Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/394

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


forbade alteration of its amount, but a new assessment was made in 1512. To these sources of revenue has to be added extraordinary supply,—the one direct impost. In Castile this amounted to 50 millions of maravedis yearly. Under Charles, an additional supply was demanded. The total supply received by the Crown of Aragon amounted to less than one-fifth of that received by the Crown of Castile, and the whole sum was less than a quarter of that produced by the alcabala. Customs-dues, the sale of indulgences under a constantly renewed Bull of Crusade, the revenues of the Grand Masterships, the tax of two-ninths on ecclesiastical tithes, and the King's fifth of the gold of the Indies, brought up the revenue at the beginning of Charles' reign to about 600 millions maravedis. Almost the whole of this was farmed by Jews and Genoese, and above all by the Fuggers. When it proved insufficient, fines were levied for a renewal of the assessment of the alcabala, and loans were raised at high rates of interest. The law forbidding alienation of the royal patrimony was constantly infringed. Charles sold royal and municipal offices, letters of naturalisation and legitimacy, and patents of nobility. Though the sum produced by the taxes increased thirtyfold within sixty years, the burdens on the people were not augmented in like proportion. Much alienated revenue was recovered; the value of gold sank to less than a third; industry and commerce had vastly increased. The exemption of the nobles and of certain districts and towns from direct taxation was, financially, not very important.

A source of much injustice was the lack of a recognised code of laws. Since the promulgation (1348) of the Partidas and Ordenamiento de Alcala as supplementary to municipal law, a great number of statutes had been enacted, while others had fallen into disuse without being repealed. Isabel sought to remedy the confusion by ordering the scattered decrees to be collected and printed in the Ordenamiento de Montalvo (1485). But neither this nor a further collection (1503) proved satisfactory. Montalvo's book left many important matters doubtful, and the laws it cbntained were not faithfully transcribed. Isabel's will (1504) provided for the continuation of the work of unification. The result was the Laws of Toro (1505), a further attempt to reconcile conflicting legislation. The Cortes of 1523 still complained of the evil; nor was it remedied until the publication of the Nueva Recopilacion (1567).

Under firm government the country recovered rapidly from its exhaustion, and reconquest was again taken in hand. For ten years (1481-91) it was carried on untiringly by the heroic resolution of Isabel and the stubborn valour of Ferdinand. In spite of disasters, like that of the Axarquia (1483), and obstinate resistance, like that of Baza (1489), and notwithstanding the enormous difficulties of transport, the slender resources of the Crown and the unserviceable nature of their feudal army, the kingdom of Granada fell piecemeal into the hands of