On 23 November 1580, authorities in Mexico City arrested García de Contreras Figueroa for failure to pay his creditors despite repeated court orders to do so. In García’s petition to the royal appellate court of New Spain (audiencia), he claimed that on account of his social status he should not be imprisoned for debt. In early modern Castile and its American colonies, individuals who claimed to be hidalgos, the lowest rank of the nobility, regularly asserted that their status provided a number of legal privileges including exemption from taxation, access to political offices, and immunity from judicial torture and arrest for debt. As a legal privilege, immunity from debtor’s imprisonment was a curious mix of the medieval and the modern. The privilege originated from the desire of late medieval Castilian monarchs to maintain properly armed warriors. By the mid-fourteenth century, rulers had prohibited the seizure of warhorses or arms for unpaid loans and eventually provided hidalgos with immunity from arrest or imprisonment for any debt. By the sixteenth century, this privilege collided with the development and greater use of credit transactions and efforts to penalize breaches of these transactions.