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9-08-2015, 15:08

Spain and Portugal

The political development of the Iberian peninsula was distinctive, yet in certain ways similar to that of England and France. At the same time as William was conquering England from Normandy, several Christian kingdoms in the northern part of the peninsula began to conquer the disunited Muslim states to their south. Castile, in the north-central part of the peninsula, became the strongest of the growing Christian kingdoms, with Aragon, in the northeast, the second most powerful. During the 1100s, the kings of Castile, Aragon, and several smaller states established representative assemblies (the Cortes in Castile, the Corts in Aragon), which, like the French Estates General, were structured with separate houses for the clergy, nobility, and urban dwellers. By the fi fteenth century, the Castilian Cortes had relatively little power; so little, in fact, that representatives from the clergy and nobility simply stopped attending. The Aragonese Corts , by contrast, retained effective authority over the approval of taxes. During the twelfth century the region that is now northern Portugal gained its independence from Castile, and by the mid-thirteenth century, Portugal controlled all its present-day territory. Christian conquests continued, and by the late 1200s, Muslim territory in Spain had been reduced to the kingdom of Granada in the south. The Christian kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, and Castile controlled the rest of what is now Spain. Spain became unifi ed fi rst through marriage, and then through conquest. Both Castile and Aragon saw civil wars arising out of succession controversies in the 1460s, with France and Portugal supporting whichever heir seemed most likely to further their own interests. The monarchs of both countries had their eyes on Isabella, the heiress presumptive of Castile, but in 1469, she married Prince Ferdinand of Aragon, whose territory also included Naples, and the Mediterranean islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Mallorca, and Menorca. After they became monarchs their kingdoms remained separate, but under their heirs their lands became a more unifi ed realm, though each state in Spain (and the territories beyond the peninsula) retained its own laws, courts, system of taxation, and representative body until about 1700. Following their own example, the royal couple made astute marriages for their children with every country that could assist them against their most powerful neighbor, France: their eldest daughter, Isabella, married King Afonso of Portugal; in a double wedding, their son John and their second daughter, Joanna, married the two children of Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy, Margaret and Philip of Habsburg; their third daughter, Catherine, married Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII of England. Death complicated this marital strategy, however. Afonso and John both died shortly after their weddings, Afonso actually in a fall from a horse while the wedding celebration was still going on. Isabella (the younger) was married again to Afonso’s oldest brother, Manuel, but she died shortly after giving birth to a son, who died as an infant. (Isabella and Ferdinand quickly recemented the Portuguese alliance with a marriage between Manuel and their fourth daughter, Maria, which eventually produced seven children, several of whom married their Habsburg cousins.) Arthur of England died less than a year after he married. All of this left Joanna as heiress apparent in Castile and Catherine a teenage widow. Joanna did eventually rule Castile, though her mental instability cut her reign short, and she became known as “Joanna the Mad.” To the great outrage of her parents – who had hoped to use her in yet another alliance – Catherine and her dowry were held in England, and, after complicated negotiations, she was married, as noted above, to Arthur’s younger brother, Henry. Catherine thus followed a pattern of marrying successive siblings set by her sister Isabella and her brother-in-law Manuel. While marriages linked Isabella and Ferdinand with the rest of Europe, military victories enlarged their holdings. Immediately after their marriage they began military campaigns against Granada, the last remaining Muslim state on the peninsula, which were ultimately successful in 1492. After Isabella’s death, Ferdinand conquered Navarre in 1512, and later Spanish troops also seized territory in what is now southern France, northern Africa, southern Italy, and the Canary Islands. Isabella and Ferdinand also strengthened their position as monarchs through the systematic suppression of aristocratic power. They reorganized the main royal council, making it larger, stronger, and more professional, and fi lling it with lower-level nobility and educated non-nobles. Their successors established a huge number of additional councils, each responsible for one geographic area – Aragon, Naples, New Spain, and so on – or one aspect of government, with members and offi cials appointed by the monarch, not inherited by virtue of a noble title. To counter any rebellious nobles, Isabella and Ferdinand