Who were the Comuneros | War of the Communities of Castile –

The comuneros represent a very important and convulsive stage in Spain of political and economic instability. Here we tell you who were the comuneros and what they have to do with the War of the Communities of Castile.

Who were the Comuneros

The comuneros were a group of castellans who rose up against, what they considered, the unjust noble laws that King Carlos I was imposing. Among the things they demanded was that the king, who was also V of Germany, not take the money from Castile that the citizens paid with their taxes outside of Spain. Thus began what is known as a antilord revolt which was stopped by the nobleman and resulted in the death of these decapitated community members.

War of the Communities of Castile

To understand how the Comuneros arise we have to go back to the XVI century when after the death of Ferdinand the Catholic arrives in Spain Carlos I (a 17-year-old boy) having Cardinal Cisneros as regent. The Spaniards did not welcome the arrival of this foreigner, who also seemed to be going to shake even more the not-so-buoyant economy of Spain, which was unable to recover with the gold of America since the wars it waged abroad were too costly. The only thing I kept afloat was the wool trade.

Carlos I arrived in Spain to impose an absolutist monarchy, not at all supported by the bourgeoisie and by the vast majority of the peasantry, but defended by the high nobility who were always on the side of their king.

This situation in 1520 produced the War of the Communities that had been brewing for several years due to the political instability that had occurred after the death of the Catholic Monarchs, along with a series of epidemics and bad harvests. The area that suffered the most from these events was the central area, with Valladolid and Toledo mainly, since the peripheral areas such as Burgos and Andalusia benefited from trade.

On February 12, 1520, King Carlos I summoned the Cortes in Santiago de Compostela to request a new service and defray the expenses of his trip to Germany. But he only received hostility so he decided to suspend the Cortes until reopening them in April in La Coruña. This time he did get what he wanted and in May he left for the Holy Roman Empire leaving as regent of Spain Hadrian of Utrecht.

The rise of the Comuneros

In Toledo, with Juan Padilla in command, the first uprising began demanding the following changes:

  • Cancel the service voted in La Coruña
  • Return to the system of headings to collect taxes
  • Reserve public offices and ecclesiastical benefits to Castilians
  • Prohibit money leaving the kingdom
  • Appoint a castellan to lead the kingdom in the king’s absence

Segovia, Ávila, Valencia, Toro, Media del Campo, Medina de Rioseco, Guadalajara and Cáceres also joined Toledo, leaving Burgos, Valladolid and above all Toledo as impregnable strongholds of the comuneros. It is then that they organize a Holy Board in Ávila and hang the corregidor Rodrigo de Tordesillas. With 15 cities, the real one begins fight with center in Tordesillas.

Faced with all this situation, Carlos I lowered taxes from abroad to try to quell the rebellion but was unsuccessful.

The community members continue to advance and meet with Queen Juana to try to restore her powers while Hadrian of Utrecht tries to stop the rebellion without any success.

After several battles in which the community members were losing strength and they no longer had Queen Juana, the Battle of Villalar where a large part of the community members died and their main leaders, including Padilla, were arrested to be beheaded.

After the battle of Villalar, the cities of Old Castile did not take long to succumb to the potential of the king’s troops, returning all the cities of the north to pay allegiance to the king in early May. Only Madrid and Toledo continued to resist for a time.

It is for this battle of Villalar that the Day of Castilla y León is celebrated on April 23, being a somewhat controversial date.