« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Mata, there were in Spain "two hundred thousand foreigners, eating our bread and calmly gaping at the manner in which the Spaniards are driven to the war." The bakers, shoemakers, carpenters, glaziers, and masons were all Italians, Germans, or French†; and even articles for whose manufacture Spain had once upon a time been world-renowned, such as silks, stuffs, and every kind of clothing, as well as embroidery, fans, and laces, were imported from England and elsewhere. "There only survives a propter formam of the shops, without apprentices or oficiales; and there are cities where. not a soul is left that knows how to make a pair of scissors, a knife, or anything else."
It was not until the accession of another dynasty that the economical causes of this distressful state of things were properly appreciated and the equilibrium of exchange in any degree restored. Previously a few ineffectual attempts had been made to bring about a reform, as by the edict of Philip the Second, promulgated in 1552, and forbidding the importation of foreign manufactures; but every measure of the kind was speedily forgotten or disobeyed; while the succeeding sovereigns of the House of Austria committed the huge blunder of prohibiting the exportation of merchandise, not only from Spain to foreign parts, but even intraterritorially, from one province to another. It was reserved, as I say, for the Bourbons to seri
*Lamentos apologéticos de abusos dañosos.
Picatoste. Estudios sobre la Grandeza y Decadencia de España. ‡ Memorial en razón de la despoblación y pobreza de España, y su remedio.
ously confront and remedy these errors, protecting the arts and manufactures of the Peninsula while at the same time extending a hearty welcome to such of the foreign craftsmasters as were noted for their skill, and were willing, for a suitable remuneration, to impart their knowledge to the Spaniards.*
But so long as the seventeenth century dragged its slow length along, no Spaniard sought to earn his bread by the honest sweat of his brow. The University of Toledo reported to Philip the Third that two-thirds of the entire people had no occupation; and according to Damián Olivares, in Toledo, La Mancha, and Segovia alone were 120,000 weavers out of work. "The ruin," wrote Pellicer, "of the monarchy proceeds from the ruin of the labouring classes." Even printing was surrendered to the foreigner, and the majority of works in the Castilian language were produced at Lyons.† At the beginning of the reign of Philip the Third there remained only eight or ten presses in Madrid, and three or four in Seville.
The title of a curious work then published was as follows:-"The six Spanish adventurers, and how one is
* In 1726 Philip the Fifth forbade the importation of foreign manufactures; a prohibition which was reiterated in 1778, 1779, and 1783. In 1778 Spaniards were allowed a nominal free trade with the Indies; and in 1785 was prepared a detailed Customs tariff for foreign imports. One may add to these such sapient measures as the limitation of passports for the New World, the Vagrancy Laws of November 18th, 1777; February 24th, 1778; August 2nd, 1782; and January 24th, 1783; the reduction of the national fiestas; and the royal cédulas (January 12th, 1779, and September 2nd, 1784), derogating the exclusive statutes of the gremios.
† Martínez de la Mata. Lamentos apologéticos de abusos dañosos.
gone to the Indies, a second to Italy, a third to Flanders, how the fourth is in prison, the fifth head over ears in a lawsuit, and the sixth is turning monk. And how there be no Spaniards other than the aforesaid six." A seventh Spaniard-the Government officialmight relevantly have been added to the preceding. Méndez de Silva estimated the State employés at 70,000, or one to every 129 inhabitants. Osorio placed their number as high as 100,000, whose salaries, at an average of 300 ducats per annum, would cost the impoverished exchequer 30,000,000 ducats. Needless to say, the State was wholly unable to bear so extravagant a charge; for although the revenue had at one period risen from 131,000,000 of reales, in 1577, to 226,000,000 (equivalent to 678,000,000 of the present day) at the close of the same century, all through the seventeenth century it continued to lessen with deplorable swiftness, and had dropped, by the reign of Charles the Second, to barely thirty millions. I have already shown that enormous sums were poured out of the country in payment of articles of foreign manufacture. Concomitant causes of Spain's insolvency were the depreciation of the currency, which lost in a single century about four-fifths of its value; the ruinous. rates of exchange; and the cost of incessant warfare, which averaged, between 1649 and 1654, as much as 13,000,000 ducats yearly.* The constant lessening in the value of the currency is graphically ex
* I have extracted various of these data from an article by Gil Sanz in the ninth volume of the Revista de España: La Situacion económica de España durante la Dominación Austriaca.
emplified by a retrospective sketch of the tasa on cereals that is to say, the noxious measure first imposed by Alfonso el Sabio, and revived, as we have seen, by Ferdinand and Isabella, establishing the price at which the merchants were compelled to sell their grain. The tasa on wheat was nine reales and four maravedis in 1558; in 1571, eleven reales; in 1582, fourteen reales; in 1631, eighteen reales; and in 1699, twenty-eight reales. Similarly, in 1502 the tasa on barley was one real and twenty-six maravedis; in 1558, four reales and four maravedís; in 1566, five reales and seventeen maravedis ; in 1582, six reales; in 1598, seven reales; in 1631, nine reales; and in 1699, thirteen reales. The tasa on oats was two reales and two maravedis in 1502; in 1558, five reales and thirty maravedis; in 1582, eight reales; and in 1699, seventeen reales.*
Notwithstanding the apathy with which it was the custom to regard financial problems, a few critics were bold enough to indicate a remedy for the national evils. The disastrous measure to which I have just alluded-the tasa-was denounced by Lope Deza, Pedro Fernández de Navarrete, and Azpilcueta Navarro; and among others who discussed the economic crises in more general terms were Martínez de la Mata, Alvarez Osorio, Cristóbal Pérez de Herrera, Jerónimo Navarro, Juan de Medina, Gregorio Bolívar, Luis de Castilla, Francisco Alcázar de Huete, Domingo de Soto, and Juan Bautista Pancorvo. But the
* Respuesta Fiscal sobre abolir la tasa y establecer el comercio de Granos. Madrid, September 10th, 1764.
times were not propitious to sober ratiocination, and, for exclaiming against Olivares, Quevedo was imprisoned at San Marcos de León for nearly four years, two of them endured in heavy chains and in a dungeon. To be sure, Philip the Third was pleasant-spoken and accessible to all men, but a veritable Micawber in his incapacity to grasp the nature of a fact; Philip the Fourth was powerless to concentrate his attention for a couple of minutes together on any single topic; his son was an imbecile.
Reverting to the decrease in the population and the exodus of Spaniards to foreign countries, it appears that forty thousand migrated yearly to Rome, besides the adventurers who swarmed about the New World. In 1482 the total population was not far short of ten millions. The expulsion of the Jews reduced this figure by about a quarter of a million; and the rigors of the Inquisition caused another and more general exodus to America, while according to Dávila the revolt at Granada in the reign of Philip the Second lost to the realm a hundred and fifty thousand Moriscoes, followed by another couple of hundred thousand expelled by Philip the Third. Between one diminution and another, the population had fallen a million by 1594; from then onwards the decline was still more rapid, so that in 1626 Moncada computed the census at less than six millions, and Cardinal Zapata at three millions. The larger figure is more credible; but it is certain that Spain lost quite four millions of her inhabitants in less than a couple of centuries. A similar estimate may be arrived at by observing the decrease in the