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. []

Medieval Martyrologies: Previous Approaches and New Understandings

Dr. Ekaterina Novokhatko, Technische Universität Dresden

Zusammenfassung: Martyrologien offenbaren uns zahlreiche Aspekte des religiösen Lebens im Mittelalter. Bei der Erörterung der möglichen Herangehensweisen an die Martyrologien werde ich ihre Funktionen als hagiographische Lehrbücher, als Gedächtnisspeicher mittelalterlicher Gemeinschaften und schließlich als Medien aufzeigen, die nicht nur der Übertragung neuer Kulte und Feste dienten, sondern auch von ihrer Umsetzung in verschiedenen Typen von Religionsgemeinschaften zeugen und die hinter ihrer Verbreitung stehenden politischen, spirituellen und intellektuellen Ideen und Absichten offenbaren. Unter diesem Blickwinkel habe ich in meiner Promotionsarbeit acht erhaltene Martyrologien aus der Kirchenprovinz Narbonne im Hinblick auf ihre Rolle bei der Gestaltung des religiösen Empfindens im Katalonien des zehnten bis zwölften Jahrhunderts untersucht. Diese Herangehensweise an die mittelalterlichen Martyrologien erlaubt es uns, die Verbindungen zwischen religiösen Institutionen zu rekonstruieren; zu sehen, welche Mittel zur Verbreitung von Kulten eingesetzt wurden; zu untersuchen, wie die politischen Verflechtungen zwischen religiösen und Laieninstitutionen zur Etablierung bestimmter Feste führten; und schließlich einen Einblick in das Ausmaß zu geben, in dem diese Feste die Kernideen und -gedanken mittelalterlicher Gesellschaften formten und widerspiegelten.

Resumen: Los martirologios nos revelan múltiples aspectos de la vida religiosa medieval. A través de la discusión sobre los posibles panoramas de los martirologios, demostraré sus funciones como libros hagiográficos educativos, como almacenamiento de la memoria de la comunidad medieval y, finalmente, como medios que no sólo transfieren nuevos cultos y festividades, sino que también dan testimonio de su aplicación en diversos tipos de comunidades religiosas y revelan las ideas e intenciones políticas, espirituales e intelectuales que hay detrás de su difusión. Desde este punto de vista se han trabajado, en mi tesis doctoral, ocho martirologios existentes en la provincia eclesiástica de Narbona así como su papel en la formación de las sensibilidades religiosas en la región catalana de los siglos X a XII. Este enfoque de los martirologios medievales nos permite reconstruir las conexiones entre las instituciones religiosas; ver qué medios se utilizaron para la difusión de los cultos; examinar cómo la política entrelazada de las instituciones y personas religiosas y laicas condujo a la realización de ciertas festividades; y, por último, ofrecer una visión de la medida en que estas fiestas modelaron y reflejaron las ideas y pensamientos cruciales de la sociedad medieval.

Abstract: Martyrologies reveal to us numerous aspects of medieval religious life. Discussing the possible approaches to the martyrologies, I will demonstrate their functions as educational hagiographical books, as memory storage of the medieval communtiy and finally as media, that not only served the transmission of new cults and festivities, but that also bare witness to their application in different types of religious communities and reveal the political, spiritual and intellectual ideas and intentions behind their dissemination. It is under this perspective that I explored eight extant martyrologies from the ecclesiastical province of Narbonne and their role in shaping of religious sensibilities in the Catalan region from the 10th to the 12th centuries in my PhD thesis. This approach to medieval martyrologies allows us to reconstruct the connections between religious institutions; to see what means were used for the dissemination of cults; to examine how the intertwined politics of religious and lay institutes lead to the implementation of certain feasts; and finally, to offer insight into the extent to which these feasts shaped and reflected the crucial ideas and thoughts of medieval society.

In 985, Al-Mansur’s devastating raid on Barcelona destroyed the city and numerous local religious institutions including the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès (Vallès Occidental). Torched by the raiders, the monastery’s archive was lost and Abbot Joan and several other monks were killed. Having originally petitioned King Lothair (956–986) sometime before his death for the ratification of the losses of the monastery, it took until 1002 for the new abbot Odo (986–1010) to receive a bull from Pope Sylvester confirming the free election of abbots, the monastery’s previous possessions and its direct dependency on the papacy. The spiritual and material restoration of the monastery was a significant undertaking that included re-establishing the ecclesiastical community as well as importing and compiling new liturgical books for the mass and the office. One such book was a martyrology, which survives today in a manuscript known as Sant Cugat Ms. 22, held in the Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó.1

The eleventh-century manuscript contains the passions of martyrs organised in a typical calendar order that begins with the vigil for the Nativity of Christ, while the rest is comprised of St. Benedict’s rule, charters, lectionary and patristic texts.2 Almost all of these passions contain several important elements that provide us with key details about patterns that were crucial for the medieval mind in terms of remembering and venerating saints. For example, the feast day on February 19 (fol. 24r, XI Kl. Marcii) in this martyrology contains the following: “Romae, sancti Gabini presbyteri, patris beatissime Susanne qui a Diocleciano diu in custodia vinculis afflictus, preciosa morte celi gaudia comparavit”:

Sant Cugat Ms. 22, Folio 24r, in: Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó, URL: [http://pares.mcu.es/ParesBusquedas20/catalogo/showimg/12831029].

These details often include the name of a martyr and his status (here presbyter St. Gabinus), spatial data (the geographical place of his/her martyrdom, here Rome), and sometimes temporal data (e.g. the name of a Roman emperor under whose rule a martyr was killed, here Diocletian). Over time, some of these martyrological entries were elaborated upon in order to add more historical information to the scarce text (here, for example, that St. Gabinus was St. Susanna’s father). This marked the birth of the historical martyrologies,3 which have long been seen as sources that inform us about their authors and contemporary thought, but similar questions can also be asked regarding their later copyists who diffused the martyrologies through different communities. Some of these questions have occupied me over the course of my doctoral studies, such as, what can we discern about why medieval authors and copyists chose particular saints and their stories to be part of their martyrological volumes? Exploring these questions sheds light on the conscious compilation of the historical martyrologies that blossomed from the ninth century onwards.

Promoted by the Carolingian councils that regulated regular and secular institutions, the martyrology became an essential liturgical book for every religious community. As such the reading of the martyrology ad capitulum became integrated into the Office of Prime, later called the Office of Chapter, which in turn led to the compilation of a special liturgical book – the Book of Chapter (or liber capituli).4 Incorporated into everyday liturgy, martyrologies were set together with the obituaries containing the names of the community’s members that had passed away. From the tenth to twelfth century, this burgeoning tradition saw more and more obituaries added to the main text of the martyrology. By correlating the veneration of the martyrs’ death (or their spiritual birth) with the deaths of members of the community, the martyrology became a tool for commemorating the dead through the diffusion of their memory, while simultaneously reconstructing and reinforcing the community of monks or canons.

Folio 29v from the Sant Cugat martyrology demonstrates what we can learn from these additions. On the feast day of March 20 (XIII Kl. Aprilis) “obiit Stephania femina et Arnallus laicus” is added and, further down on March 21 (XII Kl. Aprilis), one can read “obiit Arbertus monachus sancti Cucuphatis”:

Sant Cugat Ms. 22, Folio 29v, in: Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó, URL: [http://pares.mcu.es/ParesBusquedas20/catalogo/showimg/12831323].

From this we learn not only the names of the monks, but also the names of lay people who apparently left bequests to the monastery.5 We can also observe that both male (Arnallus laicus) and female (Stephania femina) names are included in the obituary notes, revealing insights into the gendered aspects of religion and commemoration in eleventh-century medieval society. Notes such as this one also provide us with a strong indication of the nature of the community. It might be a monastery – in this case the monastery of Sant Cugat – or a congregation of monasteries as shown in another addition later in the same manuscript on folio 47r: “obierunt Remundus nostre congregationis monachus et Cesarius monachus”. This might be an indication of the congregation built in the 1090s around the monastery of Sant Cugat under Abbot Berenguer Folc (1091–1104), which included the monasteries of Sant Llorenç del Munt, Santa Cecília de Montserrat, Sant Salvador de Breda, Sant Pau de Camp and Santa Maria del Coll de Font-Rúbia. These small, easily missed additions communicate an extraordinary amount about the status and involvement of these members of religious institutions as well as the vast networks between the religious communities themselves.

In my doctoral research I also compared extant martyrologies in order to chart the arrival of new saints’ cults over the course of the Central Middle Ages, particularly as Catalan martyrologies have a lot of potential to shed light on the exchange of material and spiritual cultural heritage that has yet to be tapped. Sant Cugat Ms. 22 also contains several additions of universal feasts (or auctaria) which entered the main text of the martyrology either during its compilation or in the following decades. For example, the text for May 8 (VIII Id. Maii) starts with the celebration of the feast of Archangel Michael on Monte Gargano: “Apud montem Garganum inventio spelunce sancti Michaelis archangeli”:

Sant Cugat Ms. 22, Folio 43r, in: Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó, URL: [http://pares.mcu.es/ParesBusquedas20/catalogo/showimg/12831323].

