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The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Family Partnerships and International Trade in Early Modern Europe: Merchants from
Burgos in England and France, 1470-1570
Author(s): Constance Jones Mathers
Source: The Business History Review, Vol. 62, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 367-397
Published by: The President and Fellows of Harvard College
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Family Partnerships and International

Trade in Early Modern Europe: Merchants
from Burgos in England and France,


? In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, international trade was often
conducted by family partnerships. Commonly, one partner remained in the

family's native land, while one or more family members established themselves temporarily or permanently abroad. In this article, Professor Mathers
describes the mercantile activity of three families from the Spanish city of
Burgos who profitedfromfamily partnerships that linked tradefrom northern Spain to England and France. She also examines the ways in whichfamily
inheritance practices and alternative family investments and expenditures
affected the capital and continuity of the partnerships.

By the time Christopher Columbus discovered a New World across

the Atlantic in 1492, Spanish merchants had already discovered the

products and markets of the Low Countries, France, and England on
the European side of the Atlantic and of Italy in the Mediterranean.
Among the most important Spanish merchants were those from the city

of Burgos in northern Castile. This article traces the business activity

of three Burgalese families who contributed to and benefited from a
renewed commercial expansion around the Bay of Biscay and the English

Channel after 1470.'

The city of Burgos is located almost a hundred miles inland, south

of the Cantabrian Mountains. With a population of about 20,000 people in 1500 (a good-sized city in the sixteenth century), Burgos derived
its character and reputation from its merchants, natives of Castile who

were engaged in international trade. The early growth and mercantile

character of Burgos stemmed from the city's strategic location on the
internationally renowned pilgrimage road leading from east to west
across Castile to Santiago. The later commercial importance of Burgos
was also due to geographical location, for it was situated between the
northern termini of Castile's famous sheepwalks and the seaports on
the Bay of Biscay.
CONSTANCE JONES MATHERS is associate professor of history at Randolph-Macon College.
I wish to thank Robert L. Jones, Irene Neu, two anonymous referees of the Business lHistory Review, and
Steven Tolliday for their helpful suggestions about revisions in the manuscript.
Notarial documents in Burgos have provided much of the information in this study, although they barely
begin before the 1530s. They will be cited as APN (Archivo de Protocolos Notariales of Burgos). Several
authors provide short biographical summaries, emphasizing commercial activities, of many major Burga-

Business Ilistory Review 62 (Autumn 1988): 367-397. ? 1988 by The President and Fellows of Harvard

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From at least the thirteenth century, the typical business of

merchants was buying wool in the mountain ranges southeast of

They collected, washed, and transported the wool by mule an

the northern ports, shipped it abroad, sold it and, if possible, a

for return cargoes. As one scholar has remarked, "To say Bu

to say sacks of wool."2 As the English withdrew from selling th

abroad in the course of the fifteenth century, the Burgalese cap
the major share of the expanding Castilian trade to the wool sta

of Bruges in Flanders, a trade that reached its peak about 1

Burgalese merchants belonged to a merchant guild, whose

apparently date from the fourteenth century.4 This institution

called the consulado by today's historians, provided numerous se
for the merchants, especially for those engaged in the wool trad
guild was assiduous, for example, in defending an ancient royal
that exempted the citizens of Burgos from paying tolls to towns o

A major service of the merchant guild was the chartering of

carry wool to the north. In 1494, a royal pragmatic gave the gu

officials (a prior and two consuls) a monopoly on chartering suc

lese merchants. Childs and Caunedo del Potro both focus on the end of the fifteenth century
Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade in the Later Middle Ages (Totowa, N.J., 1978), 224-31; Betsabe C
Potro, Mercaderes castellanos en el Colfo de Vizcaya (1475-1492) (Madrid, 1983), 263-90; Loren
information about those merchants who were active in Seville in the second half of the sixtee
Eufemio Lorenzo Sanz, Comercio de Espaiia con America en la epoca de Felipe II (Valladolid, 1979
More detailed studies of a number of families have been published in Burgos' Boletin de la Inst
ndn Gonzdlez (which until 1946 was entitled Boletin de la Comisi6n Provincial de Monumento

Manuel Basas Fernsndez, published between 1953 and 1967, are especially likely to be abo

families and their business activity.

Readers who want a more general view of merchants in early modern Europe can turn to Fern
The Wheels of Commerce (New York, 1982), which covers the fifteenth through the eighteent
or Pierre Jeannin's much shorter Merchants of the Sixteenth Century (New York, 1972). The m
work dealing with merchants based in northern Spain and their business environment is Hen
Unefamille de marchands: les Ruiz (Paris, 1955), which draws upon the business corresponden
Ruiz, an international financier in Medina del Campo in the second half of the sixteenth centu
in Seville receive the attention of Ruth Pike in one chapter of Aristocrats and Traders: Sevillia
the Sixteenth Century (Ithaca, N.Y., 1972), 99-129. Like Pike, James Lockhart draws on notaria
for his chapter on merchants in Spanish Peru 1532-1560 (Madison, Wis., 1968), 77-95. Guillerm
Villena in Les Espinosa: Unefamille d'hommes d'affaires en Espagne et aux Indes a l'Ipoque de
tion (Paris, 1968) fails to show any connection between his genealogical study of the Espinosa

del Campo and Seville and the career of his protagonist Licenciate Gaspar de Espinos

entrepreneur in the New World.

2 Julius Klein, The Mesta: A Study in Spanish Economic Ilistory, 1273-1836 ([1920]; rpt., Po
ton, N.Y., 1964), 34-35 (origins); Manuel Basas Fernandez, El Consulado de Burgos en el siglo X

1963), 235-52; 231-32 (quotation).

3 See the graph comparing "England's exports of raw wool and woollen cloth 1347-1544" in
Wilson, Medieval Merchant Venturers, 2d ed. (Frome, 1967), xxii-xxiv. The "nation of Spain" in B

dinate to Burgos' merchant guild, received about 13,000 sacks a year between 1504 and 15
when "other northern markets for Spanish wool were negligible." Carla Rahn Phillips, "The S
Trade, 1500-1780" Journal of Economic Ilistory 42 (Dec. 1982): 777-78. By 1549, the members o
of Spain" were said to be importing 50,000 sacks each year. However, the amount of wool rea
fell in the late 1550s; ibid., 780-82. For Burgalese exports, by far the highest figure yielded by
of the customs duty (imposed in 1558) came in 1560 and was 18,437 sacks (13,013 to Fland
France, and 2,539 to Italy). Basas, Consulado, 264. Burgos' merchant guild blamed the custo
the decline in total wool exports, when in 1582 it claimed that at its peak twenty-five or thirty
Castile had exported 65,000-70,000 sacks of wool in one year to Flanders, France, and Italy, c
the contemporary figure of 20,000-25,000 sacks. Ibid., 264.
4 Klein, Mesta, 35.

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This map is unusual not only because of its reversal of north and south, but also because
it shows Burgos (placing it ratherfar to the west and overemphasizing the rivers). It shows
Toulouse and London as well, but not Rouen in Normandy or Bruges in Flanders. (Reprinted

from Sebastian Munster, Cosmographei [Basil, 1550], after fol. iii.)

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"in the way that they are accustomed to do." Merchants through
Castile were required to use these chartered ships for all wool ex

The ships, loaded under the supervision of agents from the m

guild, ordinarily left the ports of the northern coast in two flee

in March and one in October. Flanders, La Rochelle, and Nan

wool staples, were named as the destinations in 1499. The me
guild oversaw the armament of the chartered ships, apportion
expense and general damages among the shippers. It also act

lobbying group, addressing complaints to the king about foreign

tors and requesting naval protection, which it received and p

several times between 1535 and 1558 during the wars between

and Spain.5 In Bruges, a formal satellite "nation of Spain," which

ing to the 1494 pragmatic was subordinate to the merchant g

Burgos, received and stored the wool.6 The merchant guild p
a regular mail service to Seville and to foreign destinations, in
(in 1538) Flanders, Rouen, and Brittany.7

The 1494 decree raised the merchant guild to the level of consu

the first one in Castile, by giving it jurisdiction over mercantile

in Old Castile. To the great convenience of the Burgalese mer

their own prior and consuls thereafter tried all cases between me
and other merchants, their partners, or their factors, specifically

ing cases involving insurance and bills of exchange, with no

beyond the corregidor (royal governor) of Burgos.8 As the refer

insurance cases implies, the Burgalese were accustomed to sp

their risk through such practices as the division of their cargoes

different ships and the purchase of maritime insurance from th
low merchants.9

Burgalese merchants customarily made purchases and sales on c

with the payments to be made at the fairs of Medina del Campo,
one hundred miles to the southwest of Burgos. These fairs, held

a year, served as great clearinghouses for the merchants and b

They were also the center for the physical transfer of goods, whic

chants from Castile and abroad stored in warehouses at Medi

Campo; the town held a royal privilege that exempted sales made
ing the fairs (one hundred days each year) from Castile's 10 perc

5Basas, Consulado, 192-201 (tolls); 156 (charters); 155-67 (fleets); 38 (destinations); 162, 168-83 (
6Carla Rahn Phillips, "Spanish Merchants and the Wool Trade in the Sixteenth Century," Sixteenth Century Journal 14, no. 3 (1983): 277-81 (warehousing wool in Bruges); Klein, Mesta, 39 (pragmatic).
Basas, Consulado, 68-77.
8 Ibid., 107-28, esp. 111-12, 122-23, 108-9, 117.
9 Phillips, "Spanish Merchants," 276-77. A major disaster for Burgalese insurers has been described by
William D. Phillips, Jr., and Carla Rahn Phillips, "Spanish Wool and Dutch Rebels: The Middelburg Incident of 1574," American Ilistorical Review 82 (April 1977): 312-30.

10 Juan L6pez Ossorio, "Principio, grandezas y caida de la noble villa de Medina del Campo" [1616],

included in Ildefonso Rodriguez y Fernandez, IIistoria de la muy noble, muy leal y coronada villa de Medina

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Even by 1470, merchants from Burgos were in a position to discern

and take advantage of new opportunities. They had already accum

lated capital from their long-established commerce in exporting w
from Spain to Bruges and (more recently) to Nantes and importi

finished cloth into Spain in return." The merchant guild had developed

into a useful institution that was soon to receive important roya

privileges. Most Burgalese merchants had experience at the fairs
Medina del Campo and had been abroad, if only as employees, facto

or junior partners, and many had personal contacts in foreign places.1

They also had much useful information about markets and salabl

products in the textile areas around the Bay of Biscay and in Spain. Th
population and the economy had at last overcome the shock and aftershocks of the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century, and the dis

ruptions on land and sea caused by the Hundred Years' War betwe
France and England had officially ended in 1453.
The period from about 1470 until 1570, coinciding with the perio
of economic growth and commercial expansion in Europe that w
bracketed between the wars and plagues of the fifteenth century a

the Revolt of the Netherlands against King Philip II of Spain, was ther
fore the era of prosperity for the Burgalese merchants. During this tim
merchants from Burgos were key entrepreneurs in international com-

merce, bringing new products and new places into the trading networ

of western Europe.

