Some curious facts relating to these vehicles in older Spain are instanced by Janer. In the seventeenth century a Spanish provincial town would normally contain a couple of hundred coaches. Among such boroughs was Granada. Here, in 1615, the authorities, backed by nearly all the citizens, protested that the coaches ploughed the highway into muddy pits and channels, and gave occasion, after nightfall, to disgraceful and immoral scenes.1 After a while the protest grew so loud that the use of coaches in this capital was totally suppressed. One of the first persons to employ a coach in Granada had been the Marquis of Mondejar; and yet, in spite of his extensive influence, this nobleman, each time he wished to drive abroad, required to sue for licence from the town authorities, and these, in making out the written permit, took care to specify the streets through which he was allowed to pass.
1 This prohibition was not inopportune. Swinburne wrote towards the end of the eighteenth century; "Having occasion one day fur a coach to carry us about, the stable-boy of our inn offered his services, and in a quarter of an hour brought to the door a coach and four fine mules, with two postillions and a lacquey, all in flaming liveries; we found they belonged to a countess, who, like the rest of the nobility, allows her coachman to let out her equipage when she has no occasion for it; it cost us about nine shillings, which no doubt was the perquisite of the servants."
Assailed by numerous pragmatics,2 chiefly of a sumptuary tenor and repeated at spasmodic intervals until as late as 1785, the private coach became at last an undisputed adjunct to the national life of Spain. Doubtless the use by royalty of gala-coaches or carrozas went far to sanction and extend their vogue. However, I will not describe these lumbering, uncouth, and over-ornamented gala-carriages (some of which were made in Spain) belonging to the Spanish Crown, but quote the following pragmatic, dated 1723, as aptly illustrative of the progress of this industry, and other industries akin to it, in the Peninsula: -
1 Towns still exist in Spain where vehicles are not allowed to proceed at more than a walking-pace through any of the streets. One of such towns is Argamasilla de Alba (of Don Quixote fame), where I remember to have read a notice to this effect, painted, by order of the mayor, on a house-wall of the principal thoroughfare.
2 A royal degree of 1619 disposed that "every one who sows and tills twenty-five fanegas of land each year, may use a coach."
"In order to restrain the immoderate use of coaches, state-coaches, estufas, litters, furlones,1 and calashes, we order that from this time forth no one of these be decorated with gold embroidery or any kind of silk containing gold, nor yet with bands or fringes that have gold or silver points; but only with velvets, damasks, and other simple silken fabrics made within this realm and its dependencies, or else in foreign countries that have friendly commerce with us. Also, the fringes and galloons shall be of silk alone; and none, of whatsoever dignity and degree, shall cause his coach, state-coach, etc.. to be decorated with the fringes that are known as net-work, tassel-pointed, or bell-pointed; but only with undecorated, simple fringes, or with those of Santa Isabel; nor shall the breadth of either kind of these exceed four fingers. Also, he shall not cause his coach, state coach, etc., to be overlaid with any gilt or silvered work, or painted with any manner of design - meaning by such, historic scenes, marines, landscapes, flowers, masks, knots of the pattern known as coulicoles, coats of arms, war devices, perspectives, or any other painting, except it imitate marble, or be marbled over of one single colour chosen at the owner's fancy; and further, we allow in every coach, state-coach, etc., only a certain moderate quantity of carving. And this our order and pragmatic shall begin to rule upon the day it is made public; from which day forth no person shall construct, or buy, or bring from other countries, coaches or estufas that infringe our law herein expressed; wherefore we order the alcaldes of this town, our court and capital, to make a register of all such vehicles that each house contains, without excepting any. Nevertheless, considering that if we should prohibit very shortly those conveyances that now be lawful, the owners would be put to great expense, we grant a period of two years wherein they may consume or rid themselves thereof; upon the expiration of which term our law shall be again made public, and thenceforward all, regardless of their quality and rank, shall be compelled to pay obedience to the same. Also we order that no person make or go abroad in hand-chairs fitted with brocade, or cloth of gold or silver, or yet with any silk containing gold and silver; nor shall the lining be embroidered or adorned with any of the stuffs aforesaid; but the covering of the chair, inside and out, shall only be of velvet, damask, or other unmixed silk, with a plain fringe of four fingers' breadth and button-holes of the same silk, and not of silver, gold, or thread, or any covering other than those aforesaid; but the columns of such chairs may be adorned with silken trimmings nailed thereto. And we allow, as in the case of coaches, a period of two years for wearing out the hand-chairs now in use.....Also, we order that the coverings of coaches, estufas, litters, calashes, and furlones shall not be made of any kind of silk, or yet the harness of horses or mules for coaches and travelling litters; and that the said coaches, gala-coaches, estufas, litters, calashes, and furlones shall not be back-stitched (pespuntados), even if they should be of cowhide or of cordwain (goatskin); nor shall they contain any fitting of embroidered leather."
1 The estufa (literally stove) was a form of family-coach. The furlon is described in an old dictionary as "a coach with four seats and hung with leather curtains."