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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

After 1340 the rulers of Granada limited themselves


[Sidenote: Inconsequential character of Granadine political history.]

The Moslem state of Granada was of very slight political importance in this period, despite its by no means insignificant territorial extent, wealth, and population. It was a mere political accident, annoying to the Christians at times, but as a rule not worthy of serious consideration as an enemy. It was precisely because it was not greatly to be feared or very troublesome that it was permitted to maintain its independence. It is to be noted, also, that there was very little of the crusading spirit in these centuries; if there had been, Granada would soon have been conquered. On several occasions, when the rulers of Granada called in the Benimerines and others from Africa, the Moslems were a serious peril to Christian Spain, but the battle of the Salado in 1340 proved decisive, being followed by a decline of the political strength of the Moslem states of northern Africa. After 1340 the rulers of Granada limited themselves, in their relations with the Christian states, to intervening in Castile during periods of civil war, or to asking Castilian aid at times of internal strife in Granada. Uprisings and dethronements were of frequent occurrence, but so too were Moslem raids into Castilian territory.



IN SPAIN, 1252-1479


[Sidenote: Social changes of the era in Castile.]

As regards social organization this period represents merely an evolution of the factors which had already appeared in the preceding era, and its chief results were the following: the end of serfdom; the advance of the middle class and its opposition to the lords, principally through its jurisconsults and the _caballeros_ of the towns; an increase in the privileges of the clergy; and additional landed wealth for the nobles through the donations of the kings or private conquests. The principal social struggle was no longer that of the serfs against their lords, but rather of the middle class, as represented by the wealthier citizens of the towns, against the nobles and clergy for legal equality, especially as regards taxation and other duties to the state. The disappearance of serfdom did not bring economic well-being to the agricultural laborers; their fortunes in this regard were often as vexatious and hard to bear as their former personal dependence had been. At the same time, the poorer people of the towns became a fairly numerous class, but they were in a position of inferiority as compared with the wealthier citizens.

[Sidenote: Social and political prestige of the nobility.]

[Sidenote: Primogeniture and _latifundia_.]

Through civil wars and the weakness of the kings the power of the nobles, both socially and politically, appeared to increase. They did not confine their strife to opposition to the king, but fought one another incessantly, not for any political or other ideal, but mainly for personal reasons. Such was the nature of the wars, for example, between the Guzm?n and Ponce families of Seville.

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