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Las Siete Partidas, Volume 3

Las Siete Partidas, Volume 3: The Medieval World of Law: Lawyers and Their Work (Partida III)

Translated by Samuel Parsons Scott
Edited by Robert I. Burns
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 384
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fhhk1
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    Las Siete Partidas, Volume 3
    Book Description:

    Las Siete Partidas, or Seven Divisions, is the major law code of thirteenth-century Spain, compiled by Alfonso X the Learned of Castile. Seven centuries later, this compendium of legal and customary information remains the foundation of modern Spanish law. In addition, its influence is notable in the law of Spain's former colonies, including Texas, California, and Louisiana. The work's extraordinary scope offers unparalleled insight into the social, intellectual, and cultural history of medieval Spain. Built on the armature of a law code, it is in effect an encyclopedia of medieval life. Long out of print, the English translation of Las Siete Partidas-first commissioned in 1931 by the American Bar Association-returns in a superior new edition. Editor and distinguished medieval historian Robert I. Burns, S.J., provides critical historical material in a new general Introduction and extensive introductions to each Partida. Jerry Craddock of the University of California, Berkeley, provides updated bibliographical notes, and Joseph O'Callaghan of Fordham University contributes a section on law in Alfonso's time. Las Siete Partidas is presented in five volumes, each available separately: The Medieval Church, Volume 1: The World of Clerics and Laymen (Partida I) Medieval Government, Volume 2: The World of Kings and Warriors (Partida II) The Medieval World of Law, Volume 3: Lawyers and Their Work (Partida III) Family, Commerce, and the Sea, Volume 4: The Worlds of Women and Merchants (Partidas IV and V) Underworlds, Volume 5: The Dead, the Criminal, and the Marginalized (Partidas VI and VII)

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0854-2
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD PARTIDA (pp. ix-xxxiv)

    In systematic fashion, Alfonso had begun his legal summa by treating first of godly governance and religion, and then of temporal governance and defense of the realm. Having disposed of those cosmic verities, it made sense to anchor the rest of his code on a thorough exposition of the mechanics of the law, an account of how the legal system of courts and lawyers actually works. This third partida therefore deals with justice—its dispensation, decisions, and lawsuits. It is the longest of all seven partidas at 343 densely printed pages, nearly 100 more pages than its closest rival. A...

  4. Partida III: Analytical Table of Contents (pp. xxxv-xlviii)
  5. THIRD PARTIDA: PROCEDURE AND PROPERTY
    • [Introduction] (pp. 533-533)

      Our Lord God created all things very perfectly, by reason of His great wisdom, and after He had created them He preserved them, each in its proper place, and in doing so he manifested his great kindness and justice, and showed in what way, and how those charged with the dispensation of justice on earth, should maintain it. For just as He possessed the knowledge, the desire, and the power to render it when He desired to do so; in like manner those whose duty it is to dispense justice for him must possess three qualities. First, they must have...

    • Title I: Justice (pp. 534-535)

      Justice is one of the things by means of which the world is better maintained and regulated. It is like a spring from whence all rights flow. And not only is justice employed in suits arising between plaintiffs and defendants in court, but also in all other transactions between men, whether they originate in deed or in word. And, for the reason that in the beginning of this Third Partida we treat of justice in general, we desire in this Title to speak of it particularly, and we shall show what justice is, of itself; what benefit arises from it;...

    • Title II: Plaintiff (demandante) (pp. 536-558)

      The energy of action, according to natural laws, is the first thing which attracts others to itself. For which reason since in the preceding Title we spoke of justice, we desire here to speak of the plaintiff who comes to ask it, for he is the principal person on whose account lawsuits are instituted in which judicial decisions must subsequently be rendered.

      Wherefore, we desire, in the first place, to speak of the plaintiff, and explain who is he and how he should act with regard to the party of whom he complains; what the property is which he seeks...

    • Title III: Defendant (Demandado) (pp. 559-563)

      A defendant is one against whom any of the claims which we mentioned in the preceding Title is presented in court. Wherefore, since we explained the matters to which a plaintiff should pay attention, before he begins to prosecute his claim in court, it is proper that we now speak of the defendant. We shall also show what things he is bound to consider in order to avoid making mistakes, and to defend himself from the claim made against him. Therefore, we decree that the same things above mentioned, which a plaintiff must carefully consider before he begins proceedings, the...

