Tailored Terms: Catalan and Genoese maritime predators in Venetian words 

Laurin Herberich, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Zusammenfassung: Heutzutage verfügen wir über eine Fülle von Begriffen, mit denen wir uns dem mittelalterlichen Phänomen der Seeräuberei nähern können. Von ‚Korsar‘ über ‚Seeräuber‘ bis hin zu ‚Pirat‘ ist alles dabei. Aber wie nannten die Menschen, die fast täglich mit maritimen Raubüberfällen zu tun hatten, ihre Plagegeister? Um sich diesem umfangreichen Thema zu nähern, ist Laurin Herberich in den Ozean des Archivio di Stato di Venezia eingetaucht. In diesem Beitrag stellt er eine Studie zur spätmittelalterlichen Terminologie vor, die auf zwei katalanischen und einem genuesischen Fall von Seeraub aus dem ersten Viertel des 15. Jahrhunderts basiert.

Abstract: Nowadays we find ourselves sitting on a treasure trove of terms with which to approach the medieval phenomenon of maritime predation. From ‘corsair’ to ‘sea robber’ to ‘pirate’ we have it all. But how did the people dealing with maritime predation on a near-daily basis call their nuisances? To approach this vast topic Laurin Herberich took a dip in the ocean that is the Archivio di Stato di Venezia. In this paper he presents a study of late medieval terminology based on two Catalan and one Genoese case of maritime predation from the first quarter of the fifteenth century.

In winter 1416 the Catalan Nicolas Sampier robbed the vessel of Venetian Nicolaus Lombardo in the upper Levant.1 Not being satisfied yet, he went on to rob two further Venetian vessels of Acre shortly before 8 May 1417.2 Still not having had enough Sampier tried his luck again in early July 1417, but was captured by the captain of the Venetian Beirut galley convoy.3 Not only had he caused damages on the order of 14,333 ducats total,4 but he had also done so without the approval of his licensor, the Hospitaller Order.5 Nowadays we would probably be comfortable calling him a ‘pirate’. Not less ‘piratical’ seem the actions of another Catalan, Moysius Servente. In late July 1423 he robbed a Venetian vessel in the harbour of Rhodes.6 There Servente proceeded to detain the Venetian merchants on their ship for several days, while he and his crew carried goods to their own vessels and even sold them to bystanders.7 The audacity to steal around 4,649 ducats worth of goods for all of Rhodes to see seems pretty swashbuckling and would certainly make Servente a ‘pirate’ in our book.8 Similarly ‘piratical’ seem the incidents that the Genoese Antonio Gentil was responsible for. Sometime in early 1402 he took advantage of the still chaotic situation in the Levant following Timur’s capture of Damascus and treated himself and his crew to 18 tons of cotton from the Venetian magazines in Tripoli, worth roughly 2,075 ducats.9 But robbing Venetians went against the provisions of his Genoese predation license and so Gentil was told to compensate the damages.10 Instead, only two months after avoiding payment, he was out for booty again, this time in Rhodes harbour. On 25 November 1402 he plundered the vessel of Venetian Francesco Pampano taking goods worth around 1,000 ducats.11 Gentil was definitely aware of the illegality of his actions, because he was transporting Genoese envoys, who not only tried to stop him, but also sent complaints to Genoa and Venice.12

So what did their employers and the Venetian senate have to say about these three who fulfill popular modern criteria for being ‘pirates’. In the case of Nicolas Sampier, his employer, the Hospitaller Order, referred to him as someone who caused ‘damna’ or ‘damages’.13 Internal Venetian documents called Sampier a ‘pirata’ or ‘cursarius’ 19 times instead.14 The copious internal use of these fitting terms is even surpassed by the 28 times Venetian envoys used them when negotiating with the Hospitallers.15

Judging from Sampier’s case, one would expext the senate to be no less vocally upset about Moysius Servente. And indeed, in one internal document the senate called him a ‘pirata’ two times.16 Externally Venice seems to have been more reserved, resorting to the seemingly tamer ‘derobator’ five times in four documents.17 Interestingly, Venice’s tone changed drastically once it decided that the monarch of the Crown of Aragon should be paying for Servente’s misdeeds and that the Hospitallers should help them get said restitution.18 After that Venice did not stray far from the words of Servente’s king, Alfons V,19 which were more neutral. Like the Hospitallers had done with Sampier, Alfons described Servente as someone who caused ‘damna’.20

In the case of Antonio Gentil his Genoese employers described him alternately as the patron of a galley or,21 like the Hospitallers and Alfons V before them, as someone who caused damages.22 Looking at it from the internal Venetian perspective, one notes that Gentil is called a ‘pirata’ twice.23 Looking at the external Venetian correspondence with Genoa instead, it is surprising that he is not once called ‘pirata’. The maximum amount of naughtiness Venice is willing to engage in when negotiating with Genoa is calling Gentil a version of ‘derobator’ eight times in five of 14 documents.24 Compared with Sampier’s 25 ‘pirata’ and three ‘cursarius’ in all five pieces of external correspondence, Gentil really seems to have been let off the hook. Furthermore, the longer the negotiations took the more the senate seems to have wanted to get on Genoa’s good side, as is indicated by the initially timid but in the end almost generous use of euphemisms for Gentil’s deeds.25

Three patterns catch the eye. First it seems like ‘pirata’ was a naughty word. In all three cases it was used internally, but externally only in the case of Sampier. Second, the Venetians seem to have changed their terminology depending on their audience. Only Sampier was ‘out’ as a ‘pirate’, while Gentil and Servente were called ‘pirata’ only behind closed doors. Looking at the Servente case, we find that the senate switched terminology even while negotiating the same case. Third, faced with certain maritime powers like Genoa, the Venetian senate was even willing to use euphemisms for what was according to an eyewitness “a violent robbery”.26 So why did Venice mince its words in these three patterns to let Servente and Gentil off the hook and ‘out’ only Sampier as a ‘pirata’?

Looking at the larger contexts of each case, it all seems to have come down to power and evidence. If Venice had superior power and evidence, say, because the other maritime power was not as capable and also vulnerable to a bad reputation because it relyed on donations and papal approval, like the Hospitallers,27 and on top of that, the Venetian senate was in possession of not only the alleged ‘pirate’ but also his ‘predation license’,28 Venice employed pressure strategies to get its restitution. These included in the case of Nicolas Sampier using the naughty word in their allegation that the Hospitallers were equipping ‘pirates’ despite their vow to protect Christians29 as well as blatant threats like the enforcement of a Venetian embargo on Rhodes.30 If Venice had superior power but no evidence, say, because it had not captured the alleged ‘pirate’, but was still facing a minor power, e.g. the Hospitallers, like in the case of Moysius Servente, it resorted to the use of tamer vocabulary like ‘derobator’, more neutral terms in general, and even went as far as not to allege the Hospitallers were in league with ‘pirates’, because they refused to help Servente’s Venetian victims.31 As soon as Venice switched to the king of Aragon as the target of its restitution demands though, we can see how Venice behaved, if it had neither power nor evidence. If strongarming a minor power was off the table, because the audience was a capable maritime power and thus more likely to prolong negotiations or counteract to Venetian strongarming attempts, like the Crown of Aragon or Genoa, Venice resorted to even more or mostly neutral terms, like in Servente’s case. It even went as far as to employ euphemisms, post factum legitimisations for the incident itself or to ignore missed deadlines. All in all the likelihood of being called a ‘pirate’ seems to have decreased with the amount of evidence Venice had and the capabilities of the maritime power it chose to demand restitution from.

Photo: Grünenberg, Konrad von, Beschreibung der Reise von Konstanz nach Jerusalem, Bodenseegebiet ca. 1487, in: Chart. A 541, folio 10v–11r, URL: [https://dhb.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/ufb_cbu_00025778urn: nbn:de:urmel-ufb-152779-8-0011] (07.06.2023).

  1. ASV.Secreti.6.142r (04.05.1417), l. 10–13, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 153, reg. 1648. []
  2. ASV.Ducha.Missive.1, lett. 3, 7 (21.04.1417); Thiriet, Délibérations des Assemblées Vénitiennes. Régestes des Années 1364–1463, Reg. 1220, p. 139; ASV.Ducha.Missive.1, lett. 5, 6 (08./16.05.1417); Thiriet, Délibérations des Assemblées Vénitiennes. Régestes des Années 1364–1463, Reg. 1222, p. 140; ASV.Libri.10.197v, l. 3–5. []
  3. ASV.Misti.52.41v (21.08.1417), Z. 4–10; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 165, reg. 719. []
  4. ASV.Libri.10.197v, l. 20–21. []
  5. ASV.Misti.52.41v (21.08.1417), 41v, l. 31, 42r, l. 8; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 165–166, reg. 719. []
  6. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 24–28; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902. []
  7. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 28–31; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902. []
  8. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 39–42; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902. []
  9. ASV.Misti.46.43r (22.09.1402), l. 1 —5; ASV.Secreti.1.82r (19.12.1402), l. 36–39; Delaville, La France en Orient au XIV. siècle, vol. II, p. 106, Pièce XXV. Conversion: 1 North Syrian kintar = 217 kg, 1 Sack = 144 kg, 125 sacks of cotton x 144 kg = 18,000 kg, 18.000 kg / 217 kg = 83 kintar, 1 North Syrian (Tripoli) kintar in the first half of the fifteenth century = 25 ducats, 83 kintar x 25 ducats = 2,075 ducats, 125 sacks = 2,075 ducats, cf. Ashtor, Levant Trade in the Middle Ages, 173–179, 184, 188–189, 257. []
  10. ASV.Misti.46.43r (22.09.1402), l. 1–5; ASV.Secreti.1.121v (18.12.1403), l. 10–16, 41–44, Delaville, La France en Orient au XIV. siècle, vol. II, p. 136, Pièce XXXIII. []
  11. ASV.Libri.9.141r, l. 9–11, 11–12, 12–17, 21–23, 19–54; Secrete.1.90r (05.03.1403), l. 2–4, 90v, l. 9–11; Libri.9.141v, l. 23–25, 26–29, 30–38, 50–53, 142r, l. 1–7. The name Grimaldi is no surprise here, cf. Favreau-Lilie, Diplomacy (2013), p. 301. []
  12. Secrete.1.90r (05.03.1403), l. 4–6, 90v, l. 1–4; Secrete.1.112v (16.11.1403), l. 41–46; Secrete.1.134r (23.02.1404 [m.V. 1403]), l. 17–23; Surdich, Venezia (1970), D.20, pp. 188–192. If said envoys were among the witnesses named in the Rhodian notarial act sent to Venice, which confirmed Pampano’s story, remains to be verified, cf. Libri.9.141v, l. 46–50. []
  13. ASV.Libri.10.197v (31.10.1417), l. 19–20, (18.02.1418), l. 50. []
  14. ASV.Misti.52.7r (05.04.1417), l. 2, 14v (16.05.1417), l. 1, 5; ASV.Maggior Consiglio.Deliberazioni. Ursa, f.15 (17.08.1417), l. 2; ASV.Misti.52.41r (21.08.1417), l. 1, 4, 9, 42r, l. 23, 37; ASV.Misti.52.86v (07.04.1418), l. 6, ASV.Libri.10.197v, l. 3, 5; ASV.Sindicati.Reg.1.213r–213v (22.08.1419). []
  15. ASV.Secreti.6.142r (04.05.1417), l. 1; ASV.Secreti.6.142r (04.05.1417), l. 2, 11; ASV.Secreti.6.142r (04.05.1417), l. 10; ASV.Secreti.6.142r (04.05.1417), l. 12, 17; ASV.Secreti.6.156v (28.07.1417), l. 4, 7, 12, 17, 19, 22; ASV.Secreti.6.156v (28.07.1417), l. 12; ASV.Misti.52.41r (21.08.1417), l. 20, 41v, l. 1, 6, 12, 17, 20, 23; ASV.Misti.52.41v (21.08.1417), l. 12; ASV.Libri.10.198r, l. 28, 30; ASV.Misti.53.32r (05.03.1420), l. 10, 11. []
  16. ASV.Misti.54.143r (30.08.1423), l. 30, 31. []
  17. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 33; ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 2; ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 3, 17, 21. []
  18. ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), Z. 9–15; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 260, reg. 834. []
  19. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 28, 33, 38, 40, 42, 142r, l. 3, 163v (13.12.1423), l. 9, 13, 15, 19, 22, 167v (30.12.1423), l. 1–3, 9, 14, 16; ASV.Misti.55.52v (06.09.1424), l. 1–2, 10, 14, 16, 19, 23, 28, 125v (13.06.1425), l. 1, 4–5, 8–10, 12–14, 15, 17–18, 126r, l. 1–4. []
  20. ASV.Misti 55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 11. []
  21. ASV.Misti 46.43r (22.09.1402), l. 1–3; ASV.Libri.9.153r (27.04.1402), l. 28–29. []
  22. ASV.Libri.9.153r (22.05.1403), l. 42. []
  23. ASV.Libri.9.141r, l. 15, 17. []
  24. ASV.Secreti.1.82r (19.12.1402), l. 38, 90v (05.03.1403), l. 9, 119r (13.12.1403), l. 48, 120v (15.12.1403), l. 3, 8, 121r, 8, 125r (29.12.1403), l. 12. []
  25. ASV.Secreti.1.82r (19.12.1402), l. 38, 87v (08.02.1403 (m.V. 1402), l. 19, 90v (05.03.1403), l. 5, 6, 120v (15.12.1403), l. 22, 121v (18.12.1403), l. 10, 13–14, 41, 122v (22.12.1403), l. 4, 125r (29.12.1403), l. 12. []
  26. ASV.Libri.9.141r (07.12.1402), l. 12–17. []
  27. Luttrell, The Hospitallers of Rhodes and their Mediterranean World, 1992, II, p. 82, XIX, pp. 141–142, XIX, p. 133. []
  28. ASV.Misti.53.32r (05.03.1420), l. 14–18; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 205–206, reg. 762; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 180, reg. 1764. []
  29. ASV.Misti.52.41v (21.08.1417), l. 11–13; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 165, reg. 719. []
  30. ASV.Misti.52.42r (21.08.1417), l. 11–14; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 166, reg. 719; ASV.Misti.52.42v (21.08.1417), l. 1–2, 43r (27.08.1417),l. 1–7, 86v (07.04.1418), l. 1–14; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 172, reg. 727. []
  31. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 30–36; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902. []

Mendicants and Conquest in the Crown of Aragon: Mallorca and Sardinia compared

Robert Friedrich, Universität Greifswald

Zusammenfassung: Die Bettelorden sind nicht die ersten, die einem in den Sinn kommt, wenn man an Eroberung denkt. In diesem Blogbeitrag wird die Beteiligung von Franziskanern und Dominikanern an zwei Eroberungen der Krone Aragon untersucht: Das muslimische Mayūrqa und Sardinien. Der Autor vergleicht die Rolle der Brüder in diesen Feldzügen und wie die “Art” der Eroberung ihr Handeln beeinflusste. Die Mendikanten spielten bei beiden Eroberungen eine wichtige Rolle – vor allem in der Zeit nach der militärischen Eroberung –, aber ihre Rolle unterschied sich je nachdem, ob die eroberte Bevölkerung christlich war oder nicht. Der Autor kommt zu dem Schluss, dass die religiösen Orden gute Voraussetzungen mitbrachten, um an beiden Arten von Eroberungen teilzunehmen, und dass sich die Könige bei der Eroberung und Integration neuer Gebiete in hohem Maße auf sie stützten.

Abstract: The Mendicant orders are not the first group that comes to mind when one thinks of conquest. This blog post explores the involvement of Franciscans and Dominicans in two conquests by the Crown of Aragon: Muslim Mayūrqa and Sardinia. The author compares the roles of the friars in these campaigns and how the “type“ of conquest influenced their actions. The Mendicants played an important part in both conquests – especially in the aftermath of the military campaign – but their role differed depending on whether the conquered population was Christian or not. The author concludes that religious orders were well-equipped to take part in both types of conquest and heavily relied on by the kings to conquer and integrate new territories.

The 13th and 14th centuries were the critical periods in the Mediterranean expansion of the medieval Crown of Aragon: The Balearic Islands, Valencia, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica all fell under some form of Aragonese rule, the Crown even established influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this blog post, I would like to bring together the study of Mendicant orders and military conquests by comparing the involvement of the Mendicant orders during and after two of the abovementioned conquests: Muslim Mayūrqa (629/1229) and Sardinia (1323). They significantly differ in one particular aspect: the religion of the conquered.1 I aim to explore in which ways religious actors like the Mendicants took part in those clearly political campaigns and how the “type” of conquest influenced their actions. 

