Cortes of León

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The Cortes of León from year 1188 was a parliamentary body in the medieval Kingdom of León. According to UNESCO it was the first sample of modern parliamentarism in the history of Western Europe.

After coming to power, King Alfonso IX, faced an attack by his two neighbors, Castile and Portugal, decided to summon the "Royal Curia". This was a medieval organisation composed of aristocrats and bishops but because of the seriousness of the situation and the need to maximize political support, Alfonso IX took the decision to also call the representatives of the urban middle class from the most important cities of the kingdom to the assembly.[1]

León's Cortes dealt with matters like the right to private property, the inviolability of domicile, the right to appeal to justice opposite the King and the obligation of the King to consult the Cortes before entering a war.[2]

When the Founding Fathers of the United States of America elaborated the American constitution, one of the juridical models they studied were the laws that arose from the Cortes of León. John Adams knew the text of the Fuero of León from his journey to Spain.[citation needed]



  • Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911: "History of Europe" (Birth of parliamentary bodies)
  • O'Callaghan,J.F. "The beginninings of the Cortes of León-Castile», American History Review 1969, p. 1504.
  • O'Callaghan, Joseph F. "A History of Medieval Spain". Ithaca 1975.
  • Procter, Evelyn. "Curia and Cortes in León and Castile 1072-1295". Cambridge 1980.
  • Procter, Evelyn."The Interpretation of Clause 3 in the Decrees of León," EHR 85 (1970
  • Merriman, Roger B. "The Cortes of the Spanish Kingdoms in the Later Middle Ages," AHR 16 (1911)
  • Keane, John. "The Life and Death of Democracy". Simon & Schuster, London, 2009.