Spain Two

The History Of Spain To The Conquest Of Granada
Author: Hallam, Henry

Part II

A more fortunate period began with the accession of Henry. [A.D.
1368.] His own reign was hardly disturbed by any rebellion; and though his
successors, John I. [A.D. 1379] and Henry III. [A.D. 1390], were not
altogether so unmolested, especially the latter, who ascended the throne in
his minority, yet the troubles of their time were slight in comparison with
those formerly excited by the houses of Lara and Haro, both of which were now
happily extinct. Though Henry II.'s illegitimacy left him no title but
popular choice, his queen was sole representative of the Cerdas, the
offspring, as has been mentioned above, of Sancho IV.'s elder brother, and, by
the extinction of the younger branch, unquestioned heiress of the royal line.
Some years afterwards, by the marriage of Henry III. with Catherine, daughter
of John of Gaunt and Constance, an illegitimate child of Peter the Cruel, her
pretensions, such as they were, became merged in the crown.

No kingdom could be worse prepared to meet the disorders of a minority
than Castile, and in none did the circumstances so frequently recur. John II.
was but fourteen months old at his accession; and but for the
disinterestedness of his uncle Ferdinand, the nobility would have been
inclined to avert the danger by placing that prince upon the throne. [A.D.
1406.] In this instance, however, Castile suffered less from faction during
the infancy of her sovereign than in his maturity. The queen dowager, at
first jointly with Ferdinand, and solely after his accession to the crown of
Aragon, administered the government with credit. Fifty years had elapsed at
her death in 1418 since the elevation of the house of Trastamare, who had
entitled themselves to public affection by conforming themselves more strictly
than their predecessors to the constitutional laws of Castile, which were
never so well established as during this period. In external affairs their
reigns were not what is considered as glorious. They were generally at peace
with Aragon and Granada; but one memorable defeat by the Portuguese at
Aljubarrota disgraces the annals of John I., whose cause was as unjust as his
arms were unsuccessful. [A.D. 1385.] This comparatively golden period ceases
at the majority of John II. His reign was filled up by a series of
conspiracies and civil wars, headed by his cousins John and Henry, the infants
of Aragon, who enjoyed very extensive territories in Castile, by the testament
of their father Ferdinand. Their brother the King of Aragon frequently lent
the assistance of his arms. John himself, the elder of these two princes, by
marriage with the heiress of the kingdom of Navarre, stood in a double
relation to Castile, as a neighboring sovereign, and as a member of the native
oligarchy. These conspiracies were all ostensibly directed against the
favorite of John II., Alvaro de Luna, who retained for five-and-thirty years
an absolute control over his feeble master. The adverse faction naturally
ascribed to this powerful minister every criminal intention and all public
mischiefs. He was certainly not more scrupulous than the generality of
statesmen, and appears to have been rapacious in accumulating wealth. But
there was an energy and courage about Alvaro de Luna which distinguishes him
from the cowardly sycophants who usually rise by the favor of weak princes;
and Castile probably would not have been happier under the administration of
his enemies. His fate is among the memorable lessons of history. After a
life of troubles endured for the sake of this favorite, sometimes a fugitive,
sometimes a prisoner, his son heading rebellions against him, John II.
suddenly yielded to an intrigue of the palace, and adopted sentiments of
dislike towards the man he had so long loved. No substantial charge appears
to have been brought against Alvaro de Luna, except that general malversation
which it was too late for the king to object to him. The real cause of John's
change of affection was, most probably, the insupportable restraint which the
weak are apt to find in that spell of a commanding understanding which they
dare not break; the torment of living subject to the ascendant of an inferior,
which has produced so many examples of fickleness in sovereigns. That of John
II. is not the least conspicuous. Alvaro de Luna was brought to a summary
trial and beheaded; his estates were confiscated. He met his death with the
intrepidity of Strafford, to whom he seems to have borne some resemblance in

