The Struggle between the university... Ana M. Carabias
BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN THE SPANISH MODERN AGE
When studying university
students from the 15th to the 18th century, the word "violence" has to be emphasised.
Like any other social group of the time, university students used a great deal
of physical violence, which was reinforced by their youth and their knowledge
of judicial proceedings which they used to appeal to judges. In this sense,
it is a very particular case of violence in this period: in the student environment
violence was more destructive, both from a physical and ethical point of view.
In the case of Spain
there do not exist any all-embracing studies of this topic, not even for a particular
institution. Therefore, I have started this investigation by studying the surviving
documentation found in the general archives, and other more specific studies
connected with the judicial system of the epoque.
In general I have
found that university conflicts were fundamentally derived from the existence
of a particular jurisdiction for the universities called the "fuero académico"
("academic law-code"). This was nothing new at the beginning of the Modern Age.
What is most striking about the university jurisdiction is its efficiency, because
the majority of the lawsuits were resolved within scholastic courts, although
the monarchy was often consulted. This could be the cause of the scarce amount
of documentation available in the highest bodies of national justice.
To explain this matter,
I will briefly review the judicial and jurisdictional system in modern Spain,
and then concentrate later on explanations and examples of the most important
1. Royal jurisdiction
and particular jurisdiction
We all know that
the union of the Hispanic kingdoms under the Catholic Monarchy (1476-1504) did
not alter the usual judicial system of each kingdom. They were arranged hierarchically,
with the king symbolically (more than practically) at the top.
a) As regards the
usual system of justice and the Crown of Castille, judicial administration began
with the "Alcalde" ("mayor"), if they controlled a small area. In the cities,
the same responsibility fell to the "Corregidores" ("chief magistrates"): royal
delegates who belonged to a level superior to that of the municipal authority.
Their jurisdiction extended to all civil trials in the first instance and the
defence of the royal jurisdiction.
The next level consisted
of the "Audiencias", or the courts with jurisdiction over a specific territory
(the courts of Galicia, Seville, Asturias y Extremadura) and which in turn depended
on other superior territorial bodies: the "chanceries" of Valladolid and Granada.
The river Tajo was the natural frontier which separated the legal proceedings
of these chanceries. At the summit of the pyramid was the "Consejo Real" -Royal
Council- (because, as I said, the king was a symbolic figure - "The best mayor
is the king"); this was the highest Spanish administrative body, with legislative,
executive and judicial powers. But few cases reached this ultimate stage by
This system covered
the whole of the Crown of Castille except Navarra and the Basque Country: a
political condition of the incorporation of Navarra into the Crown of Castille
(1512-1515) was the conservation of the "Consejo de Navarra" ("Council of Navarra").
In the Basque Country there were "fraternities" and "chief magistrates" in Vizcaya
and Guipúzcoa; there were the "Alcalde Mayor" ("Chief Mayor") and the
"Justicia Mayor" ("Chief Justice") in Álava.
b) In the Crown of
Aragón, the greatest judicial authority
was the "Justicia Mayor" ("Chief Justice") which consisted of the advisory council
and various representatives; beneath them was the "zalmedina" in Zaragoza, the
"Consejo de Ciento" ("the council of one hundred") and the "Consellers" ("councillors")
in Barcelona; the "Consejo General" ("General Council") and the "Jurados" ("panel
of judges") in Valencia.
c) There were also
judges for unusual matters, such as the "Consulados" ("consulships") who dealt
with economic cases; "alcalde entregadores" from the Mesta; "judge commissioners"
to investigate whether officials' professions had been justly performed; and
mayors of "Casa y Corte" ("House and Court") who accompanied the court and the
monarchy in their movements. In distant territories, such as the Canary Islands
or Galicia, the civil and military power had to be concentrated so as to maintain
their security and defence; a "governor" was chosen who had more power than
the chief magistrates.
This system was maintained
from the end of the 15th century up until the year 1700. With the political
triumph of the Bourbons, the superintendents appeared who, from 1718 onwards,
had responsibility for justice, police, property and war (although responsibility
for justice only until 1766)
But in the Modern
Spanish Age, the king was not the only judicial and jurisdictional power. There
were other special institutional jurisdictions which enjoyed certain exemptions,
derived from ancient privileges and law-codes. Typical examples of these exceptions
are the church, feudal estates and universities.
Apart from partial
studies, the topic of student violence has only been discussed in picaresque
literature. In almost all the novels there is a student-triskster, always from
Alcalá or Salamanca. Take for example, Cervantes in La tía
fingida; or Vicente Espinel in Relaciones de la vida del escudero Marcos
de Obregón; the Duque de Rivas in D. Álvaro o la fuerza
del sino; Mateo Alemán in the Guzmán de Alfarache;
Quevedo in Buscón; Alarcón in La verdad sospechosa;
or Espronceda in Estudiante de Salamanca.
But the facts that
these novels reflect still exist in the judicial archives of the kingdoms and
in the archives of the ecclesiastical tribunals of each diocese and of each
university. The documentation for Valladolid is essential in order to have complete
catalogues, while the documentation for Salamanca is in the process of being
restored since the beginning of the 1570s and it cannot be used for consultation.
Both sections are extremely rich, but not, on the other hand, that of Sevillian
university law-suits, which mostly covers questions that do not interest us
about the Colegio de Santa María de Jesús.
