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The Siete Partidas: Europe's Earliest Law Codification

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Our lunchtime talks at Clare Hall are open to all and take place in the Clare Hall Meeting Room, behind the Porter’s Lodge. Talks last around 35 to 40 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the presenter. The atmosphere is informal. Please feel free to bring your lunch with you, a selection of soft drinks will be available in the room. We look forward to welcoming you to our college.

Abstract: The Siete Partidas are a legal code from the middle of the 13th century composed under the auspices of King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile who was also king elect of Germany. This codification, written in medieval Spanish, comprehends regulations of the Church (I), the Crown (II), legal procedure (III), marriage and family (IV), legal transactions like contracts (V), law of successions (VI) and criminal law (VII). The Partidas are paramount amongst all other medieval legal codes for their degree of abstraction and their comprehensiveness. Tough the Partidas were always relevant in Spain, especially as a subsidiary source of law, they gained true importance in the New World where they became the common law of Latin America together with the extensive commentary by Gregorio López (1555) written in Latin. Insofar as the Partidas anticipate the age of codification in the 18th century for their degree of abstraction and insofar as they were translated into various European languages and served as a basis for legal teaching in various Mediterranean countries they can be called Europe’s first codification.

This talk is part of the Clare Hall Thursday Lunchtime Talks series.

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