HERMANDAD (from hermano, Lat.
The first recorded case of the formation of an hermandad occurred in the 12th century when the towns and the peasantry of the north united to police the pilgrim road to Santiago in Galicia, and protect the pilgrims against robber knights.
The Catholic sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, adapted an existing hermandad to the purpose of a general police acting under officials appointed by themselves, and endowed with large powers of summary jurisdiction even in capital cases.
The hermandad became, in fact, a constabulary, which, however, fell gradually into neglect.
Thus, for instance, they organized a police to clear the country of brigands, and attached a special jurisdiction to it, but they gave it the old name of Hermandad and the very superficial appearance of a voluntary association of the cities and the gentry.