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AN HISTORICAL ESSAY ON MODERN SPAIN

RICHARD HERR


Chapter 4

Enlightened Despotism and the Origin of Contemporary Spain




1. However great a legacy Spain inherited from earlier times, its contemporary history begins in the eighteenth century. This was the age of Enlightenment in Europe. A new spirit was abroad, a skeptical approach to accepted beliefs and a widespread concern to improve material conditions. Looking back at the Habsburg period, for instance, Spanish writers and statesmen of the eighteenth century condemned the expulsion of useful subjects because of their religious beliefs. In 1797 the minister of finance even proposed readmitting Jews if they would undertake to liquidate the royal debt. The idea was premature, but it illustrates how royal policy was now being discussed in terms of economic utility rather than religious unity. Reformers of the seventeenth century had anticipated many of the attitudes and innovations of the new age, but they had received scant attention in their day. Now royal councilors and men of letters read their works assiduously, saw to it they were republished, and put their ideas into effect.

Spain made a remarkable recovery in the eighteenth century. The loss of its European possessions and the break with the Austrian Habsburgs proved to be disguised blessings. Spain remained involved in wars in Italy under Philip V, who fought successfully to obtain the kingdom of Naples for his second son Charles, but after 1740 its major efforts were directed against British threats to its empire in America. In the Seven Years War, Spain signed an alliance with France in 1761 against their common enemy. The war was disastrous for the French empire, but Spain managed to escape without serious damage. It lost Florida [51] to Britain, but France gave it the Louisiana Territory to compensate for this loss. The next conflict, the American War of Independence, was more successful. Spain won back Florida and also Menorca in the Mediterranean, which had been lost in 1713. Despite a strenuous siege, however, it failed to recapture Gibraltar.

In Spanish America the century saw a burst of territorial expansion, administrative reform, and economic progress. Pushing out from Peru, Spanish colonists developed the Plata basin and the northern coast of South America; while from Mexico they went north, especially into California. These areas flourished, bringing new wealth to the mother country; but most prosperous of all was Mexico, whose silver mines became the greatest producer of precious metals in the world.

In Spain itself the same spirit of daring optimism took hold of the royal government and the leading classes. It owed much to the two sons of Philip V, who ruled for nearly half a century after his death; Ferdinand VI (1746-59) and Charles III (1759-88). On the surface they were not imposing figures. Ferdinand VI's mother had died in his infancy, and he had suffered under Philip V's second wife. His own marriage was childless, and he made his wife the center of his existence. When she died in 1758, he retired to a palace outside Madrid in a state of pathological melancholy and there died himself a year later. As king, he sought to keep Spain at peace and build up its economy. He had the gift of choosing good ministers, of whom the most outstanding was the Marquis de la Ensenada, who undertook to strengthen the army and navy, reform the provincial administration, and introduce foreign technological advances in industry and agriculture.

Charles III, Ferdinand's half brother, was a rigorous ruler, the most successful monarch of Spain after Ferdinand and Isabel. He deserves a high rank among the enlightened despots of the eighteenth century, for in many ways he accomplished more than such famous rulers as Frederick the Great of Prussia and Joseph II of Austria. Charles did not reveal a brilliant mind, but like Ferdinand VI he recognized talent in his servants, and his ministers are among the best Spain ever had. A widower within a year after his accession, he lived modestly, his main diversion being hunting deer. It is in the simple costume of a hunter, with a musket in his hand and a dog at his feet, that Goya painted his official portrait. He is anything but handsome in the portrait--his face is too narrow and his nose far too prominent--but his eyes show warmth and kindness. Goya, who like Velazquez could be merciless in his portraits of royalty, clearly liked and respected this king. Such devotion was widespread. Charles' subjects admired his simple life and his religious spirit. The tale is told that once he gave up his carriage in Madrid a priest who was carrying the last sacrament. After walking beside the carriage to the house of the dying person, the king received [52] an ovation from a crowd of common people who had gathered to follow him.

