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How the Past was UsedHistorical cultures, c. 750-2000$
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Peter Lambert and Björn Weiler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266120

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266120.001.0001

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The Chronicler and the Count

The Chronicler and the Count

Law, Libel and History in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Chapter:
(p.141) 6 The Chronicler and the Count
Source:
How the Past was Used
Author(s):

Richard L. Kagan

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266120.003.0006

In 1601 an unusual and unprecedented lawsuit began at the Spanish court in Madrid. The plaintiff: the Count of Puñonrostro; the defendant, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesilla, one of the Habsburg monarchy’s official chroniclers and author of the General History of the Indies. The issue: the veracity and supposedly libellous nature of Herrera’s account of the Count’s grandfather, Pedrarias Dávila, the first Spanish governor of what is now Panama. Herrera defended his interpretation of the available sources, the truthfulness of his history, and more broadly, the right of historians to exercise what we today call free speech. In this respect, the lawsuit questioned the way history was to be written, interpreted, and, more importantly, used.

Keywords:   Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, Count of Puñonrostro, Pedrarias Dávila, General History of the Indies, lawsuit, free speech

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