The role of the Castilian bourgeoisie1 traditionally has been considered minimal. This is especially true of medieval Castile, which has been depicted as a “society organized for war”: a society of farmers and stock raisers ever ready for colonizing and military activities.2 Complementarily, medieval Castilians have been considered ill-disposed to bourgeois endeavors, the “warrior society” offering these only limited scope. With only a weak bourgeoisie, which was excluded from political power and social status, Castilian urban society is said to have possessed a “knightly urban patriciate” entirely different from bourgeois patriciates found beyond the Pyrenees.3 It has even been denied that a merchant class existed in Castile before 1300.4 Only in the latter part of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries is a Castilian bourgeoisie of respectable dimensions perceived.

A crucial position in this depiction of medieval society, however, is given to another nonnoble group present in Castilian towns: the caballería villana (“commoner knighthood”). Historians have posited a stark dichotomy between this group and the bourgeois elements.5 The effective governing class of much of the country from the thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries, this knightly group, we are told, excluded bourgeois elements from its ranks.6 Because the caballería villana dominated town life, lorded over the rural population, and eventually became the source of recruits for the hidalguía (lower nobility), accurate knowledge of the group is crucial to an understanding of Castilian society. Without it, “Spanish history and … in part that of America would be inexplicable.”7

Some recent studies have brought into question the conventional depiction of the bourgeoisie and its relationship with the caballería villana and the towns. These have shown that in the towns studied, bourgeois elements were both important and present in the caballería villana. Indeed, the two groups appear to have formed an intermingled urban patriciate.8 One scholar has ventured to maintain that by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, “other caballeros villanos rose from the merchants and even from some artisans.”9 Even here, however, the distinction between the bourgeois elements and the caballería villana is preserved, it being assumed that these new members of the latter group left the occupations that had enriched them.

Still, none of these studies examines in detail the formative and dominant periods of the caballería villana before the fourteenth century. Thus, we do not know how long bourgeois elements actually had held high status and political power. More important, no study has yet critiqued the overall paradigm of a small, weak bourgeoisie excluded from urban power and status.

The present article will demonstrate how misinterpretations of evidence and unwarranted assumptions have produced a distorted historical picture. Based on known sources, it will show that the caballero villano-bourgeois dichotomy is mistaken. It will also reassess the relative weight of the bourgeois elements within concejo (a kind of municipality) towns by examining anew both the main documentary evidence and some scholarly studies. As a critical and textual analysis of modern historiography, the present article does not attempt to present new archival documentation. The revisions derived from this analysis lead ineluctably to a more general reevaluation of the historical role of the bourgeoisie in Castilian society.

Before proceeding to the main discussion, it is necessary to review some background information. The evidentiary basis of knowledge regarding the bourgeois elements is not very extensive, being composed largely of the fueros (charters).10 Indeed, the conventional conceptions of the caballería villana and the concejos also derive mainly from these same documents. The fueros, however, do not often explicitly deal with the bourgeoisie; they do, on the other hand, contain many provisions regarding agrarian matters and the knightly group. The fueros show that caballeros villanos had various patrolling and stock herding duties in the concejo’s alfoz (“territory”), while numerous regulations evoke the image of a concejo seat or town that was an inherent part of an agrarian complex. Thus, the agrarian concerns of the one heighten the provincial character of the other. Placed in this context, the bourgeois elements seem indeed to have constituted rather insignificant parts of very rustic Castilian towns.

Not all concejo towns, however, were so rustic. In fact, they can be broadly distinguished into two general types.11 The first was commercially oriented and similar to French bourgs and other Western European towns in that it at first had few direct relations with the surrounding countryside in terms of jurisdiction. The “business” of these “French” towns was business; being removed from the frontiers, they did not usually possess a powerful caballería villana. For the most part, this type of concejo town was found along the northern and northwestern section of Castile. The second type was the center of a large alfoz under its jurisdiction, and it bore a strong resemblance to the Italian città and its contado. An important difference, of course, was that the Castilian concejo towns of this type never became bustling centers of bourgeois life and enterprise as did the città. Rather, it is believed that “the Reconquest and repopulation had made fortresses and temples of the Castilian cities, had populated them with warRíors, shepherds, and farmers.”12 Such “Italian” towns were located mainly in central and southern Castile, and governed the preponderant bulk of the land and population. Historians usually have in mind this type when they discuss Castilian towns in general.

At the center of the municipal power structure stood the caballería villana. It had originated during the settlement of Old Castile when reward for providing mounted military service took the form of privileges in the concejo. Only vecinos (“citizens”) could serve as caballeros villanos. They were initially exempted from a variety of taxes, both local and royal, and their horses and arms were made immune from confiscation for payment of debt. Sprung from stock raisers, the caballería villana allegedly remained essentially the same for several centuries. Admittedly, even later fueros still associated caballeros villanos with agrarian concerns. The link with sheep raising was particularly strong. Continued close involvement of the caballería villana with sheep raising was assured by royal chartering in 1273 of the Mesta (a countrywide organization of sheep owners) and by the greatly expanded international market for Castilian wool after 1300.

One privilege in particular closed the grip of this social group on the concejo power structure. Around the turn of the thirteenth century, fueros began to stipulate that a nominee for the higher concejo offices had to possess caballero equipment and own his home inside the town. With such restrictions on office-holding, the caballería villana emerged as the dominant ruling group of the concejos. Because, as we have seen, the central and southern concejos in turn governed not only the towns but also innumerable villages and an enormous total area of the country, the caballería villana has rightly been considered a ruling class of Castile.

The development of the bourgeoisie was concurrent with the rise of the caballería villana and the growth of town life. Bourgeois growth was especially vigorous during the twelfth century, benefiting from strong waves of immigrants to the central concejos. Francos (a term for bourgeois elements that initially bore ethnic implications) from the commercial northern towns settled in these regions. At the same time came a larger wave of emigrants from Islamic Spain consisting of Mozarabs (Arabized Christians) and Sephardic Jews fleeing persecution by the fanatical Almoravids. These immigrants were largely artisans, skilled workers, and merchants. Mozarabs and Jews were also the major Castilian entrepreneurs in the international exchange of luxury items. Especially numerous among the Mozarabs were money changers, merchants, silversmiths, and construction workers (such as masons and carpenters).13

Altogether, these immigrants acted as an economic leavening in urban society, producing an ample bourgeois ambience as others in the population responded to the sudden quickening of the economy. This promising development was supposedly curtailed during the first half of the thirteenth century because of the sustained military efforts of the Reconquest and its aftermath. Castilian society is thought then to have been channeled along a course of development that impeded further bourgeois growth.