When James I started his military campaign in 1229, two Dominican friars accompanied his army: Miguel de Fabra and Berenguer de Castellbisbal. When recounting the events almost half a century later, the king accorded Miguel de Fabra a particular importance for the endeavour’s success. His reputation stemmed from two functions he fulfilled, both during the campaign and after the successful conquest of Madina Mayūrqa on 31 December 1229. The first function is preaching the crusade and the moral support of the army and king. The description of how King James wanted the friars’ doings to be remembered is a striking example of the royal-mendicant symbiosis and merits to be appreciated in full:

And nobody ever saw an army that fulfilled its duties so well; just as was preached by a Dominican friar who was called Friar Michael. He was in the army and was a reader in theology, and his companion was brother Berenguer de Castellbisbal. And when he gave absolution (which he had permission to do from the bishops), everybody would bring everything that he told them they should, whether it was wood or stone. Even the knights did not wait for the foot soldiers to bring things, but helped in every way they could. In front of them in their saddles they would bring by horse the stones for the fenevols. And the men of their houses did the same to supply the trebuchets, delivering the stones on frames that they had tied with cords round their necks. Indeed, when we ordered them to go with armoured horses to guard the war machines by night, or by day to guard those digging the tunnels, or to do whatever else that was necessary for the army, if it was ordered fifty should go, a hundred would go.2

The second function concerns something that could be summarised as symbolic communication for the king:

And we ordered two Dominican brothers to enter, in order to guard the king’s chambers and treasure, and two knights with them, good and prudent men, so that with their squires they should help to protect and watch over the Almudaina, as we were very tired and wished to rest, as the sun had already set.3

Tired after a long siege and his final victory, the king ordered two Dominican friars to stand guard in front of his chambers together with two knights, showing the prominent symbolic place of the friars not only for James’ spiritual well-being but also for his self-fashioning half a century later when writing his autobiography. They were also supposed to watch that none of the army’s members started the town looting, further underscoring their perceived influence over the troops’ morale. Miguel de Fabra then celebrated the first Christian mass on Mallorcan soil, using an improvised altar inside the Almudaina palace. This altar later became the centre of the chapel of Nuestra Senora de la Victoria y San Miguel (another reference to Friar Miguel), around which the first Dominican convent was built, right in the middle of the city and not on the outskirts as it was usual for Mendicant convents. This convent stood at the beginning of Christian Aragonese Mallorca and was closely linked to the royal occupation of the palace. Christian conquest and symbolic Christianisation thus went hand in hand.

The situation was different when Infant Alfonso conquered Sardinia in 1323. It was no crusade, although the campaignwas authorised and somewhat supported by the papacy, as James had gotten the island as a papal fiefdom in 1295.Alfonso found an already Christian society that needed to be integrated into his realms. He relied heavily on religious orders too, but the goals differed. Instead of creating from the ground up, the functions of the orders focussed on the “Catalanisation” of the island’s population and on exerting influence over them through religious actors. Alfonso and his advisors utilised all levels of the hierarchy of the Mendicant orders. The first measure to strengthen the Catalan religious impact on the island was the demand for three Franciscan friars from Catalonia to be sent there by the provincial minister in 1323. When Alfonso’s brother later asked the king to send one of them back, he refused because the friar was supposed to establish a new Franciscan convent. This leads to the second step of Mendicant involvement: the foundation of new convents and the support of existing convents undertaken by the king. But not only did Alfonso send Catalan friars to Sardinia, he also tried to banish Italian, especially Pisan friars, on multiple occasions, accusing them of conspiring against him. The most important structural change occurred in 1329 when Pope John XXII decided – upon the king’s wish – that all the convents of the four Mendicant orders should thereupon be part of their respective provinces of Aragon and be severed from the different Italian provinces they belonged to before. As the provincial ministers were usually on close terms with the king, this attachment meant a potentially more significant influence on the Sardinian convents and a lesser influence by Italian secular and religious powers. The fourth step concerns the dioceses of Sardinia. Compared to Mallorca, the primary difference was that a net of bishops was already in place, so the king could only try to exert influence when a bishopric became vacant. Already in 1325, Alfonso and his father James had instructed their ambassador to the pope that he should propose different candidates for potentially vacant bishoprics. For Sardinia, they mainly proposed Mendicant Friars well-known to the king and infant. Apparently, Mendicants were seen fit for the difficult task of administering a Sardinian diocese with little promising income.

The key to Mendicant involvement in conquests lies in the fact that conquering and governing a territory are two completely different stories. Unlike the military orders, Mendicants did not fight, but they could have a strong influence on the population as well as members of the royal family. The preaching of a crusade was thus an essential factor, but only possible when the campaign was directed against a non-Christian territory.4 The most critical role the Mendicants played in these contexts usually came after the military campaign. This is true for both the Mallorcan and the Sardinian cases. The type of conquest influenced the degree to which they were involved. Whereas the Mendicants played an important part in other campaigns against non-Christians (be it Muslims in the Mediterranean or pagans in Eastern Europe) in order to build a new Christian society, their role in the Sardinian campaign was facilitated by the papal approval following the treaty of Anagni. The focus here was on the “Catalanisation” of the Christian population. Despite these differences, one can conclude that religious orders were – in the eyes of the kings – well equipped to effectively take part in both types of conquest. They also benefitted from their close relationship with the king, who, in turn, heavily relied on monks, friars, nuns, convents, and monasteries to conquer and integrate new territories.

Photo: Dominican friars watch over a conquered town, in: Llibre dels feyts, f. 41r, URL: [https://mdc.csuc.cat/digital/collection/manuscritBC/id/28206] (03.05.2023).

  1. I have analysed the role of the Mendicant and other religious orders during and after the conquest of Mallorca in an upcoming article: Preaching – Fighting – Organising. Religious Orders and the Christian Conquest of Mayūrqa/Mallorca (627–629 / 1229–1231), in: Sven Jaros et al. (Ed.), Changes of Monarchical Rule in Late Medieval Societies in Comparison. Negotiations – Actors – Ambivalences [in preparation]. The involvement of Mendicants in the conquest of Sardinia is an integral part of my phd-project. See also: Jill Webster, The early catalan Mendicants in Sardinia, in: Biblioteca francescana sarda 2 (1988), 5–18; Maria Giuseppina Meloni, Ordini religiosi e politica regia nella Sardegna catalano-aragonese della prima metà del XIV secolo, in: Anuario de Estudios Medievales 24 (1994), 831–854. []
  2. The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon. A Translation of the Medieval Catalan Llibre dels Feits. Ed. Damian Smith / Helena Buffery. (Crusade Texts in Translation) London / New York 2003, ch. 69, S. 94.  []
  3. Ibid., ch. 87, S. 109 f. []
  4. That the friars clearly differentiated between those different contexts becomes evident in an almost contemporary case: In 1333/34, the Crown of Aragon found itself in an ongoing war with Genoa (about Sardinia) and planned a crusade against Granada. The Carmelite friar Bernat Despuig was very clear in his sermons: the faithful should pray for the king’s victory in the Granada campaign but not in wars against other Christians. See Adam Franklin-Lyons/Marie Kelleher, Framing Mediterranean Famine, in: Speculum 97,1 (2022), S. 66. []

A “Pestilential Disease”: Piracy in Times of War in the Late Medieval Crown of Aragon 

Dr. Victòria Burguera i Puigserver, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Resumen: La violencia marítima en el Mediterráneo bajomedieval podía adoptar variadas formas en diferentes contextos. Así, la concepción de los piratas y la percepción de la piratería eran igualmente diversas dependiendo de los actores en cuestión. Detrás de la amenaza percibida por las ciudades de la Corona de Aragón en la primera mitad del siglo XV, se esconden intereses cambiantes y competencias a nivel interno y externo ¿Y si el rey y los piratas estuvieran en el mismo equipo?

Abstract: Maritime violence in the late medieval Mediterranean could take various forms in different contexts. Thus, the conception of pirates and the perception of piracy were equally diverse depending on the actors involved. Behind the threat perceived by the cities of the Crown of Aragon in the first half of the 15th century, there were shifting interests and competitions both internally and externally.What if the king and the pirates were on the same team?

2nd April 1440. The galleys of the Majorcan Ponç Descatllar, the Valencian Jaume de Vilaragut and the Catalans Bernat and Galceran de Requesens lay an ambush in the mouth of the Ebro River from which the ships passing through the area cannot escape.1 They are engaged in rounding up and looting ships carrying wheat and other supplies to various coastal cities, including the capital of the principality of Catalonia: Barcelona.

The Barcelona authorities, along with those of the city of Tortosa, the closest city to the conflict zone, are the first to take notice of the events. The skippers, who are subjects of the king and members of his fleet, used force and their rank to capture people, plunder ships and even threaten, torture and mutilate those who resisted them. The rulers of the city will devote all their efforts to have them declared public enemies, so that they can be prosecuted, imprisoned and judged for their actions.2 Through about twenty letters exchanged by the Barcelona authorities and their representatives in the courts with Queen consort Mary of Aragon, King Alfonso the Magnanimous and other authorities, it is possible to reconstruct the discourse developed by the municipal leaders to criminalise the acts of the skippers, who were close to the monarch and members of his fleet.3

It had been a long time since the Catalan-Aragonese monarchy had had sufficient means to undertake military campaigns on its own. Thus, for the conquest of Naples, apart from counting on the economic support of the cities under his dominion and drawing on old personal ties, the king appealed to his subjects to join his war of conquest.4 The king would gain a private force at his disposal to help him pursue his own objectives, while the participants (only those with the economic strength to arm large warships, i.e. mostly nobles and members of the urban oligarchy) would find a path to political, economic and social advancement.5 Their position in the monarch’s inner circle, along with the latter’s need and dependence on their ships for his war, turned many members of the royal navy into veritable time bombs, in a position to potentially act with impunity.

Powerful cities affected by their excesses, such as Barcelona, were forced to organize flotillas on several occasions to pursue them,6 in what was conceived at the time as a “pestilential disease”.7 Thus, despite the king’s numerous foreign enemies, maritime violence was sometimes more an expression of domestic unrest than the result of external competition.

Yet, in addition to the harm these patrons may have caused the monarch’s own subjects, there was another underlying issue. Behind the expressions referring to their “insatiable appetite” and “lack of shame”, together with accusations of being “a pirate, murderer, limb mutilator of great inhumanity and viciousness”,8 there was the latent conflict between the urban elites of the city of Barcelona and the monarchy, resulting in an armed conflict years later: the well-known Catalan Civil War.

The dialectic and rhetoric used by the municipal leaders to criminalise said patrons is fully embedded in the process of the criminalisation of piracy as a whole. And, curiously, in this case the process was not the result of an attempt at state reaffirmation by the monarchy, as historiography has pointed out in other contexts.9 On the contrary, it was the expression of a force contesting the king’s interests, in accordance with the plurality of powers typical of medieval times and so characteristic of the territories that made up the Late Medieval Crown of Aragon.

Photo: Niçard, Pere, Sant Jordi, in: Wikimedia Commons, URL: [https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sant_Jordi_Pere_Niçard.jpg] (05.04.2023)

  1. The development of this episode, together with a study of the subterfuges used by one of the skippers, Ponç Descatllar, to escape the judicial process to which he was subjected for having practiced piracy, has recently been published in: Burguera i Puigserver, Victòria A. “Jutjar els actes de pirateria a la Corona d’Aragó baixmedieval. El cas de Ponç Descatllar (1440)”, Anales de la Universidad de Alicante. Historia medieval, 24 (2023), pp. 67-90. https://doi.org/10.14198/medieval.24205. []
  2. The first three were declared public enemies and persecuted as such, but only Ponç Descatllar was imprisoned and prosecuted, albeit temporarily. In fact, the legal proceedings against him, compiled by the Barcelona bailiff after he was captured by a fleet armed by the leaders of that city, is one of the few examples of cases of illegitimate attacks on the seas belonging to the Crown of Aragon that have been preserved until today. []
  3. The letters are kept in the Historical Archive of the City of Barcelona (AHCB), specifically in the registers of Lletres closes (sent) and Lletres comunes (received). []
  4. Sáiz Serrano, Jorge (2008). Caballeros del rey. Nobleza y guerra en el reinado de Alfonso el Magnánimo (Valencia: Publicacions de la Universitat de València), pp. 22, 65. []
  5. Burguera i Puigserver, Victòria A. (2020). Els perills de la mar. Pirateria, captiveri i gestió del conflicte marítim a la Corona d’Aragó (1410-1458), (Unpublished PhD dissertation), Universitat de Barcelona, pp. 177-185. []
  6. Ibidem, pp. 301-307. []
  7. AHCB, 1B. VI-7, ff. 37r-v. 4 abril 1440. []
  8. The latter were mentioned by the Barcelona councilors against Ponç Descatllar. AHCB, 1B. VI-7, f. 51v. Barcelona, 26 April 1440; ff. 56r-57v. Barcelona, 7 May 1440. []
  9. For instance, in medieval England (Heebøll-Holm, T. K. (2020). “Towards a Criminalisation of Piracy in Late Medieval England”. In L. Sicking; A. Wijffels (eds.), Conflict Management in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, 1000-1800 (pp. 165-186). Leiden/Boston: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004407992_010) or France (Prétou, Pierre. (2021). L’invention de la piraterie en France au Moyen Âge. Paris: PUF). []

The eyes of the lady as rods of love in the Romanic and German troubadour traditions 

Dr. Joan Dalmases Paredes, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract: This essay offers an example of the literary contacts between the Occitan, French and German troubadour traditions through a succinct comparison of the use of the motif of the rod in three compositions by Raimbaut d’Aurenga, Blondel de Nesle and Ulrich von Gutenburg. The textual trio offered here is a small part of my wider postdoctoral research project, that analyses and compares many Occitan, French and German troubadour texts, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and entitled Die Rezeption der romanischen höfischen Frauenstimme im Minnesang.

Death for love. The painful separation between the lover’s heart and his body. The hypnotic glance of the lady as a gateway to the tortuous love experience. These are just some of the literary themes and images related to the fin’amors that the Occitan troubadours repeatedly used and reworked in a range of different poetic contexts. Many of these themes would end up fossilizing as the core of courtly love expression and would expand beyond the borders of Occitanie from the middle of the 12th century, as witnessed in the formal and/or thematic convergences between some Occitan and French poets, like Raimon Jordan (ca. 1178–1195) and Thibaut de Champagne (1201–1253), as well as between authors of the Romanic and Germanic spheres, such as Folquet de Marsella (ca. 1155–1231) and Rudolf von Fenis († ca. 1196). The rapid expansion of the Occitan troubadour lyric throughout Europe should not come as a surprise; approximately 2500 songs and 250 melodies from the Oc tradition have been preserved, all of them composed by hundreds of troubadours and transmitted in 95 manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries –some of which obtained a wide diffusion.

            So far it has not yet been possible to determine when the influence of Occitan and French troubadours reached the Germanic territories. However, it is clear that the German compositions began to change around the second phase of the Minnesang (ca. 1170), which Touber and Mertens1 refer to as the Romanisierende Phase. From that juncture, and with Minnesänger such as Kaiser Heinrich (1165–1197), Friedrich von Hausen († ca. 1190) and Heinrich von Veldeke († ca. 1190), many German lyrical works adopted the subject matter, terminology and motifs of their Romanic predecessors and contemporaries. Thus, despite some relevant differences –including the structure (the Stollenstrophe instead of the various Occitan and French strophic typologies) and syllable count (qualitative instead of quantitative)– it is possible to compare Romanic and German troubadour texts in order to interrelate them. Especially those that were written during the second half of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century, namely during and after the reception of the Romanic models but before the Minnesang could take advantage of its own poetic tradition to innovate with authors like Walther von der Vogelweide († ca. 1230) or Neidhart (13th century).2

            As Touber points out,3 approximately 70% of the Minnesänger of this transitionary period draw on one or more elements previously used in the Romanic tradition. This also includes the borrowing of melodies even beyond the indicated period, with perhaps the most significant example being the Palästinalied by Walther von der Vogelweide (L 14,38), a contrafactum of Lanqand li jorn son lonc en mai by Jaufré Rudel (BEdT 262,2). It is, nevertheless, worthwhile mentioning that, despite the obvious general influence of the art of the troubadours and the trouvères on Medieval German Lyric, the number of German songs in which it is possible to identify a specific and clear Romanic contact is limited. Only around 20 contrafacta between Minnesänger and troubadours/trouvères have been confirmed to date.4 The most imitated poets were, among others, Folquet de Marsella, Chrétien de Troyes (ca. 1130–ca. 1190), Gace Brulé (ca. 1160–ca. 1213), and one of the authors discussed in this essay, Blondel de Nesle (ca. 1155–ca. 1210).

            In her 2005 doctoral dissertation, Nicola Zotz5 identifies five possible methods by which a Minnesänger could integrate his Romanic precedents. He could: 1) be inspired by the general meaning of an entire song; 2) rewrite a strophe and insert it into a new context; 3) build a new composition based on several sources; 4) take a whole song to create a new one himself; and 5) reuse one or more literary motifs. The last point is of particular interest in this essay, as it will allow us to offer a particular example of the contacts between the Occitan, French and German troubadour traditions.

            In the canso Ar resplan la flors enversa (BEdT 389,16), the Occitan troubadour Raimbaut d’Aurenga (1147–1173) expresses his euphoric state which contrasts with the icy winter that surrounds him. As much as everything is frozen and dead, the joy of falling in love keeps the lyrical subject cheerful (Mas mi ten vert e jauzen Joys v. 7). However, the poet confesses that his happiness is tempered by a single flaw: his own lack of initiative in the pursuit of love. The inability to act is directly connected with the beautiful eyes of his beloved, described as two whips or sticks that attack and subdue him (vostre belh huelh mi son giscle/que·m castion si·l cor ab joy vv. 30–31). These two lethal canes continuously punish the poet’s heart and fill it with the joy of love. In just two verses, Raimbaut summarises the origin and nature of love through what we could call the “literary motif of the rod”.

            If we move to France d’Oïl we will realise that, around the same time, the trouvère Blondel de Nesle (ca. 1155–ca. 1210) uses this same motif in Bien doit chanter cui fine amors adrece (R482). Love, merciless and brave, is described as a force that has infiltrated the poet’s body and has violently assaulted his heart –an image comparable to the one used by Raimbaut d’Aurenga. Aware of the lover’s weakness, Love has also transformed the lady’s sweet gaze into the rod with which she strikes and wounds the trouvère, leaving him subject to the will of his beloved (d’un douz regart fist verge a moi ferir;/las, mar la vi de si biaus euz garnie vv. 43–44). The poet can only mourn and cling to the hope of being reciprocated and “healed” by her.

