Cortes of León of 1188

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Cortes of León)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
León Cradle of Parliamentarism logo

The Cortes of León from year 1188 was a parliamentary body in the medieval Kingdom of León. According to UNESCO it was the first example of modern parliamentarism in the history of Europe.[1]

After coming to power, King Alfonso IX, faced an attack by his two neighbours, Castile and Portugal, decided to summon the Curia regis. This was a mediæval organisation composed of aristocrats and bishops, but because of the seriousness of the situation and the need to maximise political support, Alfonso IX took the decision to also call the representatives of the urban middle class from the most important cities of the kingdom to the assembly.[2]

However, all these meetings were exceptional and did not lead to a regular attendance of town representatives in the Curiae.

León's Cortes dealt with matters like the right to private property, the inviolability of domicile, the right to appeal to justice opposite the King and the obligation of the King to consult the Cortes before entering a war.[3]

Despite what is believed, the Icelandic Althing in 930, sometimes taken as a previous example concerning legislative assemblies, was an exclusive meeting of magnates and did not produce legislative texts until the thirteenth century. In addition, it was similar to the Palatinate of the VIII century of the kingdom of the Astures and inferior to the Royal Curies that were celebrated from year 830 in the Court of Oviedo, in which they were represented nobles and ecclesiastics so Hispanics assemblies were politically more advanced. The Althing would be similar, in addition to the Asturian Palatinate, to the Visigothic Councils of the sixth century, also earlier, composed only by a social arm of powerful people; that in this ecclesiastical case was in order to legislate matters such as the Fuero Juzgo.


  1. ^ UNESCO website, Memory of the World. The Decreta of León of 1188 - The oldest documentary manifestation of the European parliamentary system
  2. ^ International Memory of the World Register - The Decreta of León of 1188 - The oldest documentary manifestation of the European parliamentary system
  3. ^ The Leones parliament of 1188: The first parliament of the western world (The Magna Carta of Alfonso IX)


  • Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911: "History of Europe" (Birth of parliamentary bodies)
  • O'Callaghan,J.F. "The beginninings of the Cortes of León-Castile», American History Review 1969, p. 1504.
  • O'Callaghan, Joseph F. "A History of Medieval Spain". Ithaca 1975.
  • Procter, Evelyn. "Curia and Cortes in León and Castile 1072-1295". Cambridge 1980.
  • Procter, Evelyn."The Interpretation of Clause 3 in the Decrees of León," EHR 85 (1970
  • Merriman, Roger B. "The Cortes of the Spanish Kingdoms in the Later Middle Ages," AHR 16 (1911)
  • Keane, John. "The Life and Death of Democracy". Simon & Schuster, London, 2009.
  • The Decreta of León of 1188. Spanish version.