2 After the War of the Spanish Succession Spain enjoyed almost a century of domestic peace. Not until the nineteenth century were Spaniards again at each other's throats. Yet looking back at the reigns of Ferdinand VI and Charles III, one can see that major issues which were to dominate Spain's subsequent history had their origin at that time. Although these issues were interrelated, they affected three distinct areas of Spanish life. Each had its roots in earlier times, but each assumed new features as it underwent the interaction of royal policies, the new intellectual ferment, and the expanding economy of the country.

The conflict which was to break the peace first was mainly ideological. Although the Enlightenment differed from country to country, everywhere in the Western world it brought a break with traditional values and accepted beliefs. Many of the new ideas it made popular had originated earlier in England and the Netherlands, but most Europeans learned of them through the writing of the French philosophes of the eighteenth century, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Condillac, Rousseau, and others. The accession in Spain of a French dynasty opened up its court to French cultural influences, artistic and architectural as well as intellectual. (Philip V tried to create a miniature Versailles at the summer palace of La Granja in the mountains near Segovia.) Before 1750, the economist Jeronimo de Uztariz echoed the lessons of Louis XIV's famous minister Colbert on the need to increase agricultural and industrial production; an Asturian monk, Benito Jeronimo Feijoo, spread the skeptical attitude of the Enlightenment in philosophy and science in a series of widely read volumes attacking popular superstitions; and a Valencian doctor, Andres Piquer, publicized recent discoveries in medicine. By the time of Charles III many writers had joined in the effort to bring modern thought to their fellow citizens.

Various French philosophes pointed to the story of Spain's decline in the seventeenth century as a practical lesson of the bad effects of religious intolerance and exploitation of colonial peoples. They painted a picture of Spanish history full of wickedness and deceit which has since been known as the "black legend." Enlightened Spaniards were tormented by this reputation of their country, believing it to be partly true, and they were determined to bring Spain abreast of the rest of Europe in learning and economic well-being. The new ideas that they found most appealing concerned natural science, political and moral philosophy, and education. The philosophes were skeptical in matters of religion, but this aspect of the Enlightenment did not make [53] noticeable inroads in Spain, in part because of the censorship exercised by the royal government and the Inquisition, but mostly because few Spaniards were prepared to doubt their religious doctrines. Spanish partisans of foreign ideas showed instead a fascination for ways to improve industrial and agricultural techniques, to make education more useful and up to date, and to make the legal system more equitable for all classes and regions. They looked to the royal government to effect the needed changes, but they also sought to spread the spirit of reform to the educated public.

There were various ways in which the new ideas, the luces (lights) as they were called, reached the public. One was through local societies known as Amigos del País (Friends of the Country). A group of Basque noblemen founded the first society in 1764. After 1775, when residents of Madrid established another under the aegis of the king, societies were founded rapidly in many cities, receiving royal charters. Their members included aristocrats, high and low clergy, and interested commoners. Some joined, no doubt, seeking social prestige, but many were truly moved by the desire to bring prosperity to their provinces. The societies publicized new methods of agriculture and manufacturing and made surveys of local resources. They set up trade schools and published memoirs. The most successful, such as the Basque society, and those of Zaragoza, Segovia, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Seville, and Madrid, became focuses of local enlightenment.

After 1780 the periodical press of Madrid provided another medium for the luces. Periodical papers had come and gone intermittently for decades. Now many appeared within a few years and their circulation spread through the country. The Correo de Madrid (1786-91) and the Espíritu de los me/ores diarios literatos que se publican en Europa (The Spirit of the Best Literary Journals That Are Published in Europe) (1787-91) translated or summarized for Spanish readers the latest articles on economics, science, and political theory appearing in France and elsewhere. Here Spaniards could learn the theories of Newton on the universe, Montesquieu on the forms of government, Rousseau on education, Beccaria and Filangieri on legal reform, and Condillac on the psychology of learning, even though many of the original works of these authors had been prohibited by the Inquisition. Other papers, such as El Censor (1781-87) and the Semanario erudito (Erudite Weekly) (1787-91), criticized Spanish society directly, drawing their ammunition both from foreign sources and from Spanish writers of the Habsburg era.

