GRANDEE

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GRANDEE. In the kingdom of Castile, and in that of Arragon, there was a distinction of rank among the nobles of the country, who belonged partly to the higher, and partly to the lower, nobility. The ricos hombres (literally, rich men) made up the former; the knights (cavalleros) and gentlemen (hidalgos) the latter. The circumstances of the establishment of the new Christian states, which were founded and enlarged amid perpetual struggles against the Moors, procured an important share in the public affairs, for the descendants of the men who constituted the first armed associations for the deliverance of their country. These were the higher nobility. They limited the power of the king; they surrounded him, as his counsellors, by birthright, and had a priority of claim to the highest offices of state. As early as the 13th century, these rights were legally recognised as belonging to certain noble families, which had gained the respect of the people by their opulence and long possession of the favor of their princes; and even the name grandee occurs, about that age, in the code of laws (las siete partidas), which Alfonso X established in the kingdom of Castile. This distinction belonged only to the principal members of the higher nobility, as many wrere reckoned in this class who were not called grandees. But none were called grandees, who were not ricos hombres, i. e., descended from a family of the ancient nobility. The grandees consisted partly of the relatives ofthe royal house, and partly of such members of the high feudal nobility, distinguished for their wealth, as had, by the grant of a banner, received from the king the right to enlist soldiers under their own colors, and had thus acquired precedence of the other ricos hombres, which distinction regularly descended to their posterity. As ricos hombres, they partook of all the privileges of the high nobility: as such, they possessed certain feudal tenures (called royal fafs or lordships), in consideration of which they were bound to serve the king with a proportionate number of lances (each of which consisted of a horseman with four or five armed attendants),; tiiese fiefs they could be deprived of only in certain cases determined by law. They were free from taxes, on account of serving the king with their property and persons in war. They could not be subjected to the jurisdiction of any civil or criminal judges, without the special commission of the king. They might, at any time, during the anarchy of the middle ages, leave the kingdom, together with their vassals, without hinderance, and withdraw themselves from the laws and feudal service of their country, and join another prince, even against their former sovereign, without being considered traitors on that account. Besides these general prerogatives of the higher nobility, and the priority of claim to the highest offices of state, the grandees possessed some peculiar distinctions. Such, in particular, was the right of covering the head in the presence of the king, with his permission, on all public occasionsan ancient privilege among the Spaniards, which had its origin in the spirit of a limited feudal monarchy: this, however, was conceded also to the (so called) titulos (titled personages, viz., dukes and counts). The king called each of them "my cousin" (miprimo), while he addressed the other members of the high nobility only as " my kinsman" (mi pari ente). In the cortes, they sat immediate ly after the prelates, before the titulos They had free entrance into the palace and apartments of the king, and, on festi val occasions, sat in the royal chapel near the altar. Their wives participated in the external marks of respect belonging to the rank of their husbands: the queen rose up from her seat to receive them, and cushions were laid for them upon an elevated settee (estrada). After Ferdinand and Isabella, guided and assisted by the able Ximenes, crushed the power of the feudal nobility,the privileges ofthe higher nobility were diminished ; and, at the close of the 15th century, the name of the ncos hombres was lost, together with their privileges. Though Ferdinand's successor, Charles V, was little inclined to give up the struggle for unlimited power, he nevertheless found many inducements to attach some of the principal men of the kingdom to himself, and to reward others for the important services which they had rendered him in the suppression of the insurrection of the commons. The rank which ancient custom had fixed in the respect of the people, he distinguished by the name ofgrandezza, and raised to be a particular order of nobility, the prerogatives of which consisted mostly in external marks of dis tinction. Thus he avoided reviving the power possessed by the feudal nobility in early ages, and completed what had been begun under Ferdinand and Isabella, by making of an independent feudal nobility a dependent order of court nobles. There were three classes of grandees. Some the king commanded to be covered before they spoke to him: these were grandees of the first elass. Others received the command as soon as they had spoken, and so heard his answer with their heads covered: these were grandees of the second class. Others, again, did not receive the king's command to be covered until after he had answered them: these were grandees of the third class. Latterly, it is true, these distinctions of rank became antiquated ; but there were still three classes of grandees, although without any essential differences. They all enjoyed, up to the time of the last revolution, besides the abovementioned privileges, that of being called excellency, and that of having a stamp given with the foot, when they entered the royal palace through the hall of the guards, by way of notice to the sentinel to present arms to them. They had no other marks of distinction from the rest of the high nobility. They did not constitute a particular society, as did formerly the dukes and peers in France ; and no high offices were exclusively appropriated to them, except, perhaps, the mastership of the horse, the lordchamberlainship, and the captaincy of the halberdier guard, might be so considered. In truth, the royal will was not subjected to any limits in the nomination even to these courtoffices.