A reevaluation of the caballería villana-bourgeois dichotomy must first note that the basic images of both the concejo and the caballería villana in fact derive mainly from the earlier fueros. Dating from the tenth through the twelfth centuries when the commercial revolution had barely begun to occur in Castile, such early fueros would naturally reveal a far more rustic society than was later the case. The rural character of the original caballería villana is clearly related to the near absence of bourgeois elements at that time. Changes wrought by time are not incorporated, however, into the conventional conception of either social institution. Thus, it is believed that the concejos “continued being communities of stockmen, farmers, and soldiers”;14 and even into the latter half of the thirteenth century the caballería villana is thought to have been composed of “rural landowners, exclusive of artisans, merchants, and wageworkers in general.”15

In fact, neither the earlier nor the later fueros reveal any pattern of excluding bourgeois elements from the caballería villana. On the contrary, the typical phrasings in the fueros regarding qualifications for such status are universal in scope. They commonly state that “anyone,” “those who,” “he who,” and so forth, may become one.16 Indeed, these expressions have often prompted admiration among Hispanists for the “democratic” nature of a caballería villana so accessible to all commoners who owned a horse, arms, or other accoutrements of a warrior.

This is not to say that exclusions were not made. The thirteenth-century Fuero of Sepúlveda specifically excluded menestrales (“artisans”), but it is so singular that it may be considered the exception to the general rule. In that same century, menestrales were also excluded from full membership in the caballería villana by a royal ordenamiento (“decree”) applicable to several central Castilian concejos.17 Such exclusions, however, raise more questions than they answer. The example of Sepúlveda causes us to wonder why menestrales and other bourgeois elements were not specifically excluded by other fueros if they were as incompatible with the caballería villana as historians have supposed. This question becomes all the more pressing as we approach the thirteenth century, when these urban groups were larger and more competitive with other social elements.

Exclusions of menestrales, however, leaves us wondering also why only menestrales were mentioned. Why were merchants, traders, and members of other higher strata not similarly excluded? Reading the documents, one would think that there were only menestrales and caballeros in these towns. While this could possibly have been the case in some eleventh-century towns, it certainly was not so in mid-thirteenth-century Castile. The most reasonable conclusion seems to be that there was no objection to higher bourgeois elements being members of the caballería and even lesser elements like the menestrales were accepted, facing only occasional discrimination.

Certainly there were some excellent reasons why the bourgeoisie would seek caballero villano status. By mid-twelfth century, this group had accumulated numerous privileges and had attained high social prestige.18 The Fuero of Santa Cristina (1061), for example, exempted caballeros from paying certain taxes and from having to lodge visiting dignitaries.19 Reflecting this group’s increased status, the Fuero of Colmenar de Oreja (1139) penalized anyone who knocked a caballero off his horse.20 Acquisition of privileges continued throughout the medieval period. Total tax exemption became the norm, as did monopoly of the major concejo offices.21 Membership in the caballería villana brought relief from taxation, proximity in status to the nobility, and, perhaps most important, access to the top offices of local government. With all these advantages to gain and with no juridical prohibitions to prevent the prospering bourgeois elements from entering the caballería villana, we cannot doubt that they did so with alacrity.

Some very good evidence indicates that this was the case. The famed privilege granted to the Mozarabs of Toledo in 1101 specifically provided that they could become caballeros,22 In addition, the Fuero of Toledo of 1118 allowed francos to attain caballero status also.23 These two social groups, as noted earlier, contained sizable bourgeois elements. Accordingly, their unrestricted acceptance clearly indicates that merchants and possibly artisans (when they could afford it) early became members of the caballería villana. Evidence of bourgeois participation in the caballería is even stronger for the thirteenth century, when essentially the same privilege was extended to the francos of Seville at a time when this term was equivalent to “merchant.”24

Another indication of the presence of bourgeois elements in the caballería villana is provided by an interesting attempt at fraud. The caballeros of Toledo presented a fraudulent document to the king for confirmation, possibly in 1178, ostensibly granted originally in 1137. This document purported to extend to Christian Toledans, and specifically to merchants, the right to buy and sell throughout the kingdom without paying portazgos (“tolls”).25 It is possible, of course, that some merchants persuaded or bribed the caballeros to deceive the king in this way. It would be more reasonable, however, simply to conclude that caballeros were also merchants and that concern for their own interests led to this attempted fraud.

There is yet more far-reaching evidence of a bourgeois presence in the caballería villana. The phenomenon of the caballeros cuantiosos (“wealthy knights”), a subcategory of the caballería villana, throws much light on the social composition of this group. Until the thirteenth century, membership in the caballería had been voluntary. In that century, however, many fueros made membership mandatory for vecinos with a given amount of wealth. None of these fueros directly excluded bourgeois elements, but some earlier nonroyal fueros stated the wealth requirement in agrarian terms. By this means, individuals with only bourgeois forms of wealth were undoubtedly disqualified from membership.26

Significantly, however, later royal fueros avoided agrarian forms of valuation and instead expressed the wealth requirement in universally applicable monetary terms. For example, the Fuero of Castel Bom (1208-10) excluded from office a man having a worth of 300 maravedís who did not own a horse; property and goods in his possession (less his own and his wife’s clothing) were to be included in these assessments of wealth.27 In the thirteenth-century context, entrepreneurs had been plentiful for generations and failure to exclude them or their goods can only be understood to mean that capital goods were being included in these valuations. The exceptional thirteenth-century fuero that did exclude bourgeois forms of wealth indicates that normal practice was not unwittingly but quite deliberately including them.28 Evidently, then, bourgeois elements were among these caballeros cuantiosos almost from the very start.

When examined closely, the documentary base does not support the notion that the bourgeois elements were kept out of the caballería villana until late in the fourteenth century. This is actually a preconception held by modern historians, developed largely by Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz and reinforced by his pupils. Scholars had long been aware of a nonnoble caballero group, but it was Sánchez-Albornoz who characterized it as a group distinct from the bourgeoisie.29 He argued that this group retained its rustic tenth-century character even into the fourteenth century.30

Sánchez-Albornoz himself, however, never produced a study centered on the caballeros villanos. To date there has been only one study for all Castile, the monograph by Carmela Pescador, a pupil of Sánchez-Albornoz.31 Thoroughly documented, Pescador’s work nonetheless serves only to provide the details for Sánchez-Albornoz’s paradigm. Never seriously questioning this construct, the study does not consider the possibility of an interrelationship between the bourgeoisie and the caballería villana. Indeed, it relentlessly depicts the latter as a social institution rooted in the countryside and in stock raising. The study does not deny that many merchants and artisans were in the caballería during the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, for scholars have abundant evidence of this.32 It concedes only that “at times” some bourgeois may have entered the caballería villana earlier than the prescribed fourteenth century, but this point is given only passing mention.33

This same tendency to stress the nonbourgeois character of the caballería villana is apparent in the short but important article by two other Sánchez-Albornoz pupils, Adriana Bó and María del Carmen Carlé.34 Indeed, it contains the clearest concise example of this tendency. At one point, they conclude that “the [concejo’s] magistracies were beginning to be reserved for the rural property owners to the exclusion of artisans, merchants, and wage earners in general.”35 They base this conclusion on evidence from passages in three fueros. Unfortunately, two of the passages do not support the conclusion in the slightest; on the contrary, they should cause one to wonder about the accuracy of the established paradigm. These passages require magistrates to own a casa poblada (“residential house”) inside the town.36 Obviously, this requirement does not confirm that the men in question would be rural property owners. Only the third passage could conceivably relate to the authors’ conclusion: it provided penalties for whoever seized the livestock of various magistrates.37 Even if it could be somehow proven that bourgeois elements under no circumstances ever possessed livestock from the tenth through the thirteenth centuries, this provision does not in fact exclude from office persons without livestock. In any case, the passage in question is hardly evidence of later developments, for it is from a fuero dating from 1107, i. e., from a period when bourgeois elements had not yet grown powerful.