Although few progressive Spaniards questioned religious doctrines, the Spanish Enlightenment produced conflicts that involved religion and the church. The luces found opposition among conservative clergymen, in part because they conflicted with the traditional teachings of scholastic science, but even more because they became [54] associated with a movement for reform within the Spanish church. Those persons who favored new ideas tended to demand devotion to the common welfare of the state, and many of them felt that the Spanish church had grown too worldly and was a burden on society. After 1750, reformers began more and more overtly to criticize the clergy, especially certain monastic orders, accusing them of leading useless, lazy lives, and of encouraging extravagant forms of worship and religious display, like street pageants and self-flagellation, instead of devotion to the unadorned, simple teachings of Jesus. Many of these critics were clergymen themselves. Naturally a majority of the clergy rejected these attacks. They labeled the reformers Jansenists, the name of a French sect of the previous century whom the Pope had condemned for wanting to make Catholicism too forbidding and puritanical.

The French Jansenists had aimed their criticisms at the teachings of the Company of Jesus, the Jesuits, calling them morally lax and casuistic. For a hundred years the Jesuits had fought Jansenistic tendencies in the church while championing the supreme authority of the Pope. Their reputation as agents of the papacy led the kings of Spain to look upon them with suspicion. Just as the kings sought to abolish provincial privileges, they attacked the authority of the papacy over the Spanish church in worldly matters. In 1753 Ferdinand VI signed a concordat with the Pope which gave the king the right to nominate two thirds of the bishops and to tax church lands. Charless III in 1768 prohibited papal pronouncements from circulating in Spain without royal approval. Royal councilors and reform-minded clergymen accused the Spanish Jesuits of being ultramontane, that is supporting the prerogatives of the papacy over the claims of the crown in the government of the Spanish church, in order to defend abuses from which they profited. The Jesuits who taught in the universities were suspected of forming an alliance with sons of aristocratic families to favor their mutual interests against royal encroachment. In Spanish America the Jesuits were rumored to be fomenting disloyalty to the king among the Indians of certain areas who were devoted to them.

In 1766 serious riots shook Madrid and other Castilian cities. Though the disturbances were largely a reaction to the momentarily high price of bread, a trial behind closed doors declared the Jesuits guilty of inciting the common people. Charles III determined to suppress them within his dominions, a step already taken by the kings of Portugal and France. He gave charge of the task to a capable and stubborn Aragonese grandee, the Count of Aranda, who effectively carried out the measure in 1767, deporting the Jesuits to the papal states. In 1773, pressure from the Bourbon courts led the Pope to dissolve the order. Charles rewarded Jose Monino, who successfully negotiated in Rome to obtain their dissolution, with the title of Count of Floridablanca. [55] In 1776, Charles made him foreign secretary, and henceforth he was the king's leading minister.

The end of the Jesuits was a triumph for the so-called Jansenists and other reformers. In the next years they began a concerted attack on the backward education of the universities, which had been a Jesuit stronghold. The Council of Castile, the highest administrative and judicial body in Spain, encouraged university faculties to revise their curricula in order to introduce new theories of natural sciences and medicine and a modern study of law, including Spanish law and the doctrines of natural law. The first to undergo thorough reform was the University of Seville, in 1769. A struggle ensued with the more conservative members of the faculties, especially in the University of Salamanca, Spain's oldest and most renowned. Professors dedicated to Aristotelian and scholastic science and philosophy, many of them monks, defended their theories as both more correct and more in keeping with Christian doctrine. Nevertheless by the time of Charles Ill's death, students in most universities were using up-to-date, though fully orthodox texts.

Although Jansenists and partisans of the luces were not necessarily the same persons, they joined hands in the reform of the universities. They had in common the desire to see Spain progress by breaking the grip of the institutions that defended conservative thought, and by eliminating useless privileges and wasteful displays of wealth, whether in church ceremonies or in the lives of the aristocracy. Both groups saw their hope in the activities of Charles III and his ministers. Their opponents, unable to count on the king, sought the aid of the papacy and the Spanish Inquisition, hoping to stem the influx of new ideas by having them declared heretical. Thus the penetration of enlightened and so-called "Jansenist" thought created the basis for a serious ideological conflict. The conflict did not break out into the open at this time because the crown encouraged the reformers and the conservatives were not prepared to challenge the royal authority directly.

