It has been alluded to
repeatedly on the rapid demographic growth that Madrid experimented from the
moment of the arrival of the Court.
From a discrete populace of
a village in the mid 16th century, it almost immediately had an upward growth,
even though there would be recesses along the way, characterization of the life
and mood of the city during the entire 17th century.
Many writers massaged different numbers, and in some
cases varied notably. Here more than numbers, we want to insist on the sharp
growth that Madrid experienced. From the moment of its adaptation to the Court,
the number of citizens from 15,000/20,000 in 1561 would increase rapidly.
First came the aristocracy, with a throng of titles
and positions that served in the Royal House. Secondly, a few years later the
many civil servants followed. This way Philip II developed a more complex
bureaucratic machine of the state.
The third wave, the immigrants started to establish
themselves, coming from the armies or the country people from the rural
communities. During these times nobility, aristocrats and upper middle-class
demanded slaves and servants. The migration was set and now in the 17th century
with a stable system of the Court, it was more solid and consistent.
We cannot forget the growing
number of clergy, monks and nuns that started to settle in the Court soon after
1561. With only these facets enumerated, it is easy to imagine that the populace
already established in Madrid, it grew in an intense form more that a sensible
Synthesizing, a rough graph
drawn of the Madrilenian Society would be this: first a percentage of
aristocracy and civil servants, from different backgrounds. The first generally
nobility, and the second upper middle-class or graduates, with some exceptions.
Second a percentage of
nobility or aristocracy; with or without direct participation in the courtly
life or the inner circles near the king.
This nobility that was
overtly remiss to move their residences to Madrid during the reign of Philip II
were gradually establishing themselves at the return of the Court from
Valladolid in 1605. In the 17th century this part was more than a fourth of the
A percentage also enormously larger was the cleric,
social religious estates with enormous weight and encouragement in the Spanish
society of that time. They were clergymen, ecclesiastics, monks, and nuns, in a
number that almost spoke of invasion in the new Court.
Not only for the amount of religious orders that they
would establish in the city, but also for the required presence of the church in
courtly and political circles.
addition to the parishes and convents, the religious estate settled in the city,
responding to the needs with sufficient clerics to attend the housing of the
different orders, schools, chapels, hospitals, brotherhoods and fraternities.
Although the nature of the
Court was essentially political and religious, we cannot forget the expanding
population that required services and determined products. This was supplied by
the middle-class that corresponded to three fronts.
The merchants and salesmen,
from carts to luxury items, to those of basic necessity. The artisans or
manufacturers, that covered the needs for clothing, utensils, tools, specialized
objects, etc. to an important populace. Moreover, the professionals or the
learned, within these were not only the many bureaucrats, but also moneylenders,
doctors, lawyers, writers, artists, etc.
Finally, the simple people
or manuals laborers, and in Madrid they were dedicated fundamentally to
servitude. Any noble or upper middle-class family employed as a minimum two or
three people of this nature.
In the Madrilenian Society of the 17th century, its
was unthinkable, for any noble, merchant, bureaucrat or upper middle-class
family, not to have servants at home. Not having even one servant, they were
considered in the worst and lowest social condition.
Normally the disposition of a maid or servant, it is
enough to say that they were proud to be one. So much more if their lords or
masters had a worthy position in society.
Many anecdotes have been told to illustrate this last
point, from the number of servants that a rich family exhibited in the balconies
and at celebrations, from the pride of Velázquez, to place before all his
titles and positions', including that of "Royal Painter," was the "Servant
of the Monarch."
Towards the end of the 16th
century, during the last years of the life of Philip II who died in 1598, the
population of Madrid was around 100,000 inhabitants, although some writers have
lowered it to 80,000 and others have raised it to 120,000.
Without a doubt, with the
Court moving away to Valladolid the populace of Madrid deflated sharply, with a
loss of more than 50,000 people, according to a historian.
But the return of the Court
to the village on the Manzanares in 1605, counted again for the rapidly
escalating demographics, with some shrinking produced by different causes, such
as the pestilence, famine, high mortality rates, etc.
During the 17th century, the
populace did not get below 100,000, such as the 154,000 in 1685; all of this
within the same physical area because the growth was absorbed in the capital by
fragmenting homes and using the patios of homes to build rooms.
In fact, the area of Madrid did not expand from 1625
because of the city wall that was built by Philip IV. The growing exploitation
of the interior urban area did grow, and considerably, by the hygienic, sanitary
and health problems. At the end of the 17th century, these were substantial and
worrisome, with abundant cries of alarm regarding this explosive situation.
This society, from nobility and the middle-class to
the common people, had two basic distractions: The theater and the festivals.
There were numerous comedy
theaters, although the best known, and the only ones that continued in time as
local theaters, were the Cruz and the Pacheca, and later the Príncipe.
The pictures shows:
- Suit and woman dress for small proprietors
and merchants during the first half of 16th. century.
The difference, as for
dress fashion, is more noticed in the man than in the woman
still remembers the Middle Ages .
- Oligarchies' fashions in the first half of
The most remarkable thing is the sleeves and the man's knifed
It is also remarkable the profusion of jewels in both sexes,
of the ostentation desires on an unjust society.
Fashion in Philip II's times based on prince's
and in another one corresponding to the infant Isabel Clara
It highlights the over-fur jacket, the baggy trousers and the man's
and the feminine luxury and complicated suit.
It is of
noticing that, in spite of the black color of the royal robes,
goes for other ways.
Oligarchies' fashions in the middle of 17th
based on infant's Maria portrait, daugther of Philip III,
can be seen in the Incarnation Monastery.
Copyright © 2001 by
JLL & JRP
All rights reserved.