is the Spanish
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...
name of the member judge of the Royal Audiencias
, originally courts of Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...
, which became the highest organs of justice within the Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....
. The term comes from the verb oír
, "to hear," referring to the judge's obligation to listen to the parts of a judicial process, particularly during the phase of pleas.
The Cortes of Alcalá
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...
of 1348 asked that King Henry II of Castile
publicly hear cases at least once or twice a week along with his advisors, because under medieval Castilian jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...
the king was to personally hear all cases that fell under his jurisdiction, but the caseload was becoming too great. The Cortes also asked the King to delegate some of his powers to his advisors, so that they "could judge in his name." The documents of the Cortes of Alcalá began to refer to these delegates as oidores
and the new institution they formed as the audiencia
. This early audiencia
was still closely tied to the king's personal right to judge. In reviewing the cases before them, oidores
relied on summaries prepared by court lawyers known as relatores
[ Kellogg, Susan. Law and the Transformation of Aztec Culture, 1500-1700. (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), 10.]
Spanish America and the Philippines
As the Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...
found its territories rapidly expanding half a world away during the Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...
and the Philippines, it found it necessary to grant its overseas oidores
functions and powers, which in the mother country normally fell to other officials. Thus, the oidores
of the overseas audiencias
functioned not only as judges of the audiencia
, but also as magistrates overseeing the sale of the Holy Crusade indulgence
In Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution...
s (juez de la Santa Cruzada
A mortgage loan is a loan secured by real property through the use of a mortgage note which evidences the existence of the loan and the encumbrance of that realty through the granting of a mortgage which secures the loan...
and ground rent
Ground rent, sometimes known as a rentcharge, is a regular payment required under a lease from the owner of leasehold property, payable to the freeholder. A ground rent is created when a freehold piece of land or a building is sold on a long lease...
s (juez de censos
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under the valid will. A probate court decides the validity of a testator's will...
issues (juez de bienes de difuntos
), and legal separation
Legal separation is a legal process by which a married couple may formalize a de facto separation while remaining legally married. A legal separation is granted in the form of a court order, which can be in the form of a legally binding consent decree...
(oidor juez de casados
). In the audiencias
in which the criminal judges (alcaldes del crimen
) met as a separate chamber, as those of Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...
, it was not uncommon for one person to serve as both oidor
(civil judge) and an alcalde del crimen
. Moreover, upon the death or incapacity of a governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...
, either the senior oidor
) or the audiencia
as a whole would serve as the interim governor or viceroy, depending on the specific law of the territory
The Laws of the Indies are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown for its American and Philippine possessions of its empire. They regulated social, political and economic life in these areas...
The oidor de casados
was a special type of judge that arose to deal with the de facto separation of many married couples during the colonization of the New World and the fact that many married men abandoned their lawful wives upon leaving Spain and entered into informal relationships with either native
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....
or European women. In order to deal with this, the crown felt it was necessary to create this office to compel, through legal coercion, the reconciliation
Reconciliation in family law is the process by which parties who are separated resume their marital relationship and cohabitation....
of the marriage couple. An example of this problem is the notorious case of Pedro de Valdivia
Pedro Gutiérrez de Valdivia or Valdiva was a Spanish conquistador and the first royal governor of Chile. After serving with the Spanish army in Italy and Flanders, he was sent to South America in 1534, where he served as lieutenant under Francisco Pizarro in Peru, acting as his second in command...
. The Audiencia of Lima, under the direction of President (and acting viceroy) Pedro de la Gasca
Pedro de la Gasca was a Spanish bishop, diplomat and the second viceroy of Peru, from April 10, 1547 to January 27, 1550....
forced Valdivia to repudiate his mistress, Inés de Suárez, and to bring his wife Marina Ortíz de Gaete
Marina Ortíz de Gaete González was the wife of Pedro de Valdivia, and played an important role in the politics of the conquest and early history of the Kingdom of Chile.-Life:...
to Chile. Over time, the powers of the oidor de casados
evolved to cover all types of lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...
s between a married couple.
Due to the general use of the word oidor
, the term was also applied to the clerics who served as judges in ecclesiastical court
An ecclesiastical court is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages in many areas of Europe these courts had much wider powers than before the development of nation states...
s, although they had nothing to do with the audiencias