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Patronages et clientélismes 1550-1750 (France, Angleterre, Espagne, Italie)

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Roger Mettam
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison

II. Villes et provinces

Some Considerations on State Formation and Patronage in Early Modern Spain

James Casey

Texte intégral

  • 1 See, for example, John H. ELLIOTT, The Revolt of the Catalans, Cambridge, Cambridge University Pre (...)

1The theme of political patronage is one close to the heart of Spanish historians. It appears to offer a key to political development in nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Spain when caciquismo ("bossism") seemed the only alternative to military rule in holding together the congeries of disparate, centrifugal communities which coexisted in the peninsula. In the early modem period, too, it bulks large in the analysis of historians, as part of the contract by which the subject rendered "service" to his superior in return for favour or merced1.

  • 2 Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE, L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution, 1856, new éd., Paris, Gallimard, 1967, li (...)
  • 3 APG, Escribanía de Juan Augustín de Navas, 1685-1686, f° 131-137 v°.

2Patronage, it could be argued, represents one means of achieving a precarious stability where the claims of the State overreach the degree of integration-economic, social, cultural-of the society itself. Though not directly concerned with the System as such (the concept of "patronage" is perhaps an invention of modem historians), Tocqueville gives a penetrating insight into its context in his famous study of the Old Regime in France. Through private petition and administrative order, he tells us, the rule of law was set aside time after time by a government which had concentrated a surprising degree of authority in its hands2. A patronage System depends to some extent on an overlap between private interest and public business, which is generally held to be unethical in a truly integrated, professionally administered State. Though we shall not say too much here about economics, one of the characteristics of a patronage society is surely the inability (through lack of ready cash, not least) to satisfy promptly one's obligations for services rendered. Instead a nebulous "friendship" tends to form between the parties, in which the service acquires the overtones of a "gift", with the donor and recipient becoming locked in a life-long commitment to one another. When the Granadan lawyer Juan de Molina made his will in 1685 he asked judge Alva of the local high court, who "in all my straits and difficulties has helped me most generously" and who "would have the account of what I owe him", to continue his benevolence to the family after his death, "which is what I would expect of such a magnanimous gentlemen, given the tokens of love and friendship he has shown me"3. This kind of lopsided friendship, originating in domestic circumstances, could bring troublesome commitments in the public sphere.

  • 4 M. BALLESTEROS-GAIBROIS, ed., Padre Juan de Mariana, pensalor y político, Madrid, Ediciones Fe, 19 (...)
  • 5 B. GONZALEZ ALONSO, Sobre el Estado y la Administration de la Corona de Castilla en el Antiguo Rég (...)

3In the political domain the concept of office as function was not yet clearly distinguished from its role as reward for past service. Reward is, no doubt, the wrong word to use. Like "patronage", it is a twentieth-century way of explaining a more subtle relationship. Seventeenth-century men spoke more naturally of public office as an honour accorded to them in recognition of the outstanding virtue, wealth or leadership possessed by them or their family as a whole. In an age in which political structures themselves were still so fragile this made a good deal of sense. It was more important to associate the powerfol with the state than to investigate their competence to rule. Not that professionalism was unknown-the outstanding Spanish political theorist, the Jesuit Juan de Mariana, affirmed already in 1598 that it was to be preferred to the claims of virtue or birth in most official appointments4 In practice, though, it was difficult in the small-scale communities of early modem Europe to distinguish clearly between the authority of office and the respect commanded by the family of the man exercising that office. As the legist Jeronimo Castillo de Bobadilla put it in 1597: "even subjects feel that it is a cause for concern when men whom they reckon not to be of good lineage accede to honour and government office, because they consider that their inferior descent makes them unfit to govern"5. He went on to explain that government required the tact and discretion which came with noble birth as much as the administrative competence which came with book-learning. His discussion reminds us of how different the function of State office really was then from what it is nowadays, and helps us understand the greater openings for patronage in recruiting to it.

  • 6 José ORTEGA y GASSET, España Invertebrada, 1922, new ed., Madrid, Austral, 1964.

4State formation in early modem Spain presents certain variations on a common European theme. In his celebrated essay Invertebrate Spain (1922), the great essayist José Ortega y Gasset once set about explaining certain paradoxes associated with it. Spain had been one of the first countries to fashion a modem State, with a university-trained bureaucracy in Madrid administering a relatively uniform System of law, and generating in the process possibly the most copious State archives in existence for the sixteenth century. Unlike France where feudal armies and baronial insurrections were common down to the mid-seventeenth century, the mobile, frontier society of Spain had generated alternative military structures, based on noble confraternities (the Military Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Alcántara, and others) and on urban militias. These proved easier to assimilate into a centralized State in the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, suggests Ortega, the absence of feudalism deprived Spain of a real social and cultural hierarchy, and hence of a genuine national elite of the English or French kind. As he put it, in modem Spain there was no authentic aristocratic culture, only local, popular cultures, and, with the decline of the crusading zeal which had once kept the country together, it tended to fall apart into its constituent local communities6.

