Martin Andrew Sharp Hume.

The Spanish people; their origin, growth, and influence online

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right of summoning them to accept arbitration on their grievances,
in which case it was their duty to suspend hostilities. When thus
summoned, the nobles usually found some fault with the terms of
the reference or the constitution of the tribunal, and continued in
their own course, as in the case mentioned above.

i6o The Spanish People

drowned ; while the higher nobles received a hard lesson
from the king; sure now, as he was, of the support of the
majority of his subjects. The greater nobles for the first
time in Catalonia and Aragon were brought to their knees,
and Jaime and his son Pedro triumphed all along the line.

Thenceforward feudalism existed in Aragon, as elsewhere,
but it was powerless to act against the king alone, as it had
formerly done, and was forced to make common cause with
the cities in the Cortes. Thanks to this and the general tend-
ency of Jaime's legislation, the institution of serfdom gradually
died out, and parliamentary institutions attained great vigour.
Jaime found in force in Catalonia the old Fuero Juzgo qi:
Gothic legal code, modified by the local " Usag^^s," which had
been adopted by previous rulers, and the king's efiforts were
directed mainly to adapt this to the newer circumstances of
the time. But in Aragon the case was different. There no
fresh additions had been made to the Fuero Juzgo, except by
a traditional charter of Sobrarbe, which was supposed to
have been granted by the first King of Navarre,

In Aragon, accordingly, Jaime promulgated a new code
at Huesca in 1247, which laid down a complete system of
procedure, the Gothic Fuero Juzgo being still more than
at first permeated by the spirit of the Justinian Code ; and a
similar though in some cases different charter was granted
for Valencia after the conquest. In these codes and charters
one clear tendency is apparent, as indeed was inevitable in
laws founded on Latin models, namely, the extension of pop-
ular rights and liberties and the limitation of the privileges
attached to the hereditary ownershipof land. This, it may
be considered, was Jaime the Conqueror's principal contri-.
bution to the making of the Spanish people. How the foreign
policy first inaugurated by him was largely instrumental in
unmaking the nation must be explained in a future chapter.

In the sister realm, thanks to his mother's wisdom, Fer-'
nando III found himself, in 1230; undisputed sovereign of his

Fernando the Saint i6i

paternal realm of Leon and his maternal inheritance of Castile,
at peace with Aragon, and able td return to the Moorish con-
quests which his accession to Leon had interrupted. The
Almohades, broken by the great battle of Navas de Tolosa
(1212), could offer now no unitdd front to the Christian ad-
vance. A powerful Moslem Snbiiard, Mahomet ben Hud,
descended from the kings of Zairagoza, had seized upon the
sovereignty of the greater part of southern Spain, and he-
roically endeavoured to reconsc^lidate the kingdom of Cor-
dova. But he lived too late. Fdrnando III swept down from
his point of vantage in the Sierra Morena. Ubeda and Baeza
were occupied, and in 1236 the imperial city of Cordova, the
seat of the caliphs, fell, and the banner of the Cross waved
over the minarets of the peerless mosque raised by the piety
of Abd-er- Rahman. The fairy palace of Az Zahra had long
ago disappeared in the fanaticism and anarchy which fol-
lowed the death of Almansor ; the learning and science of
which Cordova had been the world centre had mostly gone
elsewhere ; but the city had done enough for fame. Roman
patrician colony, city of palaces, capital of a great dynasty,
sacred home of a fervent faith, magic laboratory where the
culture of the ancient world had been transmitted into the civ-
ilization of the new — these, and much more, had been beauti-
ful Cordova; Henceforward a ruin beautiful still in decay, she
stands silent in the ranks of vanished but unforgotten glories
by the side of Athens, Rome, Carthage, and Constantinople.

But the progress of the Cross stayed not even here. Gra-
nada, a vassal of the Christian king, aided in the reduction of
Seville. By land and sea Fernando beleaguered the city
of the Wady al Kebir-^Guadalquivir in future for all time^
and on November 23, 1248, the ICing of Castile entered the
city in triumph ; and all Spain was nominally under Christian
rule but the little tributary kingdom of Granada, when Fer-
nando IH died in his capital of Seville, four years after the
conquest of the city.

