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Historical Manuscripts Commission: Worthington C. Ford, Esq.,

Massachusetts Historical Society, chairman; Clarence W. Alvord, Julian P. Bretz, Herbert D. Foster, Ulrich B. Phillips,

Frederick G. Young. Committee on the Justin Winsor Prize: Professor Claude H. Van

Tyne, University of Michigan, chairman; Carl Becker,

Francis A. Christie, John H. Latané, William MacDonald. Public Archives Commission: Professor Herman V. Ames, Uni

versity of Pennsylvania, chairman; Charles M. Andrews, Robert D. W. Connor, Gaillard Hunt, Victor H. Paltsits,

Dunbar Rowland, Jonas Viles. Committee on Bibliography: Professor Ernest C. Richardson,

Princeton University, chairman; W. Dawson Johnston, Fred

erick J. Teggart, George P. Winship. Committee on Publications: Professor William A. Dunning, Co

lumbia University, chairman; and (ex officiis) Herman V. Ames, George L. Burr, Worthington C. Ford, Charles H. Haskins, J. Franklin Jameson, Waldo G. Leland, Ernest C.

Richardson, Claude H. Van Tyne. Committee on the Herbert Barter Adams Prize: Professor

George L. Burr, Cornell University, chairman; Guy S. Ford,

Edwin F. Gay, Charles D. Hazen, James W. Thompson. General Committee: Professor St. George L. Sioussat, University

of the South, chairman; Walter L. Fleming, Albert E. McKinley, Clarence S. Paine, Frederic L. Paxson; and Waldo

G. Leland and Henry W. Edwards, ex officiis. Committee on Bibliography of Modern English History: Pro

fessor Edward P. Cheyney, University of Pennsylvania, chairman; Arthur L. Cross, Roger B. Merriman, Ernest C.

Richardson, Williston Walker. Conference of State and Local Historical Societies: Professor

Isaac J. Cox, University of Cincinnati, chairman; Waldo G.

Leland, secretary. Committee to Study and Report to the Council upon the Certifi

cation of High School Teachers of History: Professor Dana C. Munro, University of Wisconsin, chairman; Kendric C. Babcock, Edgar Dawson, Robert A. Maurer.



The purpose of the present article is to examine and compare the composition, functions, and procedure of the Cortes of the different kingdoms of Spain from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries-in other words, during the period when they were at the height of their power. The thorny question of origins forms a topic by itself and can be only touched on incidentally here; and it has not seemed worth while to carry the investigation beyond the accession of Ferdinand and Isabella, save in a few special cases, since the later history of these institutions is comparatively well known. The Castilian Cortes have been treated more fully than the equally interesting and much more advanced assemblies of the eastern kingdoms, partly because they were destined, after the union of the crowns, to take precedence over the others, and partly because the material for their history is at present much the most fully available. Castile. It is generally agreed among Spanish historians that the origin of the Cortes of Castile and Leon is to be found in the powerful Councils of Toledo, composed of nobles and clergy, which played such an important part in the government of Church and State during the

1 For those who are familiar with the absence of references and bibliographical apparatus characteristic of Spanish historians, no apology will be needed for the length of this note on the sources and authorities upon this topic. Much original material has been made available during the past half-century by the efforts of the Real Academia de la Historia, and more is to be expected in the near future. In 1855 this learned body published a Catálogo ... de las Cortes de los Antiguos Reinos de España, giving dates, places, and brief descriptions of the assemblies which, in the estimation of the scholars who edited it, could fairly be called Cortes. Though the accuracy of this Catálogo has been called in question again and again by subsequent writers, it formed an indispensable groundwork for later investigation. Between 1861 and 1903 the Academia published in five volumes the text of the proceedings of the Cortes of Leon and Castile from the beginning to 1559, with an excellent introduction in two volumes by Don Manuel Colmeiro; this introduction is by far the most valuable authority on the history of the Castilian Cortes. Meantime the Congreso de los Diputados undertook to publish the proceedings of the Cortes of Castile from 1563 to 1713, and has already reached the year 1619 in thirty-two volumes, while the Academia has recently turned its attention to a new series of Cortes de los Antiguos Reinos de Aragón y de Valencia y Principado de Cataluña, in which thirteen volumes of the proceedings of the Cortes of Catalonia from 1064 to 1423 have already appeared. The proceedings of the Cortes of Aragon and of Valencia, of the General Cortes of the three eastern kingdoms, and of the Cortes of Navarre are still unpublished; but there are printed collections of the fueros, laws, and ordinances of each realm, such as Fueros y Observancias del Reyno de Aragón, published by order of the Diputacion Permanente del Reyno (2 vols., Saragossa, 1667); Constitutions y Altres Drets de Cathalunya (3 vols., Barcelona, 1588); Fori Regni Valentiae (Valencia, 1547); and finally Procesos de las Antiguas Cortes y Parlamentos de Cataluña, Aragón y Valencia in Bofarull's Documentos Inéditos ... de la Corona de Aragón, vols. I.-VIII. (Barcelona, 1847–1851).

