Wear and Tear of the Spanish Regime and Resumption of Italian Life Part 1

Apart from these outbursts of energy, which occasionally reveal the tenacious vitality of the old monarchy, the many signs of its growing wear and tear in the Italian countries subject to it should be noted: which are also, to some extent, the signs of Italian vitality , in the process of being invigorated. It is already significant that the social uprisings of Palermo, Naples, Messina all tended, more or less, to expand in an anti-Spanish sense, even by the masses, although they, without real political directives. , open to the most varied suggestions, burdened by the weight of the privileged local classes, they always ended up resting in loyalty to Spain and perhaps supporting it. The Italian provinces, then, yielded less and less to Spain; more and more their tax revenues were dispersed without the advantage of the state. There were already provinces deeply ruined by bad governance and abandonment and taxation. And then, a large part of the taxes, such as those of the focatico and those on the feudatories, were sold or entrusted, for collection, to rich barons, capitalists, to pious places who had advanced the money to the court. What went to the tax authorities of public burdens and state property was less and less, compared to what went to contractors, tax collectors, creditors: although taxes did not decrease at all, far from it. Sold large quantities of offices and jurisdictions; sold almost all the 2,000 towns and villages that the Kingdom counted; the royal customs and transit duties have been sold. So a tangle of particular administrations, while the public finances emptied and collapsed. State control over these particular administrations is virtually nil, because the controllers are creatures of the controlled. The kingdom of Naples, an envoy reported in 1673, although very burdened, he no longer gave anything, except for the expenses for the garrisons, for the galleys, for the courts, for the embassies of Rome, Venice, Paris, Vienna. The same, that of Sicily. As for the kingdom of Sardinia, it is completely alienated and soldiers and magistrates can hardly be paid with what is taken from the concessionaires. From Messina and other coastal cities, after the revolution, a movement of people inland took place. A new census should have been carried out for tax purposes. But the viceroys, either corrupted by the barons who had welcomed the refugees, or otherwise busy, they no longer took censuses, after 1678. Nor were there any more, from 1674 onwards, those general visitors that the king first sent every 6 years to supervise the conduct of the viceroys, military judges, state officials, etc., to report them to the Sovereign Council of Italy, to place limits on the authority of the viceroys. These viceroys, who previously lasted 3 years in office, now last up to 7, making their authority almost unlimited. Even the regents who, two for Sicily, two for Naples, two for Milan, sat in the Council of Italy in Madrid to watch over abuses, and who previously changed every 3 years, no longer change, to the detriment of justice and of the government. Even in the Milanese area these signs were observed as of detachment of the country from its government, of corruption of the liaison and control bodies. Viceroy and governors, bureaucracy,

To what extent is this takeover of Italian forces or forces operating from Italy not merely negative, not only the decadence of the Spanish monarchy in itself and in the organs in which it was incarnated, but also a positive fact and progress of Italian society, or, at least , results in an impulse to Italian society and its own action, it is difficult to say. Of course, it is also a positive fact and progress of Italian society and directly or indirectly solicits this progress, in correspondence with a whole revival of Italian spiritual energies and a more favorable international political situation which has significant and benefits reflected in Italy. In short, one gets the impression that the culminating moment of that crisis in Italian life at the beginning of the modern age is about to be overcome, more or less, in various environments. In Milan, until the middle of the 17th century, there was a continuous decrease in wool mills. But in the second half of the century, conditions are less unfavorable, if so many new industrial initiatives appear for this and other industries, including foreigners, British or French. Piedmont also hints at hastening the pace: and care is taken at the port of Nice, to make it an international emporium, ideas of credit institutions are launched, some ideas of economic freedom and criticism of mercantilist policy emerge. There is still a weak economic life in the country: but many people, especially nobles, have a lot of money invested outside the state. And, inside, many projects of treaties with foreign countries, commercial companies, etc. Great interest is being given to England, Holland and France, with their trading and shipping companies.

According to holidaysort, there are also signs of an agricultural activity that is taking hold: of course, also due to the process of private appropriation of communal lands, suppression of civic uses, closure of open lands, etc. Then that same transformation of the fiefdom into an allod is being renewed that already at the end of the Middle Ages. In the kingdom of Naples, especially with Philip IV, the circle of people who could claim inheritance rights increased, the ease of selling and reselling the fiefdom increased: what assimilated, in fact, a fief to allodio and increased the concessionaire’s interest in cultivation . In Tuscany, the descriptions made by the ambassadors of Lucca of the grand duchy are less black than until then. It is noted that the production of wheat and wine is growing and it is possible to export them; that the money withdrawn from the trades and gone to the land begins to bear fruit, as the studies of the school of Galileo give their fruits for the arrangement of the waters and the reclamation of the land, in Val di Chiana, in Val d’Arno, in Maremma. He also began to work, especially in the private lands of the Medici, which had grown considerably from the 16th century onwards, but were poorly maintained.

Wear and Tear of the Spanish Regime and Resumption of Italian Life 1

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