    • Title IV: Judges (pp. 564-584)

      It is sufficiently understood by the laws which we have set forth in the preceding Titles that plaintiffs should be careful, before bringing suit, to consider all those matters by which they may more justly present their claims, and institute legal proceedings; and also in what way the defendants should answer in suits brought against them, in order that each one may pursue the proper course, and not cause those who have to render decisions both for plaintiffs and defendants to labor in vain, and to state, in the first place, how many kinds there are; who has authority to...

    • Title V: Attorneys in Fact (pp. 585-596)

      We have spoken sufficiently in detail in the preceding Titles of the principal persons without whom no judgment can be rendered, as designated by wise men; as, for instance, of the plaintiff and the defendant and the judge who decides between them, and now we intend to speak of other persons who are, as it were, assistants. And because, most frequently, the plaintiff or the defendant is not able, or is unwilling to appear himself and conduct his suit, before the judge, on account of some obstacle or annoyance he is afraid of encountering there, it becomes necessary for them...

    • Title VI: Advocates (Abogados) (pp. 597-603)

      Parties to actions at law are not only assisted by attorneys, of whom we spoke in the preceding Title, but also by advocates. And for the reason that the office of advocate is one that is very useful in affecting the determination of lawsuits, and productive of more certainty when the advocates are good men and act loyally, for the reason that they advise the judges and open the way to them for the more rapid disposition of cases; therefore the wise men of the ancients, who made the laws, deemed it proper that they should make the arguments for...

    • Title VII: The Summons (pp. 604-613)

      We stated, with sufficient explicitness, in the preceding Title concerning advocates, that they should show and advise plaintiffs and defendants how to prosecute and defend their suits in court. And for the reason that a summons is the root and beginning of every suit which must be decided by judges and argued by advocates because of the controversies arising between plaintiff and defendant; therefore we desire to speak of the summons. We shall first explain what a summons is; who can issue it; in what way this should be done; who can be summoned and who cannot; what penalty he...

    • Title VIII: Judicial Award of Possession (pp. 614-619)

      It is proper, since we spoke in the preceding Title concerning summonses, that we speak in this of possession of the property of defendants ordered to be given by judges, for the reason that they did not appear before them at the time designated by the summons. Wherefore we desire to show what possession of this kind is; by whose order, against whom, and in what way it should be granted; what proceedings should be taken against those who interpose obstacles and are unwilling to consent that it shall be given; and what rights the plaintiff acquires in the property...

    • Title IX: Sequestration (pp. 620-621)

      It happens very frequently that, after plaintiffs have caused defendants to be summoned, and before they present their claims to them, they ask the court that the property which they wish to bring suit for, be placed in the hands of trustworthy men, because they suspect that those who have it in their possession may waste, conceal, or transfer it, so that it cannot be produced, and that the others to whom they wish to present their claims declare that they should not do this, and the parties very often quarrel on this point. Wherefore We, through the desire we...

    • Title X: Commencement of Actions (pp. 622-627)

      Defendants are sometimes obedient, and appear before the judge who summoned them to answer the claims of those who caused them to be summoned. And since we have spoken above of summons, and delivery made of the property of disobedient persons who are unwilling to appear before the judges who summoned them, to answer those who have claims against them and come into court, we desire now to explain in what way, and by what words actions should be begun by complaint and answer between those who are obedient and appear before the judges. We shall show in the first...

    • Title XI: Oaths of Parties (pp. 628-646)

      We treated sufficiently in detail, in the preceding Titles, of summonses, and other matters which grow out of them, and also of actions at law, and how they should be begun by complaint and answer. We wish now to speak here of the oaths which parties should take in court, in order that suits, after they have been begun by complaint and answer, may be the more readily determined.

      In the first place, we shall explain what an oath is; how many kinds there are; who can administer it, or who can take it; with regard to what matters it...

    • Title XII: Examination of Parties After Action Begun (pp. 647-647)

      Actions at law are begun by the complaints and answers made by parties in court, as we have previously shown. And for the reason that everything that man begins he should by all means endeavor to bring to completion in the easiest manner possible; we decree that judges should attempt, as soon as the case is begun before them by complaint and answer, to have all the parties sworn. And afterwards they should ask them, upon their oaths, to tell the truth, for in this way judges arrive at it more readily. And since in the preceding Title we have...

    • Title XIII: Admissions (pp. 648-652)

      Parties sometimes make admissions concerning the property or acts about which interrogatories are put to them in court, so that no other proof or inquiry is necessary in the case. And since in the preceding Title we spoke of interrogatories, we desire to speak here of admissions and the answers arising from them, which is a kind of proof that is more certain and easy, and involves less labor and expense to the parties, than to introduce witnesses or documentary evidence to establish their claims. For this reason we desire, in the first place, to explain what an admission is;...

