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Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries): Canon Law

Statement issued by Jacinto Ferrando Arriola, Canon of the Holy Metropolitan Church of Saragossa, Examiner of Curates and Confessors and Judge of the Tribunal of La Cruzada of the city of Saragossa, concerning members of the Bishopric of Albarracin’s obligation to pay certain taxes called “diezmos” [i.e. one tenth] for pasturage rights. [November 26, 1734].

The following is a guest post by Stephen Mayeaux, Legal Information Specialist in the Digital Resources Division at the Law Library of Congress. 

Today we bring you the latest update from our Spanish Legal Documents series. For more information about the history of this collection, as well as our ongoing work to make it fully available online, see our introductory post describing the Opinions & Judgments subsection.

As a reminder, the collection is divided into six categories:

Our second published subsection is Canon Law, which in this area of the collection refers to the ecclesiastical law enforced by the Catholic Church in 17th–19th century Spain (and Spanish colonies in the Americas). This subsection of 107 documents includes papal decrees, issuances by provincial bishoprics, opinions of legal scholars of the Church on a range of issues, briefs concerning cases before the Church, jurisdictional agreements between bishoprics, and statements concerning vicariates in the Americas.

While much of this material might be of primary interest to theologians, seminarians, or other scholars of Church history, this subsection also deals with many ordinary and familiar legal topics (such as marriage and taxes), and, of course, is not so esoteric as to have escaped a connection to popular culture.

For a closer look at a well-known chapter in European history, see the 1767 order by the Zaragoza Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition. Even though the Spanish Inquisition was declining in power by the end of the Age of Enlightenment, it nevertheless appears to have been interested in investigating crimes against the Catholic faith into the latter half of the 18th century. This announcement to the citizens of Zaragoza in the Kingdom of Aragon lists several acts considered crimes and heresies according to the Inquisition, and asks citizens with knowledge of these crimes to come forward to the Inquisitors. Among the heretical acts and persons described in this document are: practitioners of a mystical form of Christianity (“Secta de los Alumbrados”), persons who act against or deny the teachings of the Church, persons engaging in Jewish prayers and rituals, as well as followers of Islam (“Secta de Mahoma”) and Lutheranism (“Secta de Lutero”).

Order issued by the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition, dated March 20, 1767, concerning crimes committed by persons not belonging to the Roman Catholic faith.

With four more subsections (and the majority of the 2,400+ documents in the collection) still left to share, we’ll continue to update you over the next several months as additional parts of this collection are made available.

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