fair, on which occasions special measures were undertaken to assure the safety of the roads and to protect all who might attend,--Moslem and Jews as well as Christians. Men naturally travelled in large groups at such times, which was an additional means of security. The season of the fair might be the only occasion in a year when a town could procure a supply of goods not produced at home, wherefore this institution assumed great importance. The increased use of coin as a medium of exchange demonstrates the commercial advance of this period over the preceding.

[Sidenote: The intellectual awakening.]

In every branch of intellectual culture there was a vigorous awakening at this time. The classical traditions of the Spanish clergy and the Moz?rabes were reinforced by western European influences coming especially from France, while the Greco-oriental culture of the Mud?jares and Moz?rabes merged with the former to produce a Spanish civilization, which became marked after the conquests of the thirteenth century. In the twelfth century universities had sprung up in Italy and France, where the Roman and the canon law, theology, and philosophy were taught. In those countries the formal organization of the universities had grown naturally out of the gatherings of pupils around celebrated teachers, but Spain had no Irnerius or Ab?lard, wherefore the origins of the universities of the peninsula were the result of official initiative. In 1212 or 1214 Alfonso VIII founded a university at Palencia, but this institution lived only thirty-one years. About the year 1215 Alfonso IX of Le?n made a beginning of the more celebrated University of Salamanca, the fame of which belongs, however, to the next following era. By the close of the eleventh century the Castilian language had become definitely formed, as also the Leonese and Galician variants. By the middle of the twelfth century all three had become written languages, and, by the middle of the thirteenth, Latin works were already being translated into the Romance tongues.

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