1 62 The Spanish People

Fernando had pursued unceasingly his wise mother's plan
of consolidating the realms of Castile and Leon. The Fuero
Juzgo was still the law of the land, but successive kings had
granted to innumerable towns and individuals charters, im-
munities, and privileges which agreed neither with the gen-
eral law nor with each other. The settlers in border districts
and newly conquered territories had in many cases been
granted powers of forming " communities," as they were
called, which were in many respects little republics, with the
right of raising and spending revenues, of forming munici-
palities, and possessing freedom of jurisdiction greater even
than that enjoyed by the most favoured of the towns which
had received charters from the greater nobles.

In this state of confusion the first step toward a unified
legislation was to ascertain how the existing law stood; and
this Fernando did by appointing a committee of jurisconsults
to translate and simplify the Fuero Juzgo, and then to draft
a more modern code on its foundation. The saintly king died
before his task was complete; and to his more famous son,
Alfonso X the Learned, belongs the glory of having carried
out his father's idea in the Siete Partidas, one of the most
complete and important legal codes ever promulgated.
•^ It is now time to glance at the intellectual and social prog-
ress of the Spanish nation, which in some respects may be
said to have come into existence during the twelfth and thir-
teenth centuries. We have seen that in the early days of the
Arab domination, when the culture of the ruling race and of
the Jews who accompanied them was greater than that of the
Christian populations, Arabic was the fashionable tongue
even among the Spanish Mozarabes of the more cultivated
class, while those of the lower class who embraced the reli-
gion of Islam naturally adhered to the language of their new
faith. But with the advance of the Christkn conquest and
the continued efforts of bigots on both sides— to .^separate
the people of the two creeds, a reaction set in; and while

The Spanish Language 163

the mass of the Mozarabes must have understood something
of Arabic speech and adopted a number of Moorish words,
their ordinary speech was the bastard Latin that had been
handed down to them by their forefathers.

Considering that for some centuries the Mozarabic popu-
lations of the south were surrounded by influences quite
diverse from those which environed the Christians in the newly
formed northern kingdoms, it will not be surprising that the
Latin dialect spoken by the Mozarabes and by many of the
Mudejares, who after the conquest of Toledo chose to remain
under Christian sway, was very different from that which
formed the common speech of the Asturians and Galicians.
During the whole period of the reconquest the battle of the
tongues continued. There was first and foremost the ancient
Basque, spoken by the mountaineers of Navarre and Biscay,
which, however, remained cooped up in its own home and
never descended to the plains, for it was an exotic speech
apart, with no affinity to the modern tongues. Then there
were the Bable, or Latin dialect, spoken in Asturias, and that
of Galicia and Portugal, a soft speech, with greater resem-
blance to the later Latin than any other, but simplified in
construction by contact with the races whose original tongue
had been of Teutonic formation. This was the prevailing
speech of the Christian Spaniards during the first four or five
centuries of the reconquest, but it had in the later years to
fight hard against a kindred rival, and the struggle at last
ended in a drawn battle.

The constant intercourse already mentioned between
southern France and Catalonia, and the dominion held over
both lands for centuries by the same monarchs, introduced
first through Barcelona, and subsequently to Aragon, that
variety of Romance called the langue d'oc, the tongue of the
troubadours, which came to be divided in Spain into two
forms, the poetical-and literary Lemousi and the colloquial
Catala, which was, and i's, the usual speech of the people.

1 64 The Spanish People

What, however, gave to this language its great impetus was
the flocking into Jaime the Conqueror's court at Barcelona
of those troubadours and the humbler juglars who sang their
verses, who had been driven out of Provence by the ruthless
harrying of De Montfort's crusaders. Minstrels before had
come thence to the courts of the Spanish kings and had met
with welcome ; now they flocked by hundreds, with their Le-
mousi speech and tricks of verse; and from town to town,
from castle to castle, they spread through the land, petted,
pampered, imitated, and made much of by a people who for
hundreds of years had been too busy fighting the infidel to
create a literature of their own.

The best of the bards, poets who recited their own heroic
or amorous verse, were received with open arms in the courts
of kings and great nobles ; a seat at the table was ever vacant
for them, and an open-eared audience ever ready to applaud
their lays. The juglar, too, perhaps with special gift of voice
or manner, was a welcome guest at every board. And so
through the whole descending scale to the mimes, the musi-
^cians, and buffoons, all speaking in Lemousi, they carried to
the people throughout north and central Spain novel models
of construction, old folk-tales put into new lilting verse,
and fresh ideas of the use to which words could be put; a
revelation to most, but to many a revival of a tradition, or. a
memory of the Moorish minstrels and story-tellers, of the Jew-
ish and Arab poets, whom long ago they or their forefathers
had heard and imitated.

