Alfonso the Learned’s Siete Partidas is generally considered the most important law code of the Middle Ages
(and largest legislative compilation since Roman times). Laws governing community property in the United States,
originally in force in certain states and now extended to all, are derived from the Partidas.
is still a standard reference in law libraries there. This is why he is one of the 23 lawmakers depicted in the
chamber of the United States House of Representatives. And, as Spain expanded as a colonial power in the sixteenth
century, the Partidas spread too, to South America, Africa and Asia.
Scholars argue over whether or not it was actually promulgated during Alfonso’s reign or if it was suppressed by
his heir on the grounds that certain of its tenets would invalidate his overthrow of his father. Originally called
the Book of Laws, it received its present name -a reference to the number of sections it contained- when it was
definitely promulgated by his grandson, Alfonso XI in 1378.