  • 7 John H. ELLIOTT, Spain and its World 1500-1700, New Haven-London, Yale University Press, 1989, par (...)
  • 8 Bernardo CATALÁ de VALERIOLA, Autobiografía y Justas Poéticas, éd S. CARRERES ZACARES, with introd (...)

5Ortega's analysis is challenging if controversial. Though he did not refer directly to it, political patronage (caciquismo) or military rule were the twin scourges inflicted by the fact that State formation had run ahead of social integration. In the early modem period, certainly, the bases of State authority seemed often incomplete. The concept of sovereignty, in particular, hardly emerged to match the claims of a Bodin in France or a Thomas Hobbes in England. Instead, the revered Juan de Mariana went on proclaiming-albeit in a rather extreme form-traditional views of the rule of law, of the subordination of the prince to the law, and of the duty of subjects to depose a tyrannical ruler. Spanish kings were not anointed or crowned in the early modem period; instead, they gained their legitimacy by swearing to uphold the laws of the different kingdoms, sometimes (as in the Crown of Aragon) in solemn sessions in the cathedrals, kneeling and with their hands on a crucifix or the gospels. The general sobriety of the Spanish court has also to be borne in mind7. Though the Valencian diarist Bernardo Catalâ de Valeriola admired the grandeur of the Escorial on his visit there in 1584, when it was barely completed, it was as "a monastery of Hieronymite friars" that he described it. Though on later visits to court he recorded the splendour of the royal picture gallery, there was, in fact, no real monopoly of arts and letters in Madrid of the kind which London and Paris were able to establish for their respective countries in the seventeenth century. Rather, cultural patronage was decentralized, as Ortega suggested, among hospitals, churches and confraternities from Seville to Barcelona. For the cultivated Bernardo Catalá the court gave the opportunity of employment, but hardly much else8.

  • 9 Richard L. KAGAN, Lawsuits and Litigants in Castile 1500-1700, Chapel Hill, University of North Ca (...)
  • 10 Diálogos familiares de la agricultura cristiana, ed. P. Juan Meseguer Fernandez, 5 vol., Madrid, Bi (...)
  • 11 Julian A PITT-RIVERS, The People of the Sierra, 1954, 2nd ed. Chicago-London, University of Chicag (...)
  • 12 James CASEY, The Kingdom of Valencia in the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University P (...)

6Pressures for change were, indeed, growing around 1600, as the infant Spanish State struggled to impose greater authority over its periphery. The pressures were of at least two kinds: the enforcement of peaceful adjudication through the courts to replace the taking of the law into one's own hands, and the creation of a bigger, more professional militia and army. Both developments raised critical problems about the function of patronage, and we shall study them in turn. The growth of law courts is one of the great, if silent, testimonies to the expansion of State authority in sixteenth-century Spain9. With pardonable exaggeration the Franciscan moralist, Juan de Pineda, could write in 1589: I will go so far as to say that our kingdom has never known such justice as at the present day; for the lackey can demand his month's pay of eight reales from the count, his master, and a judge will have them paid. Nor need the lackey fear the consequences, whereas a hundred years ago it would not have been worth his while to go on living on the face of the earth"10. The transition was, perhaps, less complete than Pineda suggested. Anthropologists remind us of how difficult it is to apply national law in small-scale communities even today. Law has basically to deal with acts, whether a murder or the signing away of a piece of property to another; small-scale communities deal more in terms of the parties to the act, of their previous relationships and prior standing, which may greatly modify perceptions of guilt or liability11. The testament of lawyer Molina cited earlier suggests the ambiguity of the notion of debt in traditional societies. What may happen in such cases, if matters come to court, is a refusal to accept the adjudication, the vindication of one's honour through an act of violence, and then the "heading for the hills" (echarse al monte) to live as a bandit. Banditry became a grave scourge in Mediterranean Spain around 1600 as the courts of law strengthened their grip on local communities12.

7The System, to work at all, required the "tact and discretion" which judge Castillo de Bobadilla advocated in 1597, and by which he implied a good personal understanding between governors and governed. It was a feature of civil litigation in Castile before the later seventeenth century that reliable documentary evidence was extremely hard to come by. Documents abounded but were often suspect, either because of the risk of forgery in an age where communications were so imperfect and copies so costly to make, or because the signatories were judicial minors. In regard to the latter point, it has to be borne in mind that women owned enormous quantities of capital and land in Spain, and their signatures were required (by their fathers or husbands) in order to mortgage or sell any part; but women had the privilege of going back on their agreements, alleging the use of force to get them to sign. In a situation where so much property was anyway tied down by tacit family agreement or by patronage arrangements, recourse to witnesses, who could situate documents in their human context, was the decisive factor in litigation. Being able to muster enough friends was vital to economic survival in this kind of situation, and opened up all sorts of opportunity for patronage.