John II. did not long survive his minister, dying in 1454, after a reign
that may be considered as inglorious, compared with any except that of his
successor. If the father was not respected, the son fell completely into
contempt. He had been governed by Pacheco Marquis of Villena, as implicitly
as John by Alvaro de Luna. This influence lasted for some time afterwards.
But the king inclining to transfer his confidence to the Queen Joanna of
Portugal, and to one Bertrand de Cueva, upon whom common fame had fixed as her
paramour, a powerful confederacy of disaffected nobles was formed against the
royal authority. In what degree Henry IV.'s government had been improvident
or oppressive towards the people, it is hard to determine. The chiefs of that
rebellion, Carillo Archbishop of Toledo, the admiral of Castile, a veteran
leader of faction, and the Marquis of Villena, so lately the king's favorite,
were undoubtedly actuated only by selfish ambition and revenge. They deposed
Henry in an assembly of their faction at Avila with a sort of theatrical
pageantry which has often been described. [A.D. 1465.] But modern historians,
struck by the appearance of judicial solemnity in this proceeding, are
sometimes apt to speak of it as a national act; while, on the contrary, it
seems to have been reprobated by the majority of the Castilians as an
audacious outrage upon a sovereign who, with many defects, had not been guilty
of any excessive tyranny. The confederates set up Alfonso, the king's
brother, and a civil war of some duration ensued, in which they had the
support of Aragon. The Queen of Castile had at this time borne a daughter,
whom the enemies of Henry IV., and indeed no small part of his adherents, were
determined to treat as spurious. Accordingly, after the death of Alfonso, his
sister Isabel was considered as heiress of the kingdom. She might have
aspired, with the assistance of the confederates, to its immediate possession;
but, avoiding the odium of a contest with her brother, Isabel agreed to a
treaty, by which the succession was absolutely settled upon her. This
arrangement was not long afterwards followed by the union of that princess
with Ferdinand, son of the King of Aragon. [A.D. 1469.] This marriage was by
no means acceptable to a part of the Castilian oligarchy, who had preferred a
connection with Portugal. And as Henry had never lost sight of the interests
of one whom he considered, or pretended to consider, as his daughter, he took
the first opportunity of revoking his forced disposition of the crown and
restoring the direct line of succession in favor of the Princess Joanna. Upon
his death, in 1474, the right was to be decided by arms. Joanna had on her
side the common presumptions of law, the testamentary disposition of the late
king, the support of Alfonso King of Portugal, to whom she was betrothed, and
of several considerable leaders among the nobility, as the young Marquis of
Villena, the family of Mendoza, and the Archbishop of Toledo, who, charging
Ferdinand with ingratitude, had quitted a party which he had above all men
contributed to strengthen. For Isabella were the general belief of Joanna's
illegitimacy, the assistance of Aragon, the adherence of a majority both among
the nobles and people, and, more than all, the reputation of ability which
both she and her husband had deservedly acquired. The scale was however
pretty equally balanced, till the King of Portugal having been defeated at
Toro in 1476, Joanna's party discovered their inability to prosecute the war
by themselves, and successively made their submission to Ferdinand and

The Castilians always considered themselves as subject to a legal and
limited monarchy. For several ages the crown was elective, as in most nations
of German origin, within the limits of one royal family. ^r In general, of
course, the public choice fell upon the nearest heir; and it became a
prevailing usage to elect a son during the lifetime of his father, till about
the eleventh century a right of hereditary succession was clearly established.
But the form of recognizing the heir apparent's title in an assembly of the
cortes has subsisted until our own time. ^s

[Footnote r: Defuncto in pace principe, primates tetius regni una cum
sacerdotibus successorum regni concilio communi constituant. Concil. Toletan.
IV. c. 75, apud Marina, Teoria de las Cortes, t. ii. p. 2. This important
work, by the author of the Ensayo Historico-Critico, quoted above, contains an
ample digest of the parliamentary law of Castile, drawn from original and, in
a great degree, unpublished records. I have been favored with the use of a
copy, from which I am the more disposed to make extracts, as the book is
likely, through its liberal principles, to become almost as scarce in Spain as
in England. Marina's former work (the Ensayo Hist.-Crit.) furnishes a series
of testimonies (c. 66) to the elective character of the monarchy from Pelayo
downwards to the twelfth century.]

[Footnote s: Teoria de las Cortes, t. ii. p. 7.]

