The historians define the 18th century as a period of economical growth in all Spain and also in Madrid. The capital of the new dynasty increased its economic importance at the same time that its political control increased all over Spain.

One of the first symptoms of the economical growth was the increment of the Madrilenian population during this century. The first cadastres allow to approach with more accuracy to the number of inhabitants that had the city: by the middle of century 142.000 people lived in Madrid and in 1799 the number had ascended to 195.000.

It is an important increase, but the Madrilenian population is much lower that in cities like Paris or London, that duplicate and triplicate it. The Madrilenian population's growth was due, partly, to an immigration process looking for bigger opportunities in a city with more resources and work positions.

It can be verified a clear prevalence of the Basque names in certain mercantile activities and from Catalan origin for last names in handmade occupations. From outlying areas arrived at the capital pushies people with means, and from the bordering provinces arrived groceries salespersons and servants of different types for wealthy families.

Above all, Madrid was a political city, the capital of a vast territory, located in the center of the peninsula, but isolated of the flourishing mediterranean and atlantic market.

Any important European city in that century and the previous ones, it was so far from the sea and with so few possibilities of being connected with the coast.

The capital was a very important consumption center. It needed to be supplied from different places to satisfy its necessities, and at the same time it was not a very important production center, because all that it produced was practically consumed inside the city, without being able to be sold in other places.

Approximately, the Madrilenian active population was about 30% during the whole second half of this century, reduced quantity that shows us a city with wide groups of inactive or not very productive population, included most part of the lower aristocracy, that continued considering the manual work as a dishonor.

The most active group was the servants, about 30%. The second place in importance was occupied by the bureaucrats, who were 6.482 at the end of the century - their growth had accelerated in the second half of the century.

Fundamentally, these data confirm the reality of Madrid as a consumer city of which the authors of the 19 century were talking about. With this population's characteristics, Madrid could provide goods and services to the bordering regions difficultly, something logical in a more dynamic economy that this.

The Madrilenian population's characteristics make us think, and diverse authors have manifested this way, in a very unequal market, in which cohabited the great part of the population - about 70% - who at the survival level spended practically all their incomes on food,as well as several hundreds of very rich families, who swam in the abundance, and who were those who demanded luxury articles manufactured in our city or in other European cities.

There are testimonies in those that a nobleman ordered a pair of shoes from Paris for his wife, because she didn't like those which were made in Madrid or that of the duchess sent a horse car to pick a dress to the same French city, similar to the queen's ones, to show off it in the walk or in the corresponding party.

In spite of these examples it is necessary to affirm that Madrid had very good artisans in most of the professions, that produced goods and expensive objects, very appreciated by the upper classes.

In fact, if we analyze the growth data and the union activities concentration, those that grew more bigger are dedicated to this type of products, as the linen, tapestries, laces, silversmith's craft or the silk goods. Only the unions that work the rope and the esparto are among those that grew and don't manufacture value objects or luxury articles.

In addition to the unions, during this century were put into operation the "Royal Factories", imitating the French ones. The most outstanding ones were those of glasses, porcelain and tapestries, located in La Granja (Segovia) the first one and the other two in Madrid.

The most important one was the Retiro's Royal Porcelains Factory, built by Charles III's initiative that brought masters and Italian techniques for its beginning, and which was destroyed by the English troops at the end of the war against Napoleon.

Its production was selected and restricted. Its clients were the European royal houses and the main nobiliary houses. Some of its magnificent pieces can be contemplated in the Municipal Museum of Madrid.

In spite of the economic growth of the 18th century, the wages diminished in the second half and in the last twenty years the urban misery increased. Some of the disturbances and outcries had to do with this situation, ending up the Crown, in 1780, to take the decision to produce bread for poor people with a lower price and to avoid extreme situations.

A few economic institutions were appearing in the Madrilenian economiy during the century. Some of them have survived with different modifications until the present time. One of the most flourishing was the "Biggest Five Unions" founded in 1667, whose wealth and power increased vastly during the century that occupies us.

The unions that formed it were the jewelers, haberdashers, silks, clothers and drapers that controlled exclusively the import, production and sale of these products.

They built an elegant palace in Jacinto Benavente's Square, near Sun Gate, as headquarters of their operations and nowadays is one of the Madrilenian neoclasic representative buildings.

The Five Unions were a powerful economic institution that lent money to the State, participated in other economic companies, received deposits of money to a certain interest, collaborated or controlled commercial companies, etc.

Another institution born at the beginning of the 18th century was the "Pawnshop".

It was founded by Francisco Piquer Rodilla - known as father Piquer -. It was dedicated to help the families or individual people to improve their life style. From 1713 it was settled in a house given by king Philip V in the Barefoot Square.

Its economic growth was quick, parallel to its social work.

Another form to obtain money to assist social necessities was the "lottery", introduced by king Charles III in 1673. Its profits were dedicated, according to the royal decree, for the benefit of "...hospitals, orphanages, pious and public works in which are wasted many properties of my Royal Treasury yearly."

Although the biggest prize hardly arrived at 250 reals, the success of this game was quick. The profit for the Public Treasury was very high, which allowed, in six months, to increase the quantity the prizes.

It began in this way the possibility that poor people or with very few opportunities, overnight, becomes in rich citizens.

The economic institution with a better future projection was the "Bank of Saint Charles" that became Bank of Spain some years later. This bank was born at the end of Charles III's reign, although already in the previous reign had put mainly into operation the Royal Bank of Giros, taken charge about all, of the external payments.

The necessity to stand up to the yoyal vouchers that king Charles had emitted to assist different expenses of his Kingdom, accelerated the necessity of this financial institution.

Initially, the bank was formed through the subscription of actions for individuals, guaranteed by the Public Treasury.

The funds of the Bank were used in many different commitments, as the agriculture improvement, - basic piece of the economy for the erudites - in rivers canalization as the Manzanares or the Guadarrama, - the intents of the Madrilenian rivers canalization failed - or in different roads construction.

Some of these initiatives showed the interest of the Madrilenian merchants and the agricultural proprietors in improving the home trade of their products and in participating in the atlantic trade.

The Madrilenian economy structure at the end of the century continues being enough unbalanced when depending, mainly, of its predominant politic function.

Its trade and its industry continued responding to the necessities of a home market and the economic surpluses of the richest social groups are devoted to increase the number of servants and to enjoy a bigger quantity of sumptuary goods instead of investing them in productive goods.

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