The caballero villano-bourgeois dichotomy rests not on documentary evidence, but on an assumed psychological difference between those who performed combat and those who made objects to sell or engaged in business. This view is expressed quite clearly by the formulator of the dichotomy, Sánchez-Albornoz:

The settlers of these towns … came to the frontier conscious of their danger but spurred by necessity and hope. The majority of them must have been above all warriors and shepherds; warriors because the Saracen obliged them to defend themselves; shepherds because there were not enough hands to cultivate intensively the lands won from the enemy. Adventurers by temperament … their new positions as herders and soldiers must have increased, and even exalted, their inquietude and their audacity and their taste for warlike enterprises.38

Thus we see that the picture of the rustic caballero villano is based on an anachronistic stereotype. The original recruitment into this group had of necessity to come from other than bourgeois elements, given the scarcity of the latter at the time. This true picture of the eleventh-century caballero villano is then plucked from the rapidly changing circumstances of Castilian society and—through psychological stereotyping—fixed into an ahistorical archetype that is then run unquestioningly through later centuries.

Sánchez-Albornoz contrasts this presumed warlike group to the more peaceable bourgeois elements:

The less [adventurous] would have dedicated themselves in such towns to industrial tasks and local commerce, which require slow and daily effort and which, if they do not involve great risks or require heroisms, do not offer hopes for rapid changes in fortune or horizons that bring satisfactions to the temperamental appetite for adventures.39

Consequently, we are offered a stark dichotomy: on the one hand, commoner knight service provided by a cowboylike stock-raising group of exceptionally warlike temperament; on the other, a bourgeois group timidly declining an opportunity to acquire financially and socially advantageous status.

The assumption that the bourgeoisie was not disposed to engage in combat, mounted or otherwise, has long since been rendered obsolete. Italy affords a good comparison on this point: it has long been known that the Florentine bourgeoisie performed knight service. Indeed, recently a scholar has concluded that, as far as Italy is concerned, “the belief that the merchant followed a style of life which was modest, industrious and calculating and peaceful, in contrast to the ostentation and violence of the nobility, seems largely a myth.”40 If the usual distinction between defensores and bourgeois elements cannot be sustained in the most bourgeois region of medieval Europe, it is all the more out of place in Castilian society. For if Castile was indeed “a society organized for war,” the population in general was inured to a warlike environment, engaging no doubt more willingly in military activities.

There is, then, no documentary basis for the exclusion of bourgeois elements from the caballería villana, but there is, on the other hand, sufficient evidence indicating their presence in this group. Clearly, the caballería villana did not remain for long the preserve of the wealthy of the countryside, especially after the bourgeois elements had become numerous and wealthy.

To reassess the relative weight of the bourgeois elements in Castilian urban society, we must continue to focus on the fueros. Historical accounts of medieval Castilian society compare these fueros to the charters of northern European towns, pointing out that many fueros have few or no regulations concerning business activities; one important study examines mainly the fueros to see which actually used the term burgués or burgensis. The combination of these various arguments based on solid documentary evidence has seemingly placed beyond any doubt the conventional view of a small and weak Castilian bourgeoisie.

Before examining those founded largely on the fueros, however, one argument not based on these documents merits our attention. As noted earlier, the bourgeois elements are acknowledged to have grown rapidly until the early thirteenth century. The Reconquest of Andalusia is thought to have halted this development: the yearly marshaling of the town militia for campaigns in the south, the loss of population in Castile due to emigration to newly conquered areas there, and other factors supposedly disrupted the growth of the bourgeoisie. In addition, an inflationary wave was set off by these events and by royal monetary policy. Supposedly, this almost completely ruined the bourgeois elements.

This argument is based on extrapolation rather than on direct evidence. It is certainly true that the military efforts of the first part of the thirteenth century upset the economy but it is more than debatable that the bourgeoisie suffered a reversal from this. Indeed, contrary to what is commonly believed, the economic consequences of conquering Andalusia were probably favorable on the whole to the bourgeois groups. Emigration from Castile toward the more fertile south resulted in a scarcity of labor. It should be borne in mind, however, that a goodly amount of abandoned land thus became available. Those who had the most liquid capital at hand presumably were in the best position to purchase these lands. Almost needless to say, bourgeois elements, with very few exceptions, would have possessed the largest sums of liquid capital in any given locality.

Inflation, too, would have redounded to the favor of those who either had considerable liquid capital or were in a position to capitalize on the inflationary price of goods. It has been calculated that the latter half of the thirteenth century witnessed a price rise of 1,000 percent.41 The Cortes attempted to control prices, but to no avail. When unable to raise prices, merchants and artisans resorted to hoarding or withholding their goods from the market until they could obtain the price desired.42 The economic crisis probably hurt most those who had the larger part of their wealth tied up in fixed capital, rather than the bourgeois elements, for overall the price of land was low, while that of goods and labor was high.43 Thus, the crisis probably accelerated bourgeois entry into the caballería villana, and certainly it cannot be maintained that the thirteenth-century crisis atrophied the growth of the Castilian bourgeoisie.

The major arguments for regarding bourgeois elements as weak and insignificant urban groups, however, for the most part have been based on the fueros. Historians, as noted earlier, claim that the concejo towns remained thoroughly nonbourgeois because the fueros—even those of the thirteenth century—contain abundant regulation of agrarian matters. This, of course, contrasts with the charters of northern European towns, which generally ignore such matters but do provide ample treatment of bourgeois activities. The practice of comparing the northern European with the central and southern Castilian concejo towns, however, is misleading unless one takes into account the differing natures of these institutions and the different purposes of their charters. After all, the government of the business-oriented bourgs was basically concerned only with the affairs within the town walls. Beyond lay a vast sea of peasants subject to numerous lords. Generally speaking, the bourg was jurisdictionally extraneous to this agrarian setting. The concejo, on the other hand, was a single jurisdictional entity composed of both an urban seat of government and an extensive, often enormous, rural territory populated by peasants. The concejo itself was lord of the territory.44

Given the differing natures of the institutions, it is only to be expected that their founding charters would vary. The charters of bourgs naturally regulated at length the business affairs that were often its raison d’être. The fueros, on the other hand, had of necessity to pay a great deal of attention to the concejo’s administration of a rather large rural territory and its peasant population.

The view that bourgeois elements were relatively insignificant has also gained credibility because the fueros do not have many, and sometimes lack entirely, regulations affecting bourgeois activities. While this is understandable in the early fueros, it has been noted that even many later fueros barely mention some bourgeois activities. “In many of … [the later] concejos we might take as nonexistent any kind of local industries, judging from the total silence of their fueros.”45 While this statement is true as far as it goes, it is part of a presentation that unwittingly skews the proportions of the bourgeois elements vis-à-vis the rest of society. In the first place, scanty provisions in a fuero regarding some business operations do not necessarily mean that the concejo town lacked a dynamic business life. We need only recall that the major industrial and commercial towns of Castile—Burgos, Toledo, Seville—did not have fueros with lengthy provisions regarding bourgeois activities.

