ARAGONESE HISTORIOGRAPHY IN THE ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CENTURIES
One of the peculiarities of early Aragonese history is the relative dearth of historiographic materials surviving from the old heartland of the kingdom. The Aragonese have traditionally been viewed as proud of family and jealous of tradition. One might expect that such people would have cultivated the writing of history, but such does not appear to have been the case. An analysis of the Aragonese source materials available to the compilers of the fourteenth-century Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a suggests that a native Aragonese historiographic tradition was virtually non-existent in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.(1)
King Pedro IV of Aragon (1336-1387) was a patron of the arts, particularly of history, and had determined to compile an official history of his realms. Sometime around 1350, he requested the monasteries of Ripoll and of San Juan de la Pe–a, reputed to be the oldest in his realms, to assist in the project.
Ripoll responded by sending from its library a copy of the history of the counts of Barcelona, the Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium. San Juan de la Pe–a, by contrast, invested considerably more labor in complying with the royal request. The scribes there utilized as a base the rather sketchy Aragonese sections of the Cr—nica de los estados peninsulares,(2) probably written near Huesca in 1305 and relying heavily on Rodrigo Jime'nez de Rad‡s De rebus hispaniae.(3) They then utilized various documents from the monastery's library and archives, additional material from Jime'nez de Rada, and current oral traditions in expanding its treatment. When the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a was completed around 1370, San Juan's contribution, which covered the history of Aragon from the first settlement of Spain to the year 1136, comprised about a third of the entire account.(4) An close analysis of the sources of these particular sections discloses the extent and nature of the source materials available at San Juan de la Pe–a when the fourteenth- century compilers wrote their history of eleventh- and twelfth- century Aragon. Since San Juan de la Pe–a had been the major monastic center of Old Aragon for over two centuries, the records that had been preserved in its archives and were available to the compilers of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a provide a good reflection of the extent of Aragonese historiography during those early years.
Chapters four through eleven of the Chronicle, recounting the legendary foundation of the monastery of San Juan de la Pe–a, the Christian settlement of the district, and the history of the kings of Navarre up to the year 958, were based upon a unusual document contained in the monastic archives. Copies of this document, popularly known as The Donation of Abetito, have survived, and the source can be analyzed.(5) Purporting to be a grant of land to the monastery by King Garc’a II S‡nchez and his wife Toda, it is in fact a short history of the monastery to the year 959, and may have been compiled in the period 1086-1103.(6)
It relies heavily upon the vita of Saints Voto and Felix,(7) to whom the establishment of the monastery was traditionally ascribed, upon documents and inscriptions from the monastery itself, and upon a vanished account of the history of the Sobrabran monastery of Pano, which the compilers mistook for that of San Juan de la Pe–a itself.(8) Throughout its history, the monks of San Juan de la Pea were eager to gain for their monastery a reputation for great antiquity. Given the great probability that San Juan de la Pe–a was not founded until 1025 and certainly did not gain real prominence until 1071, its archives would have provided the compiler of The Donation of Abetito little authentic material with which to construct the sort of foundation document he might have desired. His readiness to utilize traditional accounts and other materials of dubious validity is therefore quite understandable. His work is nevertheless a skillful attempt to create a coherent account out of disparate and difficult materials.
Chapters twelve through fourteen deal with the Navarrese Kings Sancho I Abarca, Garc’a I el Tembl—n, and Sancho Garce's III el Mayor, and cover the years from 905 to 1035. There was apparently no better source available than that of Jime'nez de Rad‡s De rebus hispaniae, and the compilers relied upon it almost exclusively, embellishing its romantic accounts somewhat. Some specific data were drawn from charters contained in the cartulary of San Juan known as the Libro g—tico, as well as individual documents from the monastery's archives.
