The Portuguese Concelhos and Forais: A Case in Institutional History from the Eleventh to the Mid Thirteenth Centuries
University of Oxford - Department of Economics
Since the eleventh century, the establishment of municipal institutions (Concelhos) in Portugal followed the process of creation of the country itself. Military reasons were present in this association because of the constant state of war with bordering Islam. The Concelhos helped to secure the conquests through the settlement of population. However we find this is only a partial description of the incentives that led kings, the church and the nobility to promote the Concelhos by granting them charters of municipal rights (Forais). We argue that the municipalities also helped to solve a problem of commitment to the protection of property rights before the establishment of an efficient state administration. Starting in the mid thirteenth century, the rise of a strong and unified royal administration, capable of enforcing a unified rule of law, substituted for the early need of autonomous local enforcement institutions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: Property Rights, Local Government, Middle Ages
JEL Classification: H73, K11, N53working papers series
Date posted: March 18, 2012
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