The three families in this article all contributed to and profited fro
the expansion of the textile industry after the mid-fifteenth century.
seems possible that all three families began their financial rise with pa
ticipation in Castile's wool-exporting trade, thus benefiting directly fro

the institutional support of the merchant guild; at the least they were
able to use Burgos' network of contacts in Castile and abroad as a sprin
board for their own innovative and even more lucrative commerce.'3
del Campo (Madrid, 1903-4), 331-37 (clearinghouse activity); 21 (May and October fairs); 121 (exemption;
in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel, the town consented to a levy of 11 mills on merchandise sold at the
fairs [p. 324]).
1 Jules Mathorez, "Notes sur les rapports de Nantes avec l'Espagne," Bulletin hispanique 14 (1912): 384-90;
Michel Mollat, Le Commerce Maritime Normand a la Fin du Moyen Age (Paris, 1952), 115. Diego de Soria,
who was the most prominent Burgalese merchant of the final quarter of the fifteenth century, began his
career about 1460 "in the duchy of Brittany" as a factor for the Pardo company. Nicolas L6pez Martinez,

"Testificaciones inquisitoriales de mercaderes burgaleses en 1491," Burgense 14 (1973): 547-48.

12 Carla Phillips places great stress upon the existence of a Spanish mercantile "network"; see Phillips,

"Spanish Merchants," 262-71.

13 The first commercial successes of these families occurred too early for more than the skimpiest sort
of documentation to exist. In 1499, the Calendar of Patent Rolls of Henry VII of England mentions Fernando de Bernuy, "merchant of Spain, alias of London, alias of Cales, alias of Bruges." Michel Mollat, "Le
r6le international des marchands espagnoles dan les ports de l'Europe occidental a l'epoque des Rois Catho-

liques," Anuario de historia economica y social de Espana 3 (1970): 51. Diego de Castro de Londres was
a prior or consul of the merchant guild in Burgos in 1498-99 (Basas, Consulado, 267), and it can be shown
also that there was a Diego de Castro in Bruges in 1507 whose business was selling Spanish wool and buying cloth. Louis Gilliodts-van Severen, Cartulaire de l'ancienne estaple de Bruges (Bruges, 1905), 2: 375. The
fathers of G6mez and Juan de Quintanaduefias were partners exporting wool to Bruges and perhaps to Rouen.
Manuel Basas Fernandez, "El mercader burgal6s, G6mez de Quintanaduefias," Boletin de la Instituci6n Fer-

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The Castros became identified in Burgos with the importation i

of English woolen cloth; the Bernuys made fortunes from t

dyestuff, woad, which they purchased in Toulouse and sold
and indeed they served as the revivers of the Toulouse woad
in the absence of local entrepreneurs; the Quintanadueiias
exported Spanish wool to a developing market in Rouen an
shipped Rouen's woolen and linen cloth, as well as miscellaneo
products, to many locations, including Spain and the New W
The success of these Burgalese merchants was typically b

family partnerships, with at least one of the family partners r

abroad, normally establishing himself and his children as leadin
of his adopted city. Despite their entrepreneurial dynamism and
cial success, however, none of these prominent family partnersh
vived to the end of the sixteenth century.
Why did these family partnerships fail to survive? The structur
nesses of this form of business organization are part of the stor
a partnership was liable not to be renewed after the death of a

as the kinship ties between the heirs grew more remote. In

the capital of the partnerships was subject to inheritance laws a

values that tended to divert profits and capital into land or

Another part of the story is that commercial conditions chang

example, the woad trade, which had been the basis of the

prosperity, collapsed under the impact of overproduction and th

of indigo. Of greater significance for the merchants of Burgos in

the favorable conditions for commerce around the Bay of

imperiled by the recurrent troubles between France, Engla

Castile throughout the sixteenth century, were finally disrupte

Revolt of the Netherlands and the Wars of Religion.

If one considers that the pattern of participation in commerce

normally best be described as fluid over a long period, as old
lost their capital or withdrew it from commerce and new famil
in to take their place, then the question is not so much why the
the Bernuy, and the Quintanadueiias merchant dynasties failed t
vive, but rather why they were not replaced by newcomers afte
The answer is that Burgos' traditional commerce, the wool trade
Low Countries, was dealt a fatal blow by the Revolt of the Neth
In a situation where the institutional help of the merchant guild
matters as shipping and storage had become irrelevant, and
opportunities to work up through an existing network of me

nan Gonzalez, no. 155 (1961): 562. These families did not forgo the opportunities offered by th
in later years: when Diego de Bernuy died in 1519, he had wool on hand destined for Flor
in the process of buying wool in Molina (see note 41); in 1547, his son was still buying wool i
note 53). The Castros and Quintanaduefias are also both on record as buying wool in the l
notes 27 and 68, respectively).

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activity, newcomers would have found it hard to get started as merchants,

much less to accumulate the fortunes that could have enabled them to

found dynasties and to reestablish the prominent role of Burgos in trade

around the Bay of Biscay.


Spanish merchants, many from Burgos, had carried o

England before the Hundred Years' War. After the disru

long war, in which Castile was allied with France against En

recovered with the encouragement of King Edward IV of

of the Spanish rulers Ferdinand and Isabel, rising to a new

late fifteenth century. The Anglo-Castilian trade made u

and 15 percent of England's total trade at the beginning
of Henry VII, and about 4 to 6 percent of London's trad

Among the Castilian merchants who took advantage of th

diplomatic relations was the Castro family from Burgos.
the Spanish merchants active in London and Southampto
fifteenth century, the Castros had close ties with the estab
ish colony at Bruges.'5 England itself was a negligible mark
ish wool, but the merchants who were exporting wool fr
Spain to Bruges were no doubt attempting to add to thei
goes by buying English woolen cloth at its source, a practic
woolen cloth the principal object sought by Spanish m
England. About 1490, Spanish merchants were exporting ap
14 percent of England's cloth, probably to Spain although p
to Bruges. Imports into England were miscellaneous product

mostly around the Bay of Biscay. Diego de Castro, active in t

of the fifteenth century, "often imported wine, iron, m

dyestuff], soap, pitch, rosin, linen, Breton canvas, beaver fur

and occasional grain of paradise [malaguena pepper]."'6 G

14 Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 15, 61, 70, 214.

15 Gordon Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake: A Study of English Trade with Spain

Period ([1954]; rpt., Westwood, Conn., 1975), 15-16. For the last third of the fifteenth c
the names Covarrubias, Castro, Salinas, Salamanca, Pardo, and Maluenda, all known in B

as well as in England. Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 57, 88, 216, 224-29.

16 Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 64-65, 59, 88, 216. According to Peter J. Bowden, T
Tudor and Stuart England (New York, 1962), 47, "In earlier times imports of such woo
negligible, and it was not until the reign of Henry VIII, when the making of felt hats

in England, that the trade became established on a regular basis." It may be concluded, there

Ferdinand and Isabel had not only favored the export of wool but also specifically enc

factory, or selling agency, in London, their efforts must have been in vain. For their action

37, 39. Perhaps, in the context of Bowden's statement, it is worth mentioning that in t
of Burgos, the first documents that mention an Englishman come from 1557 and 1558:
galese merchant brothers Francisco de Haro and Diego de Haro, in a new type of transac
ial documents, arranging a "putting-out" operation, in which they were to provide bla
local hatmaker, who (in the 1558 contract) was to produce three hundred dozen broadthe rate of six dozen each week. Apparently the Haro brothers had agreed to supply th
Aton, Englishman, citizen ofBermeo." APN, Prot.2931, 24 July 1557; Prot.2932, 16 Aug

Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 224 (quotation).

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business contacts of merchants from Burgos were with English w

sale brokers. Diego de Astudillo, however, in the 1520s was em

a factor named George Aytonale at Norwich to buy cloth loca

From English records alone, it could be deduced that two of th

ing merchants in the last third of the fifteenth century were the

Diego and Juan de Castro. A Juan de Castro was trading with

in 1470; Diego de Castro was established in London and active in E
trade at least from 1473 until 1488; a Juan de Castro was on the

in England at least sporadically from 1494 to 1516.18

Records in Burgos confirm the impression that the Castros
a leading role in trade with England. In fact, one of the two
of Burgos' merchant guild in 1498-99 was known as "Diego d

de Londres [of London],' and it was probably his brother who wa

"Juan de Castro de Londres." Juan de Castro, regidor (city counc

of Burgos from 1533 until 1549, appears to have been the son
consul Diego and might well have been the family representa

England in the first decades of the sixteenth century.19 If not,

the Alvaro de Castro who was in England in 1519 and who shared

ings in London with the humanist Juan Luis Vives in the 15

this duty, since he may have been the son of Juan de Castro de Lo

Merchants like Diego de Castro "might export several hundred

in their own names in a year from London, although at times they

also be acting as agent for another of the group.'21 Diego de Cast

appears in English records in 1473, when he exported 27 1/2 c

assize and four yards of kersey from Southampton. His regular e

were cloth and tin via London, Southampton, Sandwich, and

As late as 1539, a retail merchant in Burgos bought "five colored

don cloths" from "Juan de Castro, Regidor, and Heirs of Juan de
tro" for 49,544 maravedis.22 As mentioned above, he imported a

of products into England.

Notarial documents in Burgos show that there came to be a bus

connection between the Castro and the Astudillo families. A docu

of 9 October 1546 reveals that there was a "company" "that f

called Juan de Castro and Juan de Astudillo and afterwards w

Juan de Castro and Heirs of Juan de Castro, and now is called Ju

Castro, Regidor, and Luis de Castro." Juan de Astudillo had k

17 Ibid., 181-85, 203, 211; Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake, 18.

18 Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 216, 224-25; Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake, 16, 32,
65, 66; Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, 519, says that the Ceville family of Rouen had "

London in 1509 named Juan de Castro.

19 Basas, Consulado, 267; APN, Prot.2539, 25 April 1547; Actas (city council minutes), in the
the Ayuntamiento of Burgos [hereafter cited as AMB], 14 Oct. 1533.
20 Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake, 17-18, 63; APN, Prot.2539, 25 April 1547, describes t

already deceased.

21 Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 216.

22 Ibid., 224; APN, Prot.2005, 18 Feb. 1539. A maravedi was a money of account; there were 375

in a ducat.

