Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Release: Crawford, "The Fight for Status and Privilege in Late Medieval and Early Modern Castile, 1465–1598"

New from Penn State University Press: The Fight for Status and Privilege in Late Medieval and Early Modern Castile, 1465–1598, by Michael J. Crawford (McNeese State University). A description from the Press:
In The Fight for Status and Privilege in Late Medieval and Early Modern Castile, 1465–1598, Michael Crawford investigates conflicts about and resistance to the status of hidalgo, conventionally understood as the lowest, most heavily populated rank in the Castilian nobility. It is generally accepted that legal privileges were based on status and class in this premodern society. Crawford presents and explains the contentious realities and limitations of such legal privileges, particularly the conventional claim of hidalgo exemption from taxation. He focuses on efforts to claim these privileges as well as opposing efforts to limit and manage them. Although historians of Spain acknowledge such conflicts, especially lawsuits associated with this status, none have focused a study on this extraordinarily widespread phenomenon. This book analyzes the inevitable contradictions inherent in negotiation for and the implementation of privilege, scrutinizing the many jurisdictions that intervened in these struggles and debates, including the crown, judiciary, city council, and financial authorities. Ultimately, this analysis imparts important insights about the nature of sixteenth-century Castilian society with wide-ranging implications about the relationship between social status and legal privileges in the early modern period as a whole.
And more, from reviewer Scott K. Taylor ():
What did it mean to be an hidalgo? This was a important status in late medieval and early modern Spain, one that all historians know was crucial—but none have really known much about it until now. Michael Crawford argues that hidalguía had little to do with the two main justifications that contemporary Spaniards gave for the privilege: that it either derived from a racial understanding of inherited nobility or was a reward for service to the king. Instead, noble status was fluid, contingent on circumstance, political networking, and the ability to carry out lengthy lawsuits successfully. Using hitherto unexploited sources, Crawford’s subtle analysis displays the rich complexity of local government in early modern Spain, pulling attention away from the so-called absolutism of the central government and showing how much more important the officials, regulations, and courts of local municipalities were in the real lives of Spaniards.
Additional information is available here.