used the hermandades , brotherhoods of local vigilantes who acted as both police forces and judges; these were ordered to be disbanded in 1498 and replaced by a standing army. The religious situation in the Iberian peninsula provided Isabella and Ferdinand with unique opportunities for further expansion of royal power. Around 1300, Jews had been expelled from England and France, and many of them had settled in the Muslim and Christian areas of the Iberian peninsula. Initially the rulers of both faiths welcomed them, but during the late fourteenth century attacks and riots against Jewish communities in Christian areas became more common, and many Jews converted (or were forced to convert), becoming conversos or “New Christians.” Particularly in Castile, conversos were often well educated, serving as lawyers and physicians, local and royal offi cials, and even bishops and abbots. Their success enhanced popular resentment on the part of “Old Christians,” and with the accession of Isabella, this sentiment gained a royal ear. Isabella was very devout, and she regarded conversos as a cancer within the Christian community; she and Ferdinand gained papal permission from Sixtus IV to establish an Inquisition to distinguish real from false converts. In contrast to earlier inquisitions, this was not under papal control but became a branch of royal government; it was established for Castile in 1480 and Aragon in 1481, making it the fi rst institution common to both states. A separate Portuguese Inquisition on the Spanish model was established in 1526. Investigations, trials, and executions of conversos began immediately, with offi cials of the Inquisition charged to search out the least sign of an incomplete conversion, such as not eating pork, or wearing clean clothes and not cooking on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). Some individuals and communities engaged in more clearly Jewish practices such as circumcision and Sabbath services, and maintained a kind of dual identity, blending Jewish and Christian beliefs and practices. Evidence of these practices has led some scholars to argue that most conversos were “crypto-Jews,” while others view them as entirely assimilated until the Inquisition invented their devotion to Judaism. When brought before the Inquisition, most conversos argued that they were fully Christian and had been for generations. (We have no way of knowing exactly whether such an argument was a matter of expediency or the truth, of course, which is why there is such disagreement among scholars.) In countering this argument, Spanish offi cials developed what many historians see as a new type of anti-Semitism. Christian hostility toward Jews had existed throughout the Middle Ages, but Jews were defi ned primarily as a religious group, unacceptable because they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. To the offi cials of the Spanish Inquisition, however, Judaism was not simply a religious adherence that could be changed through conversion, but an essential (and unchangeable) aspect of a person’s nature, housed in the blood and heritable. Thus it was more like noble status, which, despite the fact that in every part of Europe new families were frequently elevated to the nobility, was conceptualized as “having noble blood.” These two hierarchies of blood – religious and social – converged in Spain during the sixteenth century, with the passage of laws requiring “purity of blood” – having no Muslim or Jewish ancestors – for anyone claiming noble status. In some areas intermarriage between Old and New Christians had become common, so that families sought to hide their ancestors, as the revelation of “tainted” blood could mean disaster. (For discussion of the implications of these ideas in the Spanish colonies, see chapter 7 .) The threat of an inquisitorial investigation became a further tool in the hands of offi cials seeking to expand royal power against recalcitrant or politically suspect nobles, used particularly during the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand’s great-grandson, Philip II (ruled 1556–98). The Muslim areas of southern Iberia were home to signifi cant numbers of Jews, including families who had lived there for centuries and others who had migrated there more recently. The conquest of Granada in January 1492 made this no longer a safe haven; later that year Isabella and Ferdinand ordered all Jews to leave Spain without taking any of their property with them. Historians estimate that about 200,000 Jews left Spain, about half to North Africa and the rest dispersed throughout Europe. Some went to Portugal, where the king offered Jews and conversos twenty years’ exemption from investigation. This did not necessarily mean they would be allowed to stay in Portugal, for in the same year the Portuguese crown sent 2,000 newly baptized Jews to its African island colonies, hoping they would intermarry with Portuguese Christians who were already there and increase the islands’ population. Later in the sixteenth century Jews were offi cially expelled from Portugal as well as Spain, taking their talents, skills, and (despite the best efforts of the monarchs to prevent this) some of their wealth from both countries.

