Spanish confiscation

The sepulchre of Ermengol X (1274–1314), Count of Urgell and Viscount of Àger, sold in the 19th century and now The Cloisters, New York City, as a result of the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal.
Renaissance courtyard of the Castle of Vélez-Blanco (c. 16th century), given, during the liberal confiscation, in 1903, to the Americans and now is in The Cloisters, New York City.[1]

The Spanish confiscation refers to the confiscation by the state of church-owned and other property and the subsequent sale of such property by the Spanish central government, a process which started in the late 18th century and ended in the early 20th century.

It was a long historical, economic and social process, which began in the late 18th century with the so-called "Confiscation of Godoy" (1798), although there was a precedent in the reign of Charles III of Spain, and ended well into the 20th century (16 December 1924). It consisted of the forced expropriation of the lands and properties (including landmarks) in the hands of the so-called "mortmains" – i.e., the Catholic Church and the religious orders which had accumulated as usual beneficiaries of grants, wills and intestates, and the so-called 'without use solars' (baldíos) and communal lands of the municipalities, which served as a complement to the fragile economy of the peasants. These lands and properties could not previously be alienated (sold, mortgaged or leased). The government put them on the market, and through public auctions. In the words of Francisco Tomás y Valiente, the Spanish confiscation presented "the following features: appropriation by the State and by its unilateral decision of real estate properties belonging to "mortmains", selling them and assignment of the obtained amount proceeds with the sells to the amortization of debt securities".[2]

In other countries (such as Mexico) there occurred a phenomenon of more or less similar characteristics.[note 1] The principal aim of the confiscation undertaken in Spain was to get extra income to pay off the public debt securities – singularly vales reales – that the State issued to finance itself, or extinguish it because on some occasions they could also be admitted as payment in auctions. It also aimed to increase the national wealth and create a bourgeoisie and middle class of farmers who were owners of the lands they cultivated and create capitalist conditions (privatization, strong financial system) so that the State could raise more and better taxes.

The confiscation was one of the political weapons with which the liberals modified the system of ownership of the Ancien Régime to implement the new Liberal state during the first half of the 19th century.

Confiscation during the Ancien Régime

Proposals of the enlighteneds

Portrait of Pablo de Olavide, by Juan Moreno Tejada before 1805.

The enlightened showed a great concern for the backwardness of Spanish agriculture and virtually all who dealt with the issue agreed that one of the main causes of it was the huge expanse in Spain of the amortized property held by the "mortmains" -the Church and the municipalities, primarily- because the lands that were held was generally poorly cultivated, in addition to remaining outside the market because these could not be alienated, nor sold, nor mortgaged or given away, with the consequent increase in the price of the "free" land, and not taxed at the Royal Finance by the privileges of its owners [3] The Count of Floridablanca, Minister of Charles III, in his famous reserved Report of 1787 complained of "major damages of the amortization".[4]

The lesser trouble, although not insignificant, is that such [amortized] properties evade taxation; for there are other two major, which are recharge to other subjects and the amortized properties are liable to deterioration and loss after the holders cannot cultivate the land, or are disengaged or poor, as it can be experienced and seen with pain everywhere, for is there not land, houses or real estate more abandoned and destroyed than the chaplain sites and other perpetual foundations, with immeasurable injury against the State.

One of the proposals made, especially by Pablo de Olavide and Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, was to put up for sale the disused solars. These were uncultivated and uninhabited lands belonging "in any way" to the municipalities, and were generally assigned as pasture for cattle. For Olavide the protection that had been given until then to livestock was one of the causes of agricultural backwardness; he advocated that "all the lands should be put to work" and therefore disused solars would to be sold first to the rich, because they have the means to have the lands cultivated, although some should be reserved for farmers who had two pairs of oxen. The money obtained would be used to establish a "Provincial caja" (provincial saving bank) that would provide funds for the construction of public works such as roads, canals and bridges. Thus will be achieved "useful, rooted and taxpayers neighbors, while achieving the extension of tillage, the increase of the population and the abundance of the produces".[5]