  • 13 AHN, Osuna, legajo 9/11,5 January 1644.
  • 14 Agustín G de AMEZÚA, ed., Lope de Vega en sus Carias, Madrid, 1935, vol. IV, p. 196.

8The judges themselves were often entangled with local élites on whom they depended for promotion. The viceroy of Valencia in 1644 promised to recommend the former advocate of one of the leading aristocrats, the duke of Gandía (to whom he was related by a recent marriage), for appointment to the civil bench; "and in whatever else Your Excellency commands, I shall attend with the same promptness and good-will"13. There were particular problems in the little kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon because the judges had to be native sons, which created very exclusive patronage ties. But even in the bigger, more cosmopolitan world of Castile and the Indies the situation was not so very different. The famous Don Juan Chumacero y Carrillo, President of the Council of Castile after 1643, had started his career as a judge in Granada. Though from Extremadura, his mother's family were Cordobans, which seems to have brought him into contact with one of the great houses there, the dukes of Sessa. The sixth duke of Sessa, patron of the famous playwright Lope de Vega, was in correspondence with him around 1618 about one of his lawsuits. Thanking him for his help, he added: "though it is true that friendship is not lawful where justice is not also on one’s side, often justice depends on the judge taking the trouble to search it out"14. It is interesting to note, by way of aside, that too little private correspondence has yet come to light for early modem Spain; that of Sessa is somewhat unique in being preserved, since most of it was penned by the dramatist Lope de Vega. Yet without private letters the historian of patronage is somewhat handicapped in his illustration of a dark corner of human relations.

  • 15 Ibid., p. 313.
  • 16 Ginés PÉREZ de HITA, Guerras Civiles de Granada, 1595 and 1619, new abr. ed., Madrid, Austral, 197 (...)

9The Sessa correspondence illustrates some of the ambiguity which Spaniards of the time felt about pulling strings in order to influence the outcome of court cases. Writing to the governor of Milan on behalf of a convict, Don Jerónimo de Fuentes, the duke admitted that the governor would have to proceed "according to law, given the position you hold"; but he could reduce the sentence to the minimum, especially since Fuentes' family were such honourable people and the sentence would hurt them as much as the culprit15. A collective responsibility for actions was, indeed, a feature of the age. It appears vividly in one incident in the rebellion of the Alpujarra (1568-1570), when the militia company of Lorca broke ranks and massacred the Moorish rebels. Determined to reimpose order, the commander, the marquis of Los Vélez, ordered the execution of the ringleader, a man named Palomares. But the men of Lorca pleaded for clemency: "if Palomares does not deserve it, his parents and ancestors deserve this favour from Your Excellency, for the service they have given to your house: and if these too are accounted unworthy, let the prayers of Don Juan Pacheco suffice; and if his intercession is not enough, let the community of Lorca be deemed worthy" (for all its services to Los Vélez in the past)16. Here the question of guilt or innocence is subordinated to considerations of magnanimity. It is interesting to relate this way of thinking to the religious mentality of the time. Luther's campaign against Indulgences in 1517 had underscored one great difference between Protestant and Catholic Europe: the concept of individual responsibility. In Protestant Europe the individual was to from himself increasingly cut adrift from the community, accounting for his actions with God in the secrecy of his own conscience; in Catholic countries, and not least in Spain, the System of Indulgences remained to remind the fallen multitude that salvation, unattainable by their own merits, was within reach through the intercession of the saintly few (as mediated by the ecclesiastical hierarchy).

  • 17 Op. cit., p. 74.

10Nor is it just a question of attitudes to guilt. Religious imagery also influenced quite powerfully the concept of the commonwealth, and of a man's place within it. Bernardo Catalá de Valeriola was an inveterate place-hunter in the Spain of Philip II and Philip III. But after one talk with the new royal favourite, the duke of Lerma, in 1599, and with his "great friend", the secretary of the Council of State, Don Martin de Idiáquez, Catalá confided to his diary: "May Our Lord guide this business as may be best for his holy service; and if I am not accounted worthy, may He do it for the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, and for Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Bernard and Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Catherine the Martyr, my advocates"17.

  • 18 ACG, 301/103/41. pleito de Luis Ruiz de Arriola, 1611.