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capital in the company for "many years," until 29 April 1543, wh

amounted to 3,299,129 maravedis. The occasion of the 1546 doc

was his son Diego de Astudillo's acknowledgment that the company

paid him his share of his father's stake in the company, as one
heirs.23 It is surely not a coincidence that a Diego de Astudillo
England in the 1520s, Alvaro de Astudillo in the 1530s, and Di

Astudillo in the 1540s.24

It seems clear that the transformation into "Juan de Castro and Heirs

of Juan de Castro" took place after the death of Juan de Castro de

Londres in 1535 and that his capital remained in the company. The further evolution of the company into "Juan de Castro, Regidor, and Luis

de Castro" confirms that the management of the company had been

taken over by Juan, the "son of Diego de Castro," who was now joined

by his cousin Luis de Castro, son of Juan de Castro de Londres.25

By 1535 the members of the company may have realized that they
would have to redeploy the company assets, as the proceedings for Henry
VIII's notorious divorce from Catherine of Aragon (aunt of Spain's King

Charles I, who is better known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor)

gradually made the Spaniards' position in England difficult. By about
1530, the Spanish merchants already felt so vulnerable that they were
trying to withdraw their merchandise from England. In 1540, Charles

V's ambassador Chapuys reported that only six of the emperor's subjects were still residing in London as merchants. There is no sign that
Anglo-Spanish trade recovered from this setback, especially since
English merchants in Spain had been returning with tales of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition. Indeed, it was not long before English
privateers, using the excuse of England's war with France, began to make
life miserable for Spanish merchants and sailors. The period after 1545
has been labeled as "Worse than Open War."26
Records of the company's other trade are few and miscellaneous. Juan
and Luis de Castro can be seen authorizing payment for "any amount
and quantity of wool up to the amount of 3,500,000 maravedis" in 1546.
The company at that time was represented at least in Florence (manager
Martin de Arriaga and Alvaro de Astudillo) and in Flanders (factor Juan
de Lerma), both places that were among Burgos' customers for wool.27
Another line of activity had also been developed, originating in the time
of Juan de Castro de Londres: making loans to the Crown. In 1526, he

and other Burgalese lent Charles V 90,000 ducats (33,750,000

maravedis); in 1528, he joined with some other merchants of Burgos
to contribute 60,000 ducats to a larger loan in which major financiers
23 APN, Prot.3219, 9 Oct. 1546.

24 Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake, 18, 17, 156.

25 APN, Prot.2539, 25 April 1547; AMB, Actas, 14 Oct. 1533 "(Juan, son of Diego": title as regidor).
26 Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake, 16-17, 100-103, 130-31, 154.
27 APN, Prot.3219, 3 Sept. and 9 Oct. 1546; Prot.2539, 4 June 1547.

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(the Fugger nephews and Bartholomew Welser) also participated;

time he died in 1535, Juan de Castro de Londres, with Juan de A
was part of a consortium of Spanish merchants who were prepar

lend money to the Crown, but this asiento (government contr

not take effect. In 1537, Juan de Castro and other Burgalese lent
V another 100,000 ducats.28 "Juan de Castro, Regidor, and Luis d
tro" were involved in a major loan to the Crown in 1544, of whic

share was 9,000 ducats (3,375,000 maravedis). They were part

for principal and interest (1,189,040 maravedis) in bonds, which th

anxious to sell quickly, presumably because they believed that ther
more profitable uses for their capital.29
When the regidor died in 1549 or 1550, he seems to have left si
dren, including three sons, of whom two were minors. There is n

dence that the company with Luis de Castro survived, but a faint
of the Castros' traditional involvement with England is heard in

when Luis shipped "91 bundles of white and unbleached linen tha

from England" to Cadiz in an English ship from Southampton

they had been loaded for him by "Bartolome Compane, Floren

Although Toulouse, an inland city in southern France,

ket for Spanish wool, merchants from Burgos played a v
role there.31 In part because of their activity, Toulouse at

fifteenth century was developing into the woad-prod

western Europe, as urban merchants bought the woad pl

merchants and producers in the surrounding region, pro

sold the blue dyestuff in Toulouse or abroad.

Gilles Caster, in Le Commerce du Pastel et de l'Epic

de 1450 environ a 1561, describes the revival of the woad

close connection with Burgos. In 1450, Toulouse was only

with decaying walls and bridge and many abandoned

time, the woad trade in southern France was "feeble" an

ducted by Toulousans. By 1470, Toulousans were beco

after 1475, trade with merchants from Burgos began at

of Burgalese, who sought out the sedentary Toulous

"Northwestern Spain discovered Toulousan woad and the

town would therefore be changed ... the 'Burgos syste

28 Ram6n Carande, Carlos V y sus banqueros (Madrid, 1967), 3: 130, 134, 174,

29 APN, Prot.2539, 8 Feb. 1547. They collected another 2,446,339 maravedis from
servicio ordinario in 1548. Prot. 2537, 24 April 1548.
30 APN, Prot.2537, 18 May 1553; Prot.3219, 3 Sept. 1546 (young Diego, witness); P


31 Gilles Caster, Le Commerce du Pastel et de l'Epicerie a Toulouse de 1450 environ

95, 100, 144.

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epoch in Toulousan commerce," in Caster's words. "The great exp

sion occurred between 1505 and 1530, at the beginning certainly w

the support of the Spaniards, who brought their capital and a new spir
Merchants from Burgos were by far Toulouse's most important custom

at least until the 1520s, making themselves responsible for taking wo

to the major cloth-manufacturing areas of Spain and the Atlantic

board. Not until about 1520 did any indigenous Toulousan compan
organize their own exports to Spain and the north.32
Merchants from Burgos who appeared at Toulouse around the tu
of the century included Diego de Castro and his brother Juan de C
tro, who probably sold at least some of the blue dye in England
However, it was the Bernuy family that eventually emerged as a mos
important exporter of woad and as the preeminent importer of w
into northern Spain.34
The Bernuys originated in Avila, as a branch of the Zabarcos family
which was prominent enough to have a chapel in the convent of
Francisco there. The first Diego de Bernuy who came to Burgos w
the son of Diego de Bernuy of Avila by his first wife, Catalina Gonza
From her will, made in 1470 in Avila, we learn that the couple's c
dren were Fernando, Diego, Rodrigo, Crist6bal, Juan, Maria, Francisca
and Martina. In 1479 the elder Diego de Bernuy emancipated his s
by his first marriage, thus enabling them to be parties to contracts e
before they reached their majority, and proceeded to form a mercant
company with them and his brother in Flanders. The eldest son, F
nando, went to Flanders, Diego to Burgos, Crist6bal and Rodrigo
Medina del Campo. The sons, "acting jointly," succeeded in multip
ing "their inheritance from their mother, which was about 800,0
maravedis" and, in the words of a Burgalese of the early seventee
century, "they made themselves very rich." When their father died i
1487, "they divided [their wealth], each one taking a share."35 No dou

32 Ibid., 381 (1450), 86 ("feeble"; 1470), 91 (1475; "epoch"); 93, 104-7, 132-33 (Burgalese initiative
(1520; "native" exporters), 381 ("new spirit"). Woad from Toulouse was not a new product in internat
commerce, for it had been a major import of Bristol merchants in the early part of the fifteenth cen
brought in English ships from Bordeaux and Bayonne; however, the French control over Gascony at
end of the Hundred Years' War had hurt the trade. Carus-Wilson, Medieval Merchant Venturers, 36-37,
33 Carus-Wilson, Medieval Merchant Venturers, 104. In 1500, the Castros, together with Garcia de Ma
bought 1,080 sarcinees, the largest purchase on record to that date; Childs, Anglo-Castilian Trade, 64-65
34 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 84.
35 Valentin Davila Jal6n, Nobilario de la Ciudad de Burgos (Madrid, "Prensa 1955), 2: 229-31. Th
actually lists Fernando, Rodrigo, Crist6bal, Maria, Juana-Francisca, and Martina; but "Juana-Francisc
probably an error in transcription for "Juan" and "Francisca," for Diego did have a sister named Fra
and another brother, Juan de Bernuy, who was to settle in Toulouse. A son of Diego and Doiia Isabel O
referred to Juan as his uncle: Remedios Moran Martin, El seiorio de Benameji (C6rdoba, 1986), 90

Juan was the brother of the first Diego de Bernuy to come to Burgos was stated explicitly by Juan: C. Dou

"Lart a Toulouse" Revue des Pyrenees 13 (1901): 596. (Thanks to Barbara B. Davis for a copy of this ar
Douais also states that Juan died at the age of seventy-five (p. 598); as will be seen below, he was

in 1540, so that his year of birth would have been 1465, during his father's first marriage. There is no reas

to doubt that he was a legitimate son. French historians of Toulouse, including Douais and Caster
not realized that "Jean" died in 1540 and therefore conflate him and his son Jean, so that remarks a
his age or his "second marriage," etc., may or may not be accurate.

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they received a further inheritance from their father, unless th

any truth to the persistent rumors that he had been condemned

Inquisition in Avila as a judaizante (secret Jew), in which ca

property would have been confiscated.36
The first recorded appearances of these Bernuys in Toulous
in 1490 and 1491, when "Dyago de Vernoys, mercator de Ayvilla
nia" bought woad from the Boisson-Delfau-Hebrard company.

he seemed to be established in Toulouse, being referred to as

tor Tholoze oriundus patrie Yspanie."37 Both references are p

to the Diego de Bernuy who a few years later settled down perm

in Burgos, marrying Dofia Isabel Orense de la Mota and prod

family of eight children, of whom the eldest son was born in 15

1502. Diego was a city councilman (regidor) of Burgos from 1513

The next Bernuy to appear in Toulouse was Juan de Bernuy, wh

1501 was a customer of Denis Beauvoir and was described as "Joh

de Vernoy, mercator Burgensis in Yspania." Presumably he came

his brother Diego's place in Toulouse. Then or later he and Diego f
a company.39

Juan de Bernuy rapidly settled down in Toulouse. By 1504

being referred to as a "merchant of Toulouse." His commercial ac

had already expanded beyond buying woad from Toulousan merch

since a register of 1505-6 shows him buying 100 sarcinees [1

grams each, the same as a carga] of woad at the little place o
quens, where he had been dealing since 1501. Except for one
a local merchant, he sold woad to merchants from Burgos, w

to Toulouse to make their purchases. The amounts were large: 306

2,534 ecus petits; 4,064 ecus petits for 540 sarcinees grosses. B

for an additional charge, undertook to transport the woad to Bor

and have it loaded on ships there, a novel step for a "merch

Toulouse." Payments were usually made at Medina del Campo.
also shipping woad on his own account in those years (410 sar
grosses in one shipment), probably in company with Diego, w
plied him with capital in 1506.40

36 It is usually assumed that many Burgos merchants were descendants of Jews or evenjudaiza
Jews). There is little evidence for this assumption. This article includes an appendix that prese
is known in this regard about the Castro, Bernuy, and Quintanadueiias families.
37 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 100, 112, 138. Caster also cites an unfamiliar "Alonsso de Bern

ant de Burgos" in 1488. Ibid., 138.