Jovellanos's proposal regarding the properties of the city halls was much more radical, because unlike Olavide's proposal for the sale of disused solars, thereby respecting the most important part of the resources of the city halls, this also included the privatization of the "council lands", so it is understood that this would also include those properties of the city halls that paid taxes, which were the lands which brought more income to municipal funds. Jovellanos, a fervent supporter of the economic liberalism -"the job of the laws... should not be excite or direct, but only protect the interests of its agents naturally active and well run to its goal" he affirmed-, defended the "free and absolute" sale of these properties, without making distinctions between the potential buyers -he not worried as Olavide that these lands passed into the hands of a few magnates- because, as noted by Francisco Tomás y Valiente, for Jovellanos "the liberation of without use solars and council lands is a good in itself, for at stop being such lands amortized, become dependent for the "individual interest" and can be immediately placed in crop". Jovellanos's ideas influence notably in the liberals who launched the confiscations of the 19th century thanks to the enormous spread that had its Report on the agrarian law, published in 1795, much higher than the "Plan" of Olavide, which was only partially known in the "Adjusted memorial" in 1784.[6]

As for the lands of the Church, the enlightenments did not defend the confiscation of their lands, but advocated that be limit, by "sweet and peaceful" means in the words of the Count of Floridablanca, the acquisition of more land for the ecclesiastical institutions, although this proposal as moderate was rejected by the Church and by most members of the Royal Council when was put to vote in June 1766. The two leaflets where was argued the proposal were included in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum of the Inquisition: the Treaty of the royalty payment of Amortization by Pedro Rodríguez, Count of Campomanes, published in 1765, and the Report about the agrarian law of Jovellanos, published in 1795. "The moderation of the enlightened reformism becomes very clearly shown at this point [that only defend the limitation or stoppage in the future of the ecclesiastical amortization] and the resistance of the Church of make concessions in the economic sphere -announce its attitude in times to come- and then is very firm".[7]

Confiscation measures of Charles III

The timid measures agreed during the reign of Charles III have to be seen in the context of the Esquilache Riots in the spring of 1766. The most important measure was an initiative of the corregidor-intendente of Badajoz that to quell the revolt, ordered deliver in renting the city hall lands to the "needy neighbors, attending first to the senareros and day laborers that themselves or with wages can work it, and after of them who have a load of donkeys, and farmers of a yoke, and in this order to the two yokes in preference to the three, and so respectively". The 10th Count of Aranda, the newly appointed minister by Charles III, immediately extended the measure to all Extremadura by royal decree of 2 May 1766, and the following year to the whole kingdom. In an order of 1768 that it developed, explained that the measure was intended to serve the poorest farmers and laborers, looking for the "common good".[8]

This measure was in effect for just three years and was repealed on 26 May 1770. It was not really a confiscation because the lands were leased and remained the property of the municipalities. In the royal decree that replaced it prioritized in leases "to the laborers of one, two and three yokes", so that the initial social purpose disappeared. To justify it alluded the "problems that have followed in the practice of the various provisions issued earlier about distribution of lands", referring to that many laborers and poor peasants who had received plots of lands, not had been able to cultivate properly -failing to pay the censuses- because lacked of the means to do so, since the concessions were not accompanied of loans to enable them to acquire. The consequence of all this was that the lands of city halls became to the oligarchies of the municipalities, these "individual riches" of which it spoke in the "Plan" of Olavide, who had openly criticized the first measures because it believed that the braceros lacked the means to put into full use the lands that deliver, when the Olavide self direct the project of New Populations of Andalusia and Sierra Morena the settlers receive the minimum necessary to begin to cultivate the land that it had been granted, together with the exemption of pay taxes and censuses in the early years.[9]

As Francisco Tomás y Valiente noted, the politicians of Charles III "acted moved more by economic reasons (put in farming uncultivated lands) than by other social, that or do not appear in their plans and the legal precepts, or when arose in they were suppressed first by the lack of adequate resources for its effective implementation, and secondly (as it saw Cárdenas and Joaquín Costa) by the resistance that the "provincial plutocracy" opposed to any social reform... However... the confiscation measures of Charles III and even the correlative plans of who then it occupied of this issue have in common an important and positive feature: its connection with the wider plan of reform or regulation of the agricultural economy".[10]

"Confiscation of Godoy"