11The individual in early modem Spain found himself enmeshed in a network of family and neighbourhood ties, which meant that he would be judged in relation to these as well as to his own merits. Indeed, he might only get the chance to demonstrate ability in proportion to the trust people reposed in his family. Luis de Arriola, one of two notariés in the little town of Colomera in the province of Granada, was always entrusted with Inquisition business there in the later sixteenth century: "and though there was some murmuring about this, given that there was another notary... the reason given was that Arriola was a noble Basque"18 To come from the Basque Country was a good guarantee that one had no Moorish or Jewish blood, an important consideration in a frontier society like Granada, where there was a unique admixture of cultures. That a notary should be noble (or reputed so, for documentation was often lacking in these cases) was not surprising in a country where one in ten of the population had some claim to gentility. Petty nobility – hidalguía - can only really be understood in relation to the extraordinary importance of a lineage name in early modem Spain. To be a noble carried few privileges, fiscal or other, in any part of Castile-indeed, it carried virtually none in Granada. But it was an important guarantee of "reliability" (something akin to what the nineteenth-century gentleman was meant to represent), and this quality was much prized in the very diverse, very mobile society of sixteenth-century Spain. Hence the tremendous proliferation of genealogies, the plastering of coats-of-arms everywhere (above the door, above the tomb, above the bed, on the crockery...), and the passion for lawsuits to establish noble descent (which turned essentially on oral testimony, and provide fascinating insights into the rambling nature of Castilian clans, stretching from the Basque Country down across the peninsula to Granada).

  • 19 Ibid.
  • 20 Josefina MATEU IBARS, Los Virreyes de Valencia, Valencia, 1963, pp. 186-269.
  • 21 ACA, Council of Aragon, legajo 721, viceroy to king, 2 January 1642.

12This attachment to lineage facilitated enormously the task of governing distant provinces by emissaries from the centre. Commenting on the notary Arriola, judge Vidana of Granada is alleged to have said: "he is a good a man as I, and from my own part of Spain; the family is very hidalgo19. Such lineage recognition provided a good basis for patronage, disguising itself as friendship. The backbone of the bureaucracy of early modem Spain was the university-trained lawyer class, drawn itself from the petty nobility (like judge Vidana). But the autonomous kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon provided some scope for the great nobility, of the kind familiar to us from the role of the gouverneurs in provincial France. There is, however, an earlier loss of influence by local potentates in eastern Spain. From the middle of the sixteenth century in Valencia, and perhaps somewhat later in Aragon (where the issue exploded in the revoit of 1591-1592), the viceroys who governed in the king's name were ceasing to be great local nobles or persons of royal blood, residing for an indefinite number of years or decades in their jurisdiction. Instead, though still great Castilian nobles, they were outsiders, limited to one or, at most, two triennia. Nevertheless, though the viceroy was increasingly a career bureaucrat, he was not only that. There are intriguing family ties linking many of the seventeenth-century viceroys of Valencia, for example, to each other and to the nobles of the kingdom. The fourth and fifth marquises of Los Vélez, who succeeded each other between 1628 and 1635, were closely tied by marriage to the counts of Benavente who had held the office between 1566 and 1602, while a Benavente descendant in the female line, the seventh count of Oropesa, was viceroy between 1645 and 1650. Two of the intervening viceroys, meanwhile, Don Fernando de Borja (1635-1640) and the duke of Arcos (1642-1645), were, respectively, cousin and in-law of the leading Valencian house of the dukes of Gandía20. The choice of such men seems often to have been deliberate. Their local connections were expected to facilitate the passage of the king's business through the Estates, and also to compensate for the sacrifice of leaving home. Certainly, a viceroy who was a complete outsider and who could not or would not get involved in personal dealings, was heading for financial and emotional disaster. One of the shortest tenures-a few months in 1641 - was that of one such man, the duke of Medinaceli. Justifying his precipitate resignation and decision to return to his native Andalusia, the duke wrote a long letter to the king explaining that the official salary of 6,000 ducats a year was just not enough to meet outgoings of around 16,000 - unless he were to sell contraband licences for the export of supplies needed by the army, or to sell pardons in a province plagued by banditry, or to negotiate recommendations to city office. These reprehensible steps he was not prepared to take (hinting darkly that his predecessors had been)21.

  • 22 But see I.A.A THOMPSON, War and Government in Habsburg Spain 1560-1620, London, The Athlone Press, (...)

13The government of seventeenth-century Spain still depended, in great part, on a devolution of power on to local élites. This was evident not only in the administrative and judicial spheres but also in the fiscal and military, to which we must now turn. The Second Revoit of the Alpujarra (1568-1570), to which we have already alluded briefly, was perhaps the last great occasion on which the medieval host of seigneurial and urban levies was extensively employed. Even then, the feudal armies of the local potentates-Los Vélez, Sessa, Mondéjar-had to be supplemented with trained regulars (the famous tercios) from Italy; and the Italian contingents were imported again in 1609 to hold strategic points of the kingdom of Valencia while the Moorish peasants were rounded up from the seigneurial estates and shipped off to Africa. Though it is true that the seigneurs and town councils continued to be very important in the seventeenth century in raising troops for the king's service, these now seem to have been more integrated into a standard framework of command under officers appointed by the crown22.The regular troops were mostly abroad anyway, fighting in Italy or Flanders (at least before 1640, when the Pyrenean frontier began to assume a strategic significance, as did the Portuguese, though of a secondary kind). But it is the organization of more streamlined militias - milicias efectivas, in the telling description-which is one of the significant, if still largely unwritten, chapters in the domestic history of the peninsula. When the Valencian peasants rose in revoit against their masters in 1693 it was this militia, and not seigneurial armies, which suppressed them. The contrast with the last great wave of popular revolts in Valencia, those of the artisans and the Moors in the 1520s, which were confronted by the great lords, would make an instructive study.