This feast, which is completely absent from ninth-century historical martyrologies, gained popularity in the tenth century and entered liturgical and hagiographical manuscripts in Italy, southern France and Catalonia throughout the eleventh century. The fact that the Sant Cugat martyrology included it in the main text and not in the margin bears witness to either an earlier copy that already contained this feast, or to the existing veneration of the Gargano cult in the region when the martyrology was compiled – or even to both. We know that the feast came from Apulia, possibly via Monte Cassino, to the monasteries of Sant Miquel de Cuixà and Santa Maria de Ripoll and the cathedral chapter of Vic. Its subsequent arrival in the monasteries of Sant Cugat del Vallès and Sant Llorenç del Munt can be explained by the general circulation of books and copyists in the Catalan region, but the contemporary atmosphere also encouraged its popularity. The veneration of St. Michael’s Gargano cult was a direct response to contemporary fears of foes like Al-Mansur. The function of the Archangel that developed in the Gargano legend emphasised his role as a healer and protector, defending the Christians from the “Other”, appealing directly to contemporaries because it promised them, at least spiritually, exactly what they needed. Thus, the auctaria reflect religious ideals, beliefs and their social reception in the Catalan region.

The martyrology can reveal many details about the life of religious communities and their place in medieval society in general. As they travelled across cultural borders, the feasts and cults expressed within them shaped the identities of religious communities they entered and transferred crucial political and spiritual ideas from one religious milieu to another. The agency of liturgical manuscripts in targeting various religious communities with essential messages thus points to these manuscripts as media which unified these communities throughout Christendom by shaping contemporaries’ knowledge of the world around them through history, geography and their place within the Christian world. The impressive variety of questions we can pose to the martyrology stresses its function as an essential medieval source for exploring the intellectual, social, spiritual and political backgrounds of religious communities and reaffirms the relevance of liturgical sources for understanding the ideals and beliefs of medieval people.


Further reading

Dubois, J., Les martyrologes du Moyen Âge latin, Turnhout, 1978 (Typologies des sources du Moyen Âge occidental, 26).

Étaix, R., ‘Quelques homéliaires de la región catalane’, Recherches Augustiniennes 16 (1981), 333-98.

Fàbrega Grau, À., ‘Gràcies de participacio in temporalibus et spiritualibus atorgades, als segles XIII i XIV, per abats de Sant Llorenç del Munt i de Sant Cugat de Vallès’, Analecta Montserratensia. Miscellanea A. M. Albareda 9 (1962), pp. 261-64.

Fàbrega Grau, À., ‘El necrologio de San Lorenzo de Munt’, Analecta Sacra Tarraconensia 20 (1947), 215-22.

Feliu Montfort, G., ‘Al-Mansur, Barcelona i Sant Cugat’, Acta Histórica et Archaeologica Mediaevalia 3 (1982), 45-54.

Freedman, P., The Diocese of Vic. Tradition and regeneration in medieval Catalonia (New Brunswick, 1983)

Freedman, P., ‘L’influence wisigothique sur l’Église catalane’, in L’Europe héritière de l’Espagne wisigothique, eds. J. Fontaine, C. Pellistrandi (Madrid, 1992), pp. 69-79.

Gaiffier, B., de, ‘De l’usage et de la lecture du martyrologe : Témoignages antérieurs au XIe siècle’, Analecta Bollandiana79 (1961), 40-59.

Hamilton, S., ‘Liturgy as History: The Origins of the Exeter Martyrology’, Traditio 74 (2019), 179-222.

Iglesias i Fonseca, J., ‘El ‘Martirologio’ de Adón en Cataluña. Consideraciones codicológicas y paleográficas sobre dos nuevos testimonios’, in Actas [del] III Congreso Hispánico de Latín Medieval (León, 26-29 de septiembre de 2002), ed. M. Pérez González, León, 2002, vol. 1, pp. 149-59.

Lemaitre, J.-L., ‘Un chanoine inculte ? Le copiste du martyrologe du chapitre cathédral de Béziers’, in Mediterraneo, Mezzogiorno, Europa : Studi Cosimo Damiano Fonseca, eds. G. Andenna, H. Houben, Bari, 2004, 677-89.

Id., ‘Liber capituli. Le livre du chapitre, des origines au XVIe siècle. L’exemple français’, in Memoria. Der geschichtliche Zeugniswert des liturgischen Gedenkens im Mittelalter, eds. K. Schmid, J. Wollasch, München, 1984, pp. 625-48. 

Id., ‘Nécrologes et obituaires. Une source privilégiée pour l’histoire des institutions ecclésiastiques et de la société au Moyen Age’, in Autour des livres, du nécrologe au martyrologe. Precamur fraternitatem vestram, Genève, 2019, pp. 101-18 [1st ed. 2004]

Le martyrologe d’Adon, ses deux familles, ses trois recensions, eds. J. Dubois, G. Renaud, Paris, 1984.

McCulloh, J., ‘Historical martyrologies in the Benedictine cultural tradition’, in Benedictine culture 7501050, eds. W. Lourdaux, D. Verhelst, Leuven, 1983, pp. 114-31.

Ordeig i Mata, R., ‘El culte de l’Arcàngel Sant Miquel a la Seu Episcopal de Vic (segles X–XI)’, Misceŀlània litúrgica catalana 27 (2019), 159-91.

Puigferrat i Oliva, C., ‘L’évolució interna del cenobi als segles XI–XII’, in Catalunya romànica 18. Vallès Occidental, Vallès Oriental (Barcelona, 1991), pp. 162-66.

Quentin, H., Les martyrologes historiques, Paris, 1908.

Serdá, L., ‘Los martirológicos de la Marca Hispanica en la evolución litúrgica de la misma’, Ausa 1 (1952-53), 387-89.

Vezin, J., ‘Problèmes de datation et de localisation des livres de l’office de Prime’, in Memoria. Der geschichtliche Zeugniswert des liturgischen Gedenkens im Mittelalter, eds. K. Schmid, J. Wollasch, München, 1984, pp. 613-24.


Photo: Sant Cugat Ms. 22, Folio 3v, in: Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó, URL: [http://pares.mcu.es/ParesBusquedas20/catalogo/showimg/12830995].

  1. cf. Sant Cugat Ms. 22, in: Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó, URL: [http://pares.mcu.es/ParesBusquedas20/catalogo/description/2334957]. []
  2. The manuscript of Sant Cugat consists of 178 folia, of which circa 130 folia contain the martyrology. It was later passed to the monastery of Sant Llorenç del Munt in the same province. []
  3. The most famous among them being the martyrologies of Ado and Usuard compiled under the Carolingians in the ninth century. []
  4. This included the martyrology, the obituary, the rule, the lectionary and several more treatises and tracts. []
  5. Though in some cases they might have also been “Levitae”, or lay canons, which was a frequent phenomenon in eleventh-century Catalan cathedral chapters. []

“[multum] aliud importat” – Venetians, Catalans and Maritime Predators

Laurin Herberich, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract: At the beginning of the fifteenth century Catalan seafarers were well-known for their ruthless predatorial activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. But when it came to bringing maritime predators to justice, the Republic of Venice wasn’t of the faint hearted either. Because the Serenissima could quite literally not afford to lose face, restitution and extradition were demanded no matter the context of the individual case. In this preliminary case study PhD student Laurin Herberich shows with the help of two hitherto unconsidered incidents of maritime predation in the waters of Rhodes that our current understanding of the phenomenon of medieval maritime predation is lacking on an empirical level. He therefore suggests corpora of source material and a not only technologically, but also methodically new approach for their time-efficient exploitation.

Zusammenfassung: Zu Beginn des 15. Jahrhunderts waren katalanische Seefahrer für ihre kaltschnäuzigen räuberischen Aktivitäten im östlichen Mittelmeerraum bekannt. Aber wenn es darum ging, Seeräuber zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen, war auch die Republik Venedig nicht zimperlich. Denn einen Gesichtsverlust konnte sich die Serenissima im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes nicht leisten. Rückerstattung und Auslieferung wurden daher ohne Rücksicht auf den Kontext der einzelnen Fälle eingefordert. Mit dieser im Rahmen seines Dissertationsprojektes entstandenen Fallstudie zeigt Laurin Herberich anhand zweier bisher unbeachteter Fälle von Seeraub in rhodischen Gewässern, dass das Phänomen „mittelalterlicher Seeraub“ nicht ausreichend empirisch erforscht ist. Um dem Abhilfe zu leisten, werden anschließend Quellencorpora und schließlich ein nicht nur technologisch, sondern auch methodisch neuer Ansatz ihrer zeitökonomischen Erschließung vorgeschlagen.