What really grabs
one's attention is the great scarcity of documentation about university law-suits
that is to be found in the Archivo General de Simancas (AGS), the section Consejos
of the Archivo Histórico Nacional of Madrid, or in the Archivo de la
Chancillería of Valladolid. Perhaps it was that the majority of these
conflicts were finally resolved within the university. Professor Richard KAGAN
completed an introduction to the judicial Castiliar archives that is very useful,
for whoever wishes to continue this study.
The printed material
is more interesting. The historians "positivistas" of the universities
allow one to hear the most interesting cases of violence. Also the diary of
Pellicer in the Seminario Erudito from Valladares and the correspondence
of the Jesuits in the Memorial Histórico Español, contain
a collection of events about these questions of favouritism.
I will now talk about
the university jurisdiction. But, how many universities were there in the hispanic
kingdoms? Did they all have the same jurisdictional law? During the Modern Age
in Spain, a surprising number of universities were founded. There were 7 existing
universities in the Iberian Peninsular at the end of the Middle Age, but 32
around 1630: these included 18 in the Crown of Castille, amongst them the three
most important: Salamanca, Valladolid and Alcalá; 9 college-universities
and 5 convent-universities. If we also consider the fact that the foundation
of college-universities was even more numerous during these years, we can imagine
the changes in university formation and the complications in the system of jurisdiction.
After 1630 this initial
impetus stopped; this was perhaps due to the saturation of the learning market
or its decay (a demographic decrease and economic crisis in Castilla until the
last quarter of the 17th century). In the 18th century, the foundation of the
University of Cervera stood out as a political decision by Philip V to offer
an alternative to the students of the 6 Catalán universities that were
banned for political motives. It is essential to underline the qualitative importance
of the aforementioned three great Castilian universities. Above all the University
of Salamanca which served both as an institutional model and a model of daily
operation for the rest. Granada, Oviedo, Sigüenza, and almost all the American
foundations including Cervera, used the Salmantine methods as a model.
We have said that
the universities based their autonomy in the existence of an "fuero académico"
("academic law-code"). This contained both local and general privileges. The
local privileges constituted an ensemble of socio-economic privileges (such
as the exemption from military service, market laws, customs laws, etc.). The
general privileges were the most significant aspect of the university jurisdiction:
legal immunity (whether it be lay -that of the "chief magistrates" or ecclesiastical,
of the bishop). Any dispute or lawsuit in which a university was involved had
to be judged by the "maestrescuela"(chief scholar), a position sometimes occupied
by the same person. This generated an institution similar to the courts and
chanceries and was called "The Scholastic Court".
From this point of
view we can talk of the existence of a supreme power incarnated in the figure
of the "maestrescuela" (also called the councillor or the "cancelario"). This
was the supreme executive and judicial power within the universities. The maestrescuela"s
authority was similar in all areas, but his real power over the university members
depended according to the time and the place. In Huesca or Salamanca it grew
from the 17th century. In Zaragoza or Valencia, his sovereignity was not so
Salamanca is an excellent
and representative case. Dr. Polo explains it very clearly: Salamantine academic
jurisdiction, in both its ecclesiastic and secular facets, depended, from 1422,
on the rank of the maestrescuela of the cathedral and the cancelario of the
university who was the symbolic representation of civil and ecclesiastical powers.
As supreme judges of studies, he was in charge of justice within the university
corporation (students, graduates, professors, employees, etc.) and resolving
the civil and criminal cases in which those with immunity
were involved. This authority was affected by the "Agreement of Santa Fe", a
royal document drawn up in 1492 and primarily directed at the University of
Salamanca (and later to other) which decreed that the traditional powers of
the maestrescuela would be suppressed and therefore impede traditional university
They were restrained,
but not abolished. The privileges granted to university members were the cause
of most student conflicts in Modern Spain, especially between neighbouring university
cities. The second reason for this violence emerged from purely academic or
were the object of constant protests and disputes between university members,
city-dwellers, popes and kings; and through the years it grew into a legal debate
all over Europe. A Salmantine civil law student, D. Alfonso de Escobar Loaisa
, was the first to publish a book about
the academic law code in Spain . He favoured
the students and the monarchy (versus the universities) but he himself was a
student, and the more superior colleges considered themselves to be a privileged
group within a group of privileged students. Twelve years later another book
was published, this time larger and more complete, by father Mendo 
of the Company of Jesus which today is royalist, but to Francisco Pérez
Bayer seemed to flatter the superior colleges. In 1728, the argument was taken
up by the "colegial" Don Pedro Colón de Larreategui who was more in favour
of the royal jurisdiction and expressed this anonymously, though it was documented
. This problem generated a great deal
of literature, such as political science, and satire.
The students always
found ways of defending their interests, whatever form they took. The students
preferred royal jurisdiction, but they argued with the same force and reasons
their possible dependence on royal authority or pontifical authority, depending
on the situation, the time, and other interests. When conflicts lead to lawsuits,
they were almost always assured of success: either because the judges were ex-students
or because the presence of the jurists in their scholarships allowed them to
maintain a privileged vindicative platform. Also, they generally had the financial
means to buy success or to keep the trial open.
3. Forms of student
were never known to be peaceable. The medieval history of Bologne, Paris or
Cambridge shows many examples of both internal and external university turmoils.
For this reason the advisors from Barcelona did not accept students in 1398.
weren't generally political, except perhaps in the case of revolts: the "Comunidades"
and the "Germanías" (1520-21). They usually fought over power domains
and influence; sometimes within and sometimes without universities; and academic
disputes were almost always mixed with other non-academic issues. The most common
• Power struggles
between groups or sectors within a university (national societies, colleges,...).