            Finally, from the world of the German troubadour lyric we find a third piece that not only uses the motif of the rod, but also replicates the same metric scheme as Blondel de Nesle’s song (ababbbbab). Ich hôrte ein merlikîn wol singen (MF 78,15) by Ulrich von Gutenburg († ca. 1220) has already been identified as a contrafactum of the French text by Spanke6 and has been well-studied by Zotz. The Minnesänger, adhering to his predecessors, relates the instance of falling in love with the first exchange of glances between the lyrical subject and the lady, whose eyes are once again described as two rods (ir schœnieu ougen, daz wâren die ruote,/dâ mite si mich von êrste betwang vv. 26–27). Despite the joy he experienced at first, this pair of sticks that strike the poet make him feel unjustly punished and despised by the lady. Ulrich von Gutenburg, like Blondel de Nesle, accepts suffering as the only way to achieve love.

            The close resemblance between the three briefly analyzed compositions no doubt represents only a small amount of what were surely numerous literary connections between the Romanic and German territories in the 12th and 13th centuries. At the same time, this trio demonstrates how the analytical method of comparative literature can complement historical research, as it provides evidence of direct and indirect contacts between distant authors and texts when other historical documentation or archaeological evidence is lacking.

            Furthermore, beyond the importance of building links between traditions to establish an intertextual network of antecedents and influences, comparative methodologies also allow us to determine elements in order to distinguish the tendencies and culturally specific markers of each literary tradition. In utilising such an approach, we can detect which literary elements the authors considered relevant in their models and adopted in their own texts, how these models were reworked and combined with other elements, and what was left out. Thus, the interconnectivity of German texts with their Romanic precedents not only enables us to discover the origin and meaning of certain verses and literary motifs, but also enables us to establish which are the unique, original and innovative elements of the Minnesang.

Photo: Codex Manesse (cpg 848) S. 181v, Engelhardt von Adelnburg.

  1. Touber, A.; Mertens, V.; 2012: Germania Litteraria Mediaevalis Francigena (GLMF), Band III, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, p. 85. []
  2. Kellner, B.; Reichling S.; Rudolph A.; 2021: Handbuch Minnesang, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, p. 110. []
  3. Touber, A.; 2005: “Romanischer Einfluss auf den Minnesang. Friedrich von Hausen und die Hausenschule”, in Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur, 127: 1, Berlin, De Gruyter, pp. 62–81. []
  4. Touber, A.; Mertens, V. 2012: 54. []
  5. Zotz, N. (2005): Intégration courtoise. Zur Rezeption okzitanischer und französischer Lyrik im klassischen deutschen Minnesang. Heidelberg. Winter. []
  6. Spanke, H; 1929: “Romanische und mittellateinische Formen in der Metrik von Minnesangs Frühling”, in ZRPh 49, Darmstadt p. 300. []

Converso Unbelief in Fortalitium Fidei by Friar Alonso de Espina

Thomas Hendrik Kaal, Queen Mary University London

Zusammenfassung: In seinem Werk Fortalitium Fidei (c. 1464) entwirft der Franziskanermönch Alonso de Espina eine neue Konzeption der Häresie des Judaisierens. Anstatt Judaisieren lediglich als klandestine Fortführung jüdischer Glaubensvorstellungen und Praktiken zu verstehen, sah er darin eine noch schlimmere häretische Verirrung. Den judaisierenden conversos warf er vor, jedwede religiöse Tradition aufgegeben zu haben und der zuerst von Epikur vertretenen Überzeugung zu folgen, dass die menschliche Seele mit dem Tod erlösche. Dieser von Espina propagierte Diskurs bereitete den Weg für die Verknüpfung zwischen den Neuen Christen und der Leugnung der Unsterblichkeit, die sich später in den Akten der Spanischen Inquisition gegen Ende des 15. Jahrhunderts nachweisen lässt.

Abstract: In his Fortalitium Fidei (c. 1464), the Franciscan friar Alonso de Espina outlines a new conception of the Judaizing heresy. Instead of seeing Judaizing merely as a clandestine continuation of Jewish beliefs and practices, he saw it as an even worse heretical aberration. He argued that most conversos had abandoned all religious traditions, sharing the conviction, first held by Epicurus, that the human soul expires after death. Espina’s discourse paved the way for the link between the New Christians and the denial of immortality, which can be observed in the files of the Spanish Inquisition produced at the end of the 15th century.

The trial records of the Spanish Inquisition feature an astonishing number of people who were accused of not believing in the immortality of the soul.1 The majority of these individuals were conversos, that is to say Iberian Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity in the course of the 15th century, as well as their numerous descendants. Brought before the tribunals on suspicion of Judaizing, these conversos seem to have disregarded both the Christian and the Judaic religion.2 Instead of following either of the two laws, they were said to act on the maxim that there was nothing to human life except being born and dying (nada que nascer e morir). Scholars have tended to interpret such testimonies as evidence of a secret current of religious skepticism among the New Christians, sometimes called ‘popular Averroism’.3 The alleged disbelief in immortality is seen as a precursor of subsequent religion-skeptical tendencies among the descendants of Iberian Jews, culminating in the skeptical philosophy of 16-century Marranos such as Uriel da Costa and Baruch de Spinoza.4

This article forms part of an ongoing research project that re-examines the relationship between conversos and religious skepticism in 15th century Castile. It aims to show that disbelief in immortality formed part of a stereotypical view of the New Christians, which emerged decades before the first inquisitorial tribunal began its work in Castile.5

One of the first contemporary authors to associate conversos with disbelief in immortality was the Franciscan friar Alonso de Espina (c.1410–1465). His magnum opus bears the programmatic title Fortalitium Fidei contra iudeos, saracenos aliosque christiane fidei inimicos (“The Fortress of Faith against Jews, Saracens and all other Enemies of the Christian Faith”).6 The text was one of the most ambitious heresiological treatises written in the late Middle Ages. It exposes what the Franciscan perceived as the war of Christianity against its various enemies: Jews, Muslims, heretics, and demonic forces, each of which are dealt with separately in one of five books. Espina paints the bleak picture of a society under siege: as depicted in the above illustration, Jews would attack the fortress of faith with their blind rejection of the gospel, Muslims would threaten the Christian kingdoms with war and demons wreak havoc like never before; but worst of all, the foundations of the faith were about to be completely undermined by heretics. Here, Espina pointed to the conversos as the main threat to religious orthodoxy. He argued that the majority of New Christians had succumbed to a particularly wicked heretical deviation, which would even exceed the blind unbelief of the Jews.7

For Alonso de Espina, the Judaizing heresy of the conversos was far worse than a simple relapse to Jewish customs. He conceptualized it as a deliberate denial of all religious traditions. Rendering the results of an alleged Toledan inquiry, the friar claimed that many New Christians had abandoned both the Jewish and the Christian law. They would consider the teachings of the church to be a massive swindle (truffa) and disregard both the Old and New Testament as silly fairytales, written to mislead the simpleminded. Instead of following any of the established religious traditions, the New Christians would deny the afterlife and live only for material pleasure and success. To summarize their wicked irreligiosity, Espina stated that the conversos believed in nothing but “being born and dying”—the very formulation that later featured in the trial records of the Spanish Inquisition.8 The friar warned that mortalist ideas as believed by the New Christians could easily spread to other parts of society. He admitted that even the most pious believer might occasionally wonder whether the Christian claims about the afterlife were actually true. Since the devil would constantly try to dissuade people from the true faith, the presence of heretics who denied immortality posed an immediate threat to the inner stability of a Christian society. The spread of mortalist ideas thus had to be stopped at all costs. Espina argued vehemently that the only way was to establish a general inquisition in Castile, which should put an end to the Judaizing heresy.9

Fortalitium Fidei had a considerable impact on the debate about the New Christians in the last decades of the 15thcentury. Following the argument set out by Alonso de Espina, disbelief in immortality emerged as a distinctive feature of crypto-Judaism. Scholars like Ana Echevarría have argued that Fortalitium Fidei served as an important handbook for the early Spanish Inquisition.10 This would explain why many first-generation inquisitors categorized disbelief in immortality as tantamount to Judaizing. Rather than evidencing an averroistic current among the conversos, the plethora of mortalist statements recorded by inquisitors thus seems to point to the cultural hinterland that gave rise to the inquisition in the first place. The testimonies demonstrate that in the context of inter-religious conversion, radical unbelief served as a particularly effective accusation to vilify any form of religious deviance.

Photo: Alfonso de Espina, Fortalitium Fidei, Basel 1475, in: ourheritage.ac.nz, URL: [https://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/items/show/6330] (01.02.2023).

  1. See for example the evidence from Soria, El Tribunal de la Inquisición en el Obispado de Soria (1486–1502), Carlos CARRETE PARRONDO (ed.), (Fontes Iudaeorum Regni Castellae, 7), 1985, Salamanca. The records have been anaylized by MONSALVO ANTON, José M. 1984: »Herejia conversa y contestacion religiosa a fines de la Edad Media. Las denuncias a la Inquisicion en el obispado de Osma«, Studia historica: historia medieval, Vol. 2, pp. 109–138 and EDWARDS, John 1988: »Religious Faith and Doubt in Late Medieval Spain. Soria circa 1450–1500«, Past & Present, Vol. 120, pp. 3–25. []
  2. See PASTORE, Stefania 2016: »Doubt in Fifteenth-Century Iberia«, in GARCÍA-ARENAL, Mercedes (ed.), After Conversion. Iberia and the Emergence of Modernity, Leiden, pp. 283–303. []
  3. MÁRQUEZ VILLANUEVA, Francisco 1994: »Nasçer e morir como bestias (criptojudaísmo y criptoaverroísmo)«, in DÍAZ ESTEBAN, Fernando (ed.), Los judaízantes en Europa y la literatura castellana del siglo de oro, Madrid, pp. 273–293. []
  4. This interpretation has been spearheaded by NIEWÖHNER, Friedrich 1988: Veritas sive varietas. Lessings Toleranzparabel und das Buch Von den drei Betrügern, (Bibliothek der Aufklärung, 5), Heidelberg and YOVEL, Yirmiyahu 2009: The Other Within. The Marranos: Split Identity and Emerging Modernity, Princeton. []
  5. The project ties in with the methodology of WELTECKE, Dorothea 2010: “Der Narr spricht: Es ist kein Gott”. Atheismus, Unglauben und Glaubenszweifel vom 12. Jahrhundert bis zur Neuzeit, (Campus historische Studien, 57), Frankfurt am Main. []
  6. The earliest Latin manuscript, preserved in the Archive of the Burgo de Osma Cathedral, dates back to 1464 (Codex No. 154). All quotations in this article are from the 1487 incunabulum of the work printed in Lyon. []
  7. On Jews and heretics in Fortalitium Fidei see CAVALLERO, Constanza 2016: Los enemigos del fin del mundo. Judíos, herejes y demonios en el Fortalitium Fidei de Alonso de Espina (Castilla, siglo XV), Buenos Aires. and VIDAL DOVAL, Rosa 2015: Misera Hispania. Jews and Conversos in Alonso de Espina’s Fortalitium Fidei, (Medium aevum monographs, 31). []
  8. “Sexta, quod fides catholica erat quedam truffa et quod nihil aliud erat in hac vita nisi nasci et mori et quod totum aliud vanitas erat”, Alonso de Espina, Fortalitium Fidei, II, 6, 1, f. 53 v.a. []
  9. “et specialiter iuxta posse suum laborat quod faciat eum dubitare quod sit altera vita nisi hec, et quod debeat fieri resurrectio mortuorum, quia si hoc facit eum credere vel in hoc dubitare, statim homo sic deceptus dimittit se cadere in omnem peccatum, et elongatur ab omni virtute, et perdit omnem timorem et amorem Dei, et vivit desperatus qui perdidit totam fidem et spem Dei”, Alonso de Espina, Fortalitium Fidei, II, 6, 13, f. 63 v.a. []
  10. Echevaria, Ana 2022: »The Perception of the Religious Other in Alonso de Espina’s Fortalitium Fidei: A Tool for Inquisitors?«, in Constable, Olivia Remie (ed.), Interfaith relationships and perceptions of the other in the medieval Mediterranean. Essays in memory of Olivia Remie Constable(Mediterranean perspectives), Basingstoke, pp. 161–195. []

Martin of León: Crusade preacher between the Iberian Peninsula and the Holy Land

Alexander Marx, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Zusammenfassung: Dieser kurze Beitrag umreißt die Perspektive und Ergebnisse meines gegenwärtigen Forschungsprojekts (finanziert durch den FWF [J 4576-G]), das sich dem Augustiner Chorherren Martin von Léon widmet. Das Projekt beschäftigt sich vor allem mit Martins Tätigkeit als Kreuzzugsprediger, besonders im Dritten Kreuzzug (1187-92), sowie seiner Zugehörigkeit zum Netzwerk der entstehenden Universität von Paris. Sein umfassendes Werk, besonders sein Liber Sermonum (ca. 1300 Seiten), erlaubt eine eingehende Untersuchung seines Bildungshintergrundes, seiner Predigtagenda und seiner Kreuzzugsideen. Dies zeigt wie ein Protagonist von iberischer Herkunft in diverse signifikante Phänomene über die iberische Halbinsel hinaus involviert war.

Abstract: This short essay outlines the scope and results of my current research project, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) [J 4576-G], and devoted to the Augustinian canon Martin of Léon. The project focusses on Martin’s role as a crusade preacher, specifically in the Third Crusade (1187-92), as well as his belonging to the network of the emerging university of Paris. His vast oeuvre, in particular his Liber Sermonum (c.1300 pages), permits ample examination of his educational background, preaching agenda, and crusade ideas, showing how a protagonist of Iberian origin was involved in several significant phenomena beyond the Peninsula.

Martin of León (c.1130-1203) ended his life as an Augustinian canon in San Isidoro in León – this says his Vita, penned by Lucas of Tuy (d.1249), and this shaped hitherto the modern perception of this figure when finding consideration occasionally among scholars. However, the Vita remains silent on what Martin did before the 1190s (save for three chapters on his childhood) – this is a remarkable gap for a text that claims to be a Saint’s Life. My research investigates this suspicious lacuna, and Martin’s own vast work of more than 1700 pages can tell us much about his activities and whereabouts, critically his main opus, the Liber Sermonum, counting c.1300 pages, an immense compendium of preaching material for several purposes. This work significantly sheds new light on several phenomena, including the crusade movement, Iberia’s involvement in it, preaching efforts before the Friars, and Martin’s educational background in the university of Paris. It seems likely that Martin spent the bulk of his life outside the Peninsula (probably the c.40 years that the Vita omits); his work betrays an education clearly indebted to Paris; he harvests especially the Glossa Ordinaria and Peter Lombard’s works, making it likely that he was Peter’s student in the 1150s. The Liber Sermonum betrays also much interest in the crusades and Jerusalem, announcing already in its prologue that it has the goal of providing material for preaching against four groups: pagans (understand Muslims); heretics; Jews; and philosophers (understand Scholasticism). The purpose of crusade preaching is thus made explicit; it forms an essential purpose of this vast work. However, since this figure was moving between the Peninsula and other parts of Europe (according to the Vita: Paris, Tours, Southern France, Canterbury, Rome, Constantinople, and the Holy Land), it remains a subject of ongoing research in which contexts and arenas Martin preached the crusade (and other matters), and what his work may tell us about the overall concept of crusading and its pertinence to the Iberian Peninsula.

            The remainder of this essay will outline the argument and scope of four articles that this project has yielded (which are either on the way or in preparation):

            (1) A first article compared Martin with other preachers of the Third Crusade (1187-92), the expedition that was probably Martin’s prime concern. It unearthed numerous parallels in ideas and imagery that substantiate Martin’s belonging to the Parisian network and that he preached this expedition alongside his colleagues (according to the Vita, at the time in Italy, where also other important preachers were sojourning), before he himself joined some crusade contingent (the Vita tells us that he was in the Holy Land at the time, for a period of two years, and serving the Knights Hospitaller). The article delivers a case study of Martin’s Sermo 22, a sermon text for Maundy Thursday, and its place in the preaching of the Third Crusade.

            (2) A second article tackles a specific branch of Paris masters, the so-called reformers, that upheld a suspicious attitude towards the new scholastic methods of the time and their use of ancient philosophy. Also Martin belongs to this branch: already his prologue announces the goal of spurning the teachings of philosophers. This article examines Martin as a case study, discussing how and why he rejects these new approaches, and how this attitude intersects with his crusade preaching, specifically via identifying philosophers with heretics. His ample concern with these new approaches substantiates his involvement in the Parisian milieu.

            (3) A third article scrutinizes the Vita, analyzing its purpose and the image it constructs of Martin, while comparing it with the insights that the Liber Sermonum provides. This article argues that Lucas of Tuy had an interest to establish a specifically Iberian or Leonese saint; this is why he omits more than half of Martin’s life – Martin was not in the Iberian Peninsula in these decades. Otherwise, the comparison of Vita and Liber Sermonum nicely corroborates Martin’s activities: for example, the Vita tells us that he encountered heretics in Southern France in the early 1190s (before entering the monastery in León), while the Liber Sermonum betrays ample interest in the issue of heretics, devoting one section specifically to the Cathars. Likewise, Martin’s ambitions are corroborated by several papal letters of the time that call for crusading in Iberia, parallel to the Eastern expeditions (especially Clement III’s letters in 1188).

