Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/389

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in all important towns and summarily tried offenders. Their sentences, of mutilation or death, were carried out by the troopers on the scene of the crime. The whole organisation was placed under a central assembly appointed by the municipalities, whose president was a bastard brother of King Ferdinand. The nobles at first objected to this curtailment of their right of exercising justice; but their opposition was overcome. A few years later the Hermandad was extended to Aragon. Lawlessness disappeared, and the 2,000 trained troops of the Brotherhood, together with its treasury, were made use of in the Conquest of Granada. So well had the Holy Brotherhood fulfilled its purpose, that within twenty years of its foundation it had become unnecessary. In 1492 the Cortes of Castile complained of its cost. The Crown hereupon took over its troops, and in 1495 it was reduced to the standing of a country constabulary; in Aragon it was abolished in 1510.

The resources of the Crown were outweighed by the enormous wealth and power of the nobility. The danger of a combination between the grandees had been proved by the War of Succession, when a mere section of them came near to imposing its will on the country. The reduction and humiliation of the whole Order was undertaken and made easy by its continual feuds. The grandees had wrested from Henry IV almost the whole of the royal patrimony, adding Crown lands to their own, trespassing upon common lands, and extorting huge pensions guaranteed upon the revenue. It was urgently necessary to set free the royal revenues; and in accomplishing this the Crown was sure of the support of the people, which groaned under the burden of taxation made necessary by the loss of these resources. As soon as Ferdinand and Isabel felt their position assured, they revoked the whole of the grants made by their predecessor (Cortes of Toledo, 1480). All titles were subjected to review, and only property held on ancient tenure, or as a reward for .public service, was left to the nobles.

The power of the grandees was still excessive. One of its chief sources was the wealth of the Crusading Orders, at once military and religious, which had long neglected the vows of poverty and obedience, imposed at the time of their foundation in the latter half of the twelfth century. The purpose of that foundation itself, the work of reconquest, was wellnigh forgotten. The Grand Masterships conferred on their holders the independent command of an army, and the disposal of many rich commanderies; nor had they been wrongly called the chains and fetters of the Kings of Spain. Instead of crushing them, as the Templars had been crushed, Isabel took over their power. In 1476 she brought forward her husband for the Grand Mastership of Santiago. On this occasion she allowed the election to go against him; but afterwards, as vacancies occurred, he became successively Grand Master of Santiago, Alcantara and Calatrava. The Pope granted investiture on each occasion, with reversion to Isabel. Adrian VI (1523), and Clement VII (1530),