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  • 1. The Armada and Administrative Reform: The Spanish Council of War in the Reign of PhilipIIAuthor(s): I. A. A. ThompsonSource: The English Historical Review, Vol. 82, No. 325 (Oct., 1967), pp. 698-725Published by: Oxford University PressStable URL: .Accessed: 01/02/2011 11:36Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . .Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The EnglishHistorical Review.

2. 698 OctoberTheArmadaandadministrative reform:theSpanish council warin thereignof ofPhilip IITHE formative role of warfare in the development of the earlymodern state has become a commonplace, but a commonplace thathas gained currency more by faithful reiteration than by adequatedemonstration. A recent conference on War and Society, I300-600oo2 unable to contribute to the problem much more than a wasstring of questions which, however interesting and relevant, merelyhelped to underline how few answers have yet been found. Thisarticle is an attempt to investigate the relationship between war andadministrative change in the case of one particular governmentalinstitution, the Spanish council of war. Spain must stand in the forefront of any consideration of theproblem of war and government in the sixteenth century. For morethan a hundred years Spains armies dominated the battlefields ofEurope. At the same time she built up a governmental machine morecomplex and certainly more far-reaching than any of her rivals. Ifwarfare was a dominant theme in the history of Spain under CharlesV and Philip II, a modern authority has written, bureaucratizationwas another.3 The council of war - the body that was responsiblefor advising on military appointments, logistical planning, and theday-to-day administration of the permanent naval and militaryestablishments in Spain, North Africa, and the Balearic and Atlanticislands - is the bridge-institution par excellence the Spanish system, infor it is here most obviously that military demand and administrativeresponse come together. In I96o, at the Stockholm Historical Congress, the late ProfessorVicens Vives put forward a stimulating interpretation of adminis-trative development in the western Mediterranean, postulating aconjunction between the growth of modern absolute monarchy andthe culmination of the great Ottoman offensive. In his view, thecrucial decade was the I 53os when the naval war in the Mediterraneantook on really significant proportions.4 But this was a paper moreinspired than substantiated. There is no reason to believe that, atthat time, much of the burden of the Mediterranean war fell on theorgans of government in Castile. Throughout Charles Vs reign, i. I should like to thank Professor K. Garrad for having read and commented onthis paper.2. Reported in Past and Present, 22 July 1962. .3 J. H. Elliott, ImperialSpain I469-17I6 (I963), p. I6o.4. J. Vicens Vives, Estructura administrativa estatal en los siglos XVI y XVII,Rapportsiv, XIe CongresInternational Sciences des Historiques(Stockholm, 1960), pp. 8, 9. 3. I967IN THE REIGNOF PHILIPII699there was never more than a handful of galleys attached to theflotilla of Spain. Nor were the numerous administrative functions ofwar undertaken solely by ministers of the Crown. Charles V reliedmuch more than his son on private contractors to run the galleys,feed and pay the troops, and maintain frontier defences. Even underPhilip II, defence against the Turk was an obligation that fell onItaly even more heavily than it did on Spain.2 Moreover, the patternof administrative change does not fit the chronology of the Turkishwar. The only wholesale reconstruction of government in Spainduring Charless reign occurred not under the pressure of the Otto-man naval offensive but in 522, on the emperors return to Spain.3This reorganization was motivated partly, but not entirely, by theexpenses of Empire and the fiscal and military demands of the waragainst France. Clearly more adequate arrangements for the mobili-zation of funds and for the reception of bullion from the Indies wererequired, but it was also necessary to re-establish a government thathad been neglected for years and reduced to chaos by the absence ofthe king and the revolt of the comuneros. Moreover, some kind ofmachinery had to be created that could work independently of asovereign whose other obligations made permanent residence inCastile impossible; and here Burgundian examples seem to