During the reign of Charles IV the so-called "Confiscation of Godoy" was launched in September 1798 by Mariano Luis de Urquijo together with the Secretary of the Treasury, Miguel Cayetano Soler, who had held that position during the government of Manuel Godoy I -removed from power six months before.[11]

In 1798 king Carlos IV obtained permission from the Vatican to expropriate the properties of the Jesuits and of pious works that, on the whole, came to be one-sixth part of the Church properties. In it was disentailed goods of the Society of Jesus, of hospitals, hospices, Houses of Mercy and of University residential colleges and also included un-operated goods of particulars.[12]

As highlighted by Francisco Tomás y Valiente, with the "confiscation of Godoy", it gave a turning point in linking the confiscation to the problems of public debt, unlike what had happened with the confiscation measures of Charles III that sought to a very limited extent the reform of the agrarian economy. The liberal confiscations of the 19th century continued the approach of the "confiscation of Godoy" and not of the measures of Charles III.[13]

Liberal confiscations of the 19th century

Reign of Joseph Bonaparte (1808–1813)

Joseph Bonaparte decreed on 18 August 1809 the removal of "all regular, monastic, mendicant and clerical Orders"(sic), whose assets would automatically belong to the nation. So "many religious institutions were dissolved in fact (regardless of any canon legal consideration). The mechanics of the war also produced frequently identical effects in many convents, monasterys and "houses of religion".[14]

Joseph Bonaparte also made a lesser confiscation that did not imply the removal of the property, but the confiscation of its income for the fueling and war expenditure of the French troops- this ceased in 1814.[15]

Cortes de Cádiz (1810–1814)

José Canga Argüelles, portrayed by José Cabana.

After an intense debate that took place in March 1811, the deputies of the Cortes de Cádiz recognized the huge debt accumulated in the form of vales reales during the reign of Charles IV and that the acting Secretary of Treasury José Canga Argüelles estimated at 7000 million reales. After rejecting that the vales reales were only to be recognized for their market value, well below their nominal value- which would have meant the ruin of the holders and the inability to obtain new loans- the memoriam presented by Canga Argüelles was approved. This was a proposal to confiscate certain goods of "mortmains" that is put on sale In the auctions the amount of the two thirds of the hammer price must paid in "the national debt securities" -which included the vales reales of the previous reign and the new "notes of liquidated credit" that were issued from 1808 to defray the expenses of the War of Spanish Independence. The cash obtained in the auctions was also to be dedicated to the payment of interest and the capital of the "national debt".[16]

In the decree of 13 September 1813, in which was captured the proposal of Argüelles, the term "national goods" was applied to the properties that were to be confiscated by the State to sell at public auction. It was the confiscated goods or to confiscate to the "traitors" as Manuel Godoy and his supporters, and to the "francophiles"; those of the Knights Hospitaller and of the four Spanish military orders (Order of Santiago, Order of Alcántara, Order of Calatrava and Order of Montesa; those of the convents and monasteries suppressed or destroyed during the war; the farms of the Crown, except the Royal Sites intended for service and recreation of the king and half of the disused solars and realengos of the municipalities.[17]

However, according to Francisco Tomás y Valiente, "this decree of September 13, 1813, which in a way is the first general confiscate statute of the 19th century, could scarcely be applied due to the immediate return of Ferdinand VII and the absolute state. But along with the "Memory" of Canga Argüelles contains all the legal principles and mechanisms of subsequent consficate legislation".[18]

Major application reached the much debated decree of the Courts of 4 January 1813, by it conficate "all the lands of disused solars or realengos and of owns and means" of the municipalities in order to provide "a relief to the needs public, an award for the meritorious defenders of the homeland, and a help to the not owner citizens". To achieve these three purposes at once (fiscal, patriotic-military and social) it divided the goods to confiscate into two halves. The first would be linked to the payment of the "national debt", which would be sold at public auction, admitted paying "for all its worth" in securities of outstanding loans from 1808 or alternatively in vales reales. The second half would be divided into lots of free lands in favor of those who had served in the war (military patriotic purpose) and the landless neighbors (social purpose), although the latter, unlike the "patriotic awards", must pay a fee and if failure to do so, they lost the assigned lot definitely, which largely invalidated the social aim proclaimed in the decree and this largely vindicated those deputies who, like José María Calatrava or Terrero, had opposed the decree, especially the sale of the goods of ownners, heritage on which rests the "economic government and the rural police of the peoples".[19] Terrero said during one of the debates: "I oppose to the sale of owners and without use solars ... For who will be the benefit of such sales? I just heard it: for three or four powerful, that with too much little stipend would accrue with common prejudice its own interests".[20]