I A people with keen literary instincts and florid speech
'like the Spaniards, long deprived as they had been of the
' exercise of letters, caught the fever of literary production, as
their ancestors had done in Roman times, and the fashion
of verse-spinning in the eleventh and twelfth centuries degen-
erated into a craze. Soon the common speech of northwest-
ern Spain — Galician — akin as it was to the fashionable Pro-
vencal, assumed sufficient flexibility to be used for verse;

The Spanish Language 165

and the Cantigas of Santa Maria of Alfonso X, and some of
the ballads in the Cancionero of Baena, remain to show that
long after Castilian speech was common and Spanish litera-
ture existed the Galician tongue was still by preference used
for higher verse.

With the forward movement, the conquest of Toledo by
Alfonso VI, and the rigour of the first Almoravides, a great
migration of Mozarabes came northward to settle in Castile ;
and the establishment of the court at Toledo, where the
Mozarabic dialect of course was spoken, introduced this more
virile form of speech into the king's court, and already in the
middle of the twelfth century a full-fledged epic in this tongue
existed in the Poem of the Cid, though it is highly improb-
able that even that was the first piece of Castilian verse pro-
duced. But with the accession of the learned Alfonso X of
Castile and Leon (1252) the Castilian language assumed the
commanding position it was in future to occupy, and Cas-
tilian literature in its broader setise may be said to com-

Up to this time, as in the Poem of the Cid, the model
had invariably been French Proven9al lyrics ; but with Al-
fonso the Learned Castilian literature, both in prose and
verse, adopts methods of its own. Berceo, the great ecclesi-
astical Castilian poet (1200-1265?) whose metre and matter
Dante followed, wrote copiously and floridly of martyrdoms
and miracles ; and though he sought his subjects from French
sources (especially Gautier de Coinci) his style is full of Span-

* When Saint Fernando conquered Cordova, 1236, he gave to the
inhabitants a translation of the Fuero Juzgo into Castilian as their
code^of laws. The Rhymed Chronicle of the Cid is in Castilian of the
same period, and also other poems: the Libre dels tres Reyes Dorient,
the Vida de Santa Maria Egipciaqua, and the fifst Castilian lyric,
Razon feita Amor. It was subsequent to these works, and a hundred
years after the poem of the Cid was written in Castilian in imitation
of the French chansons de geste. (hat Alfonso X employed Galician as
a vehicle for his higher verse in the hymns to the Virgin.

1 66 The Spanish People

ish spirit, exhibited by him for the first time in what is now the
language of Spain, and he formed a school of verse, which
existed after him for two hundred years.

It is a truism to say that poetry precedes prose in the lit-
erature of a nation, and that the first form of prose is usually
history or chronicle. We have seen that chronicle had been
almost the only profane writing in the low Latin of the first
Christian reconquerors ; we now find history the earliest ex-
isting form of Castilian prose, if we except the translation of
the Fuero Juzgo given by Fernando III to the Cordovese.
The History of the Goths, it is true, had originally been writ-
ten in Latin by Rodrigo Jimenez de la Rada, Archbishop
of Toledo; but at the instance of Saint Fernando a Cas-
tilian translation was made, probably by the archbishop him-
self. It was, however, at the instance of Fernando's son, Al-
fonso the Learned, that the first great prose works in Castilian
literature were undertaken.

It has become a fashion of later years to decry Alfonso's
achievements in letters, because he was a failure as a politi-
cian, as we shall see when we review the events of his reign ;
but, considering the circumstances of his time, it is difficult
to overrate either his own prodigious mental activity or his
undying services to Castilian literature. The language of the
nation was as yet not definitely fixed ; the sciences and ancient
learning which the Jews and Arabs of Cordova and Toledo
had kept alive in the ages of darkness had influenced foreign
countries, England and Italy especially, far more than they
had Christian Spain ; for here religious bitterness and the
racial hatred of centuries of struggle stood in the way. But
to the wise Alfonso learning had no religion and no race, and
he braved the bigots by enlisting in his army of writers
and translators pien from all quarters, both of Spain and the
East,* to aid him in his task. No science' had slumbered so

