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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

53 Sidenote Reforms in Aragon


[Sidenote:

Administration of justice.]

A similar development to that of the executive branch was experienced in the administration of justice. The fountain-head was the _chanciller?a_ at the capital, Valladolid, to which were subordinate in a measure the several regional _audiencias_, which were now established for the first time, besides the hierarchy of the judiciary of lower grades. In addition to unifying and regulating the judicial system the Catholic Kings gave attention to the internal purification of the courts, with a view to eliminating the unfit or undesirable and to checking abuses. The corrupt practices of those outside the courts were also attacked, especially powerful persons who attempted to overawe judges or procure a miscarriage of justice. One of the principal difficulties encountered was that of conflicts of jurisdiction, notably in the case of the church courts. Good Catholic though she was, Isabella was determined in her opposition to ecclesiastical invasions of royal jurisdiction, but despite her energetic measures the issue was far from being decided in her day. In line with the royal policy of settling disputes by law rather than by force the use of firearms was prohibited, gambling was persecuted, and the _riepto_ (or judicial duel, the last survival of medieval procedure) was abolished. Good order in the present-day sense was far from existing, and this led to a revival of the medieval idea of the _hermandades_ for the punishment

of crimes committed in uninhabited places or small villages as well as for the pursuit and execution generally of those guilty of felony. The _Santa Hermandad_, with its capital at Toledo, was created as a kind of judicial body, sustained by the groups of citizens who formed part of it, employing a militia of mounted men, and making use of summary methods and extreme penalties in its procedure. Its life as an effective body was brief, although it continued to exist for many years. On the other hand the medieval _hermandad_ of Toledo enjoyed a revival of life and usefulness.[53]

[Sidenote: Reforms in Aragon.]

It is hardly necessary to trace the administrative and judicial reforms of Ferdinand in Aragon. Suffice to say that they followed the Castilian pattern much more closely, indeed, than in the matter of social organization.

[Sidenote: Procedure of the Inquisition.]

The Castilian Inquisition, first created in 1478 for specific and temporary objects, underwent considerable modification when retained as a permanent body to combat heresy in general. The popes refused to allow it to be in all respects a royal instrument, and retained the right of appointing or dismissing inquisitors, permitting the kings to recommend candidates. The expansion of the institution from Seville to other cities in Spain and the creation


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