1552 - 1552

“Tractatus de Assecurationibus et Sponsionibus Mercatorum” by Pedro de Santarém

Portugal can be proud of having had a jurisconsult and doctor in canon law, named Pedro de Santarém or de Santerna who has contributed to the Insurance History and is still a reference worldwide. His important and pioneering work in the field of maritime law is the famous “Tractatus de Assecurationibus et Sponsionibus”.
Pedro de Santarém is attributed portuguese nationality, of hebrew race, new-christian and that will have lived a few years in Portugal, eventually by the expulsion of jews ordered by King Dom Manuel I, being known that many settled in Italy and in particular in the region of Genoa.
Pedro de Santerna, in his book on insurance law, alludes several times to Portugal, to the ports of Lisbon and Oporto and who was in the service of the King of Portugal. His specialization in law was made in Italy, where his work “Tractatus de Assecurationibus et Sponsionibus” is published for the first time.
The success of the Treaty was due to its pioneering character, since the jurists at the time had a need for consistent knowledge, not having jurisprudence or doctrine to discuss and decide the lawsuits, certainly numerous.
The publication is based on the best sources of the time, with a clear and well systematized exposition through its 5 chapters: The illegality of the insurance contract; The legitimacy of the contracts; The concept of good faith; The characterization of the risk; The concept of malice or fraud.
Pedro de Santarém’s book is a practical work aimed at merchants and traders, who were then both insurers. The work remained unknown in Portugal for many years, but Professor Moisés Bensabat Amzalak published a book in which he called the attention to this Treaty.
The first publication of “Tractatus de Assecurationibus et Sponsionibus” in Portugal was published in 1961 and later re-edited.


“A Companhia de Seguros Bonança – Notícia Histórica” by José Hermano Saraiva


Image caption
“Tractatus de Assecurationibus et Sponsionibus Mercatorum” by Petro Santerna Lusitano, Venetiis, 1552.