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In: Archiv für katholisches Kirchenrecht
Author: Thomas Duve


In the article, I present some reflections about how to conceptualize what has been labelled the “School of Salamanca”, a 16th- and early 17th-century intellectual movement developed at the University of Salamanca. After reconstructing the making of the concept “School of Salamanca” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I propose that we should consider this intellectual movement as both an epistemic community and a community of practice that extended far beyond the borders of Salamanca, of Spain and even of the Iberian peninsula. More adequately, it can be understood as one of the centers of a global network of knowledge production in the field of normativity.

Open Access
In: The School of Salamanca: A Case of Global Knowledge Production
Series Editor: Thomas Duve
This Open Access book series is published in conjunction with the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory.

The volumes published in the Max Planck Studies in Global Legal History of the Iberian Worlds deal with legal-historical research on areas that interacted with the Iberian empires during the early modern and modern periods in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. The focus of this series is global in the sense that it does not just limit itself to imperial spaces as such, but also looks at the globalisation of norms within the spaces that were in contact with these imperial formations. The global dimension is, moreover, underscored by the attention paid to the coexistence of a variety of normativities and their cultural translations at different times and in different places. The volumes thus decentre traditional research perspectives and are open to exploring various modes of normativity.

All of the monographs, edited volumes and text editions in the series are peer reviewed and published in print and online. Brill’s Open Access books are distributed free of charge in Brill’s E-Book Collections and can be found via DOAB, OAPEN and JSTOR.
Author: Thomas Duve


This chapter intends to provide a frame for assessing the significance of Spanish scholastic thought in legal history by providing a critical assessment of the construction of the idea of a “School of Salamanca” and associated traditions of research. Since the late 19th century, scholars have discussed scholastic authors representing the School primarily as contributors to a history of emergent modern legal thinking and legal dogmatics. This research tradition has produced important results. However, this perspective emphasizes only one dimension of the School. It originated under specific conditions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when scholars tried to present the School as a Spanish contribution to modern European science, not least in the field of international law. Once we historicize the construction of the concept of a School and take seriously the pragmatic dimension of moral theology as practical theology, a different picture emerges. Seen from this perspective, the School of Salamanca can be conceived in terms of both an epistemic community and a community of practice that produced normative knowledge to resolve practical problems. The main goal of its members was the cura animarum. This perspective also allows us to explain the enormous, global impact the School had on the formation of political and legal language.

In: A Companion to the Spanish Scholastics
Legal and Moral Theological Literature and the Formation of Early Modern Ibero-America
Volume Editors: Thomas Duve and Otto Danwerth
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.