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Journal > Volumes > 37 (2006) / 1 (Spring)
The Spanish Reformation: Institutional Reform, Taxation, and the Secularization of Ecclesiastical Properties under Charles V
Aurelio Espinosa
Arizona State University

In 1517 Charles promised to reform the Spanish bureaucracy, but instead of implementing appointment standards and auditing mechanisms he imposed a new tax on his clerical subjects and the nobility. Causing the comunero civil war (1520–21), Charles compromised his credit with bankers because they were not able to collect Spanish municipal contributions. In 1522, Charles restored order and his finances by supporting municipal autonomy, which included the privilege of self-taxation, and by addressing grievances regarding the reform of institutions. He spent over seven years implementing fiscal and management policies formulated by the Castilian parliament. Charles reconstructed a new government under the leadership of President Tavera of the council of Castile (r. 1524–39). They forged a meritocratic bureaucracy, institutionalized procedures of accountability, and transformed ecclesiastical wealth toward the deployment of imperial projects by selling lands and municipalities of the military orders and taxing the cathedral chapters.

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