The Revolt of Aragon, 1591-1592

A.) Prehistory

The history of Spain, as a state, is regarded to begin with Carlos I. (= Emperor Charles V.) in 1516. From then onward there is a single line of kings of Castile and Aragon; Spain develops central institutions such as the capital, Madrid. However, this Kingdom of Spain was largely Castilian in nature; Aragon, within Spain, was reduced to being a sideland, with her own constitution, her own political institutions. Aragon differed very much from Castile, as the Aragonese Cortes was much more influential than the Cortes of Castile. In Aragon, suspicion was widespread that King Philip II. wanted to remodel Aragon according to the Castilian model.
In succession of his father's policy, Philip II. leaned on Castile's nobility (always watching out that no individual person or family got too powerful); the Aragonese nobility attempted to improve their status toward the peasants; the feudal taxes increased.
Philip II. interfered in a conflict between the Duke of Villahermosa and the Count of Chincon over the Barony of Ribagorza. The Justicia of Aragon defended the liberties of Aragon against what was perceived a Castilian infringement. On several instances, the mob in Zaragoza attacked Castilian officials; Philip II.'s envoy, the Marquis de Almenara, died of wounds inflicted in such an attack.

B.) The Rebellion

Philip II. did not intend to alter the constitution of Aragon, merely punish acts of illoyalty. In Oct. 1591 an armed force of 12,000 men was sent; the Justicia of Aragon, Lanuza, was executed (dec. 1591); in January 1592 a general amnesty was proclaimed.
From hindsight, the rebellion was unnecessary; lack of sensitivity on the side of Philip II. escalated the tension; by enforcing royal will little was gained, while considerable damage had been done.

C.) The Legacy

Aragon continued to enjoy their political autonomy, their traditional laws. Aragonese suspicion of the central government in Madrid only increased. Castile continued to bear the lion's share of the costs of Spanish foreign policy.

The Revolt of Aragon 1591-1592, from History Learning Site
Las alteraciones de 1591, from Info Goya, in Spanish
Historia de Aragon, Aragon en la unificacion dinastica de las coronas, in Spanish
Revolt of Aragon and its suppression, from Martin Hume, Spain under Philip II., posted by MATEO

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 8th 2003, last revised by November 17th 2004

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