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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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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The Chronicler and the Count

The Chronicler and the Count

Law, Libel and History in the Early Modern Atlantic World

(p.141) 6 The Chronicler and the Count
How the Past was Used

Richard L. Kagan

British Academy

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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