The comparative scantiness of available original material on the Cortes of the eastern kingdoms is partially counterbalanced by the large number of Aragonese, Catalonian, and Valencian writers on historical and legal subjects who flourished in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. Of the historians, Jerónimo Zurita, by far the greatest, is too well known to need characterization here. Of the legal and institutional writers, the following are perhaps the most important (I have placed each author in chronological order under the country with which his book specially deals; most of the works here mentioned, however, contain information of value on the Cortes of all three realms of the crown of Aragon):

Aragon. Jerónimo Blancas, d. 1590, chronicler of the realm, wrote Modo de proceder en Cortes de Aragón (Saragossa, 1641). Blancas was also the author of Commentarii Rerum Aragonensium and Coronaciones de los Reyes de Aragón. See Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella, note to section 11. of Introduction,

Jerónimo de Martel, appointed chronicler of the realm in 1597, wrote Forma de celebrar Cortes en Aragón, published with Blancas's Modo de proceder in 1641 at Saragossa. See Prescott, loc. cit.

Catalonia. Narciso de San Dionis, canon of Barcelona, wrote probably early in the fifteenth century Compendium Constitutionum Cathaloniae Generalium. Unprinted, but exists in manuscript in Spain. See Capmany, Práctica ... de celebrar Cortes, p. 2; and Antonio, Biblioteca Hispana Vetus, II. 374.

Jacobo Calicio, jurist and knight-jues de greujes in the Cortes of 1432— wrote Extravagatorium Curiarum (Barcelona, 1518). See Gallardo, Ensayo de una Biblioteca, etc., II. 188–189.

Tomás Mieres, a native of Gerona, councillor of Alfonso the Magnanimous, wrote about 1435 Apparatus super Constitutionibus Curiarum Generalium Cathaloniae (2 vols., Barcelona, 1621).

Luis de Peguera, jurist, and habilitador in the Cortes of 1585 and 1599, wrote Práctica, Forma y Stil de celebrar Corts Generals en Catalunya (Barcelona, 1632).

Gabriel Berart, d. 1640, jurist and royal official in Catalonia and Aragon, wrote Speculum Visitationis (published in 1600) and Discurso sobre la Celebracion de Cortes de los ... Reynos de ... Aragón (1626).

Four other seventeenth-century writers may also be consulted with profit, viz., Antonio Oliva, De Jure Fisci; Acacio Ripoll, Regaliarum Tractatus; Juan Pedro Fontanella, De Pactis Nuptialibus; and Miguel Sarrovira, Ceremonial de Corts, etc.

The bibliography at the beginning of Coroleu and Pella, Cortes Catalanas (Barcelona, 1876), gives more information concerning these writers.

Valencia. Pedro de Belluga, jurist and knight, d. 1468, wrote Speculum Principum ac Justitiae (Paris, 1530). Cf. Actas de las Cortes de Cataluña, vol. I., pt. I., Prólogo, p. xi.

Lorenzo Matheu y Sanz (1618-1680) of the Consejo Real, published at Madrid in 1677 Tratado ... de Cortes ... de Valencia. See Ximeno, Escritores del Reyno de Valencia, II. 85, and Fuster, Biblioteca Valenciana, I. 271.

Bartolomé Ribelles (1765-1816) wrote Memorias Histórico-Criticas de las .. Cortes ... de Valencia (Valencia, 1810). Cf. Fuster, II. 445-446.

Of the above works, Blancas, Martel, and Berart are in the Harvard College

last century and a quarter of Visigothic rule in the peninsula, and survived the shock of the Moorish invasion. Soon after their reappearance in the Christian kingdoms of the north, however, the ecclesiastical functions of these councils began to pass to special assemblies of the clergy alone, so that the attributes of the older body were gradually restricted to temporal affairs. The culmination of this secularization of the functions of the old Visigothic councils is reached in the course of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when the kings, discerning in the third estate the strongest possible sup

Library, Fontanella in the Harvard Law School Library, Peguera in the Astor Library in New York, and Ripoll in the Library of the Hispanic Society. As far as I know the others are not to be found in this country. Summaries and excerpts from many of them are given in Capmany's Práctica y Estilo de celebrar Cortes, compiled at the instance of the Junta Central at Seville in September, 1809, and published at Madrid in 1821. Further information about these authors and their works may be gleaned from Antonio's Biblioteca Hispana Vetus, and Biblioteca Hispana Nova, Lipenius's Biblioteca Realis Juridica, and the Diccionario Enciclopédico Hispano-Americano.

Before going on to modern writers, passing mention should be made of Marina's Teoría de las Cortes (3 vols., Madrid, 1813) and Sempéré's Histoire des Cortés d'Espagne (Bordeaux, 1815). Both deal only with the Cortes of Castile, and are important rather as indicating the political ideas current at the time they were written than as pieces of historical research. As Marina's object was to justify historically the Cortes of 1812, and Sempéré's was to attack them, each book will be found a salutary corrective of the other.

