The Hospital as Protector of the Royal Jurisdiction

The city of Santiago de Compostela was ecclesiastic in its governing and hence the archbishop was the city's high lord. From the time the Royal Hospital under the authority of the royal family was established, there existed judicial problems with the archbishop. The royal crown expected that the hospital's authorities should protect their interests against those of the city's ecclesiastical government setting the scene for conflicts that would last through many centuries, taking into account that the archbishop was vested with both civil and ecclesiastic authority in the city.

The "Bula magna" or the bull of exemption granted to the hospital by Pope Julius II in 1512 was written to alleviate these conflicts. In this Bull, the interpretation of which has given rise to innumerable judicial battles, is the basis of the hospitals legal claim to both spiritual and temporal independence.

But during the times of Pope Leon X, Santiago's archbishop Fonseca tried to take judicial control of the hospital and so to disregard the bull of Julius II which he considered to reflect the Holy See's lack of wisdom in attempting to mediate the conflict. This prelate of Santiago defended his legitimate rights to exercise authority based primarily in principles of common law, and in the ancient rights of the feudal lords. Backed by these arguments, the archbishop insistently claimed his rights over governing the hospital. But the hospital obtained through León X's letters a favourable legal sentence that maintained its independence and reinforced the Bull of Julius II. The Pope's sentence named the Crown as protector and executor of apostolic letters, which gave the crown even greater legal grounds for sustaining the judicial exemptions that had been granted to the Royal Hospital. These letters were dated in Rome on the 17th of November,1516 "Datum et Actum Rome apud Sactum Petrum in Palacio Causarum Apostolico...Sub Anno a Nativitate domini Milesimo quingentesimo decimosexto. Indictione Quarta vero decima septima Mensis Nouembris Pontificatus...domini nostri domini Leonis diuina prouidentia pape decimus Anne Quarto...".


Executive letters from pope león X concerning the legal battle between the Royal Hospital, represented by Diego de Muros and the archbishop of Santiago, Alonso III of Fonseca. In the letters are found images of both parties including their coats of arms. on the left, Fonseca with his coat of ams with five stars and on the right Diego de Muros with a cross of authority. (AHUS: Hospital Real: . Foto: TM)
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