The study of natural law in Coimbra, Seville, and Santiago de Chile (Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries)

Fernando Pérez Godoy, Carlos Fernandes Teixeira Alves, Fernando Liendo Tagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article seeks to establish a comparative analysis of the reforms to the study of natural law in Coimbra, Seville, and Santiago de Chile. The main goal is to find differences and similarities in the implementation of legal educational reforms in the Catholic legal culture at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century. In this context, we argue that the introduction of the theory of modern natural law in these three areas can be understood as a transatlantic and supraconfessional process of intellectual communication, which is a phenomenon typical of the Catholic Enlightenment. Although we suggest that there was a common bond, we also propose that our cases must be understood in the local and circumstantial contexts in which particular needs prevailed. To historicise the differentiations and similarities, it is necessary to consider the roles of the Catholic legal tradition, the common heritage of the ius commune, the confessional fragmentation of Europe, the effects of the revolution of modern science, modernisation projects, and the Iberian-American revolutions. Comparative research in Seville, Coimbra, and Santiago de Chile makes it possible to explore the transnational history of natural law and the law of nations not only in the field of educational legal reforms but also in their political projections. Thus, we also examine the political-cultural dimension of the confrontation/cooperation of Protestant natural law with the bureaucratic challenges and institutional transformations of the Iberian monarchies at the end of the eighteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-136
Number of pages27
JournalComparative Legal History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2022


  • Catholic enlightenment
  • Heineccius
  • Legal education
  • Natural law
  • Reforms


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