Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

History of Law and of the Institutions

History of Law and of the Institutions
First semester
Main language of instruction: Spanish

Other languages of instruction: Catalan

Teaching staff

Students should get in contact with the professor for any questions either in person or by sending a message via e-mail. Depending on the complexity of the matter at hand, students may visit the professor in his or her office.


Law relflects the evolution of society from its origins until present day.  Because of this, Law is also a product of history and the subject of history has an important introductory role which links secondary school studies to higher learning and introduces us to specific legal terminology.

Pre-course requirements

There are still no prerequisites for the study of this discipline, but it is advisable to have historical knowledge of Catalonia, Spain and Europe in general by consulting specific and general books on their historical, social, cultural and economic evolution throughout the centuries which this subject covers.


The basic aims of this subject is the history of law and its institutions which explain the origin and evolution of the legal systems that function in the Iberian peninsula and the different peoples and political units that have existed in this area (an extended period that started in 300 B.C., the Roman Empire, until the 18th century A.D.). It explains the political-legal transformation of the Hispanic Monarchy of the 16th century until the 19th century. In addition, it is know about the expansion of Spaish law and the metamorphosis that has taken place in Spanish law and understand the constitutional and code-making process of the 19th century with the creation of Spain and Spanish law until the second half of the 20th century with the Second republic and the Franco regime.


Presentación en el aula de los conceptos y su aplicación práctica
01 14 18
Actividades en el aula para el seguimiento de los alumnos (individual y en grupo)
02 09
Estudio independiente del alumno
02 09 11 18
Trabajos individuales y en grupo
11 14 18
Actividades fuera del aula
01 09
Asistencia y participación en clase
Pruebas escritas
Exposición de trabajos

Learning outcomes

1.  To know the content and nature of the discipline in addition to scientific methodology and its development in historical and legal literature.

2.  To know and identify the sources and the manifestations of law in the different political regimes that occurred in the Iberian peninsula from 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D.

3.  To know, understand and be able to identify the different organisational frameworks in a governmental, legislative and legal setting until the 20th century A.D. in medieval Hispanic kingdoms, the Spanish Monarchy of the 18th century and the Spanish state of the 19th and 20th centuries.

4.  To be able to develop the ability to synthesis and analyse information received in class and from the complementary material provided by the professor.

5.  To be able to acquire skills that encourage reading comprehension.

6.  To be sensitive to the fostering of respect, trust and cordiality between different people and cultures.

7.  To internalise the dimension of fundamental rights in order to recognise human dignity.

8.  To be able to acquire skills for autonomous learning.



A. Introduction:  The main principles of the discipline, study methods, historical and legal literature.

Topic 1.  Preliminary questions.  1.1 the concept of the history of law. 1.2. Study method. 1.3 Spanish Legal history.

B.  The sources of law in Roman Spain, in the Visigoth reign and in medieval Spanish kingdoms.

Topic 2. Rome and Byzantium.  2.1. From early Rome to imperial Rome.  2.2. Political systems and institutions.  2.3. The sources of Roman law. 2.4. The Eastern tradition and Roman law: Justinian code and the Corpus luris Civilis. 2.5. The romanisation of the Iberian peninsula.

Topic 3.  The Visigoths.  3.1. The Visigoths and the Empire.  3.2. The Hispanic-Visigoth reign. 3.3. Visigoth law. 3.4. El Liber ludiciorum.

Topic 4.  Muslims, Christians and Jews.  4.1. The Saracens. 4.2. The Christian communities and the survival of Liber ludiciorum.  4.3. The Jews and their Laws.

Topic 5.  Common Law. 5.1. Common Law. Origins, spread and development. 5.2. The different schools.

Topic 6. The Principality of Catalonia.  6.1. The Carolingian monarchy. 6.2. The feudal Catalan monarchy. 6.3. The Christian repopulation. 6.4. The new sources of law. the Usatges of Barcelona.  6.5. The reception of common law in Catalonia.  6.6. Rights in rem, municipal law and feudal law. 6.7. Mercantile Admiralty law. 6.8. Compilation of Catalan law.

Topic 7.  The Crown of Castille. 7.1. The Crown of Leon and Castille.  7.2. Municipal and feudal Castillians.  7.3. Castillian royal law.  7.4. The source system of Castilian law. 7.5. The recompliations.

Topic 8. The Basque Country and Navarre. 8.1. The Basque territories. 8.2. The kingdom of Navarre.  

Topic 9. The kingdom of Aragon. 9.1 The conquest and the first local fueros. 9.2 Territorial expansion and proper law. 9.3 The general dret. 9.4 Completion of the process. 9.5 The suppression of Jurisdictions and the New Plant.

Topic 10. The kingdom of Valencia. 10.1 The conquest and the population. 10.2 The Jurisdictions A) The granting of the Jurisdictions. B) The text and its sources. C) The conflict with the Aragonese Furs. 10.3 The Valencian institutions. 10.4 The system of sources and the compilation of Valencian law. A) The font system. B) The compilations of Valencian law. C) The system of priority of sources.

Topic 11. The kingdom of Mallorca. 11.1 Mallorca and the Balearic Islands. 11.2 The organization of the kingdom. 11.3 The creation of the right. 11.4. The sources of Majorcan law. A) Periods in the history of Mallorcan law. B) The sources of Mallorcan law

C. Public law Institutions in modern and contemporary Spain until the promulgation of the 1978 Constitution.  

Topic 12.  The political and administrative institutions of Catalonia.  12.1. The general institutions of the Crown of Aragon.  12.2. The social class institutions of Catalonia.  12.3. The royal institutions of Catalonia.  12.4. The Municipality. 12.5. The administration of justice. 12.6. The General Court 12.7. The General Council. 12.8. The General Parliament.

