Research Query: Criminal, Debtor and Religious Sanctuary in Spain

John Levin's picture

Dear List,

I am looking for work on religious sanctuary in Spain, for any era but preferably in the early modern period, up to the nineteenth century Desamortizaciones.

By sanctuary, I mean the practice of criminals and others, such as debtors, seeking refuge from legal authorities through recourse to entering religious spaces.

Works in English very much appreciated, but happy to receive spanish language suggestions, whether source texts or current scholarship.

I have been working on debtor sanctuaries in early modern London, and am looking for comparative angles; I have some material on Paris, but otherwise, for a widespread Christian practice, have found little non-anglophone work.

Additionally, according to Richard Ford, the Alhambra was made "in 1664 an extra-judicial asylum for debtors"*; despite my best efforts I have found virtually no other mention of this. Further information gratefully received.


Many thanks,

John Levin


Your question immediately brought to mind the episode in Catalina de Erauso's autobiography, when she seeks sanctuary in a church in La Paz after murdering a man. The following might be a good entry point: Victor M. Uribe-Uran, "Iglesia Me Llamo": Church Asylum and the Law in Spain and Colonial Spanish America," Comparative Studies in Society and History Vol. 49, No. 2 (Apr., 2007), pp. 446-472.

Thanks very much for the leads.