The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain

The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain

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by Charles R. Cutter
     
 

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Spain's colonial rule rested on a judicial system that resolved conflicts and meted out justice. But just how was this legal order imposed throughout the New World? Re-created here from six hundred civil and criminal cases are the procedural and ethical workings of the law in two of Spain's remote colonies—New Mexico and Texas in the eighteenth

Overview

Spain's colonial rule rested on a judicial system that resolved conflicts and meted out justice. But just how was this legal order imposed throughout the New World? Re-created here from six hundred civil and criminal cases are the procedural and ethical workings of the law in two of Spain's remote colonies—New Mexico and Texas in the eighteenth century.

Professor Cutter challenges the traditional view that the legal system was inherently corrupt and irrelevant to the mass of society, and that local judicial officials were uninformed and inept. Instead he found that even in peripheral areas the lowest-level officials—the alcalde or town magistrate—had a greater impact on daily life and a keener understanding of the law than previously acknowledged by historians. These local officials exhibited flexibility and sensitivity to frontier conditions, and their rulings generally conformed to community expectations of justice. By examining colonial legal culture, Cutter reveals the attitudes of settlers, their notions of right and wrong, and how they fixed a boundary between proper and improper actions.

"A superlative work."—Marc Simmons, author of Spanish Government in New Mexico

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826327758
Publisher:
University of New Mexico Press
Publication date:
07/28/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.65(d)

Meet the Author

Charles R. Cutter, associate professor of history at Purdue University is a specialist on the Spanish borderlands.

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