The position of the king was crucial. Charles III revised the regulations of the Inquisition in 1768 to assure a fair trial to writers and publishers accused of spreading heretical ideas, he reformed various monastic orders, and he nominated partisans of strict discipline within the church for bishoprics. But Charles was no friend of heresy. Although the Inquisition hesitated to act against high officials, the king allowed it to investigate and from time to time condemn university professors, editors of periodicals, and even royal servants. The most telling case was that of Pablo de Olavide, named royal intendent of Seville in 1767. He was responsible for the plan of reform of the University of Seville, and he antagonized influential clergymen by limiting the activities of the church in some new agricultural settlements the king founded in Sierra Morena. In 1776 the Inquisition arrested Olavide after collecting [56] sufficient evidence that he doubted Catholic dogma to convince even Charles III. In a ceremony attended by high aristocrats and royal officials, it condemned him to eight years of confinement in a monastery and other forms of penance. After two years, however, he managed to escape to France, perhaps through the connivance of well-placed friends. But his case received wide publicity and served as a warning that the opponents of reform still had power.

Ideological differences affected only a small proportion of the population, for only the literate could appreciate the issues and not all of these were interested. Divisions appeared within the higher social groups. Many aristocrats supported the luces, although the spirit of economic reform could become a threat to their own privileges. The better writers were enlightened, but others fought the new ideas bitterly. Royal servants tended to support innovation because of the spirit infused in the government from above by Charles' leading ministers, but at the lower levels, local administrators frequently frustrated royal wishes. Many professional people and merchants favored reform, but many others were indifferent.

Most significant for the future, the Enlightenment and Jansenism split the clergy into opposing factions. Far from being monolithic, the church of Spain was racked with dissension. Some religious orders, notably the Augustinians, favored educational reforms; others, led by the Dominicans, resisted the luces and were ultramontane. There were Jansenist bishops and conservative bishops, holders of ecclesiastical benefices who supported university reform, wrote poetry, and read the French philosophes, and professors of philosophy who stuck by Aristotle and condemned the trend of the century. The Jansenists were a minority within the clergy, but a growing and influential minority who flourished with the support of the crown. Thus the first signs of a coming crisis was an ideological conflict centering in the church.

3. The spirit of reform did not produce a struggle between social classes, but the case of Olavide revealed that the ideological conflict involved social issues. He was feared and hated not only for his reform of the University of Seville but because he proposed changes that threatened the large landowners of Andalusia. In this instance also he was carrying out royal policy, for the ministers of Charles III were engaged in an attempt to reform the Castilian countryside. The second major issue which the eighteenth century would bequeath to the future involved the condition of agriculture in central and southern Spain.

Since the Middle Ages a landowning oligarchy of aristocrats and religious institutions dominated the more fertile areas of New Castile. During the Reconquest from the Moslems of the Mancha, Extremadura, [57] and Andalusia--the southern third of Castile--the kings had awarded extensive territories to the noblemen who participated in the wars, in many cases giving them both ownership of the land and jurisdiction (señorío) over the inhabitants. As señores they carried out justice, collected certain dues from the population, and in many towns appointed or confirmed the municipal officials. Much of Old Castile was also ruled as señoríos, but here the Reconquest was earlier and peasants and hidalgos already owned much land when the king gave away or sold the jurisdiction over them, so that the señores usually did not have large properties within their señoríos. The Dukes of Alba were señores of a fourth of the province of Salamanca, 168 towns and villages, but they were the largest landowner in only thirteen of them, almost all very small; whereas in the province of Jaén in Andalusia, in over half of the towns under señorío the señor was the largest owner, and these were sizable places. Most aristocratic property, including lands, seigneurial rights, and movable goods, had been constituted as mayorazgos or entailed estates, which by law could never be broken up and were passed on by primogeniture, growing steadily by acquisition or by union through marriage.

Besides being the largest landowners, in central and southern Spain the aristocracy dominated many ayuntamientos or city councils, whose membership, in theory elective, had mostly become hereditary in practice. The ayuntamientos controlled the communal lands, which were often extensive. Instead of sharing the use of these lands equitably among the townsmen, many councilors appropriated the best tracts for their own use or that of their aristocratic patrons.

