Absolutism: Buying off the nobility

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    Dr. J.,

    In Lecture 10, you say that Ferdinand and Isabella bought off the nobility in Castile. I’m unclear about what the actual trade off was. You say that the King wanted more authority over the nobles’ territories, yet one of the “pay-offs” for the nobles was more control (i.e. authority) over commoners. That seems contradictory. What increase in authority was the monarchy gaining? Control over resources? Also, why was this buy-off necessary in Castile, but not Aragon?

    Jason Jewell

    Ray, sorry for the slow reply. I have been out of town for a conference and family vacation since last Thursday and won’t be home till next Wednesday. I don’t have my notes with me and am going off the top of my head, but I can see where the statement might seem contradictory because in the modern world control over the common man through taxation is the mark of the State’s power. In the 15th century this was not necessarily how monarchs thought. They wanted to end resistance from the Church and the local nobility to their policies, and one way they achieved this was by promising not to interfere in the nobles’ “micro” policies if the nobility would stop resisting the monarchs’ “macro” policies so much.

    I can try to get you more details when I return home next week.

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