Producing Normative Knowledge Between Salamanca and Michoacán: Alonso de la Vera Cruz and the Rocky Road of Books and Marriage

No. 2020-17

Following the methodological premises presented by Thomas Duve (“The School of Salamanca. A Case of Global Knowledge Production”, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Research Paper Series No. 2020-12), this paper studies the Speculum coniugiorum, written in 1555 by the Augustinian friar Alonso de la Vera Cruz, a student of Francisco de Vitoria in Salamanca and missionary in different regions of Mexico. The example of the Speculum illustrates the different phases of the School of Salamanca’s distinctive process of producing normative knowledge . In particular, some of the many books that Vera Cruz brought to different convents in Michoacán, originally used in the writing process of the Speculum and preserved as "relics" by later generations, are useful sources to illustrate the Salmantine ars inveniendi: from the rigorous selection, reading and compilation of the relevant auctoritates, to the solutions offered to concrete, local and problematic cases. Vera Cruz’s work shows how the European authorities and normativity the author consulted and annotated were translated into the challenging missionary context.

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