Knowledge of the Pragmatici

Legal and Moral Theological Literature and the Formation of Early Modern Ibero-America


Volume Editors: and
Knowledge of the pragmatici sheds new light on pragmatic normative literature (mainly from the religious sphere), a genre crucial for the formation of normative orders in early modern Ibero-America. Long underrated by legal historical scholarship, these media – manuals for confessors, catechisms, and moral theological literature – selected and localised normative knowledge for the colonial worlds and thus shaped the language of normativity.

The eleven chapters of this book explore the circulation and the uses of pragmatic normative texts in the Iberian peninsula, in New Spain, Peru, New Granada and Brazil. The book reveals the functions and intellectual achievements of pragmatic literature, which condensed normative knowledge, drawing on medieval scholarly practices of ‘epitomisation’, and links the genre with early modern legal culture.

Contributors are: Manuela Bragagnolo, Agustín Casagrande, Otto Danwerth, Thomas Duve, José Luis Egío, Renzo Honores, Gustavo César Machado Cabral, Pilar Mejía, Christoph H. F. Meyer, Osvaldo Moutin, and David Rex Galindo.
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Thomas Duve is Director at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main) and Professor for Comparative Legal History at the Goethe University Frankfurt. His research focuses on the legal history of the early modern age and the modern era.

Otto Danwerth is Head of the editorial department at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt am Main). His research areas are early modern Spain and Ibero-America until the eighteenth century, with a focus on the Andean region.
"[...] Knowledge of the Pragmatici unites eleven contributions of the highest quality that announce a paradigm shift in the field of legal history. [...] Apart from its merits in broadening the scope of legal historical research, this groundbreaking volume opens up many avenues for further research on a host of topics that are of interest to researchers specializing in a variety of scholarly subjects, ranging from the history of the Jesuit order through colonial studies or, for that matter, the translation, in Ibero-America, of the early modern synthesis between moral theology and ius commune."
Wim Decock, KU Leuven, Belgium. In: Journal of Jesuit Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3 (2021), pp. 515–517.

"Superbly documented, this volume is a valuable addition to the ever-increasing literature on the use and implementation of normative languages in Spanish and Portuguese colonial America."
Joerg Alejandro Tellkamp, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City. In: The Americas, pp. 3-4. Published online 28 June 2021. doi:10.1017/tam.2021.51

"Knowledge of the Pragmatici: Legal and Moral Theological Literature and the Formation of Early Modern Ibero-America is a well-edited, coherent collection of excellent articles. The volume is highly recommended and contributes significantly to the growing literature on early modern canon law and colonial legal history".
Heikki Pihlajamäki. In: Comparative Legal History, 2021.

"Los autores de este libro colectivo logran demostrar el valor que la literatura pragmática tuvo en la Iberoamérica colonial. Con sus sólidas y novedosas aportaciones confirman su difusión, su funcionalidad y su potencial para la adaptación normativa. Sin duda, a partir de ahora, los estudiosos de la historia del derecho y de la historia judicial de los imperios ibéricos y, en definitiva, todos aquellos que trabajen con fuentes legales, tendrán que tener en cuenta el impacto de este género en la configuración del conocimiento legal colonial y en la puesta en práctica de esta normatividad".
Pilar Latasa Vassallo. In: Anuario de Historia de la Iglesia 31, 2022.

"Insgesamt stellen die beiden Sammelbände einen bedeutenden Beitrag nicht nur zur iberoamerikanischen Geschichte und zur Rechtsgeschichtedar. Wie mit Normen und ihrer Widersprüchlichkeit umgegangen wurde, wie Normen aus der Praxis heraus entstanden und wiederum für die praktische Anwendung zur Verfügung gestellt wurden, diese Fragen besitzen in der gegenwärtigen Frühneuzeitforschung ein hohes Maß an Aktualität. Die Beiträge liefern hier eine Vielzahl wertvoller methodischer und inhaltlicher Erkenntnisse, die in dieser Besprechung nur ansatzweise dargelegt werden können."
Martin Biersack. In: Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Vol. 50, No.1 (2023), pp. 151-152.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

1 Pragmatic Normative Literature and the Production of Normative Knowledge in the Early Modern Iberian Empires (16th–17th Centuries)
Thomas Duve
2 Putting Roman and Canon Law in a Nutshell: Developments in the Epitomisation of Legal Texts between Late Antiquity and the Early Modern Period
Christoph H.F. Meyer
3 The Circulation of Pragmatic Normative Literature in Spanish America (16th– 17th Centuries)
Otto Danwerth
4 Presence and Use of Pragmatic Legal Literature in Habsburg Peru (16th– 17th Centuries)
Renzo Honores
5 Jesuit Pragmatic Literature and Ecclesiastical Normativity in Portuguese America (16th– 18th Centuries)
Gustavo César Machado Cabral
6 Managing Legal Knowledge in Early Modern Times: Martín de Azpilcueta’s Manual for Confessors and the Phenomenon of Epitomisation
Manuela Bragagnolo
7 Pragmatic or Heretic? Editing Catechisms in Mexico in the Age of Discoveries and Reformation (1539– 1547)
José Luis Egío
8 Producing Pragmatic Literature in the Third Mexican Provincial Council (1585)
Osvaldo R. Moutin
9 Shaping Colonial Behaviours: Franciscan Missionary Literature and the Implementation of Religious Normative Knowledge in Colonial Mexico (1530s–1640s)
David Rex Galindo
10 “Just Rules” for a “Religiosity of Simple People”: Devotional Literature and Inquisitorial Trials in Cartagena de Indias (17th– 18th Centuries)
Pilar Mejía
11 Forensic Practices and the “History of Justice” in the 17th and 18th Centuries: a View from a Spanish American Periphery
Agustín Casagrande

All interested in the legal history, the history of knowledge and book history in early modern times, especially with regard to colonial Ibero-America.
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