Second, and more important, however, a very significant development in thirteenth-century fueros is left out of account. Following the great twelfth-century expansion of bourgeois elements, many new fueros sharply increased attention to bourgeois activities. A formulary of fueros was compiled, possibly during the reign of Alfonso VIII (1158-1214) that was evidently far more mindful of such matters than previous fueros.46 A large series of fueros granted from the late twelfth to the late thirteenth centuries—the erstwhile “Cuenca family” of fueros—are drawn from this formulary and continued to reflect this increased interest. Some of the earlier fueros derived from this formulary, such as that of Baeza (1226), include plentiful provisions on surety of contracts and a more systematic administration of judicial proceedings.47 With the passing of time, regulations affecting bourgeois activities continued to increase. By mid-thirteenth century, the Fuero of Cuenca contained long chapters on sales and purchases, three chapters on debts and loans, and one on fairs and loans.48 Such provisions obviously were useful only in places where these matters had become rather important to town and concejo life.

Recalling the argument outlined above that the thirteenth-century military effort had thwarted bourgeois growth, we should also note in passing that many “formulary” fueros, including the seminal Fuero of Cuenca, were granted during the Andalusian Reconquest or in its aftermath. It would be difficult to maintain that greater attention than ever before was given to supposedly attenuated remnants of those groups. Clearly, this evidence indicates that the bourgeois groups had grown considerably, not atrophied, during and after the thirteenth-century Reconquest.

Finally, we may wonder whether the very fact that a locality early on had a set fuero may reflect a kind of sociocultural selectivity. Some decades ago, Alfonso García-Gallo observed that “the areas of most intense activity in establishing customary law always comprise … not only mountainous zones … but also … the highlands, with a life more pastoral than agricultural where even the most important population centers have a markedly rural character.”49 Any attempt to understand medieval Castilian society in general must take this observation into account, given the heavy reliance on the fueros. At the moment, the least we can say is that concern with agrarian matters in a fuero cannot be taken as prima facie evidence of a rustic society in which bourgeois elements are weak and excluded from political, social, and economic power.

The view that bourgeois elements were of significance only in the northern fringe of Castile has been corroborated through linguistic analysis of the fueros by Luis García de Valdeavellano, one of Sánchez-Albornoz’s earliest and most eminent pupils. In a work now regarded as one of the solid proofs of this view, he demonstrated the near absence of the term burgués or burgensis in the fueros of central and southern Castile.50 The term was common, however, along the northern section (containing the “French” type of town).

Unfortunately, the study in question implicitly adopts a Francophilic standard of evidence of social and economic development, the term burgués being derived from the French. It turns out that the term is rather rare, not just in central and southern Castile, but in the very heart of medieval bourgeois society, Tuscany, where the term borghese was generally used to refer to the wealthier townsmen. Even in medieval Italy, the presence of alternate native terms, better rooted in local circumstances, for a long time rendered borghese rather superfluous. The Italian equivalent of bourgeois was citizen (civis or cittadini) and only in the early modern period did borghese gain currency. Citizen was more appropriate than borghese because the Italian città had developed quite differently from the bourgs of the north. Usually of greater juridical definition than bourgeois, the status of citizen was held by highly privileged groups recruited on the basis of wealth and local residence.51

There is similarly good reason for the absence of the term burgués from the concejos of central and southern Castile. They already possessed a specific term for the highly privileged ruling group based on wealth: caballero villano. Given the availability of this far more prestigious term, there was neither any need nor any desire in these areas to employ burgués as was done in northern Castilian towns. The issue becomes clearer when one takes into account that ciudadano was the Castilian equivalent for burgensis.52

Some evidence causes us to wonder whether the bourgeois elements, instead of being small and weak, may actually have been a powerful, perhaps even hegemonic, part of urban society. These implications arise once we realize that bourgeois elements were very much a part of the caballería villana.

In this regard, we should reconsider the caballero villano’s drive to attain monopoly over the more important offices of the concejo. This process began in the late twelfth century with the stipulation that a nominee for such offices had to own a horse and arms. The requirement rapidly became commonplace.53 That this drive for power began only after the bourgeois elements had achieved considerable growth is undoubtedly significant. Certainly the exclusion of only the menestrales noted earlier makes more sense in the context of a drive for power by bourgeois rather than by agrarian members of the caballería villana.

We should also observe that provisions for caballero monopoly of offices almost always were found with another requirement: office holders had to be homeowners resident in the concejo town.54 This provision clearly coincides quite well with the interests of the bourgeois elements, which lived in the town and conducted most of their business therein.

But probably the most revealing aspect of this entire monopolizing process is that the concejo’s escribanía (“notaryship”) was one office involved, mostly in thirteenth-century fueros.55 This obviously contradicts traditional notions of what a caballero villano was. It is quite difficult to take seriously the idea that warlike stockmen would gallop into town on a dusty steed in order to sit at a desk and act as notary.

Indeed, the caballero monopoly over the escribanía occurs in the very age when that office acquired a high degree of professionalism.56 As outlined in the Fuero of Cuenca, the duties of the concejo’s escribano included writing down judicial decisions, keeping accounts, and maintaining the tax-rolls.57 Some idea of the expertise required can be got from the requirements specified by the Burgos concejo: a candidate had to be at least twenty-five years old, have had four years’ practice with another escribano, have sufficient training to perform its functions, and have sufficient wealth to bear responsibility for errors.58 Clearly, monopoly of notaryships was promoted by the bourgeois elements of urban society.

If the bourgeoisie was able to mold the fueros to conform so well to its interests, we may surmise that it was powerful, perhaps dominant, in both the caballería villana and in the concejo by the thirteenth century. The case becomes quite compelling when we consider that the stipulations in question first appear in the same “Cuenca family” of fueros containing lengthy treatments of bourgeois activities.

The foregoing assessment has led us to varying conclusions regarding two closely intertwined issues crucial to our understanding of Castilian society. Clearly, we can say quite firmly that bourgeois elements were not excluded from the caballería villana. Their presence in it automatically raises many interesting questions about the nature of the ruling elites of the central and southern concejos.

Regarding the relative weight of the bourgeoisie in the concejos, however, conclusions must remain somewhat less firm for the moment. Certainly we may, with fair assurance, regard as invalid the notion that the bourgeoisie was a negligible social class. If the caballería villana ruled the concejo towns and the bourgeoisie was an important part of it, then contemporary bourgeois participation in political, social, and economic power cannot be denied. The questions remaining are largely matters of degree: how large was the bourgeoisie; how many were in the caballería; which strata were most powerful? The fascinating prospect of a bourgeoisie that actually was quite powerful and perhaps dominant, however, can only be raised herein and some pertinent evidence noted.