• The appointment
of professors and graduation of students.
• University jurisdiction
as opposed to other jurisdictions (that of the king, the municipality, the Church,...).
• Questions of institutional
status in public ceremonies.
3.1. The fight
for power within each university
The first circumstance
which influenced the rise in violence was the geographical origin of the students.
This needs to be explained more clearly: in the whole of Europe, each student
usually associated himself with what was known as a "nation", that is a group
made up of those who came from his country. These university "nations" had a
representative percentage in the University; often the election of academic
posts or student scholarships was reserved proportionally for those born in
specific geographical regions. Therefore groups of students were established
whose social life revolved around
their communal academic and extra-academic interests, (they celebrated parties
together and had similar eating habits and customs). They were organised groups
who vied for the power or monopoly of university posts or scholarships. This
was a constant element in the larger universities.
When commenting on
this situation in 1750, Pérez Bayer said that in Salamanca even school
children knew that the scholarships of the colleges were monopolized by the
"nations": "the San Bartolomé scholarship is for Biscayans, those from
Santander and those from Navarra; the Oviedo scholarship is for those from the
country-side; the Cuenca scholarship is for Andalusians and the Bishop scholarship
is for those from the region of la Mancha; and I hear the same happens for the
scholarship of Santa Cruz in Valladolid for the Riojans and the scholarship
from Alcalá with those they call the terrestrials, that is, those from
that territory, and those from la Mancha and those from La Alcarria.
In the second place,
we find conflicts between institutions, within universities. The "Colegios Mayores"
(Salamanca, Valladolid and Alcalá) defended their privileges and honours
vigorously; this was the cause of serious university disputes of the time and
disputes within society. Little by little they managed to achieve enormous advantages
in final exams (the examiners were only the corresponding faculty professors);
they monopolized the professorships of their universities (in Salamanca, for
example, they established a government and judicial posts of the catholic monarchy
-in so doing they assured themselves a favourable sentence in any trial-).
Having studied these themes for many years, I think that these "major universities"
were the institutions which caused the most law-suits of the period.
versus major colleges: the title "major" did not have any legal justification;
various foundations presented cases against the "major colleges" because of
this type of naming (Santa María de Jesús, of Seville, San Pelayo
of Salamanca) but they managed to maintain the title until the end of the 17th
versus secular colleges: terrible and long conflicts between "major colleges"
and colleges of military orders in Salamanca.
They always came about because of issues of honour and status: for example,how
to place themselves in a privileged position during university celebrations.
There were many deaths, and many wounded in addition to material losses and
the result was always favourable to the "Colegios Mayores".
colleges: because of competition between theology courses that were taught
in convents or because of ideological differences, scholastic disputes about
"ciencia media", the grace of God and free will between Dominican and Jesuits.
They produced a lot of verbal and psychological violence but not physical violence.
The most important
case was that provoked by the Jesuit Luis de Molina with his book Concordia
liberi arbitrii cum Divina gratia; he wanted to reconcile the efficiency
of the grace of God with charitable works. Another Jesuit, Mariana, did not
like this; nor did Báñez, a Dominican accused it of being semi-heretical
and the book was sent before the Inquisition. Father Diego Álvarez, also
a Dominican and professor at Valladolid, wrote a lot against "los molinistas";
many other jesuits, on the other hand, defended him (Arrúbal, Montemayor,
La Basida and Valencia). Rome was more in favour of the Dominican doctrine ("The
Assembly of Auxiliis" in 1597) and the Jesuits protested, putting in doubt the
papacy of Clement VIII and Urban VIII, in their classes at the University of
It is a complicated
subject; it was related to the spread of "jansenismo" in France and its impact
was reflected in many Spanish universities. In general, they showed themselves
to be more in favour of the Dominicans (Zaragoza, Alcalá, Osma, Salamanca,
Oviedo...) whereas those in France supported the Jesuits.
There were reactions in almost all the universities (Lovaina, Mesina, Palermo,
Coimbra, Donay, Mexico or Lima) and
it also provoked the "rupture" between the universities of Alcalá and
Paris and 1718.
3.2. The appointment
of professors and the graduation of students.
With regards to the
"endowment of professors" the evidence of bribery and armed conflict between
candidates" followers grows. In many universities, the professors were chosen
by student votes; and the students, said Arias Barbosa, sold their votes even
by swindling. The fact that the professors
were voted for by students contributed to this situation. The abolishment of
this system, from 1618 onwards (the chronology was different in every university)
put an end to many conflicts, but generated others related to knowledge capacity
(students of the "Colegios Mayores").
When it was a municipality,
and not the students, who were in charge of electing the professors (this occurred
in some universities in the Crown of Aragón) the protests against favouritism
were equally strong.
The graduation ceremony
itself was not conflictive. The problem came afterwards, when students celebrated
the success of their recently graduated friends in the streets. They celebrated
with bullfights, snacks, and other playful activities which annoyed the city
dwellers and which sometimes resulted in street brawls.
jurisdiction versus other jurisdictions
confronted other jurisdictions over centuries during incessant lawsuits. There
were hundreds of cases of conflicts between students and non-students: with
ecclesiastics, authorities, cathedral councils and always with city inhabitants.
The majority of the conflicts were of this type and had their distant origin
in the particular privileges of the academic law-code.
