Subject: hidalgo nobleman
Setting: Siglo de Oro, Habsburg empire 17thc
* Hispanic world 1991 p61 (JH Elliott, "Unity and empire, 1500-1800: Spain and Europe" p41-84)
"Charles V and Philip II created Spain's greatness; their successors enjoyed it. The seventeenth century, corresponding almost exactly to the reigns of only three kings -- Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II -- was a Golden Age of the arts but a time of flagging economic fortunes. The bureaucracy built up by Philip still ruled, but effective power was often exercised by a royal favourite rather than the king. As the century progressed the demands of Spain's empire and of her position as the leading Catholic power in Europe began to outstrip the benefits that they conferred."
* Taylor 2008 p21-22
"By the sixteenth century, the Castilian duel had evolved from its medieval origins as a public judicial instrument controlled by royal law into a private recourse for settling points of honor. According to medieval Castilian law, the duel was a challenge issued by one nobleman against another to engage in combat in the presence of the king. Jurists sanctioned the judicial duel as the best legitimate way for a man to address a small number of serious accusations, such as treason, levied by a peer when there was no possibility of proving or disproving the allegation in a court of law. Although some noblemen were still able to find foreign (usually Italian) princes who would host judicial duels, successive kings of Castile discouraged the practice and it fell into disuse by the early sixteenth century. The 1522 contest between Pedro de Torrellas and Jerónimo de Ansa, dramatized in The Final Duel of Spain, actually was the last judicial duel staged in the kingdom of Castile. Meanwhile the clandestine or private duel had emerged in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe. In Spain a body of dueling manuals arose whose goal was to graft the Italian innovation of the private duel onto the Spanish tradition of judicial duels. Nobles and soldiers who fought in the Spanish kings' sixteenth-century wars in Italy were impressed by the new forms of dueling they saw there, and they wrote manuals to explain those rules to Castilians back home -- sometimes simply translating Italian manuals from Latin or Italian into Castilian. Italian influence, combined with the need to go underground when conducting duels in Spain, gave the early modern Castilian duel its shape. The private duel was merely an agreement between two men, imagined to be nobles or soldiers in the dueling literature, to meet in a secluded place, perhaps with seconds, to engage in combat over an accusation one had leveled against the other. Because it was no longer sanctioned by law, jurists no longer had control over determining what issues were legitimate reasons for dueling, so the private duel evolved to address a wider variety of insulting accusations than the medieval judicial duel.
"A succinct explanation of the private duel appears in the treatise of one nobleman, Artal de Alagón, the Count of Sástago, who attacked the practice in the late sixteenth century: 'Gentlemen of the world keep an inviolable law never to suffer discourtesy, nor what they call an affront, such as any kind of insulting word, and especially to be called a liar, nor to suffer any insolent act. And in these matters one must take satisfaction through revenge in those cases which they take not of, up to taking the life of the offender, or to lose one's life in the defense of the honor which they imagine has been taken from them. And this is done through single combat when they have not found satisfaction through any other means, by the ways and rules for it which they say are indicated by authoritative soldiers and captains.' These rules are accessible to all, even nonsoldiers, because 'the ancients have considered it, and left behind writings.' He went on to point out the implication that honor was extremely insecure, since it took only the 'whim and effrontery' of an enemy to dishonor even the most noble gentleman. Indeed, the vulnerability of one's honor was a dominant theme in the Golden Age honor plays."
* Castle 1885 p173-174
"The swaggering and pugnacious 'diestros,' 'matamoros,' 'valentones,' 'guapos' --- ... the ragged but haughty adventurers ... whose very existence depended on their consummate skill in the management of their prodigious rapiers, are types which ... seem to have become extinct during the eighteenth century. At that time, also, the wearing of the sword, which hitherto every Spaniard had assumed as a right since the days of Charles V., was a privilege which fashion as well as oft-repeated police ordinances began to restrict to gentlemen only, -- although, as every independent Spaniard is 'hidalgo' in his own opinion, this restriction had a less sweeping effect in that country than in any other."