* In his Versos de Arte Mayor, Alfonso mentions that he learned
the secret of the philosopher's stone, " by means of which I oft in-

Spanish Letters 167

profoundly in Europe since the days of ancient Greece as
astronomy. To the Moslems the study of the stars forcibly
appealed, and Cordova, in rivalry with Bagdad, took up this
relic of learning, as it seized upon all other branches of the
forgotten knowledge of Greece. Early in the eleventh cen-
tury a Spanish Moslem of Cordova named Al Hazen went
far beyond his fellows at Bagdad or elsewhere in his astro-
nomical and optical discoveries and writings. He was fol-
lowed by the more famous Averroes, one of the great philoso-
phers of all times (1116-1198), the translator and reviver of
Aristotelian * learning, which he popularized in modern Eu-
rope, and the first translator into Latin of the Almegist of

creased my store," from an Egyptian philosopher whom he had
brought from Alexandria. Alfonso gives his secrets to the world
in verse, but to our eyes they do not seem to amount to much.

* It is impossible in the space at our disposal to speak adequately
of the immense influence exercised by Averroes's works on European
thought. Translations of his works into Latin were eagerly made
by English, French, and Italian scholars; and Oxford, Padua, and
Paris counted hundreds of disciples of the great Arab. But, although
his ideas on natural, revealed, religion powerfully led to the adoption
of broader theological views by so many scholars, and ultimately
influenced the simplification and purification of the Christian faith,
the philosophy he inculcated was simply that of the school of Aris-
totle. Averroes was not even acquainted with Greek, but translated
into Arabic from a Hebrew text. His great glory it is to have prac-
tically introduced Aristotle to the Western world. Mention must also
be made of the great opponent of Averroes's philosophy, the famous
Majorcan Christian doctor, Ramon Lull (1235-1315), an author of
prodigious fertility, who spent a long life and stupendous gifts in
preaching and teaching throughout Europe the truth of Christianity
as demonstrated by reason and logic. His influence upon the me-
dieval Christian universities was greater than that of his famous Arab
predecessor, inasmuch as to him was due the study of the Oriental
languages in Oxford, Paris, and Bologna; and the Lullian school of
rational Christianity existed, especially in Catalonia and north Italy,
for centuries. Lull was alternately attacked and exalted by the Church
and the Inquisition, his works being placed upon the Index Expur-
gatorius and removed therefrom many times ; and the controversy can
not yet be said to be finished, although Lull has been " beatified " by
the Church.

1 68 The Spanish People

Ptolemy. But the Christian prelates and ignorant soldiers of
early Spain had looked upon the heavenly phenomena as
beyond human study, and had frowned down all attempts at
investigation, except to read portents, favourable or other-
wise, to the Christian cause from the wonders of the skies ;
and it must have needed sturdy courage in Alfonso, long be-
fore he was king, to compile in his father's palace at Toledo
his Alfonsine Tables, a com.plete recalculation and correction
of the tables of Ptolemy and the colossal Libros de Saber de
Astronomia, in Castilian. Alfonso's literary activity was uni-
■ versal. Guidebooks to games of draughts, chess, dice, and
tables ; treatises on music, philosophy, alchemy, and law ; a
translation of the Bible from the Hebrew ; poems in Castilian
and Galician ; a great universal history, written by a combina-
tion of scholars under the king's own editorship ; * and, above
all, the world-famed code of law called the Siete Partidas —
these are only some of the results still existing of Alfonso's
learning and enterprise. The Siete Partidas superseded the
old Fuero Juzgo of the Goths, and was not only a legal code,
but a guide to the conduct of every rank of citizen, from
the king to the serf, in all relations and acts of life. It not
only dictates laws, but gives reasons for them, and con-
tains in every line information which enables us to estimate
the stage of social progress which had been reached by the
Spanish nation at this period (1252-1284). It is no exag-
geration to say that Alfonso X of Castile found the Spanish
language a doubtful dialect, and left it a majestic, rich,
and noble national tongue, with a vigorous literature of
its own.

We have already remarked that the main exciting influ-

* Of this history only three books were finished. It was com-
menced about 1260, and I have recently discovered a hitherto un-
known copy, illuminated on vellum, in perfect condition, in the Duke
of Wellington's library. This copy is dated 1378, and is the earliest
of which I have any knowledge.