Finally, these new perspectives lead inescapably to questions regarding the conventional notions of the role of the Castilian bourgeoisie in later centuries. In the past, historians have tended to minimize this role, but a revisionist trend is already well under way. How far this will take us cannot not be avouched. Certainly, Braudel’s “trahison de la bourgeoisie” is much too deterministic and value-laden an interpretation of the social process undergone in Castile.

If anything is clear from the present article, however, it is that historians very much need to remain aware of the interpretations and viewpoints with which they approach the evidence. Once the notion of perduring rusticity in Castilian towns was established, it seemed sound to regard the caballería villana as nonbourgeois. Unfortunately, instead of questioning the paradigm, subsequent generations of scholars simply sought to confirm it. A major task of the present generation of Hispanists appears to be to question the paradigm.


In modern usage, “bourgeoisie” refers to entrepreneurs in commerce, industry, and trade; this group ranges from the small shopkeeper through the wholesaler to the international merchant. The term also usually includes financiers, rentiers, lawyers, and other professionals. See Elinor G. Barber, The Bourgeoisie in Eighteenth-Century France (Princeton, 1967), pp. 18-20; and Albert Soboul, The French Revolution, 1787-1799: From the Storming of the Bastille to Napoleon, trans. Alan Forrest and Colin Jones (New York, 1974), pp. 44-51. Modern usage, however, implies a degree of social class definition and group consciousness not entirely appropriate for the centuries dealt with herein. Urban classes then were often embryonic or amorphous. Consequently, one finds it somewhat incongruous to speak of “the bourgeoisie” at that time. Another problem with “bourgeoisie” is that there are some disagreements as to what groups it comprises. Barber, The Bourgeoisie, p. 18, does not regard artisans or any persons who performed manual labor as part of the bourgeoisie, as do both Soboul, The French Revolution, p. 44, and Luis García de Valdeavellano, Orígenes de la burguesía en la España medieval (Madrid, 1969), pp. 69, 131. In the present article, artisans will be considered part of the lower levels of the bourgeoisie. To lessen the impact of present-day implications of the term “bourgeoisie,” however, the phrase “bourgeois elements” will be used most of the time to refer to the full range of the social strata in question. The actual use of the term during the historical period in question is a matter not immediately relevant to the present article; on this matter, see García de Valdeavellano, Orígenes, pp. 23-60; and John H. Mundy, Europe in the High Middle Ages, 1150-1309 (New York, 1973), pp. 237, 241, 242.


For a survey of Castilian social history based on conventional historiography, see Elena Lourie, “A Society Organized for War: Medieval Spain,” Past and Present, 35 (Dec. 1966), 54-76. A common practice among Hispanists is to speak of “Spain” when in fact only Castile is being discussed. This is understandable to some extent, for Spain is the legal successor state to Castile, and the latter was—and still is—politically and culturally dominant in Spain. The practice is unfortunate, however, when it is unwitting because it slights other significant regions of Spain. For the sake of brevity, the present article will use “Castile” to refer to both Castile and León. The latter kingdom was not united permanently with Castile until the reign of Fernando III. At present, however, León is not economically, culturally, politically, or otherwise as distinguishable from Castile as are some other parts of Spain.


Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, “España y Francia en la Edad Media. Causas de su diferenciación política,” in idem, De la invasión islámica al estado continental: Entre la creación y el ensayo (Seville, 1974), p. 65.


Santiago Sobrequés Vidal, Baja Edad Media, p. 156 (vol. 2 of Jaime Vicens Vives, ed., Historia social y económica de España y América, 2d ed., 5 vols. [Barcelona, 1972]). Américo Castro has taken a more extreme position based on his caste interpretation of Castilian society. See his The Structure of Spanish History, trans. Edmund L. King (Princeton, 1954), pp. 498-499: “The small-scale bustling about of the Spanish Jews seemed an unworthy occupation to the Christian …. The Christians later made up for this imbalance with their supremacy and distinction as ruling lords, but anything like a national commerce and industry was unknown in Spain until the middle of the nineteenth century.”


For “bourgeois elements,” see n. 1 supra.


For the caballería villana’s position as a governing class, see Adriana Bó and María del Carmen Carlé, “Cuando empieza a reservarse a los caballeros el gobierno de las ciudades castellanas,” Cuadernos de Historia de España, 4 (1946), 114-124. The classic study of this social group is that by Carmela Pescador, “La caballería popular en León y Castilla,” Cuadernos de Historia de España, 33-34 (1961), 101-238; 35-36 (1962), 52-201; 37-38 (1963), 88-198; 39-40 (1964), 169-260.


Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, preface to Pescador, “La caballería popular,” passim.


Since the original version of this article was written, Teófilo Ruiz has published a study showing that the caballería villana of one town, Burgos, had bourgeois members; see his “The Transformation of the Castilian Municipalities: The Case of Burgos, 1248-1350,” Past and Present, 77 (Nov. 1977), 3-22. Unfortunately, Burgos was the most commercial town of Castile and would not be considered typical of the towns in question in the present article. More recently, María Dolores Cabañas González has shown the intermingling of bourgeois and caballero families in a more “typical” town of central Castile. See her La caballería popular en Cuenca durante la Baja Edad Media (Madrid, 1980). This study deals with the caballería in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Another study reveals, albeit glancingly, this combined oligarchy; see Juan A. Bonachía Hernando, El Concejo de Burgos en la Baja Edad Media (1345-1426) (Valladolid, 1978), esp. pp. 47-52. This study, too, begins after the period discussed herein. Some decades ago, Rafael Gibert y Sánchez de la Vega pointed out that in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Madrid “en la mayor parte de los casos puede probarse que [caballeros] ejercen oficios artesanos o comercios”; see his El Concejo de Madrid (Madrid, 1949), p. 51.


Julio González, “La Extremadura castellana al mediar el siglo XIII,” Hispania, 34 (May-Aug. 1974) 127: 373. Some years earlier, Luis García de Vadeavellano assumed that merchants were at first forced to serve in the caballería villana, see his Orígenes, p. 106; later in the same work, however, he maintains that the caballeros of central Castilian towns were not bourgeois: see pp. 191-192. The obligatory service may be the author’s reference to Caballeros cuantiosos. Perhaps because of some further doubts, the matter is treated more ambiguously in his later work, Curso de historia de las instituciones españolas, de los orígenes al final de la Edad Media, 3d ed. (Madrid, 1973), p. 327. Two perceptive scholars have recently challenged the paradigm based on archival research for the period before 1300. Teófilo Ruiz and Thomas Glick have maintained that bourgeois elements were an important part of the caballería villana. In addition, Ruiz has pointed out that the bourgeoisie was much stronger and more dynamic than traditionally assumed. This challenge is limited, however, in that almost all the documentation has to do with Burgos, a town with an unusually well developed bourgeoisie. See the important articles by Teófilo F. Ruiz, now collected in his Sociedad y poder real (Burgos en la Baja Edad Media) (Barcelona, 1981), esp. pp. 476-480; and Thomas F. Glick’s admirable synthesis, Islamic and Christian Spain in the Early Middle Ages (Princeton, 1979); pp. 154, 159, and 162. Glick’s critique of Sánchez-Albornoz’s views is also most enlightening. In addition, merchants in Andalusian towns enjoyed caballero status; see n. 24 infra regarding Seville and also Manuel González Jiménez and José Enrique de Coca Castañer, Historia de Andalucía, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1980), II, 243. Archival documentation of bourgeois caballeros will continue to accumulate, but a refutation of the paradigm based on such evidence is not yet possible. To critique the paradigm by examining the very evidence underlying it is therefore necessary; it is also attractive for its economy.