In the original Gothic monarchy of Spain, civil as well as ecclesiastical
affairs were decided in national councils, the acts of many of which are still
extant, and have been published in ecclesiastical collections. To these
assemblies the dukes and other provincial governors, and in general the
principal individuals of the realm, were summoned along with spiritual
persons. This double aristocracy of church and state continued to form the
great council of advice and consent in the first ages of the new kingdoms of
Leon and Castile. The prelates and nobility, or rather some of the more
distinguished nobility, appear to have concurred in all general measures of
legislation, as we infer from the preamble of their statutes. It would be
against analogy, as well as without evidence, to suppose that any
representation of the commons had been formed in the earlier period of the
monarchy. In the preamble of laws passed in 1020, and at several subsequent
times during that and the ensuing century, we find only the bishops and
magnats recited as present. According to the General Chronicle of Spain,
deputies from the Castilian towns formed a part of cortes in 1169, a date not
to be rejected as incompatible with their absence in 1178. However, in 1188,
the first year of the reign of Alfonso IX., they are expressly mentioned; and
from that era were constant and necessary parts of those general assemblies.
^t It has been seen already that the corporate towns or districts of Castile
had early acquired considerable importance, arising less from commercial
wealth, to which the towns of other kingdoms were indebted for their
liberties, than from their utility in keeping up a military organization among
the people. To this they probably owe their early reception into the cortes
as integrant portions of the legislature, since we do not read that taxes were
frequently demanded, till the extravagance of later kings, and their
alienation of the domain, compelled them to have recourse to the national

[Footnote t: Ensayo Hist.-Crit. p. 77; Teoria de las Cortes, t. i. p. 66.
Marina seems to have somewhat changed his opinion since the publication of the
former work, where he inclines to assert that the commons were from the
earliest times, admitted into the legislature. In 1188, the first year of the
reign of Alfonso IX., we find positive mention of la muchedumbre de las
cibdades e embiados de cada cibdat.]

Every chief town of a concejo or corporation ought perhaps, by the
constitution of Castile, to have received its regular writ for the election of
deputies to cortes. ^u But there does not appear to have been, in the best
times, any uniform practice in this respect. At the cortes of Burgos, in
1315, we find one hundred and ninety-two representatives from more than ninety
towns; at those of Madrid, in 1391, one hundred and twenty-six were sent from
fifty towns; and the latter list contains names of several places which do not
appear in the former. ^v No deputies were present from the kingdom of Leon in
the cortes of Alcala in 1348, where, among many important enactments, the code
of the Siete Partidas first obtained a legislative recognition. ^w We find, in
short, a good deal more irregularity than during the same period in England,
where the number of electing boroughs varied pretty considerably at every
parliament. Yet the cortes of Castile did not cease to be a numerous body and
a fair representation of the people till the reign of John II. The first
princes of the house of Trastamare had acted in all points with the advice of
their cortes. But John II., and still more his son Henry IV., being conscious
of their own unpopularity, did not venture to meet a full assembly of the
nation. Their writs were directed only to certain towns - an abuse for which
the looseness of preceding usage had given a pretence. ^x It must be owned
that the people bore it in general very patiently. Many of the corporate
towns, impoverished by civil warfare and other causes, were glad to save the
cost of defraying their deputies' expenses. Thus, by the year 1480, only
seventeen cities had retained privilege of representation. A vote was
afterwards added for Granada, and three more in later times for Palencia, and
the provinces of Estremadura and Galicia. ^y It might have been easy perhaps
to redress this grievance while the exclusion was yet fresh and recent. But
the privileged towns, with a mean and preposterous selfishness, although their
zeal for liberty was at its height, could not endure the only means of
effectually securing it, by a restoration of elective franchises to their
fellow-citizens. The cortes of 1506 assert, with one of those bold
falsifications upon which a popular body sometimes ventures, that "it is
established by some laws, and by immemorial usage, that eighteen cities of
these kingdoms have the right of sending deputies to cortes, and no more;"
remonstrating against the attempts made by some other towns to obtain the same
privilege, which they request may not be conceded. This remonstrance is
repeated in 1512. ^z

[Footnote u: Teoria de las Cortes, p. 139.]

