Iberian Rivals or Identical Twins? Public Finances in Portugal and Castile in the Later Middle Ages in Comparative Perspective

Rodrigo Dominguez, University of Minho
Federico Gálvez Gambero, University of Málaga

How to justify a fiscal pressure in times of war? And how to justify extraordinary collection in times of political stability? This dilemma remains essential to observe the rise of financial mechanisms in both Portuguese and Castilian crowns in the fourteenth century and the justifying element-base of a new fiscal ethos. Using the ideas of state capacity and warfare, i.e., military operations between rival states or kingdoms, which promotes competition as a catalyst for fiscal innovations and an increase in financial capacity, this paper will aim to analyze, through the using of local sources from a comparative perspective (municipal documentation, Cortes’ records, and kings' chancelleries), and fiscal data available for the period, the development processes of the treasury-fiscal control offices in both Portugal and Castile, going through synchronized stages of evolution. Simultaneously, it is intended to examine how wars put pressure on both crowns in parallel, in the process of creating new collection mechanisms. Furthermore, how the more regular, stable, and permanent use of already existing fiscal instruments, derived from tributes, or conversion of manorial rights was also provided within a dynamic of creating an idea of collectiveness or state finance. Collecting revenues in the name of the "common good" represented the opposite of getting involved in conflicts and mobilizing troops. Supporting defensive wars was more easily justified than offensive initiatives. The constant fights between Castile and Portugal, regarding the disputes for the two Iberian crowns, i.e., the Wars of 1295-1297 regarding the Castilian succession, and the Fernandine Wars (1369-1382), will be our "milestones" as an object of analysis to try to understand this process of conversion and development in a broader perspective, between the 13th and 14th centuries, especially from the point of view of their respective financial situations and their tax collection mechanisms.

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 Presented in Session 79. Economics of War