Spanish Letters 169

ence upon the literary awakening of Spain in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries was French Proven9al, more especially
in poetry and belles lettres; but it would be unjust and mis-
leading to suggest that the example of Cordova and the
learning of the Spanish Jews and Arabs had not to some ex-
tent penetrated Christian Spain before Alfonso X boldly
translated some of their teachings into Castilian. ' Ramon,
Archbishop of Toledo (1130), had turned into Latin some
Arabic treatises ; here and there in the border ballads of
Spain Arab forms of verse were followed ; the great Spanish
Jew poet, Judah ben Samuel the Levite, in the beginning of
the twelfth century introduced an occasional line of what we
now call Castilian into his Hebrew verses; and the Moza-
rabes, and Spanish-speaking Mudejares who remained among
the Christians, must have brought with them some memories
of the Arab culture in the midst of which they were reared,
as it is certain they brought with them their handicrafts and
artistic models.

There was another class which carried to Spain, as indeed
it carried to the rest of the world, echoes of the learning of ■
Cordova and Toledo before the era of Alfonso X, namely,
the Jewish physicians, who practised in almost every court in
Europe. The literary revival in Spain, therefore, and the
victory of the Castilian language, which was inaugurated by
Fernando III and continued by his son, Alfonso the Learned,
may be said to have received its inspiration as to form from
the Provencal, and in its substance largely from the Jews and
Arabs, who had translated into Latin, Hebrew, or Arabic the
learning of the ancient Greek.

The Moorish influence on art and handicrafts in the for-
mation of a new national Spanish style of decoration was
1 infinitely greater than in literature. It is true that in Chris-
Itian architecture the inspiration still came from France, and
\already the so-called Gothic forms were being grafted upon
the simpler style, which the Spaniards had evolved out of the

I70 The Spanish People

Angevin-Romanesque ; * the influence of the Arab being only
seen — and that mainly in domestic buildings — where the
Mudejares, or tolerated Moors, were largely in excess of
the Christians in numbers. The rigid religious tenets en-
forced at first by the Almoravides, and afterward by the Almo-
hades, had tended to eliminate from Arab-Spanish art the cor-
ruptions which contact with Christian styles had introduced :
and the more graceful ornamentation which we now know as
Alhambresque had taken the place of the stiff Cufic and semi-
Byzantine forms of the earlier Arabs.

The damascened and chased arms and metal work made
by the Mudejares of Almeria, Murcia, and Seville were in
great request all over Spain ; and the domestic furniture used
in most of the better-class Christian houses, being largely
made by Mozarabic and Mudejar workmen, in the thirteenth
century showed everywhere traces of Arabic design of the
more graceful and flowing character developed under the
Almohades,f while the great number of beautiful carved ivory
caskets of the same period and style still existing in Span-
ish cathedrals prove that even for the preservation of sacred
Christian relics there was no objection to the use of these
works of art, permeated though they were with the spirit of
Islam. The manufacture also of the lustred pottery at Mal-
aga, Manises, and elsewhere continued after the Christian
conquest as before, and not only was the ware prized through-
out the worid,t but it must have been used all over Spain;

* See especially the great west portico of Santiago cathedral
(twelfth century), of which a fine reproduction exists in the South
Kensington Museum.

t A good specimen will be found in the South Kensington Mu-
seum, called the Botica de los Templarios. No. 1764.
• * ^Pf.^"^'"^ of tfi's ware, a description of the industries of Valencia
m the fifteenth century, quoted by Senor Riafio, says: " Above all is
the beauty of the gold pottery so splendidly painted at Manises which-,
enamours every one so much that the Pope and the cardinals and
the princes of the. world obtain it only by favour, and are surprised
that such excellence and noble works can be made of earth."

Spanish Industries 171

and, as is evident, the Arab ornamentation largely influenced
the designs used on the Spanish Christian pottery made at
Talavera and elsewhere; while the glazed Mosaic tiles so
largely used in building, the great wine jars of Catalonia, the
porous alcarazas of Andujar, and the well brims continued
for centuries afterward to exhibit the forms and colours which
were introduced to Christian Spain by the Mudejar and Moza-
rabic workmen.

A most significant social eflfect was also produced upon
the Spanish people by the comparatively easy contempora-
neous conquests of Andalusia by Fernando the Saint, and

Online LibraryMartin Andrew Sharp HumeThe Spanish people; their origin, growth, and influence → online text (page 15 of 47)