Trienio Liberal (1820–1823)

After the restoration of the Constitution of 1812 in 1820, the Liberal governments of the Trienio faced again the problem of the debt, which, during the six years absolutist restoration (1814 1820) ,had not been resolved. For this the new Courts revalidated the decree of the Cortes de Cádiz of 13 September 1813 by the decree of 9 August 1820 that added the goods to confiscate the properties of the Spanish Inquisition recently extinct. Another novelty of the decree of 1820 compared with that of 1813 was that now for payment of the auctions cash payments were not accepted, but only vales reales and other securities of public debt, and at its nominal value (although its market value was much lower). So Francisco Tomás y Valiente saw it as the "most extreme" decree of that linking confiscation with debt decree.[21]

Due to the very low market value of debt securities with respect to their nominal value, the cash disbursement made by buyers was much lower than the appraised price (on some occasions less than 15 percent of the nominal value). Given these outrageous sales, there were deputies in 1823 who proposed its suspension and the delivery of the goods in property to tenants of them. One of these deputies declared "that by alienation default, the farms have been taken over by rich capitalists, and these, once they have taken possession of them, have made a new lease, generally increasing the rent to the poor farmer, threatening to spoil if they do not pay on time. "But despite those results and these criticisms, the confiscate process went ahead without modifying its approach".[22]

By an order of 8 November 1820 (which would be replaced by a decree of 29 June 1822), the Cortes del Trienio also revived the decree of 4 January 1813 of the Cortes de Cádiz on the sale of unused lands and goods pf owners from the municipalities.[23]

The ecclesiastical confiscation, unlike the Cortes de Cádiz that not legislated anything about it, yes it was addressed by the Cortes del Trienio in relation to the goods of the regular clergy. So the decree of 1 October 1820 abolished "all the monasteries of the monastic orders; the regular canons of Saint Benedict of the Tarraconian and cesaraugustian cloistered congregation; those of St. Augustine and Premonstratensians. The convents and colleges of the Military Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Montesa and Alcántara; those of Order of St. John of Jerusalem, those of Saint John of God and the Bethlehemite Brotherss, and all other hospitals of any kind". Their goods and immovable properties were "applied to the public credit" for what were declared "national assets" subject to its immediate confiscation. A few days later, by the law of 11 October 1820, prohibiting purchase real estates to all kinds of "mortmains", which actually became fact the measure advocated by the enlightenments of the 18th century, like Campomanes or Jovellanos.[24]

Confiscation of Mendizábal (1836–1837)

The confiscations of Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, prime minister of Queen Regent Maria Christina, and Pascual Madoz, finance minister of Queen Isabel II, are the two most important liberal confiscations.[12]

The Desamortización Eclesiástica of Mendizábal in 1836 had very important consequences for the economic and social history of Spain.

As the division of the lots was entrusted to municipal committees, these took advantage of their power to make manipulations and set big unattainable lots to smallholders but payable, however, by the very wealthy oligarchs who could buy both large lots and small.[15]

The small farmers could not enter in the bids and the lands was bought by nobles and wealthy urban bourgeoisie, so that could not be created a true bourgeoisie or middle class in Spain that out the country from its stagnation.[25]

The lands confiscated by the government were only those belonging to regular clergy. Thus the Church decided to excommunicate both the expropriators and buyers of lands, which made most people decide not to directly buy the lands, and purchases were made through intermediaries or strawpersons.[12]

Confiscation of Espartero (1841)

On 2 September 1841 the newly appointed regent, Baldomero Espartero imposed the confiscation of the estates of the church and religious orders, with a bill authored by the finance minister, Pedro Surra Rull. This law was in operation for three years before being repealed.

In 1845, during the Moderate Decade, the government tried to restore relations with the Church, leading to the signing of the Concordat of 1851.

