Full text of this item is not currently available on the LRA. The final published version may be available through the links above.The opening decades of the seventeenth century, in particular the period\ud 1615-25, witnessed the publication of an unprecedented volume of polemical\ud literature in Spain that focused on the acute crisis - demographic and\ud economic in its broad dimensions - engulfing its kingdoms. The authors\ud were a heterogeneous group of commentators, collectively known as the\ud arbitristas, who, via their treatises, put forward a range of expedients\ud (arbitrios) for curing the ills afflicting the body politic. Foreign observers,\ud political theorists and members of the Cartes, among others, also presented\ud their advice to the monarch and his ministers within what was a remarkably\ud open forum of public debate. Although the arbitristas were criticized by their\ud contemporaries for being irrational in their judgements, and indeed were satirized\ud in the writings of Cervantes and Quevedo, their role has been favourably\ud reassessed by modern scholars. The arbitristas included academics,\ud clergymen and merchants, as well as members of central and local government.\ud Accordingly their approaches varied, encompassing a broad social,\ud political and intellectual spectrum. When viewed collectively, their treatises\ud provide historians with a unique insight into how Spaniards perceived their\ud nation's decline. [Taken from opening Paragraph p.25
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