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Spanish-American Law.


The history and importance of Roman Law has been treated under the subject of Legal History. The most far reaching in its influence of all the systems of law based upon the Roman Law has been the Spanish Law. The system of law developed in this country is to-day the basis of the laws of all the countries in America south of the United States, except Brazil, and also of the Philippines and of the greater part of the West Indies. The Spanish law is not entirely taken from the Roman law, other elements entering into its composition.

"Spanish Civil Law was influenced in its development principally by four powerful elements, to wit: (1) Roman, (2) Germanic, (3) Canonical, including the Councils of Toledo, and (4) Arabic, aside from the natural law, and the undefined influence of the tribes which inhabited the Iberian peninsula in the early history thereof; and, in recent times, it has been influenced by scientific law, foreign legislation, and doctrinal resolutions of jurisprudence as a result of the sentences of the Supreme Tribunals of Justice.

"The people who inhabited the peninsula prior to Roman dominion left no marked influence on the legislation, on account of the short periods they inhabited the country.

"Rome, on the other hand, introduced into Spain her religion, laws, customs, language and civilization.

"Neither the ruin of the Western Empire, upon the success of the Northern barbarians, nor the Arabic domination was sufficient to displace the authority of

the Roman laws, whose existence was not only respected in Spain by the Goths, and by the Arabs, but received from the former a new sanction, and were made the basis of a code.

"The Visigoths, finally, came to substitute the unity of legislation for that of castes, and notwithstanding that the Fuero Juzgo was inspired by and based on Gothic laws and customs, they sought in the fundamental Roman laws for institutions unknown to the Goths, such as the law of testaments or wills, and adapted from them laws with which they had grown familiar.

"The Code of Partidas, a faithful transcript of the Roman law, was later on given a preference on account of its recognized merit and its extensive general doctrines which applied to all persons and things, and finally the Roman law came to be considered as supplementary law in some of the important territories of Spain, such as Catalonia and Navarre.""

The highest development of the Spanish law is found in the Civil Code of 1889 which is still today the main basis of the civil law in the American colonies recently acquired from Spain.

The remainder of the space devoted to this subject will be given to certain extracts from the more important subjects treated in this code.

1 Walton's Civil Law in Spain and

Spanish America, p. 24.










ART. 29. Birth determines personality, but the conceived child is considered as born for all favorable purposes, provided that it be born with the conditions mentioned in the following article:

ART. 30. For civil purposes the fœtus shall only be considered as born which has a human form and lives twenty-four hours entirely separated from the mother's womb.

ART. 31. Priority of birth, in case of twins, gives to the first born the rights which the law recognizes in primogeniture.

ART. 32. Civil personality is extinguished by the death of persons.

Minority, insanity, or idiocy, the state of being deaf and dumb, prodigality, and civil interdiction are

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