Closely associated with the aristocracy were the leading churches and monasteries and the military orders founded during the Reconquest. They owned vast tracts of land and controlled others that had been willed to them as endowments to support charitable and other religious activities. Like the entailed aristocratic estates, their properties could never be alienated and were known as manos muertas or mortmain. Some religious bodies and the military orders also had señorío (jurisdiction) over towns and villages. The various types of income went partly to finance the religious and charitable activities of the church, but much of it also ended in the pockets of the more privileged secular and regular clergy and the aristocratic caballeros (knights) of the military orders.

The aristocrats and religious institutions farmed most of their lands with overseers or leased them out in parcels to tenants. Their large holdings, to which the old Roman term latifundia is applied, formed the basis for great social inequality, with a class of opulent landlords living from the suffering of a mass of exploited renters and destitute hired hands. In Seville province, the most extreme case, only 4 percent of the men engaged in agriculture owned land, 10 percent rented land, [58] and 86 percent were landless laborers. For both geographic and historical reasons, in the more mountainous areas of central and southern Spain and in most parts of Old Castile, greater equality and more rural democracy existed. This was true also of the northern coastal areas, where there was an abundance of rain, and major portions of the east, where extensive irrigation dating from Moslem days supported a prosperous peasantry and earlier social struggles had established laws and customs that protected peasant farmers from excessive rents and eviction.

Social inequality was also fostered by a complicated and inefficient system of taxes dating in part back to the Middle Ages, which hit the farming, laboring, and merchant classes of Castille, and thus hurt economic growth. When Philip V destroyed the liberties of the kingdoms of Aragon, he introduced a single tax, called the equivalente in Valencia and Aragon, and the catastro in Catalonia. These taxes were cheaper to collect and more equitable than those of Castile.

Since the days of the Habsburgs, social critics had lamented conditions in arid Spain. Under Ferdinand VI, the Marquis de la Ensenada undertook to reform the tax structure of Castile. In 1749 the king extended to all Spain local fiscal officials, called intendants, after the French officials on whom they were modeled. Their first major assignment was to carry out under Ensenada's direction a survey or catastro of all the property and income of the inhabitants of Castile preparatory to introducing a single tax on property. The vast undertaking was successfully completed in the early 1750's. Its thousands of massive tomes, virtually unique in Europe, are only now being investigated by social historians. The accomplishment was too successful: it showed how much property the church and aristocracy owned and how heavily an equitable tax system would weigh on them. Ferdinand dismissed Ensenada in 1754, and the single tax was never instituted, although royal councilors kept the issue alive during the rest of the century.

Under Charles III, the attempt to reform rural conditions took a different tack. Bad harvests led to famine conditions in 1766 that produced the riots for which the Jesuits were blamed. To meet the need for more grain, Pedro Rodriguez de Campomanes, Charles III's leading adviser in economic questions, urged the government to increase the number of small farmers. He believed, as did many enlightened thinkers, that small, individually cultivated farms provided the soundest basis for productive agriculture. Campomanes had the support of other reformers like Aranda and Olavide. In 1767, Charles III ordered the intendants of New Castile and Andalusia to report on local agrarian conditions and to advise the best measures to take, and soon he instructed the ayuntamientos of the cities and towns of these areas to distribute municipal lands to indigent farmers on long-term leases.

These measures posed a threat to the dominant group in arid Spain. [59] Under the Habsburgs the high aristocracy of Castile held considerable influence in the royal government, as councilors, generals, and viceroys. The Bourbons ended this power, preferring like their ancestor Louis XIV to use men of lower origin, university graduates and provincial hidalgos, many of them from other areas than Castile. At the center of the state, they built up a loyal and progressive bureaucracy. Those who headed it, like Floridablanca (who came from Murcia) and Campomanes (from Asturias), received titles of nobility to raise their social position. The only grandee in Charles Ill's administration was the Count of Aranda, and he came from Aragon.