The advantages of
the academic law-code in daily life were enormous for students, corrupt for
their neighbours: shops of all kinds with reduced prices, hospitals, libraries,
inns, transport services for goods ("muleteers"), free customs, official values
for the rent of student houses, possibly even financial loans and their own
cemetery. We can therefore understand that certain individuals enrolled simply
to benefit from these opportunities and we can also understand why neighbours
protested against them.
not only suffered from students' pranks and juvenile jokes, but also the noise,
the adjustments of bills, the over-indulgence in parties and carnivals; they
were always people wounded if not killed. Student indiscipline had repercussions
within and without the classroom: In Granada, the students lived licentiously
and do not let the professors "read"; during public ceremonies they "do and
say indecent things" so that the authorities preferred not to attend them (1627).
To resolve this problem, an inspector was chosen in October 1630, but he did
very little to improve the situation. In Lérida, during the jurisdictional
problems of the 16th and 17th centuries, both "bribes and obstacles were united
in the appointment of professorships". Inspections hardly ever stopped these
The most acute violence
was concentrated in the universities of Alcalá, Valladolid and Salamanca.
I think that Alcalá de Henares is the example most documented about the
consequences that followed the foundation of a university in a particular city.
On top of the characteristic violence of the period was placed the violence
of students: Cardinal Cisneros founded Alcalá in 1508 when there was
already an ample number of universities; to fill his classrooms he had to publish
a statute which offered those who matriculated judicial immunity under whatever
accusation. It follows therefore that the university was filled with villainous
types. At the beginning of the 16th century, Pedro de Torres wrote a "crónica"
in which he explained the situation and its consequences: Alcalá was
full of people who had no morals and no scruples.
A simple word could
provoke armed combat. This occurred in 1518; a young man from Alcalá
was courting a young lady. A relative of his the Colegio de San Ildefonso heard
him and insulted him about his manner of courting. The young man was offended
and drew his sword against his relative. Both shouted for help. Students and
neighbours came from everywhere to support one or the other of the contenders.
A monk used his handkerchief as a catapult in favour of the students and mortally
wounded a city-dweller. The town councillor, Vargas, arrived and tried to keep
order in the name of the king, but he only received punches. The priest came
out of the church of Santa María carrying the image of God. The presence
of God stopped the fight, but everyone remained very upset, and the inhabitants
threatened to burn down the university.
The archbishop of
Toledo and the knight commander of the "Merced" fought for many years against
the jurisdiction of Alcalá University: "Cisneros could not have caused
more damage to the archiepiscopal jurisdiction than to found the University
of Alcalá" said the archbishop (FUENTE, V. de la, 1885, II, 113). The
sentence of the "Rota" in favour of the leader of Alcalá, against the
archbishop of Toledo, was given in Rome in 1545; it was ratified in 1550 by
Paul III together with the exemption of Paris and Salamanca, and also in 1649,
but the struggles for jurisdictional power did not end (AJO, 1959, III, 295).
All powers seemed
to be confronting the students, but the most violent cases were started by city-dwellers.
In 1623, the students were already tired of the attacks and decided to transfer
to the "Estudio" in Madrid. The immediate reason was that, while the university
had been meeting during a doctorate ceremony, the inhabitants came in with pistols
wanting to kill the students. The document describes the problem as being very
ancient, and that the city-dwellers went by night "in troops" with pistols,
maltreating the students, breaking down the doors of their houses. The secular
justice permitted this because the delinquents went through the town in their
presence (FUENTE, V. de la, 1888, III, 52 ss.). Also during this academic year
the inhabitants had fired at the Rector, who had run out to defend the students.
They used stones and bullets, killing one student and wounding others; the next
day they took an ecclesiastic student and maltreated him and then shot him "sending
one bullet into the image of the crucification and another into that of Saint
Francis." Those from Alcalá complained because "all the villains who
leave the Court, running away from the law, go straight to Alcalá."
were probably young people somewhere between tramps and social climbers who
enrolled in the universities to profit from the benefits of the academic law-code.
The diary of "La Compañía de Jesús", referring to what
happened in Salamanca, said the same about two "students who seemed more like
bandits", both from Andalusia: Herrera and Antonio Rey. The latter was described
as "the most disorderly youth ever to be found in the university... everybody
wanted him to leave, because without him they believed that peace would return.
The University of Seville will not allow him to return for I do not know what
escapades he got up to there."
The University of
Valladolid suffered a similar student and "nation" tyranny, according to Alcocer.
This enthusiasm for the conflicts and the use of weapons teaching from the January
until Mayo. Another extreme period of violence occurred between 1737 and 1739.
Neither laws nor
judges were respected by students; neither by the authorities themselves.
In the General Archive of Simancas there exists a record of the report that
Don Antonio Altamirano and Sotomayor (Judge of Studies at the University of
Salamanca) sent to the Council requesting help.
It recounts how the students had lost all respect for any secular or ecclesiastical
justice, and that they had placed the city-dwellers in great danger. There follow
some testimonies of the notary about some events:
• On the eve of the
day of Saint Catalina (24 November) in 1625, a great crowd of students gathered
in the square. They shouted insults at the chief magistrate, "broke down" the
door of the prison and set free a convict accused of homicide.
• On the 3rd December,
Biscayans and some Portuguese began to argue about which seats to occupy in
class; the class ended with "many wounded"; the next day, the Portuguese were
waiting armed "with every type of weapon" (arquebuses, pistols, swords and shields).
