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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses the way Spain employed law in its discovery, exploration, conquest, and settlement of the New World. After describing the law on the peninsula, the chapter traces the application and adaptation of these legal materials and institutions to Spain’s new provinces through a new and important body of law known as derecho indiano. Specific aspects of colonial control are addressed in their relationship to new conditions and imperial economic and political aspirations. These include the justification for conquest, slavery, and indigenous labour, the creation of new institutions, sources, and legal actors. The chapter briefly describes the impact of derecho indiano during and after independence in the new republics of Latin America. Spain formed and adapted law to meet the challenges of distance, international competition, new populations, trade, and the replication of Spanish society as its political and military presence expanded throughout the world.

Keywords: Spain, Americas, Latin America, derecho indiano, Spanish colonial law, slavery, indigenous people, institutions

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