AYUN AMIENTO, JUSTICIA, CONCEJO, CABILDO, REGIMI ENTO, are the names given in Spain to the councils of the towns and villages. These councils are in general composed of the corregidor, alcalde, regidores, jurados, and personeros, or hombres-buenos. All these officers, with the exception of the corregidor, who was always appointed by the government, were originally elected every year by the inhabitants of the con eejo or commune. To be the head of a family, a native of Spain, and settled in the commune, were the only qualifications required either from an elector or a can. didate. The origin of this institution may be traced to the remotest period of history. (Masdeu, Historic Critica, vols. iv. to ix., more particularly vol. viii. book 3, pp. 33-49.) It existed in the Peninsula under the Romans ; and under the Goths it was called the Council of the Przepositas or Villicus—a political and military governor appointed DV the king. The individuals who formed the council were called priores or seniores. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the territories which the cruel and devasta ting wars between the Christians and the Moors had deprived of inhabitants, were again peopled, and the kings of Leon and Castile granted particular fueros, or char. tern, by which many great privileges were bestowed on such as chose to settle in these new colonies. The colonists ac knowledged the king as their only lord, and bound themselves by a solemn oath to observe all the laws contained in the fuero, and to pay a certain tribute to the king, called Moneda•Forera, or charter. money. The king likewise was bouna by an oath to maintain faithfully all the privileges granted in the fuero, not to defraud the concejo or any of its inhabit ants of their property, and to keep them under his protection. Every man in the coneejo was a soldier, and was bound to arm himself and to follow the pennon of his alcalde, when legally summoned to the defence of the concejo or of his country. In some of these concejos the king appointed an officer who had the political and military command in the commune, collected the revenues, and watched over the observance of the fuero; but this officer had neither voice nor vote in the ayuntamiento, and was in every other respect subject to the authority of the concejo. These officers were called
domini, dominantes, and also seniores. The administration of justice, the levying of taxes, raising of troops, and all the interior policy of the concejo, devolved opon the ayuntamiento. The members of this body were chosen every year by ballot, by the inhqbitants of the commune. Whoever solicited a vote, either for him self or for his friends, or endeavoured to bribe the electors by money, or even by the favour of the king, was thereby deprived of the privilege of ever becoming a member of any ayuntamiento. To sup ply the expenses of the concejo, to provide for the erection of public buildings, the endowment of schools, the construction of roads, and other works of public utility or ornament, every concejo possessed cer tain property, which was inalienable. This fund was increased by the mulcts imposed on certain criminals by the synntamiento. Any individual of that body, who was found guilty of malver sation of this, was obliged to restore doable he had misapplied. All the citizens enjoyed equal rights in these eoncejos : Christians, Moors, and Jews, all had the same privileges. No nobleman was allowed to settle in them, unless he first renounced all the privileges of his class, and became a commoner ; nor was he allowed even to build a castle or a palace by which he might be distin guished from the rest of the citizens. If any one attempted to do so, the alcaldes were bound by filer°, and under the most severe penalties, to expel him from the concejo. Every individual who resorted to these colonies found in them the most perfect security against oppression ; and in some of them, as was the case in Cuenca, he could not be prosecuted for any crime which he might have commit ted, or even for debts contracted, previous to his settling in the concejo : many accordingly withdrew from the tyran nical rule of the feudal lords, and flocked from every quarter to this seat of liberty.