Before Vitoria. Birr’s and Egío’s Contribution to Brill Companion to Early Modern Spanish Imperial Political and Social Thought

March 12, 2020

Francisco de Vitoria is often seen as having played the pioneering role in identifying the new historical dilemmas entailed by the ‘discovery’ of new, pagan peoples in the Americas. However, the ideas underlying these issues can only be understood in their full complexity if we look back into the 15th century. The dynamic of the expansions into Africa initiated by the Castilian and Portuguese kingdoms created situations and dilemmas that the juridical framework built by Iberian Christians during centuries of convivencia with Jews and Muslims could not accommodate or resolve. Christiane Birr and José Luis Egío's chapter in the recently published Companion to Early Modern Spanish Imperial Political and Social Thought focusses on a number of writings by the jurist Alfonso de Cartagena and the theologian Bernardino López de Carvajal, both of whom were very active in Castilian diplomatic circles. They stress the continuities and discontinuities between these 15th-century texts, the ius commune tradition (especially Bartolo), and the treatises of the jurist Juan López de Palacios Rubios and the theologian Matías de Paz concerning the so-called asuntos de Indias, which were written as contributions to the consultations conducted by Ferdinand II during the Junta de Burgos (1512).

The Companion, edited by Prof. Jörg Tellkamp (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City) includes thirteen chapters written by prominent legal historians (among them Tamar Herzog, Virpi Mäkinen, and Wim Decock) and acclaimed specialists on scholastic juridical and political thought (including Merio Scattola, Francisco Castilla Urbano and Daniel Schwartz).

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