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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The Fuero Juzgo and the Fuero Real


[Sidenote:

Diversity in the laws and tendencies toward unification.]

Not only in the ordinances of the _Cortes_, but also in the general laws of the king without intervention of the _Cortes_, in grants of municipal charters, and in the innumerable private grants (often modifying the general law) this period was exceedingly rich in legislation. The fame of the laws of Alfonso X and of Alfonso XI has obscured the legislation of other reigns, but the output of the other kings was great in quantity, if less in importance than that of the two Alfonsos. Diversity was still a leading characteristic of the legislation. For example, from Alfonso X to 1299 at least 127 local charters were granted; in the fourteenth century at least 94; and in the fifteenth, at least 5, although many were reproductions or slight modifications of certain typical charters. The _Fuero Juzgo_ continued to be the general law, but there was very little of it which was not contradicted or changed by other legislation. A tendency toward unification of the laws manifested itself in many ways, however. Alfonso X issued a municipal charter in 1254, variously named, but usually called the _Fuero Real_ (Royal Charter), which was a new model, more complete and systematic than those which had preceded it, but based on those already in existence and on the _Fuero Juzgo_, preserving the Visigothic and early Leonese and Castilian principles of law. The _Fuero Real_ was adopted as supplementary law

for use in cases of appeal to the royal courts, but was also granted as the local charter of a great many towns, being the most extensively used of the typical charters, although by no means in a majority of the municipalities. To bring about unification at one stroke it is believed that Ferdinand III and Alfonso X projected a code to apply in all the land. Ferdinand is said to have begun the drawing up of the _Setenario_ (or Septenary, so-called because it was to be in seven parts), which was completed by Alfonso after the former's death. This code, if such it may be called, was never promulgated, and may rather have been intended as an encyclopedia of law. A similar compilation of the reign of Alfonso X was the _Esp?culo_ (or _Espejo_) _de todos los derechos_ (mirror of all the laws), but it, too, never became law, although used as a reference book by jurisconsults. Yet another such compilation appeared in this reign, the famous _Leyes de las siete partidas_ (laws of the seven parts), or simply the _Partidas_, and this was to attain to a very different lot from the others just named.

[Sidenote: The code of the _Siete Partidas_ and the revival of Roman principles.]

The _Partidas_ was the work of a number of jurisconsults under the inspection, and with more or less intervention, of Alfonso himself; these men began work in 1256 and finished it in 1265. Some of the laws and customs of Castile,--for example, the _Fuero Juzgo_ and the _Fuero Real_,--were used as sources, but the preponderant influences were those of the canon law and the


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