Chapter

Agents and Powers

Bianca Premo

in The Enlightenment on Trial

Published in print April 2017 | ISBN: 9780190638726
Published online February 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190638764 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190638726.003.0002
Agents and Powers

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)
  • History of the Americas

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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

Chapter.  13016 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; History of the Americas

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