The Biscayans arrived armed as well. The intervention of both monks and students
prevented any further disastrous result.
• On the 16th December,
the chief scholar suspected that those students from Extremadura were planning
to roam the streets armed while cheering on their "nation"; he ordered that
the prohibition of this event should be published and those who were caught
would be sent to prision, or expelled or banished and excommunicated. Nevertheless,
the students went ahead with their plans, walking through the city fully armed
"causing great inconveniences". Two of them were arrested and imprisoned by
the chief magistrate, but the next day, their friends threatened the chief magistrate
telling him that they would liberate their imprisoned friends "for better or
for worse". These threats and scandals were "so great and so excessive" that
the chief magistrate was obliged to set them free.
• Later, the licentiate
Suárez explained the disobediences and the threats that the students
made to all the authorities; they did not fear the chief magistrates" punishments
because they were "too soft" because he did not dare put the city in danger.
They did not pay attention to the chief scholar either, because "he was very
aged" and he was a "colegial" of the major colleges. The university proposed
the election of a chief scholar who was not a "colegial" of the major universities,
with a good salary. Evidently, the problem was very serious and ultimately,
it was never properly resolved. In 1592, the students killed the chief mayor.
The chief scholar ordered that one student should be tortured and another sentenced.
The corruption continued until 1595.
Another very serious
conflict, which had political consequences, involved Salmantine students and
the inhabitants of the city. It occurred in November 1644 when a fight which
began between Biscayans and Andalusians became even more complicated when they
in turn became angered with those from Guipúzcoa, who allied themselves
with those from Navarra and Aragón. A real confusion of alliances between
different university "nations"!
After a community
meal, some insults provoked a street brawl between students and noblemen; the
chief magistrate tried to calm them and was wounded. Noblemen and inhabitants
in general attacked the students in a real battle; it ended with the death of
a student from the College of Oviedo and the death of a nobleman, plus the imprisonment
of another student from Mallorca, who was executed by the chief magistrate's
assistant the same night. This hurried execution provoked some students to leave
and also caused the king to send both a mayor and court to Salamanca. With their
presence and with some time, the situation began to calm down.
Another branch of
this violence was political. The universities adopted a particular stance in
the light of monarchical problems:
a) Between 1520 and
1521, the University of Valencia supported the revolt of the "germanía";
the University of Salamanca generally supported the Comunidades; while in Alcalá,
the students were divided (AGS,Cámara de Castilla, 130-112, Alcalá
de Henares, alborotos; años 1518 y 1520). There exist hardly any documents
directly connected with the anti-monarchical attitudes of the universities,
but the efficiency of their particular jurisdiction shows itself in that Charles
V could not punish Salmantine rebels, for example, because the university, en
bloc, refused to accept those sanctions.
exists in the case of Alcalá. Various students had enlisted for the war.
The rector, Hontañon, was a "comunero"; Pedro Lagasca, on the other hand,
supported the imperial cause. The former wanted to kill the latter and a real
battle took place between them within the college. The rector was badly wounded.
b) The uprisings
of Portugal and Cataluña, in 1640, changed academic life; each university
supported his own kingdom.
c) The Castillian
universities were in favour of Philip V in the War of the Spanish succession
(1700-1715); but those of the Crown of Aragón were against him. It was
for this reason that the triumph of the Bourbons lead to the closure of the
old Catalan universities and the opening of the university of Cervera, following
the institutional model set out by Salamanca.
d) The universities
were summoned by the kings to collaborate in the field of both internal and
external military campaigns of the monarchy. I know the case of Salamanca better,
which first gave money; when they had little money, they offered soldiers and
lastly prayers. That is to say, that there were times when they offered to give
students a year of their course in return for them going to war. In 1592, various
students were put in prison to force then to go to war.
In Cataluña, on the 8th July 1639, it was agreed that all students who
enlisted against the french invaders of Rossellon, would have a free graduation.
A conflict that
draws one's attention is that of the jurisdictional interference between Spanish
University students and the Portuguese monarchy. The portuguese king expressly
prohibited that portuguese students study outside Portugal. He proclaimed these
on the 13th April 1538, but nobody respected it: in that academic year some
thirty students came from Coimbra to Salamanca. This law was reiterated in 1541
and redefined in 1557: all the portuguese students in the Universities of Salamanca
and Alcalá had to return to Coimbra within one year. The portuguese authorities
used all means possible but without success. Already in 1510, Salamanca was
negotiating with Coimbra in order that the latter should recognise salmantine
university jurisdiction. This was a case of all words and no action. The head
or ceremonies at Salamanca ravelled to Lisbon for this reason, but he was unsuccessful
when gaining portuguese respect for salmantine law, therefore he looked to the
king for help.
How must a student
comport himself according to the academic law code? Summarising the rules collected
in"Concordia de Santa Fe", in the Nueva recopilación (Libro XII,
título XIX, ley XVI) and in the Novísima recopilación
(libro XII, títulos XI y XXIII, leyes IV y XV), the university student
and to be simple, modest and austere in his conduct and apparence. No sign of
flaunting was allowed in this clothes or hair or transport. Discrete, studious,
quiet and virtuous; responsible in his university obligation; everything in
the field of games, drink, scandals, women, robbery, fraud,night-life, the publication
of defamatory texts was strictly prohibited.
