Stevin Seminar: Theologians and Recalcitrant Horses. How Early-Modern Scholasticism Shaped 16th-Century Castilian Sales Law
Lecturer: Niels de Bruijn
In the year 1571, Antonio de la Vega Sanz, proudly seated on his recently acquired horse, rode toward Toledos’ plaza mayor to royally entertain Queen Anna of Austria. However, to Sanz’ dismay, his latest purchase ‘made a lot of trouble and kicked him twice and it was necessary for him to leave the said square for all the hubbub he caused on it’, so a witness later told. After this embarrassing scene, Sanz channeled his frustrations into a suit against Pedro de Hortiz and his son who had sold him the indomitable horse and claimed compensation for all the damages he had incurred. This case is one of many about a defect in a thing bought which made it to the Royal Chancery of Valladolid, Castilian’s highest appellate court at the time, and which can still be consulted today in the Chancery’s archives. Yet, the files of these lawsuits do not inform us about the legal sources which were used to come to a decision. Discussing 16th-century books on Castilian legal doctrine, theological treatises and case law of the Royal Chancery, this presentation attempts to illustrate by which principles and norms Castilian legal scholars and practitioners led themselves be guided in their pleas and judgments in cases such as Sanz’. Particular attention will be paid to the role early-modern scholastics played in the treatment of such down-to-earth issues as sales of recalcitrant horses.
Niels de Bruijn is a Ph.D-Candidate in Legal History at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam