Escalona, Justice & authority in Castilian sanction clauses

Follow the money? Justice and authority in the sanction clauses of tenth-century Castilian charters

Julio Escalona

Most charters recording property transfers in tenth-century Castile include sanction clauses. These aim to discourage individuals from acting against the charter’s dispositions and, by so doing, they envisage a theoretical scenario of dispute which is normally a formal court of justice. Sanction clauses can be spiritual, secular, or both. While the first are more frequently found in donation charters, the latter occur in all kinds of transfer. Much attention has been paid to the ideological background of spiritual sanctions, and their variegated display of maledictions has been said to provide a suitable insight into the period’s ideological notions and constraints. By contrast, the drier secular clauses are more rarely discussed in depth. They normally state the fines to be paid by those who contravene the charter’s dispositions, sometimes giving a glimpse of the potential offenders. The punishment tends to be twofold, including not only a compensation to the offended party, but also a fine to be paid to a secular authority. In this paper I aim to study the potential offenders, the sums to be paid and the authority that is expected to collect the fines, in order to investigate the concepts of conflict, justice and authority that operated in tenth-century Castile.