    • Title XIV: Proof and Presumptions (pp. 653-662)

      Judges ask questions of parties in court to ascertain the truth in a case, and, although they place them under compulsion by means of an oath, such is the wickedness of certain men that, thinking to evade the claims brought against them, they deny their genuineness. For which reason, since in the preceding Title we treated of Admissions, we desire here to speak of the evidence which men produce in court concerning matters which are denied. We shall show, in the first place, what evidence is; who ought to give it, and to whom, concerning what matters it should be...

    • Title XV: Time for Taking Proof (pp. 663-664)

      We have shown sufficiently in detail, in the preceding Title, the evidence which parties should give in court. We intend now to speak here of the periods which judges should allow to parties to prove their claims in court, when they are denied; and we first desire to show what a term is; for what reasons it was established; who can grant it and in what way; to whom it can be granted; and how many times and for how long a period this can be done.

      A term is a period of time which a judge appoints within which...

    • Title XVI: Witnesses (pp. 665-684)

      We showed in the preceding Titles what investigations by means of evidence are, and how many kinds exist, and we also explained the terms which parties take in court to prove their cases. And for the reason that we referred there to witnesses in general, we intend to speak of them here particularly, and to show what witnesses are; what benefit is derived from them; who can introduce them into court; at what time they can do so; what kind of persons they should be; how they should be sworn; in what way their statements should be received; how many...

    • Title XVII: Official Investigators (pp. 685-691)

      What kings should most exert themselves to do, as the wise men of the ancients declared, is to seek every way which can be found to ascertain the truth of the suits and complaints which come before them, and especially that of the serious offences which men who do not fear God, or respect their lord, or, relying upon the power which they possess, insolently commit in the country; or who do these things secretly, through frenzy or manifest wickedness. And for the reason that it frequently happens that improper acts of this kind are so concealed that the truth...

    • Title XVIII: Documentary Evidence (pp. 692-758)

      Antiquity is something which makes men forget past events. For this reason it was necessary for writing to be invented, so that what had been formerly accomplished might not be forgotten, and that men might, by means of it, become familiar with those things which have been settled, just as if they had been recently done; and especially, in order that contracts, agreements, and other transactions which men carry out or enter into with one another every day, may not become doubtful, and may be observed in the manner agreed upon. And since so much benefit is derived from written...

    • Title XIX: Notaries (pp. 759-767)

      Fidelity is an excellent quality which is becoming to every man, and especially to notaries, who are appointed to draw up the ordinances of kings, or other documents called “public,” executed in cities and towns; as lords, as well as the people have the confidence to entrust to them all the acts, contracts, and agreements which they have to perform, or state, in court or out of it. Wherefore, since in the preceding Title we spoke of written documents introduced into court by way of evidence, we desire in this Title to speak of the notaries whose duty it is...

    • Title XX: Seals and Authentication (pp. 768-774)

      Sealers are a kind of officers who it is very proper should possess good qualities, and be exceedingly diligent in taking care of seals, and in sealing papers, for according to the custom of these times, sealing an instrument contributes greatly to prove its genuineness and credibility. Wherefore, since in the preceding Title we spoke of notaries we intend in this one to speak of sealers, and in the first place to show what the seal is; why it was invented; what advantage is derived from it, which seal establishes proof, and which does not; who can appoint sealers who...

    • Title XXI: Assessors (pp. 775-776)

      It is true, and all learned men admit it, that things which are done by advice are done with more regularity, and have a better conclusion than others which are not. And although this is applicable to all the acts which men have to perform, it is especially necessary to those persons whose duty it is to render judgment. For as a judgment means a just order, it is reasonable that, before it is rendered, the counsel of wise and learned men should. be taken. For which reason since in the preceding Titles we spoke of the evidence which men...

    • Title XXII: Judgments (pp. 777-795)

      We have spoken in preceding Titles of plaintiffs and the matters which they are obliged to consider with reference to their claims; and of defendants, and how they should protect themselves from the complaints made against them in court; and also of the judges whose duty it is to hear and to decide between the parties, and of matters appertaining to them. And for the reason that all this is the correct way to arrive at a decision, and, moreover, because it is proper and right for judges to conclude and terminate what they have to decide; we desire in...