SOURCE 9 The Inquisition at the local level

The Inquisitions in the Iberian peninsula relied on unpaid lay agents, called familiares, to identify those suspected of beliefs or practices that deviated from Catholicism, and also encouraged people to inform on their neighbors or acquaintances. This created a climate of suspicion in some areas, as people reported on those whose ideas or behavior seemed odd, which they often attributed to being “New Christian” whether or not it had any relationship to Jewish or Muslim traditions. In this Portuguese inquisitor’s report, a woman describes two chance encounters, one involving an insult and another a discussion of burial practices. And following this on the fi fth day of the month of June of 1542 years, in Lisbon. Isabel Fernandez, wife of Pero Reinel, who makes navigation charts, who lives in this city at the entrance way to the Misericordia at the rear of the terrace for old wheat, in the parish of See, was asked and testifi ed under oath on the Bible if she knows of any person or persons who have said or done something against our holy Catholic faith. She said that she did not know anything else except that in this last Lent, she was going to the customs house and passing through the square of Pelourinho Velho, where items are sold at auction. They were selling some tavoleiros [special tins for baking cookies] and some women were buying the said tavoleiros. They placed a bid on them and a porter who was auctioning them, who is named Remedeo, carried the said tavoleiros to them to look at. They took them in their hands and were looking at them and were not pleased with them and left them. So then the said Remedeo told them, in a harsh voice: “These are the women who took the virginity from God!” Then she [the witness] left and afterwards encountered the said porter and reprimanded him for having spoken those words. He said that he was joking, and she [the witness] said that she does not know if the said Remedeo is a New Christian or an Old, and yet that he appeared to be a New Christian. [She said] that there were many people present who she did not know nor did she know the women who took the said tavoleiros for it happened that she was passing by and heard the above mentioned and no more. Antonio Roiz [a secretary for the Inquisition] wrote it with the two marks that were made in truth and requested me the notary that I sign for her for [she] does not know how to write. She [the witness] said further that it was true that seven or eight months ago, more or less, a certain Isabel Fernandez, New Christian, a widowed woman who sold olive oil in the Feraria, came to her house one day. She started to talk, and she [the witness] asked her why when the New Christians were dead they were laid in [new] virgin graves, because the Old Christians rejoiced that the earth that ate their father and mother and grandparents would eat them. [In other words, that they were buried in the same ground with the rest of their family.] The said Isabel Fernandez retorted that she was astonished and did not know that, and that the reason the New Christians did that was because if they lay in graves where other dead had already been, all the sins of those who were buried there would be transmitted to them. She [the witness] replied to her by saying that this was the blindness in which they lived, and then said no more. (Francisco Sousa Viterbo, ed., Trabalhos nauticos dos portuguezes nos séculos XVI e XVII, Part I [Lisbon: Typographia da Academia Real das Sciencias, 1898 (facsimile, Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional-Casa Moeda, 1988), p. 377 (341)]. Translated by Darlene Abreu- Ferreira in Monica Chojnacka and Merry Wiesner- Hanks, eds., Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 [London: Longman, 2002], pp. 184–5. Reprinted by permission.) The conquest of Granada brought Muslims as well as Jews into Christian Spanish territory, of course. Initially Isabella and Ferdinand promised Muslims they could practice their faith, but this toleration was short-lived, and forced conversions began. Muslims in Granada rebelled in 1499, a revolt put down by force; at least 50,000 Muslims in Granada were baptized en masse, all Muslims in Castile were ordered to convert or leave, and Arabic-language writings relating to Islam were burned. Many Muslims, along with Jews, went to the Ottoman Empire, where they were welcomed by the sultan. Others converted, becoming Moriscos, another type of “New Christian” whose sincerity in conversion was often doubted by Christian authorities. The Inquisition had jurisdiction over those suspected of Muslim practices as well as Jewish. Men and women who were observed fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, performing daily prayers or washing themselves in a Muslim manner, wearing Muslim dress, carrying Arabic books or amulets, following Muslim funeral practices, or engaging in other suspicious activities were arrested, imprisoned, questioned, subjected to rituals of public humiliation, and occasionally executed at autos da fé . Offi cials recommended that children, especially boys, be taken from their parents and educated in Christian schools. Increased oppression led to another revolt in 1567. It took several years to subdue the rebels, after which King Philip II ordered all Moriscos in Granada to be dispersed throughout Castile, where they could be more easily watched by Christian authorities. Those who had taken direct part in the rebellion, including women and children, were subject to enslavement. This forced relocation created great hardships for Moriscos, and in many cases it increased, rather than decreased, their allegiance to their traditional cultural and religious practices. In 1609, King Philip III began a series of decrees ordering Moriscos to leave all of Spain; those going to the “infi del lands” of the Ottoman Empire or North Africa were ordered to leave behind any children under the age of seven, turning them over to church offi cials or Old Christian families. More than 300,000 Moriscos left Spain during the period from 1609 to 1614, though slaves in Christian households, women who had married Christians, people who had taken monastic vows, and some tenants of Christian landowners were allowed to stay. It is impossible to know how many children were separated from their families, though strict rules set on their upbringing imply that there must have been a signifi cant number. Morisco children were not supposed to be enslaved, but raised as good Christians by the families that took them in, and married to Old Christians whenever possible. Boys were not to be taught any trade in which they would need to read or use weapons, however, and children of both sexes had to repent their religious errors before the Inquisition. Royal and church policies thus simultaneously promoted the assimilation of the remaining Moriscos into Christian society and their continued distinctiveness as a group tainted by their heritage. For their purging Spain of Jews and Muslims, and their military assistance in defending the Papal States, Pope Alexander VI gave Ferdinand and Isabella the title “Most Catholic Majesties.” He also gave them, more importantly, the right to appoint bishops and retain much church revenue. Thus by being “most Catholic,” Isabella and Ferdinand and their successors gained power over the church that other rulers would only gain by breaking with Rome. Though in the short term Isabella and Ferdinand’s marital politics were disrupted by death, in the long run at least one part of them was extremely successful. In 1516, with Ferdinand’s death, the thrones to both Castile and Aragon were inherited by their grandson Charles, the son of their daughter Joanna and Philip of Habsburg, who became Charles I of Spain. With this, Charles gained a triple dynastic inheritance, as he already ruled the Low Countries and Habsburg holdings in central Europe. In 1519, at the age of nineteen, he was elected Holy Roman Emperor. (There had already been four emperors named Charles, so as emperor he was Charles V.) Charles married Isabella of Portugal, his cousin and sister-in-law, who served as his main representative in Spain when he was elsewhere in his realm, which was often. Charles’s vast holdings were split apart at his abdication in 1556, and his eldest son, Philip II, inherited the throne of Spain. Philip continued his great-grandparents’ policies of expansion, invading and conquering the islands that became known as the Philippines in 1565 and, during a succession controversy in which he was one claimant to the throne, Portugal in 1580. He also inherited their zeal for religious uniformity, and the Inquisition tried and executed suspected Protestants as well as conversos and Moriscos. These policies led, as we have seen, to a revolt by Moriscos in Granada, and, as we will see in chapter 5 , to a revolt in the Netherlands. Both Charles and Philip fought wars against France, the Ottoman Empire, and other European powers; Philip was at peace for at most six months of his forty-two-year reign. Wars sucked the royal treasury nearly dry of all the gold and silver pouring in from the Americas. American precious metals, higher taxes, loans, and the sale of offi ces could not cover the costs of the army and the ever-expanding bureaucracy in Spain, and Philip was bankrupt by the time of his death in 1598.