[Footnote v: Id. p. 148. Geddes gives a list of one hundred and twenty-seven
deputies from forty-eight towns to the cortes at Madrid in 1390. -
Miscellaneous Tracts, vol. iii.]

[Footnote w: Id. p. 154.]

[Footnote x: Sepades (says John II. in 1442) que en el ayuntamiento que yo
fice en la noble villa de Valladolid . . . . los procuradores de ciertas
cibdades e villas de mis reynos que por mi mandado fueron llamados. This
language is repeated as to subsequent meetings. p. 156.]

[Footnote y: The cities which retained their representation in cortes were
Burgos, Toledo (there was a constant dispute for precedence between these
two), Leon, Granada, Cordova, Murcia, Jaen, Zamora, Toro, Soria, Valladolid,
Salamanca, Segovia, Avila, Madrid, Guadalaxara, and Cuenca. The
representatives of these were supposed to vote not only for their immediate
constituents, but for other adjacent towns. Thus Toro voted for Palencia and
the kingdom of Galicia, before they obtained separate votes; Salamanca for
most of Estremadura; Guadalaxara for Siguenza and four hundred other towns.
Teoria de las Cortes, pp. 160, 268.]

[Footnote z: Idem, p. 161.]

From the reign of Alfonso XI., who restrained the government of
corporations to an oligarchy of magistrates, the right of electing members of
cortes was confined to the ruling body, the bailiffs or regidores, whose
number seldom exceeded twenty-four, and whose succession was kept up by close
election among themselves. ^a The people therefore had no direct share in the
choice of representatives. Experience proved, as several instances in these
pages will show, that even upon this narrow basis the deputies of Castile were
not deficient in zeal for their country and its liberties. But it must be
confessed that a small body of electors is always liable to corrupt influence
and to intimidation. John II. and Henry IV. often invaded the freedom of
election; the latter even named some of the deputies. ^b Several energetic
remonstrances were made in cortes against this flagrant grievance. Laws were
enacted and other precautions devised to secure the due return of deputies.
In the sixteenth century the evil, of course, was aggravated. Charles and
Philip corrupted the members by bribery. ^c Even in 1573 the cortes are bold
enough to complain that creatures of government were sent thither, "who are
always held for suspected by the other deputies, and cause disagreement among
them." ^d

[Footnote a: Idem. pp. 86. 197.]

[Footnote b: Teoria de las Cortes, p. 199.]

[Footnote c: Idem, p. 213.]

[Footnote d: p. 202.]

There seems to be a considerable obscurity about the constitution of the
cortes, so far as relates to the two higher estates, the spiritual and
temporal nobility. It is admitted that down to the latter part of the
thirteenth century, and especially before the introduction of representatives
from the commons, they were summoned in considerable numbers. But the writer
to whom I must almost exclusively refer for the constitutional history of
Castile contends that from the reign of Sancho IV. they took much less share
and retained much less influence in the deliberation of cortes. ^e There is a
remarkable protest of the archbishop of Toledo, in 1295, against the acts done
in cortes, because neither he nor the other prelates had been admitted to
their discussions nor given any consent to their resolutions, although such
consent was falsely recited in the laws enacted therein. ^f This protestation
is at least a testimony to the constitutional rights of the prelacy, which
indeed all the early history of Castile, as well as the analogy of other
governments, conspires to demonstrate. In the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, however, they were more and more excluded. None of the prelates
were summoned to the cortes of 1299 and 1301; none either of the prelates or
nobles to those of 1370 and 1373, of 1480 and 1505. In all the latter cases,
indeed, such members of both orders as happened to be present in the court
attended the cortes - a fact which seems to be established by the language of
the statutes. ^g Other instances of a similar kind may be adduced.
Nevertheless, the more usual expression in the preamble of laws reciting those
summoned to and present at the cortes, though subject to considerable
variation, seems to imply that all the three estates were, at least nominally
and according to legitimate forms, constituent members of the national
assembly. And a chronicle mentions, under the year 1406, the nobility and
clergy as deliberating separately, and with some difference of judgment, from
the deputies of the commons. ^h A theory, indeed, which should exclude the
great territorial aristocracy from their place in cortes, would expose the
dignity and legislative rights of that body to unfavorable inferences. But it
is manifest that the king exercised very freely a prerogative of calling or
omitting persons of both the higher orders at his discretion. The bishops
were numerous, and many of their sees not rich; while the same objections of
inconvenience applied perhaps to the ricoshombres, but far more forcibly to
the lower nobility, the hijosdalgo or caballeros. Castile never adopted the
institution of deputies from this order, as in the States General of France
and some other countries, much less that liberal system of landed
representation, which forms one of the most admirable peculiarities in English
constitution. It will be seen hereafter that spiritual and even temporal
peers were summoned by English kings with much irregularity; and the
disordered state of Castile through almost every reign was likely to prevent
the establishment of any fixed usage in this and most other points.