            (4) A fourth article will incorporate the project’s final results, remaining currently still work-in-progress: Martin’s Liber Sermonum is an exceptional work in structure and length; it cannot be identified with any established genre, even though its paratext says throughout that this is preaching material (its title, its prologue, and its organization according to the liturgical calendar entitling sections as if they were sermons for specific feasts). However, many of these ‘sermon texts’ are way too lengthy for being just sermons ready for use and, thus, the question of these texts’ nature arises. This article investigates this question, reaching some conclusions about the purpose of the Liber Sermonum, the historical context in which it needs to be placed, its bold testimony for late twelfth century preaching, preceding the Friars in many efforts, and finally Martin’s ambitions to implement Parisian methods and ideas of crusading on the Iberian Peninsula, thus foreshadowing what several papal legates would attempt in subsequent decades.

            Martin’s work provides intriguing insights into the world of the late twelfth century, its ample concern with crusading and popular preaching, and the involvement of the Iberian Peninsula in these matters. Even though remaining perhaps marginal to the overall efforts of the Latin West, Martin’s case shows how a cleric of Iberian origin departed for Paris like so many others did from several European regions, then got quite around as a preacher, being involved in several significant phenomena, and finally ended up again at home, bringing his vast Liber Sermonum with him (its only copy was penned in San Isidoro around 1200), a fact that suggests that it was Martin’s explicit intention to implement this preaching material eventually for purposes in León, crusading and otherwise. His Vita tells us, for example, that he was involved in the destruction of the Jewish castle in León in 1196, while the Liber Sermonum holds extensive anti-Jewish material. This project established thus Martin as both a diligent crusade preacher and an important protagonist of the Iberian Peninsula, at a time when much was under development in both areas. His case study shows how worthwhile it is to move beyond classic historiographical sources and to consider the vast surviving sermon material of the Middle Ages (around 140 000 texts between 1150 and 1350 alone): the Liber Sermonumbetrays in an excellent way how such sources can provide vital but hitherto overlooked insights into several historical phenomena.

Photo: Saladin entreißt dem fliehenden König Guido von Lusignan das Heilige Kreuz, in: Chronica Maiora, URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saladin_Guy.jpg?uselang=de] (11.01.2023).

An Aging Warrior: King James I of Aragon

Christian Neumann, DHI Rom

Zusammenfassung: Obwohl zu König Jakob I. von Aragon und seiner Zeit eine umfangreiche Forschungsliteratur vorliegt, findet sich allerdings bisher kein Beitrag, der sich speziell seinem Alter(n) widmet. Abgesehen von Jakob I. kann man feststellen, dass das Thema Alter(n) und Herrschaft im Allgemeinen bislang nur wenig Aufmerksamkeit erfahren hat. Von den zahlreichen Fragen, die diesbezüglich gestellt werden könnten, möchte ich mich auf vier relevante Aspekte konzentrieren und sie innerhalb des zur Verfügung stehenden Rahmens darstellen: Beginn und Konzept des Alters, Kriegsführung, Krankheit und Gesundheit sowie Regierungsdauer.

Abstract: Although King James I of Aragon is a well-studied monarch, no articles specifically dedicated to his aging and old age are available. Apart from James’s case, it is evident the subject of old age and rulership, in general, has received fairly little attention to date. From the many questions that could be posed concerning this topic, I would like to focus on four relevant aspects and comment on them within the space available here, namely the onset and concept of old age, warfare, illness and health, and the length of reign.

In 1274, King James I of Aragon arrived at the Second Council of Lyon. At that time, he was already 66 years old, and hence the question arises whether he himself accepted his old age. From all accounts, it does not seem to be the case because he had his horse perform tricks with him as the rider to impress everyone present from which it is evident that James intended not to let his age show. According to his version of the event in his “Llibre dels Fets,” he was successful in this endeavor because the noblemen, most of whom were certainly much younger, then said: “Lo, the king is not so old as people said! He could still give a Turk a good lance thrust.”

Even though some monographs and a considerable number of collective volumes on old age have been published so far, the aging process of rulers has received little attention. This also applies to James I as – despite him being a well-studied king – there are currently no articles specifically dedicated to his aging and old age. The minor and seemingly marginal episode mentioned above poses several questions regarding a rulerʼs old age:

1. From which age was a ruler considered to be old? 

2. How did aging rulers deal with the expectation of their subjects to lead wars?

3. How are the illnesses of aging rulers depicted and how were they dealt with?

4. How was a long reign perceived?

Although it is impossible to provide comprehensive answers to these questions within the limited scope of this post, I nevertheless intend to offer some brief explanations concerning these aspects. A much fuller analysis of both King Jamesʼs old age and the topic of aging rulers, in general, can be found in the upcoming book edited by the author “Old Age before Modernity. Case Studies and Methodological Perspectives, 500 BC‒1700 AD” (forthcoming in early 2023 as part of the series “Online-Schriften des DHI Rom. Neue Reihe”). This collection of essays, written by experts from several humanistic disciplines and gerontology, analyzes old age and aging in the premodern period, especially in the Middle Ages. In this blog, I would like to mention two articles that concern Iberian topics: José Miguel Andrade Cernadas (Santiago de Compostela) studies old age with reference to Galician monasteries, thereby addressing questions of intergenerational relationships, demography, and gender. Daniela Santoro (Palermo) deals with medicine and physicians at the royal court of Sicily over the course of several centuries, including the Aragonese period.

Now, returning to the questions raised above, it is apparent that King Jamesʼs case shows that a rulerʼs old age did not start from a specific chronological threshold. In the medieval period, the number 50 was symbolically laden because, in the context of many conceptions of the ages of man, it marked the onset of old age, “senectus,” or the onset of a period of transition into it that was called “gravitas.” However, there was no universally accepted definition for the start of old age and, in any case, one was not extremely old at 50. For medieval people, it seems to have been more relevant how long a person could perform their duties: the so-called “functional age” mattered more than the exact number of years of the life of the individual.

Although King James might have stayed in fairly good health until the early 1270s, he was then certainly beyond the age limit that was considered appropriate for military actions. Nevertheless, he was the head of state and military leader of his realm who was greatly honored for his conquests in his youth and middle years and his personal ambition to fulfill this role even in his old age never ceased. As an orphan, he was raised by the Knights Templar to be a “warrior king,” and consequently focused on his “deeds” which he considered to be ordained by God. Historical research has shown that James was also a proficient lawgiver and administrator. While such activities could have been more suitable roles for an elderly monarch, the “Llibre” only concedeslittle space to them which suggests that it was the role of the warrior which mattered most to the king.

In the “Llibre,” illnesses are very rarely mentioned and were considered to be punishments from God. In the late 1260s, James still traveled through his entire kingdom on horseback to organize a crusade to the Holy Land. Although it does not seem impossible that the king remained in good health, one has to ask whether his continuous battles and journeys on horseback did not take a certain toll on him. According to the “Llibre,” he became seriously ill only in his final days, but this is most probably a narrative construction because the portrayal of an aging king who is plagued by illness cannot be aligned with his self-image of a valiant knight. In studying his itinerary, one can observe that the number of journeys he undertook and the distances he traveled diminished considerably during the last two years of his reign.

As James ascended the throne as a boy in 1213, his reign extended over 63 years which is an extraordinarily long time for the Middle Ages and the king interpreted it as a sign of divine providence. In his deathbed speech to his son Peter, James compares the length of his rule to that of the biblical kings David and Solomon who reigned for 40 years – James reigned for much longer than they did. Due to his outstanding conquests, the chronicler Ramon Muntaner revered the king as an ideal ruler of a “golden age.” Accordingly, Muntaner depicts James as living a “good” old age and dying a “good” death. 

King James I’s case has shown that concepts of aging and old age are historically variable. If we compare our present situation with the Middle Ages, we can observe that the societal importance of chronological age has increased significantly. Through the “Llibre,” one can grasp fairly well the self-image of an aging king that cannot be studied for many other rulers: this image was primarily built on the role King James had in his youth and middle years. Writing about illnesses and aging processes cannot be reconciled with this image and the heroic narrative of the “Llibre”. Furthermore, we can see how much the theological and spiritual dimension of old age mattered to people in the Middle Ages. In the future, it would be desirable for historical research to further explore these aspects and manifold others related to old age and rulership, of which only very little has been expounded here.

Selected bibliography

The “Llibre dels Fets”: Les Quatre grans Cròniques, vol. 1: Llibre dels feits del rei En Jaume, ed. by Ferran Soldevila, rev. by Jordi Bruguera/Maria Teresa Ferrer i Mallol, Barcelona 2008 (Memòries de la Secció Historico-Arqueològica 73). 

On James I: Ernest Belenguer, Jaume I i el seu regnat, Lleida 2007; Stefano Maria Cingolani, Jaume I. Història i mite d’un rei, Barcelona 2007 (Biografíes i memòries 68); FerranSoldevila, Vida de Jaume I el Conqueridor, Barcelona 1958 (Biblioteca catalana 14); Maria Teresa Ferrer i Mallol (Ed.), Jaume I. Commemoració del VIII centenari del naixement de Jaume I, 2 vols., Barcelona 2011–2013 (Memòries de la Secció Històrico-Arqueològica 91–92). 

On old age in the Middle Ages: Thijs Porck, Old Age in Early Medieval England. A Cultural History, Woodbridge 2019 (Anglo-Saxon Studies 33); Shulamith Shahar, Growing Old in the Middle Ages. London-New York 1997; Georges Minois, Histoire de la vieillesse en Occident de l’Antiquité à la Renaissance, Paris 1987 (Nouvelles études historiques). 

On the ages of man: Elizabeth Sears, The Ages of Man. Medieval Interpretations of the Life Cycle, Princeton 1986. 

An introduction to gerontology: Hans-Werner Wahl/Vera Heyl, Gerontologie – Einführung und Geschichte, Stuttgart 22015 (Grundriss Gerontologie 1).

Photo: Head of an Old Man by Palma il Giovane (Jacopo Negretti) ©Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano, URL: [https://pinacotecabrera.org/en/collezione-online/opere/testa-di-vecchio/] (07.12.2022).

Die Synagoge in christlichem Dienst — Die Umwandlung der Synagogen an der Wende zum 15. Jahrhundert in Kastilien und Aragón

Franziska Kleybolte, Universität Münster

Abstract: The conversion of sacred space by members of another religion is a phenomenon that runs through history and can also be traced again and again for the Iberian Peninsula since Visigothic times and through various parties. The structural conversion of synagogues into churches, however, did not occur until the end of the 14th century. During this period, the situation for the Jewish communities in Sefarad deteriorated seriously in many places. This is also reflected in the politics that the synagogues experienced and which now became increasingly victims of various forms of Christian appropriation (destruction, conversion, Christian sermons in the synagogue). Here, as it is argued, the Christian authorities targeted the institutional and symbolic function and significance of the synagogue.

Resumen: La conversión de un espacio sagrado por parte de miembros de otra religión es un fenómeno que recorre la historia y que se puede rastrear una y otra vez para la Península Ibérica desde la época visigoda y por miembros tanto del cristianismo como del islam. Sin embargo, la conversión estructural de las sinagogas en iglesias no se produjo sino hasta finales del siglo XIV. Durante este periodo, la situación de las comunidades judías de Sefarad se deterioró gravemente en varios lugares. Esto se refleja también en la política que experimentaron las sinagogas, que fueron sujetas cada vez más a diversas formas de apropiación cristiana (destrucción, conversión, sermones cristianos predicados en la sinagoga). Este artículo argumenta que las autoridades cristianas apuntaron a la función y el significado institucional y simbólico de la sinagoga.

Zusammenfassung: Ist die Umwandlung von sakralem Raum durch Mitglieder einer anderen Religion ein die Geschichte durchziehendes Phänomen und lässt sich auch für die Iberische Halbinsel seit Visigothischer Zeit und durch verschiedene Parteien immer wieder nachvollziehen, so trat die strukturelle Umwandlung von Synagogen in Kirchen erst mit dem Ende des 14. Jahrhunderts auf. In dieser Zeit verschlechterter sich die Situation für die jüdischen Gemeinden in Sefarad vielerorts gravierend. Dies zeigt sich auch in der Politik, welche die Synagogen erfuhren und nun vermehrtes Opfer von verschiedenen Formen der christlichen Appropriation (Zerstörung, Umwandlung, christliche Predigten in der Synagoge) wurden. Dabei wurde von christlicher Seite, so die Argumentation, zum einen auf die institutionelle und symbolische Funktion und Bedeutung der Synagoge abgezielt.

Die Umwandlung von Synagogen1  in christliche Gotteshäuser ist eine stete Begleiterin der Synagogengeschichte, der Forschung gemeinhin bekannt und doch wissenschaftlich wenig untersucht – so auch für die mittelalterlich Iberische Halbinsel2 Dies ist nicht nur angesichts der Menge an Synagogenumwandlungen bemerkenswert, die dort vorgenommen wurden – nach meinen Recherchen wurden zwischen dem 11. und 16. Jahrhundert von christlicher Seite mehr als 200 Synagogen in Kapellen, Kirchen oder Klöster, umgewandelt –, sondern auch ob der damit einhergehenden Bekanntheit des Phänomens: “The Iberian peninsula […] is the most famous for the phenomenon of former synagogue buildings surviving as churches.”3

Auch wenn die Praxis der Umwandlung von sakralen Stätten ‚der Anderen‘ in Iberien seit visigothischer Zeit kontinuierlich praktiziert wurde, so traf dies Synagogen strukturell erst unter christlicher Herrschaft ab dem Ende des 14. Jahrhunderts im Zusammenhang mit der Verfolgung der jüdischen Gemeinden von Kastilien-Leon und Aragón 1391/92. Interessant ist dabei, dass Ferrand Martines, jener Prediger, welcher als Katalysator, wenn nicht direkter Auslöser der Verfolgungen betrachtet wird,4 bereits seit den 1380er Jahren explizit gegen die Synagogen predigte und ihre Zerstörungen anordnete: „Ich, Ferrand Martines, […] ordne Euch den Klerikern und Kirchendienern von Santolalla de la Sierra an, […] dass ihr innerhalb von drei Stunden die Synagoge zerstört, in welcher die Feinde Gottes und der Kirche, die Juden genannt werden, […] ihre Idolatrie betreiben.“5

Wenn auch die vielen während und nach 1391/92 durchgeführten Synagogenumwandlungen als Folge der Verfolgungen verstanden werden können, so ist auch die bereits zuvor bestehende anti-synagogale Stimmung, hier ausgedrückt in den von Martines überlieferten Aussagen, für die folgenden Entwicklungen als treibend zu verstehen. Die Ereignisse von 1391/92, welche ob ihrer Transregionalität und ihres Ausmaßes immer wieder als Wendepunkt in der mittelalterlich sefardischen Geschichte betont werden,6 lassen sich daher – so die These – auch als Wendepunkt in der christlichen Synagogenpolitik in Kastilien und Aragón verstehen.

Die Synagoge, welche weit mehr als eine bloß religiöse Funktionen erfüllte und die zentrale Institution und häufig auch das zentrale Gebäude einer jeden jüdischen Gemeinde darstellte,7 war von christlichen iberischen Autoritäten, im Wissen um die Bedeutung für die jüdische Seite, stets realpolitisch instrumentalisiert worden, wie Yom Tov-Assis betont: „The decision of the king-counts concerning synagogues were generally in accord with their favourable policy towards the Jews and should be interpreted in the wider context of their attitudes towards the Jewish community.“8 Diese ‚wohlgesinnte Politik‘ bestand insbesondere in der Genehmigung synagogaler Neubauten, was seit der Antike gesetzlich verboten war, sowie der Renovierung von Synagogen, was wiederum gesetzlich stark eingeschränkt war.9 Mit dem Ende des 14. Jahrhunderts lässt sich umgekehrt eine zunehmend rigide Politik und Praxis erkennen. Gewiss hatte es auch in den Jahrhunderten zuvor Umwandlungen von, Angriffe auf, und die Umsetzung jener einschränkenden Gesetze bezüglich der Synagogen gegeben; und gleichwohl bestanden auch im 15. Jahrhundert Synagogen fort und wurden neu gebaut. Doch nahmen zum einen die physischen Angriffe auf die Synagoge in Form von Zerstörung, Beschädigung und Umwandlung zu. Zum anderen lässt sich eine Verschiebung der Akteur*innen erkennen. Hatte es sich bei den Aggressor*innen zuvor in der Regel um die lokale Bevölkerung oder regionale Kleriker gehandelt, waren es zunehmend die Könige selbst, die Synagogen appropriierten, indem sie keine Hilfe leisteten oder selbst Gesetze und Anordnungen erließen, die direkt oder indirekt verschiedene Arten von Appropriationen, darunter auch Konversionen, zur Folge hatten.10

Die Analyse der Umwandlung von Synagogen in Kirchen im späten 14. und frühen 15. Jahrhundert in den Königreichen Kastilien-Leon und Aragón ist das Thema meines Promotionsprojektes. Das Projekt will damit einen Beitrag zur Untersuchung dieses noch wenig erforschten Themas darstellen. Von jüdischer wie christlicher Seite besaß die Synagoge zahlreiche Funktionen und war auf inter-, intra- und extrareligiösen Ebene symbolisch stark aufgeladen. Die analytische Konzentration auf diese Umwandlungen lässt sich daher auch als Linse begreifen, in deren Brennpunkt diese drei Ebenen verschmelzen.

