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Aztec and Maya Law


Mexican and Pre-Columbian Legal History: General Works

Bonifaz, Miguel. Derecho Indiano: Derecho Castellano, Derecho Precolumbiano, Derecho Colonial. 2nd ed. Sucre: Universidad Mayor de San Francisco Xavier de Chuquisaca, 1960 [i.e. 1961].

Carranca y Trujillo, Raul, Ruben Delgado Moya, and Josef Kohler. Antologia Juridical Mexicana. México, D.F.: Industrias Graficas Unidas, 1992.

Cruz Barney, Oscar. Historia del Derecho en México. México, D.F.: Oxford University Press, 1999.

This textbook on Mexican legal history has an opening chapter on indigenous prehispanic law which covers the Olmecs, Aztecs and Maya. The Maya section discusses social classes, family law, and criminal law. The more extensive section on the Aztecs covers socio-political organization, the reliance on punishment, the court system, family law, land tenure, and slavery. The bibliography contains a wide range of sources.

Durand Alcántara, Carlos Humberto, ed. El Derecho al Desarrollo Social. Una Visión desde el Multiculturalismo. El Caso de los Pueblos Indígenas. México, D.F.: Editorial Porrúa, 2008.

Esquivel Obregón, Toribio. Apuntes para la Historia del Derecho en México. 2nd ed. 2 vols. México, D.F.: Editorial Porrúa, 1984.

Esquivel Obregón's broad study of Mexican legal history includes a section on Aztec law. While his fellow legal historians looked at Aztec law as merely a curiosity of the past, Esquivel Obregón insisted that its study was indispensible to understanding the true nature of Mexican legal culture.

González, María del Refugio. Historia Del Derecho Mexicano. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, 1983.

A brief section on "El substrato indígena" (pp. 12-20) concentrates primarily on public law, covering not only the Aztecs and Maya but also the Tarascans and the Chichimec tribes of the arid north, and relies on a few well-chosen secondary sources.

Guier, Jorge Enrique. Derecho Precolombino. San José, Costa Rica: Libro Libre, 1991.

The author's stated purpose is to describe the legal systems in Central America before the Spanish conquest, and to compare these with the legal systems of the Aztecs, Mayas, Incas, and Caribbean Indians.

Hassig, Ross, and Ronald Spores, eds. Five Centuries of Law and Politics in Central Mexico. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University, 1984.

Several essays in this anthology discuss Aztec legal and political structures, as well as the participation of indigenous peoples in colonial politics and litigation. They include Jerome Offner, "The Distribution of Jurisdiction and Political Power in Aztec Texcoco: Subgroups in Conflict"; Ross Hassig, "The Aztec Empire: A Reappraisal"; Susan Kellogg, "Aztec Women in Early Colonial Courts: Structure and Strategy in a Legal Context"; and S. L. Cline, "A Legal Process at the Local Level: Estate Division in Late Sixteenth-Century Culhuacan."

Macedo, Miguel S. Apuntes para la Historia del Derecho Penal Mexicano. México, D.F.: Editorial Cultura, 1931.

Mendieta y Núñez, Lucio. El Derecho Precolonial. 6th ed. México: Editorial Porrúa, 1992.

Margadant S., Guillermo Floris. Introducción a la Historia Derecho Mexicano. 18th ed. Naucalpan, Estado de México: Editorial Esfinge, 2001.

The 1983 edition of this book was translated into English - Margadant S., Guillermo Floris. An Introduction to the History of Mexican Law. 3rd ed. Translated by Willem Floris Margadant. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications, 1983.

Morales Benitez, Otto. Derecho Precolombino: Raíz del Nacional y del Continental. Bogota, Colombia: Academia Colombiana de Jurisprudencia, 2007.

Sánchez Vázquez, Rafael. Génesis y Desarollo de la Cultura Jurídica Mexicana. México, D.F.: Editorial Porruúa, 2001.

The first chapter of this book contains brief notes on legal education in pre-Conquest Mexico and relies heavily on Esquivel Obregín's Apuntes.