Synods and Councils of the Hispanic World, 1300-1700

No. 2022-14: subsidia et instrumenta

Between the late medieval and early modern periods, the Spanish Kingdoms grew to global prominence. The fortunes of the institutional Church rose in tandem with the fortunes of secular powers. This essay and accompanying database are intended to throw light on the contours of that institutional Church, its legislation, and its chronologies. Taking as bookends the year 1300 (following major territorial consolidations of Christian powers on the Iberian peninsula) and the year 1700 (roughly coinciding with the transition from Hapsburg to Bourbon monarchy), the database identifies and sources all synods and councils of diocesan and archdiocesan communities known to have been authored during the period. Between the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile (and including all of Castile’s territories in the Spanish Americas), the number of synods and councils identified here is more than 600, greater than any number catalogued before. Bibliographic references provide prospective researchers with the necessary information to locate this source material. Host libraries are identified for those synods and councils that exist in rare manuscript copies. The accompanying essay offers researchers a historiographical introduction to the study of this particular kind of source material. In addition, it offers a thematic introduction to major categorical innovations in the legislation of the Hispanic Church. Together, the database and the interpretative essay seek to spur continuing study in the legal history of the Hispanic Church, as well as to offer tools for augmenting social and cultural histories through access to Church legislation that is often little-known.

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