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Parliamentary Life in the Crown of Aragon: Cortes, Juntas De Brazos, and Other Corporate Bodies

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The Cortes of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia were well known in Renaissance times for their mature institutional development and their capacity to counterbalance the tendency of monarchs towards authoritarianism. But, from the mid sixteenth century onwards, they were summoned by kings at increasingly long intervals, thus losing part of their visibility in the political scene. But this did not exactly mean parliamentary decline. As Cortes became rarer, lesser corporate bodies, ultimately deriving from the Cortes themselves, acquired an enhanced political status. Different sorts of meetings of estates (brazos) and small committees of members of the estates, while already known in previous times, won a more active role by the late sixteenth century and were a major, if not crucial, factor in the different political crises of the seventeenth century. This article contributes to the current reassessment of the Cortes by emphasizing the role of these bodies, focusing on their interplay with the Cortes, with some comparative remarks on other such bodies in Europe.

Affiliations: 1: University of Barcelona

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