Balance Of Power In New Spain Essay

609 Words3 Pages
wensby argues that the balance of power in 17th century New Spain is maintained through each individual’s involvement in society rather than a top bottom power structure. Power alone was not what upheld justice because each social level held the capacity to exercise power that was contingent on the complex set of social conventions of 17th century New Spain. The law cannot be separated from the social norms that were the members of New Spain valued. The legal system itself can attest to this argument, as the courts specifically the tribunal made rulings based social norms instead of solely the law. The supposed powerless did hold sway in their outcome, as we see with the cases Owensby presents. The legal system does not follow a precedent instead it deals with each case on the individual level. It…show more content…
The ideal of ‘libertad’ is central to the functioning of power in the legal system. ‘Libertad’ is the idea that free will is God-given and that free will eclipses any circumstances of birth such as slavery. Slaves that proclaimed liberty were to be heard because ‘libertad’ was a right. This is seen in both Leonor’s and Juan’s cases as they proclaim their freedom the state must grant them the ability to demonstrate it without repercussions from their masters. In Leonor’s case she claimed that she was freed by her master years ago but it was never formalized. Her former owners contested this, as since no formal agreement of her freedom was made she was never free. However since libertad can be seen within this case the law’s power is not concrete instead the tribunal looks into the circumstances. This is what Owensby means, that, power is not simply projected from above instead it an interconnected web of social interactions and norms. The
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