Nihil aliud importat nisi […] omnes male dispositos cum bonis aliorum ad terram suam se reducere!”1 this was the reason the Venetian senate gave for the similar consequences two men ought to bear for their predatory behaviour at sea, when it sent its envoy Bartholomeo Storlato on a diplomatic mission to Rhodes in August 1423. The “robbers” should be extradited and their “loot” restituted. But were there, apart from the category of their crime, any other similarities between the two incidents that would legitimise those consequences? A closer look at the protocol of the senate session provides the different micro contexts Bartholomeo had to ignore:

The first maritime predator, a transport operator of unkown origin by the name of Clarius Archangelus, left Alexandria a year and a half earlier with his cargo bound for the port supposedly agreed upon with his Venetian employers. But he had headed for Rhodes instead. To the surprise of the senate Clarius gained the protection of the Knights of Saint John by referring to a letter of protection from the order, called “fidantia”. Since then Clarius had refused the restitution of the stolen cargo and the order his extradition already once. Now it was Bartholomeo’s job to demand both for the second time. For in spite of the heat the order was willing to take for Clarius, the senate speculated that both wanted to profit off Venice’s loss.2 The protocol even muses “cum quanta inhonestate possunt […] allegare […] fidantiam […] Clario factam”.3

The second man, a Catalan seafarer called Moysius, had, according to the senate, robbed Venetian merchants roughly a month ago in Rhodes harbour. Despite of him and his crew even trading with what were quite probably stolen goods right after the incident, the Grandmaster had refused to help his Venetian prey. Because the Serenissima couldn’t accept such disrespect, Bartholomeo was to demand restitution and the extradition of Moysius from the order.4 Even though Venice didn’t intend to let the Hospitallers off the hook easily, by the end of December 1423 the envoy made the order a tempting and ultimately successful offer: Because a settlement in favour of either party would have had positive consequences for the Catalans only, both would fare better by demanding restitution from their overlords, the Crown of Aragon: “potius erimus contenti […] satisfactionem habere a catellanis, quam a conventu suo.”5

Apart from the category of their crime being maritime predation both men were very different indeed. Why this one similarity was enough to cause identical demands for restitution and extradition can be answered looking at the macro context: In the year 1423 Venice had a firm grip on the trade routes and economic spheres of the eastern Mediterranean through her stato da mar.6 The trade volume occupied by her hegemonic position attracted maritime predators and competitors of different shapes and sizes. Be it the Genoese or the Catalans or trans-imperial actors, they liked to use Rhodes as a base for their operations.7 And the order even provided them with licenses for predatory action from at least 1413 onwards.8 Under these circumstances both incidents were not simply cases of maritime predation but occasions to diplomatically negotiate political power. It didn’t even matter, if the senate’s narrative of the incidents was faulty or not. Whoever gave way in the restitution case would not only suffer financially, but more often than not also politically in the present and future by creating a precedent.

But even though our current knowledge about the macro context can explain Venice’s reaction to this one similarity, our lack of understanding of maritime predation itself really shows as soon as we stray from Venice’s narrative and ask questions about the micro contexts of the incidents.

Here, differences between the two maritime predators themselves and in their treatment by the different entities involved raise questions in five key fields of research. The first of them is the handling of incidents like these by political entities. For example: Based on which factors did the Crown of Aragon actually decide to trust evidence in a restitution case,9 if it was so easy to manipulate according to the Venetian senate? Why was Venice seeking restitution from Clarius himself and did not team up with the order to demand it from his sovereign like in the case of Moysius? Why didn’t the order use the same “fidantia”-argument it used in the case of Clarius to excuse itself in the case of Moysius?

The second field of research regards their involvement in networks of maritime predation, because even though Clarius seems to have operated regularly in the Alexandria area, he doesn’t seem to have been attributed a “nationality” like his contemporary Moysius. Were geographical, linguistic or habitual criteria decisive for these kinds of attribution to one or the other political entitiy?

A third field is the method of both predators. Clarius was seemingly committing what can be described as fraudulent thievery. In contrast the described conduct of Moysius can be characterised as a violent robbery. But which of these two cases is more characteristic for the phenomenon of maritime predation?

Fourthly the two incidents differ in their geographical setting. Clarius “stole” his booty in Alexandria, whereas Moysius “robbed” the Venetians directly in Rhodes. But was this combination of crime scene, hideout and market common or did most other maritime predators try to change locations like Clarius?

The fifth field is their social and economic profile. Clarius was apparently a transport operator (“factor”)10 and probably owned one ship. Moysius on the other hand, even called a “deroba[tor]”,11 seems financially better situated with two ships and a crew big enough to “rob” the Venetian merchants. But were these men professional or just part-time maritime predators?

Luckily, we have been blessed with archives full of source material to empirically amend our lack of understanding. Unluckily, this poses the problem of time-efficiency. To tackle it a future project on maritime predation should firstly focus on the archives of the four most important maritime powers of the medieval Mediterranean: the ones of the republic of Genoa,12 the Crown of Aragon,13 the order of the Knights of Saint John14 and the republic of Venice.15 Secondly the technological advantages of a database oriented project could help to connect the traces left by predators in different archival records. An approach like this would not only be time-efficient by enabling multiple researchers to connect their finds from different archives simultaneously, but also represent a new method to grip medieval trans-imperiality.

By conducting an empirical comparative study like this, one could expand the micro contexts of these two incidents by explaining their differences in the five mentioned fields of research and through that our understanding of Mediterranean maritime predation on the whole. We could ensure furthermore, that not only one entity controls the narrative so that possibly misunderstood thieves like Clarius won’t get mixed up with seemingly violent robbers like Moysius in the future. Because unlike for Bartholomeo back then, in researching the phenomenon of maritime predation today it should apply that despite similar consequences “[multum] aliud importat”.16


Photo: Grünenberg, Konrad von, Beschreibung der Reise von Konstanz nach Jerusalem, Bodenseegebiet ca. 1487, in: Cod. St. Peter pap. 32, folio 20v–21r, URL: [https://digital.blb-karlsruhe.de/7061] (18.11.2021).

  1. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 14; Vgl. Régestes des délibérations, Bd. II, S. 209, Reg. 1902. []
  2. cf. Ibid., l. 1–20; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 209, Reg. 1902. []
  3. Ibid., l. 13; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 209, Reg. 1902. []
  4. cf. Ibid., l. 24–42; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 209, Reg. 1902. []
  5. cf. ASV.Misti.54.167v (30.12.1423), l. 4, 6, 9, 11–17; cf. Bd. 1,3: CSPA, Reg. 834, p. 260. A victorious Venice would provide the Catalans with a sense of security, because they could expect the order to pay for their stolen goods in doubt. A victorious order would mark Venetian merchants as fair game for Catalan maritime predators. []
  6. Coulon, The Commercial Influence of the Crown of Aragon, 2017, p. 281; Ferrer i Mallol, La Mediterrània dels segles XIII al XV, 2004, p. 156; Katele, Captains and corsairs, 1986, pp. 45–46. []
  7. Coureas, Piracy, 2001, p. 200; Ashtor, Levant trade, 1983, ND 2014, p. 391; Balard, Le Commerce en Méditerranée, 2013, p. 27; Bonneaud, The Influential Trade, 2015, p. 396; Luttrell, The Hospitallers in Cyprus, Rhodes, Greece and the West, 1978, V, pp. 202, 204. []
  8. Luttrell, The Hospitaller State on Rhodes, 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. cf. ASV.Misti.55.125v (13.06.1425); cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 228, Reg. 1991; cf. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 17–18; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 209, Reg. 1902. []
  10. ASV.Misti.54.86r (24.02.1422), l. 1; cf. Bd. 1,3: CSPA, Reg. 810, p. 243; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 200, Reg. 1872. []
  11. cf. Ibid., l. 33; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 209, Reg. 1902. []
  12. Archivio di Stato di Genova, online: http://www.archiviodistatogenova.beniculturali.it/index.php?it/167/inventari-digitalizzati. []
  13. Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, online: http://censoarchivos.mcu.es/CensoGuia/inventario dinamico.htm. []
  14. Luttrell, The Hospitallers of Rhodes, 1980, pp. 245–247; Vann, Hospitallers and Piracy on Rhodes, 2013, pp. 251, 254–255, 257–260. Which could be supplemented with digitalised microfilms of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. cf. Online Resources for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, HMML: Series 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, https://www.vhmml.org. []
  15. Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Moreveneto, Patrimonio, Serie riprodotte http://asve.arianna4.cloud/patrimonio/448 b1163-8279-467b-9094-358f38826387/repubblica-di-venezia-12-magg-1797. []
  16. ASV.Misti.54.141v. (28.08.1423), l. 14; cf. Rdd, Bd. II, p. 209, Reg. 1902. []

