The Portuguese Concelhos and Forais: A Case in Institutional History from the Eleventh to the Mid Thirteenth Centuries

30 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2012

See all articles by Rui Esteves

Rui Esteves

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)

Date Written: March 2003

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Property Rights, Local Government, Middle Ages

JEL Classification: H73, K11, N53

Suggested Citation

Esteves, Rui, The Portuguese Concelhos and Forais: A Case in Institutional History from the Eleventh to the Mid Thirteenth Centuries (March 2003). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2024990 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2024990

Rui Esteves (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) ( email )

PO Box 136
Geneva, CH-1211
Switzerland

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