Photo: Gebäudebeschilderung außen an der Wand der Corpus Christi Kirche in Segovia, der ehemaligen Sinagoga Mayor (Hauptsynagoge) Segovias, welche zwischen 1410 und 1419 vermutlich mit Erlaubnis der Regentin Katharina von Lancaster umgewandelt wurde. Ein Bericht 50 Jahre später setzt die Umwandlung in den Zusammenhang mit einem Hostienfrevelvorwurf. (Bild: von der Autorin aufgenommen).

  1. Umwandlung meint hier den gesamten Prozess der Enteignung einer Synagoge mit anschließender Umfunktionierung (Weihe, zuweilen Umbau, Abriss zum Neubau) und Weiterverwendung für eigene Zwecke. Zumeist handelte es sich dabei um sakrale Zwecke, doch manche Räume wurden auch profaniert und etwa als Wohnhäuser oder Ställe verwendet. Es ist aus den Quellen nicht immer zu entnehmen, ob entsprechende Umwandlungen bereits vor oder mit der Enteignung der Synagogen vorgesehen waren. Die Quellen, die überliefert sind und die Fülle an Umwandlungen, welche auf eine etablierte und damit routinierte Praxis hindeuten, legen dies jedoch nahe. So wird bei diesen Umwandlungen generell – selbstverständlich mit Ausnahmen – von einer gezielten Handlung ausgegangen. []
  2. Mehr noch finden sich Einzelstudien in Form von Aufsätzen, welche sich der Umwandlung einer sakralen Stätte zuwenden, jedoch keine Überblickswerke. So gibt es kein solches Werk für die Iberische Halbinsel. Umwandlungen werden in Überblickwerken zu Synagogen wie von Cantera Burgos oder Luis Lacave genannt, aber nicht explizit thematisiert: Francisco Cantera Burgos, Sinagogas Espanolas. Con Especial Estudio de la de Cordoba y la Toledana de El Transito, Madrid 1955 und José Luis Lacave, Juderías y Sinagogas Españolas, Bilbao 1992. Zu umfassenderen Studien von Synagogenumwandlungen im Heiligen Römischen Reich (HRR) z. B. Röckelein, Hedwig, Die grabstain, so vil tausent guldin wert sein. Vom Umgang der Christen mit Synagogen und jüdischen Friedhöfen im Mittelalter und am Beginn der Neuzeit, in: Aschkenas 5.1 (1995), S. 11–46; Minty, Mary, ‚Judengasse‘ to Christian Quarter. The Phenomenon of the Converted Synagogue in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Holy Roman Empire, in: Bob Scriber/Trevor Johnson (hg.), Popular Religion in Germany and Central Europe. 1400–1800, London 1996, S. 58–86; Mitchell Merback, Pilgrimage & Pogrom. Violence, Memory, and Visual Culture at the Host-Miracle Shrines of Germany and Austria, Chicago/London 2012. Zu Studien von Einzelbeispielen im HRR z. B. Allyson F.Creasman, The Virgin Mary Against the Jews. Anti-Jewish Polemic in the Pilgrimage to the Schöne Maria of Regensburg, 1519–25, in: The Sixteenth Century Journal 33. 4 (2002), S. 963–980; Mitchell Merback, The Vanquished Synagogue the Risen Host and the Grateful Dead at the Salvatorkirche in Passau, in: Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art and Architecture 1, 4 (2005), S. 1–29; und Elzbieta Jastrzebowska, The Church Atop a Synagogue in Chersonesos, in: Archaeologia 62–63 (2011/12), S. 61–73. Für die Iberische Halbinsel lässt sich auch hier keine explizite Einzelstudie finden, aber die Umwandlungen werden häufig in allgemeinen Untersuchungen zu den Synagogen mitverhandelt. S. z. B. Bartolomé Herrero, Bonifacio, La Sinagoga Mayor de Segovia y sus Propiedades Urbanas a Comienzos del Siglo XV, in: Sefarad 72.1 (2012), S. 191–225. Anders verhält sich dies interessanter Weise bei den Umwandlungen von Moscheen, welche etwa von Heather Ecker, Amy Remensnyder und Tobias Arera-Rütenik eingehender untersucht wurden. []
  3. Barry L. Stiefel, Jews and the Renaissance of Synagogue Architecture, 1450–1730. London 2014, S. 13. []
  4. Wenig ist über den Erzdiakon von Ecija, Ferrand Martines, bekannt. Die ausführlichste Studie über Martines stammt bisher aus dem 19. Jahrhundert: Henry Charles Lea, Ferrand Martinez and the Massacres of 1391, in: The American Historical Review 1,2 (1896), S. 209–219. Maya S. Irish befasst sich jedoch auch ausführlicher mit ihm im Kontext ihrer Untersuchungen zu den Verfolgungen von 1391/92: Maya Soifer Irish, Toward 1391: The anti-Jewish preaching of Ferrant Martinez in Seville, in: Johnathan Adams/Cordelia Hess (hg.), The Medieval Roots of Antisemitism: Continuities and Discontinuities From the Middle Ages to the Present Day, London 2018, S. 306–319. Eine Monographie von ihr zu den Verfolgungen ist im Entstehen (S. ihren Internetaufritt an de Rice University: https://profiles.rice.edu/faculty/maya-soifer-irish (zuletzt aufgerufen am 26.10.22). []
  5. Yo, Ferrand Martines […] mando á vos los cléricos é sacristanes de Santolalla de la Sierra […] ffasta tres oras derroquedes la casa Sinagoga, en que los enemigos de Dios é de la Iglesia, que se llama Judíos, (…) ffasen su idolatría.“ (Übers. der Autorin), AHN, CLERO-REGULAR-SECULAR, 7215, n° 7. Mit kleinen Fehlern auch ediert in Jitzhak Baer, Die Juden im christlichen Spanien. Erster Teil: Urkunden und Regesten, Vol. II, Berlin 1929, S. 211ff. and José Amador de los Ríos, Historia social, política y religiosa de los judíos en España y Portugal. Vol. 2, Madrid 1876, S. 531ff. []
  6. Vgl. z.B. Angus MacKay, Popular Movements and Pogroms in Fifteenth-Century Castile, in: Past & Present 55 (1972), S. 33-67, hier: S. 39. []
  7. S. Yom-Tov Assis, Synagogues in Medieval Spain, in: Jewish Art 18 (1992), S. 6–29. []
  8. Yom-Tov Assis, Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry: Community and Society in the Crown of Aragón. 1213–1327, Liverpool 1997, S. 210. []
  9. Vgl. Simon Paulus, Die Architektur der Synagoge im Mittelalter. Überlieferung und Bestand, Petersberg 2007, S. 33–38. []
  10. S. als Bsp. die unterlassene Verteidigung etwa während der Verfolgungen von 1391/92 von königlicher Seite in Kastilien-León und Aragón und der ausbleibenden Nachverfolgung und Bestrafung von Täter*innen im Nachhinein. Vgl. z. B. Benjamin R. Gampel, Anti-Jewish Riots in the Crown of Aragón and the Royal Response, 1391–1392, Cambridge 2016. S. zu den erlassenen Regeln die Gesetze von Ayllon, welche eine gesellschaftliche wie räumliche Ausgrenzung der jüdischen wie muslimischen Bevölkerung vorsah. Im Zuge der Umsiedlung der jüdischen Bevölkerung in von der christlichen Bevölkerung getrennten Vierteln, kam es vielfach zur Umwandlung von Synagogen. Vgl. Carolina M. Ley Losada, Divina y Ley Terrena. Antijudaísmo y Estrategias de Conversión en la Campaña Castellana de San Vicente Ferrer (1411–1412), in: Hispania Sacra 65 (2013), S. 603–640. Vicente Ferrer, welcher von Juan II. (1405–1454) beziehungsweise seiner als Regentin waltenden Mutter Katharina von Lancaster (wahrscheinl. 1373–1418), zur Durchsetzung jener Gesetze angeheuert wurde und selbst in die in Aragón kurze Zeit spätere stattfindende Disputation von Tortosa eingeweiht war, führte durch seine Predigten wiederum zu Angriffen auf Synagogen. Vgl. ebd. und Carolina M. Ley Losada, Powerful Words. St Vincent Ferrer’s Preaching and the Jews in Medieval Castile, in: Thomas V.Cohen/ Lesley K. Twomey (hg.), Spoken Word and Social Practice. Orality in Europe (1400–1700), Leiden 2015, S. 200-221 und Pedro Cátedra García, Sermón, sociedad y literatura en la Edad Media. San Vicente Ferrer en Castilla (1411–1412). Estudio bibliográfico, literario y edición de textos inéditos, Salamanca 1994. Eine Verschärfung der Regelungen zu Synagogen lässt sich zudem explizit auch in einer Bulle Benedikts XIII. (1328 o. 1342/43–1423) aus dem Jahre 1415 finden, welche sich zwar inhaltlich kaum von vorhergehenden Bullen und Erlässen (s. Fußn. 9) unterscheidet, hinsichtlich seiner Schärfe jedoch sehr. S. die edierte Bulle in: Amador de los Ríos, Vol. 2 1876, S. 549f. und vgl. Paulus 2007, S. 37. []

Alfons V. and his predators – Control through Goodwill

Laurin Herberich, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Zusammenfassung: Alfons V. el Magnànim war nicht unbedingt für seine kulante Haltung bekannt, wenn es um Politik ging. Nachdem er die Genuesen, Mamluken, Venezianer und die meisten anderen Seemächte des östlichen Mittelmeeres nach seinem Herrschaftsantritt im Jahre 1416 antagonisiert hatte, hatte er sich sicherlich einen gewissen Ruf verdient. Um so überraschender ist seine Reaktion auf eine Seeraubanschuldigung der Venezianer aus dem Jahr 1424. Kann man ihm aufgrund dieser etwa Kulanz attestieren? Basierend auf bisher unbeachteten Dokumenten des venezianischen Senates kontextualisiert und dekonstruiert Laurin Herberich diese scheinbar kulante Geste des Magnànims.

Abstract: Alfons V. el Magnànim was not necessarily known for his goodwill when it came to politics. After having antagonised the Genoese, Mamluks and Venetians and most other maritime powers in the Eastern Mediterranean since his ascension to the throne in 1416, he had cultivated a certain reputation to say the least. The more surprising is his reaction to an accusation of maritime predation by the Venetians in 1424. Was this goodwill he was showing? Working from so far unconsidered documents of the Venetian senate Laurin Herberich contextualises and deconstructs the Magnànim’s supposed gesture of goodwill.

Alfons V. el Magnànim pursued an ambitious sea power policy in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of already established maritime powers like the Mamluks, Genoese and Venetians.1 Against the Mamluks this policy, which mostly relied on maritime predators, was implemented in the form of punitive raids on coastal areas.2 Against the dominant Christian maritime powers in the Eastern Mediterranean Alfons’ policy became visible in incidents of maritime predation.3 Because most other key staging areas for predatorial and mercantile ventures were already occupied by Venice and Genoa,4 the Crown’s sea experts sailed from Sardinia, Sicily and especially Rhodes.5 The Hospitallers ruling the latter since 1312 to Venice’s chagrin6 and its competitors delight7 even provided individuals with predation licenses from at least 1413 onwards.8 Nevertheless Venetian merchants were now and then forced to anchor in Rhodes, if they wanted to take part in the Levant trade.9

This was the plan of Venetians Nicolaus Torellio and his associates heading for Damiette from Crete in late July 1423 on the vessel of patron Michael Maurothodoro. His vessel was forced to anchor in Rhodes harbour due to bad weather.10 After a couple of days two Catalan vessels pulled into port.11 The Catalans under their captain Moysius Servente proceeded to detain the Venetians on their own ship for several days, while they robbed them, carrying Venetian goods to their own cochae and even selling them to bystanders in the harbour. Somehow the Venetian merchants managed to appeal to the Grandmaster for help,12 but he refused.13

A possible explanation for his refusal is that Moysius Servente had received a predation license from the Rhodian authorities. This is likely for two reasons. The first is that during the following restitution negotiations the Venetian senate was convinced this was the case.14 The second reason is that there are other incidents of maritime predation in Rhodes harbour, after which the Hospitallers were more than happy to help Venetian victims document their damages and press charges.15

Although Moysius Servente had thus seemingly operated under a Rhodian license, the senate openly stated that it would prefer to receive restitution from the Crown of Aragón instead, because Venice winning the restitution negotiations would lead to more maritime predation in Rhodes harbour and because the Crown could afford to loose some money.16 To get Alfons to restitute the damages, the senate wanted the Hospitallers to support Venice’s restitution claim.17 Keenly aware that delaying the case would be a disadvantage for Venice,18 the senate attached the Servente case to several other cases19 it was demanding restitution for.20

After the Venetian envoys had returned to the senate on June 13th 1425, they reported success. Curiously though el Magnànim had dragged Moysius Servente in front of the Venetian envoys offering them to imprison him like Venice had demanded, but only, if all other maritime predators, for whose misdeeds the Venetians were demanding restitution, would be punished like Servente. This the Venetian envoys had declined, because they knew, as they said, that the king could not possibly get a hold of all of them and thus would have never payed restitution for the other cases. So they agreed to the financial restitution of all cases, including Servente’s.21 But did king Alfons V. decide to pay the 4.649 ducats demanded by Venice for the Rhodes incident, which he had not sanctioned, just as a gesture of goodwill?22

No matter if Moysius Servente was a maritime predator with a Rhodian license uncontrolled by the Hospitallers or an unlicensed one uncontrolled by the king of Aragón, control is a possible explanation for the latter’s ‘goodwill’. If Alfons V. wanted to assert his authority over his subjects capable of maritime predation, indebting them to himself might have been a good idea. Uncontrolled maritime predators could be a financial and political liability. By taking on political and especially financial responsibility for their misdeeds, he was increasing the number of ships he could use to project his sea power in the Eastern Mediterranean without getting drawn into undesired conflicts.

Photo: Grünenberg, Konrad von, Beschreibung der Reise von Konstanz nach Jerusalem, Bodenseegebiet ca. 1487, in: Chart. A 541, folio 16v–17r, URL: [https://dhb.thulb.uni-jena.de/receive/ufb_cbu_00025778urn: nbn:de:urmel-ufb-152779-8-0011] (08.10.2022).

  1. Coulon, Damien, The Commercial Influence of the Crown of Aragon in the Eastern Mediterranean (Thirteenth–Fifteenth Centuries), in: The Crown of Aragon. A Singular Mediterranean Empire (Brill’s Companions to European History, 12), ed. Flocel Sabaté, Leiden 2017,p.294; Ashtor, Eliyahu, Levant trade in the later Middle Ages, Princeton 1983, ND 2014, pp. 365–367. []
  2. Ashtor, Levant trade, 1983, ND 2014, pp. 222–226, 283–285, 300. []
  3. Balard, Michel, Le Commerce en Méditerranée orientale: Diffusion des Produits, Capital humain, Conflicts politiques (XIIIe-XVe S.), in: La Corona Catalanoaragonesa, l’Islam I el Món mediterrani. Estudis d’Història medieval en Homenatge a la Doctora Maria Teresa Ferrer I Mallol (Anuario de Estudios medievales, Anejo 71), ed. Josefina Mutgé I Vives, Roser Salicrú I Lluch, Carles Vela Aulesa, Barcelona 2013, pp. 23–25. []
  4. Unali, Anna, Marineros, Piratas y Corsarios Catalanes en la Baja Edad Media (Isla de la Tortuga, 8), Sevilla 2007, pp. 137–174. Having collided with Genoa over Corsica and Sardinia in the years between 1419 and 1423. []
  5. Katele, Irene, Captains and corsairs. Venice and Piracy. 1261–1381, Diss. Ann Harbour 1986, pp. 35, 43, 46–47; Ferrer i Mallol, Barcelona i la política mediterrània catalana: el Parlament de 1400-1401, in: 14. Congresso di storia della Corona d’Aragona. Sassari-Alghero 19-24 maggio 1990 sul tema La Corona d’Aragona in Italia (secc. 13-18), vol. 2 (vols. 1-2), ed. Maria Grazia Meloni, Sassari 1995, pp. 428–439; Coureas, Nicolas, Piracy in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean during the Later Middle Ages (14th-15th centuries), in: Mésogeios 12 (2001), p. 200; Bonneaud, Pierre, The Influential Trade: Community of Western Merchants on Hospitaller Rhodes (1421-1480), in: Union in Separation. Diasporic Groups and Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean (1100-1800) (Viella Historical Research, 1), eds. Georg Christ, Franz-Julius Morche, Roberto Zaugg, Wolfgang Kaiser, Stefan Burkhardt, Alexander Daniel Beihammer, Rom 2015, p. 398; Id., Els Hospitalers Catalans a la fi de l’Edat Mitjana. L’orde de l’Hospital a Catalunya i a la Mediterrània, 1396–1472 (Els Ordes Militars, 11), Lleida 2008, p. 161. []
  6. Vann, Theresa, Hospitallers and Piracy on Rhodes, 14th-16th centuries, in: Seeraub im Mittelmeerraum. Piraterie, Korsarentum und maritime Gewalt von der Antike bis zur Neuzeit (Mittelmeerstudien, 3), eds. Nikolas Jaspert and Sebastian Kolditz, Paderborn 2013, p. 251; Luttrell, Anthony, The Hospitallers in Cyprus, Rhodes, Greece and the West, 1291–1440. Collected studies (Variorum collected studies series, 77), London 1978, V, p. 201; Id., Studies on the Hospitallers after 1306 (Variorum collected studies series, 874), Aldershot 2007, XVI, pp. 66–67; Bonneaud, The Influential Trade, 2015, pp. 395–397; Ashtor, Levant trade, 1983, ND 2014, pp. 365–367. []
  7. Coureas, Piracy, 2001, p. 200; Ashtor, Levant trade, 1983, ND 2014, p. 391; Balard, Commerce, p. 27. []
  8. Luttrell, Anthony, The Hospitaller State on Rhodes and its Western Provinces, 1306–1462 (Variorum collected studies series, 655), Aldershot 1999, VIII, pp. 177–178, 180; Bonneaud, Le prieuré de Catalogne, 2004, p. 154; Vann, Hospitallers and Piracy on Rhodes, 2013, pp. 251, 260. []
  9. Bonneaud, The Influential Trade, 2015, p. 397. []
  10. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 24–27, Régestes des délibérations du sénat de Venise concernant la Romanie, vol. II: 1400–1430 (Documents et recherches sur l’économie des pays byzantins islamiques et slaves et leurs relations commerciales au moyen-âge, 2), ed. Freddy Thiriet, Paris 1959, p. 209, reg. 1902; ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 2–4, Documents inédits relatifs à l’histoire de la Grèce au moyen âge (Μνημεια Ελληνικης Ιστορις), vol. 1,3, ed. Kōnstantinos N. Sathas, Paris 1882, p. 258, reg. 832, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 211, reg. 1913;ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 1–4, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 228, reg. 1991. []
  11. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 27–28, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902; ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 4; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 258, reg. 832, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 211, reg. 1913. []
  12. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 28–30, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902; ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 1–2, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 228, reg. 1991. []
  13. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 33–35, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902; ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 13–19, Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 258, reg. 832, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 211, reg. 1913. Even the local notaries refused to officialy confirm their damages, cf. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 35–36, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902; ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 19–20; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 258, reg. 832, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 211, reg. 1913. []
  14. The senate negotiated with the government of Rhodes for more than a year after the incident to get the grandmaster to restitute the damages, cf. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 1–2, 24–27, 39–42, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902, ASV.Misti.55.52v (06.09.1424), l. 1–18; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, pp. 272–273, reg. 848, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 220, reg. 1953. It also threatened the Hospitallers with what was likely a reprisal action by the capitano del golfo several times during the negotiations calling Rhodes a port of call for maritime predators, cf. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 39, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902, ASV.Misti.54.163v (13.12.1423), l. 24–25; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 258–259, reg. 832, Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 211, reg. 1913, ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), l. 15–19, Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 260, reg. 834, ASV.Misti.55.52v (06.09.1424), l. 29–31; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, pp. 272–273, reg. 848; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 220, reg. 1953. []
  15. ASV.Commemoriali.9.141v, l. 1–8, 26–29. Libri.9.142r, l. 1–10, 12–28. []
  16. ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), l. 6–13, 15–19; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 260, reg. 834. Likely because the Hospitaller government was too weak to get the restitution payment back from its predator. []
  17. ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), l. 13–15; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 260, reg. 834. []
  18. ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), l. 4–6; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 260, reg. 834. []
  19. ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), l. 11–13; Sathas, Documents, vol. 1,3, p. 260, reg. 834; ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 8–16; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 228, reg. 1991. []
  20. ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 1–5, 13–16; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 228, reg. 1991. []
  21. ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 5–16; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 228, reg. 1991. []
  22. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 39–42; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 209, reg. 1902ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425), l. 13–16; Thiriet, Sénat, vol. II, p. 228, reg. 1991. []