Chapter sixteen is devoted to the establishment of the independent kingdom of Aragon and the reign of its first king Ramiro I (1035-1064).(9) The account is sketchy and reflects meager sources. The death and interment of Ramir—s brother, Gonzalo, may have been drawn from a lost chronicle of the Sobrarban monastery of San Victori‡n; the mentions of Ramir—s illegitimate son, Count Sancho Ram’rez, and of Ramir—s pact with the king of Navarre are based upon documents from the monastery's archives; and the account of Ramir—s death is simply an expansion of a brief mention in the Chronicle of the Peninsular States. There was obviously little material available to the compilers of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a concerning the period. This suggests strongly that the Aragonese had no written account of the establishment of their kingdom or of the reign of their first king.
Chapter seventeen covers the reign of Sancho Ram’rez, 1064- 1094, and utilizes the framework of the Chronicle of the Peninsular States. This section departs from the previously established style by adopting a rigid chronological framework and presenting a number of more or less precise dates. The Chronicle of the Peninsular States adopts a similar style, though less pronounced than that of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a. It is clear that the compilers of each work had available to them formal annals that have not survived.(10) This source first reveals itself with the notice that the monastery had adopted the Roman liturgy at noon on Tuesday, 22 March 1071. Other events, mostly achievements of King Sancho Ram’rez, are recorded for the years 1080, 1081, 1083, 1084, 1088, 1089, 1090, 1091, 1092, 1093, and 1094.(11) After the beginning of the siege of Huesca, the dates become less frequent and are sometimes seriously in error. This suggests that the source was in the nature of royal annals, begun at San Juan perhaps at the behest of the king in about 1090, but deteriorating after his death in 1094.
This decline of historiographical activity is signalled by the fact that the compilers of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a apparently turned to a cantar de gesta for information about the death and interment of Sancho Ram’rez. The manner of his death, the use of quotes, the picture presented of the king on his deathbed foretelling the future to his son, and the account of how his body was hidden in a nearby monastery all suggest what may once have been a longer and more complex tale.(12)
Chapters eighteen and nineteen discuss the reigns of Pedro I and Alfonso I, 1094-1134, and are based primarily upon Jime'nez de Rada and the Chronicle of the Peninsular States. It is instructive that the compiler of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a had no better sources available. It is uncertain what sources the Chronicle of the Peninsular States utilized besides Jime'nez de Rada, but it is clear that they were Navarrese, not Aragonese. The Chronicle of the Peninsular States narrates, and the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a repeats, how Tudela and its territory were captured by the French count, Rotrou of Perche. This account was untrue, and the fabrication appears to have been designed to justify the retention of Tudela by the Navarrese as the dowry of Rotrou's niece Margaret, wife of King Garcia Ramirez.(13) The prominence and praise accorded to Gascons in these sections of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a supports the general impression that the account was based upon Navarrese sources. There would appear to have been no native Aragonese account of such glorious Aragonese accomplishments as the conquests of Huesca, Zaragoza, and Tudela, or the victories of Alcoraz and Cutanda.
The last chapter of the Aragonese section of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a is in many ways the most interesting. Covering the reign of Ramiro II the Monk, 1134-1136, it begins with an account of Ramir—s election that is in many ways simply an expansion of Jime'nez de Rad‡s romantic and unhistorical tale. After its discussion of Ramir—s accession, however, this dependence ends, and the Chronicle moves directly into a detailed narration of the famous Aragonese legend known as "The Bell of Huesca." These passages are so evocative of the genre that one author has constructed from them stanzas of poetry that are probably the closest we shall ever get to a medieval Aragonese cantar de gesta.(14)
Immediately after this romantic tale, the Chronicle begins to discuss in a sober and informed manner Ramir—s resolution of the hostilities that had sprung up between the Navarrese and Aragonese.(15) The story combines international conferences, frontier treaties, conspiracies, secret councils, dawn escapes, betrayals, and royal alliances into a coherent whole that constitutes a remarkably sophisticated piece of historiography. It is distinctly superior in quality to any other source we have encountered, and, judging by the overall treatment, it was written by an eye-witness to some of the events, a person with access to public records and able to interview some of the main figures involved. It is impossible to determine the authorship with any certainty, but the bulk of the evidence suggests that it was written in the Navarrese monastery of San Salvador de Leire. It is an excellent piece of history, and one only wishes it had been continued.(16) This does not seem to have been the case, however. Immediately after discussing Ramir—s success in persuading Alfonso VII of Castile to abandon his support of Navarre in favor of establishing a protectorate over exposed Aragonese territory, the narrative of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a loses specificity and depth. The source utilized in the preceding section was both unusual and interesting, but it stood alone and unfortunately tells us little about Aragonese historiography in the period.