Ousted from the central government, the aristocracy could still find political and social power in its control of rural Castile. Just as it defeated Ferdinand VI's attempt to establish a single tax, it doomed Charles Ill's projects to create small farmers. In western and southern Spain the oligarchy simply refused to carry out royal orders to distribute the common lands; indeed it sometimes used them as a pretext to take over more land for itself. The king lacked local officials dedicated and powerful enough to enforce his reforms. After seven years of sullen conflict, he found it expedient to send Aranda to Paris as ambassador in 1773. Three years later the Inquisition arrested Olavide, and the period of active reform in agriculture came to an end. The inequality posed by the latifundia of Castile and Andalusia was to remain the greatest social problem to plague modern Spain.

Although Charles III failed to add significantly to the desired class of independent farmers, he did bequeath a program of reform to future generations. Many intendants submitted the reports on local conditions that he had ordered. The best was a detailed and penetrating Study of Seville province written by Olavide. In 1780 the crown commissioned the society of Amigos del País of Madrid to study their recommendations and propose general agrarian legislation. The society asked Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, a member of the royal councils who was one of the most profound economists of the period, to draft its reply. Jovellanos did not finish his report until 1794, and the society published it as its Informe de ley agraria (Report on the Agrarian Law). Upholding the right of property and the doctrine of economic laissez-faire put forward by the economists of the Enlightenment as well as the eighteenth-century belief in the desirability of small landowners, Jovellanos found the greatest cause for the backward condition of Spanish" agriculture in the entail of church and aristocratic properties. He recommended that the king prevent further entail and encourage the owners of entailed estates, both lay and ecclesiastical, to sell their lands or rent them out on permanent leases to small farmers (neither of which they could do under the current laws of entail). The towns should do the same with common lands. This was basically the policy that Charles III had tried to follow, except that Jovellanos placed more [60] emphasis on the desirability of giving small farmers their own private property. His Informe de ley agraria formulated the issues clearly and provided easily understood solutions. It was to become almost a bible for nineteenth-century liberals, who would try to use the authority of the state to put its recommendations into effect.

On one policy the royal government and the landowners had been able to agree. This was to further the output of foodstuffs for the market. Because of the profit involved in the export of wool, royal policies had for centuries encouraged sheep grazing. In the eighteenth century the situation changed. Partly as a result of expanding population throughout Europe, the demand for food was growing everywhere. In Spain the price of wheat rose faster than the price of wool. Owners wanted to turn their lands over to food crops in order to raise their income, while the crown wanted more grain to feed the cities--this was the major objective of aiding small farmers. Both interests coincided in favoring agriculture at the expense of sheep grazing. In their way stood the privileges of the Mesta, the guild of owners of migrant sheep, which could prohibit owners from putting pastures under the plow. After 1780 Campomanes succeeded in abolishing this privilege, and he obtained for owners the right to enclose their lands and" plant whatever they wanted. He hoped to help the peasants, but large landowners became the major beneficiaries, as they abandoned wool for wheat, wine, and olive oil as their source of wealth.

4. The third future conflict adumbrated in the eighteenth century was between geographic regions, the Castilian heartland and the periphery of the north and east. It arose from the different economic and demographic evolution of the two regions already evident under the Habsburgs. The relative decline of the population of the central plateau vis-a-vis the coastal zones which began in the seventeenth century continued in the eighteenth. While Castile and Andalusia were witnessing the expansion of large-scale agriculture, the northern and eastern coastal regions experienced the rise of industry. Three regions were involved: the Basque Provinces, Catalonia, and Valencia. For centuries these regions had had local industries based on their natural resources, the manufacture of iron and copperware in the Basque lands, weaving of woolens in Catalonia, and silk and linen weaving in Valencia. Now the peaceful conditions in Spain and new legislation facilitated the expansion of these industries. The markets of Europe and Spanish America were easily accessible by sea. Habsburg policy had kept the colonies closed to direct trade with northern and eastern Spain, but the Bourbon kings reversed this policy. Meanwhile the export of locally produced iron ore, nuts, fruits, and wines to Europe brought capital [61] for investment in industry, while meat, fish, and grain could easily be imported to feed growing urban populations.