Mendicants and Rulership in the Crown of Aragon during the Reign of King Alfonso IV (1327–1336)

Robert Friedrich, Universität Greifswald

Abstract: In meinem Ordens- und Herrschaftsgeschichte verbindenden Dissertationsprojekt frage ich nach der Rolle der Bettelorden in der Herrschaftsorganisation der Krone Aragon unter König Alfons IV. und seiner Gemahlin Eleonore von Kastilien (1327–1336). Auch die Übergänge der Herrschaft von seinem Vater Jakob II. (1291–1327) und zu seinem Sohn Peter IV. (1336–1387) finden Eingang in die Untersuchung. Die Franziskaner- und Klarissennähe des aragonesischen Königshauses stand schon häufiger im Fokus der Forschung, vor allem in Bezug auf Fragen persönlicher Frömmigkeit. Der politischen Rolle von Ordensmitgliedern wurde bisher jedoch eher weniger Aufmerksamkeit zuteil, gleiches gilt für die anderen Bettelorden und insbesondere die Dominikaner. Im Zentrum meiner Arbeit stehen die Wechselbeziehungen zwischen dem Königshof und den verschiedenen Ebenen der Bettelordenshierarchie, vom Gesamtorden bis zum einzelnen Bruder bzw. der einzelnen Schwester. Ein besonderer Fokus liegt auf den Tätigkeiten der Brüder am Königshof, wo diese u. a. als Berater, Diplomaten und Beichtväter in Erscheinung traten. Als Quellengrundlage dienen zum einen die in ihrem Umfang einmaligen Register der königlichen Kanzlei im Kronarchiv in Barcelona und zum anderen die Akten der General- und Provinzialkapitel der Bettelorden sowie exemplarisch einige Konventsarchive. Im ersten Teil der Arbeit soll die Herrscherperspektive im Zentrum stehen und anhand konkreter Ereignisse untersucht werden, welche Rolle die Bettelorden in der Herrschaftsorganisation König Alfons’ spielten. Der zweite Teil ist prosopographisch angelegt und nimmt die Karrieren einzelner Brüder in den Blick, die auf Basis eines Personenkatalogs untersucht werden. 

The royal family of the House of Barcelona-Aragon in the 13th and 14th centuries has been called “a strikingly philo-mendicant network”1, and its spiritual proximity to the Franciscan Order has long been established by historical scholarship, especially in terms of personal piety. More than a few members of the royal family relied on friars for their spiritual guidance, founded convents, appointed them as confessors or even chose their final resting place in one of the convents. Alfonso IV was no exception here. In his testament, he declared that he wanted to be buried in the Franciscan convent of Lleida, and even obtained apostolic absolution for breaking the promise to his father that he would be buried in the Cistercian monastery of Poblet.2 However, the political role of the Friars Minor, as well as that of the Dominicans and other mendicant orders, has received far less attention. Although the Friars Preachers had developed in the same manner as the Franciscans and were considered almost equally important at court, they have inspired far less research. The same can be said for the reign of King Alfonso, who is generally overshadowed by both his famous father, James II (1291–1327), and his son Peter IV (1336–1387), who both enjoyed a very long reign.

The aim of my research project is to address these shortcomings by focusing on the relationship between the mendicant orders and the royal house of Barcelona-Aragon during the reign of King Alfonso IV. In order better to contextualize his reign, I shall include the years of his infancy, from around 1323, as well as the first years of the reign of his son and successor Peter IV, until around 1340. My analysis will take place on four levels which represent the hierarchy of the respective orders: individual friars, convents, provincial chapters, and general chapters. Interactions with the court occurred on all of these levels, sometimes individually, sometimes interconnected. All areas of the king’s political activities will be considered, including international relations as well as the internal organisation of the lands of the Crown of Aragon. Through this approach, my research will contribute to a better understanding of the interactions between these two spheres in particular but also between political and religious actors in general.

My project draws on a wide range of source material. Because documentary sources are vital to trace specific moments of interactions, the registers of the royal chancery housed in the Crown Archive in Barcelona as well as the Cartes Reials – a collection of documents of all sorts – and the Pergamins, a collection of charters, will be of utmost interest. In order to assess the orders’ perspective, I shall focus on the acts of the provincial and general chapters, documents issued by the orders’ masters general as well as chronicles such as Francisco Diago’s “Historia de la Provincia de Aragon de la Orden de Predicadores”. Archives of individual convents will only be consulted to a lesser degree, as their communications with the court can usually be traced via the royal registers. Another important perspective is provided by papal charters and letters issued during the pontificates of John XXII and Benedict XII.

My analysis will be divided into two parts. The first part will explore the king’s perspective and analyse concrete moments of interaction between the mendicants and the royal family in different areas of royal politics, considering both general matters such as the foundation of convents or international negotiations as well as more specific contexts such as the conquest and integration of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The latter represents an especially intriguing example of how the king made use of certain trusted friars in order to gain control of the island after the military conquest had been completed in 1323. This influence can be traced on all levels of the orders’ hierarchy, from the reorganisation of mendicant provinces to the foundation of new convents and the exchange of Tuscan friars for loyal Catalan clerics.3 This first part of my study will thus on the one hand illustrate how Alfonso perceived the role of the mendicants and made use of them in his political endeavours; on the other hand, it will demonstrate how this was put into practice in specific political contexts.

The second part will explore the perspective of individual friars. By adopting a prosopographical approach, I will establish a catalogue of all friars who were in one way or another connected to King Alfonso, be it as confessors, counsellors, ambassadors, or even as bishops appointed upon the king’s recommendation. Based on this catalogue, my aim is to follow the careers of individual friars and gain a better understanding of how their connection to the king shaped their careers and how their status as a mendicant influenced their service: What role did education play? What did it mean if a friar came from an important noble family? What influence could a friar’s service for the king have on the career within the order? A telling example is that of the Franciscan Arnau de Canelles who has been described as follows: “he distinguished himself more in the service of the king than in that of the order”4. Although this verdict is somewhat exaggerated – he had also served as lector and provincial minister – there is some truth to it. The degree of interaction becomes clear when Arnau is accused of supporting the Spirituals, a branch of the Franciscans declared heretic, in 1331. On the insistence of the pope, the Franciscans deposed him from all his offices. As a reaction, the king intervened and declared his trust in friar Arnau, demanding that all accusations against him be dropped. The case concludes with a letter from Arnau to the king in which he gives him spiritual advice.5

These examples shall suffice to showcase the questions and potentials of my research project. By conducting the first comprehensive study of mendicant-royal relations in the context of one particular reign, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of these interactions. I also hope to present a more nuanced view of King Alfonso IV, whose reign has – if at all – generally been presented in a rather negative light. 


Photo: Dominicans and Franciscan friars singing, conducted by Christ. Abbey Bible (c. 1250-1262), Getty Museum, Ms 107, fol. 224r (Detail). Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program. Ⓒ: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/de/

  1. Nikolas Jaspert, Testaments, Burials and Bequests: Tracing the “Franciscanism” of Aragonese Queens and Princesses, in: Princesses and Mendicants. Close Relations in a European Perspective, hg. von Nikolas Jaspert / Imke Just (Vita Regularis 75), Münster-Berlin 2019, S. 90. []
  2. Ebd., S. 89–90. []
  3. Jill R. Webster, Els menorets: the Franciscans in the Realms of Aragon from St. Francis to the Black Death, Toronto 1993, S. 68–69. []
  4. Ebd., S. 216. []
  5. Heinrich Finke, Acta Aragonensia III, S. 740–742, Nr. 48. []

Muslims under the rule of Military Orders in the Medieval Iberian Peninsula

Clara Almagro Vidal, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

Within the medieval Iberian Peninsula, military orders prospered in a context in which the fight against Islam held great weight. They played an important role in the territorial advance of Christian kingdoms at the expense of Andalusian territories and were also instrumental in the consolidation of frontier areas. In spite of it, or maybe because of it, they encountered Muslims often, both in the battlefields and outside of them. Muslims served in their convents, castles and houses, and resided on their lands as settlers in different fashions.

Military orders were present in different kingdoms at the same time. As such, they offer an excellent case study to approach Muslim presence under Christian rule while sidestepping the traditional focus on individual kingdoms. This has the potential to bring a new perspective to the interpretation of the factors and mechanisms at play in the relations between Muslims and their Christian lords in different areas and moments in time, showing the equilibriums and internal tensions that marked the different contexts and configurations surrounding their presence.

With the financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the goal of my research project is to to analyse the ways in which military orders ruled over the Muslims that lived and worked under their rule in the Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. The analysis focuses on two facets of Muslim presence: Muslim servants and Muslim inhabitants on their lands. In both cases, the objective is to identify both the characteristics of their status and of the roles they played, as well as to analyse the actions taken by military orders as their lords towards them. In order to do so, special attention is dedicated to records that relate to the economic administration of the possessions of the orders, as well as internal regulations, privileges, and judicial records.