Die Apsis von Sant Pere de Burgal – Weibliche Agency im Bild

Silke Engelhardt, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract: As part of the Master’s thesis “Women’s Agency in the Context of Church Foundations in the Catalan Counties (9th-12th Century)”, the Catalan church charters edited by Ramón Ordeig i Mata in the years 1993-2004 were examined. In the course of the work on the documents, the apsis painting presented below is one of the special features, as it is the only representation of a countess of this kind that could be associated with a church consecration of the analysed corpus. 

Resumen: En el marco de la tesis de máster “La agencia de las mujeres en el contexto de las fundaciones eclesiásticas en los condados catalanes (siglos IX-XII)”, se han examinado los fueros eclesiásticos catalanes editados por Ramón Ordeig i Mata en los años 1993-2004. En el transcurso del trabajo sobre los documentos, la pintura del ábside que se presenta a continuación constituye una de las particularidades, ya que es la única representación de una condesa de este tipo que podría asociarse a una consagración eclesiástica del corpus analizado. 

Zusammenfassung: Im Rahmen der Masterarbeit «Handlungsfelder von Frauen im Kontext von Kirchengründungen in den katalanischen Grafschaften (9.-12. Jh.)» wurden die katalanischen Kirchweihen untersucht, die von Ramón Ordeig i Mata in den Jahren 1993-2004 editiert worden waren. Im Zuge der Arbeit an den Urkunden stellt die im Folgenden präsentierte Apsismalerei eine der Besonderheiten dar, da es sich um die einzige Darstellung einer Gräfin dieser Art handelt, die mit einer Kirchweihe des analysierten Korpus in Verbindung gebracht werden konnte. 

Die katalanische Romanik hat – vorwiegend im Pyrenäenraum – einen besonders reichen Fundus an Apsis- und Wandmalereien hervorgebracht. Diese sind aufgrund der nur schwer zugänglichen Lage der Kirchen noch heute erhalten. In den 20er und 30er Jahren des 20. Jh. wurden viele dieser Wandmalereien aus den Kirchen entfernt und im Museo Nacional de Calatunya (kurz: MNAC) zusammengetragen und werden dort heute noch aufbewahrt. Es handelt sich hierbei um eine der größten Sammlungen romanischer Wandmalereien.1 Das untersuchte Fragment der Apsismalerei der Kirche Sant Pere de Burgal – heute im MNAC ausgestellt – zeigt die Gräfin von Pallars Sobirà, Llucia de la Marca (†1090). Die bearbeitete Urkunde des genannten Korpus nennt die Beteiligung der Gräfin an der Weihe der Klosterkirche Santa Cecilia d’Elins in ihrer Funktion als Tutorin des noch minderjährigen Grafen Ermengol IV. von Urgell (†1092). Llucia wird in dieser Urkunde als ehrwürdige und besonders fromme Frau bezeichnet, die gleichzeitig auch die Vollmacht und Regentschaft über den Ort Elins innehatte. Llucia war zu diesem Zeitpunkt bereits verwitwet, hatte sich aber während ihrer Ehe zu Artau I. von Pallars Sobirá den Ruf großer Frömmigkeit und Großzügigkeit erworben durch Stiftungen und Förderung verschiedener Gotteshäuser u. a. auch des Klosters von Urgell. Die Rolle Llucias als Tutorin des Grafen von Urgell zeigt, dass ihr politischer Einfluss und ihre große Erfahrung gleichermaßen geschätzt wurden. Die Apsismalerei zeigt neben der genannten Urkunde die Würdigung, die die Gräfin nach ihrem Tod durch ihre Nachkommen und die Zeitgenossen erfahren hat. Im Zentrum des oberen von drei Registern befindet sich dort eine Maiestas Domini, die von den Figuren der Propheten Jesaiah und Ezechiel flankiert wird. Die Komposition wird abgeschlossen durch die Erzengel Gabriel und Michael. Im Zentralregister sind von links nach rechts ein unidentifizierter Apostel, Petrus, Maria, Johannes der Täufer mit dem Agnus Dei sowie Paulus und Johannes zu sehen. Im unteren Bereich hat sich rechts unten, etwa auf Augenhöhe der Betrachter die Darstellung der Gräfin erhalten.

Signatur Ausschnitt: Llucia de la Marca in der Apsis, Sant Pere de Burgal, MNAC, Inventory number: 113138-001, [https://www.museunacional.cat/en/colleccio/apse-el-burgal/mestre-de-pedret/113138-001], (16.02.2022).

In der Forschung herrscht Konsens darüber, dass es sich um Llucia handelt.2 Rechts auf Kopfhöhe der Frau sind noch die blassen Reste der in weißer Farbe ausgeführten Beischrift zu erkennen, die die Gräfin namentlich identifiziert: [LUZ]IA/COME/TESSA. Die weiße Schrift auf schwarzem Grund könnte ein Hinweis auf die bereits genannte Verehrung der Gräfin durch die Zeitgenossen und ihre Nachkommen sein, denn auch die Namen der Heiligen und Propheten sind auf diese Weise in die Komposition eingebracht. Llucia befindet sich ebenfalls auf Höhe des Priesters bei der Messfeier und nimmt durch diese Position gewissermaßen an der Eucharistie teil und regt durch ihre Präsenz die Gläubigen an, ihrer zu gedenken. Die Anfertigung der Malerei wird in die Regierungszeit der Söhne der Gräfin, Graf Artau II. von Pallars (†1124) und Bischof Ot von Urgell (†1122) datiert. Sie wird dem Zyklus des Mester de Pedret zugeordnet, der in der Zeit zwischen 1080 und 1120 in der Region wirkte. Da die genannte Kirche erst im Jahre 1094 an die Familie der Grafen von Pallars Sobriá übereignet wurde, muss die Malerei nach Llucias Tod angefertigt worden sein. Bei diesem Fresko handelt sich vermutlich um eine Auftragsarbeit der Kinder der verstorbenen Gräfin. Die Position der Gräfin im unteren Register der Malerei auf Augenhöhe des Priesters und an der Seite des Altars, lässt die Verstorbene aus nächster Nähe am Gottesdienst teilhaben. Castiñeiras und Camps sehen in der Gesamtkomposition eine Antwort auf die Gregorianische Reform und ordnen das Fresko in eine Reihe byzantinischer und italienischer Bilderzyklen ein, die ebenfalls die Einordnung der Laien im unteren Register eines sonst sakralen Programms zum Thema haben.3 Im Sinne der Reform des ausgehenden 11. Jh. sollte durch das ikonographische Programm der Fresken ein Rückgriff auf den Ursprung der Kirche in Rom ausgedrückt werden. Besonders die Bildkompositionen der Kirchen in Burgal, Santa Maria d’Aneu und Sant Quirze de Pedret werden in diesem Kontext gesehen. Die Fresken in Burgal werden dem Zyklus des Mester de Pedret zugeschrieben, der in etwa der Zeit zwischen 1080 und 1120 in der Region wirkte.


Amics de l’Art Romànic, Les esglésies romàniques des de Sant Pere del Burgal a la Vall d’Àsua, Barcelona 2008.

Castiñeiras, Manuel/Duran-Porta, Joan, El románico en las colecciones del MNAC, Barcelona 2008.

Féminas – el protagonismo de la mujer en los siglos del románico, hg. v. Pedro Luis Huerta Huerta, Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia) 2020.

Olañeta, Juan Antonio, La representación de donantes y promotoras femeninas en el arte románico: estrategias, modelos y circunstancias., in: Féminas – el protagonismo de la mujer en los siglos del románico, hg. v. Pedro Luis Huerta Huerta, Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia) 12020, S. 77–115.

Photo: Signatur Apsis: Sant Pere de Burgal im MNAC, Inventory number: 113138-CJT, [https://www.museunacional.cat/en/colleccio/paintings-el-burgal/mestre-de-pedret/113138-cjt], (16.02.2022).

  1. Castiñeiras, Manuel/Duran-Porta, Joan, El románico en las colecciones del MNAC, Barcelona 2008. []
  2. Ebd., S. 66; Olañeta, Juan Antonio, La representación de donantes y promotoras femeninas en el arte románico: estrategias, modelos y circunstancias., in: Féminas – el protagonismo de la mujer en los siglos del románico, hg. v. Pedro Luis Huerta Huerta, Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia) 12020, S. 77–115. Amics de l’Art Romànic, Les esglésies romàniques des de Sant Pere del Burgal a la Vall d’Àsua, Barcelona 2008. []
  3. El románico en el MNAC, S. 66. []

„in munere filiam nostram nomine Tegridiam“ – Die Leitung des Klosters San Salvador de Oña als abbatissa oder domina?

Dania Lins, Universität Paderborn

Abstract: The focus of Dania Lins’ dissertation project is to examine the participation of unmarried royal daughters in the rule of Castile and Leon, their form, status and underlying property between the 10th and 12th centuries, as well as their intertwining with the specifically Iberian infantaticum. That the question of the daughters’ status cannot be answered unequivocally, especially in the early 11th century, will be demonstrated by the exemplary work on Tigridia, daughter of Count Sancho Garcia of Castile.

Zusammenfassung: Die Untersuchung der Teilhabe unverheirateter Königstöchter an der Herrschaft in Kastilien-León, deren Ausgestaltung, Status und zugrundeliegender Besitz zwischen dem 10. und 12. Jahrhundert sowie deren Verflechtung mit dem spezifisch iberischen Infantaticum stehen im Fokus des Dissertationsprojektes von Dania Lins. Dass die Statusfrage dieser Töchter insbesondere im frühen 11. Jahrhundert nicht eindeutig zu beantworten ist, soll die beispielhafte Ausführung über Tigridia, Tochter des Grafen Sancho Garcia von Kastilien, darlegen.

In Kastilien-León bekleideten unverheiratete Königstöchter bedeutende Positionen im Reich ihrer Väter und Brüder. Diese weibliche Herrschaftsausübung gründete sich vorranging auf das sogenannte Infantaticum,1 umfangreiche Güter- und Verwaltungskomplexe, welche den Töchtern als Besitz übertragen wurden. Dass es sich bei diesen Königstöchtern um machtpolitisch und vor allem weltlich agierende Frauen handelte, belegen ihre vielfältigen dokumentarischen Zeugnisse ab der zweiten Hälfte des 11. Jahrhunderts. So sind die Töchter Fernandos I., Urraca und Elvira, an der Hälfte der erhaltenen Herrscherurkunden ihres Bruders beteiligt, stellten eigene Urkunden aus und für Sancha, Schwester Alfons VII., ist in über 20 eigenständigen Urkunden der Titel „regina“ nachzuweisen.2 Aber wie entsteht dieses Infanticum und wer sind seine Wegbereiterinnen?

Die Praxis weiblicher Teilhabe an den Herrschaftsgebieten nimmt ihren Ursprung im 10. und frühen 11. Jahrhundert, als die Grafen von Kastilien wie auch die Könige von León große Familienklöster gründeten, denen je eine ihrer Töchter vorstand.3 Durch die enge Verbindung zu einem Kloster werden diese Töchter beständig als Äbtissinnen angesehen; so auch Tigridia, die Tochter des Grafen Sancho Garcia. Im Februar 1011 stiftete das Grafenpaar von Kastilien, Sancho Garcia und Urraca, ein Kloster zu Ehren von San Salvador, Santa Maria und San Miguel in Oña am Rande des Flusses Oca. Sie statteten es mit über 100 im Gründungsdiplom aufgeführten Orten, Kirchen, Klöstern und Ländereien so umfangreich aus, dass Oña zum reichsten Kloster Kastiliens avancierte. Bestimmt war dieser Klosterkomplex für ihre Tochter Tigridia, die als „Vorsteherin und Leiterin“ eingesetzt wurde.4 Aufgrund dieser Umschreibung wird Tigridia als die erste Äbtissin von Oña wahrgenommen, die von ihren Eltern in ein monastisches Leben übergeben wurde. Der Äbtissinnen-Status bestätigt sich, so scheint es, in einer Urkunde Sancho „el Mayors“ aus dem Jahr 1017, in der der König von Navarra Tigridia das Kloster Santa Maria de las Muelas überträgt: „dono et concedo ad uso domna Tigridia abbatissa.“5 Die Authentizität dieser Urkunde ist jedoch hinsichtlich des angeführten Titels von Sancho als „re[x] Hyspaniarum“, der fehlerhaften historischen Zusammenhänge und der Zeugenliste mehr als zweifelhaft. Auch die explizite Nennung Tigrides als „abbatissa“ könnte diese Annahme stützen: Jimeno Aranguren und Pescador Medrano datieren dieses stark interpolierte oder gefälschte Diplom auf das Jahr 1033.6 In dieser Zeit gehörte das Gebiet um Oña zum navarresischen Herrschaftsgebiet, das unter Sancho III. eng mit der Reformabtei Cluny interagierte und Oña, wie schon zuvor San Juan de la Peña, in eine kanonisch regulierte Benediktinerabtei umwandelte. Sich in die Tradition einer Abtei zu stellen, deren Leitung von einer Grafentochter ohne monastische Amtsbezeichnung übernommen wurde, wird bei den Clunyazensern auf wenig Gegenliebe gestoßen sein. Ein möglicher Grund, weshalb in der interpolierten Urkunde Tigridia nicht nur als „domna“ sondern auch als „abbatissa“ bezeichnet wird; ein Titel, der sich in keiner anderen kastilischen Urkunde wiederfinden wird.

