Joseph F. O'Callaghan

Nov 1, 2019

Alfonso X, the Justinian of His Age

Law and Justice in Thirteenth-Century Castile

Cornell University Press 2019

purchase at While monarchs throughout history used their power to make laws as a tool for governing their realms, rarely did they undertake the long and detailed work of drawing up an entire legal code. One of the few who did so was the Castilian king Alfonso X, and as Joseph F. O'Callaghan explains in his book Alfonso X, the Justinian of His Age: Law and Justice in Thirteenth-Century Castile (Cornell University Press, 2019) this legal code provides insights into both his reign and the larger issues facing his kingdom in the Middle Ages. As O’Callaghan details, many of its provisions were drawn up in response to the problems Alfonso dealt with as king, and the laws that formed the code reflected his means for addressing them. Yet this was just one factor shaping a comprehensive civil and criminal code that covered everything for the responsibilities of the crown to the legal processes available to his subjects. While the code reflected the many concerns of Alfonso’s age O’Callaghan demonstrates how its legacy is still felt today, as jurists and legal scholars on three continents continue to draw upon its precedents in shaping their analyses.

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