Aristocracy and litigation in the seventeenth century: a transnational space for family lawsuits
Title: Aristocracy and litigation in the seventeenth century: a transnational space for family lawsuits
Author: TERRASA-LOZANO, Antonio
Citation: European review of history, 2009, 16, 5, 637-653
The aim of this article is to show how the composite and international domains and fiefs of early modern Spanish Monarchy aristocracy allowed noble households to become a type of transnational juridical space. From the later centuries of the Middle Ages onwards two related developments took place in Europe: the formation of composite monarchies and the emergence of (nonetheless composite) elites. In early modern Europe, the existence of an aristocracy with domains in different kingdoms was a matter of fact. Litigation was an everyday activity for the aristocracy, and as a consequence of its cosmopolitan fiefs and inheritances noblemen and their lawyers were compelled to be familiar with several national legalities and property systems. As a consequence, news regarding courts, suits, local rights and privileges reached the main households of different kingdoms on an ongoing basis. Because of this, household offices and archives became spaces where cosmopolitan legal expertise and knowledge were filed and studied. Noblemen quickly discovered the advantages of the confusion and the conflicting use of foreign legislation in the courts.
Subject: Aristocracy; Litigation; Transnationalism; International jurisdiction; Family relations; Elites; Property rights; 17th century; Spain; Europe
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