What were the student
like in real life? Obviously, they consisted of all types, but what is bad is
always remembered better than what is good. As Felix Carranza said, if there
are only four "pícaros", everyone becomes a delinquent, but there were
many more pícaros than just four. The laws-suits which are known show
a type of student who did not comply with any or almost none or the rules.
of institutional precedence in public ceremonies
and the rituals used in then inform us about power in the Ancient Regimen. In
a society of honours, each person and each institution had its place according
to his privileges, antiquity and in this case, academic status.
The diary of Pellicer
in the Seminario Erudito from Valladares and the correspondence of the
Jesuits in the Memorial Histórico Español contain collection
of incidents about precedence. In reality, almost all the documents of the period
reflect the central importance of public demonstrations of honour.
In the university
environment everyone had privileges. The university members had the academic
law-code; popes and kings had the right of control and the students had their
privileges and foundational bulls; for this reason, the defence of their public
"image" was constantly a source of conflict. This is a paradox: they wrote incredible
books about Christian humility but the everyday life of the students consisted
of pride and violence.
The variety of lawsuits
about the question of precedence was enormous; taken from today's point of view;
it seems to be inconsistent:
- The town of Alcalá
de Henares against the rector of the university because the bailiff of the university
used to patrol at night and carrying a pole of justice. 1544, (AGS, Consejo
Real de Castilla, leg. 482, 3, 25 fols.)
- The students of
San Bartolomé used their swords to occupy the seats reserved for other
authorities in the celebration of the funeral honours of Felipe III.
- The doctors Balbás,
Pedraza, Sampedro and others of the University of Alcalá de Henares made
a claim about the honours they would be given in the acts of the university.
Years 1551-52, (AGS, Consejo Real de Castilla, leg. 256, 20, 6 cuad.).
- Doctor Antonio
Gallego from the University of Salamanca against the professor Juan León
because he verbally offended his wife and daughter in the church and in the
street. 1598, (AGS, Consejo Real de Castilla, leg. 480, 4, 250 fols.)
- The University
of Oñate defends its precedence against the city (AJO, 1959, III, 316.)
- The royal certificate
to the governor of Galicia stating that the seats of the university should be
behind those of the council (Year 1600, AJO, III, 542).
- The royal certificate
to the Virrey of Nueva España asking if the rector of the university
of Mexico should have a seat with a back in the public ceremonies and if he
should be placed on his left hand-side (1611, AJO, III, 551).
- In 1657, the College
of the Archbishop refused to attend in the university chapel if it was not permitted
for the rector of their college to put his "dosel" in the chapel.
- A lawsuit in Tarragona
between the council, the cathedral and the university concerning the issue of
precedence (Year 1626; AJO, 1959, III, 322).
- Two Salmantine
university authorities cross each other in the street and each one defends his
right to use the pavement (that is to say, that it should be the other who should
let him pass); there followed discussions, crowds gathered, there was consultation
with all the authorities, while both authorities remained standing for hours
without giving way. After many hours and listening to the advice of the bishop
both decided to turn around and go back the way they came.
- Student brawls
in Valladolid about privileges in 1770 (FUENTE, V. de la, 1885, II, 74).
- The "Colegio Mayor"
of Alcalá insulting the maestrescuela, in 1664 (FUENTE, V. de la, 1889,
- In the University
of Naples (AJO, 1959, III, 417): a law in 1668 prohibited those from a specific
district in the city to have a woman or a student or any other dishonest person
in the house. If caught, they would be fined. In 1623, the virrey A. Alvarez
de Toledo added corporal punishment to the fine.
In 1768 the bishop
Don Antonio Tavira and father Zamora, spoke to Campomanes and begged him to
reform the university in as harsh a manner as possible.
Up until now we have
discussed specific cases which occurred at specific times but not about the
long-term reality. The problem lies in the discontinuity of the sources and
the lack of specific research. Doctor Polo has published a document presenting
the "real" situation of Salmantine university justice during 27 consecutive
months (1737-39) and I think it is very useful as another point of reference.
During this period 36 individuals were legally "warned": 18 students, one receptionist,
14 inhabitants and one Portuguese. What were the motives?:
- Rows in inns or
in the street, violence towards citizens, the use of weapons, going out at night
and music, the company of women and living with women before wedlock, living
in hostels without permission of the scholastic tribunal, lying and disobedience
to the judge and his ministers, and not studying (17 students and 2 inhabitants).
- Calling oneself
a student, without being one (one youth).
- Using false documents
in a scholastic tribunal and stealing (one student).
- Because of a criminal
charge (one student).
- Hosting students
without permission, robbing them, having concubines, disrespecting and disobedience
to the judge or ministers (two hostel owners).
- Lack of respect
and disobedience to the judge (6 inhabitants and one receptionist).
- Helping others
to escape from the scholastic prison (one Portuguese citizen).
- Allowing cattle
into the vineyards of the scholastic judge, attacking his farm and cutting down
his fruit trees (four inhabitants).
This list of offences
almost coincides with that offered by Doctor Torremocha.
