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New Perspectives on the Social History of the Hispanic Territories of the Western Mediterranean during the Early Modern Period

Project funded by Ministerio de Economía y competitividad

Reference: HAR2014-53298-C2-1-P

Validity: 1-1-2015 a 31-12-2018

Principal researcher 1: Ricardo Franch Benavent

Principal researcher 2: Rafael Benítez Sánchez-Blanco


This subproject focuses on social history research, drawing on methodological innovations which have proved most fruitful in recent years. Instead of considering social groups as static entities in the long term, it places emphasis on studying the relations and strategies individual adopted in pursuit of their personal, familial, or communal goals. The previous project permitted us both to create several collective data bases (covering from gentry members of a military order to artisans) and to trace the individual trajectories of members of diverse social groups. In this new project we will continue to draw on the new perspectives developed previously. Keeping in mind the complexity of the subjects under study and our wish to build on the research already started, we have deemed it useful to extend the term of this project to four years. The methodology we will apply will combine both macro and microhistorical approaches.  But its principal value added derives from use of the comparative method, through analyzing the trajectories of Valencian and Sardinian society in order to compare them with Madrid.  We were able to establish in our previous work that all three cities were strongly affected by the evolution of their productive activities as well as the impact of political factors. Our initial hypothesis is that the macrocephalia which had earlier marked the capital cities of both Valencia and Sardinia began to give way to other urban centers which were better located within Mediterranean trade networks. The impact on social relations will be considered from three major perspectives: work and labor relations in the urban sphere; the study of social elites and their relation with service to the Monarchy; and minorities, marginal groups, and the conflict which they gave rise to. In regard to the first we will broaden our data base of masters of the guild which oversaw the leading industrial activity in the city of Valencia, the Colegio del Arte Mayor de la Seda, covering the entire period from 1479 to 1836. We will moreover focus on the impact of the commercial rivalry between Valencia and Alicante on the configuration of Valencia's urban network, along with the role foreign merchants played in local trade; and we will study trade systems and broader consumption patterns. The second field will be given over to completing the data base of the members of the military Order of Montesa. We will also study important families within the Valencian and Sardinian elites; the conflictual relations between the various Valencian estates and the Monarchy; the officials and magistrates in the service of the latter; and the social implications of military defense policies in the Mediterranean. In the third field we will pay special attention to a fundamental problem in early modern Valencian society, the so-called morisco question, focusing on resistance to acculturation, the ties between moriscos and banditry and noble factionalism, and the presence of expelled moriscos in Italy. We will also analyze captivity and enslavement; French immigration; and the persistence and repression of certain facets of popular culture.


Early Modern period, Social history, Comparative History, Macro and micro approaches, Social mobility, Social conflict, Kingdom of Valencia, Kingdom of Sardinia