Domingo de Soto and the Vagueness of Vagrancy: The Wickedness of Itinerant Lives

Beatriz E. Salamanca


In 1545 Domingo de Soto argued that the truly poor, whether or not they were in their native land or in a foreign one, had freedom of movement to beg from door to door and from one city to another, as long as they were true paupers and their mobility did not acquire the taint of vagrancy. This right to free movement was meant to be valid both internally and abroad, thus challenging the power of the commonwealth over its own borders. This article will examine the political significance of Soto’s idea of free movement and explore the question of whether vagabonds were so straightforwardly excluded from the freedom of movement that he attributed to the truly poor. The controversial nature of this discussion demonstrates how difficult it was and still is to address the issue of the circulation of peoples across frontiers, and challenges the interplay of categories such as ‘Belonging’ and ‘Transgression’.

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DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.070


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