38 Davila, Nobilario, 232; AMB, Actas, 3 Nov. 1515, fols. 181, 183; 30 May 1517, fol. 125. Dofia I
de la Mota was the daughter of Juan Alonso de la Mota, who was not only a comendador of th
Order of Santiago, but also one of the six alcades mayores, who were members of the city cou
guished from the sixteen regidores by little except a higher salary (5,000 instead of 4,000 mar
39 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 116, 139; Davila, Nobilario, 232.
40 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 139-40]. A sarcinee in French was a carga in Spanish and wei
kilograms (268 pounds). Moran, Serorio de Benameji, 91. A sarcinee grosse was presumably mor
nuys transported 2 1/2 cargas (5 fardeles) of woad in each cart when they sent it from Burgo
APN, Prot.3219, 9 Nov. 1546. Balles and fardeles, like bales or bundles, are vague terms. In the

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No doubt Juan de Bernuy remained in business with his brother Diego

in Burgos until Diego's death in 1519. The inventory of Diego's estate

included 1,885,105 maravedis for "644 cargas of woad that remain to
be sold from last year's accounts, plus another lot for which the cost
is still outstanding, in Bilbao, Burgos, and Segovia." There were another

4,776,782 maravedis in the possession of employees in Toulouse, plus

14,561,683 maravedis that were owed by various debtors in Castile, which

were no doubt partly accounts receivable for woad. Diego de Bernuy

also had 9,698,174 maravedis invested in trade with Florence, primarily
in exporting wool (there were 905 sacks, filled the previous year, valued

at 6,816,217 maravedis).41 Notarial documents in Segovia likewise testify to Diego's importance, showing that "some merchants of BurgosDiego de Bernuy, regidor, Francisco de Mazuelo, and the brothers Antonio and Andres de Melgosa-were among the principal importers [of
woad]: between 1514 and 1525, they sold large quantities of woad to
the Segovians, notably to Antonio Suarez, who resold it in his turn to

the artisans."42

After Diego died, the business in Burgos was run by his widow, Dofia

Isabel Orense de la Mota, eventually in association with their second

son, also named Diego de Bernuy (Diego de Bernuy Orense), regidor
of Burgos from 1529 until 1563. Several indications of her activity have
survived: in 1521, she submitted a petition to Burgos' city council, protesting against local customs duties being applied to woad; in 1523, she

informed Charles V "that she has a partnership and trade with Juan
de Bernuy, native of the city of Avila, residing in the kingdom of France,"

and obtained a guarantee of the safety of their merchandise and property

during a war with France; she sold woad in Burgos; she arranged to
have woad transported to the textile city of Segovia. She was acting alone

in Burgos at least until 1529.43

Meanwhile, Juan de Bernuy in Toulouse expanded his purchases. A
register covering 1518-31 shows him buying woad, especially in fields
south of Labastide-d'Anjou and around the village of Maurens. He had
formed a company with an inhabitant of Maurens, who collected the
leaves and prepared them. To this company Bernuy contributed three-

quarters of the capital (the initial capitalization was 2,400 livres) and
paid various expenses; since most of the work was being done by his
partner, Bernuy was entitled to only two-thirds of the profits. The scale

the basic unit was the sack, which consisted of 10 arrobas (11.5 kilograms per arroba, or 253 pounds per
sack) for wool destined for France or Italy, but 8 1/2 arrobas for wool consigned to Flanders. Basas, Consulado, 261-63.
41 Davila, Nobilario, 232-33; Moran, Senorio de Benameji, 261-62 (inventory).
42 Joseph Perez, La revolution des "Communidades" de Castille (1520-1521) (Bordeaux, 1970), 36.
43 AMB, Actas, 20 June 1521, fol. 224v; Manuel Basas Fernandez, "Mercaderes y corsarios espaiioles en
torno a la Paz de las Damas (1529);' Iispania 22 (1962): 396 (1523); APN, Prot.2877, 26 May 1529; Prot.2877,
7 July 1529.

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of his activities was large, whether measured by his 1529 pur

18,000 meters of sacking cloth or by his bullion requirements

vest time. Since it seems to have been used to record sales of woad

took place in Toulouse, Bernuy's register does not show his dealin
Spain. Many small-scale buyers were Toulousans; other buyers cam
Bordeaux or Bayonne; in 1526 one Matthew Lambert arrived from

don and bought 180 sarcinees. The register also mentions an a

England (Fernand Ybarne, a Basque, from 1520 until at least
major shipment to Narbonne, and a factor at Naples.44
Juan de Bernuy's name is still recognized in Toulouse. Accor
Caster, "Jean Bernuy's fortune is even today ... a sort of m

Toulouse: everybody knows of it, but nobody can describe it." Hi

sive mansion still stands, and three stories link his name with Fr

I. After Francis was captured at Pavia, Bernuy was one of th

guaranteed payment of his ransom; Bernuy gave Francis a lavish

tion in 1533 in his mansion; and he was by far the largest contri
to the forced loan of 36,000 livres that the king demanded from T
in 1539. Juan became the seigneur of Paleficat, Villeneuve-la-Com
and Lasbordes.45 Juan de Bernuy died in 1540, in an accident tha

reported by Pedro Gir6n in his Cr6nica del Emperador Carlos

This year this happened in Toulouse in France, where a very rich Spaniard na
Juan de Bernuy was living. A nephew of his, named Diego de Bernuy, citizen
regidor of the city of Burgos, had gone to see him, and to entertain him on
he had some wild cattle that he owned brought to his house and had them
in a patio or corral at his house [a sport related to bullfighting]. And afterw
in the afternoon when they were to be taken away from the house, Juan de

nuy went down to see them and stood at or near the gate to see them go

And, although bulls usually do not cause harm, it happened that one of the c
when they came close as they were going out, attacked Juan de Bernuy and infl

such wounds and blows on him that he died three days later....46

The family ties between the two branches of the family are evid
the background of this tragedy.

For a while, Juan de Bernuy's activity in France was carried

his son, who was another "Jean Bernuy," and Pierre Saint-Etienn

had been active in Juan de Bernuy's enterprise since 1505.47 T

nuy family in Burgos continued to import woad into Spain after t

of Juan de Bernuy.

44 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 61, 140-45.

45 Ibid., 138, 149. Thanks to Barbara B. Davis for confirming and refining details of this des
46 Pedro Gir6n, Cr6nica del Emperador Carlos V (Madrid, 1964), 159-60. Since Gir6n died in 1
seems to be no doubt that 1540, rather than 1556 as stated by Caster (Commerce du Pastel, 148)
of this fatal event. Diego de Bernuy had told the city council in February "that at present he
abroad on certain business of his...." AMB, Actas, 24 Feb. 1540, fol. 59.
47 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 145-48 (records for 1543-45); according to Caster, Saint-Etienn
ried to Jean (Juan) Bernuy's sister, but since Caster is confused about when one Jean Bernuy w
by the next, it is not clear to which he is referring.

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The company was reorganized in 1532, before Juan's death, prob

bly to allow Diego de Bernuy Orense to become an active partner. Ther

was an agreement, of which the terms are not known, between Di

in Burgos and his uncle Juan in Toulouse, and in addition there was an
agreement between Diego and his mother, acting for herself and as th
"tutor and guardian" of her children. The gist of the second agreemen

was that "Dofia Isabel Orense and all the company would be entitle

to the profit or loss from the said agreement [that Diego de Bernuy ma

with his uncle] up to 15,000 ducats [5,625,000 maravedis] and that a

additional gain or loss would belong to Diego de Bernuy alone...."
Dofia Isabel still played an active role. Documents from Burgos as l
as 1546 and 1547 show mother and son acting together. They conta
references to the ports of Bilbao and Santander; to sales of cargas
woad, ranging from one carga sold to a dyer of Burgos for 10,00

maravedis to 80 cargas, each sold to citizens of Santamara de Nieba and

Riaza for about half that price; to transporting woad from Burgos to Se

via.49 In 1547, Ger6nimo de Cifuentes was sent by Dofia Isabel an

Diego to Zaragoza to sell 510 small bales of woad "that are marked with

two Bs . . . which were sent and carried into the kingdom of Arag
and the city of Zaragoza from the city of Toulouse in France...."
1548, Diego de Bernuy, now acting alone, expected to charter "a sh
from the province of Guipuzcoa or the county of Viscaya ... to go
be loaded with woad for me at the city of Bordeaux in the kingdo
of France, and from there to go loaded with the said woad to the c
of Cartagena in the kingdom of Murcia...."50
The company was again reorganized in 1547. Dofia Isabel withdre
her capital, receiving the stupendous sum of 33,246,316 maravedis
2 June 1547. She lived until 1550. Her sons Pedro and Juan also so
withdrew their capital, which totaled 36,733,421 maravedis.51 Also

1547, Diego de Bernuy Orense reached an agreement with Pierre Saint-

Etienne of Toulouse "(Pedro de Santisteban") to form a company, i

which Saint-Etienne invested 12 million maravedis. This woad company

lasted from 1548 until 1557, and must have been renewed, because
was not until 1565, after the death of Diego de Bernuy in 1563, th

Saint-Etienne's son "(Juan") withdrew the capital belonging to him and

his father. It is assumed that Jean Bernuy the younger did not partici

pate in this successor company.52 Diego de Bernuy was active tradi

48 Moran, Seniorio de Benameji, 90.

49 APN, Prot.2005, 18 Feb. 1539; Prot.3219, 6 Oct. 1546, 9 Oct. 1546, 9 Nov. 1546, 16 Dec. 1546; Prot.25

5 April, 4, 10, 16 May 1547; Prot.2537, 23 May 1548.

50 APN, Prot.2539, 2 May and 4 May 1547; Prot.2537, 23 May 1548.
51 Moran, Seiorio de Benameji, 89. Another 1,700,000 maravedis remained to be paid later. Dofia Isab
made her will in 1548, but lived until 1550. Davila, Nobilario, 232-33.
52 Manuel Basas Fernandez, "El Mercader y Regidor Diego de Curiel, Boletin de la Instituci6n Fer
Gonzdlez, no. 151 (1961): 165-67. The final accounts revealed that the Toulousans owed their Spanish pa
ner 2,517,697 maravedis. This money had still not been paid in 1570.

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other commodities besides woad, but the relative proportion of

commerce and whether it was carried on outside this "comp

not known. Among the products mentioned are wool, which

he was arranging to buy from a citizen of Molina, the same tow

his father had made his purchases twenty years before; "frisas

coarse wool and shoddy fabric] and woolen cloths brought fr

don for Diego de Bernuy in the company of Alonso de Maluenda

dles of anjeos" (coarse linen, usually from Nantes) sold to ci

Burgos in 1547; copper from Rome in 1540; iron from Biscay ex

to London, Lisbon, and, perhaps, via Cadiz, to the New Wo

Dominican friar in Seville at mid-century commented, "In our t

house of Diego de Bernuy of Burgos was accustomed to bu

ducats [22,500,000 maravedis] of holandas [fine Dutch linen]
Antwerp for sale at Medina del Campo.53

A crisis in Diego de Bernuy Orense's woad trade came in 1552,

war broke out with France. Diego de Bernuy was able to enlist t

of Burgos' greatest nobleman, the Constable of Castile, to pr

case to the Prince Regent (the future King Philip II) and the
of State. The constable also wrote to the emperor's secretar
I am sure that your grace will have been informed about how for a long time

de Bernuy has been accustomed to bring a large quantity of woad from

to these kingdoms, and in such quantity that what he brings alone would
be enough to supply what is needed for the cloths that are made in Castile

because he was as unprepared as we all were for the war with France,
ordered a great quantity of it to be bought. And just when he had had

proportion of the woad loaded, with the ships on the point of departure, t
began, and so he had to unload it again and leave all his property there, so
he may end by losing it if the prince, our lord, does not permit him to br

[The constable requested the prince to allow the woad to brought to Cas
French ships.] ... From Toro, 17 January 1552.54

Whether the Crown officials made a direct response to Bernuy

tion is not certain. However, at the cost of 300,000 ducats (111,2

maravedis), he and some other Burgalese, all under the name of
de Zamora and his Company," managed to obtain a decree that n

authorized them to bring goods from France, but also gave t

their licensees a monopoly on such imports, specifically includin

linen, and paper, for four years (from mid-1552 until mid-1556

53 APN, Prot.2539, 17 May 1547 (wool); Moran, Senorio de Benameji, 261 (his father); Prot.2
and 17 May, 1547 (anjeos); Moran, Seniorio de Benameji, 92 (Maluenda, copper, iron). On 31 De
Diego Garcia de Medina submitted accounts amounting to 4,805,041 maravedis for ironworks
tian. Mordn, Sefiorio de Benameji, 92. F J. Sanchez Canton, ed., Floreto de andcdotas y notici

(Memorial Hist6rico Espaiiol, 1948), 48 bis: 232 (holandas).