The project is still ongoing. However, some very interesting findings are shaping a fascinating picture: servants of the orders included not only slaves, but also free Muslim men who occupied positions of trust within the orders fulfilling al manners of roles. 

The presence of Muslim settlers was encouraged in a number of ways, including establishing agreements with already existing Muslim communities or providing partial tax exemptions, among other strategies. The knights also offered protection to the Muslims living under their rule, which probably played a role in the fact that the relations between Muslim and Christian neighbours was often peaceful. However, these actions by the military orders were in a big part influenced by circumstances outside of the orders themselves. They showed themselves to be adaptable in this respect and, as a result, local factors greatly influenced the manifestations of overarching developments. In turn, the presence of Muslims inhabitants brought certain advantages to military orders, such as the availability of workforce on the land, especially at times when it was difficult to attract Christian settlers; and in the form taxable subjects, Muslims  could be subjected to higher fiscal pressure than their Christian counterparts, among other benefits.

Some early results of my research have already been published and a monograph is in the works.


Photo: Cantiga 181 of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfons X, in: Codex Rico, Ms TI1, f. 240r, Biblioteca de El Escorial https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/; http://warfare.gq/Cantiga/Cantigas_de_Santa_Maria-181.htm.

Wie die iberischen Christen das neue Volk Gottes wurden. Die Bibel in der christlich-iberischen Historiographie vom 8. bis zum 12. Jahrhundert

Patrick S. Marschner, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften

Abstract: In the aftermath of the Berber-Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711, the Visigothic Kingdom fell and the Arabs ruled major parts of the region. Christian chroniclers of the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and 12th centuries reflected, among other things, on these ‘foreign’ rulers. Narrating Hispanic history, they utilized the Bible by quoting it or comparing their own history to biblical stories. What was the role of biblical elements in Christian-Iberian historiography concerning the depiction of history and especially concerning the depiction of the cultural and religious ‘Other’ in history?

Im Jahre 711 fiel das Westgotenreich durch die arabische Eroberung der Iberischen Halbinsel unter der Führung der Umayyaden. Die lateinische Historiographie Hispaniens zwischen dem achten und zwölften Jahrhundert zeugt von der geistigen Auseinandersetzung der Christen mit dem Untergang des Westgotenreiches, der Gegenwart der kulturell-religiös „Anderen“ und der Fremdherrschaft durch die Araber. Wesentliche inhaltliche Elemente der zwischen 741 und dem frühen zwölften Jahrhundert auf der Iberischen Halbinsel verfassten christlichen Chroniken sind zum einen die Suche nach Gründen für die Fremdherrschaft, zum anderen aber auch Identifikationsstrategien, welche die Herkunft und Abstammung der neuen Machthaber klären sollten.

Darüber hinaus sind die Darstellungen der hispanischen Geschichte in den lateinischen Chroniken häufig mit biblischen Elementen gespeist. Konkret wurde die eigene Geschichte mit biblischen Zitaten, Motiven, Paraphrasen, Vergleichen oder Erzählstrukturen wiedergegeben. Diese im Kontext der transkulturellen Situation auf der Iberischen Halbinsel auftretenden biblischen Elemente innerhalb der Historiographie waren das Untersuchungsobjekt des hier behandelten Forschungsprojektes, dessen Leitfrage lautet: Welche Rolle spielen biblische Elemente innerhalb der christlich-iberischen Historiographie bei der Darstellung von Geschichte und insbesondere bei der Darstellung der kulturell-religiös „Anderen“ in der Geschichte?

Durch die Referenz auf die für ein christliches Publikum wohl autoritativsten Texte – die biblischen Bücher – war intendiert, eigene Aussagen zu unterstreichen und zu verifizieren. Für die Chronisten erfüllte sich in der eigenen, nach-biblischen Geschichte was in der Bibel, insbesondere im Alten Testament, vorangekündigt schien. Mit dem Rekurs auf die Bibel in der Geschichtsschreibung konnten die Chronisten die Erfüllung biblischer Vorankündigungen vermeintlich beweisen. Zudem ließ die Kenntnis der biblischen Geschichte und vor allem deren Ausgang Prophezeiungen für die weitere Entwicklung der eigenen Geschichte zu. Auch die Darstellung der Fremdherrscher auf der Iberischen Halbinsel ist in den Chroniken mit biblischen Elementen versehen: Ihre Herkunft, ihre Ankunft und ihr Erfolg werden unter Bezugnahme auf biblische Motive gedeutet. Folglich ist für die christlich-iberische Historiographie zwischen dem achten und zwölften Jahrhundert ein Zusammenhang zwischen Bibelexegese und der Identifikation der „Anderen“ zu konstatieren. Im Umkehrschluss lässt sich aus der Fremdidentifikation auch eine Selbstidentifikation der Christen auf der Iberischen Halbinsel ableiten. Die Analyse der biblischen Elemente in der christlich-iberischen Historiographie ergab bisher vier Arten der Bezugnahme zur Bibel in den Chroniken:

Individuelle Charaktere, also historische Protagonisten, wurden sehr häufig als Anti-Typen biblischer Figuren dargestellt. Insbesondere christliche Herrscher erfuhren eine Darstellung in Gestalt einer neuen Version alttestamentlicher Erlösergestalten. So erscheint der geradezu mythische Held von Covadonga, Pelayo, in der Chronik Alfons‘ III. als neuer Moses, der sein Volk aus der Gefangenschaft führt und dessen Gegner, wie die im Buch Exodus die Israeliten verfolgenden Ägypter, durch Gottes Willen verschüttet werden. Pelayo erfuhr aber auch eine Typologisierung als neuer David. Ein weiteres Beispiel ist die Darstellung des Todes Ferdinands I. (reg. 1035–1065), einem militärisch gegen die Araber sehr erfolgreichem König, dem in der Historia Silense kurz vor seinem Tod ein Gebet in den Mund gelegt wird, das wörtlich dem Dankgebet König Davids kurz vor dessen Tod im Alten Testament entspricht. Doch nicht nur die individuellen Persönlichkeiten der eigenen Bevölkerungsgruppe erfuhren solche typologischen Deutungen. Mohammed selbst wird im Chronicon Albeldensis als Anti-Christ dargestellt, dem die Auferstehung drei Tage nach seinem Tod nicht gelang und dessen Leichnam daraufhin von Hunden verspeist worden sei.

Die Ethnonyme, mit denen die christlichen Autoren die kulturell-religiös „Anderen“ benannten, sind überwiegend alttestamentlicher Herkunft. Seit den historiographischen Texten des späten neunten Jahrhunderts ist der Rekurs auf die Bibel bei der Benennung der kulturell-religiös „Anderen“ offensichtlich. In der Chronica Albeldensis wird bemängelt, dass die Sarazenen – so werden in ihr die Fremdherrscher bezeichnet – fälschlicherweise glauben, sie würden von Sara abstammen, während sie eigentlich „Hagarener von Hagar und Ismaeliten von Ismael“ seien. Die Grundlage dieser Identifikation liegt klar im Buch Genesis und der Geschichte von Abrahams Familie, die in der christlichen Deutung, beginnend im Galaterbrief, eine Hierarchie von Abrahams Söhnen und deren Müttern beinhaltet. Sara und Isaak, in deren Abstammung sich die Christen sahen, werden über Hagar und Ismael gestellt. Doch auch Bezeichnungen der Fremdherrscher als „Chaldäer“, „Babylonier“, „Moabiter“ oder „Ammoniter“, wie sie in späteren Texten auftauchen, sind biblisch entlehnte Termini und bringen die kulturell-religiös „Anderen“ immer in Verbindung mit Gegnervölkern der Israeliten in der Bibel. Folglich steckt in der Benennung der „Anderen“ eine Selbstidentifikation als neues Volk Gottes. Die Verwendung der Ethnonyme variiert im Untersuchungszeitraum.