Die diplomatischen Zeugnisse über diese Herrschertochter sind jedoch rar gesät. Sie wird lediglich in der Gründungsurkunde des Klosters namentlich erwähnt: „filiam nostram nomine Tegridiam“.7 Eine kanonische Statusbeschreibung findet sich hier nicht. Die sieben weiteren Urkunden aus dem Frühjahr 1011, die im Zusammenhang mit der Gründung und Ausstattung des Klosters durch das Grafenpaar ausgestellt wurden, führen Tigridia weder im Text noch in der Zeugenliste. Erst im Jahr 1014 nennt der Graf Tigridia explizit bei einer Schenkung. In der Urkunde heißt es: „concedimus tibi filia nostra dulcissima cognominata Tegridia“.8 In einer privaten Schenkung aus dem Jahr 1016 an Oña wird sie wiederum als „domina Tegridia“((Colección diplomática de San Salvador de Oña (822 – 1284), Juan del Álamo [Hrsg.], 1950, Urk. 18.)) bezeichnet. Ein Verweis auf den Status als Äbtissin fehlt in beiden Fällen. Ein größerer Urkundenkorpus steht für diese Tochter leider nicht zur Verfügung, womit die eindeutige Statusbeschreibung diese Grafentochter undeutlich bleibt. Für ihre beiden Tanten Urraca und Oneca in den weiteren kastilischen Gründungen Covarrubis und Cillaperlata sind diese Quellenbestände umfänglicher, wodurch ihre machtpolitische Einflussnahme deutlicher nachzuvollziehen ist, als dies für Tigridia möglich ist. Als Äbtissinnen werden auch diese beiden Grafentöchter nicht bezeichnet.9 Dies kann ein Beleg dafür sein, dass bereits für diese Generation von Töchtern eine eher verwaltende, herrschaftssichernde Aufgabe vorgesehen war als eine kanonisch regulierte. Im Kontext der künftigen filiae regis könnten Tigridia in Oña, Urraca in Covarrubias und Oneca in Cillaperlataals Wegbereiterinnen der folgenden autarken Infantinnen verstanden werden, die nachweislich kein zurückgezogenes, monastisches Leben führten, sondern neben ihren Brüdern machtpolitisch agierten.

Photo: Reliquiar Tigridias aus dem 16. Jahrhundert, eigene Photographie, Ausstellung Oña 2017.

  1. Die erste urkundliche Erwähnung fand das Infantaticum als Besitzkategorie von Königstöchtern im Jahr 1089; Alfonso VI: Cancillería, curia e imperio, I. Estudio, II. Colección diplomática, Andrés Gambra Gutiérrez [Hrsg.], León 1998 (Fuentes y estudios de historia leonesa, 63), Urk. 100, S. 262ff. []
  2. vgl. hierzu Gambra Gutiérrez (1998); Luisa Garcia Calles: Doña Sancha. hermana del emperador, León 1972 (Fuentes y estudios de historia leonesa, 7), S.153ff. []
  3. Zu den Klöstern in Kastilien zählten San Pelayo de Oviedo, San Cosme y San Damian de Covarrubias sowie San Juan de Cillaperlata. []
  4. Ego, quidem Sancius comes et vxor mea Vrraca cometissa … oferre in munere filiam nostram nomine Tegridiam et elegimus eam ut preeset ad regendos Dei cultores et omnes Deo devotas,… Colección diplomática de los Condes de Castilla. Manuel Zabalza Duque [Hrsg.], Salamanca 1998, Urk. 64, S. 460. []
  5. Coleccion Documental de Sancho Garces III, el Mayor, Rey de Pamplona (1004-1035). Roldán Pescador, Aitor Jimeno [Hrsg.], Urk. 19, S. 106ff. []
  6. vgl. ebd. S. 109; Mañaricúa Nuere, Andrés E. de: Obispados en Álava, Guipúzcoa y Vizcaya hasta fines del siglo XI, Vitoria 1963, S. 81. []
  7. Zabalza, Urk. 64, S. 460ff. []
  8. Ebd. Urk. 74, S. 351ff. []
  9. vgl. Cartulario del infantado de Covarrubias, Luciano Serrano [Hrsg.], Valladolid 1907, Urk. 11-16. []

The Multidirectional Memories of Medieval Iberia in the Hispanophone World

Dr. Rebecca de Souza, Freie Universität Berlin

Zusammenfassung: Wie, wann and warum wurde die mittelalterliche iberische Halbinsel nach 1492 erinnert? Genauer, wie gedachte man dort der Periode andalusischer Vorherrschaft, vor allem der des Kalifats von Cordoba, in der späteren Kulturproduktion des mittelalterlichen Iberiens und des modernen Spaniens? Was bedeutet es Jahrhunderte später oder sogar in postkolonialer Diaspora eine dichterische Form des ersteren nicht nur wieder aufzugreifen, sondern sie neu zu interpretieren? Mit diesen Fragen setzt sich Dr. Rebecca de Souza’s Forschung auseinander, indem sie die kulturelle Erinnerung des Mittelalters in der spanischsprachigen Kulturproduktion weltweit in den Blick nimmt.

Abstract: How, when, and why has medieval Iberia been remembered after 1492? Specifically, how is the period of Andalusi domination on the Peninsula, particularly under the Caliphate of Cordoba, recalled in later cultural production in medieval Iberia and modern Spain? What does it mean to return to and reinterpret a medieval Iberian poetic form in later centuries, or even in postcolonial locations and diaspora? Dr. Rebecca de Souza’s research addresses these questions by focusing on the cultural memory of the Middle Ages in Hispanophone cultural production worldwide.

Ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, the Caliphate of Cordoba dominated the Iberian Peninsula from its foundation in 929 until its collapse in 1031. The Caliphate was the apogee of al-Andalus, not only in terms of population but also with respect to its economic and cultural achievements. Its first and longest ruling Caliph ʻAbd al- Rahmān III (r. 929-961) oversaw the extensive architectural developments of Cordoba’s Mosque and the magnificent palace complex Madīnat al-Zahrāʾ, the minting of gold, and an intellectual project spanning historiography, religious and legal scholarship. Modern historians have waxed lyrical on the Caliphate’s fabled convivencia, a notion first coined by Américo Castro to describe “el modelo prestigioso de la tolerancia islámica” towards the Christian and Jewish communities of al-Andalus.1 Castro’s ideas were famously taken up by María Rosa Menocal, for whom the Umayyads “defined their version of Islam as one that loved its dialogues with other traditions”.2 Many have since problematised the concept, however, particularly given “los datos que tenemos sobre las comunidades judía y cristiana en época del Califato de Córdoba son muy escasos”3 and the Caliphate’s recourse to violence to deal with social unrest.4 The Caliphate’s social, cultural, and economic advances are undeniable, as is its successful territorial hold over the Peninsula, even if its internal social formation was more complicated than the utopian convivencia model would have us believe.

The contested history of the Caliphate is not solely of interest to modern scholars. Some three centuries after its decline, in the chronicle project known as the Estoria de España (c. 1260-1289), Castilian historians in the courts of Kings Alfonso X and his son Sancho IV sought to narrate their kingdom’s interactions with the Caliphate in this period – a time when Castile was a mere county. Central to their historiographical reconstruction of the late-tenth century was a local, faction-based story set on the County of Castile’s border with Cordoba, known as the Siete infantes de Lara, set c. 990. The medieval chronicle versions of this story narrate a familial – rather than regional or proto-national – conflict that markedly features intercultural interaction between Christian Castilians and Muslim Andalusis that is not predicated upon conflict but on personal relationships across porous frontiers. It contrasts to other medieval legends that have proven popular subjects of rewriting, such as that of King Rodrigo or the Poema de mio Cid, which frame cross-border alliances as treachery and depict largely cross-border conflict respectively. The Siete infantes tells of a familial betrayal by a Castilian nobleman who leverages his cross-border alliance with the Umayyad Caliphate to oust his brother-in-law and nephews. The betrayal is only avenged by the reverse border-crossing by the illegitimate child of the brother-in- law, fathered in Cordoba, who returns to put an end to the internal Castilian conflict and converts to Christianity from Islam.

My doctoral research set out to identify how and why this story of a weak, conflictual county of Castile, dependent socioeconomically and morally upon Andalusi intervention, is repeatedly rewritten in an increasingly racially and religiously homogeneous medieval Iberia and, later, Spain. To do so, I selected a series of temporally and formally diverse rewritings: three chronicles from the thirteenth-fifteenth centuries, hitherto undiscussed romances from early modern Spain and the Sephardic diaspora, two comedias, and nineteenth-century Romantic works. Each work retains a borderland setting, conducive to identity change, and depicts peaceable interracial interactions. Rewritings of the Siete infantes are therefore not simply nostalgic invocations of a stable collective memory; they in fact leverage the tenth century to question dominant ideologies of identity and difference, drawing on the complex, lived reality of medieval Iberia and its shifting borders. Throughout literary history, neomedievalism has therefore served as a productive, prescient discourse of cultural memory through which chroniclers, poets, playwrights, and authors can look forward and question the inevitability of Christian-Castilian colonial hegemony by invoking a narrative of Christian Iberia’s own subjugation.

Photo: Prince Mudarra says goodbye to his mother to start looking for his father, in: Otto Van Veen, Historia septem infantium de Lara, 1612, Object number: RP-P-H-OB-44.035, URL: [https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/RP-P-H-OB-44.035].

  1. Castro, Américo. 1954. La realidad histórica de España (Mexico: Editorial Porrúa), p. 97. []
  2. Menocal, Maria Rosa. 2002. The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain (Boston: Little, Brown), p. 21 []
  3. Manzano Moreno, Eduardo. 2013. ‘Qurtuba: algunas reflexiones críticas sobre el Califato de Córdoba y el mito de la convivencia’, Revista Awraq, 7, p. 239 []
  4. Fierro, Maribel. 2005. ʿAbd Al-Rahman III: The First Cordoban Caliph (Oxford: Oneworld), 2005, pp. 107-108 []

Gräfin Ermessenda von Carcassonne (†1057) – Das mysteriöse „Siegel“ der verschwundenen Altarfront von Girona

Silke Engelhardt, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract: The Catalan territories being the only region of the Iberian Peninsula, which can look back at a Carolingian tradition, are unique both as a part of Iberian history and as field of research.. This manifests not only in the political and religious structures of the peninsula, but rather in the outstanding personalities responsible for shaping the society in their image. During a master’s thesis project on the possibilities for agency of medieval women in Catalonia (900–1200) in the context of church consecrations, one of these personalities stood out: Countess Ermessenda whose peculiar “seal” and its context will be presented in the following article.

Resumen: Los condados catalanes – como región única de la península ibérica – con una larga tradición carolingia – son en si una parte de la historia e un campo de investigación muy interesante y especial en el conjunto de península. Esa posición no solo se presenta mediante las estructuras políticas o religiosas, sino también mediante las personas distinguidas quienes eran responsable de formar la sociedad según sus ideas. En un proyecto fin de master con el tema de investigar las posibilidades de mujeres para formar parte activa en la sociedad política y religiosa en la Catalunya medieval uno de esos personajes, la condesa Ermessenda de Carcasona has ido investigado. Su peculiar “sello” en su contexto histórico será el centro de este artículo.

Resumen: Com a única regió de la Península Ibèrica que es basa en influències carolingies, els comtats catalans representen un tret especial en la seva història i en l’estudi de la mateixa. Aquesta posició especial no només s’expressa en l’estructura política i religiosa de la península, però també en destacades personalitats amb gran influència en la seva societat, així com en la política i la religió. La influència de la comtessa Ermessenda s’ha analitzat en un treball de fi de màster sobre el camp d’actuació de les dones a la Catalunya medieval (900-1200) en el context de la fundació i consagració d’esglésies. El seu peculiar “segell” es presenta i contextualitza a continuació.

Zusammenfassung: Als einzige Region der iberischen Halbinsel, die sich auf karolingische Einflüsse gründet, stellen die katalanischen Grafschaften – in Abgrenzung zu den muslimisch beherrschten Gebieten – eine Besonderheit in ihrer Geschichte und der Erforschung derselben dar. Diese Sonderstellung äußert sich nicht nur im politischen und religiösen Gefüge der Halbinseln, sondern auch in herausragenden Persönlichkeiten mit großem Einfluss auf ihre Gesellschaft, Politik und Religion. Im Rahmen einer Masterarbeit zu den Handlungsfeldern der Frauen im mittelalterlichen Katalonien (900–1200) im Rahmen von Kirchengründungen und –weihen, wurde u. a. die hier vorzustellende Gräfin Ermessenda untersucht. Ihr ausgewöhnliches „Siegel“ soll hier vorgestellt und kontextualisiert werden.

Girona im Jahr 1809 inmitten des Spanischen Unabhängigkeitskriegs (1808–1814): In der Sakristei der Kathedrale der Stadt wird die goldene Verkleidung der Altarfront des Hauptaltars entfernt und eingeschmolzen, um die militärischen Operationen finanzieren zu können. Ihre Geschichte ist sehr gut erforscht und aufgrund einer detaillierten Beschreibung im Inventar des Altars aus dem Jahr 1511 gut rekonstruierbar. Demnach war die Altarfront in 32 einzelne in Gold getriebene Relieffelder unterteilt, die sich gleichmäßig rechts und links von einer Darstellung Mariens mit dem Gottessohn verteilten. Die Darstellungen zeigten Szenen aus dem Leben Jesu. Im Zentrum der Altarfront umschloss eine Mandorla Maria und Jesus. Unter der Mandorla befand sich eine Emaillearbeit, die eine weibliche Figur darstellte, die aufgrund der Umschrift GUISLA/COMITISSA/ME FIERI/IUSSIT als Guisla de Lluça (†1076), zweite Frau des Grafen Berenguer Ramón I. von Barcelona (†1035) identifiziert werden könnte.1 Aus den überlieferten Berichten derjenigen, die die Altarfront vor der Einschmelzung im Jahr 1809 noch sehen konnten, geht hervor, dass die Front mit einer Vielzahl an (Halb-)Edelsteinen geschmückt war. Im Jahr 1678 beschreibt der spanische Gelehrte Juan Gaspar ROIG I GALPI (†1691) die große Vielfalt an (Halb-)Edelsteinen, die er auf der Altarfront gezählt habe. Hierunter ein Chalcedon, in den die Buchstaben ERMESI(N)DIS in lateinischen und arabischen Buchstaben eingeschnitten worden waren.2 Im Bericht des Mönchs Jaume VILLANEUVA I ASTENGO wird ebenfalls auf die Fertigstellung des Altars durch Guisla de Lluça (†1076) verwiesen und auch das Gemmensiegel der Ermessenda wird erwähnt und beschrieben.3

Rekonstruktion der verlorenen Altarfront von Girona. Zeichnung von Iker SPOZIO, in: ABENZA SORIA, Verónica Carla, ¿Patronazgo en cuestión o cuestión de patronazgo? Ermessenda de Carcassone y el desaparecido frontal de altar de la catedral de Girona: el enigma de su piedra sigilar, in: Locus Amoenus, 2020, S. 13.

Ermessenda von Carcassonne war eine der einflussreichsten Frauen des katalanischen Mittelalters, die die Region mit ihrer Politik während der ersten Hälfte des 11. Jahrhundert prägte. Sie wurde 975 als Tochter des Grafen Roger I. von Carcassonne geboren. 18-jährig wurde sie mit Ramón Borell, dem Grafen des mächtigen Hauses von Barcelona vermählt. Ab diesem Zeitpunkt wird Ermessenda auch in den Urkunden als gratia Dei comitissa erwähnt. Ihr Ehemann verstarb sehr früh und Ermessenda übernahm die Vormundschaft für ihren erst fünfjährigen Sohn und somit die Herrschaft über die Grafschaften Barcelona, Girona und Vic. Während ihrer Ehe hatte Ermessenda an politischem Einfluss und Erfahrung gewonnen und konnte so bewirken, dass ihr Bruder Pere Roger zum Bischof von Girona ernannt wurde. Somit war der erste Grundstein für ihre enge Beziehung zu Girona und der Kathedrale etabliert. Im Jahr 1023 erhielt die Gräfin dann auch den Zuspruch für die Grafschaft Girona.4 In Girona war Ermessenda gemeinsam mit dem bischöflichen Bruder an der Restaurierung der Kathedrale beteiligt. Die Urkunde der anschließenden Kirchweihe der Kathedrale aus dem Jahr 1038 macht ihre Position im direkten Umfeld des Bischofs von Girona ebenso deutlich wie die große Relevanz der Kathedrale für die Gräfin. In dieser Urkunde wird sie als fromme und großzügige Förderin der Kathedrale dargestellt und ihre Rolle in der Restaurierung des Gotteshauses neben der des Bruders hervorgehoben. In der Signumszeile wird folgendes zu Ermessenda festgehalten: Signum ERMESSINDIS comitisse, que eadem die ad honorem Dei et matris ecclesie trecentas auri contulit uncias ad auream construendam tabulam. /Ermessenda hat der Kathedrale 300 Goldunzen gestiftet, die für die Erstellung einer Altarfront verwendet werden sollen.5

Wie kommt nun aber der Chalcedon in diese Altarfront und handelte es sich wirklich um ein Siegel? Da solche Kunstwerke meist works in progress blieben, wurden sie immer wieder restauriert und mit weiteren Preziosen ausgeschmückt.6 Während eines solchen Prozesses könnte der Stein in die Altarfront eingesetzt worden sein. Geht man davon aus, dass die Herstellung der Front noch zu Lebzeiten der Gräfin erfolgte, besteht die Möglichkeit, dass der Stein als Zeichen für die Authentizität der Stiftung durch die mächtige Gräfin oder als Autoritätszeichen eingesetzt worden war. Die Fragen bezüglich der Nutzung des Steins zu Lebzeiten der Gräfin sind vielzählig und können nicht eindeutig beantwortet werden. Gemeinhin wird der Stein zwar als „Siegel“ bezeichnet, doch scheint eine Nutzung als solches eher unwahrscheinlich. Die bisherige Forschung zu Siegeln bzw. Frauensiegeln lässt eine Verwendung in diesem Sinne ebenfalls ausschließen. Die lateinischen und arabischen Buchstaben nennen lediglich den Namen der Gräfin. Da die Gräfin ihren Mann auf einen Kriegszug gegen das muslimisch beherrschte Cordoba begleitet haben soll, könnte man weiterhin vermuten, dass es sich um ein diplomatisches Geschenk gehandelt haben könnte, im Stile arabischer Gemmensiegel. Die kleinen Bohrlöcher lassen eine Verwendung als Anhänger einer Kette oder als Einfassung eines Ringes vermuten. Auch wenn nicht abschließend geklärt werden kann welche Funktion der Chalcedon übernommen haben mag, so ist dieser doch das einzige auf uns gekommene materielle Zeugnis für das Leben und Wirken der Gräfin, ihrer Beteiligung an der Weihe des restaurierten Kathedralbaus im Jahre 1038 sowie ihrer Anordnung der Herstellung der Altarfront, die rund 750 Jahre den Hauptaltar der Kathedrale von Girona zierte.

