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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Catalonia Sidenote Revolts of the serfs

_Aragon proper_

[Sidenote: Social differences in Aragon proper.]

Prior to the reign of Pedro IV the nobles increased their authority both with respect to their rights over the lower classes and in the exercise of political power, but if Pedro reduced their privileges in the latter respect neither he nor his successors did anything to prepare the emancipation of the servile classes. The nobles retained their social privileges even to the extent of procuring a law in 1451 doing away with the royal practice of granting titles of nobility of the lower grades. Feudalism continued, though in a modified form, for if the nobles could receive lands from the king and reissue them to vassals of their own they were obliged to return them to the king whenever he should ask them to do so, and were not allowed to build castles without his consent; moreover, there were various other limitations on their former nearly absolute sway. They collected taxes for themselves, and were exempt from paying them to the royal treasury, but were under the necessity of rendering military service when called upon. The clergy gained increased social importance just as it did in Castile, and the middle class became a prominent factor with the development of the towns, though far from attaining to the high place of the same element in Castile. The towns followed a divided policy, for those of the north were feudal in type and allied with the

nobility, while those of the south were more democratic and royal. The condition of the servile classes was even worse than before, and no serious attempt was made either by them or the _Cortes_ to relieve their hard lot.[40] The laws continued to recognize the lord's right to deal with them as he pleased, and even to kill them, and lands were still sold with the men and women both Christians and others who dwelt thereon. The history of the Jews and Mud?jares followed the same course that it did in Castile. Not merely in Aragon proper but in all the dominions of the crown the Jews were subjected to exceedingly harsh treatment. The Mud?jares of both Aragon and Valencia were protected by the kings and the nobles with a view to keeping their lands occupied so that they might not fail to yield rents and taxes, and in both regions the rural population was principally Mud?jar. The Roman law exercised a powerful influence in Aragon as elsewhere. Thus freedom of testament was introduced, and primogeniture attained to a predominant place. The guilds did not advance to the point reached in Castile, existing rather for purposes of mutual aid, and lacking the technical regulations of the Castilian guilds.


[Sidenote: Revolts of the serfs.]

There are two prime facts in the social history of Catalonia in this period: the uprising of the serfs; and the outstanding importance of the cities, especially Barcelona. The first marked the decline of the nobility and the appearance of a new social factor; the second indicated the direction which modern social organization

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