[Footnote e: p. 67.]

[Footnote f: Protestamos que desde aqui venimos non fuemos llamados a consejo,
ni a los tratados soore los fechos del reyno, ni sobre las otras cosas que hi
fueren tractadas et fechas, et sennaladamente sobre los fechos de los consejos
de las hermandades et de las peticiones que fueron fechas de su parte, et
sobre los otorgamentos que les ficieron, et sobre los previlegios que por esta
nazon les fueron otorgados; mas ante fuemos ende apartados et estrannados et
secados expresamente nos et los otros perlados et ricos homes et los
fijosdalgo; et non fue hi cosa fecha con nuestro consejo. Otrosi protestamos
por razon de aquello que dice en los previlegios que les otorgaron, que fueren
los perlados llamados, et que eran otorgados de consentimiento et de voluntad
dellos, que non fuemos hi presentes ni llamados nin fue fecho connuestra
voluntad, nin consentiemos nui consenteimos en ellos, &c. p. 72.]

[Footnote g: Teoria de las Cortes, p. 74.]

[Footnote h: t. ii. p. 234. Marina is influenced by a prejudice in favor of
the abortive Spanish constitution of 1812, which excluded the temporal and
spiritual aristocracy from a place in the legislature, to imagine a similar
form of government in ancient times. But his own work furnishes abundant
reasons, if I am not mistaken, to modify this opinion very essentially. A few
out of many instances may be adduced from the enacting words of statutes,
which we consider in England as good evidences to establish a constitutional
theory. Sepades que yo hube mio acuerdo e mio consejo con mios hermanos e los
arzobispos, e los obispos, e con los ricos homes de Castella, e de Leon, e con
homes buenos de las villas de Castella, e de Leon, que fueron conmigo en
Valladolit, sobre muchas cosas, &c. (Alfonso X. in 1258.) Mandamos enviar
llama por cartas del rei e nuestras a los infantes e perlados e ricos homes e
infanzones e caballeros e homes buenos de las cibdades e de las villas de los
reynos de Castilia et de Toledo e de Leon e de las Estramaduras, e de Gallicia
e de las Austurias e del Andalusia. (Writ of summons to cortes of Burgos in
1315.) Con acuerdo e los perlados e de los ricos homes e procuradores de las
cibdades e villas e logares de los nuestros reynos. Ordinances of Toro in
1371.) Estanho hi con el el infante Don Ferrando, &c., e otros perlados e
condes e ricos homes e otros caballeros e escuderos, e los procuradores de las
cibdades e villas e logares de sus reynos. (Cortes of 1391.) Los tres estados
que deben venir a las cortes e ayuntamientos segunt se debe facer e es de
buena costumbre antigua. (Cortes of 1393.) This last passage is apparently
conclusive to prove that three estates, the superior clergy, the nobility, and
the commons, were essential members of the Legislature in Castile, as they
were in France and England; and one is astonished to read in Marina that no
faltaron a ninguna de las formalidades de derecho los monarcas que no tuvieron
por oportuno llamar a cortes para semejantes actos ni al clero ni a la nobleza
ni a las personas singulares de uno y otro estado. t. i. p. 69. That great
citizen, Jovellanos, appears to have had much wiser notions of the ancient
government of his country, as well as of the sort of reformation which she
wanted: as we may infer from passages in his Memoria a sus compatriotas,
Coruna, 1811, quoted by Marina for the purpose of censure.]