Die Geschichte der Iberischen Halbinsel seit dem Ende des Westgotenreiches wird in der historiographischen Rückschau zwischen dem achten und zwölften Jahrhundert oft als eine Folge von Sünde, Strafe, Buße und Gnade dargestellt. Der Lauf der Geschichte ist in der Darstellung der Chronisten mit einer moralischen Kausalität verbunden. Die Fremdherrscher sind demnach eine Strafe Gottes für das Fehlverhalten der letzten westgotischen Könige. Die christlichen Könige im Norden der Halbinsel leiteten, so das Narrativ der Chroniken, durch Buße und Gottvertrauen die Phase der göttlichen Gnade ein. Strukturell laufen Geschichten des Volkes Israel im Alten Testament in gleicher Weise ab. Sein gelobtes Land verliert Israel in mehreren Episoden an die Chaldäer oder die Babylonier infolge von Verfehlungen gegen Gott. Israel gelingt in den Episoden, auf die in den lateinischen Chroniken mittels Zitaten, Vergleichen usw. rekurriert wird, stets die Rückgewinnung seines gelobten Landes und seines Status gegenüber Gott. So wird auch die Hoffnung auf ein Ende der Fremdherrschaft in den christlich-iberischen Chroniken formuliert. Denn die Vorgabe und Vorankündigung der Geschichte – die Bibel – erzählt immer von einer Erlösung vom Joch der Fremdherrschaft. Diese geschichtlich-moralische Gewissheit, aber auch das klar erkennbare Modell der Sechs-Weltalter-Lehre speziell in den Chroniken des achten und neunten Jahrhunderts, zeugen von der Zuversicht auf einen baldigen, essentiellen Umbruch im Lauf der Geschichte.

https://www.oeaw.ac.at/imafo/forschung/historische-identitaetsforschung/projekte/weitere-projekte/bible-and-historiography/


Photo:  ©MNAC (Capitel del Pilar de Camarasa, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)

Ambige Conversos – unsichere Inquisitoren – unentbehrliche Gelehrte. Akteure und Praktiken des Entscheidens im Inquisitionstribunal von Cuenca (1489–1518)

Sebastian Rothe, Universität Münster

Abstract: The doctoral thesis analyses the records of the so-called consultas de fe which offer unique insights into the decision-making processes of the Spanish inquisition. Especially the few cases of recorder dissent among the learned men show the alternatives at issue and the inquisitors’ scope for decision-making.

Resumen: La tesis doctoral analiza los registros de las denominadas consultas de fe que ofrecen una visión única de los procesos de toma de decisiones dentro de la inquisición española. Son de especial interés los pocos casos de disentimiento registrados entre los consultores que muestran las alternativas en cuestión y el margen de maniobra de los inquisidores para la toma de decisiones.

1488 versammelte der erste Großinquisitor der Kronen Kastilien und Aragon, Tomás de Torquemada, alle Inquisitoren in Valladolid. Acht Jahre, nachdem die ersten Inquisitoren in Kastilien ihre Arbeit aufgenommen hatten, wurde das Problem diskutiert, dass nicht überall dort, wo lokale Tribunale errichtet worden waren, ausreichend Gelehrte (letrados) zur Verfügung standen, um sich mit ihnen nach der Beweisaufnahme im Rahmen der sogenannten consultas de fe über das Urteil zu beratschlagen; infolgedessen hätten sich einige Inquisitoren unsicher gefühlt, sodass es zu Verzögerungen bei den Urteilsverkündungen gekommen sei.1

Die bedeutende Rolle der Gelehrten kommt auch in Pedro Berruguetes zeitgenössischer Darstellung eines auto de fe zum Ausdruck, welche den hl. Dominikus als richtenden Inquisitor umgeben von zahlreichen Gelehrten zeigt.2 Zusammen mit dem in den Urteilen der Inquisition üblichen Verweis auf die Diskussion (deliberación) und den Konsens (acuerdo) mit gelehrten Theologen und Juristen3 bestätigen die genannten Quellen die Einschätzung Jean-Pierre Dedieus, der den letrados eine bisland unzureichend gewürdigte “rôle capital”4 im Inquisitonsverfahren zuerkennt.

Mein Dissertationsprojekt5 widmet sich diesem Forschungsdesiderat, welches noch immer nicht an Aktualität verloren hat, und erforscht die Rolle der Gelehrten bei der Urteilsfindung in der formativen Phase der spanischen Inquisition. Mit der Arbeit soll nicht nur ein mediävistischer Beitrag zu Erforschung der spanischen Inquisition geleistet werden; das Projekt versteht sich auch als Teil der historischen Entscheidensforschung6 und will als solche auf der Grundlage des empirischen Befunds allgemeinere Aussagen über die Rolle von Experten und Expertenwissen in Prozessen des Entscheidens diskutieren.7

Als wesentliches Quellencorpus dienen die rund 450 in den einzelnen Prozessakten enthaltenen Protokolle der sogenannten consultas de fe, die im Inquisitionstribunal von Cuenca seit dessen Gründung im Jahr 1489 bis 1518 stattfanden.8 Dabei interessieren mich insbesondere die 65 Fälle, bezüglich derer kein einstimmiges Votum, sondern Dissens unter den letrados überliefert ist. Diese geben Aufschluss über die diskutierten alternativen Urteilssprüche und damit singuläre Einblicke in die Praktiken des Entscheidenden, tritt hier doch die Kontingenz des Entscheidens offen zutage. Ergänzend werden zur Rekonstruktion der (wenigen überlieferten) Verfahrensregeln Quellen aus dem ehemaligen Archiv des Consejo de la Inquisición (jetzt im Archivo Histórico Nacional) sowie zur Rekonstruktion des lokalgeschichtlichen Kontextes Quellen aus den örtlichen Archiven herangezogen.

Neben einer prosopographischen Herangehensweise zur Beantwortung der Frage, wer die von den Inquisitoren bestellten letrados waren bzw. wie sich das Expertengremium der consulta de fe zusammensetzte (akademische Grade, Fächer, Ämter, Stand etc.), verfolge ich vor allem einen mikrohistorischen Ansatz, um die formellen und informellen Praktiken des Deliberierens und Votierens während der Sitzung der consultas de fe zu untersuchen. Was galt als entscheidbar? Wie wurden Optionen generiert und selektiert? Wie inszenierten die Teilnehmer ihre Autorität? Lassen sich Meinungsführer erkennen? Wie formalisiert war die Abstimmung? Welche Rolle spielten Informationen, Zeit, Recht, Gewissen, politische oder private Interessen etc. als Ressourcen des Entscheidens? Wie wurde mit Meinungsverschiedenheiten umgegangen? Lassen sich Typen von umstrittenen Fällen unterscheiden? Die Aktenführung wird dabei ebenfalls als eine Praktik des Entscheidens verstanden.9 All dem übergeordnet ist letztlich die Frage, welchen Einfluss die letrados auf die Urteilsfindung hatten und – damit verbunden – welche Funktion dem Expertengremium und -wissen in der Anfangsphase der spanischen Inquisition zukam.10


Photo: Protokoll einer consulta de fe, 21. März 1495; Archivo Diocesano de Cuenca, Inquisición leg. 49 exp. 749 fol 7v; Verwendung mit freundlicher Genehmigung (©).

  1. Vgl. A[rchivo] D[iocesano de] C[uenca], Inquisición, Libro 336, fol. 30v; Ernst Schäfer, Die älteste Instruktionen-Sammlung der spanischen Inquisition, in: Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 2 (1904/1905), S. 1-55, hier S. 41. []
  2. Vgl. Caballero Escomilla, Las imágenes como instrumento de evangelización y condena. Torquemada y el Convento de Santo Tomás de Ávila, Madrid 2014. Das Gemälde befindet sich heute im Prado; vgl. https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/saint-dominic-presiding-over-an-auto-da-fe/5564d7cb-621f-437b-b2e8-001728590173?searchid=c73cedf2-c5d2-9b98-ac58-d713b0a1f9b3 [zuletzt aufgerufen am 15.08.2019]. []
  3. Vgl. etwa ACD, Inquisición, leg. 12, exp. 240, fol 7v. []
  4. Jean-Pierre Dedieu, L’administracion de la foi. L’inquisition de Tolède XVIe – XVIIIe siècle, Madrid 1989, S. 137 []
  5. Das Dissertationsprojekt geht aus dem Teilprojekt B03 „Entscheiden ohne Alternativen? Die Etablierung der Spanischen Inquisition während der Regierungszeit der Katholischen Könige“ des SFB 1150 „Kulturen des Entscheidens“ (Münster 2015-2019) hervor; vgl.  https://www.uni-muenster.de/SFB1150/projektbereiche/projektbereichb/teilprojektb03.html. Die Arbeit wird von Prof. Dr. Wolfram Drews (Münster) betreut. []
  6. Vgl. Philip Hoffmann-Rehnitz/André Krischer/Matthias Pohlig, Entscheiden als Problem der Geschichtswissenschaft, in: Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 45 (2018), S. 217-281. []
  7. Vgl. Stefanos Dimitriadis/Florin Filimon/Konstantin Maier/Sebastian Rothe/Sita Steckel, Expertenentscheidungen in der Vormoderne. Politisierung von Expertise und Konkurrenz der Experten in politischen Entscheidungsprozessen des lateinischen und byzantinischen Mittelalters, in: Ulrich Pfister (Hg.), Kulturen des Entscheidens. Narrative – Praktiken – Ressourcen (Kulturen des Entscheidens 1), Göttingen 2019, S. 287-313. []
  8. Die Inquisitionsakten in Cuenca sind sehr gut erfasst, wenn auch nicht hinsichtlich der consultas de fe; vgl. Dimas Pérez Ramírez, Catálogo del Archivo de la Inquisición de Cuenca, Madrid 1982. []
  9. Vgl. Bruno Latour, Die Rechtsfabrik. Eine Ethnographie des Conseil d’État. Aus dem Französischen übersetzt von Claudia Brede-Konersmann, Konstanz 2016. []
  10. Als quellenkritisches Korrektiv soll die zeitgenössische Kritik an den Entscheidungen der Inquisitoren und ihrer Gelehrter nicht außer Acht gelassen werden; vgl. Wolfram Drews, Die Gerichtsbarkeit der spanischen Inquisition in der Krise. Kardinal Cisneros und die Kongregation von Burgos 1508, in: Ders./Ulrich Pfister/Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf (Hgg.), Religion und Entscheiden. Historische und kulturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven (= Religion und Politik 17), Baden-Baden 2018, S. 249-270. Zu den Akteuren des Entscheidens zähle ich gleichermaßen die Angeklagten, die in meinem Untersuchungszeitraum fast ausschließlichConversos waren, denen sogenannte judaisierende Praktiken vorgeworfen wurden. []

