Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Robert Neil
Sanford Shepard


Comuneros, Revolution, Castilian


My attention was drawn to the problem of the revolution of the Comunidades by a chance rereading of the Bible of Hispanic history, Sr. Jaime Vicens Vives' "Approaches to the History of Spain" (cf. Bibliography). Sr. Vicens notes in his discussion of sixteenth-century Castille that one of the "noble elements" that was "pruned" by the rising orthodoxy was "the bourgeois ideal in the War of the Comunidades" (p. 97). My suspicions were immediately aroused by this remark, as I have always deferred to J.H. Elliott's characterization of the Comuneros as traditionalist, quasi-feudal reactionaries. A hasty perusal of Elliott (cf. Bibliography) failed to resolve the contradiction and, having smelled a rat, I began to do preliminary research on the Comuneros. I soon found that serious scholarly investigation of the subject had been carried out by only a handful of historians. This is not to say that Spanish historians and other Hispanists had overlooked the Comunidades- far from the contrary. However, it was quite apparent that the revolt/revolution of the Comuneros was one of those lamentable historical events which are often commented upon but very rarely understood.

The complex nature of the problem, plus the strongly ideological character of its various nineteenth and twentieth century interpretations led me to be wary of formulating any sweeping generalizations about the ultimate goals and historical significance of the Comuneros. Thus it was after some two months of preliminary reading that I sat down to draw up a few tentative conclusions. They were: first, that in terms of both "method" and "intent", the so-called "revolt" of 1520-21 could be more properly termed a "revolution", albeit an unsuccessful one. (Hence the title of the thesis...); second, that there were indeed valid economic as well as political reasons for this revolution, a fact totally ignored by both the more traditional historians and the "revisionist" Maravall (cf. below, pp. 58-76); and third, that the economic causes of the revolution were without a doubt intimately related to the general crisis of the Castillian middle class during the early modern period (15th-17th centuries).

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