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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The guilds were far more important


Survivals of medieval collectivity.]

The collectivity of medieval times had a survival in the lands common of the towns, and appeared also in the industrial guilds and the semi-religious _cofrad?as_, or fraternities. The latter included various classes of people organized into a group for the accomplishment of some social object, such as to perform acts of charity or hold funerary dinners, as well as to provide mutual aid; the law forbade associations for political, immoral, or illegal purposes. The guilds were far more important, and were greatly favored by the laws. At first they were closely dependent on the municipalities, which intervened to regulate the trades, even in technical respects, but at length the guilds began to receive charters directly from the king. The new charters, too, in keeping with the practices of the era, were minute in their directions with regard to the conduct of the various industries. By the fifteenth century the guilds were paying little attention to the social matters which formerly were their most important function,--these had passed over to the _cofrad?as_,--and had become almost wholly economic and professional, although their members marched together in processions, and the guilds as a body rendered public service of one kind or another,--as, for example, maintaining some public charity. They were also a factor in the political life of the towns.

[Sidenote: General social


[Sidenote: Dress.]

[Sidenote: Superstition.]

[Sidenote: Sports.]

In general social customs, so far as they relate to the upper classes, for the practices of the humbler elements are less well known, this era was marked by great immorality, license in expression (even when referring to matters of religion), luxury, a desire for honors and noble rank (even to the point of falsely pretending to them), the mixture of an appetite for knowledge with the pursuit of superstitions, and the exaggerated practice of chivalric principles (professed more as an affectation than with sincerity). The luxury of the times manifested itself in the usual ways, and it is worthy of note that members of the middle class were now able to vie with the nobles. Women painted and powdered and used exaggerated effects in their dress, and men wore high-heeled boots, employed various devices to correct the natural defects of the body, and used perfumes. Foreign influences entered to modify clothing so that it tended more to fit the body than before, with a resulting abandonment of the flowing garments of earlier times. Men often wore stockings of different colors, a feather in their hat, and a much-adorned, variegated cape. Color, too, was equally prominent for its diversity in women's dress, but the dress itself allowed greater freedom of movement than the earlier styles had done. Superstitions were prevalent, from the alchemy and astrology of the learned, to the various forms of divination and ancient practices--such, for example, as the mass for the dead dedicated to living persons--of the common people. Jousts and tourneys and attempts to imitate the warlike feats of the heroes of fiction in such works as _Amad?s de Gaula_ (of which later) formed a part of the chivalric customs of the day. Bull-fighting was clearly in existence by the time of Alfonso X, and thenceforth enjoyed great popularity.[39]

In social and political institutions Aragon proper, Catalonia, and Valencia still differed from one another sufficiently to merit separate treatment. While in many ways their customs were like those of Castile there were certain variations worthy of record.

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