  • 23 John H. ELLIOTT and A. GARCÍA SANZ, ed., La España del Conde Duque de Olivares, Valladolid, Public (...)

14As well as this internal realignment, seventeenth-century Spain experienced a new relationship between centre and periphery in terms of the coordination of national defence. Though chiefly associated with the "Union of Arms" proposed to the kingdoms of Aragon by Olivares in 1626, this fiscal and military integration was visible already from the 1590s. After the defeat of the Armada and as part of a draconian new fiscalism designed to stave off bankruptcy, Philip II approached the Mediterranean kingdoms as well as Castile for extraordinary subsidies as part of a joint, national defence policy. The issue was at once one of quantity (how much money would be needed?) and of principle (did each of the provinces have any military obligation beyond its own frontiers?). There was some fear that a bigger royal army would be used simply to suppress local privileges. But the success or failure of the policy illustrated more than anything, perhaps, the strength of ties of patronage between centre and periphery. This is not to deny that wider issues were at stake, but it was perhaps difficult for them to be articulated openly in the debates of the Estates or Cortes. The official résumés of these debates give little indication of the cut-and-thrust of the arguments, and there are few enough political diaries to fill the lacuna. The political culture of the society made open disagreements hard to sustain for a variety of reasons. There was, in the first place, the survival of medieval notions that wisdom came not from the opinion of a majority but from the inscrutable providence of God - the sanior as contrasted with the maior pars, about which the great political theorist Mariana had some interesting things to say. Then, too, there was the respect for superiors, transferred from the ecclesiastical into the political sphere-a fear that protest could degenerate into sinful hubris (illustrated, for example, by the "apology" of Don Miguel de Cervellón for his conduct in the Valencian Cortes of 1626)23.

  • 24 F. FERNÁNDEZ de BETHENCOURT, Historia Geneáogica y Heráldica de la Monarquía Española, Madrid, 190 (...)

15The government of the country was conceived of as resting largely on the shoulders of great men (or great corporations), on "persons of obligation" who had received "honours" from the crown as a signal of the loyalty of their family or group. Such men, it was reckoned, would be keen to live up to an honourable tradition, especially since the honours had been converted into the great landed wealth (entails or mayorazgos) out of which they were expected to serve the crown. In fact, the financial weakness of the great houses of Spain in the early modem period has been demonstrated by historians-and the résignation of the duke of Medinaceli from his Valencian viceroyalty in 1641, which we have just seen, was one indication of the problem. The fifth duke of Gandía (1530-1592), crippled by the cost of lawsuits over his entails, wrote, in his instructions for his grandson: "let him take care to respect and obey His Catholic Majesty... but let him not ever put himself forward or negotiate to serve the king, only serving and obeying when he is told to do so... for I have served when I was ordered to do so, to the loss of my health and of my estate"24 In fact, down to the tenth duke, at the end of the seventeenth-century, the family seems to have been mostly content to stay at home on its estates in Valencia in conformity with this advice.

  • 25 Op. cit., vol. IV, p. 77.

16The pattern of early marriages, enormous debts and numerous children rather hampered the mobility of the grandees. It was their younger sons who constituted, instead, an important part of the service class of the Monarchy. Since families were so large-the dukes of Gandia had regularly ten children apiece in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries-provision for younger sons in the army or the bureaucracy was a vital part of family strategy. As the Franciscan moralist Juan de Pineda put it in 1589: since the heads of aristocratic houses neglected a career, their younger brothers through education "win for themselves honours and estates, and become the protectors of the ignorant head of the house, whose life they run..."25. This may have been true of Cardinal Gaspar de Borja (1580-1645), third son of the sixth duke of Gandia, who rose to political prominence under Olivares and left his vast estate to his Gandia cousins at his death.

  • 26 Historia de la Casa de Herrasti, Granada, 1750, p. 46.
  • 27 See my article "Parentela i commimitat en la València Forai (segles XVI i XVII)", Afers, 1991, vol (...)