Confiscation of Madoz (1855)

During the Bienio progresista (at the forefront of which was again Baldomero Espartero, along with O'Donnell) the Treasury Minister Pascual Madoz carried out a new confiscation in 1855, executed with greater control than the Mendizábal. On 3 May 1855 it was published in La Gaceta de Madrid and on the 31 May the instruction to carry it out.

It declared for sale all properties of the State, the clergy, the Military Orders (Santiago, Alcántara, Calatrava, Montesa and St. John of Jerusalem), confraternities, pious works, sanctuaries or shrines, of the former Infante Don Carlos, of the bienes de propios (properties owned by a City Hall to provide a rent at the same for be leased) and of the commons of the people, of the charity and of the public instruction, with the exceptions of the Pious Schools and the hospitals of Saint John of God, dedicated to education and medical care respectively, since they reduced the government spending in these areas. Likewise were allowed the confiscation of the censuses belonging to the same organizations.

This was the confiscation which achieved greater sales volume and had a higher importance than all previous. However, the historians have traditionally been much more occupied towards that of the Mendizábal, whose importance lies in its duration, the large volume of mobilized goods and the large repercussions that it had in the Spanish society.[15]

Having been the subject of confrontation between conservatives and liberals, there came a time when all political parties recognized the need to rescue those idle assets in order to incorporate to the higher economic development of the country. Was suspended the application of the law on 14 October 1856 and resumed two years later, on 2 October 1858, being O'Donnell president of the Council of Ministers. The changes of government did not affect the auctions, which continued until the end of the century. In 1867 it sold a total of 198 523 rural properties and 27 442 urban. The state entered 7 856 000 000 reales between 1855 and 1895, almost twice that obtained with the confiscation of Mendizábal. This money was mainly spent to cover the State budget deficit, public debt repayment and public works, reserving 30 million reales per year for "reconstruction and repair of some churches of Spain".

Traditionally this period has been called a civil confiscation, a misnomer, because if it is true that there were auctioned a large number of farms that had been the common property of the people, which was a novelty,there were also sold many goods until then belonging to the Church, especially those which were in the possession of the secular clergy, but that was, in short, a very serious abuse and looting of the goods of the rural people, farmers, who depended heavily on them and condemned millions to emigration and proletarianization in cities.

Overall, it is estimated that of all that was sold off, 35% belonged to the church, 15% to charity and 50% were municipal properties, mainly peoples or towns. The Municipal Statute by José Calvo Sotelo of 1924 finally repealed the laws on confiscation of property of the people and thus the confiscation of Madoz.

Affected properties by the "Madoz Law" or General law of confiscation of May 1, 1855

It declared in sale, in accordance with the requirements of this Act, and without prejudice to charges and easements to that legitimately are submit, all the rustic and urban properties, censuses and forums belonging: to the State, to the clergy, to the Military Orders of Santiago, Alcántara, Montesa and St. John of Jerusalem, to confraternities, pious works and sanctuaries (¿shrines?), the kidnapping of the ex-infante Don Carlos, to the owns and commons of the people, to the charity, to the public education. And any other belonging to mortmains, whether or not sent to sell by previous laws.[26]



If one generalized and divided Spain into a southern area with predominance of large estates and a northern strip in which there were a majority of medium and small farms, one could conclude, according to the works by Richard Herr, that the result of the confiscation was to concentrate the ownership in each region in proportion to the previous existing size, so there was a radical change in the ownership structure.[27] The patches that were auctioned were bought by the inhabitants of nearby villages while the larger the acquired richest people living in cities usually further away from the property.[27]

In the southern part, of large estate domination, not there were small farmers who have sufficient financial resources to bid in the auctions of large estates, which reinforced the landlordism. However this did not happen generally in the north of the country.[27]

A separate issue is the privatization of communal properties belonging to the municipalities. Many farmers were affected by being deprived of a resources that contribute to their subsistence – firewood, pastures, etc. – so it deepened the emigration trend of the rural population, which went to industrialized areas of the country or to the Americas. This migration reached very high levels in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Another social consequence was the exclaustration (out of religious life within the cloister) of thousands of religious which was initiated by the government of the Count of Toreno that approved the Royal Order of Ecclesiastical Exclaustration of 1835 (25 July) by which it suppressed all the convents in which there not were at least twelve professed religious. And under the government of Mendizábal it stated (11 October) that only subsist eight monasterys throughout Spain. Finally, on 8 March 1836, appeared a new decree that suppressed all the convents of religious (with some exceptions, such as Piarists and Hospitallers), and a year later it issued another more (29 July 1837) that did the same with the female convents (except for the Sisters of Charity).

