The Barcelona Holy Cross Hospital (16th-17th centuries) at a particularly intricate jurisdictional crossroads
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In 1607, a commoner named Paula Gassona was publicly flogged and humiliated in a “colourful ceremony” around the courtyard and several rooms of the Barcelona Holy Cross Hospital. Immediately afterwards, she was ejected naked from the establishment, where she had lived and cooked broth presumably since she was widowed. Without any legitimate trial, she had been charged for a prank she had probably not committed: throwing some coloquintida (a purgative) into the soup of the hospital’s prior. As part of this case-study, many questions arise: Were the hospital administrators (two canons of the cathedral and two town councillors) officially exercising any sort of jurisdiction on patients and workers (even visitors)? Was it practised in terms of justice or mere discipline? Was it a usurpative jurisdiction, at the expense either of the royal, the diocesan and/or the City Council courts? Did Paula Gassona have any chance to claim for her honour and other rights of which she had been deprived? These questions are fascinating, especially since the Principality of Catalonia is usually considered to be an early modern model for high “rule of law” standards within the Hispanic monarchy...
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