An anecdote about Roman law and political legitimacy.

During the first half of the 15th century, there arose between the Crowns of Castile and Portugal a dispute about the right to conquer and settle the Canary Islands, off the northwestern coast of Africa.
The issue was raised both before the Court of Pope Eugene IV at Bologna and the Council of Basel, then in conciliarist rebellion against the Pontiff.

The territorial dispute is complicated a bit by the concilliarist-papalist question, but it suffices to say that, ultimately, ...
both kings, John II of Castile and Edward of Portugal, rejected the pretended authority of the Council over the Pope, and sought resolution of their quarrel at the feet of the Pontiff, choosing to remove, by their own authority, the issue from the Council's deliberation.
Indeed, both Crowns acknowledged the Pope's supreme jurisdiction in the question of the "dominium Mundi," and they would continue to do so in their future disputes over their respective rights of discovery and evangelization of the entire globe, as at Tordesillas in 1494.
Back to the Canaries. Castile and Portugal recognized, for this dispute, the principle that the islands, populated by non-Christians, were a "res nullius" (a thing owned by nobody) in the ius gentium, and it was proper that they be granted to the most proximate Christian prince.
The Portuguese delegation were content to push this principle, arguing that the closest Christian land was the Cape of St. Vincent, within the dominion of the Crown of Portugal.

The Castilians disagreed, and this is where the Roman legitimacy point comes in.
The brilliant Castilian delegate at Basel, Alfonso García de Santa María (a.k.a. Alonso de Cartagena), converso Bishop of Burgos and one of the great luminaries of the 15th c., drafted his "Allegationes" for the Castilian ambassador at Bologna to show that Castile was closer.
His lord don John II — he argued — is, as king of Castile and León, the successor and heir of the great restorer of Christian order in Spain, don Pelayo, first king of Asturias, who began the Reconquista against Islam.

And the title that don Pelayo claimed over the land ...
the title on on which all Christian claims had been based since the beginning, was that of the Visigothic kings of Spain, who in turn claimed their right from the grant of the Roman People and Emperors, the conquerors, civilizers, Christianizers of Spain, the "firstborn of Rome."
But of course — Alfonso continued — the jurisdiction of Roman Hispania, on which Pelayo based his claim, included all of its provinces: Hispania Betica, Lusitania, Tarraconensis, Callaecia ... and Mauretania Tingitana, across the Strait of Gibraltar.
The King of Castile claims, as all Christians acknowledge, the right to Roman Hispania. It is true — Alfonso argued — that he does not today control all of it, for it has been taken from him by violence, but one day he will also recover Mauretania Tingitana from the infidels.
And Tingis (i.e., today's Tangier), it turns out, is closer to the Canary Islands than any part of the Kingdom of Portugal. Therefore, it follows simply that the islands belong by right to the King of Castile.

Roman legitimacy, the basis of universal order, decided the matter.
Some reading about this fascinating episode here:…

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16 Sep
A joint letter of the Spanish Episcopate to all the Bishops of the world, explaining the circumstances of the war and the reasons for the Church's decision to seek shelter with, and to give a blessing to the Nationalists, is not exactly "silence."…
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Fascinating dichotomy. Aquinas teaches that one purpose of law is to teach virtue, thereby teaching truth in practical things, too.

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