So recounted A. Fernández de los Ríos twenty years after the exclaustration that Salustiano de Olózaga ran in Madrid:[28]

The operation was extremely easy: most of the friars were provided with secular clothes, and few requested company to leave the convents, of whom left with the alacrity of who early had prepared and organized the move. At eleven o'clock, all the mayors had been part of having fulfilled the first end its mission, the vacating the convents: Don Manuel Cantero, who held the office of mayor, was the only one who nothing it knew. Olózaga wrote these lines: "Everyone already have been part of have dispatched except you.". Cantero replied: "The others only had to dress them; I have to shave them. Cantero was right: in his district there were one hundred and many Capuchins of the Patience.

Julio Caro Baroja has drawn attention to the figure of the old exclaustrated priest because, unlike the young man who worked where he could or joined the Carlist ranks – or that of the milicias nacionales – they lived "enduring their misery, emaciated, , teaching Latin in the schools, or doing other underpaid odd jobs".[29]

Thus, as noted by Caro Baroja, in addition to the economic, the suppression of the religious orders had a "huge impact on the social history of Spain". Caro Baroja quotes to the liberal progressist Fermín Caballero who in 1837, shortly after the secularization, wrote:[30]

The total extinction of the religious orders is the most gigantic step have taken Spain in the present time; It is the real act of reform and revolution. To the current generation surprising does not find by some the chapels and habits that saw from childhood, of such various forms and shades were multiplied the names of benitos, gerónimos, mostenses, basilios, franciscos, capuchinos, gilitos, etc., but our successors will not admire least the transformation, when traditionally only by the books know what were the monks and how they ended, and when to learn about their costumes have to go to the pictures or the museums! So yes that will offer novelty and interest in the tables The devil preacher, The force of the fate and other dramatic compositions in that mediate friars!"

Where it can also appreciate the social consequences of the confiscation it was in changing the appearance of the cities, which was "laificado" (secularized) the term used by Julio Caro Baroja. Madrid, for example, thanks to Salustiano de Olózaga (Basque born) governor of the capital that torn down 17 convents (in Madrid), ceased to be "drowned out by a string of convents".[31]



The Museo de Bellas Artes of Seville saves a huge collection of religious art from the convents and monasteries of Seville who suffered confiscations. The museum building itself was a Convent of the Calced Mercy

Many paintings (including some Romanesque) and monastery libraries were sold at low prices and eventually exported to other countries, although most of the books were to swell the funds of public libraries or universities. Many also fell into private hands that,,regardless of the notion of the actual value thereof, were lost forever. It left numerous abandoned buildings of artistic interest, such as churches and monasteries, with the subsequent ruin of them, but others, such as the San Martín Church (Cuéllar) instead were turned into public buildings and were preserved for museums or other institutions.[33]

Political and ideological

One goal of the confiscation was to allow the consolidation of the liberal regime and those who buy lands formed a new class of small and medium landowners supporters of the regime. But this goal was not achieved, by acquiring most of the confiscated lands, particularly in southern Spain, by large landowners, as already discussed.[25]

The half of the lands that sold had been part of the community, the common land to the peasants and rural people. Rural areas today still account for 90% of the territory of Spain[34] The communal lands completed the precarious economy of the peasants and which supposed the collecting of fruits or grass and were held and managed by the community.

Its confiscation meant the destruction of life systems and centennial popular self-management organizations.[35][36]


From the point of view of the environment, the confiscation supposed the move to private hands of millions of hectares of forests, which ended up being cleared and plowed, causing immense damage to the Spanish natural heritage, which is still perceptible. Indeed, the cost of reforestation, ongoing since seventy years ago, far exceeds what was then obtained with the sales.