Until the eighteenth century, Seville and then Cadiz, southern ports which were outlets for Castile, held a monopoly on legal trade with America. Castilian manufacturers had proved unable to exploit the monopoly. Foreign agents in Seville and Cadiz loaded the exports of their own countries onto the Spanish convoys headed for the colonies, and north European shippers also smuggled their wares directly into Spanish American ports. Although the manufacturers of the north and east of Spain had been edging into the colonial market by shipping via Cadiz, the privileged position of Castile hindered their expansion. Philip V began to break the monopoly by establishing a trading company in the Basque port of San Sebastian in 1728 with an exclusive right to the commerce of Venezuela. In 1755 a royally chartered company in Barcelona took over the commerce with the smaller islands of the Antilles. Finally Charles III, influenced by Campomanes, abandoned the concept of trading privileges for special ports. Between 1765 and 1778 he opened up trade between all major Spanish ports and the colonies (except Mexico, which remained a monopoly of Cadiz for another decade). At the same time he made stricter the regulations against foreign interlopers in Spanish America. These measures helped the manufacturers of the north and east, whose trade with the colonies shot upward in the 1780's.

Charles III also encouraged manufacture directly by abolishing restrictive laws. Until this time industrial production was regulated through guilds, which maintained local monoplies of their products and discouraged innovation. Campomanes hoped to encourage production among vast numbers of independent artisans and women by allowing persons to engage freely in the trades. Royal edicts broke the monopolies of the guilds. The effect, however, was not so much to stimulate small producers as to make possible the growth of factories hiring nonguild workers. Merchants now also extended the practice of putting out, that is of financing small craftsmen, supplying their materials, and marketing their products. The putting-out system became common in weaving and metal work. The northern and eastern coastal regions with a history of local manufacture benefited most from the new laissez-faire legislation. In Catalonia one of the fastest-growing cotton industries in Europe developed beside the older woolen industry. Catalan indianas or printed cottons became a major export to the colonies and the interior of the peninsula.

By the 1780's the Basque lands with their forges and shipyards and Catalonia and Valencia with their looms were among the most flourishing regions in Europe. The Bourbon kings were not being purposely partial to the peripheral areas, but they no longer feared the rebelliousness of the non-Castilian lands, and they desired to strengthen Spain[62] in every way possible to meet the challenge of colonial rivalry with England and other European powers. They struggled to revive Castilian industry as well, and established a number of royal factories in central Spain. Geography was opposed to their efforts here, for the cost of transportation across the mountains impeded exports. The kings built a series of roads radiating north, east, south, and west from Madrid to France, the major ports, and Lisbon. Charles III was even optimistic enough to begin a network of canals. Despite these efforts the heartland remained without significant industry or any large cities except Madrid, which flourished as the seat of the royal government.

At the end of the century one could distinguish two vastly different regions of Spain: the central and southern areas, characteristically arid, thinly populated, with large landholdings, and the coastal provinces of the north and east, which were territories of prosperous small farms and growing industries, oriented toward the sea. Each had its own privileged class. One was the landowning aristocrats and religious institutions, whose wealth rested on the production of agricultural crops for the market, either by direct exploitation or by renting lands to peasants. The other was the merchants, shipowners, and manufacturers of the periphery. Campomanes had hoped to create numerous small farmers and small craftsmen, not only to increase production but also because they would be loyal subjects. Economic forces that were common to all Europe, the effect of better communications and widening markets, favored larger and larger units of production, however, both in agriculture and industry. Once the governments removed trammels, large, not small, farmers and manufacturers multiplied everywhere, and Spain was no exception.

Despite the differences in the two regions, there was no immediate tension between them. The new prosperity of the periphery, partly the result of royal policies, partly the product of extraneous forces, had the effect of calming the former tensions between the crown and the non-Castilian regions. When war came with France after the outbreak of the French Revolution, almost all Basques, Catalans, and Valencians remained loyal to Madrid. The conflict which the Castile-oriented Habsburgs had been unable to resolve was ended by the broader vision of the Bourbons. Yet if one were to draw a line separating the two regions, the northern and eastern coastal areas from the center and south, and if one were to stretch the line westward from Catalonia and Valencia to include Madrid, the center of enlightenment and royal government, the result would coincide roughly with the front lines during the first year of the Civil War in 1936-37, with the Republican forces in the north and east and the Nationalist forces to the west and south. The phenomenon is more than coincidental; it shows that the geographical differences developing in the eighteenth century were to mold the future history of Spain. Because Catalonia had been the [63] leading opponent of Castilian supremacy under the Habsburgs, one is tempted to see in the budding geographical division a continuation of the old struggle between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. To do so is to ignore a fundamental distinction in the periods. When Catalan hostility to Madrid reappeared in the nineteenth century it was to arise primarily from new economic conflicts rather than from memories of earlier political differences.