17The great question, though, was how younger sons were to be started on the ladder of promotion. The number of places in the bureaucracy suitable for a noble (judgeships, ministerial office) was always extremely limited. Nor was the army an easy alternative. In his family chronicle of 1750 the Granadan nobleman Juan Francisco Pérez de Herrasti commented wistfully on the wealth acquired by an ancestor who had served Emperor Charles V as a soldier in Flanders and North Africa, returning home with a train of mules laden with gold and silver: "a happy time, that, in which soldiers could prosper and excel"26. But since then the intermittent service of the Herrasti s had been more demanding than rewarding, as the army became more professionalized. A gentleman, to get started, needed one of the limited places - ventaja, entretenimiento - attached to the company or regimental commander, and this required some influence at court. Don Felipe de Castelví, younger son of the first count of Carlet, asked for one after the death of his father in 1617, pleading that his elder brother could no longer support him. Though he eventually rose to be captain of a company in his own right, he then fought a lawsuit with his brother in 1623 for payment of the small annuity left him by his father27. This seems to have been a frequent enough source of dispute between brothers in early modem Spain: the refusal by the head of the house to go on paying alimony once a younger sibling had achieved some official post, and the indignant plea of the latter that a gentleman could not live off an officer's salary.

  • 28 Gonzalo ARGOTE de MOLINA, Nobleza de Andalucía, 1588, new ed, Jaén, Instituto de Estudios Giennens (...)

18Clearly it was through connections of a personal kind that many of those who served the empire expected to make their career. Speaking of Alonso Nunez de Bohorques, minister of Philip II and founder of a great Granadan dynasty, one chronicler noted that his success had brought fame to his home town of Villamartín, and to Andalusia as a whole, "so much does he promote those who have talent from here"28. "Those who have talent": the limits of patronage were neatly illustrated in this contemporary observation. The success of several generations of Borja in the Spanish church-Tomás (born 1541), archbishop of Zaragoza, Gaspar (1580-1645), archbishop of Toledo, Francisco and Carlos, respectively archbishop of Burgos and patriarch of the Indies in the later seventeenth century-may illustrate a patronage network centred on the College of San Ildefonso of Alcalá at which several were students, or equally a tradition of piety and learning in the household of the dukes of Gandía, whose younger sons they ail were. Certainly the more uncles and cousins one had in the same line of work, as it were, the better chance one stood of being noticed for promotion. But individual merit had its role to play as well, and there was no automatic guarantee that career and court-orientated younger siblings would further the interests of the head of the family back in the provinces.

  • 29 Eugenio de OCHOA, ed., Epistolario Espanol, Madrid, 1856-1870,2 vol., vol. II, pp. 63-65.
  • 30 BNM, Ms. 5742, "Diario del Vice-canciller Crespi".

19When Juan Crespi de Valdaura set out for Flanders in 1627 as one of his fellow Valencian, Don Carlos Coloma's, staff, his elder brother Cristóbal sat down to write him a letter of instructions, all the more vivid for being composed at the last moment. Juan was to guide himself in all things by the principle of honour. As regards Valencia, his "homeland", "I would have you keep it in mind so that you do what you can for it and its inhabitants whenever you can". But the young man was not to be drawn into compromising relationships, not to be beholden to anyone: "try always to be the one who does the favour, not the one who is indebted because of it". At the end of the day he was to be, above all, a professional soldier: "war has now to be your fatherland"29. Cristóbal himself went on to become Vice-canciller of the Council of Aragon and a major force in the government of Mediterranean Spain after 1652. At that time he also began to keep a diary; which is quite revealing about the balance of private and public responsibilities required of a minister. Trained as a lawyer and member of an important Valencian noble clan, Crespi tried to steer a straight course between the daims of family and friends and what he regarded as his overriding obligations to the king, his master30. Perhaps Cristôbal Crespi rather fooled himself about what "professionalism" could achieve in government. When we examine the rambling network of his personal connections-brother Juan eventually rising to become head of the noble confraternity of Montesa in Valencia, another brother, Luis, holding the bishopric of Orihuela in the south of the kingdom, while a third sibling was bishop of Vic in Catalonia-one is inclined to think that they played some part in consolidating his influence.

  • 31 James CASEY, "Bandos y bandidos en la Valencia moderna", in Homenatge al Dr. Sebastià García Martí (...)

20A similar pattern is visible with the Castelvís, who were political bosses in Valencia in the earlier part of Philip IV's reign. At the top was Don Francisco de Castelví, minister of the Council of Aragon (1617-1638), father-in-law of Don Basilio de Castelví, governor of Valencia city and its hinterland, and of Don Jerónimo Valls, governor of Castellón in the northern sector of the little kingdom, and cousin of the count of Carlet and various other local nobles. Don Francisco, as judge and then minister of the crown, had been accused several times of preferring his own family to the public interest. Such accusations were hard to substantiate, though, since the exercise of influence had to be kept secret. When the count of Carlet over reached himself in sheltering bandits he was gaoled, and there was little that his cousins could do, at least openly, to prevent this. Whether they would have regarded him as a "compromising relationship", of the kind against which Cristóbal Crespí had warned his brother, will not be clear until and if the private papers of the Castelvís come to light. Certainly men of the time reckoned that Don Jerónimo Valls kept clear of his father-in-law 1 s entanglements31. On the other hand, both he and Don Basilio played a key role in raising troops for the king's service in the 1630s, standing closer to the minister, their father-in-law, than to their fellow Valencian nobles in the Estates in the process.

