El Padron

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There are many bureaucratic things that I have had to complete while being here in Spain. One of which is the Padron. It is the simplest of all of the things I have had to do. You make an appointment online, and then bring either your passport or identification card and a copy of your apartment contract. An employee types a bunch of things into a computer, you agree that your address is correct, you sign and WALLAH! You’re done. 

The goal of a padron is to prove residence. I had always thought of it as a way to keep track of everyone, mainly something that would have come from the times of Franco or something more modern. However, I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. 

While doing my coursework for a class on the aristocracy, I learned that this process arose as part of a means of proving your noble status.  Hidalgos sought to prove that they had three generations of noble blood which then allowed them to receive the benefits of being a noble person (such as ability to not do manual labor, fight in duels, exemption of direct taxes, ect) . Since their status could be easily contested, they wanted to have documented proof of their lineage, especially since being noble predicated more on what what shown than anything else. That is to say, that in order to be considered noble, either at a local or national level, one must have the notoriety of being noble through visible means such as a houses, acts of donation, ect. Although these acts display their status, a document  ensures that if they move to another region where they are not as well known, they may maintain their place in society. 

Furthermore, while studying the mines of Potosi, these same types of padrons were used in Peru and all throughout the Americas. However, for a completely different reasons. For instance, under the viceroyalty of Pedro de Francisco de Toledo, Peru began to use a system called the mita, which extracted a particular percentage of indigenous people from each city and then transported them and their families to Potosi and like places to work the mines. For the system to work, the government needed to know exactly how many indigenous people lived in each city, which provided the insistence on such documents. 

In summary, these documents, padrons, that are currently still required, are not just some bureaucratic document that arose in the recent past, but have been etched into the Spanish way of life. As always, it is rather interesting when things in my current life appear in my studies, helping me to understand the rationale behind different systems.

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