Spain History – The Reorganization of Life in Christian Spain

Meanwhile, as the reconquest progressed, the Christian monarchies, each on its own, had provided for their own organization.

Little is known of the constitution of the Asturian state and of the Catalan counties in the early days of their existence and of the life of their respective territories; almost nothing of Aragon and Navarre, where the monarchy had to rise in a later period, hindered from its birth by the prevalence of the nobility and the great owners, who waged war on the Muslims and governed their lands in full independence. Since, as we said, they were poor countries, sparsely populated, which less than the other Spanish regions had felt the influence of Roman civilization and moreover were the destination of continuous disastrous raids by Muslims, their life was, in general and in all respects, rudimentary and miserable, in stark contrast to that of contemporary Arab Spain and in contrast, although much less striking, with that of Visigothic Spain. Furthermore, their organization was affected by the needs of war, to which the Christian territories owed their independence, and which together with civil strife forced them to subordinate all institutions for the purpose of defense from the enemy and the personal safety of the residents, so that the military character of the state was strengthened. Finally, created by the political events of Western Europe, which had broken the previous territorial unity and interrupted the already begun process of peninsular moral and political unification, while adhering to the Visigothic traditions – because the society retained the previous division by classes and remained in force Visigothic customs and law – the various political bodies were subjected to different influences, and therefore they began to give themselves particular arrangements. Thus the Catalan counties got their institutions from the Frankish empire that had created them; and in them a real feudal regime was reached. Instead, the Asturian state was rather a reincarnation of the Visigoths, recovered the councils, found in theLiber iudiciorum (Fuero Juzgo) the norm of juridical life, with these aggravating factors compared to the regime that had preceded it: that the sovereign’s authority diminished due to the continuous concessions made to the nobility and monasteries to help them in wars; that on the other hand, more than in the previous period, the power of these continued to strengthen, so that the small and small owners placed themselves under their protection to enjoy their patronage (behetria). For Spain history, please check

From the dawn of the century. XI onwards, the life of Christian Spain became more and more intense and rich in motifs. On the one hand, the states saw their territories greatly enlarged and, moreover, some of them had a single sovereign; on the other hand, the country was able to make use of the experiences of contemporary civilization, because, as has rightly been observed, Spain was never so open to foreigners as in the time of the reconquest. In fact, Frankish influence became profound, especially through the work of the monks of Cluny, who were welcomed into his states by Sancho III and found a great supporter in Ferdinand I of León and Castile, and who imported the Frankish feudal orders, spread the knowledge of Latin and supported Roman unity in the cult and discipline. Then, to this influence was added the Italian one, especially through Catalonia and Aragon. Furthermore, the state of León and Castile was made aware of the civilization of a large part of Europe by the adventurers who served in its army and by the pilgrims who flocked to Santiago de Compostela from all sides. And finally the Arab world communicated to all its treasures through the Jews, Mozarabs and Muslims who remained in the occupied regions ormudéjares, who had now become subjects of the Christian monarchs and received an excellent reception from them. At that time, the repopulation of the new dominions, as well as the ancient ones, had a considerable increase, favored by the monastic orders and in most of the states by the donation of cartas pueblas or cartas de población, with which many privileges were granted by the monarch, the monastery or the lord to the residents of the villages that arose then, and of particular municipal statutes or fueros municipales, which regulated the life of the already existing centers and responded to local needs, since those of the frontier lands (fueros de frontera). Thus the city life began to have a luxuriant development, because the small traders, already wanderers, took up permanent residence; because, escaping the persecutions of the Almoravids and the Almohads, thousands of Mozárabes fled to the Christian territories, and because many who had lived miserably in the countryside in inferiority conditions, especially serfs, and also many criminals, became urbanized, rushed to enjoy those of personal freedom, these of the right of asylum granted by the fueros. A bourgeois class began to form, particularly rich and powerful in the commercial and industrial cities. And even in the countryside the conditions of the rural classes improved, to which the great lords made extensive concessions to avoid their exodus: especially in Castile and León, since in Catalonia the colonists or servants (payeses de remensa) continued to carry on a very sad existence. At the same time, the assimilation of European culture began, especially Hebrew and Arabic, and the first universities were founded in Palencia, Salamanca, Valladolid, Lérida. Finally, the monarchical institution was strengthened; everywhere the crown became at least de facto hereditary; the sovereign to reduce the power of the aristocracy and the high clergy could avail himself of the help of the cities and the bourgeoisie, made privileged like those two orders; and to give some unity to the local legislation of the fueros, who were generally inspired by Germanic law, as well as by a Visigothic customary law, which the Lex Visigothorumhad not succeeded in destroying and which had been followed both in the lands that remained Catholic and in those taken from the Muslims, compilations of customary law with territorial value were made, such as the Fuero di León (1020), the code of the Usatges of Barcelona, ​​published in its first nucleus from Ramón Berenguer I (around 1068), the Fuero d’Aragona (1247), that of Navarre (13th century). Among the reforming sovereigns of this era, Ferdinand III of León and Castile deserves particular mention: who worked hard for the administrative reorganization of the conquered regions, and had the Liber iudiciorum translatedto give it to Cordoba as municipal law; a follower of the principle of centralization which had already established itself in a large part of Europe, he also thought about the formation of a single code that was valid for the whole state; in the field of culture he protected the universities, combining, among other things, those of Salamanca and Palencia, and promoted the definitive transformation of Castilian into an official and literary language; in internal politics he showed tolerance towards the Jews and, to prevent their emigration to the kingdom of Granata, he was anything but severe towards the Muslim subjects, and indeed even granted partial autonomy to those of the kingdom of Murcia.

Spain History - The Reorganization of Life in Christian Spain

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