5. These three tensions--between ideological conservatives and progressives, between landowners and agrarian reformers, between rural center and industrial periphery--were soon to become crucial domestic issues. The eighteenth century left a related heritage that was less obvious and has hardly been noted by historians. It involved the difference between urban and rural life. Since Roman days the Mediterranean world has been a civilization of cities. Urban centers have carried forward the evolution of Western culture, while the agricultural countryside has lagged behind, tied to local traditions and customs. The dichotomy was never absolute, for there could be no sharp distinction between a small city and a large rural town, and the countryside was also evolving under the impact of the cities. Yet the difference was always clear enough to contemporaries.

In most of Spain the rural population has lived in small towns or pueblos, as a general rule increasing in size toward the south. Throughout most of history the pueblos have been dominated by local concerns, their horizons hardly stretching beyond their territorial limits. In the eighteenth century, as before, the royal government did little more than collect taxes and enforce conscription in the pueblos, and this through local townsmen. Only rarely did a royal official appear in all his imposing authority to make a survey of property for the Marquis de la Ensenada or to take a census for the Count of Floridablanca. From time to time the bishop would come to scrutinize the fulfillment of religious duties, including the payment of tithes. Such events hardly troubled the normal course of life.(1) Those who lived in the city, on the other hand, had a broader outlook. Through the press, officials of church and state, and travel of the upper classes, the higher sectors of urban society were in contact with a world that stretched beyond national frontiers. Madrid had foreign diplomats, French and Italian shopkeepers, and royal academies whose members corresponded with

[64] their foreign counterparts. In university cities like Salamanca, Valladolid, and Seville, professors and students discussed current philosophical and theological issues. Manufacturing centers like Barcelona were experiencing technological change common to all Europe, and in the ports, of which Cadiz was the most important, all classes were in frequent contact with persons who visited the outside world. Perhaps a tenth of Spain's population lived in the cities.

In the eighteenth century, the distinction between city and countryside began to take on new significance. It had hitherto been a question of culture--city folk mocked the country oaf in literature and the country people replied by accusing the cities of sin and corruption. The Enlightenment gave it an ideological content. The luces found a welcome among some people in the cities; they had no one to welcome them in the pueblos. The cities had centers of learning and societies of Amigos del País. The division between Jansenist and ultramontane, progressive and traditionalist, was an urban phenomenon, present in little islands of culture dotting the vast sea of illiterate rural Spain. Outside these islands only an occasional priest or councilman who subscribed to a periodical or a university student on vacation was aware of the issues. It was as if two different peoples were germinating, an active political Spain in the cities and a dormant apolitical Spain in the countryside.

This distinction was to underlie the national life of the next century and a half, as significant for the history of this period as Spain's fierce physical geography has been throughout all time. Besides its effect on the ideological conflict in the eighteenth century, it was also related to the other two budding issues. Agrarian reformers were educated urbanites trying to enforce their policies against the will of those who controlled the countryside economically and politically. The peasants did not know enough to help the reformers. The relationship of the urban-rural dichotomy to the tension between geographic center and periphery was less apparent. Most universities were in central Spain and both areas had active societies of Amigos del País. However, because of recent demographic changes, the largest cities except Madrid were located near the sea, where there was manufacturing and commerce. The importance of this fact would become evident in the next century.


Notes for Chapter 4

1. Some social anthropologists have described this situation, contrasting it with the present. See Carmelo Lison-Tolosana, Belmonte de los Caballeros, a Sociological Study of a Spanish Town (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), pp. 212-14, 259-60: } A. Pitt-Rivers, The People of the Sierra (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), pp. 213-18.