Fueros can be broadly classified into two types: breves (“short”) and extensos (“long”), the latter arising only toward the end of the twelfth century. In both types, as scholars had formerly perceived, “families” usually derived from one particular fuero. Long ago, Hayward Keniston warned against some superficial attitudes toward the fueros. “Too often editors and critics have failed to consider the cumulative nature of the fueros …. Much investigation has been devoted to the establishment of the date at which a given town first received a fuero from a king; almost nothing has been done to determine the dates of the versions which have come down to us, information which is of paramount importance if we desire to study the relationship between the various fueros.” See Hayward Keniston, ed., Fuero de Guadalajara (1219) (Princeton, 1924), pp. xiii-xiv; a good summary of the cumulative process of the fueros can be found in idem, pp. xi-xiii. Among the fueros breves, the most influential was thought to have been the Fuero of Sepulveda (supposedly a.d. 1076). The standard work on it is Emilio Sáez, critical ed., Los Fueros de Sepúlveda (Segovia, 1953). This work contains Rafael Gibert’s historico-juridical study; Manuel Alvar’s linguistic and vocabulary study; Atiliano G. Ruiz-Zorilla’s “Los terminos antiguos de Sepulveda”; and a prolog by Pascual Marín Pérez. Shortly after publication of this work, Alfonso García-Gallo refuted the notion that this fuero was either widespread or influential; see his “Aportación al estudio de los fueros,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 26 (1956), 431-433 n.133. The “Sepúlveda family” of fueros was not the only one García-Gallo critiqued. In 1954, he expressed doubts about the alleged wide dissemination of the Fuero of Cuenca (pp. 438-439). More recently, he has argued convincingly that the Fuero of Cuenca dates not from a.d. 1180-90, but from the mid-thirteenth century, and that it and many other fueros previously thought to have stemmed from it derived from a fuero formulary drawn up some time in the latter half of the twelfth century. See Alfonso García-Gallo, “Los Fueros de Toledo,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 45 (1975), 454 n.254. Essentially the same view is expressed by Jean Roudil, “El Ms. 8331 de la Biblioteca del Arsenal de París,” Vox Romanica (Zurich), 22:1 (1963), 127-174, and 22:2 (1964), 219-380. See also his Les Fueros d’Alcaraz et d’Alarcón, 2 vols. (Paris, 1968). Recent scholarship has shown that some of the fueros formerly thought to belong to the “Cuenca family,” such as those of Cáceres and Usagre, belong to the Cima Coa area group of fueros. For a brief outline of the chronology and current understanding of fuero groups, see Enrique Gacto Fernández, Derecho medieval (Seville, 1977), pp. 82-100.

A major collection of fueros is found in Tomás Muñoz y Romero, ed., Colección de fueros municipales y cartas pueblas de los reinos de Castilla, León, Corona de Aragón y Navarra: Coordinada y anotada (Madrid, 1847); but it contains few documents from past the twelfth century. For some later fueros, see Américo Castro and Federico Onís, eds., Fueros leoneses de Zamora, Salamanca, Ledesma y Alba de Tormes, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1916), I, passim; Galo Sánchez, ed., Fueros castellanos de Soria y Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, 1919); Jean Roudil, ed., El Fuero de Baeza (The Hague, 1962); Juan Gutiérrez Cuadrado, ed., El Fuero de Béjar (Salamanca, 1974). See also Memorial histórico español. Colección de documentos, opúsculos y antigüedades que publica la Real Academia de la Historia, 49 vols. (Madrid, 1851-1916, 1948-), I, 44-53, 57-63, 86-88, 89-93, 97-100, 124-127, 175-180, 202-204, 224-228, 229, 244-246, 246-248; and Miguel de Manuel y Rodríguez, Memorias para la vida del Santo Rey Don Fernando III (Madrid, 1800), Pt. 3, 270-274, 335-337, 361-363, 415-418, 458-464, 483-485, 512-515, 515-520, 539-546.

Many fueros have been published singly in periodicals; see García de Valdeavellano, Curso, 8-12, 23. For a current bibliography, see Fernando de Arvizu, “Les fors espagnols au Moyen Age: Problème et bibliographie,” Revue Historique de Droit Français et Etranger, 57 (Oct.-Dec. 1979), 375-388.


The typology of concejos and the following outline are drawn from María del Carmen Carlé, “La ciudad y su contorno en León y Castilla (siglos X-XIII),” Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 8 (1972-73), 79. The major work on the concejo is now her Del concejo medieval castellano-leonés (Buenos Aires, 1968); but see also Antonio Sacristán y Martínez, Municipalidades de Castilla y de León: Estudio histórico-crítico (Madrid, 1877), 103-335.


Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, España, un enigma histórico, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1956), I, 678.


See the lists in Angel González Palencia, Los mozárabes de Toledo en los siglos XII y XIII, 4 vols. (Madrid, 1930), prelim. vol., 234-241. A wealthy Mozarab financed the building of the town of Zamora. Immigrant Mozarabs started influencing the culture of Castile at a very early date. Christian architecture of the ninth century bore strong Mozarabic features. See Angel González Palencia, Historia de la España musulmana, 4th ed. (Barcelona, 1945), 195-196. Familiar with Latin, Arabic, and Romance, the Mozarabs acted as transmitters of Arabic culture and science.


Sánchez-Albornoz, Enigma, II, 118.


Bó and Carlé, “Cuando,” 122. See also n.35 infra.


See the quotations from fueros in Pescador, “La caballería, 35-36 (1962), 61-64 ns. 17-33.


Fuero de Sepúlveda, tít. 213: “Todo morador del arravai, que non sea menestral, que toviere caballao que vaia xx mrs. o dent arriba, … non peche pecho ninguno, sinon moneda”; Sáez, Fueros de Sepúlveda, p. 133. Julio González, “La Extremadura,” 372-373, writes: “Por eso el rey cursó una convocatoria a los concejos de Extremadura para reunirse en Sevilla. Los acuerdos pertinentes fueron despachados por la cancillería regia en 1250-1251 …. Los menestrales, aunque tuviesen caballo y armas, no podrían escusar más que a su persona y a sus yugueros, a no ser que dejasen el oficio, en cuyo caso podrían ser caballeros con los demás.”


For a complete compilation of these acquired privileges, see Pescador, “La caballería,” 37-38 (1963), 88-164; and 39-40 (1964), 169-260. See also Alberto García Ulecia, Los factores de diferenciación entre las personas en los fueros de la Extremadura castellano-aragonesa (Seville, 1975), passim. The caballeros of Cuenca succeeded in obtaining the privilege of countrywide immunity from the portazgo (“town toll”) in 1303; see Cabañas, La caballeríaen Cuenca, 43 n.82.