The confiscations of the 19th century were probably the biggest environmental disaster suffered by the Iberian Peninsula during the last centuries, particularly the "confiscation of Madoz". In this confiscation, huge extensions of publicly owned forests were privatized. The oligarchs who then bought the lands, for the most part, paid the lands by with making charcoal the Mediterranean forest acquired. Thus they fleeced all the resources of these mountains immediately after acquire them, and much of the Iberian deforestation originated at that time. Causing the extinction of big number of plant and animal species in these regions.[37]


In the urban aspect, the confiscation of the convents contributed to the modernization of the cities. It went from the convent city, with so many religious buildings, to the bourgeois city, with buildings of more height, extensions and new public spaces.

The former convents became public buildings: museums, hospitals, offices, barracks; others were demolished to extensions, new streets, squares, and even multi-storey car parks, and some became in parishes or after auctions passed into private hands.[38]

A large amounts of destroyed old landmarks including walls were demolished during and/or consequence of the liberal political and measures of these confiscations, former buildings that were, mainly, located in Castile and Madrid. The follows is an incomplete list:

See also


  1. For example, in Mexico the Law of confiscation of the rural and urban properties of the civil and religious corporations of Mexico, nicknamed the lerdo law, was issued on 25 June 1856 by President Ignacio Comonfort. 500 years of Mexico in documents: Lerdo Law. Law of confiscation of properties of the church and corporations



  1. "Castle of Vélez-Blanco. History of a theft."
  2. Francisco Tomás y Valiente (1972). El Marco Politico de la Desamortizacion en España. p. 44.
  3. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 12-15.
  4. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 15.
  5. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 16-18.
  6. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 20-23.
  7. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 23-31.
  8. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 31-32.
  9. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 34-36.
  10. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 36-37.
  11. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 116-117.
  12. 1 2 3 Escudero, José Antonio (1995). Curso de historia del derecho. Madrid.
  13. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 46-47.
  14. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 64.
  15. 1 2 3 Tomás y Valiente, F.; Donézar, J; Rueda, G; Moro, J M (1985). "La desamortización". Cuadernos historia. 16 (8). ISBN 84-85229-76-2.
  16. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 48-52.
  17. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 52.
  18. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 53-54.
  19. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 55-61.
  20. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 58.
  21. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 66-67.
  22. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 69.
  23. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 67-68.
  24. Tomás y Valiente (1972), p. 70-71.
  25. 1 2 Historias Siglo XX. "Evolución económica y social. El arranque del movimiento obrero (1833–1875)".
  26. Cited in María Dolores Sáiz, Public opinion and Confiscation. The General Law of confiscation of Madoz of May 1, 1855, lecture on Confiscation and Public Treasury, Menéndez y Pelayo International University, Santander, 16 to 20 August 1982. See also Analysis of historical sources on the confiscation.
  27. 1 2 3 Richard Herr: Contemporary Spain, Marcial Pons, Ediciones de Historia S.A., Madrid, 2004, ISBN 84-95379-75-9.
  28. Julio Caro Baroja (1980). Introducción a una historia contemporánea del anticlericalismo español. pp. 160–161.
  29. Julio Caro Baroja (1980). Introducción a una historia contemporánea del anticlericalismo español. p. 161.
  30. Julio Caro Baroja (2008) [1980]. Introducción a una historia contemporánea del anticlericalismo español. p. 159.
  31. Julio Caro Baroja (2008). Caro Baroja. p. 160.
  32. Francisco Tomás y Valiente: El proceso de desamortización de la tierra en España, Agricultura y sociedad, ISSN 0211-8394, Nº 7, 1978, pp. 11-33
  33. 1 2 Francisco Martí Gilabert: La desamortización española, Ediciones Rialp S.A, 2003, ISBN 84-321-3450-3
  34. Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs. COAG. Publication of the UAP (12 February 2009). "Población y Sociedad Rural" (PDF).
  35. Various authors (2004). "Iura Vasconiae. By FEDHAV" (PDF). ISSN 1699-5376.
  36. Margarita Serna Vallejo. Iura Vasconiae magazine, FEDHAV (2004). "Essay on communal property" (PDF).
  37. Instituto Saavedra Fajardo. "Item 11: The double civil and ecclesiastical confiscation (Isabel II)" (PDF).
  38. Instituto Saavedra Fajardo. "Item 11: The double civil and ecclesiastical confiscation (Isabel II)" (PDF).


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