Historical Dictionary of Canon Law in Hispanic America and the Philippines,
16th­–18th century (DCH)

Research Project

Like the entire legal order of Hispanic America and the Philippines, the New World’s Ius Canonicum reproduced the laws established in Europe – particularly Castile – which, however, were quickly adapted and reinterpreted for use in the new territories through a plethora of special regulations. Above all due to the Patronato Regio of the Catholic kings, a legal order emerged that in part completely overlayed the traditional corpus of canon law.

Despite the importance of the Church, its mission and its laws in the history of Hispanic America, the research on the history of this new normative order as yet many lacunae. In particular, little is known about to what extent royal legislation, the creation of law by the Apostolic See, local further development of law, for example through judgements or viceregal decrees, local custom and the norm production of local and regional church councils led to the establishment of new institutions particular to the overseas territories. At the same time, there is a demand in a number of different disciplines – from legal history to theology and church history, social and regional history, cultural and art history – for reliable information on basic terms of early modern canon law in Hispanic America and the Philippines. Particularly the history of law requires the study of historical semantics drawn from local and particular primary sources, as only this enables us to investigate the specific configurations of universal and particular law emerging in concrete historical and local contexts.

The Historical Dictionary of Canon Law in Hispanic America and the Philippines (DCH) provides researchers with a comprehensive study of canon law that is based on the relevant sources of religious normativity and incorporates current historiographical insights. It represents both a tool and a reference work that seeks to contribute to a better understanding of central terms of canon law in the named territories from the 16th to the 18th century in order to facilitate historical, ethnological, theological and legal research.

After an analysis of the key primary sources, a thesaurus of ca 120 terms providing an overview of the basic/fundamental terms of canon law in the New World was drawn up. The individual entries to the dictionary are prepared on the basis of a corpus of sources that were widely available in Hispanic America and the Philippines during the period in question.

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