The most numerous and heterogeneous group
composed the "third state". Into it, the qualified professionals, the
bankers, the merchants and artisans, the servants and journeymen were included.
Among the professionals, the majority group
was compound for those dedicated to the laws. Among the less numerous were those
dedicated to the education. It shows the control that the clergy exercised on
The merchants formed a numerous group, being
organized around the "Biggest Five Unions". Most of them had a small
family store and others placed their goods for sale on some cases outdoors, such
as Montera Street or in Mayor Square.
Until well entered the 19th century, it
didn't exist in our city covered markets that guaranteed the control and the
hygiene of the food sold. Daily shopping was made in these flea markets.
In them, greenness, the corral birds, the
hunt, oils, cheeses, eggs and other foods were sold. To them, ladies came either
by themselves or with their servants to choose the products arrived from the
different Spanish regions and distributed for street sellers, very
knowledgeables of their profession.
The most plentiful handmade activities were:
the construction, the clothesmaking and the textiles shops production. The
Madrilenian tailors had great fame, although the wealthiest and most
presumptuous families usually were dressed up in a Parisian style, with models
bought in the French capital.
Men and women used in the domestic service
or assimilated tasks were abundant. They took charge of the most diverse
assignments and any house should have a good number of servants.
In Madrid, during this century, there was
almost nine thousand agricultural journeymen and a hundred of farmers, according
to Floridablanca's census. This workers group was bigger than artisans, what
provides us an idea of the type of city that Madrid was in those years.
A great number of poor, beggars and
vagabonds lived in the capital. Next to the bishops and parish priests
obligation of giving charity to the poor of solemnity, there are the kings'
dispositions pursuing the lacies that go from city to city and that could work
and to get sustenance for their family.
Although the authorities, in different
occasions, published orders and decrees to expel from Madrid to whom was not
Madrilenian and to remember those of the Court that waited from them or the work
or the hospice, the number of poor and vagabonds was very numerous in the city.
The Madrilenians' habits changed during the
century, mainly, for the influence that from France and Italy arrived.
One of the manifestations that more clearly
let us see this influence was the dress, the French frock coat, the shoes with
buckle, the abundant wigs and the extravagance frills substituted to the
austerity of the previous century.
The French imitation arrived until the
ridicule, giving origin to the "petimetre " - coming from the French "petit
maitre" or "young gentleman" -, peculiar character vituperated by
the popular layers.
The "petimetres" (male) and "petimetras"
(female) are people only busy in their own personal appearance, the gestures
that they should use, the language to use, etc.
They take care in the way of walking, of
greeting, of being introduced, but mainly their dress, their hairstyle, their
frills... The "petimetre" is the opposed to the "majo",
masculinity symbol, of the audacity and of the courage, even of the vulgarity.
The "majos" wardrobe was the hat
of wide wing and a cape that fell him until the feet, with which used to muffle
and to cover, almost completely, his face. Against this attire the Esquilache's
Among the "majas" was frequent the
back comb and the mantilla, a very adjusted corset that stood out the figure,
generally with abundant neckline, wide skirt until the floor and low shoes.
It was known that many "majos"
took hidden a knife in his strip and the "majas" a dagger in the
suspender of her left leg. Insults and the street fights were frequent and they
are reflected in the different theatrical forms by Moratín or by Ramón
of the Cruz.
Among the recreations more appreciated by
the Madrilenians can be pointed out the dance, the verbenas, the bulls and the
game. These last ones were prohibited in some moments. Parties were frequent,
some related with religious festivities and others with Royal House'
The pilgrimages and the verbenas were
appropriate places for the recreation of noblemen and plebeians.
To these places, some noblemen went dressed
as "majos" to mix themselves with the town and to separate a little
from the French influence. Some portraits by Goya show us this attire of the
Masked balls taken place during the
carnivals, allowed by the Count of Aranda, were events very popular in the
Madrilenian social life. Princess María Luisa herself, the future king
Charles IV's wife, looked for all type of influences so that his father-in-law,
king Charles III, allowed her to go to those dances.
In 1738, a new theater was opened up, Caños
of the Peral, located in the same place that today occupies the Royal Theater.
This new building, was added to those of the Cruz and Príncipe to offer
daily dramatic works to the Madrilenians, without forgetting that, the richest
noblemen showed off to offer dramatic works to their friends or companies, in
their own houses.
The social gatherings, were another form of
using the time for the lazy class of our city. If we pay attention to some
authors of the time, in them, the conversation topics were banalities and
gossiping in its biggest part.
This habit, also arrived from France, rooted
deeply in the Spanish character and it has lasted until our days.
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