[University of Santiago de Compostela]
The Boards and the end of the Kingdom
At first, it could attract attention that, right after the affirmation of royal power in Galicia at the beginning of the Modern Age, a new institution appeared, which in some way gave political personality to our Kingdom and contributed to particularize it until the new provincial division of Javier de Burgos. The origin and consolidation of the Xuntas of the Kingdom of Galicia is a process not yet well known, but we know that it developed in the first third of the sixteenth century, at the same time as the appearance of the new internal provinces, first five and then seven. But it is, in principle, an assembly that the monarchy uses as an intermediary to bring fiscal and military requests to a good conclusion, which was not easy to distribute in a territory due to its "constitution" (habitat, poor communications, division into jurisdictions and quotas of gentlemen...) opposed many resistances to the powers external to the neighboring communities. The Meetings, formed by a deputy from each provincial head, were now to come to the aid of the monarchical authorities, as the governor recalled in 1552, dealing with the retail distribution of certain blunderbusses.
However, the Meetings also tried to negotiate matters that, in the opinion of their members, belonging to the nobility, were of interest to the Kingdom, such as the defense of its coasts and above all the recovery of the vote in courts. It is not a coincidence that since 1522 the question of the vote has been in the hands of the new assembly, very different in its composition from the meeting of feudal lords that had taken place in Melide on December 4, 1520, to prevent the War of the Communities from starting in Galicia, and in which the congregants also asked for a vote. Once the commoners were defeated, and royal power was re-established in 1522, there would be no more assemblies of feudal lords, and the political role would go to the gentlemen deputies of the heads of the province.
The most intense activity of the Meetings of the Kingdom took place from the end of the 16th century until the end of the War of Succession. From 1599 the meetings were very frequent and the deputies were careful that the minutes of the agreements taken were filed. The growing needs of fiscal resources and extraordinary levies of the monarchy forced the governor to call frequent meetings, some very long, in which the deputies were not always docile, particularly during the reign of Carlos II and in the years of the War of Succession. The recovery of the vote in courts in 1623, in exchange for a donation that should have been used to finance the "Galicia squad", was a political success, because the capital cities of the province came to control the collection of the so-called "millions" service. so that Galicia was left to form part of the tax area of Zamora.
After the War of Succession, the deputies, who will resist voting on certain requests and for the granted soldiers to leave the Kingdom, were called to Madrid, detained and warned, and from then on the meetings will be quite routine, dedicated to renewing the granting of the millions and the case has come to negotiate other matters, case of the renewal of the forums or commercial privileges, as has been studied by Manuel María de Artaza.
The route of the Juntas Reino cannot be done, I understand, in black or white. As a parliamentary institution they undoubtedly had weaknesses: except in specific circumstances, they met by order of the monarch or the governor and captain general; they lacked their own fiscal resources; there were frequent fights between the cities, and none was officially recognized as "head"; they negotiated, but did not legislate or govern, and most importantly, they did not defend "liberties", "constitutions" or "forums", as happened with the courts of the territories of the crown of Aragon and Navarre, with the assemblies of the Basque provinces or with the States General of Brittany , which guaranteed, while they existed, an institutional framework from which the entire population benefited to a greater or lesser extent.
But on the other hand, the Xuntas achieved that throughout the Modern Age Galicia maintained a political personality that gave institutional visibility and a sense of identity to the Kingdom, as evidenced by the minutes edited (the fundamental ones by Antonio Eiras Roel), the fact that they came to appoint chronicler and also the preparation of many histories of Galicia, some printed and others not, and in which, according to the criteria of the time, the Galician Kingdom is qualified as the oldest, the most noble and the most Christian of those that formed the Catholic monarchy. With the new provincial division, the Unitary Kingdom will disappear, giving rise to a new political-administrative situation, of which some intellectuals of the 1840s quickly became aware.
Professor of Modern History at the University of Santiago de Compostela.
Main lines of research: The Galician rural world, 1480-1860. Demography, economy, society, culture.
A dozen and a half books, between them Economy, politics and society in Galicia: the province of Mondoñedo (Madrid, 1985); The Royal Treasury in Galicia during the Old Regime (Santiago, 1993); Daily life in the Galicia of the Old Regime (Barcelona, 1994; shorter version in Galician from 1992); From the houses of residence to the communal hill (Santiago 1998); Lordships and peasant communities in the Spain of the Old Regime (A Coruña, 2003); The Old Regime. Society and Politics and Culture (5 vols. within the collection A Great History of Galicia, The Voice of Galicia, 2007); Demarcations, toponyms, papers, memory. On the division and control of the territory in Modern Galicia, A Coruña, Royal Galician Academy, 2013., The opulence of the sons of Saint Bernard. The Cistercian in Galicia, c. 1480-1835 (Zaragoza, 2021); is also editor of several works, for example, by Lords and peasants in the Iberian Peninsula, XVIII-XX centuries, Barcelona, Critica, 1991, 2 vols. (co-editor with Ramón Villares). Half a hundred articles in specialized magazines from several countries, and more than a hundred collaborations in collective works
Principal investigator in fourteen Projects and contracts and director or co-director of a dozen Doctoral Theses.
It belongs to several cultural institutions, among them the Real Academia Galega.