The primary and most essential characteristic of a limited monarchy is
that money can only be levied upon the people through the consent of their
representatives. This principle was thoroughly established in Castile; and
the statutes which enforce it, the remonstrances which protest against its
violation, bear a lively analogy to corresponding circumstances in the history
of English constitution. The lands of the nobility and clergy were, I
believe, always exempted from direct taxation - an immunity which perhaps
rendered the attendance of the members of those estates in the cortes less
regular. The corporate districts or concejos, which, as I have observed
already, differed from the communities of France and England by possessing a
large extent of territory subordinate to the principal town, were bound by
their charter to a stipulated annual payment, the price of their franchises,
called moneda forera. ^i Beyond this sum nothing could be demanded without the
consent of the cortes. Alfonso VIII., in 1177, applied for a subsidy towards
carrying on the siege of Cuenca. Demands of money do not however seem to have
been very usual before the prodigal reign of Alfonso X. That prince and his
immediate successors were not much inclined to respect the rights of their
subjects; but they encountered a steady and insuperable resistance. Ferdinand
IV., in 1307, promises to raise no money beyond his legal and customary dues.
A more explicit law was enacted by Alfonso XI. in 1328, who bound himself not
to exact from his people, or cause them to pay any tax, either partial or
general, not hitherto established by law, without the previous grant of all
the deputies convened to the cortes. ^j This abolition of illegal impositions
was several times confirmed by the same prince. The cortes, in 1393, having
made a grant to Henry III., annexed this condition, that "since they had
granted him enough for his present necessities, and even to lay up a part for
a future exigency, he should swear before one of the archbishops not to take
or demand any money, service, or loan, or anything else, of the cities and
towns, nor of individuals belonging to them, on any pretence of necessity,
until the three estates of the kingdom should first be duly summoned and
assembled in cortes according to ancient usage. And if any such letters
requiring money have been written, that they shall be obeyed and not complied
with." ^k His son, John II., having violated this constitutional privilege on
the allegation of a pressing necessity, the cortes, in 1420, presented a long
remonstrance, couched in very respectful but equally firm language, wherein
they assert "the good custom, founded in reason and in justice, that the
cities and towns of your kingdoms shall not be compelled to pay taxes or
requisitions, or other new tribute, unless your highness order it by advice
and with the grant of the said cities and towns, and of their deputies for
them." And they express their apprehension lest this right should be
infringed, because, as they say, "there remains no other privilege or liberty
which can be profitable to subjects if this be shaken." ^l The king gave them
as full satisfaction as they desired that his encroachment should not be drawn
into precedent. Some fresh abuses during the unfortunate reign of Henry IV.
produced another declaration in equally explicit language, forming part of the
sentence awarded by the arbitrators to whom the differences between the king
and his people had been referred at Medina del Campo in 1465. ^m The catholic
kings, as they are eminently called, Ferdinand and Isabella, never violated
this part of the constitution; nor did even Charles I., although sometimes
refused money by the cortes, attempt to exact it without their consent. ^n In
the Recopilacion, or code of Castilian law published by Philip II., we read a
positive declaration against arbitrary imposition of taxes, which remained
unaltered on the face of the statute-book till the present age. ^o The law was
indeed frequently broken by Philip II.; but the cortes, who retained
throughout the sixteenth century a degree of steadiness and courage truly
admirable when we consider their political weakness, did not cease to
remonstrate with that suspicious tyrant, and recorded their unavailing appeal
to the law of Alfonso XI., "so ancient and just, and which so long time has
been used and observed." ^p

[Footnote i: Marina, Ensayo Hist.-Crit. cap. 158; Teoria de las Cortes, t. ii.
p. 387. This is expressed in one of their fueros, or charters: Liberi et
ingenui semper maneatis, reddendo mihi et successoribus meis in unoquoque anno
in die Pentecostos de unaquaque domo 12 denarios; et, mihi cum bona voluntate
vestra feceritis, nullum servitium faciatis.]

[Footnote j: De los con echar nin mandar pagar pecho desaforado ninguno,
especial nin general, en toda mi tierra, sin ser llamados primeramente a
cortes e otorgado por todos los procuradores que hi venieren, p. 388.]