54 Vicente Beltran de Heredia, Cartulario de la Universidad de Salamanca (1218-1600) (Salama

3: 71-72.

55 Carande, Carlos V y sus banqueros, 397. The text is in AMB, Actas, 9 Aug. 1552, fols. 220-220v. This

was the "asiento of Miguel de Zamora and his is public knowledge that Diego de Bernuy
and Juan de Santo Domingo and Alvaro de Cuevas are participants in it... "(Actas, 26 Aug. 1552, fol. 231).
Notarial documents in Burgos in 1553 refer to Miguel de Zamora, linens, France, license, in various combinations. APN, Prot.2537, 14 Feb., 5 April 1553.

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The profits or losses of the Bernuy business in this period of cri

and opportunity are not known. Diego de Bernuy Orense raised capital

of over 15 million maravedis in 1552 alone by imposing mortgages

his serorio (lordship) of Benamexi, but we do not know whether he wa

desperately trying to save his business or simply raising money for th

great commercial coup offered by the monopoly.56

It appears that Diego de Bernuy Orense withdrew from acti

management of his company in 1558, leaving it to be run by his cousin

Alvaro de Cuevas (who was also the husband of his illegitimate daug
ter Mariana de Bernuy) and Diego Ximenez. Diego de Bernuy still h

an investment of 71,015,590 maravedis "for profit or loss" in this com

pany at the time of his death in 1563.57

The company's last years coincided with a great crisis in the wo

trade. In 1559, prices for woad in and around Toulouse rose, with a con
temporary commenting that "The house of Bernuy is partly responsi-

ble for the rise, because they are buying much of it." Then, in 156
prices collapsed at Antwerp and London. The immediate reason ma
have been overproduction of woad; in any case, to judge by Caster

account, Toulouse was dealt a fatal blow as the center of woad exportation. Many Toulousan merchants may have been ruined, leaving the wa
open to Lyonnais capital; at the same time, the Wars of Religion began
to cause serious trouble at Toulouse, and indigo, the higher quality blu

dye from the East Indies, became a serious competitor.58

After Diego de Bernuy Orense's death, his son and principal heir, Do

Diego de Bernuy Barba (regidor of Burgos and, like his father, sef

of BenamexO, may well have used his father's stake in the company to
make an interest-free loan to the Crown in 1566 of 200,000 florins, "del

vered in Flanders" (about 100,000 ducats, or 37,500,000 maravedis

which probably earned him his title of Marshall of Alcala. There w

a story told in the seventeenth century, perhaps related to this loan, th

when the ruler-the story says "the Emperor," but presumably it would

be King Philip II-passed through Burgos, Bernuy presented him wi

the certificate representing a debt of 100,000 ducats "for him to t
up."59 He went into bankruptcy in 1569, when he could not meet h

obligations at the fair at Medina del Campo. For the rest of the centur
he and then his heir fluctuated in and out of financial receivership

56 Moran, Seiorio de Benameji, 351.

57 Ibid., 110. Alvaro was the son of Doiia Isabel Orense de la Mota's brother, Alonso Diez de Cuev

Constance J. Mathers, "Relations Between the City of Burgos and the Crown, 1506-1556" (Ph.D. diss., Col
bia University, 1973), 171, 494-96; cf. Davila, Nobilario, 237, 239. Moran, Seiiorio de Benameji, 95; cf. 2
58 Caster, Commerce du Pastel, 206-8 (quotation, 208). Cf. Albert Girard, Le Commercefrancais a Sev
et Cadix au temps des Ilabsbourg ([1932]; rpt., New York, 1967), 390-91, for collapse of woad exports b
1558, attributed to competition from indigo and decline of textile industry in Castile.

59 Moran, Seiorio de Benameji, 95 and 273 (inventory); 112 (loan and title), adding that he receiv
royal license to sell up to 15,000 ducats of his entailed property to raise the money. Gil Gonzalez Davil
Teatro eclesidstico de las Iglesias Metropolitanas y catedrales de los Reynos de las dos Castillas ... (Madri
1650), 3: 45. Moran, Seiorfo de Benameji, 83-84, reports another version of this story, which features D
de Bernuy Orense instead of the Marshall.
60 Moran, Seiorio de Benameji, 118-21; Basas, "Diego de Curiel," 165-67; V. Vazquez de Prada, Lett

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Merchants from Burgos established themselves even more firmly in

Rouen, where, according to Michel Mollat, the historian of Rouen's maritime commerce, they played a vital role. He writes that "The merchants
from Burgos were everywhere the animators of international commerce,"

and puts Rouen into the following perspective:

From Seville to Lisbon, from Lisbon to Burgos, to Bordeaux, to Nantes and to
London, finally from London to Bruges and then to Antwerp, the relations of the

Spanish merchants became complicated and entangled. Rouen was captured in

the net....And the Rouennais? They were carried along by the current. Their
port was no longer a local center; it was no longer even just the outlet of the Seine;

it was a way-station between the North Sea and the Ocean, a link in the chain
of grand-scale western commerce.

Like Caster writing about the situation in Toulouse, Mollat emphasizes

the capital of the Spaniards. Most of their activity involved maritime
trade, of which they had a good share. Between 1522 and 1540, they
chartered at least thirty-five ships in Rouen, almost a quarter of the
charters recorded in the notarial records of the city.61
Although Spanish merchants had traded in Rouen before the middle
of the fifteenth century, the first Spanish merchant who settled in Rouen
after the end of the Hundred Years' War did not arrive until 1472. He

was followed by eight more individuals between 1480 and 1500, thirteen in the next twenty years, and another nineteen between 1520 and
1540. Most appear to have been from Burgos, including Juan de Quintanaduefias.62

The Quintanaduefias family became the best known in both France

and Spain. The partners were Gomez de Quintanaduefias in Burgos and

his cousin Juan de Quintanaduefias in Rouen. Their Quintanaduefias

grandparents had moved to Burgos from the nearby hamlet of Mahamud.
The fathers of Juan and G6mez had been partners for thirty years and

may already have been trading with Rouen, since their business was
exporting wool and bringing back woolen cloth and linen. Juan himself
had been in Rouen temporarily in 1510, probably as a factor of his father's
company. After the deaths of their fathers, Juan and G6mez carried on
the family tradition, forming their own partnership, apparently in 1519.63
Juan de Quintanaduefias went from Burgos to live in Rouen in the same

year, became a naturalized Frenchman within two years, and in 1527

marchandes d Anvers (Paris, n.d. [1960]), 168, 171. The latter, citing letters of contemporaries from the Simon

Ruiz archive, says that Diego de Bernuy in 1569 "had liabilities of 160,000 ducats [60 million maravedis],
plus a mortgage of 70,000 ducats [26,250,000 maravedis] on his entailed property. He promised to pay, with
a year's delay, with 7% interest." In 1580, "The Court intervened this time to freeze most of his property
on behalf of his creditors; it left him only what was necessary for his personal subsistence."
61 Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, 520 (quotations), 515-16.
62 Ibid., 113, 509-10, 512.

63 Basas, "Quintanaduefias'' 562-565.

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married the daughter of Alonce de Civille, an earlier arrival from Spa

Successful in commerce, Juan de Quintanaduefias, like other natura
ized Spaniards in France, bought or built a mansion, invested in gover
ment bonds and private mortgages, and acquired an office in the parl

ment (law court) for at least one son. Most of his twelve children marr
into the local French society of merchants, parlementarians, and roya
officials, following a common pattern of the second or third generat
of Spanish immigrants to Rouen. Like other merchants from Burgos

France, Quintanaduefias also became a seigneur in his new countr

by the 1530s he was seigneur of Saint-Le6nard, Boscguerard, Auth

and Longfault, which were divided among his sons at his death. Havin
put down roots in the area, seigneurial families tended to be the m
prominent and most enduring. In Rouen itself, the city council showe
its respect for the opinions of some of these merchants, soliciting th
advice on various occasions when it was dealing with matters of inter

national commerce.65

The main business of Burgalese merchants in Rouen was importing

wool from Spain, although they also participated in Rouen's other international maritime trade, as well as in its local trade by river.66 The wool
trade between northern Spain and northern France was well established
before the end of the fifteenth century. As England increasingly turned

from exporting wool to manufacturing cloth, Spanish wool was much

in demand in England's former markets. In 1499, the consulado of
Burgos referred to Flanders, La Rochelle, and Nantes as wool staples,
the destinations of the fleets. In the consulado ordinances of 1538,
reflecting the growing importance of Rouen, there was a reference to

the consulado's right to charter ships "to sail with the wool and other
merchandise ... to the county of Flanders and the kingdom of England

and Rouen and Brittany and other parts of France."67 The Quintanaduefias partners were engaged in purchasing wool on a large scale
in the mountains of Castile, not far south of Burgos, to be shipped to
Rouen and Nantes. In 1547, they exported 975 sacks, which had cost

5,146,200 maravedis; in 1548, 632 sacks, acquired for 3,096,406

maravedis; and in 1549, 686 sacks, which had cost 3,879,609 maravedis.68

Spanish merchants took advantage of their contacts in Spain and

around the Bay of Biscay to supply Rouen with products from places
other than northern Spain. They bought woad at Bordeaux and Toulouse,
alum in southern Spain, and sugar in the Canaries and Madeira. In 1529,

Juan de Quintanaduefias and Jean de Saldaigne were associated with

64 Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, 512.
65 Ibid., 511-15, 522. Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, (p. 511) comments that "three families figured
most prominently, the Civille, Saldaigne and Quintanadoines. It will be necessary to refer constantly to them."
66 Ibid., 515, 121, 113, 226-27.

