Some theoretical issues of law according to Alfonso X's Siete Partidas

Some theoretical issues of law according to Alfonso X's Siete Partidas




Statutory Code, law, Tradition, Custom, Alfonso X, Castile



       The statutory code "Siete Partidas" (Seven Parts) is one of the most important national legal monuments of the Middle Ages. It was created by order and with the direct participation of King Alfonso X of Castile. The ,,Partidas” united all branches of law existing at that time. Essentially, the collection represented a giant legal encyclopedia, and the information provided here satisfied absolutely all the interests of the legists of that time.

         The 13th century is known as the period of "Rapid Reconquest". Military successes and the political rise of the Kingdom of Castile required corresponding steps in the field of legislation. The legislative activity of Alfonso X was extremely active precisely because it was carried out as a cardinal reorganization of the entire system of political and social relations of the kingdom in accordance with the principles of the highest welfare. He steadily moved towards the unification of the law, although legal opinion far outstripped legal practice.

        The structure of the ,,Siete Partidas”, as the name suggests, consists of seven parts and is arranged according to the thematic principle. Part (Partida) is divided into chapters (Title) which in turn consists with  laws (norms).

           The second chapter of the first part provides a three-part classification of social norms. At the lowest level in this scheme is the tradition (Uso), followed by the custom (Costumbre) and is performed by the Fuero. The institutions of ,,Uso” and ,,Costumbre” were of key importance to the jurists of Alfonso X for the hierarchy of sources of law  they constructed.

         First of all, it should be noted in the Partidas that the genetic connection of Tradition, Custom and Fuero attract attention, which is also emphasized by the legislator. Fuero is the only full-fledged and independent source of law in the mentioned triad. An element of subjective negligence is included in the "creation" of custom. It is prescribed by a senior or approves of an existing one. Added to this is the detail that the custom must be established for the common prosperity, which generally redlines the legislative activity of Alfonso the Wise.

            ,,Uso” in Partidas  is never named as law, although norms of legal behavior can be derived from it, while ,,Costumbre” already represents law, it is distinguished from other legal norms only by its oral form.


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