haveprovided a stimulus and a model.4 The system established between522 and 524 remained without major modification until the I 5 os.Then, the dismembering of the Habsburg empire and the accessionof the more sedentary and introverted Philip II saw governmentbecome both more Spanish and more regularized. The changes ofthe first half of Philip IIs reign were, with the exception of the newcouncil of Italy, designed to make the existing machinery moreeffective and to eliminate ambiguities in existing ordinances.5 Theexpansion that took place was an expansion less of the administrationthan of the judicature. The central organs of military government,the council and the secretariat of war, whose history could most havebeen expected to conform to Vicens Vivess interpretation, followthe broad lines of development marked out by other branches ofthe administration. Not until the I58os was there any significantalteration. I. Ram6n Carande, Carlos Vy sus banqueros, La hacienda ii, real de Castilla (Madrid,I949), pp. 209 ff., 207, on galley contracts and the administration of Oran and Bougie.Gabriel de Morales, Datospara la historiade Melilla (Melilla, I909), p. 22, on the admini-stration of the fortress of Melilla by the duke of Medina Sidonia. 2. H. G. Koenigsberger, The Government Sicilyunder ofPhilip II of Spain (195 I), p. 54. 3. For the details of this reorganization see Antonio Rodriguez Villa, El EmperadorCarlos Vy su Corte segtn las cartas de Don Martin de Salinas, Embajadordel Infante DonFernando (1722-39) (Madrid, I903), pp. 71, 72, 88, Ioo, o02, I49, i68, I73, 263, 327, 353. 4. Carande, chap. 2 passim. 5. Francisco de Laiglesia, Estudios Histdricos (IZ/y-z/y) (Madrid, I908), p. 197;Francisco Gallardo Fernandez, Origen,Progresos Estado de las Rentas de la CaronadeyEspata, sugobiernoy iadministracidn,(Madrid, 1817), pp. 25, 26. 4. 7oo0THE SPANISHCOUNCILOF WAROctoberIThe origins of the council of war are obscure. Contemporary com-mentators ascribed its inception to Don Pelayo in the eighth centuryor even saw it as co-terminous with the monarchy itself. However,the first reference to a council of war existing as a recognizable unitof the administration cannot be pushed further back than I5 6.2Before that no mention is made of it; after II56, its continuedexistence is testified by an increasing quantity of evidence. Nothing,then, is known about its institution or its antecedents. It may haveemerged gradually as a sub-committee of the council of Castile, inmuch the same way as did the council of the Indies, but this is littlemore than guesswork. If 1516 was the date of its first appearance, itmay be connected in some way with the absence of direct royalcontrol after the death of Ferdinand, and may have been set up eitheras a political device to dilute the power of Cisneros or to assist himin the prosecution of the war against Francis I. In 522, the councilwas reconstituted as part of the general reform of the household.3After 1522, there is no evidence of any substantial change in thecouncil of war until the accession of Philip II in 1556, and this prob-ably amounted to no more than a change of personnel, possiblyassociated with Philips noted preference for Spanish advisers.4 Apartfrom this, the structure of the council seems to have remainedunaltered for more than sixty years, and these precisely the years ofthe greatest Turkish military and naval pressure. Indeed, throughoutthe reign of Charles V the position of the council of war in thegovernmental hierarchy was highly insecure, and it may even havepassed through periods of more or less complete atrophy. Under theemperor, the council continued to be thought of as a personal and I. See Mariano Alcocer Martfnezs untitled article on the councils in RevistaHistdrica,Valladolid,ii (I925), I45-57, p. 15 1, and Santiago Agustin Riol. Informe que hizo a SuMagestad en i6 de Junio de 1726 ... sobre la creaci6n, erecci6n, e instituci6n de losConsejos y Tribunales .. ., in Antonio Valladares de Sotomayor, SemanarioErudito,iii(Madrid, 1787), 191, 195. 2. A[rchivo] G[eneral de] S[imancas], Estado legajo 3, fo. i, Relacion de las personasque tiene a cargo de despachar los negocios destos Reinos, dated only by the year I 5 6,states simply, Castilla las cosas de la guerra al c6sejo dla guerra. This is a year earlierthan the earliest record found by Fritz Walser, Die SpanischenZentralbehorden der undStaats R

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