67 Ibid., 113-15, 516; Basas, Consulado, 38, 159 (quotation).

68 Basas, "Quintanaduefias," 572.

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Thierry Tuvache of Rouen to import brazilwood.69 In 1547-49, t

tanaduefias company was shipping alum and grain of paradi

Mazarron and Cartagena, where Luis Cruzate and Martin de
were its agents. At the same time, the company evidently ha

contract for France.70

The principal product carried away from Rouen by the Burgal

linen cloth and canvas. Some of this linen they took to northern
probably selling most of it at the great fair of Medina del Camp

also carried these products to Lisbon and Seville, as well as to

a traditional outlet for Rouen's linen and canvas. The Quintan

cousins were typical in this respect, as they were when they loa

goes including woolen cloth and the miscellaneous manufac

Rouen, such as writing paper and playing cards, to send to both

ern and southern Spain. Almost any ship leaving Rouen

described as "a veritable bazaar."71

More light is shed on the Rouen part of the company's trade as a result

of difficulties encountered in 1529. In that year, the Duke of Medina

Sidonia, at Sanlucar or "in the port of Gibraltar," "embargoed" the goods

on a ship sent out by Juan de Quintanaduefias, "saying that they are

goods of Frenchmen." In one document designed to liberate their
property, the Quintanaduefias said that the merchandise "came from
the island of Madeira in a Portuguese ship"; in another, they referred
to "certain bundles of linen and other merchandise."72 The Quintanaduefias cousins, along with other Burgalese, also had an interest in

a cargo of "241 bundles of cloth and linen and canvas and paper and
bocarones [wind-chests for organs]" that was sent from Rouen to Castile
in 1529. The difficulty this time was that the captain, a citizen of Pasajes,

seemed to have appropriated the merchandise.73

Juan de Quintanaduefias of Rouen was very active, but it is not clear

how much of his activity was in partnership with his cousin Gomez.
Juan can be seen in 1535, showing an enterprising spirit by sending a
ship to Wales: "the shipmaster had to have his ship 'well provided with
artillery'. .."74 He can be observed in 1545, protesting in the Admiralty

Court against the seizure of a ship by English privateers. The English

were at war with France, and William Hawkins, possessor of a letter
of marque against the French, claimed "he could prove that the goods
in question were French, falsely 'coloured' as Spanish and that the factor travelling with them had letters instructing him to alter the title of

the ownership as circumstances demanded." The Admiralty Court,

69 Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, 516-19.

70 Basas, "Quintanadueiias:' 572.

7' Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand 166-68 ("bazaar," 168), 232-33.
72 APN, Prot.2877, 20 July 1529; Prot.2888, 15 Feb. 1530.
73 APN, Prot.2877, 14 May 1529.
74 Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, 155.

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according to one theory, decided to throw a "sop to the Emperor"

ruled in favor of Quintanaduefias. William Hawkins and the mayo
Plymouth, who had been selling the goods while the case was pending
were sent to prison.75 Perhaps because of this unpleasant experien
Juan de Quintanadueiias, "merchant of the nation of Spain," got p
mission from the magistrates of Bruges in May 1545, "to transship an
export from the port of Sluys the following merchandise brought fr
Spain by two of his ships." This merchandise consisted of "150 p

ages of canvas from Vitoria, 9 barrels of prunes, 8 bales of writing pap

20 bales of canvas, one bale of yarn, 174 bales of woad, 10 bars of och

9 pieces of brazilwood, and one barrel of carding combs."76

The cousins remained partners for thirty years. As late as 1546, Ju

visited Burgos to settle accounts and renew the partnership. The

sins described their cooperation and an earlier meeting:

inasmuch as twenty-six years ago ... we began to have a company for trading mer-

chandise in these kingdoms as well as in various areas outside of them, which

we have continued until the present day, making new agreements in regard to
it in the meantime as seemed best to us, and in 1540 we met in this city to close
our books....

In 1546, the cousins disagreed about the 1540 settlement, but consider-

ing "the family relationship ... between us and such a long friendship
and partnership," they agreed to let Garcia de Quintanaduefias, Gomez'
son-in-law, settle their differences.77
In information that the company submitted to the Royal Council about

its activity in 1547-49, the principal partners were said to be G6mez,

Juan (Rouen), and G6mez' son Juan (Burgos).78 In December 1546, the
younger Juan stated that he had 4,500,000 maravedis "of my own
property, in my stake in the company of the said G6mez de Quintanaduefias, my father and lord, and in money and furnishings and gold

and silver and other goods...." At the same time, Gomez gave his son
950,000 maravedis "in the equity of my company so that you will have

them for your own."79 G6mez' son-in-law, Garcia de Quintanaduefias,

was a partner working in Rouen. Other relatives, including Sancho de
Quintanaduefias (a son of Juan who is known to have returned to Spain),

were "inside the company." In Seville, Antonio de Arbieto served as a


Juan de Quintanaduefias of Rouen died in 1550, and his cousin G6mez

died in 1553.81 The partnership was not renewed by their descendants.
75 Connell-Smith, Forerunners of Drake, 136, 182 (quotation).
76 Gilliodts-van Severen, Cartulaire, 3: 5.
77 APN, Prot.3219, 12 Nov. 1546.

78 Basas, "Quintanaduefias," 571-72 (Simancas., CR, leg.94).

79 APN, Prot.3219, 10 Dec. 1546.

8o Basas, "Quintanaduefias," 571-72.

81 J. Mathorez, "Notes sur les Espagnols en France d6puis le XIIIe siecle jusqu'au regne de Louis XIII,"

Bulletin Ilispanique 16 (1914): 363 (Juan's date of death); Basas, "Quintanaduefias,' 574-75.

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Apparently the only son of Juan de Quintanaduefias of Rouen w

active in commerce with Spain was Sancho, who established

permanently in Seville rather than in Rouen. In 1551, G6mez' so

had invested his own large capital elsewhere, having join

Jer6nimo de Salamanca to form a partnership whose activities f

on trade with Bruges.82 Of Gomez' three younger sons, one had

a professor at the University of Alcala; a second was a canon

cathedral in Burgos.83 The third, Antonio de Quintanaduefias, w

ally much in evidence in Rouen in the 1560s, but he was workin

on behalf of the great financier of Medina del Campo, Simon

The Quintanadueiias' share of the Rouen trade was apparent
over by Garcia and Miguel de Salamanca, cousins who combin
resources in a company in 1551. The company from its incep

as its factor in Rouen one Andres de Salamanca, who seems to ha

a nephew of Juan de Quintanaduefias of Rouen. He had a salary

maravedis per year, but he also had a one-third share of the pro
losses on the activities he undertook on behalf of the company.8
company of the Salamancas also had a factor in Flanders and in S

(the latter being entitled to a commission of 1.5 percent on

of woolen cloth), as well as agents or contacts in Paris, Nantes, B

Bordeaux, Lisbon, Bilbao, Laredo, Irun, Vitoria, and Medina del C

As time went by, the company became involved in trade with th


The partners' trade with Rouen was similar to that of the Quintanaduefias cousins, and appears to have contributed to a very profita-

ble enterprise: in 1560 alone, each partner reaped almost 3 million

maravedis in profits.87 In 1565, each had 13 million maravedis in the

82 Mollat, Commerce Maritime Normand, 517, 522; 517 (citing APN, Prot.2533).

83 Basas, "Quintanadueias', 563.

84 Vezquez, Lettres marchandes dAnvers, 2:39, 43, 57.

85 Manuel Basas Fernandez, "Los libros mercantiles de la Companiia de Garcia y Miguel de Salamanca,"
Boletin de la Instituci6n Ferndn Gonzalez, no. 152 (1960): 230-34; AMB, Actas, 8 Feb. 1526, fol. 49v (Royal
title as judge of the mint to Diego Garcia de Salamanca, by renunciation "of the office that Juan de Quintanaduefias, your brother, made to you"); APN, Prot.3219, 10 Dec. 1546 (Andr6s de Salamanca, "son of Diego
Garcia de Salamanca:' appears as a witness to the marriage contract of Juan de Quintanaduefias of Burgos);
cf. Prot.2539, 14 Jan. 1547. Although the close connection is obvious, it is nevertheless conceivable that
there was another Juan de Quintanadueias in Burgos; if so, presumably he would have been either a brother
or a cousin of Gomez.

86 Basas, "Salamanca," 234-35, 237-39. After 1565, the company was making major investments in exporting cloth via Seville to the New World, to judge by its insuring woolen cloth consigned to Nombre de Dios
for almost 3 million maravedis (7,950 ducats) in 1565. In 1566, the Salamancas sent linen and woolen cloth
from Seville to New Spain, having insured it for 6,496,875 maravedis. Ibid., 238-39.
87 The basis of the Salamancas' trade was the export of wool from Burgos to Rouen: 54 sacks in 1553,
96 sacks to Rouen and Nantes in 1554, 438 sacks in 1556, 719 sacks in 1559, 620 sacks in 1560. The investment in wool also grew: 693,657 maravedis in 1554; 2,495,678 maravedis in 1555; 7,105,317 maravedis in

1557; 6,463,292 maravedis in 1560; 4,594,159 maravedis in 1561; 6,127,753 maravedis in 1562. The goods
that the Salamancas brought into Spain show their involvement with Rouen, Nantes, and Flanders: French
linen, woolen cloth, playing cards, and woad (available at Rouen); Flemish wax, tapestries, and oil; Breton
linen, salted fish, and bundles of anjeos; in 1566, 88 bundles of anjeos were to go to Bilbao, 114 to Seville.
Exports from Seville to Rouen were oil, cochineal (red dye), and probably other products of the New World.
Ibid., 234, 235-40.

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company. Although both partners had died by 1571, business was still
being carried on then by the "Heirs of Miguel de Salamanca."88

The capital involved in these companies placed the Bern

among the wealthiest individuals in Europe. As Jeann

one crude fact must be kept in mind: if
in florins, ducats, or ecus, ran into six
accumulation of wealth for the sixteenth
eyes of most men, for whom a hundred

a person's property, whe

figures, this represented

century. It was a fabulous

or even a few dozen ecus

veritable treasure, and even for many relatively successful bu

represented an enormous sum of money.89

The first Diego de Bernuy to live in Burgos left a

31,850,293 maravedis, which was equivalent to 84,934 duc

Dofia Isabel Orense de la Mota, had a net estate excee

maravedis, which expressed in ducats would reach the six

their most favored son, Diego de Bernuy Orense, had

250 million maravedis when he died in 1563, offset by d

180 million maravedis.90 There is no comparable informa
Castro and the Quintanaduefias families. Although it wou
ing if their financial success surpassed that of the Bernu

tunes, measured in maravedis, no doubt made them "


Socially and politically, these three prominent merchant familiesthe Castros, the Bernuys, the Quintanaduefias-had a solid position in
Burgalese society, without coming close to monopolizing the official posi-

tions of prestige and power in the city. They supplied five out of a
hundred members of the city council in the period from 1506 until
Charles V's abdication in 1556, with the Bernuys being most prominent. They played a major role in the merchant guild, with the Castros
and the Quintanaduefias filling the positions of prior or consul 12 percent of the time between 1494 and 1562.91

Although the social prominence of these families stemmed largely

from money that their enterprises produced, none of these companies
still existed by the final third of the sixteenth century. Why not?
88 Ibid., 230, 233, 236, 238. One of their last ventures must have involved shipping wool to Bruges, for
Miguel de Salamanca had the largest claim against the insurers in the case of the wool that was loaded
as early as 1570 and seized at Middelburg in 1574 (4,603,125 maravedis for 525 sacks of wool). Phillips and

Phillips, "Spanish Wool and Dutch Rebels," 316-17.

89 Jeannin, Merchants of the Sixteenth Century, 73.

90 See notes 97 and 98 for Donia Isabel and her husband. For Diego de Bernuy Orense, see Moran, Seiiorio

de Benameji, 106, 109, 263-76.