Topic 13. The Bourbon Monarchy.  13.1. The War of Succession.  The decrees supressing the fueros and the Nueva Planta decrees.  13.2. Royal Law. 13.3. The Ministrial regimen. 13.4. Territorial division and the Municipality.  13.5. The administration of justice. 13.6. The Public Treasury.

Topic 14.  The Constitutional State.  14.1. The fall of the Old Regime and the Liberal Constitutional State.  14.2. The Spanish constitutions of the 19th century.  14.3. The Constitution of 1931. 14.4. The Head of State. 14.5. The Courts.  14.6. The political parties.  14.7. The ministrial organisation. 14.8. Provincial divisions and the Municipality.  14.9. The administration of justice.  14.10.  The Public Treasury.  

Topic 15. Codification.  15.1. Previous considerations.  15.2. European precedents. 15.3. Spanish law codification: penal law codification.  mercantile and process law codification; civil codification and territorial rights. 

Topic 16. The Civil War and Francoism.  16.1. The Civil War.  16.2. The Spanish republic and Nationalist Spain. 16.3. Francoism and the new political regimen.  16.4. The Kingdom of Spain and its fundamental Laws.  16.5. Organic democracy.

Teaching and learning activities

In person

A. Methodologies to be followed throughout the class:

-- Teacher led lecture

-- Practical case analysis

-- Consultation and resolving questions

-- Presentation of projects and internship work

-- Autonomous learning

-- Searching for information

-- Elaborating projects

-- Individual study

-- Turning in project work

-- Readings

-- Reading/ text analysis

-- Seminars

-- Tutorials

B.  Training activities

-- Presentation of concepts and their practical application in class

-- In-class activities to see students' progress (individual and group work)

-- Student independent study

-- Individual and group projects

-- Outside activities

Presentación en el aula de los conceptos y su aplicación práctica
01 14 18
Actividades en el aula para el seguimiento de los alumnos (individual y en grupo)
02 09
Estudio independiente del alumno
02 09 11 18
Trabajos individuales y en grupo
11 14 18
Actividades fuera del aula
01 09

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

The evaluation system is the following:  Attendance and participation in class, written exams, presentation of projects and participation in other tutored activities.  The criteria that shall be applied are the following:

- Written tests, which shall be 65% of the final grade.  This shall be carried out in four progress tests given at random: the first with topics 2, 3, 4 and 5; the second on 6, 7, 8 and 9; the third on 10; and the fourth on 11, 12, 13 and 14. 

- The presentation of projects and participation in other tutorial activities, with attendance and participation in class 40% of the total. The practices will consist of: a maximum of 4 text comments. The works will be presented typed on the day that the teacher indicates personally and individually (not by email or handwritten).

- Failure to attend class up to ten unexcused absences will mean one point less in the grade obtained from the application of the above criteria. Students will sign in the first hour of class, and before it begins, a roll call will be held to check attendance.


Bibliography and resources

a) Core books:

  • Josep Serrano Daura, Història del Dret hispànic i de les seves institucions, 2ª ed., Barcelona: Duxelm Editorial, 2021.
  • Josep Serrano Daura, Història del Dret hispànic i de les seves institucions, Barcelona: Duxelm Editorial, 2015.
  • Josep Serrano Daura, Lliçons d'Història del Dret I, 2ª ed., Barcelona: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 2008.
  • Josep Serrano Daura, Lliçons d'Història del Dret II, Barcelona: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 2005.


b) Additional books:

  • Various authors, Documents jurídics de la història de Catalunya, Barcelona: Departament de Justícia/Generalitat de Catalunya, 1991.
  • Raymond Carr, España 1808-2008, Madrid: Ariel Historia, 2009.
  • José Antonio Escudero, Curs d'Història del Dret. Fonts i Institucions polítícoadministratives, Alacant: Universitat d'Alacant, 2008.
  • Víctor Ferro Pomà, El dret públic català: les institucions a Catalunya fins al Decret de Nova Planta, 2ª ed., Barcelona: Societat Catalana d'Estudis Jurídics, 2015.
  • Josep Maria Font Rius, 'Estudi introductori', Textos Jurídics Catalans, Lleis i Costums. IV/1. Constitucions de Catalunya/Edició facsímil de l’Incunable de 1495, Barcelona: Departament de Justícia/Generalitat de Catalunya, 1988.
  • Juan Iglesias, Derecho Romano, 18 ed., Barcelona: Sello Editorial, SL.,  2010.
  • Jesús Lalinde Abadía i Sixto Sánchez-Lauro, Derecho histórico de los pueblos hispánicos, Barcelona: Trialba, 2015.
  • Joan Miquel,Curso de Derecho Romano, Barcelona: PPU, 1987.
  • Tomàs de Montagut Estragués,Història del Dret espanyol, Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 1997.
  • José Sánchez-Arcilla Bernal, Una historia del derecho contemporáneo (s. XX), Madrid, 2021.
  • Josep Serrano Daura, Senyoriu i Municipi a la Catalunya Nova (s. XII-XIX), 2 vols., Barcelona: Fundació Noguera, 2000.
  • Josep Serrano Daura / Altres, Història del dret català, Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 2001.
  • Santiago Sobrequés Vidal, Història de la producció del dret català fins al Decret de Nova Planta, Girona: Col.legi Universitari de Girona, 1978 (Spanish translation under the title: Historia General del Derecho Catalán hasta el siglo XVIII, Barcelona: PPU, 1989). 
  • Joaquín Tomás Villarroya, Breve historia del constitucionalismo español, Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 1997.
  • Antonio Torres del Moral, Constitucionalismo histórico español, Madrid: Ed. Átomo, 1991.