  • 32 John H. ELLIOTT, The Count-Duke of Olivares, New Haven-London, Yale University Press, 1986, pp. 13 (...)

21The spread of such family networks from Madrid to Valencia or Granada seems to have considerably facilitated the (admittedly incomplete) co-ordination of national defence in the seventeenth century. Opposition to more taxes or more levies could always be reduced through bribery, of course, awarding pensions or titles to key members of the Estates in the various kingdoms. But one has to remember that the government had very little money to give away in the seventeenth century, and the Olivares ministry (1622-1643), which was the period of greatest pressure on the military front, coincided with a determined retrenchment in the pension list32. There were, of course, other honours which the crown could bestow in order to influence votes. But no such System can function automatically; the challenge for the historian is to explore those human relationships and patterns of culture which made royal service a relevant option in the first place.

  • 33 On Lison's political role, see Jean VILAR, "Formes et tendances de l'opposition sous Olivares" in (...)

22There was no clear division in early modem Spain, of the kind familiar to us from the history of France, between a bureaucracy and a nobility. Nor was the frontier between an ecclesiastical and a secular career very rigid either. What one tends to find, therefore, is that members of a noble family may be scattered at several different echelons of the hierarchy of power. Melchor Fernández de Córdoba (born 1623), judge in the high court of Granada, was a younger son of the first marquis of Valenzuela, one of the leading noblemen of the area. The family of his illegitimate step-sibling, Fernández de Córdoba y Zayas, went on to became notariés in Granada; and a cousin married the heiress to the famous Mateo de Lisón y Biedma (1580-1641), representative of Granada in the Cortes or parliament of Castile and doughty opponent of Olivares in the 1620s33. The marquis of Valenzuela, meanwhile, was one of Olivares' leading supporters. These rambling Spanish clans never functioned as a disciplined cohort; but they surely did help to minimise the risks of open rupture between the centre and the periphery, between the governor and the governed. One is dealing with a society where the memory of lineage was assiduously fostered, weaving delicate threads of piety and respect between local communities and their distinguished sons who had entered the imperial service.

23It is important to stress again that patronage is no magic key which will, by itself, unlock the secrets of seventeenth-century politics. Though Cardinal Gaspar de Borja was a minister of Olivares, that statesman seems to have held the Valencian Borjas rather at arm's length, worried by their unpopularity within the little kingdom (they owed money to many of the leading spokesmen of the Estates). Equally, though the duke of Lerma, favourite of Philip III, was proud of being the grandson of St Francis Borgia, he found himself rather limited in what he could do to bail out his cousin, the duke of Gandía, after the latter lost most of his vassals in the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain (1609). Like Olivares, Lerma had the wider world of the Valencian Estates to consider, many of whose members held credits against Gandía. Here, as in Granada, the exercise of government patronage was constrained by the need to be even-handed as between warring local factions. To favour one side too ostentatiously was to run the risk of creating more opponents than one had before.

  • 34 Jaime CONTRERA, El Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de Galicia, Madrid, Akal, 1982.

24José Ortega y Gasset, as we saw at the beginning of our discussion, suggested that what held the disparate communities of Spain together in the sixteenth century was a common set of religious values, that the country then began to "disintegrate" as it lost this sense of orientation. There is an interesting, if distant, echo of the thesis in Jaime Contreras' account of the functioning of the Inquisition in the province of Galicia - the loss of zeal in the seventeenth century, and the growth of careerism and patronage as an imperfect substitute, as one way in which the Galicians could continue to be involved in the affairs of the Monarchy as a whole34. We are still remarkably little informed about the real nature of political debate in seventeenth-century Spain. Great and challenging developments were still taking place in the country, and it could be argued that (in spite of some appearances to the contrary), it was a more administered, more centralized regime on the eve of the War of Succession (1700-1713) than it had been a century before. The arguments over the nature of the future Spain-the liberty of the subject versus the power of the courts, local privilege versus the needs of national defence - were real enough. That they did not generate a great revolution, of the kind which marked seventeenth-century England or France, suggests that we need to explore them more in their own context, rather than with reference to models imported from northern Europe. As Ortega suggested, the real problem in Spain after 1600 was that political centralization had run ahead of social and economic integration. There was little room for true debate at the national level-at most, grumbling and evasion on the part of local communities where real power lay. That the links between centre and periphery, nevertheless, continued to hold-indeed, to strengthen-suggests that forms of patronage may have provided some kind of backbone for "Invertebrate Spain".

