The tranquility of the realm in fifteenth century Castile (1406--1474)

Rosemary Evelyn Fox Thurston, Fordham University


This study examines the primary sources of the reigns of Juan II and Enrique IV to document the importance of the concept of the tranquility of the realm to the mentality of the age. The king's primary role of ensuring harmony through the maintenance of justice and his ancillary function of providing for its extension in space and time is discussed, as is the subjects' perception of the status of justice in their own time and their identification of the obstacles to justice's true course. Particular attention is paid to the language employed by writers to define harmony and justice, and the authors' descriptions of their realization in political life. Based on the contemporary assumption that justice had to be administered by a virtuous ruler, the study considers the concept of a just king who prudently discerns his subjects "just due" and secures it through clemency and liberality. The roles the Reconquest and hereditary succession played in actualizing the geographical and temporal dimensions of harmony are also considered. Finally, key issues disrupting the tranquility of the realm during the two reigns are investigated.^ The primary sources consulted include chronicles, general histories, political tracts, moral and didactic treatises, poetry, personal correspondence, the cuadernos of the cortes and royal documents.^ The study concludes that, while the tranquility of the realm was widely acclaimed, its realization generally proved elusive to Juan II and Enrique IV. Contemporaries attributed this defect to the prevailing avaricious climate of Castile and the failure of the kings to render justice. During the reign of Juan II, the chief issue disturbing domestic harmony was the nobles' challenge to the royal claim of exclusive arbitration of the king's service and the common good. During the reign of Enrique IV, the king's failure to provide his realm with a direct male heir exacerbated a political environment already unsettled by his espousal of a concept of harmony incongruous to the prevailing values of his age. ^

Subject Area

Medieval history

Recommended Citation

Fox Thurston, Rosemary Evelyn, "The tranquility of the realm in fifteenth century Castile (1406--1474)" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9127032.