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The Enlightenment on TrialOrdinary Litigants and Colonialism in the Spanish Empire$
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Bianca Premo

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190638726

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190638726.001.0001

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Agents and Powers

Agents and Powers

Litigants and Writers in the Courts

(p.31) 1 Agents and Powers
The Enlightenment on Trial

Bianca Premo

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a synchronic overview of the papers, procedures, and payments associated with civil litigation in the eighteenth-century Spanish empire, with special attention to the question of how much control petitioners exerted over legal writing. Although most litigants did not pen their own petitions and motions and although the protocol and language of lawsuit was prescribed in legal manuals, litigants did manage to exert agency in their suits, particularly in their choice of legal amanuenses. Many early petitions in lawsuits were authored by anonymous non-professionals called “agents,” who worked closely with ordinary and often unlettered litigants, providing them a sense of ownership over the cases they brought to court.

Keywords:   Scribe, notary, lawsuit, agent, petition, court costs, legal manuals

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