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Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries): Miscellaneous (and Beyond!)

The following post was written in collaboration with Dante Figueroa, a senior legal information analyst at the Law Library of Congress.

Statement concerning the rights of Princess Carlota to the throne of Spain in the absence of brothers.

Today we bring you the final collection update from our Spanish Legal Documents series. For more on the history of this collection, as well as our efforts to present the full collection online, see our previous posts describing the BriefsCanon Law, Laws & Statutes / Notarial Instruments, and Opinions & Judgments categories.

The last remaining category is Miscellaneous, which, at the time of the organization of the collection in the 1980s, was described as follows:

“This category is used to group a variety of other subjects which include such items as statements issued by members of the Spanish armed forces; agreements between kingdoms of Spain; records on controversies on religious ceremonial rite; statements submitted to the kings of Spain; appointments, petitions to the king; records of inquiries, oaths of allegiance to the kings of Spain by the ambassadors of the crown, royal answers to petitions by the Catholic Church; academic speeches; and letters by pretenders to the throne of Spain.”

The Miscellaneous category includes 199 items, bringing the total online collection to just under 2,500 documents. While the varied nature of this final category presents a challenge in identifying any single document that is representative of the whole, a brief scan of the English titles reveals a number of intriguing topics. One document of interest argues for the succession rights of Carlota Joaquina de Borbón, Infanta of Spain, to the Spanish crown in the absence of brothers. The document also describes an effort to secure greater ties between the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal through marriage. This is perhaps why, at only age ten, Carlota was married to John of Braganza, the future King John VI of Portugal. Carlota Joaquina, who was the eldest daughter of Spain’s King Charles IV, had an active presence in all the important political events surrounding the Iberian Peninsula during her lifetime (1775-1830), which included the fleeing of the Portuguese royal family to Brazil from 1807 to 1821 due to the Napoleonic invasion. As a result of Napoleon forcing Charles IV and her brother Ferdinand VII to abdicate the Spanish throne, Carlota claimed to be the legitimate ruler of the Spanish-American colonies, but was ultimately unsuccessful in her claims. She has been considered one of the most powerful and controversial female characters of the Iberian royalty.

As we share this final part of the collection, we are also excited to announce that the Spanish Legal Documents collection will soon be added as a campaign in By the People, the Library’s platform for crowdsourced transcription. Through a collaboration with our colleagues in the Digital Collections Management section, the Hispanic Division of the Library’s International Collections, and the African, Latin American, and Western European Division (ALAWE) of the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, the Law Library will soon invite volunteers to transcribe, review, and tag the documents in this collection, with the goal of improving the overall ability to search and read the full Spanish, Latin, and Catalan texts.

We hope you’ll take part in this campaign to make this unique collection more discoverable to all users. Look forward to more details and related announcements in 2020!

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