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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Deposing a Justicia if it suited them to do so


practices of the popes was the

appointment of foreigners to Castilian benefices, and frequent protests were made against it, but usually without avail. Although the popes got rather the better of the dispute over appointments to bishoprics, the kings manifested their prerogative in other respects, as by banishing prelates who worked against royal interests, by prohibiting the publication of papal bulls which might do harm to the state, and by employing the already mentioned process of recourse of _fuerza_ in cases of ecclesiastical usurpations of jurisdiction. The _Partidas_ named certain cases where clergymen lost their right of resort to ecclesiastical courts,--for example, suits between clerical and lay individuals over lands and inheritances. Even Alfonso XI, who (though somewhat immoral in private life) was very pious and notably generous with churches and monasteries, was very strict in guarding the rights of the state against the intrusions of the church. On the other hand, he confirmed the jurisdiction of the church courts in spiritual and related matters, including such cases as those arising out of church taxation, marriage, births, divorce, adultery, usury, and robbery in a sacred place, as well as those of a more purely religious or ecclesiastical character. The wealth of the church in lands increased greatly, both as a result of royal donations, and through the gifts of individuals, especially in the fourteenth century when the terror of the plagues which were sweeping Europe caused many to seek
divine favor through benefactions to the church. There were a number of protests in the _Cortes_, especially in the case of the monasteries. The objections were based on social and financial, rather than anti-clerical, grounds, since the accumulation of landed wealth in the hands of the church tended to reduce the agricultural classes to a perpetual condition of mere usufruct or rental of lands, and resulted in vast tracts remaining uncultivated. Furthermore, these lands as a rule became exempted from taxation. The _Partidas_ recognized the right of the church to receive such gifts, and no effectual steps were taken to check them. It may be mentioned here that this was the golden age of pilgrimages to holy places, due to religious devotion, or in fulfilment of vows, or from pure love of travel and adventure. Naturally, Santiago de Compostela was the chief objective of pilgrims in Spain, and to that place went not only Spaniards but also many thousands of persons from all parts of western Europe.

CHAPTER XIV

THE ARAGONESE STATE, 1276-1479

_Aragon proper_

[Sidenote: Victory of the royal authority in Aragon proper.]

The struggle of the kings against the seigniorial elements of Aragon and Valencia (in furtherance of their policy of absolutism and centralization) has already been traced up to the point where royalty gained the upper hand in the reign of Pedro IV. One result of Pedro's victory was the reduction of the power of the _Justicia_, no longer a creature of the nobility (to mediate between them and the king) but a royal appointee, exercising strictly judicial powers as chief justice of the realm. Even in this respect his authority was limited by the founding of a tribunal to accompany the king. Attempts continued to be made to establish the independence of the _Justicia_, and the _Cortes_ declared him irremovable, but the kings compelled their appointees to give them a letter of resignation, with the date left blank, or disregarded the prohibition of the _Cortes_ altogether, deposing a _Justicia_ if it suited them to do so. Pedro IV enacted that no person of higher rank than that of _caballero_ should be governor in Aragon, thus removing another factor which had formerly contributed to civil strife. Aside from the abolition of the Privilege of the Union and the reforms just mentioned (together with others of lesser note), the kings did not modify the political organization of Aragon, but became in fact the principal element in the state, working their will even to the point of acts at variance with the laws. Great diversity in charter rights and jurisdictions continued to exist, although a number of general compilations of legislation like those in Castile were made. These became supplements to the already-mentioned code of Jaime I.[47] Other volumes were prepared of the customs of the realm, and the agreements of the _Cortes_ were also an important legislative source. The abolition of torture and of the vulgar proofs may be mentioned among the reforms in judicial procedure. The nobles remained almost wholly exempt from taxation, even with respect to the lands which they might acquire in royal territory.


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