Alfonso de Castro

Alfonso de Castro, statue in Zamora

Alfonso de Castro (1495 in Zamora, Spain February 11, 1558 in Brussels, Belgium), known also as Alphonsus a Castro, was a Franciscan theologian and jurist. He belongs to the group of theologian-jurists known as the School of Salamanca (otherwise identified as Spanish Late Scholasticism).


Alfonso de Castro entered, at the age of 15, the Franciscan Order and quickly became known as a good preacher. After his studies of theology and philosophy at the University of Alcalá which was established in these years, he became professor at the famous University of Salamanca, where, next to Luis Carvajal and Francisco de Vitoria, he founded the "Renaissance of Theology". According to his commitment in Bruges in 1532 against the doctrine of the Lutherans, he became counselor of emperor Charles V and of the Spanish king Philip II. As he took part in the Council of Trient in 1545-47 and again in 1551-52 he appeared to advocate both the Spanish-imperial interests and the Catholic faith. Philip II, whom Castro accompanied in 1553 and 1554 to his marriage in England, nominated him in 1557 as Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, but Castro did not assume that office. In his last years, Castro acted as a preacher in Antwerp.


In his works Castro attended himself, basically, to the defense of "true faith" through criminal law. He gave enormous systematic impulses to the criminal law, so that in Spanish literature he was called the "father and founder of criminal law" - padre y fundador del Derecho Penal. Outside of Spain, however, Castro remains nearly unknown.

His first work, Adversos omnes haereses libri XIV (Paris 1534, Antwerp 1556), an alphabetical encyclopedia of heresy, collocates more than 400 species of this crime. This became one of the foundations of persecution of heretics in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was translated into the French language in 1712.

Castro second opus, De iusta hereticorum punitione libri III (Salamanca 1547), dedicated to emperor Charles V, made him renowned as "flagellum of heretics" (azote de herejes). With theological and juristic principles therein he tried to define the golden mean between Pharisaic damnation and craven sufferance of heresy, the form of reversal to "true faith", the punishment of obstinacy and the socio-religious causes of heresy.

The equalisation of heresy and magics is the subject of Castro's short commentary on the "Malleus Maleficarum" with the title De impia sortilegarum, Maleficarum, & Lamiarum haeresi, earumque punitione Opvscvlvm (Lyon 1568). He held that magics as a sort of heresy should be punished by death by fire. The pact with the demons, which is against Catholic faith, should clearly be explored.

Castro's chief work in criminal law, however, may be his last publication, De potestate legis poenalis libri duo (Salamanca 1550, Reprint Madrid 1961). This work in detail deals with the notion of the criminal laws (in the meaning of "lex"), with nature and purpose of penalty and with the relations of delict and penalty. Castro therein presents not only the prescription of analogy and the principle of restrictive interpretation in criminal law, but, with his own radicalness, he acuminates the notion of penalty (poena) completely to the penalty for guilt, and, accordingly and for the first time in history, fits penalty with moral blame. His notion of penalty survives through the canonists Martin de Azpilcueta and Diego de Covarubias y Leyva in secular criminal law.

After his death the collected works were published in Paris 1565 in four volumes.


External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/31/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.