Throughout the sixteenth century, a social phenomenon was occurring all over Europe: popular revolts. These protest movements throughout the continent laid bare the social imbalances brought forth by a deep economic recession caused by a multitude of wars and increasing fiscal pressure. Uprisings against feudalism – the German Peasants’ War (1524–1525) – or uprisings against the power of urban oligarchies, the discrediting of institutions, and the increasing authoritarianism of the modern state – the Revolt of Ghent (1539–1540) – are examples of this cycle of European rebellions, known in Spain as the “era of disturbances”. Under the Hispanic Monarchy, the first modern dissents were the Revolt of the Comunidades in Castile (1520–1521) and the Germanías in Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Mallorca (1519–1523).
The germanías [“brotherhood”], were a movement of artisans begun in the city of Valencia. In 1519, they obtained royal recognition and authorization to organize and arm themselves, and they took over the municipal council in 1520. From then on, the so-called Revolt of the Germanías, spread like wildfire throughout the states of the Crown of Aragon. In towns and cities, local boards were created in order to govern the population and suppress municipal, of the General and royal rights and impositions. But the movement began to disintegrate, since some of the artisans’ demands in some cities were met through legal channels or agreements. Other towns were harshly repressed. Starting in 1521, only isolated and inconsequential incidents were recorded in Catalonia and Aragon. In Valencia and Mallorca, the skirmishes continued after the fall of Valencia, on 14 October 1521, until the surrender of Mallorca, on 8 March 1523.
The Mallorcan germanía was moderate at first, protesting the increase in fiscal pressure and the concentration of property in the hands of the citizen oligarchy. But almost immediately a deep social fracture was exposed, which caused a very belligerent germanía to expand rapidly throughout the island. The viceroy, Miguel de Gurrea, took refuge in Ibiza in 1521 with his family and all his property, as detailed in the document we are presenting now. From there, he tried to organize a counter-offensive. In October 1522, the royal army, reinforced by royal galleys from Valencia, liberated La Alcudia, which had become the refuge of the petty nobility, and besieged the city of Mallorca between December 1522 and March 1523. The repression was bloody. It is then that the emperor Charles V issues the order, dated 19 April 1523 in Valladolid, requiring payment of the expenses claimed by the viceroy since they were made in a private capacity with the purpose of “ensuring said people are reduced to calm and rest”.
Particular evidence of those expenses are the accounts of Janot Vidal (1522–1523), detailing the financing of the naval expedition “que fon feta axi per terra com per mar per reduhir la ciutat e ylla de Mallorcha a la obediència del senyor Rey, com leshores fos agermanada la maior part dels plebeus y pageses de dita ylla contra la obediència de Sa Magestat” (ACA, Real Patrimonio, Apéndice General, I/142). Other notable sources for the study of Germanías in the Archives of the Crown of Aragon are the contemporary registers of the Royal Chancellery (ACA, Real Cancillería, Registros, 3881 -Diversorum-, 3896-3897 -Corts-, and, singularly, 3902 to 3906 – Maioricarum-).
ACA, Real Cancillería, Registro 3904, f. 98v-100v