91 For city council, see Mathers, "Relations Between the City of Burgos and the Crown," 21-27, 78, 169-77.
For merchant guild officials, the basic list is from Basas, Consulado, 267-68. He lists 100 names from 1494
to 1562; I have added 17 from miscellaneous sources, including Juan de Castro in 1540 (AMB, Actas, 17

Feb. 1540, fol. 52) and G6mez de Quintanaduefias in 1546 or 1547 (APN, Prot.2539, 31 Dec. "1547").

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The main reason for the limited life-span of these "compa

that they were really family partnerships, in which one partn

cally resided abroad, even becoming naturalized, and the ot

in Burgos. This arrangement was the basis for the long-lasting

ment of the Bernuys in Toulouse and of the Quintanaduefias in

(although the Castro brothers, active in London, were bot

Because they were family partnerships, typically established for a fiveyear term, they were not always renewed after the death of a partner,
as the family relationships became more distant. Thus, the Castro and

Quintanaduefias partnerships were dissolved after two generations as

partners died in the early 1550s.92
Further, as a result of the Castilian inheritance laws, the death of a
partner or of his spouse was likely to reduce the available capital even
if the company continued. Under community property rules like those
in the American Southwest today, a spouse was entitled to half of the

bienes gananciales (gains during the marriage). The remainder of the

estate would be divided among the children. A widow or some of the
children, if they were adults, might well withdraw capital from the

The language of inheritance spoke of mayorazgo, legitimas, mejora,

tercio (third), and quinto (fifth). A mayorazgo was an entail, which
ordinarily passed in the line of primogeniture, favoring males over
females. The quinto was a fifth part of the property, which the testator
could dispose of freely. The testator was also permitted to favor one child

by leaving a third (tercio) of his or her goods to one descendant; this

was termed a mejora (favored treatment).93 Since a parent intent on favor-

ing one child might leave him or her the "remainder of the fifth" (after

deduction of funeral expenses and miscellaneous legacies) as well as

the tercio, the expression "favored with the third and the fifth" was some-

times used. The remainder of the property had to be divided in equal

parts among the testator's legitimate children, each part being called
a legitima.
Three wills show what these families did within the confines of the

inheritance laws. Ines de Lerma, widow of Juan de Castro de Londres,

made her will in 1547. Dofia Isabel Orense de la Mota, widow of Diego
92 The capital involved in these enterprises included not only the capital of the directing partners, but
also that of silent partners. For example, Juan de Astudillo had over 3 million maravedis invested in the
Castro company even after he ceased to be an active partner, which his heirs withdrew not long after his
death (APN, Prot.3219, 9 Oct. 1546). The Castro company also had almost 500,000 maravedis that Gonzalo
de Quintanilla, guardian of the heirs of the noble regidor Francisco Sarmiento, had invested in the company
of "Juan de Castro, Regidor, and Luis de Castro" (APN, Prot.3219, 27 Oct. 1546), and perhaps other amounts
from other investors. These investments would be subject to the same influences as those of the active partners.

93 Both the Laws of Toro (1505) and the notarial documents make it clear that the
depended on the size of the estate at the death of the bequeather, not at the time of

de Toro" in Los C6digos espaiioles (Madrid, 1849), 6: 560-61.

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de Bernuy, made her will in 1548. Gomez de Quintanaduefias, twice

a widower, made his in 1553.94 Children were numerous in these three
families, which had respectively ten (seven sons), eight (four sons), and

nine (four sons), not counting those who may have died in childhood.
The three wills were alike in treating the twelve daughters, as well as
the three sons who became members of the secular clergy, as herederos
universales, that is, as residual heirs who would share equally in the estate

after legacies (from the quinto) and mejoras were subtracted. The three

sons (all Castros) who became monks did not receive legitimas.
Some of the non-clerical sons could expect favored treatment, but
not one of the wills bequeathed to a single son both the tercio and the

quinto. This characteristic may have reflected the expanding economy

for, as Georges Duby wrote about the twelfth century, might fathers now

have been "in a position to be more generous and treat all their own
sons more equally, instead of staking everything on one and keeping
the others down?"95 In 1546, Gomez de Quintanaduefias obligated himself to favor his son by his first marriage, Juan, with a third of his goods

on the occasion of Juan's marriage. G6mez gave him an advance of 2

million maravedis (950,000 maravedis of equity in the company, and
1,050,000 maravedis of censo al quitar (redeemable annuity mortgage)
yielding 75,000 maravedis a year), commenting that "the said [2 million maravedis] are considerably less than a third of the goods that I
have and possess at present." In his will, he confirmed that Juan had
the mejora and that his other children would share equally in the

remainder of the estate.96

The two other wills revealed an effort to favor two sons instead of

only one. Ines de Lerma's will showed only slight favoritism: the seven

heirs (excluding the three monks) had each already received about
800,000 maravedis "as part payment in advance of their legitimas, and
the two favored sons received houses as mejoras. Overall, Ines de Lerma's

share of the Castro fortune was distributed fairly equally among her

seven heirs. Dofia Isabel Orense de la Mota had entailed a third of her

estate to her son Diego in 1533-so enraging her eldest son, Fernando,
who had probably already received a third of his father's estate, that
he attacked Diego with a dagger. Fernando's aggressiveness obviously
did not endear him to his mother, who in her will in 1548 proceeded
to entail a fifth of her estate to her son Juan, who was to use the name
of Juan Alonso de la Mota in honor of Dofia Isabel's father.97 Her residual
94 APN, Prot.2539, 25 April 1547 (Castro); Davila, Nobilario, 232 (Orense); Basas, "Quintanaduenas,"

563, 568-75.

95 Georges Duby, The Knight, the Lady and the Priest (New York, 1983), 275-76.
96 APN, Prot.3219, 10 Dec. 1546; Basas, "Quintanaduefias," 575.
97 Gir6n, Cr6nica, 24; MS. 6149 ofBiblioteca nacional (text of 1533); Moran, Seiiorio de Benameji, 97-100;
Davila, Nobilario, 232 (Juan). When her husband, the first Diego de Bernuy of Burgos, died in 1519, he
had left net assets of 31,850,293 maravedis, with all but 3,271,957 maravedis being business-related. Mordn,
Setiorio de Benameji, 261-62. It is uncertain how much of this belonged to his widow as bienes gananciales.

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heirs hardly suffered: with her estate exceeding 40 million mar

each must have received over 2 million maravedis.98 The Bernuy

pany, however, was the loser, for she had withdrawn her c
33,246,316 maravedis in 1547.

The establishment of entails was no solution to the problem of

ing capital in the company. In its first generation, the entail wo

of itself concentrate property (for instance, the second Dieg

nuy had as entailed property only the fifth of his father's estate

third of his mother's). It would, however, encourage the conver

partners' equity into real estate and annuities, which were co

to be the appropriate objects of entail.99
The annuities were mostly government bonds called juros,
could be juros al quitar (redeemable bonds), juros de por vida
ties for life), or juros perpetuos (annuity bonds). Juros were

of specific royal taxes. Censos were similar, except that they we

by private individuals. They were paid out of private tax rev

income from land, and since the land might be the ultimate
they are usually described as mortgages. Both were generally

as conservative individual investments, commonly at the rate of

maravedis for each 1,000 maravedis of annual interest (an annua

of 7 percent). The Bernuys are a prime example of purchaser

securities for inclusion in an entail. Doiia Isabel Orense de la Mota

a juro and two censos, which together yielded 350,000 marav

year (capital value of 7,300,000 maravedis), in the entail that she

lished for her son Juan. For the benefit of the entail of her son

she had purchased 550,000 maravedis of redeemable censo for

of 8,800,000 maravedis from the Admiral of Castile.'00 Even wit

incentive of entailment, Gomez de Quintanaduefias gave his son

on the occasion of his marriage, a redeemable censo yielding

maravedis a year (capital value of 1,050,000 maravedis), "that I h

the town of Piedrahita, which belongs to the lord Duke of A

Diego had probably favored his eldest son, Fernando, with a third of his estate, since Mariano
Martinez, Catdlogo genealogico entresacado de la Contaduria de Mercedes (Valladolid, 1927), 153
an entail in Fernando's favor, although implying that it was established by his mother. Diego ce
lished an entail on the fifth of his estate in favor of his son Diego de Bernuy Orense. Moran

Benameji, 96-97.

98 Size of her estate: Moran, Senorio de Benamejf, 325-31, 262-63. The 2 million maravedis fig
off from 2,333,333 maravedis) is derived by subtracting the third and the fifth (that is, eightthe estate) from a rounded-off figure of 40 million maravedis, and dividing the remaining estate by

possible heirs.

99 For a later period, cf. Janine Fayard, Les membres du conseil de Castille a lI'poque moderne (1621-1746)
(Geneva, 1979), 353-67, 397ff., contrasting entailed property with bienes libres (free goods): the latter consisted less of real estate, and had three times more censos and other private obligations than juros.
100 Davila, Nobilario, 232 (Juan); Moran, Seiorio de Benameji, 89 (withdrawal), 98 (Diego), 327-28 (table).
The dates when she purchased the juros and censos are not given, but she may have invested the proceeds
from her stake in the company in them.
o10 Basas, "Quintanadueinas," 568; APN, Prot.3219, 10 Dec. 1546.

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Entails also stimulated an interest in land and sefiorios. Perhaps also

our protagonists were emulating their French brothers and cousins, who
had rapidly become seigneurs, but, if so, it proved harder to fulfill this
ambition in Spain. Thus, G6mez de Quintanaduefias can be seen acquiring parcels of land in Arcos and Villariezo, after he established an entail

on property in these villages near Burgos. In 1540 he proposed, apparently in vain, to buy the lordship of Villariezo from the cathedral chapter of Burgos.'02

Diego de Bernuy, son of Dofia Isabel Orense de la Mota, was more

successful. He was spurred on by the fact that the entails established
in his favor by his father and mother evidently specified that the
inheritances must eventually be invested in "land and rentas and censos

andjuros perpetuos....' Between 1531 and 1538, he bought many small

properties not far from Burgos, spending 2,488,283 maravedis. In 1539,

he paid the Duke of Alba 11,291,250 maravedis for the pastureland of

Tomillos, near Ronda in southern Spain. In 1547, he purchased

Benamexi, in Andalusia, consisting of "the castle and district of

Benamexi with its pastures . . . and with the sales tax of the district,
and with civil and criminal jurisdiction, and with the tithes, and with
everything else that belongs to the lordship of the said castle and dis-

trict... "In other words, he bought both the land and the jurisdiction
from the Crown. Benamexi and its sales tax (purchased in a separate
transaction for 660,000 maravedis) cost Bernuy 20,625,000 maravedis.
Before long, he began imposing censos on Benamexi, raising capital of
31,731,000 maravedis by 1558, when he also had reached an annual
interest liability of 2,061,875 maravedis. In 1559 he paid 1,573,000
maravedis to become sefior (jurisdiction only) of Alcala de Ronda and
also purchased its sales tax for 1,258,325 maravedis.103
In later generations, the entailed real estate and debt securities might
become a family's only property. Diego de Bernuy Barba, son of Diego
de Bernuy Orense, inherited all of his father's entailed property, including both sefiorios, and in 1566 he won royal approval to call himself Don
Diego, Marshall of Alcala del Valle (Alcala de Ronda). In January 1569,
he married Dofia Isabel Hurtado de Mendoza, sister of the influential
Princess of Eboli. Although he was bankrupt in 1569, he was entitled
to keep the entailed juros, censos, and heavily mortgaged land. After
he died in 1577, his widow and their five children lived at Benamexi

instead of Burgos, and his descendants became the Marquesses of


102 APN, Prot.2521, 15 and 20 May, 19 June 1536; AMB, Actas, 31 Feb. 1540, fols. 39v-41v.
103 MS. 6149 of Biblioteca nacional, "Papeles diversos,' fol. 256v, for his mother's entail; Moran, Senorio

de Benameji, 319-21 (Burgos area); 149-50 (Tomillos); 146 (Benamexi; also APN, Prot.2539, 4 Feb. 1547);
351 (censos); 152 and 154 (Alcala).
104 Moran, Senorio de Benameji, 112 (marshall); 111 (marriage); 118 (date); 117 (residence).