    • Title XXIII: Appeals (pp. 796-810)

      Men should make comparisons between different things in order that those who hear them may understand them better. Wherefore we decree that just as persons who are in danger at sea are greatly comforted when they find anything they can seize hold of, or any place in which they can seek refuge in their desire to avoid such danger, and also men who are conquered by their enemies, when they arrive at a place where they think they can be protected from those who follow them to kill them; so those against whom judgments are rendered by which they consider...

    • Title XXIV: Clemency (pp. 811-812)

      Mercy and justice are two great qualities which every man and especially kings and great lords should possess, making use of each of them as is proper. And since in the preceding Title we spoke of appeals which should be decided according to justice and law, we intend to mention here the grace which men ask of kings in judgments rendered against them from which no one can appeal, and with respect to other things which men cannot, or should not have, except where they ask grace of their lords; therefore we intend to explain what grace is; in what...

    • Title XXV: Restitutio In Integrum (pp. 813-814)

      The wise men of the ancients who established the laws, made a great distinction between taking an appeal from decisions, and petitioning kings for grace concerning them, or asking that a judgment rendered against minors should be entirely reheard, although no appeal was taken from it. For they declared that the party who appeals does so for the reason that he considers that he was wronged by the judgment rendered against him; but the party who asks for grace concerning any judgment, does not complain of any wrong, but wishes to state that, while it is good, it can be...

    • Title XXVI: Vacation of Judgments on Special Grounds (pp. 815-816)

      Not only in the three ways which we mentioned in the laws of preceding Titles can a judgment be annulled, but there is still another way, and this is when it was falsely rendered. And although in the Title concerning Crimes we shall treat in general of all the kinds of deceit which men commit, we desire to speak especially in this one of that for which judgments can be reversed, and explain what such deceit is; in what manner a judgment rendered on account of it can be annulled; and who can set aside such a judgment, and within...

    • Title XXVII: Execution of Judgments (pp. 817-819)

      It has been shown fully in the other preceding Titles how, and in what way, judgments can be rendered, and for what reasons they can be set aside afterwards; and now we intend to explain here, how valid judgments which cannot, and should not be annulled for any of the reasons we have given in preceding laws, can be carried into effect. We shall state, in the first place, who has authority to execute them, and in what way, and against whom, and in what matters, and, also, at what times he can do so.

      The same judges who rendered...

    • Title XXVIII: Ownership (pp. 820-837)

      A man obtains or loses the ownership of property not only by the decisions of judges, of which we have spoken in the preceding Title, but also in many other ways, which we shall show in the laws of this Title. For this reason we desire to explain here what such ownership is; how many kinds there are; and over what property a man can obtain it, and over what he cannot.

      Ownership is the power which a man has over his own property to do with it, and in it whatever he desires to do, without violation of the...

    • Title XXIX: Prescription (pp. 838-849)

      The wise men of the ancients designated certain periods of time, by the lapse of which a man could lose or gain the ownership of property. Wherefore, since in the preceding Title we spoke of this subject in general, and explained how a man could gain or lose property in many ways; we desire in this one to treat especially of the way in which one, by lapse of time, can gain the property of another or lose his own. We shall show in the first place for what motive emperors, kings, and wise men were induced to establish the...

    • Title XXX: Possession (pp. 850-854)

      We have explained in sufficient detail, in the laws of the Title preceding this one, how men obtain or lose the ownership of property by lapse of time; and, for the reason that such acquisition cannot occur unless the party have possession or occupancy of said property, we desire to speak here of possession. We shall show in the first place what it is; how many kinds there are; who can obtain it and how; and afterwards we shall state how the party who has already obtained it may lose it.

      Possession means merely the act of placing the feet;¹...

    • Title XXXI: Servitudes (pp. 855-865)

      Some buildings have rights of servitude over others, and some lands over others, just as masters have over their slaves, and since in the preceding Title we treated of the ways in which men can obtain or lose the ownership or possession of property, we intend to speak here of these servitudes, and to show, in the first place, what such a servitude is; how many kinds there are; who has authority to establish them; and over what property, in what way, and how such a right can be lost after it has once been established.

      Wise men stated very...

    • Title XXXII: Buildings (pp. 866-877)

      Men erect new edifices, as, for instance, houses, towers, castles, and other buildings of this kind, on account of which their neighbors consider themselves injured, stating that they are constructed on their property to their annoyance and, because serious disputes may arise for this reason, we desire to speak here of such buildings, and describe them. Wherefore, since in the laws of the preceding Title we explained how a servitude in lands and houses is lost, we desire to speak here of new buildings which men construct, and how they can, or cannot, be a hindrance or cause loss. In...