The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Fuero

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FUERO (from the Latin forum), a Spanish word signifying jurisdiction, law, privilege. It is applied to the various written codes and characters of particular districts, towns, etc., and signifies generally those laws, privileges and immunities founded on usage and sanctioned by the suzerain or supreme authority. Fueros are both civil and ecclesiastical. The earliest, as well as the most universal, is the fuero juzgo. This name (a corruption of the Latin forum judicum) is given to a 13th century translation of a code of the 17th century. It contains the Gothic laws which, up till this time, gradually superseded the Roman. Each law receives the name of the Gothic sovereign by whom it was promulgated. This code has formed the foundation of Spanish law down even to modern times. The fueros of Leon, known by the name of fueros bonos, contain a complete constitution, civil and ecclesiastical, recognize the rights of self-taxation, and of the nobility of all subjects by birth. The constitution of free towns under these fueros is essentially republican, the king having only a right to name the corregidor, who must be confirmed by the junta of the province, an assembly elected by a very liberal suffrage. As the various monarchies became consolidated under a single head, the kings became anxious to evade or withdraw privileges which interfered with the organization of their kingdom, and after 1592 when Philip II entered Aragon with an army, hanged the grand-justiciary, whose office it was to administer the oath, and abolished the constitution, the fueros as a political institution ceased to exist, although some local and municipal privileges continued to be called by that name. In 1833 a civil war broke out in the Basque provinces, in assertion of the fueros, which were formally recognized in 1844. In 1876, however, the fueros of these northern provinces were superseded by the general laws of the kingdom. Consult Arias, M., ‘Fueros observancias, actosde Cortes de Aragon’ (Saragossa 1907); San Martin, ed. ‘Los códigas españoles’ (Madrid 1872-73).