They are all classified as offences of sexual nature, violence and death, noise,
fights, scandal and turmoil, attacks on property, insults and bearing prohibited
While waiting for
further research, we can establish the hypothesis that these were the most common
offences carried out by students in the 18th century. When student votes disappeared
the typical corruption of the 16th century disappeared as well; the processes
between institutions about jurisdictional issues also diminished; the concepts
of "nation" and "colegio" were diluted as universities lost their democratic
organisation; there is one exception to this tendency: the major colleges became
more powerful and more aristocratic, more arrogant and despotic until the reform
An overall view indicates
that student violence grew from the very foundation of the universities, perhaps
because the number of students also grew. The pride and arbitrary nature of
the violence was the absurd cause of the majority of the conflicts. They did
not fight to better their situation but to increase their capricious status
in front of other weaker students, because they considered themselves to be
superior. One example could be the custom from Valladolid of celebrating the
festival of San Nicolás by occupying the Main Bridge; nobody could get
past without suffering the terrible pranks the students invented; not even the
dogs, who they threw into the river. Or the case of the Salmantine woman who
they stripped and tied to a donkey and then gave 200 strokes. They had accused
her of selling mouldy meat. It was a day of intense snow and she was sexually
violated by "more than 30" of them. This on top of the 200 strokes she received
resulted in her death. But the students continued their party by hitting the
receptionist at the university and stealing the keys from him so that the university
remained closed for two days. The students said of themselves "we are the only
judges in the city" (January of 1642).
The most bloody period
was the 17th century, with the number of lawsuits diminishing throughout the
18 century. For the case of Valladolid, Torremocha confirms this tendency:
in the 17th century there were 944 lawsuits, but only 324 in the 18th century
(only 19.2% from 1750 onwards).
Charles III completed
a radical reform of the university curriculum and a revision of the function
of each university which would result, at least, in the decrease of this gratuitous
SANTOS, José Luis, "La organización de la justicia real ordinaria en la
Corona de Castilla durante la Edad Moderna", en Estudis. Revista de Historia
Moderna, 22, 1996, (monográfico sobre Conflictividad y represión en la sociedad
ALBERDI, Jon, "Justicia, gobierno y legalidad en la Corona de Aragón del
siglo XVII", en Estudis. Revista de Historia Moderna, 22, 1996, 217-248.
Richard, Pleitos y pleiteantes en Castilla, Valladolid, Junta de Castilla
y León, 1991.
Vicente de la, Historia de las Universidades, Colegios y demás establecimientos
de la enseñanza en España, Madrid, Imprenta de la Vda. e Hija de Fuentenebro,
RODRíGUEZ, Juan Luis, "Veintinueve apercibimientos del juez del Estudio
de la Universidad de Salamanca", en Cuadernos de Historia Moderna, 15, Madrid,
Editorial Complutense, 1994, 143-170. See the book about the Salamanca's "Maestrescuela"
of the María Paz ALONSO ROMERO, Universidad y sociedad corporativa. Historia
del privilegio jurisdiccional del Estudio salmantino, Madrid, Tecnos, 1997.
Y LOAISA, Alfonso de, De pontificia at regia iurisdictione in studiis generalibus
et de iudicibus et foro studiosrum, Madrid, P. Coello, 1643 (Biblioteca de la
Unversidad de Salamanca, [from now on cited as BUS] 1/1.601).
first printed text that I know of was that of MIDDENDORPIUS, J. Academiarum
celebrimum universi terratum orbis...., Coloniae, Agrippinae apud Gorvinum,
1602 (BUS - 1/23.301).
Andrés, De lure Academico selectae questiones theologicae, morales, juridicae,
historicae, et politicae. De Academiis, magistribus, collegiis, profesoribus,
candidatis et scholasticis, Salamanca, J. Gómez de los Cubos, 1655 (BUS 3/44.641).
DE LARREATEGUI, Pedro] Defensa jurídica que hacen los quatro Colegios Mayores
de la Universidad de Salamanca a favor de V. Magestad, por el derecho de dos
regalías: la primera, sobre que el Claustro desta Universidad haya de presentar
en el Real Consejo dentro del término de sesenta días los Estatutos, que hiciere,
para que sean examinados y aprobados. Y la segunda, sobre la particular Real
protección, que tiene V. Magestad en estas quatro Comunidades, y en las dos
de Sta. Cruz de Valladolid, y S. Ildefonso de Alcalá con el título de Colegios
Mayores [s.l., s.i., s.a.: 1728] (BUS, 3/44.030).
speak about this in "Poder y conocimiento. Universidad frente a colegios",
La Universidades Hispánicas de la Monarquía de los Austrias al Centralismo Liberal,
L.E. Rodríguez San Pedro (ed.), Salamanca, Universidad de Salamanca-Junta de
Castilla y León, 2000, II, 117 ss.
agreement of 1st February 1398 (RUBIO BORRÁS, M, Motines y algaradas de
estudiantes en las universidades de Barcelona y Cervera, Barcelona, 1914; cfr.
HORNEDO, Rafael María, 'Desaplicación y desórdenes estudiantiles en el seiscientos
español', in Razón y fe, CLIX, nº 733, Madrid, 1959, 131-144).
ideological differences - arguments between groups of different religious
beliefs (but these did not usually result in bloodshed) and which political
uprisings against an established power.
licenciate Castellanos against Bartolomé de Espinosa from Segovia, for having
killed a student of Salamanca, in Salamanca in 1595 (AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla,
leg. 469, 5, 40 fols.).
BAYER, Francisco, Por la Libertad de la Literatura Española, ed. by Antonio
Mestre, Alicante, Instituto de Cultura Juan Gil Albert, 1991,121. There was
6 Colegios Mayores in Spain: San Bartolomé, Cuenca, Oviedo and El Arzobispo
in Salamanca; Santa Cruz in Valladolid; and San Ildefonso in Alcalá de Henares.
