Family Barerra, Undated Post to an Account Book from 1670

Lately the newspapers have been saying the city of Candia is now virtually deserted. During the Ottoman-Venetian War many people fled the city. Now that the Ottomans possess it there is hardly anyone left in the city. Sometimes I wonder if Barcelona will also become so scarcely populated. If that ever happened my family would suffer a great deal. If we no longer had people to have us build ships we would have to move elsewhere to find work. The Spanish Empire is currently declining. Our population has decreased as a result of wars and people migrating to the New World. We are having financial problems as well. The crown spends money, but takes little in. The nobles are allowed to do whatever they wish while the poor peasants are taxed to an extreme. In addition, we have lost the skills of Muslims and Jews who were forced to leave the country. Some have tried to learn their craft and replace them, but they do not have the same skill as those we lost. Many people have started to leave due to these hardships. I do not blame them, but I worry about the future of my family in this country that seems to be headed downhill.[1]

At least the Ottomans are trying to improve Candia and bring people back, unlike Spain. Well, that is what I read anyway. Of course, the elite were given the best properties, but the rest of the abandoned properties are being sold to anyone that has the money to purchase them whether they are Muslim or Christian. There also seem to be a lot of conversions to Islam there, but toleration for Christianity. Conversion to Christianity has long been forced here in Spain, but conversion to Islam is treasonous. This openness to both religions is something that could benefit Spain much like it is helping the Ottomans to repopulate the city. However, I do not foresee it ever happening here. I have also heard that all kinds of people are allowed to enlist in the military there. This certainly draws many people to the city who desire such a privilege. But, I am not sure if it is a good thing to have so many untrained soldiers involved in the economy like they are there. They are surely worried about their own interests more than defending the island.[2]

It seems that the Ottomans are beginning to be quite successful in repopulating Candia. From what I have read, the rural population have begun to move to the urban areas because of the new opportunities the Ottomans are offering there. There are also people coming from other places to settle there because of the same benefits. I wish that Barcelona would do some of the things the Ottomans are doing to try and bring some people back, which would help my family’s business, but I do not think they will ever be allowed to by the Crown.[3]

 

̴ Aina, 1670


[1] Molly Green, A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean (Princeton University Press: New Jersey, 200), 78-109.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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