El libro de pregones: Städtische Verkündungen und öffentliche Kommunikation in Toledo am Übergang vom Mittelalter zur Frühen Neuzeit (1450–1518)

Mit einer kritischen Edition des Libro de Pregones

Lisa Walleit, Erlangen/Madrid

versión española abajo

Lange Zeit wurden in Europa neue Gesetze und Beschlüsse, aber auch alle sonstigen von der Stadtregierung als relevant für die Bevölkerung erachteten Informationen mithilfe von öffentlichen Verkündungen dem Volk übermittelt. Zu diesem Zweck wurde auf der Iberischen Halbinsel ein Pregonero, ein Ausrufer, beauftragt, der die Neuigkeiten auf den wichtigsten Plätzen und Straßen der Stadt ausrief. 

Im Stadtarchiv von Toledo ist hierzu eine einzigartige Quelle überliefert, der Libro de Pregones, eine Sammlung verschiedenster Verkündungen aus den Jahren 1450 bis 1518. Diese Kompilation besteht aus 222 Pregones auf 156 Folios und bietet Informationen über unterschiedliche den Stadtalltag betreffende Anordnungen, aber auch zu gesamtkastilischen Themenkomplexen. Einige Verkündungen erlauben zudem den Blick über die Grenzen Kastiliens hinaus und ermöglichen so weiterführende Forschungen zu Beziehungen Toledos mit Aragón und Portugal.

In meiner Dissertation beleuchte ich auf Grundlage dieses Dokuments zum einen die Person und das Amt des Pregonero, eine Figur, der bislang in der internationalen Forschung wohl auch aufgrund der ungünstigen Quellenlage wenig Beachtung geschenkt wurde, obwohl das Amt des städtischen Ausrufers in ganz Europa zu finden war. In Kastilien war der Pregonero trotz seiner nicht zu unterschätzenden Bedeutung für die Kommunikation zwischen den Mächtigen und der Bevölkerung – ohne die öffentliche Ausrufung eines Beschlusses wäre eine Durchsetzung in der von Analphabetismus geprägten Welt des Spätmittelalters nicht möglich gewesen – ein untergeordnetes, wenig angesehenes Amt innerhalb des städtischen Regierungsapparats. 

Zum anderen analysiere ich anhand des Libro die verschiedenen Formen und Ausprägungen öffentlicher Kommunikationsstrukturen in der spätmittelalterlichen Stadt Toledo. Das Buch gewährt Einblicke in die Arbeitsweise des Stadtrates und den Entstehungsprozess der Verkündungen von der Beschlussfassung bis zur Ausrufung. Neben einer Evaluierung der Hauptakteure soll zudem vor allem das Selbstverständnis der Regierung und die damit einhergehende Instrumentalisierung von Öffentlichkeit in der Argumentation und Begründung bei der Erstellung der Pregones in meiner Arbeit hinterfragt werden. Auch die Mechanismen, durch welche die breite Bevölkerung in die öffentliche Kommunikation integriert wurde, werden auf Grundlage der Quelle und unter Berücksichtigung von Aspekten der aktuellen internationalen mediävistischen und soziologischen Forschung zur städtischen Kommunikation, den Klangräumen des Mittelalters, der politischen Öffentlichkeit und dem öffentlichem Raum genauer beleuchtet. Die Bedeutung von ‚Öffentlichkeit‘ im mittelalterlichen Justizsystem der Stadt wird hinsichtlich des Einbezuges der Öffentlichkeit bei der Durchsetzung des Rechts und der Strafverfolgung untersucht – ein Motiv, das wiederholt in den Verkündungen genannt wird. Hierbei spielt auch die Funktion von Gerede und Gerüchten, beziehungsweise der ihnen zugrundeliegende Wahrheitsgehalt, eine tragende Rolle bei der Bewertung von öffentlicher Kommunikation und ihrer Instrumentalisierung durch die Stadtregierung. 

Der Bedeutung des Libro des Pregones nicht nur für die lokale Stadtgeschichte Toledos, sondern auch für gesamtkastilische Forschungen (in den Themenkomplexen Wirtschaft, Politik oder Medizin, um nur einige zu nennen) und seine Besonderheit als Sammlung von Verkündungen über einen Zeitraum von sechzig Jahren wird durch die Veröffentlichung der Quelle als kommentierte kritische Edition Rechnung getragen. Der Libro wird dadurch zudem weiterführenden Untersuchungen zugänglich gemacht.

El Libro de Pregones, una fuente muy particular que se puede encontrar en el Archivo Municipal de Toledo, es un manuscrito que se compone de un total de 222 pregones, distribuidos en 156 folios, y que presenta un contenido muy diverso, es decir, que nos ofrece información tanto sobre la vida cotidiana en general como sobre las relaciones entre Toledo, Aragón y Portugal 

Pero una de las preguntas clave es: como se enteraba la ciudadanía de todas las leyes, ordenanzas y decisiones del concejo? Este es el momento en que aparece la figura del pregonero, un cargo muy bajo, casí infame, pero de una importancia imensa. Sin esta figura, que se puede encontrar en toda Europa, ni el concejo municipal, ni siquiera el rey, hubieran sido capazes de gobernar, el pregonero era el nexo entre los poderosos y la población en un mundo analfabeto, este mundo que dependía completamente de la palabra pronunciada. Tal vez debido a los escasos datos disponibles, hasta hoy la investigación no le había prestado mucha atención a este cargo. Através de mi trabajo intento de solventar algunas de estas lagunas. Preguntas a tratar son ¿cómo era el proceso de elaborar un pregón? ¿Quiénes eran los otorgantes? ¿Qué pasos eran necesarios para ponerlo en marcha? ¿Y dónde y cómo se lo proclamaban? Todos estos datos nos permitirán formarnos una idea más clara sobre los métodos y mecanismos de la comunicación medieval. 

El tercer componente de la parte análitica de mi trabajo gira en torno a la comunicación pública. Sostengo la tesis de que los gobernantes instrumentalizaban la comunicación pública mediante los pregones para poder poner en práctica sus ideas, imponer sus medidas y tal vez tambien para mantener la paz y sosiego, como se decía en tiempos medievales. Las expresiones formales, por un lado, reflejan la imagen de “buenos gobernadores” que los poderosos tenían de sí mismos, y que coincide completamente con las teorias contemporáneas. Por otro lado nos muestra como intentaban aparentar que implicaban a la población en las decisiones del concejo, en los actos políticos.

El último capítulo de mi tesis doctoral es la edición crítica y comentada del Libro de Pregones. Con la transcripción y un comentario que presenta informaciones sobre lugares, personas y acontecimientos quiero ofrecer un instrumento útil para futuras investigaciones. 


Photo: Jodocus Damhouderius: Praxis rerum civilium, Antwerpen 1568, S. 516; Verwendung mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Biblioteca Nacional de España (©).

Los judíos de Ágreda – Visita a los archivos de Tarazona, Ágreda y Soria

Joaquín Porras Ordieres, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract: A visit to five archives in three cities (Tarazona, Ágreda, and Soria) undertaken last summer has proven extremely useful for my dissertation project on the mobility and economy of a Jewish community in the Late Middle Ages.

Zusammenfassung: Ein im Sommer durchgeführter Forschungsaufenthalt in fünf Archiven dreier Städte (Tarazona, Ágreda und Soria) hat sich für mein Dissertationsprojekt über die Mobilität und Wirtschaft einer jüdischen Gemeinde im Spätmittelalter als außerordentlich fruchtbar erwiesen.

