Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/391

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land forces. Together with the Catalans they were afterwards employed in stopping communications between the Moriscos and their African brethren. The connexion with Italy, Flanders and Africa, increased the importance of the service, and the convoys required by the trade of the Indies rapidly developed a formidable fleet.

The vast powers centred in the Crown were exercised through the royal Council. Originally a deliberative assembly of members of the royal family, prelates, and nobles, it was entirely reformed by Ferdinand and Isabel (1480). Its former members were not excluded, but their votes were taken from them, and their places supplied by lawyers nominated by the Crown. The president, generally a bishop, was the second person in the kingdom. The new Council was organised into departments, the chief of which were the Council of State, controlling the public forces and foreign affairs, and the Council of .Castile, the supreme Court of justice, and the centre of the executive. The royal authority was no longer shared by grandees and prelates of noble rank; a professional class, midway between nobles and people, and entirely dependent on the Crown, had sprung up. The lawyers of the Council formed the real legislature; their education had steeped them in Roman law, and their efforts were directed to the unification and centralisation of authority. As the powers of the Council rose, those of the Cortes dwindled.

Over the clergy too the royal authority was extended, and the civil and the ecclesiastical power were united to such a degree, that the separation of Church and State even now remains inconceivable to Spaniards. The morals and discipline of the clergy had become much relaxed. Preferment in Spain was obtained by intrigues at Home; and those who obtained it often neglected to visit their sees or benefices. Public opinion supported the Crown in its desire for reform. In 1476 the Cortes protested against the abuses of the ecclesiastical Courts, which usurped jurisdiction in civil matters and enforced their sentences by religious penalties. The enormous and ever-increasing estates held by the Church in mortmain had now come to be looked upon with jealousy and anxiety. The revenues of the great sees were immense; the Archbishops of Toledo and Santiago nominated the governors of their provinces. Little by little they were shorn of part of their wealth, and of the whole of their civil jurisdiction and military power. The annexation of the Grand Masterships of the Military Orders by the Crown weakened the Church as well as the nobles. At the same time the sees were filled by men of learning and piety, and ceased to be an appanage of the nobility. At Toledo the turbulent Archbishop Carillo was succeeded by the soldier and statesman Mendoza, known from his influence as "the Third King" (1483). The next Archbishop, the Franciscan Ximenes de Cisneros, though still a statesman and a warrior, was a crusader instead of a leader of faction, a prelate of saintly life, and a lover of learning, as is proved by his foundation (in 1508) of the University of Alcald (