Muñoz y Romero, ed., Colección, p. 222.


Ibid., p. 527.


On tax exemption, see Pescador, “La caballería,” 37-38 (1963), 148. Regarding monopoly of offices, see Bó and Carlé, “Cuando,” passim; and Pescador, “La caballería,” 39-40 (1964), 201-217, 228-233.


Privilege granted by Alfonso VI to the Mozarabs of Toledo (a. d. 1101): “… ad totos Muztarabes de Toleto, tam caballeros quam pedones … Et do eis libertatem, ut qui fuerit inter eos pedes, et voluerit militare et posse habuerit, ut militet; Muñoz y Romero, ed., Colección, I, 361. This privilege was reaffirmed in a. d. 1155; idem, I, 377. Mozarabs apparently were not accepted as equals among the caballeros everywhere. In Salamanca, they were not considered equals in judicial combat at first; this restriction was later removed; see the Fuero of Salamanca, section 334; compare Ms. A with Ms. C in Castro and Onís, Fueros leoneses, I, 76, 199.


Fuero granted to the Mozarabs, Castilians, and francos of Toledo by Alfonso VII (a. d. 1118): “… ad omnes cives Toletanos scilicet castellanos, muzarabes atque francos … et quispuis ex illis equitare voluerit, in aliquibus temporibus equitet, et intret in mores militum; Muñoz y Romero, ed., Colección, I, 380-381. With the passing of time, the Mozarabs intermixed with the francos; see García-Gallo, “Los Fueros de Toledo, 433 n. 205.


Privilege granted to Seville by Fernando III (a. d. 1251): “a los del Barrio de francos … et damos les que ayan ondra de caballeros segund fuero de Toledo e ellos nons an a fazer hueste, cuerno los cavalleros de Toledo; Diego Ortiz de Zúñiga, Anales eclesiásticos y seculares de la ciudad de Sevilla desde et año 1246 hasta el de 1671 (Madrid, 1677), I, año 1251. The strong mercantile connotation of francos in Seville was pointed out by Ramón Garande, “Sevilla, fortaleza y mercado,” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 2 (1925), 286-287. With respect to Toledo, Alfonso García-Gallo has observed that “el nombre de francos designó a los miembros de esta comunidad caracterizada más que por su origen, por su actividad mercantil”; see his “Los Fueros de Toledo,” 433 n. 205.


García-Gallo, “Los Fueros de Toledo,” 446.


Fuero de Molina: “Todo vezino de Molina que ouiere dos yuntas de bueyes con su heredat et cient oueias, tenga cavallo de siella. Si non ouiere ganado et ouiere heredat que vala mille mencales, tenga caballo de siella”; M. Sánchez Izquierdo, ed., El Fuero de Molina de Aragón (Madrid, 1916), p. 77, and quoted by García Ulecia, Factores, p. 368. Pescador cites and quotes a different version of this fuero; see her “La caballería,” 35-36 (1962), 69 n. 50. Fuero de Yanguas (a. d. 1145): “El que tenga dos bueyes, un asno y veinte cavezas de ganado menudo, no compre caballo, pero el que tenga mas ganado comprelo”: cited and quoted in Pescador, “La caballería,” 35-36 (1962), 68-69 n. 49.


See Portugalliae Monumenta Historica a saeculo octavo post Christum usque ad quintemdecimum. Legis et consuetudines, 2 vols. (Lisbon, 1856), I, 766. For some other fueros containing the wealth requirements that included bourgeois forms, see the Fuero of Alfaiates; the Fuero of Castel-Rodrigo, Book 8, section 56; the Fuero of Castello-Melhor, Book 8, all in Portugalliae, I, 812, 894, 937.


See the Fuero of Campomayor (a. d. 1260), in Memorial histórico español, I, 171.


The earliest remarks by Sánchez-Albornoz on the caballeros villanos evidently were in his “España y Francia,” 62-63, 65-66. The first extended discussion of this group was by Laureano Díez Canseco, “Sobre los fueros del Valle de Fenar, Castrocalbón, y Pajares (Notas para el estudio del Fuero de León),” Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 1 (1924), 369-371. (In the same premier issue of this journal, Sánchez-Albornoz published an article in which the caballeros villanos were mentioned only in passing and, therefore, does not warrant being cited as a contribution to the study of this group, as has been claimed by some of his students.) See also Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz, Estampas de la vida en León durante el siglo x (Madrid, 1926), pp. 23 n. 26, 24-25, 83 n. 12.


Sánchez-Albornoz, Enigma, II, 53: “La imagen de un patriciado urbano o rural de la Castilla del siglo XIII o del XIV habría sido la de un caballero polvoriento cubierto por un ferreo capillo, … No era la imagen de un poderoso caballero sino la de un caballero hijodalgo o ciudadano …”; see also idem, I, 672-673.


This work is cited in n. 7 supra.


Pescador, “La caballería,” 39-40 (1964), 241.


Ibid., 240.


This work is cited in n. 6 supra.


Bó and Carié, “Cuando,” 122.


See n. 55 infra.


Fuero de Salamanca, 185: “Qui tovier ganado de alcaldes o de jurados de concejo o de escrivano, de la nubda, peche x moravedis e duple de ganado …”: Castro and Onís, Fueros leoneses, I, 144. Cf. Bó and Carié, “Cuando,” 122 n. 50.


Sánchez-Albornoz, Enigma, II, 115.




John K. Hyde, Society and Politics in Medieval Italy: The Evolution of the Civil Life, 1000-1350 (London, 1973), p. 171. Regarding the Florentine bourgeois knights, see Ferdinand Schevill, Medieval and Renaissance Florence, 2d ed., 2 vols. (New York, 1961), I, 105. The bourgeoisie also performed knight service in Avignon; see Mundy, Europe in the High Middle Ages, p. 249.


María del Carmen Carié, “El precio de la vida en Castilla del Rey Sabio al Emplazado,” Cuadernos de Historia de España, 15 (1951), 139. Carié argues that the enormous inflation was related not so much to the effects of the Andalusian Reconquest as to the monarchy’s constant series of monetary devaluations and revaluations, civil conflicts, and badly managed royal rents; see idem, 140. Castile shared the general European economic crisis of the thirteenth century. For a very brief outline, see the relevant section of Antonio Ubieto Arteta, Ciclos económicos en la Edad Media española (Valencia, 1969).


Antonio Ballesteros-Baretta, Alfonso X el Sabio (Barcelona, 1963), p. 168.


Carié, “Precio,” 137-138.


