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Project funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

Ref.: HAR2011-27898-C02-01.

Validity: 1 January 2012-31 December 2014.

Main researcher: Ricardo Franch Benavent.

Change and Social Resistance in the Spanish Territories of the Western Mediterranean during the Early Modern Era

Keywords: social history, urban society, rural society, nobility, power elites, minorities, social conflict, Kingdom of Valencia, Kingdom of Sardinia, Western Mediterranean, Early Modern Era.

This project seeks to analyze social change in early modern Valencia, as well as the resistance it provoked, by applying the most up-to-date methodology of social history. Instead of contemplating social groups as permanent sets of persons marked by definitive characateristics which remained virtually unchanged over time, we will draw attention above all to the study of the relations and strategies individuals adopted in order to obtain their personal, familial, or collective goals, defining from this the existence of social categories ever more consonant with contemporary social change. The idea is thus to combine the freedom of action of individuals with conditions arising from the context in which they lived, in order better to understand, from a specifically social perspective, the diverse facets of human activity.

Applying this methodology will give rise to a comparative study of the social transformations the Kingdoms of Valencia and Sardinia underwent during the early modern period. Both societies suffered highly significant changes throughout this era thanks to their high levels of economic activity, to their openness to outside influences given their condition as maritime territories located in the western Mediterranean, and to the peculiar features of their political systems, which resembled each other strongly given their common membership in the Crown of Aragon. Conditions in the two territories favored the influx of foreign commercial agents, and at first especially of Genoese origin. The latter promoted the diffusion in Valencia of the silk industry, which reached its high point in the 18th century, when it became the leading center of silk production in Spain. The study of the origins and social conditions of the Valencian silk craftsmen thus constitutes one of main research objectives of the project. Also to be analyzed are changes in the sales systems of textiles, the demand for which demonstrated growing social complexity. At the same time we will attempt to study the evolution of general consumption patterns, differentiating the characteristics and rhythms of the urban as opposed to the rural spheres. The social elite will be approached through analysis of the individual and familial trajectories of some of tis members. At the same time, we will examine the impact on social relations of the process of the construction of absolutism, identifying the strategies adopted by old elites toward the reinforcement of royal power, as well as the behavior of the petty nobility and bureaucratic strata which benefited from service to the monarchy. Finally, we will also analyze the sectors which were negatively affected by the social and political changes of the period, as well as those groups which threatened the security of the monarchy and challenged the social order, emphasizing in particular the conflict generated by the persecution of the morisco minority.