Mi tesis se centra en la movilidad judía y las actividades económicas de los judíos en el norte de la Península Ibérica. El estudio parte de las ricas fuentes bajomedievales que se conservan en Ágreda. Tras un estudio detenido de estas fuentes me percaté de la estrecha relación socioeconómica que la villa de Ágreda mantuvo con Tarazona. Por ello, aprovechando el final del verano, me decidí a verificar personalmente los fondos de los archivos de esta ciudad. Así mismo, aprovechando la cercanía, visité de manera puntual los archivos de Ágreda y Soria.

La estancia duró alrededor de dos semanas y se centró mayormente en los archivos capitular y diocesano de Tarazona, así como en los archivos municipal y parroquial de Ágreda. Menos tiempo tuve desgraciadamente para visitar el Archivo Histórico Provincial de Soria por cuestiones de logística. Estudiar una villa fronteriza castellana tiene una gran ventaja respecto de otras villas de mayor tamaño o importancia en el interior del reino, la cercanía de archivos aragoneses y navarros. Estos archivos cuentan con documentación, generalmente, más antigua y en mayor cantidad que la que normalmente se ha conservado en los archivos castellanos. Este hecho incontestable unido a la riqueza de los archivos agredenses me permite realizar un tipo de análisis muy detallado de la vida judía en torno a la villa de Ágreda.

En Tarazona tuve la suerte de contar con la ayuda del canónigo archivero, el padre Miguel Antonio Franco Garza, que me abrió las puertas del Archivo Capitular de Tarazona y me dio todas las facilidades posibles para digitalizar sus fondos. También tuve tiempo de visitar fugazmente el Archivo Diocesano de Tarazona, donde pude verificar una serie de datos muy relevantes para la tesis. Dada la cercanía con Ágreda, pude visitar en múltiples ocasiones los archivos agredenses. Allí contrasté lecturas de documentos ya digitalizados o editados, y digitalizé otros nuevos. Conté con la inestimable ayuda de Dª María de los Ángeles Ruíz Cacho y D. Francisco Javier Palacios Moya. La primera me facilitó el acceso a la documentación municipal y el segundo a los fondos parroquiales, además de darme un intenso tour por todo el pueblo y facilitarme información variada de gran interés. En el Archivo Histórico Provincial de Soria fue posible digitalizar todos los fondos que el tiempo me permitió.

Tras esta pequeña estancia tan satisfactoria, queda ahora un largo camino de lectura, cribado, transcripción y estudio de la documentación digitalizada. A estas tareas se suman el estudio de las fuentes agredenses que ya tenía, así como la búsqueda de fuentes hebreas que aporten un nuevo punto de vista a mi estudio. Dejo para un futuro no lejano la visita a los archivos de Tudela, así como al Archivo de la Corona de Aragón y al Archivo de Simancas, entre otros. Gracias al buen hacer de los archiveros, un historiador trabajando en el Historisches Seminar de la Universidad de Heidelberg puede cómodamente estudiar documentación inédita a cientos de kilómetros de los archivos. 


Photo: ©Joaquín Porras Ordieres. (Archivo de la Catedral de Tarazona)

New Histories of International Law. The Conquest of the Canary Islands (1402–1496)

Julia Bühner, WWU Münster

Abstract: The doctoral thesis concentrates on international legal aspects in the context of the conquest of the Canary Islands (1402–1496). By including indigenous perspectives and focusing on international legal practices, the interdisciplinary project seeks to add a new chapter to the history of international law.

Resumen: La tesis doctoral analiza los aspectos internacionales y jurídicos de la conquista de las Islas Canarias (1402–1496). A través de la inclusión de las perspectivas indígenas y una investigación de las prácticas internacional-jurídicas, el proyecto interdisciplinario quiere añadir un nuevo capítulo a la historia del derecho internacional. 

For years it has been widely accepted that Francisco de Vitoria’s lectures questioning the legitimacy of the American conquest in the first half of the sixteenth century marked the beginning of the history of international law. On the one hand this led to a neglect of research on ancient as well as medieval developments of international law. On the other hand, the assumption that Europe was the birthplace of international law fostered a narrow Eurocentric narrative. According to the idea that international law was Western European in its origin and subsequently globalised, conquest and colonisation were described as an expansion of European international law.1

In the light of a disciplinary renovation during the last years, the field has tried to overcome this “double exclusionary bias”2 encouraging to write “alternative histories of international law”3 or even unravel histories still untold. In my dissertation project I intend to shed light on one of the latter, part of the history of the medieval Iberian Peninsula, and its impact on the history of international law: the Spanish conquest of the Canary Islands (1402–1496).

Taking written sources such as chronicles, letters, papal bulls and royal decrees as well as archaeological sources into account, the project addresses three main questions. First, it shall be shown to what extent the conquerors used their knowledge about medieval international common law to justify their course of action. For instance, the European intruders concluded a treaty with the Majos, the native population of Lanzarote, allowing them to build a castle on the island (see poster, middle section). By pretending to take legal action, wresting the rightful dominion over Lanzarote from the Majos appeared less illegitimate.

Second, the project tries to understand the conquest as an encounter of different legal cultures. Each island of the archipelago can be regarded as a “miniature continent”4 . Due to their evolution in total isolation from one another, the island were inhabited by various different peoples with unique cultural habits including diverse international legal practices. On Lanzarote, which was divided into two territories, treaties gained validity by means of specific rituals: By drinking milk in unison for instance, contracting parties were bound to their word.5

Third, the conquerors of Lanzarote were already accompanied by two Majos, Isabel and Alfonso, who had been captured in a slave raid (see poster, middle section). It was due to their mediation, so the chroniclers, that the Majos surrendered. Furthermore, the nephew of one of the conquerors, Maciot, was married to Teguise, daughter of the indigenous ruler of Lanzarote (see poster, middle section). This indicates that the indigenous inhabitants of the islands were not just victims of war but operated as translators, diplomats and advocates of their own right. Although maybe not the “key player”6 in the development of modern international law, the project finally wants to give these forgotten peoples their rightful place in the history of international law.


Photo: ©Julia Bühner. (Castillo de Santa Bárbara, volcano Guanapay, Lanzarote)

  1. Becker Lorca, Arnulf: Eurocentrism in the History of International Law, in: The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law, ed. by Bardo Fassbender/Anne Peters/Simone Peter, Oxford 2012, p. 1036. []
  2. Rasilla del Moral, Ignacio de la: International Legal Theory. The Shifting Origins of International Law, in: Leiden Journal of International Law 28 (2015), p. 423. []
  3. Kemmerer, Alexandra: Towards a Global History of International Law? Editor’s Note, in: European Journal of International Law 25 (2014), p. 289 []
  4. Abulafia, David: The Discovery of Mankind. Atlantic Encounters in the age of Columbus, New Haven/London 2008, p. 33 []
  5. Tejera Gaspar, Antonio: Majos y europeos. El contacto de culturas en Lanzarote en los siglos XIV y XV (Un precedente americano), Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife 1992, p. 62 []
  6. Kirmse, Stefan B.: Sleepy Side Alleys, Dead Ends, and the Perpetuation of Eurocentrism, in: European Journal of International Law 25 (2014), p. 309 []

Iberomediävistik im Profil

Das Interesse der deutschen Mediävistik an der Iberischen Halbinsel hat in den vergangenen Jahren an verschiedenen Universitäten – darunter in Berlin, Erlangen, Heidelberg und Leipzig – vielfältige Aktivitäten hervorgebracht. Bisher fehlte jedoch eine Schnittstelle, die diese Initiativen überblickt und im besten Fall produktiv zusammenführt. Aufgrund des besonderen transdisziplinären sowie -kulturellen Profils des Forschungsfeldes sind Theorie- und Methodenreflexionen ebenso unabdingbar wie ein Disziplinen-übergreifender Diskurs, aber auch die Kommunikation über empirische Forschungsergebnisse.

Das “Iberome”-Blog soll gleichsam als Schaufenster und Stimme fungieren: Forschungsprojekte sollen vernetzt werden, zur Diskussion angeregt und insbesondere Nachwuchswissenschaftlerinnen und -wissenschaftlern eine Plattform geboten werden. In diesem Sinne ist das Blog bewusst offen konzipiert und lädt nachdrücklich dazu ein, Projekte vorzustellen und Kontakt aufzunehmen.

“Iberome” greift den Terminus der “Iberomediävistik” auf, der seit einigen Jahren für verschiedene Initiativen an der Universität Heidelberg – mehrere Vortragsreihen, eine Arbeitsgemeinschaft, sowie zuletzt eine internationale Tagung im Mai 2019 – Pate gestanden hat und sich als Bezeichnung für die transdisziplinäre Erforschung der Iberischen Halbinsel, ihrer multireligiösen und -kulturellen Gesellschaften und Herrschaften im Zeitraum von der westgotischen Herrschaft bis an die Wende zum 16. Jahrhundert bewährt hat.


Photo: Kreuzgang des Klosters Santo Domingo de Silos, Provinz Burgos, Spanien. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/