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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And proceeded to elect Fadrique king


with this arrangement; furthermore,

he agreed to pay the papal tribute of the treaty of Pedro II, including all back sums still unpaid. Before Alfonso could act on this agreement he died. His reign had not been free from struggles with the nobility, and the latter were in no small degree responsible for the weak result of his foreign policy; only an exceptionally capable monarch, such as Pedro III had been, could handle successfully the grave foreign and domestic problems of the time. The nobles and towns of Aragon proper and Valencia had banded together in a league called the Union, and they used their combined influence to exact new privileges from Alfonso. When he resisted they went so far as to conspire for the succession of the French pretender, and took other extreme measures which soon decided the king to give way. In 1287 he granted the famous "Privilege of the Union."[31] By this document the king was restrained from proceeding against any member of the Union without the consent of both the _Justicia_ and the _Cortes_, and a council was to be appointed to accompany him and decide with him the matters of government affecting Aragon and Valencia. If he should fail to observe the Privilege in these and other respects (for there were other articles of lesser note) the members of the Union might elect a new king. Thus, as Alfonso III put it, "There were as many kings in Aragon as there were _ricoshombres_" (great nobles). Jaime II (1291-1327), brother of the preceding, contrived to reduce some of the privileges
granted by this document, although indirectly, for he recognized its legal force. He enacted laws which were in fact inconsistent with it, and in this way managed to deprive the _Justicia_ of some of the vast power to which he had attained.

[Sidenote: Jaime II and the Sicilian question.]

The reign of Jaime II was especially interesting from the standpoint of foreign affairs. Having been king in Sicily, Jaime was not disposed to surrender the island to the pope, and left his son, Fadrique, there to govern for him. Soon he changed his mind, and made a similar agreement to that of Alfonso III, whereby the island was to be given to the pope, and Jaime was to employ force, if necessary, to achieve this end. Jaime was soon afterward granted Sardinia and Corsica in compensation for Sicily, although they were to be held as a fief from the pope, and he was to make good his claim by conquering them. The Sicilians were not favorable to Jaime's agreement, and proceeded to elect Fadrique king, resisting Jaime's attempts to enforce his treaty. After a long war, peace was made in 1302 on terms whereby Fadrique married the daughter of the Angevin claimant, the papal candidate, and promised the succession to his father-in-law. Toward the close of Jaime's reign Sardinia was conquered, in 1324, by the king's eldest son. It was at this time, too, that a body of Catalan mercenaries set up their rule in the duchy of Athens, thus extending Catalan influence to the eastern Mediterranean.[32]

[Sidenote: Alfonso "the Benign."]

Alfonso IV "the Benign" (1327-1335) had a brief, not very eventful reign, marked by wars with Pisa and Genoa for the possession of Sardinia, but more especially interesting as a preparation for the reign to follow. Alfonso's second wife tried to procure a kingdom for her son by a partition of the realm, thus depriving the king's eldest son, Pedro, of his full inheritance. Alfonso was willing to accede to her wishes, but the energetic character of Pedro, backed by popular sentiment, obliged him to desist from the project.


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