Der hier präsentierte Auszug entstammt einem Kapitel der Masterarbeit: Handlungsfelder von Frauen im Kontext von Kirchengründungen in den katalanischen Grafschaften (9.-12. Jh.). Eine Untersuchung der «Dotalies de les esglesies de Catalunya (segles IX a XII)». Im Rahmen der Arbeit wurden die Handlungsmöglichkeiten von Frauen im Kontext von Kirchweihen und darüber hinaus untersucht. Die Arbeit entstand als Qualifikationsschrift im Studiengang Mittelalterstudien mit Fachschwerpunkt Mittelalterliche Geschichte.

Photo: Chalcedon, «Siegel» der Ermessenda von Carcassonne, in: MARTIN, Glimpses of Gold, 2021, S. 207.

  1. Handelte es sich um Guisla, dann wäre sie als Schwiegertochter diejenige, die sich nach dem Tod der Gräfin Ermessenda für die Fertigstellung oder Umsetzung der Altarfront einsetzte. Interessant ist hier, dass Guisla zum Zeitpunkt des Todes der Ermessenda nicht mehr im Stand einer Gräfin, sondern einer Vizegräfin in Barcelona lebte. Die Bezeichnung als „comitissa“ könnte bedeuten, dass Guisla und Ermessenda gemeinsam noch vor deren Tod den Auftrag für die Fertigstellung erteilt hatten. []
  2. ROIG I GALPÍ, Juan Gaspar, Resumen historial de las grandezas y antigüedades de la ciudad de Gerona, y cosas memorables suyas Eclesiásticas y Seculares, allí de nuestros tiempos, como de los passados, Barcelona 1678, gedruckt von Jacinto Adreu, S. 206-210. []
  3. VILLANUEVA I ASTENGO, Jaume, Viatge literario á las iglesias de España (12), Valencia 1806, S. 180f. []
  4. Dieser Zuspruch war das Resultat eines Konflikts zwischen der Gräfin und ihrem zwischenzeitlich volljährigen Sohn Graf Berenguer Ramón I. (†1035). []
  5. ORDEIG I MATA, Ramon: Les dotalies de les esglésies de Catalunya (segles IX – XII) (Estudis històrics Diplomatari 2-I), Vic 1996, S. 81f. []
  6. ABENZA SORIA, Verónica Carla, ¿Patronazgo en cuestión o cuestión de patronazgo? Ermessenda de Carcassone y el desaparecido frontal de altar de la catedral de Girona: el enigma de su piedra sigilar, in: Locus Amoenus, 2020, S. 14. []

Transgressio fidei regiae: High Treason in Visigothic Legislation

Jimena Alejandra Guardia Hernández, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Zusammenfassung: Hochverrat war bei den Westgoten ein so häufiges Verbrechen, dass kirchliches und weltliches Recht gezwungen war, sich damit ausführlich auseinanderzusetzen. Einen spezifischen Begriff für Hochverrat gab es im Westgotischen Recht allerdings nicht. In diesem Beitrag gibt Alejandra Guardia einen Einblick in die mannigfaltige Terminologie, die in westgotischen Rechtsquellen des 7. Jahrhunderts verwendet wurde, um dieses Verbrechen dennoch abzugrenzen.

Resumen: La alta traición era un crimen frecuente entre los visigodos y por lo tanto debía ser tratado en las leyes eclesiásticas y seculares. Sin embargo, no había un término exacto para la alta traición en el derecho visigodo. Aquí quiero presentar las distintas palabras utilizadas para designar este crimen en las fuentes legales visigodas del siglo VII.

Abstract: High treason was a frequent crime amongst the Visigoths, ecclesiastical and secular law had to deal with. However, there was no exact term for high treason in Visigothic law. Here Alejandra Guardia shows how different words werde used to designate this crime in the Visigothic legal sources of the 7th century.

The dissatisfaction of the Visigothic nobility with their kings often led to attacks on the Visigothic ruler: five of the 25 kings who ruled in the Visigothic kingdom between 470 and 710 were assassinated, five were dethroned and five had to face a conspiracy. Already at the end of the 6th century, Gregory of Tours wrote in his Frankish History that the Goths had the detestable habit of murdering their kings when they did not please them anymore, in order to appoint someone who pleased them.1 Furthermore in the middle of the 7th century, the tendency of the Goths to depose their kings was called in the Chronicle of Fredegar “the disease of the Goths”.2

Due to the frequent regicides, dethronements and conspiracies of the nobility in the Visigothic kingdom, the protection of the king’s life was a central topic in the Visigothic legislation. Since the Visigothic monarchy was a weak institution compared to the nobility during the first half of the 6th century, the judicial condemnation of high treason developed only after the king’s power was consolidated. Thus, only after king Leovigild’s (569 – 586) military campaigns against local warlords and king Reccared’s (580 – 601) conversion to Catholicism3 a foundation was laid for a redefinition of the notion of ruler and a new definition of the crimes against him.

In the Visigothic legal sources there is no specific word for high treason, but different concepts for the violation of the loyalty (fides) to the king. The concept of fides referring to the king appeared for the first time in the canon 75 of the fourth council of Toledo (633), which condemned the crimes against the well-being of the king, the anointed of the Lord,4 as a sacrilege.5 This notion of a sacred monarchy developed in the Visigothic kingdom under the doctrine of bishop Isidore of Seville (the leader of the fourth council of Toledo and the most significant writer of the Visigothic kingdom) and was the foundation for condemning high treason in four other councils: the fifth council of Toledo (636),6 the sixth council of Toledo (638),7 the tenth council of Toledo (656)8 and the sixteenth council of Toledo (693).9 In the records of these five councils the loyalty oath to the king was referred to as sacramentum fidei, promissio fidei, iuramentum fidei and its breach was denoted as transgressio, periurium, perfidia, infidelitas, coniuratio.

The Visigothic leges adopted these concepts for the crimes against the king and taking the loyalty oath to him gained importance in the course of the 7th century, as a king Egica’s novel in the Liber Iudiciorum (687 – 702) shows,10 the legal code of the Visigothic kingdom promulgated by king Reccesvinth (649 – 672). The law condemned those who did not take the loyalty oath to the new king. This can indicate that some refused to swear the loyalty oath in order to avoid being bound to the king, since probably only those who had sworn loyalty could be punished for crimes against the ruler. Otherwise, the criminals in question could not be liable for high treason.

Although the attacks against Visigothic kings were a problem until the 8th century, the regicides actually ceased from the middle of the first half of the 7th century on with the promulgation of canones and laws against this crime: all five Visigothic kings who were assassinated ruled before 633, which shows a certain success of the measures against high treason.

The political importance of the consolidation and sacralization of the Visigothic royalty persisted even after its collapse on the Iberian Peninsula, since the rulers of the Christian kingdoms used to trace their ancestry back to the Visigothic kings in order to legitimate their power during the political instability from the 8th to the 10th century. In my dissertation I want to show the survival of Visigothic legislation in the High Middle Ages through the analysis of Castilian and Navarrese legal documents from the 11th and 12th centuries based on the precepts of the Liber Iudiciorum and the records of the Toledan councils, the greatest contribution of the Visigothic kingdom to the legal culture of the Iberian peninsula.

Photo: Codex Vigilanus (1135)

  1. Greg. Tur. Hist. 3,30: Sumpserant enim Gothi hanc detestabilem consuetudinem, ut, si quis eis de regibus non placuisset, gladio eum adpeterent, et qui libuisset animo, hunc sibi statuerent regem. []
  2. Fred. Chr. 4,82: Cumque omnem regnum Spaniae suae dicione firmassit, cognetus morbum Gotorum quem de regebus degradandum habebant, unde sepius cum ipsis in consilio fuerat quoscumque ex eis uius viciae prumtum contra regibus qui a regno expulsi fuerant cognoverat fuesse noxius […]. []
  3. The Visigoths were Arians until the year 589. []
  4. Conc. Tolet. 4, Can. 75: Et dum Dominus dicat: ‘Nolite tangere Christos meos’ [Ps. 104,15], et David: ‘Quis, inquit, extendet manum suam in Christum Domini et innocens erit?’ [1 Sam. 26,9]. []
  5. Conc. Tolet. 4, Can. 75: Sacrilegium quippe esse, si violetur a gentibus regum suorum promissa fides, quia non
    solum in eis fit pacti transgressio
    , sed et in Deum quidem in cuius nomine pollicetur ipsa promissio. []
  6. Conc. Tolet. 5, Can. 7: De his qui sibi regnum blandiuntur spe rege supprestite. []
  7. Conc. Tolet. 6, Can. 17: De his qui rege supprestite aut sibi aut aliis ad futurum provideant regnum. []
  8. Conc. Tolet. 10, Can. 2: De non violandis iuramentis in salutem regiam datis. []
  9. Conc. Tolet. 16, Can. 10: De his qui iuramenti sui profanatores extitisse noscuntur. []
  10. Lib. Iudic. 2,1,7: De fidelitate novis principibus reddenda et pena huius transgressionis. []

Aesthetics vs. Functionality in Shem Tov’s Debate between the Pen and the Scissors

Dr. Marina Aurora Garzón Fernández, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract: In this teaser of her post-doctoral project, Dr. Garzón Fernández gives insight into the Debate between the Pen and the Scissors written in 1345 by the Castilian rabbi Shem Tov ben Isaac Ardutiel (known as Sem Tob de Carrión).1 This text, a maqama genre text which combines prose and verse, was written mirroring the traditional “Debates between Pen and Sword” common in Islamic and Hebrew literature. However, in this parody, instead of confronting the Pen and the Sword as metaphors for administrative power and military power, Shem Tov portrayed two instruments arguing about their writing abilities. The Debate is thus rich in content concerning the philosophy of writing. Starting with traditional topoi, like the of role of writing in the preservation of memory, it also gathers considerations on the use and relevance of both utensils, and it stands out for the aesthetic analysis of paper-cut calligraphy.

Shem Tov sets the event on a cold winter day when icy streets and frozen rivers locked the rabbi in his house with no one to keep him company. Isolated and lonesome, he remembers that he who can write is never alone. The Pen, a writer’s best friend, is ever present: “a pen that has no heart understands my thoughts, and without an ear hears what I am feeling”. However, this moment of joy crashes soon against a crude reality. The moment he begins to write, the Pen hits the frozen ink, black and hard as a rock. Secluded, betrayed, and irritated the rabbi sees the hours go by under the glacial sun. Suddenly, the voice of the Scissors takes him out of his lethargy: “If the intense cold has stolen away the waters of the ink, and there is no pen which flows like a fountain, take for yourself a pen of iron”. The Scissors present themselves as an instrument for writing, but not merely as a substitute in an hour of need, but rather the creators of a script of unparalleled beauty.

And thus, a debate begins.

The reader can almost perceive the anthropomorphized Pen rolling its eyes at the Scissors as they proclaim with arrogance that the beauty of their script exceeds that of the best embroideries and mosaics. The Scissors describe the papercut letters as “marvelous holes”, a “result achieved by a miracle”, a script that can be compared to the writing of the Lord on the Stone Tablets. What’s more, they state that the value of poetry is elevated by the beauty of the script. And while “the writing of pen and ink is superfluous”, the writing of the Scissors is “magnificent” and can draw from all the colors: “It has a time for greenness, for ruby, for topaz and emerald, sometimes white and sometimes black. It takes off one shape and then dresses in another”.

Nevertheless, the Pen is not impressed by these superficial arguments. The Pen has other priorities. It is first concerned by the destructive nature of the Scissors, who can only create by wounding the paper. Contrarily, it sees itself as a giver, who gives away everything it takes (the ink). The integrity of the paper is key for the Pen. It insists that, were the writing left to the Scissors, what remained thereafter would be a fragile material — void of the discretion that is inherent in a rolled-up sheet of paper. The Scissors cannot keep secrets: “secrets get out, and even without any wine going in. This flaw is unacceptable for the Pen, who believes written documents should be able to conceal private matters and protect the secrets of the writer. In addition, the Pen finds the Scissors highly inefficient because they are slow writers: “The beginning of the word becomes already forgotten when it is still being begun. I hide by his hand in a dish, and before you write a line, I shall write out the books of Ezra and Daniel and every word in the Torah, with each word at the proper time and place”.

The Scissors respond gladly to these allegations. They are not interested in writing secrets; their script is precious, not meant to be hidden. “Shall we hide the glory of our deeds? Should he treat our document like a harlot? Treat it as he treats your document, which is not pleasing in the eyes of its master, and think it to be a harlot because it covers its face to hide its shame and its faults?” As for the speed, the Scissors aren’t ashamed of being slow and they even compare themselves to God: “For during the forty days and forty nights that Moses stood on the mountain he wrote nothing more than the two tablets of the Ten Commandments”. The Scissors cherish beauty and perfection, and they describe their work as “a piece of writing in their image and likeness [the Stone Tablets], completely beautiful and without blemish in it”.

Finally, the debate is settled by a third party. A poor man, “wise beyond all wisdom, a man of knowledge and intelligence”, is asked to sort through the different objects in the house and use each one for their natural task. After using the Pen for writing, the man grabs the Scissors and “with them he cut his fingernails, shaved his beard and trimmed his moustache”. The Pen wins the battle with honors.

The Debate between the Pen and the Scissors is a fascinating text that combines the Arabic appreciation and curiosity towards calligraphy with the Hebrew sensibility for everyday scenes, double entendres, and a refined sense of humor. Furthermore, the parody allows for an unusual discussion: the need and use of aesthetics and functionality. While the arguments of the Pen focus on pragmatism, the Scissors emphasize the superior beauty of their script over all. The aesthetic arguments gathered by Shem Tov about paper-cut calligraphy is what makes this text so unique. Not only does he insist (through the words of the Scissors), that the beauty of the script plays an important role on the perception of the text, but he also details the qualities that make paper-cut writing “a marvel”. He highlights the fragility of the object and says it is “a miracle” that those letters can stand by themselves: “But there is here no sorcery and no supernatural sign”. Finally, he points out that there exists no material more precious than the one that forms these letters that “blossom in the air”. The Scissors describe their script as immaterial: “I am precious to all that is spirit / For I am form without matter, and my body is made of nothingness. I am pure spirit”.

However, as compelling as their arguments were, the Scissors had no chance to win a debate that prioritized pragmatism. The question was never about which instrument achieved the most beautiful script, but rather which instrument was better for writing. No matter how close the Scissors were to the writing of God, they were never a convenient tool for calligraphy (except maybe in the case of extreme weather, when they were the only means that Shem Tov had on hand to write down his text). The Debate between the Pen and the Scissors was a debate about aesthetics versus functionality. The importance of functionality was so remarkable that, according to the text, after the battle was settled the king of the land ordered by royal decree that no one would be allowed to use a utensil for another purpose than the God-intended one. Fortunately, the royal decree was fictional, and it did not prevent calligraphers across the Mediterranean from creating miraculous papercut pieces, like the 15th century Egyptian papercut codex kept at the Gotha Library (Ms. Orient. A 42). During the Ottoman Empire the technique would flourish, becoming a signature craft of this period.2 Cut calligraphers, known as Kat’i, would create numerous pieces that can now be admired in museums across the world.3 The names of these calligraphers would be praised and immortalized in treaties, like Mustafas Ali’s “Epic Deeds of Artists”.4 Nevertheless, the maqama written by Shem Tov on a cold Castilian winter day remains the most significant testimony known to date about this extraordinary script “made of air”.5

My project “Writing with Scissors: a Calligraphy of Wonder”, funded by a post-doctoral Stipendium of the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation, seeks to study the art of paper-cut writing in the Middle Ages and analyze its aesthetic qualities. It is currently being developed in the context of the CRC 933 “Material Text-Cultures” at the University of Heidelberg.

Photo: Gotha papercut Codex (49v-50r), Egypt, 15th century, Gotha Research Library, University of Erfurt, Ms. Orient. A42. 

  1. Colahan, Clark (1979b): “Santob’s debate: Parody and political allegory. Conclusión”, Sefarad: Revista de Estudios Hebraicos y Sefardíes, 39, 2, pp. 265-308 [English translation from the Hebrew text: All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition]. []
  2. Kurz (1972), “Libri cum characteribus ex nulla materia compositis”, Israel Oriental Studies II, pp. 240–247. []
  3. Çagman (2014), Kat’i. Cut paper works and artists in the Ottoman world, Istanbul. []
  4. Âli / Akın (2011), Mustafa Alī’s epic deeds of artists: a critical edition of the earliest Ottoman text about the calligraphers and painters of the Islamic world, Leiden / Boston. []
  5. Garzón Fernández (2013), “Los escritos de tijeras: el arte de la caligrafía sin tinta”, in: Funciones y prácticas de la escritura: I Congreso de Investigadores Noveles en Ciencias Documentales.Escalona: Universidad Complutense de Madrid / Ayuntamiento de Escalona, pp. 103–108. []
Suche in OpenEdition Search

Sie werden weitergeleitet zur OpenEdition Search