Francisco Martínez Marina first pointed out that the fuero was legally regarded as a pactum et foedus firmissimum, through which the inhabitants acknowledged vassalage to the sovereign; see his Ensayo histórico-crítico sobre la legislación y principales cuerpos legales de los Reinos de León y Castilla (Madrid, 1808), section 158, p. 122. Francisco de Cárdenas, however, would only go so far as to observe that the towns were regarded as juridical persons and were incorporated beginning in the eleventh century, the collectivity of its inhabitants being granted rights and faculties belonging to lords; see his Ensayo sobre la historia de la propiedad territorial en España, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1873), I, 345. Hilda Grassotti notes that the kings occasionally called “vassals” either the concejo itself or the community as a whole; see her Las instituciones feudo-vasalláticas en León y Castilla, 2 vols. (Spoleto, 1969), I, 72 n. 178. It may be noted in passing that lord-vassal relations applied between concejos also. Rafael Gibert pointed out that “in 1338 the concejo of Arcos did homage to Seville as if to its lord and acknowledged itself its good vassal”; see Gibert, “Libertades urbanas y rurales en León y Castilla durante la Edad Media,” in Colloque International, Spa. 5-8 IX 1966, Les libertés urbaines et rurales du XIe au XIVe siècle (Paris, 1968), p. 213. Carié reported other cases of vassalage among concejos in her Del concejo, p. 245 ns. 7, 8. Sacristán, Municipalidades, pp. 190-191 n. 4 bis, noted that concejos could, through a champion, challenge nobles to duels, but his documentation of a specific case appears to be of doubtful validity.


Sánchez-Albornoz, Enigma, II, 119.


García-Gallo, “Los Fueros de Toledo,” 454-456.


Fuero de Baeza (a. d. 1226), paragraphs 385-391, 448, 524, 548-612, 744-779, 866, 869, 872-874, 877, 879-897, 901, 903, 905; all found in Roudil, Fuero de Baeza, pp. 131-133, 145-160, 165-169, 175-178, 203-209, 226, 227-228, 228-229, 229, 230-234, 235, 236, respectively.


Rafael de Ureña y Smenjaud, ed., Fuero de Cuenca (Formas primitiva y sistemática: Texto latino, texto castellano y adaptación del Fuero de Iznatoraf) (Madrid, 1935); Fuero of Cuenca (Forma sistemática), chaps. 32-34, 42 (pp. 684-721), chaps. 17-19 (pp. 464-511), and chap. 26 (pp. 590-600), respectively. See also Fuero de Zorita de los Canes, sections 374-439, 473-500, in idem, ed., El fuero de Zorita de los Canes según el códice 247 de la Biblioteca Nacional (siglo XIII al XIV) y sus relaciones con el Fuero latino de Cuenca y el Romanceado de Alcázar (Madrid, 1911), pp. 193-216, 227-234, respectively.


García-Gallo, “Aportación,” 446.


García de Valdeavellano, Orígenes, esp. pp. 184-186.


See the term borghese in Prospero Viani, Dizionario de pretesi francesini e di pretese voci e forme erronee della lingua italiana, 2 vols. (Florence, 1858), I, 223. Regarding “citizen” in Italy, see William M. Bowsky, “Medieval Citizenship: The Individual and the State in the Commune of Siena, 1287-1355,” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, 4 (1967), 205. Occasionally, a person of modest means could obtain citizenship if his particular skills were in short supply; see idem, 216.


A comparison of the Latin and Castilian versions of the Cortes of 1202 shows burgensis translated as ciudadano-, Manuel Colmeiro, ed., Cortes de los antiguos reinos de León y Castilla, 5 vols. (Madrid, 1883-84), I, 43, 45. Cf. Pescador, “La caballería,” 39-40 (1964), 190. One cannot equate vecinos with the Italian cittadini. In the Italian città, citizenship was a far more restricted category than vecindad ever became. Although not the sole criterion for citizenship, wealth certainly was the preponderant element in determining the acquisition of cittadini status. More significantly, citizenship constituted the highest juridically privileged group in the città.


Fuero de Soria, chap. 5, section 42: “esse mismo dia la collacion do el yudgado cayere den juez sabio que sepa departir entre la verdat y la mentira y el derecho y el tuerto y que tenga casa poblada en la villa y el caballo y las armas … y si lo assi non toujere, que non ssea juez”; Galo Sánchez, Fueros castellanos, p. 19. Fuero de Guadalajara (a. d. 1219), §. 51: “cavallero qui oviere cavallo e armas de fust e de fierro e toviere casa poblada en la villa non peche e sea excusado”; Keniston, ed., Fuero de Guadalajara, p. 9. Fuero de Zorita de los Canes, p. 328: “Ca tod aquel que casa en la uilla non touiere poblada, et cauallo en el anno passado, non sea iuez”; Ureña, Fuero de Zorita, p. 176. Fuero de Béjar, section 499: “qui non touier casa en la uilla poblada e cauallo por el anno ante que es passado non sea iudez”; Gutiérrez Cuadrado, Fuero de Béjar, p. 107. Fuero de Baeza, section 398: “Del descoger del iuez … [y] de alcaldes … [y] del escrivano … den iuez … que aya casa en la uilla … [y] cavallo. Ca todo aquel que casa poblada non tuuhere en la uilla... [y] cauallo de un anno ante, non sea iuez”; Roudil, Fuero de Baeza, pp. 134-135. Fuero de Cuenca (Forma sistemática), chap. 16, section 3: “Quia quicumque casam in civitate populatam non tenuerit, et equm per annum precedenten, non sit iudex, neque alcaldus …”; Ureña, Fuero de Cuenca, p. 423. For other fueros with this provision, see Bó and Carié, “Cuando,” 122-123 ns. 51-53; Pescador, “La caballería,” 39-40 (1964), 210-211 n. 154, 215 n. 168; Sacristán, Municipalidades, p. 246 n. 1.


Perhaps the clearest statement of these combined stipulations appears in the Fuero of Cuenca: “Qui toviere casa poblada en la villa, et non tovier caballo et armas, non haya portiello”; Manuel y Rodríguez, Memorias, p. 336. Fuero de Sepúlveda, §. 24: “Alcayde, neque merino, neque archipresbiter non sit nisi de villa; et iudex [sit de villa et a] nnal et per las collationes”; Sáez, Fueros de Sepúlveda, p. 47. Merely having one’s residence in the town sometimes was cause for tax exemption, as in the Fuero of Zorita, §. 7; see Ureña, Fuero de Zorita, p. 34. Also see the passages quoted in n. 53 supra.


See provisions in the Fuero of Baeza, n. 53 supra: and in the Fuero of Salamanca, n. 37 supra. For other fueros with this requirement, see Pescador, "La caballería, ’ 39-40 (1964), 202 ns. 124, 125; and Bó and Carié, “Cuando,” 122 n. 50.


See José Bono, Historia del derecho notarial español (Madrid, 1979), pp. 186ff.


Gibert, El Concejo de Madrid, I. 233. Fuero de Soria, chap. 6, section 73: “… Sean puestos escrivanos publicos... Et escrivan los juyzios que dieren los alcaldes y fagan las cartas que les mandaren fazer aquellos que vinieren abenidos antellos. Et tengan las notas primeras de las cartas que fizieren, quier delos juyzios, quier delas vendidas o de las debdas o otro pleito qual quier”; Galo Sanchez, Fueros castellanos, p. 30.


Julián García Sáinz de Baranda, La ciudad de Burgos y su concejo en la Edad Media, 2 vols. (Burgos, 1967), II, 117.

Author notes


I wish to thank Frederick Chapman, Associate Librarian for International Legal Studies at Harvard University, for his gracious and unstinting help in locating several important sources.