Current bibliography about this subject on the internet web page: http://web.usal.es/~carabias.
my book Colegios Mayores: Centros de poder. Los Colegios Mayores de Salamanca
en el Siglo XVI, Salamanca, Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 1986.
in Salamanca, because it was the university in which they decided the establish
a college of Spanish Military Orders for the education of its members. See "La
violencia letrada y la sumisión de las Órdenes Militares en la España Moderna",
in Las Órdenes Militares en la Península Ibérica. Vol II: Edad Moderna. Cuenca,
Ediciones de Castilla-La Mancha, 2000, 2163-2180.
V. de la, op. cit, 111, 46 ss..
CRUZ, Agueda M., Historia de las Universidades Hispanoamericanas, Bogotá,
Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 1973, 2 vols.
CRUZ, Agueda M., La vida estudiantil en la hispanidad de ayer, Bogotá, Instituto
Caro y Cuervo, 1973. The city of Salamanca and the chief scholar of the university
against Rodrigo de Sande and others, because of rows and resistence to justice
concerning the examinations needed to qualify as a professor, for having rigged
the election of doctor Gabriel Enríguez (AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla, leg.
360, 1-7, 510 fols.). See too AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla, leg. 115, 9, 54
Serrano for the professorship of the University of Alcalé in 1551 (AGS,Consejo
Real de Castilla, leg. 256, 11, 19 fols.). Juan García and the doctor Villalpando,
against the doctor Pero Martínez, for anther profesorship at the same university
in 1555-1560, (AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla, leg. 55, 10, 37 folios.).
problem related to the graduation ceremony was the right that many institutions
aquired, via a papal bull to grant them. The universities fought for the exclusivity
of this privilege and there were many long trials in Salamanca (Colegio Mayor
de Cuenca), Santiago (Colegio Imperial), Huesca,... and the Jesuits. But this
issues did not result in blood-shed. The case which attracts most attention
concerning this point was that of the Colegio de Cuenca, which in the last quarter
of the Sixteenth century granted qualificalions, even for subjetcs such as medicine,
in which it didn't have any place (Vid. CARABIAS TORRES, Ana M., El Colegio
Mayor de Cuenca en el Siglo XVI. Estudio institucional, Salamanca, Ediciones
Universidad de Salamanca, 1983).
GONZÁLEZ DE RAPARIEGOS Y SAINZ DE ZÚÑIGA, Candido M., Historia de las Universidades
Hispánicas, Madrid, Artes gráficas C.I.M. 1959, III, 280.
cit., 217 ss.
V. de la, op. cit., 82-82.
University of Alcalá de Henares against the archbishop of Toledo, about
ecclesiastical benefits in Ajalbir y la Puebla de Montalbán, in 1565 (AGS,Consejo
Real de Castilla, leg. 45 (bis), 7, 2 cuad.). More information in TORREMOCHA
HERNÁNDEZ, Margarita, "Fuero y delincuencia estudiantil en el Valladolid del
siglo XVIII", en Claustros y Estudiantes, Valencia, Universitat de Valencia,
1989, II, 365-391.
from Doctor Juan de Zúñiga to the Consejo Real, about insults in the cloister
between the rector and the chief scholar, don Francisco Gasca Salazar, in 1594,
(AGS, Consejo Real de Castilla, leg. 115, 2, 165 fols.). The chief scholar of
Salamanca, appealed to the Consejo Real because the shief magistrate did not
respect his jurisdiction, in 1535, (AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla, leg. 209,
4, 55 fols.)
Guerra Antigua, leg. 927, 1º, copy of the original made in Salamanca 20th
April 1626. I be grateful to professor F.J. Lorenzo Pinar, by this information.
V. de la, op. cit. II, 417
GONZÁLEZ DE RAPARIEGOS, op cit., III, 498.
CARABIAS TORRES, Ana M., "Castilla y Portugal: el trajín de la cultura académica",
en ESPINOSA, Rosa - MONTENEGRO, Julia, Castilla y Portugal en los albores de
la Edad Moderna, Universidad de Valladolid, 1997, 47-49. Pedro Alonso, a habitant
from de Torrubia, jurisdictión de Uclés, against the conservative of the Universidad
of Alcalá de Henares, Juan Riaño, about posibility to follor up a law-suit against
him made by a student Alejo Regañón, about certains goods in 1534 (AGS, Consejo
Real de Castilla, leg. 97, 6, 21 fols). The archbishop of Santiago and a colegial
of San Bartolomé in Salamanca, against the Bishop of Salamanca, about the jurisdiction
that the bishop of Santiago had in Salamanca. 1571 (AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla,
leg. 205, 5, 89 fols). Alonso de Miranda, a habitant fo Salamanca, disputed
in the Council of justice, against doctor Cristóbal de Alba, assistent of the
Bishop of Salamanca, for having arrested him and taken him to the scholastic
prison and tortured him being secular 1522-23, (AGS,Consejo Real de Castilla,
leg. 325, 1, 10 fols.)
LÓPEZ, Emilia, "Exequias reales y pompa funeral", en Salamanca y su proyección
en el mundo. Estudios históricos en honor de D. Florencio Marcos, Salamanca,
Gráficas Ortega, 1992; Id., "Las honras fúnebres de Margarita de Austria y de
Felipe III en la Universidad de Salamanca", en Actas del simposio internacional
de emblemática, Teruel, Instituto de Estudios Turolenses, 1994, 509-526.
RODRíGUEZ, Juan Luis, op cit., 147-148.
HERNÁNDEZ, M., op. cit., 373-4
HERNÁNDEZ, M., op. cit., 370.