On Usury and Slavery: two new articles in the research paper series

February 12, 2020

In January 2020, two new articles have been released in the Institute’s own research paper series:

Within the context of the Institute’s project »Historical Dictionary of Canon Law in Hispanic America and the Philippines. 16th-18th Centuries (DCH)«, which aims to clarify more than 100 fundamental terms belonging to this field of law, María del Pilar Martínez López-Cano wrote the contribution for the lemma »usury«. Drawing upon a corpus of sources central to the project, she analyses the condemnation of usury in canon law, moral theology and civil law, as well as the discussions that took place in the New World about the lawfulness of certain business and financial practices. The article is written in Spanish – as are all contributions to the DCH project.

Francisco Castilla Urbano's contribution, written in English, deals with some representatives of the School of Salamanca and their reflections on slavery in the 16th century. He shows that the writings of individual scholastics provided the basis for the legal and moral-theological argumentation that many slave traders and owners used to their benefit, while other personalities such as Bartolomé de Las Casas and Tomás de Mercado highlighted the illegality of the slave trade. The author focuses in particular on the legal dispute over slaves brought to Spanish America from Africa and addresses the deliberate circumvention of legal provisions, the accusatory pleading and the argument of ignorance.

The contributions to the research paper series are available online in Open Access on ssrn.com.

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