HERMANDAD, TILE ( Sp., brotherhood). The name given to associations formed at various times by the principal cities of Castile, Leon. and Aragon for the defense of their liberties in times of trouble. These con federacies were sanctioned by the sovereigns as agents for suppressing the increasing power of the nobles, and for maintaining public security throughout the land with no cost to the Govern ment. In Aragon the first Hermandad was es tablished in the middle of the thirteenth cen tury, and in Castile about thirty years later. In 1295 thirty-four cities of Castile and Leon formed a confederacy. and entered into a com pact by which they pledged themselves to inflict summary punishment upon every noble who bad either robbed or injured a member of their asso ciation and who refused to make just atone ment for the wrong; or upon any one who should attempt, even by the order of the King, to levy an unjust tax. During the long period of anarchy. in which the Christian rulers of Spain were powerless to maintain order in their own domin ions. the Santa Hermandad. or Holy Brotherhood. presented the only cheek against the unbounded license of the nobles. Isabella of Castile, seeing the beneficial effects which an extension of the institution was capable of producing, obtained the sanction of the Cortes (1476) for its thor ough reorganization and extension over the whole kingdom. A court was established in every com munity of thirty families, and an appeal from the local court went to the Supreme Council. A gen eral junta met annually, and instructions were transmitted to the provincial juntas. The crimes
reserved for the jurisdiction of the Hermandad were all acts of violence and theft committed en the high rcids or in the open country, and the penalties attached to each misdemeanor were specified with the greatest precision in the codes of laws which were enacted at different times in the yearly assemblies of the deputies of the con federated cities. An annual contribution was assessed on every hundred householders or vc cinos for the equipment and maintenance of the horsemen and quadrilleros, or officials of the Brotherhood, whose duty it was to arrest offend ers and enforce the sentence of the law. Al though the Hermandad was regarded with much disfavor by the aristocracy, it continued for some time to exercise its functions, until the country had been cleared of banditti and the ministers of justice enabled to discharge their duties with out hindrance from lawless disturbers of the peace. In 1485 the association issued its code of laws, known as the Quadcrno de las lcycs nueras de la Ilermandad. In 1498, the objects of the Ilermandad having been obtained and pub lic order established on a firm basis, the func tions of the Brotherhood were greatly reduced and most of its officials done away with; in the course of half a century the Hermandad became transformed into a mere police force. Consult: Mariana, Historia de Espana (Valencia, 1753 90) ; Prescott. History of Ferdinand and Isabella (Boston, 1838).