Of more recent general works, Marichalar and Manrique's Historia de la Legislación y Recitaciones del Derecho Civil de España (9 vols., Madrid, 18611876) forms the basis for many later books. It seems on the whole trustworthy, though the complete absence of references renders it difficult, if not impossible, to verify its statements. Many pages of Danvila's well-known Poder Civil en España (6 vols., Madrid, 1885-1886) are taken exclusively from it. Antequera's Historia de la Legislación Española (fourth edition, Madrid, 1898) and the first two volumes of Altamira's epoch-marking Historia de España (4 vols., Barcelona, 1900-1910) are also valuable. Of the more special investigations, Colmeiro's Introduction (already mentioned) is of the first importance on the Castilian Cortes (all subsequent citations of Colmeiro except when otherwise specified refer to this work); a Russian monograph on the same topic by Vladimir Piskorski (Kastilskie Kortesy, Kiev, 1897) adds little or nothing to Colmeiro as regards matter, though it contains a useful bibliography. Coroleu y Pella's Cortes Catalanas (Barcelona, 1876) is a valuable work; Don Vicente de la Fuente has an illuminating essay on the early Cortes of Aragon in his Estudios Críticos sobre la Historia y el Derecho de Aragón (Madrid, 1885); and Danvila's Estudios Criticos acerca de las Cortes y Parlamentos de Valencia (Madrid, 1906) contains valuable material on that topic. Other books will be cited when reference is made to them in the text.

? Cf. Colmeiro, I. 3 ff., 109 ff., and Danvila, Poder Civil, I. 84 ff., 157 ff. Antequera, pp. 75–76, 120, and Cavanilles, Historia de España, I. 271, are the only important authorities who distinctly deny the descent of the Cortes from the Councils of Toledo. On these councils see Dahn, Könige der Germanen, VI. 430-504; Pidal, Historia del Gobierno y Legislación, pp. 259 ff.; Pérez Pujol, Instituciones

de la España Goda, III, 285 ff. Colmeiro, I. 10; Altamira, I. 415.


port against the preponderant power of the nobles, began to summon the representatives of the municipalities to the national assembly-in Leon at least as early as 1188, in Castile probably not before 1250.* At the same time the name of the institution changed; the older title of concilio (and sometimes curia) disappeared and was replaced by that of Cortes, which, though sometimes loosely used to designate assemblies of the earlier sort, is in strict accuracy applied only to those bodies in which the third estate was present. It may also be noted that after the final union of Castile and Leon under Saint Ferdinand (1230–1252) the custom of holding separate Cortes for each of the two kingdoms gradually fell into desuetude, and the practice of summoning a common assembly composed of the representatives of both came in to take its place. For the purpose of the present inquiry, therefore, it will suffice to describe the united body.

In examining the composition of the Castilian Cortes in this period, it is of the utmost importance to note at the outset that in sharp contrast to the practice in the realms of the crown of Aragon, no one had a right to sit or be represented there. The assembly being in theory at least a council of the king, summoned to aid him, was composed as the king desired, and varied from session to session accordingly. Neither all the same prelates nor all the same nobles were summoned to any two Cortes in this period, nor were the same towns ordered to send procuradores. The clergy were represented by archbishops, bishops, and the grand masters of the military orders selected by the monarch; custom indeed prescribed the presence of the Archbishop of Toledo and such of the higher clergy as

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* Altamira, I. 415-416; Danvila, Poder Civil, I. 158–159 ; Colmeiro, I. 10-15, 142 ff., 153 ff.; also Colmeiro, Reyes Cristianos desde Alonso VI. hasta Alfonso XI. in the Academia's Historia General de España, I. 259-270 ; Diercks's Geschichte Spaniens, II. 164 ff. The statement in the Crónica General de España that ciudadanos were present at a so-called Cortes at Burgos in 1169 is not generally accepted to-day. The assembly at Najera in 1137 which is called a Cortes in the Ordenamiento de Alcalá (tit. XXXII., Prol.) and in the Fuero Viejo de Castilla (lib. I., tit. 1., ley 11.) was apparently composed of nobles alone.

Danvila, I. 160; Catálogo, pp. 1-8. Moreover, the name Cortes usually implied an assembly to which the nobles and clergy also came. Altamira, II. 74 ; Cortes de León y de Castilla (henceforth cited as Cortes), III. 21; Nuev. Recop., lib. VI., tit. vii., ley 11. There were, however, several assemblies of the third estate alone during this period (e. g., that of Medina del Campo in 1431 ; cf. Catálogo, pp. 54-55, and Crónica de Juan II., año 1431, cap. XXVIII. ff.) which took that name, so that the elimination of the two upper estates which culminated under Charles V. was not without medieval precedent.

• The first General Cortes of both realms were held at Seville in 1250; the last separate ones for each realm in the first half of the fourteenth century. Cf. Altamira, II. 74, and Colmeiro, I. 47.

* Altamira, II. 73; Colmeiro, I. 17.

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