Corporations, normative pluralism, and jurisdictions in early modern Iberian polities. Potential and limits of an interpretive framework

Colloquium Methods for Legal History

  • Date: Dec 15, 2020
  • Time: 14:15 - 16:00
  • Speaker: Pedro Cardim, CHAM-Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • Organisation: Stefanie Rüther
  • Room: For further information please contact ruether@rg.mpg.de
Corporations, normative pluralism, and jurisdictions in early modern Iberian polities. Potential and limits of an interpretive framework

The study of the corporate character of early modern Western European societies is not a recent one. Since the mid-nineteenth century scholars from different backgrounds have drawn attention to the corporate structure upon which social and political order rested. It was mostly within the fields of anthropology and political-constitutional history that this dimension of the European past began to be explored more systematically. Mid-twentieth century German and Austrian legal historians also devoted a great deal of their research work to the study of corporations. More recently, beginning in the 1980s, various legal historians from Italy, Spain, and Portugal, along with a number of French medievalists and early modernists, have displayed a marked interest in the study of the corporate component of Western European society and culture. Last but not least, the past decade has witnessed a renewed interest in the corporate character of pre-modern societies, not only in Europe, but also in Asia, the Americas, and Africa.
The purpose of this talk is to present an overview of the scholarly work on early modern corporate societies. Focusing on early modern Iberia, it aims to assess the extraordinary potential, but also the limits of this interpretive framework. The first part highlights the main features of corporate societies in late medieval and early modern Iberia. It then turns to one prominent component of this form of social organisation: pluralism, both normative and political. The third and final part is devoted to a reflection on the limits of this manner of understanding the order upon which pre-modern societies rested.

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