Page:C. Cunningham- "The Institutional Background of Spanish American History".djvu/3

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THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

eminent leaders in their particular provinces. Thus the king of Castile, in addition to being recognized by most of the nobles as their overlord, had his own domains (realengas) in which he exercised the same kind of proprietary sovereignty as the nobles on their estates. The outlying royal territories, as they increased in size and number, and as the sovereigns became more sure of their heritage, were divided for administrative purposes into royal districts called mandationes, with a count, appointed by the king, as administrative head of each. These counts were the first officials with administrative, judicial and military functions to represent the king at the head of frontier districts and provinces. Their duties were chiefly military, and these counts were frequently obliged to go beyond their own frontiers in the interest of the extension of the royal power. The great drawback, however, from the viewpoint of the king, consisted of the fact that the only class. from which these officials could be enlisted was the noble class. In fact, they showed themselves to be more faithful to the aristocratic element than to the royal interests, and for this reason the counts were replaced by royal officials called adelantados, who were more completely dependent on the royal power than their predecessors had been. Antequera fails to give the date for the inauguration of this reform, but since the Council of Leon of 1020 defined the jurisdiction of the frontier counts, we know that the adelantados were substituted for these officials at some subsequent date.[1]

The nobles of Asturias, Leon, and Castile sought as best they could to maintain their independence of the king in the early centuries of Spanish history. The relations of these nobles to the monarch were semi-feudal.[2] They were necessary to the king for

  1. Antequera, Historia de la legislación española (2d ed., Madrid, 1884, pp. 128-131. Pérez y López, Teatro de la legislación de España y Indias (Madrid, 1791-1798, 28 vols.)., II. 248.
  2. Professor Altamira points out that there never developed a hierarchical feudal organization in Spain such as existed in Germany and France. In Aragon and Catalonia a certain type of feudalism prevailed which resembled in many respects that which obtained in other parts of Europe, but the king was unable to exercise authority there until after the age of feudalism had passed away. See Altamira, Historia de la civilización española (Madrid, 1861-1872), I. 314-315.