[Footnote k: Obedecidas e non cumplidas. This expression occurs frequently in
provisions made against illegal acts of the crown; and is charactristic of the
singular respect with which the Spaniards always thought it right to treat
their sovereign, while they were resisting the abuses of his authority.]

[Footnote l: La buena costumbre e possession fundada en razon e en justicia
que las cibdades e villas de vuestros reinos tenian de no ser mandado coger
monedas e pedidos nin otro tributo nuevo alguno en los vuestros reinos sin que
la vuestra senoria lo faga e ordene de consejo e con otorgamiento de las
cibdades e villas de los vuestros reinos e de sus procuradores en su nombre .
. . . no queda otro previlegio ni libertad de que los subditos puedan gozar ni
approvechar quebrantado el sobre dicho. t. iii. p. 30.]

[Footnote m: Declaramos e ordenamos, que el dicho senor rei nin los otros
reyes que despues del fueren non echan nin repartan nin pidan pedidos nin
monedas en sus reynos, salvo por gran necessidad, e seyendo primero accordado
con los perlados e grandes de sus reynos, e con los otros que a la sazon
residierin en su consejo, e seyendo para ello llamados los procuradores de las
cibdades e villas de sus reynos, que para las tales cosas see se suelen e
acostumbran llamar, e seyendo per los dichos procuradores otorgado el dicho
pedimento e monedas. t. ii. p. 391.]

[Footnote n: Marina has published two letters from Charles to the city of
Toledo, in 1542 and 1548, requesting them to instruct their deputies to
consent to a further grant of money, which they had refused to do without
leave of their constituents. t. iii. pp. 180, 187.]

[Footnote o: t. ii. p. 393.]

[Footnote p: En las cortes de ano de 70 y en las de 76 pedimos a v. m. fuese
servide de no poner nuevos impuestos, rentas, pechos, ni derechos ni otros
tributos particulares ni generales sin junta del reyno en cortes, como esta
dispuesto por lei del senor rei Don Alonso, y se significo a v. m. el dano
grande que con las nuevas rentas habia rescibido el reino, suplicando a v. m.
fuese servido de mandarle aliviar y descargar, y que en lo de adelante se les
hiciesse merced de guardar las dichas leyes reales, y que ne se impusiessen
nuevas rentas sin su asistencia; pues podria v. m. estar satisfecho de que el
reino sirve en las cosas necessarias con toda lealtad y hasta ahora no se ha
proveido los susodicho; y el reino por la obligacion que tiene a pedir a v. m.
guarde la dicha lei, y que no solamente han cessado las necessidades de los
subditos y naturales de v. m. pero antes crecen de cada dia: vuelve a suplicar
a v. m. sea servido concederle lo susodicho, y que las nuevas rentas pechos y
derechos se quiten, y que de aqui adelante se guarde la dicha lei del senor
rei Don Alonso, como tan antigua y justa y que tanto tiempo se uso y guardo.
p. 395. This petition was in 1579.]

The free assent of the people by their representatives to grants of money
was by no means a mere matter of form. It was connected with other essential
rights indispensable to its effectual exercise; those of examining public
accounts and checking the expenditure. The cortes, in the best times at
least, were careful to grant no money until they were assured that what had
been already levied on their constituents had been properly employed. ^q They
refused a subsidy in 1390 because they had already given so much, and, "not
knowing how so great a sum had been expended, it would be a great dishonor and
mischief to promise any more." In 1406 they stood out a long time, and at
length gave only half of what was demanded. ^r Charles I. attempted to obtain
money in 1527 from the nobility as well as commons. But the former protested
that "their obligation was to follow the king in war, wherefore to contribute
money was totally against their privilege, and for that reason they could not
acquiesce in his majesty's request." ^s The commons also refused on this
occasion. In 1538, on a similar proposition, the superior and lower nobility
(los grandes y caballeros) "begged with all humility that they might never
hear any more of that matter." ^t

[Footnote q: Marina, t. ii. pp. 404, 406.]

[Footnote r: p. 409.]

[Footnote s: Pero que contribuir a la guerra con ciertas sumas era totalmente
opuesto a sus previlegios, e asi que no podrian acomodarse a lo que s. m.
deseaba. - p. 411.]

[Footnote t: Marina, t. ii. p. 411.]

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