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Is it possible to tie together the commercial histories of th

family enterprises, the social and legal imperatives that diver

lated capital to non-mercantile uses, and the sad fate of t

merchant community after 1570, when financial disaster ov

Spanish merchants, especially those who were involved in th

textile exchange with the Low Countries? The Revolt of

lands against King Philip II of Spain had begun in 1567 and w

in its wake a prolonged disruption of commerce, the capture
fleet's worth of wool at Middelburg, successful insurance cla

prominent Burgalese merchants, and a royal bankruptcy. Th

of Burgos never recovered. 05
Burgalese merchants did not foresee these troubles. It was
ipation of a great and sudden change in the investment clim
caused these families to diversify their investments long be
Diego de Bernuy's initial investments in sefiorios, if not his

ish in tearing up the evidence of the royal debt, were pr

on the overconfident expectation that the woad trade wo

to return excellent profits, so that he could afford to inves

The Salamancas' trade with Rouen remained important throu
1560s and later, demonstrating that, even though a partners
come to a natural end as partners died, new partnerships wo

if the trade was still attractive and the capital was availa

There is no reason to think that family strategies had cha

period before 1570, either by fleeing from perceived com
to the security of land, seiorios, bonds, and annuities, or by
more attracted to their prestige. For Burgos, such investme
represent a new pattern in the sixteenth century, though it
the Laws of Toro of 1505, by making it simpler for parents
entails, encouraged the tying up of merchant capital in real
bonds within a few generations after the entail was establis

even earlier, at the end of the fifteenth century, Diego de So

galese merchant whom Betsabe Caunedo del Potro descr

most powerful and authentic representative of the 'internat

chants in this period," had apportioned his fortune betw

daughters and, with a special royal license, entailed it. His d

were prominent in Burgos, but they were not merchants

Several factors led merchants or their heirs to invest in lan

annuities, and bonds throughout the period: the social prest

''s Phillips, "Spanish Merchants," 267-68; cf. Phillips, "Spanish Wool Trade," 792-93
Phillips, "Spanish Wool and Dutch Rebels," 328-29.
'06 Law 27 of the "Leyes de Toro" in Los C6digos espanioles, 6: 561.

107 Caunedo del Potro, Mercaderes, 286 (quotation); 40 (reference to entail); 163 (variou
in 1507); Mathers, "Relations between the City of Burgos and the Crown:' 125, 496, 561

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ing land or being a sefior, the desire to ensure the safety of accumulated capital for themselves or their heirs, the wish to escape from the

trouble of carrying on business. Frederic C. Lane's observation about

the Venetian merchants of the fifteenth century could well be applied
to the Burgalese merchants: "The ranks of these commercial capitalists
were constantly being thinned, for as men 'arrived' they shifted their

investments to safer [and less bothersome] forms; ... "108

The remainder of Lane's sentence about Venetian merchants is also

suggestive for Burgos: " .. .but as long as the city as a whole grew richer,

the rise of new men on the make replaced these withdrawals and
replenished the ranks of the active merchants."109 The crucial factor in

Burgos' dismal commercial future was not that established merchant

wealth was diverted into land, annuities, or bonds; nor was it that the
trade with England or the trade with Toulouse had not lasted until 1570;
rather, it was simply that the staple trade in wool to Bruges and the return

trade in cloth, perhaps already weakening in the 1550s, fell victim to

the long-lasting Revolt of the Netherlands.10 As a direct result, to echo
Lane's phrases, the city as a whole no longer "grew richer," and it became
very difficult for "new men on the make" to get started. The traditional
route, quite possibly followed by all three families in this article, that
began with participation in the staple trade or built on the commercial
network established by that trade, was abruptly cut off. The time when

the merchant guild's chartered ships to the north carried "all of the
wealth of the citizens of the said city of Burgos" was over."' The problem
for Burgos and Castile was not that more old fortunes eventually were
invested in land or annuities for safety or prestige, but rather that there
were few new fortunes to be made in the traditional commerce in the

difficult years after 1570.


Were the merchants of Burgos descendants of Jews? There is l

cal evidence on this question aside from that produced in th

investigation of applicants for admission to Spain's prestigious m

who had to prove "purity of blood [limpieza de sangre." Typicall

gations were made in the seventeenth century. Valentin Davi

Nobilario de la Ciudad de Burgos, summarizes and extracts th
(expedientes) for the military orders of Calatrava, Alcantara, M
Juan de Jerusalen from the Archivo Histdrico Nacional. All thr

lies in this article appear in the investigations, but only the Bernu
sively investigated.
108 Frederic C. Lane, Andrea Barbarigo: Merchant of Venice, 1418-1449 ([1944]; rpt.,
'09 Ibid.

" Phillips, "Spanish Wool Trade," 780-81.

1' Nazario Gonzalez, Burgos: La ciudad marginal de Castilla (Burgos, 1958), 140 (from a document of

the first half of the sixteenth century).

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There proved to be various lineages of Castros, unrelated in their orig

Castros in this article were the ones "who came from Liebana, with th
cipal residence in the street of San Gil and with the Lady Chapel in th
church of San Gil." Davila Jal6n summarizes the responses made betwe
and 1621 as describing them as "very noble and pure of blood," respon
may be considered unusually reliable because these Castros were unr
the Castros who were being investigated. Another investigation, thi
a grandson of Luis de Castro, was also carried out in 1621. No doubts we
about the family; the witnesses mentioned that it had been about 15
or seven or eight generations, since the founder of the family in Bur
moved there. The year 1622 produced another investigation when a g
of the regidor Juan de Castro applied for admission to the order of A

His application was also approved."12

There is even less information about the Quintanaduefias family. Ans

1711, although their documentation did not go back beyond the year 15
fied the order of Calatrava about one branch of the family, which cla
be the "principal" branch; lesser branches were "The Marquesses of la

[descendants of Gomez' son Juan] and the senores of the entails of V

and Baillo."I3 Also mentioned is an expediente (number 6,779) for th
of Santiago, possibly about the year 1660, which refers to the family'

in Mahamud.14

The most intensive investigation was that of the Bernuys. It has often been
asserted and assumed that the Bernuys were of Jewish descent, perhaps partly
because of the diaspora of the sons, who never returned to live in Avila. The
rumor already existed in the sixteenth century, and since the specific basis of
the rumor then is clear, readers may judge for themselves whether the case
is proven. First, the notorious Tizon de la Nobleza (Stain on the Nobility), written in 1560 by the Bishop of Burgos, who was trying to prove that the nobility
of Spain was tainted by Jewish and Moorish ancestry, mentions the Bernuys under

the heading "Sanbenitos." The contemporary Bernuy was Diego de Bernuy

Orense, whom the bishop refers to as "Diego de Bernuy, the one from Burgos.
They say that the sanbenito of his grandfather is in Saint Thomas of Avila. His
son has an income of four million [maravedis]."115 Second, there was a verbal
attack by two unhappy customers of the same Diego de Bernuy in Burgos, grandson of Diego de Bernuy of Avila, which was remembered and quoted many years

later (1609-1621): "on a certain occasion Hernando and Sebastian de Poza,

brothers, having bought woad from him for their cloths 'that did not turn out
as well as he had promised, said, 'it is obvious that he is Jewish and of vile race

and they told that he had the sanbenito in Avila.' "16

A "sanbenito" was a penitential gown worn by persons convicted by the Inquisition and then displayed, with the offender's name, permanently in the church.
Was there any fire beneath this smoke? When a descendant of the Bernuys asked
for admission to the Military Order of Calatrava in 1609, a full-scale investiga-

tion of purity of blood was made, which focused on these rumors and which
caused the admission to be delayed until 1621. There was indeed a sanbenito
of a Diego de Bernuy on display in the church of Saint Thomas. The investigators determined that it belonged to a Jew "de serial [forced to wear a distin112 Davila, Nobilario, 227-28, 296-97, 340.
13 Nicolas L6pez Martinez, "Documentaci6n relativa al dean Quintanaduefas" Burgense 4 (1963): 377-78;
Davila, Nobilario, 112 (quotation).

4 Ibid., 117.
15 Francisco Mendoza y Bovadilla, Tiz6n de la Nobleza de Espana (Cuenca, 1852), 12.

116 Davila, Nobilario, 234-35.

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guishing badge] condemned as a judaizante [secret Jew]" in 1492. (The

that the date was after the death of our Diego de Bernuy is not necessar

nificant: sometimes people were tried posthumously.) The condemne

de Bernuy was said to have been the son of a converted physician and
mon woman who was named Bernuy, and to have been totally unrela
another Diego de Bernuy who was buried in Saint Thomas, who was s
be our Diego de Bernuy. "Making certain of this led to a great number of

rations by witnesses, visual examination of the tomb and the sanbenito (the

stone itself was turned over to check that there had not been an insc
that might have been erased), and testimony of the tablet of anniversar


The investigators discovered that when Diego de Bernuy of Avila died in

he became the first person to be buried in the church of the new Dom
monastery of Saint Thomas in Avila, built by Tomas de Torquemada, the
Inquisitor General. In 1497, Prince Juan, the heir to the thrones of Ferd
and Isabel, died at the age of nineteen and was buried in the same churc
records of the church include a donation in 1486 by Diego de Bernuy,
chant, citizen of Avila," of a yoke of land in Ontiveros that he inherite
his parents and 30,000 maravedis in money, given to aid in the constr

of the church, in return for which he was granted the right of burial in the ch

The "tablet of benefactors of the monastery of St. Thomas of Avila" (dra

after the death of Prince Juan in 1497) confirms this information. (Mem
of the Zabarcos family, whose coat-of-arms of two ships was used by the
lese Bernuys, are mentioned in the same item.) The inscription on his

stone referred to "the very honored and noble Diego de Vernuy."11

untouched tombstone, tablet, and documents tended to establish that th

de Bernuy who was buried in Saint Thomas had been "noble" and "ho

and had not been disgraced in the eyes of the church either before or af


17 Ibid., 230-31.

18 Ibid., 229-31, 242; "el muy onrrado y noble diego de Vernuy .. . 230; Townsend Miller, The C
and the Crown (New York, 1963), 175 (Juan, Torquemada).

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