Iberian Constitutional History

The era of contention among various principalities on the Iberian Peninsula was an incubator of constitutional thought. As Christian and Moorish nations fought, formed and reformed, rose and fell, princes had to make some accommodations to the various players whose support they needed. Some of this took the form of documents of a constitutional character, many of which had an influence that reached to other nations.

The documents that emerged from León, which later became Castile, were apparently an inspiration for the Magna Carta, and were indirectly discussed in Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, John Adams (1787-89), Letter IV, Biscay. Since Simon de Montfort spent time in Gascony and may have visited Biscay, it seems plausible that much of the language of the Provisions of Oxford may have been suggested by that legal legacy.

  1. 1020 Fuero de León
  2. 1188 Cortes de León
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              version Castilian (Spanish)
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              version English (Translated by Lillian Simmons)
  3. 1241 Fuero Juzgo. Codex of Spanish laws enacted in Castile in 1241 by Fernando III. It is essentially a translation of the Liber Iudiciorum that was formulated in 654 by the Visigoths.
  4. 1265 Libro de las Leyes (Las Siete Partidas, "Seven-Part Code"). Castilian statutory code compiled under Alfonso X of Castile (1252–1284), followed for centuries in Latin America, up to the 19th century.


  1. Remote HTML Fuero de León, Wikipedia (Spanish)
  2. Remote HTML Medieval Iberia,  edited by E. Michael Gerli, Samuel G. Armistead
  3. Remote HTML Extracto de las leyes del Fuero viejo de Castillas, con el primitivo Fuero ...,  edited by Juan de la Reguera y Valdelomar
  4. Remote HTML Colección de Cortes de los Reynos de León y Castilla, Volume 1,  by Real Academia de la Historia (España)
  5. Remote HTML Fuero Juzgo, Wikipedia. In 1348, the Ordenamiento de Alcalá granted it legal preeminence over the Siete Partidas. The Fuero Juzgo reigned until the creation of the Spanish Civil Code near the end of the nineteenth century. Presently, it retains some legal force with respect to certain auxiliary civil fueros in the Basque Country, Navarra, and Aragon.
  6. Remote HTML Siete Partidas, Wikipedia. A "humanist encyclopedia," it addresses constitutional, philosophical, moral and theological topics.