Notes

1 See, for example, John H. ELLIOTT, The Revolt of the Catalans, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1963, p. 41. Also, M.T. PÉREZ PICAZO and G. LEMEUMER, "Formes du pouvoir local dans l'Espagne moderne et contemporaine" in Antoni MACZAK ed., Klientelsysteme in Europa der Frühen Neuzeit, Munich, R. Oldenbourg, 1988, pp. 315-341.

2 Alexis de TOCQUEVILLE, L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution, 1856, new éd., Paris, Gallimard, 1967, livre H, chap. VI, "Des moeurs administratives sous l'ancien régime".

3 APG, Escribanía de Juan Augustín de Navas, 1685-1686, f° 131-137 v°.

4 M. BALLESTEROS-GAIBROIS, ed., Padre Juan de Mariana, pensalor y político, Madrid, Ediciones Fe, 1939, pp. 126-127.

5 B. GONZALEZ ALONSO, Sobre el Estado y la Administration de la Corona de Castilla en el Antiguo Régimen, Madrid, SigloXXI, 1981, p. 96.

6 José ORTEGA y GASSET, España Invertebrada, 1922, new ed., Madrid, Austral, 1964.

7 John H. ELLIOTT, Spain and its World 1500-1700, New Haven-London, Yale University Press, 1989, part. III.

8 Bernardo CATALÁ de VALERIOLA, Autobiografía y Justas Poéticas, éd S. CARRERES ZACARES, with introduction by the Baron de San Petrillo, Valencia, 1929.

9 Richard L. KAGAN, Lawsuits and Litigants in Castile 1500-1700, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1981.

10 Diálogos familiares de la agricultura cristiana, ed. P. Juan Meseguer Fernandez, 5 vol., Madrid, Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles, 1963-1964, vol. V, p. 137.

11 Julian A PITT-RIVERS, The People of the Sierra, 1954, 2nd ed. Chicago-London, University of Chicago Press, 1971, pp. 137-159.

12 James CASEY, The Kingdom of Valencia in the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1979, pp. 206-222.

13 AHN, Osuna, legajo 9/11,5 January 1644.

14 Agustín G de AMEZÚA, ed., Lope de Vega en sus Carias, Madrid, 1935, vol. IV, p. 196.

15 Ibid., p. 313.

16 Ginés PÉREZ de HITA, Guerras Civiles de Granada, 1595 and 1619, new abr. ed., Madrid, Austral, 1975, p. 220.

17 Op. cit., p. 74.

18 ACG, 301/103/41. pleito de Luis Ruiz de Arriola, 1611.

19 Ibid.

20 Josefina MATEU IBARS, Los Virreyes de Valencia, Valencia, 1963, pp. 186-269.

21 ACA, Council of Aragon, legajo 721, viceroy to king, 2 January 1642.

22 But see I.A.A THOMPSON, War and Government in Habsburg Spain 1560-1620, London, The Athlone Press, 1976, for a fuller perspective.

23 John H. ELLIOTT and A. GARCÍA SANZ, ed., La España del Conde Duque de Olivares, Valladolid, Publicaciones de la Universidad, 1990, pp. 616-617.

24 F. FERNÁNDEZ de BETHENCOURT, Historia Geneáogica y Heráldica de la Monarquía Española, Madrid, 1902-1903, vol. IV, p. 131.

25 Op. cit., vol. IV, p. 77.

26 Historia de la Casa de Herrasti, Granada, 1750, p. 46.

27 See my article "Parentela i commimitat en la València Forai (segles XVI i XVII)", Afers, 1991, vol. 11/12, pp. 57-73.

28 Gonzalo ARGOTE de MOLINA, Nobleza de Andalucía, 1588, new ed, Jaén, Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, 1957,p. 415.

29 Eugenio de OCHOA, ed., Epistolario Espanol, Madrid, 1856-1870,2 vol., vol. II, pp. 63-65.

30 BNM, Ms. 5742, "Diario del Vice-canciller Crespi".

31 James CASEY, "Bandos y bandidos en la Valencia moderna", in Homenatge al Dr. Sebastià García Martínez, Valencia, Conselleria de Cultura de la Generalitat, 1988, 3 vol., vol. I, pp. 407-422.

32 John H. ELLIOTT, The Count-Duke of Olivares, New Haven-London, Yale University Press, 1986, pp. 135-137.

33 On Lison's political role, see Jean VILAR, "Formes et tendances de l'opposition sous Olivares" in Mélanges de la Casá de Velásquez, 1971, vol. VII, pp. 263-294.

34 Jaime CONTRERA, El Santo Oficio de la Inquisición de Galicia, Madrid, Akal, 1982.

Auteur

University of East Anglia

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