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audiencia

in the kingdoms of late medieval Spain, a court established to administer royal justice; also, one of the most important governmental institutions of Spanish colonial America. In Spain the ordinary judges of audiencias in civil cases were called oidores and, for criminal cases, alcaldes de crimen. The presiding officer of the audiencia was called gobernador, or regente. From the reign of Philip II (1556-98), the decisions of audiencias were final, except when the death penalty was decreed or in civil cases when the amount of money involved exceeded a certain sum. In these instances appeals could be made to a higher court, the chancilleria.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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