An analysis of the Aragonese sources of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a suggests that there was remarkably little in the way of historical writing in Aragon in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries. There may have been a chronicle kept in the Sobrarban monastery of San Victori‡n, but this cannot be proven. The demonstrated Aragonese sources are reduced to four: the Vita of Saints Voto and Felix, The Donation of Abetito, the lost Annals of San Juan de la Pe–a, and Hebrethme's Translation of St. Indalecio. Moreover, the first three are closely interrelated, and an analysis of their interconnections is worth the effort.
The original manuscript of the Annals has not survived, but some preliminary jottings for such a work have been preserved in a royal document dated 15 May 1090, found on folia 100-103 of the cartulary of San Juan de la Pe–a known as the Cartulario visig—tico. Folia 97-112 of this compilation form a separate cartulary, bound with other materials, but written in caroline miniscule rather than visigothic script, and prepared sometime around 1095. The document of 15 May 1090 suggests a possible reason for its compilation. In it King Sancho Ram’rez confirmed the monastery in all of the possessions it had acquired prior to his conquest of Mu–ones in 1089, and freed these properties of all royal taxes and services. This would have provided ample motivation for assembling documentation of such acquisitions, and
the Caroline Cartulary appears to have been intended, at least in part, to perform this function. The first document of the compilation, in the position normally occupied by a foundation charter, is the Donation of Abetito to which we have referred previously. One detail demonstrates the close connection between the royal document of 1090 and the Donation of Abetito. The former ends with the note that the prior of San Juan, in an effort to defend the monastery's lands against trespassers, had decapitated a sheep with his own hands. Accepting the justification of this action, the king granted the monastery the right to kill the animals of trespassers. The Donation of Abetito concludes with a similar license, supposedly granted by Garc’a II S‡nchez in 959, but in fact copied from a concession to the monastery of San Juli‡n de Labasal in 893. It is difficult not to conclude that the author of the Donation of Abetito was also the copyist of the royal charter of 1090 as well as being the compiler of the Caroline Cartulary.
Moreover, there are sufficient similarities in style and approach between the Donation of Abetito and the Life of Saints Voto and Felix as to suggest a single author here also. Both show a familiarity with, and willingness to utilize, archival materials. The description of Voto clearing with his sword the overgrowth hiding the primitive monastery and finding the inscriptions hidden there has close affinities with the account of Count Galindo and his hunting party finding and clearing the monastery of San Mart’n de Cercito. The Donation of Abetito, for its part, utilizes numerous archival sources, such as the license to kill stock to which we have already referred. Both accounts utilize oral sources. The Life acknowledges this explicitly, and the Donation has apparently incorporated historical traditions properly pertaining to the Sobrarban monastery of San Juan de Pano. Both are adept at setting scenes, and are particularly impressed with the striking location of the monastery itself. Finally, both are interested in the origins of the material remains of the monastery. These grounds are largely impressionistic, but, coupled with the relative contemporaneity of the two documents, it would appear reasonable to conclude that the Life and the Donation had a single author, a man who was also the writer of the Annals as well as the compiler of the Caroline Cartulary.
Some things may be deduced concerning this individual. First, he was a foreigner or he would not have had to solicit oral testimony to compose his elaboration of the Life of Saints Voto and Felix, would have used the Spanish Era in dating rather than the Year of the Incarnation, and would not have mistaken the Sobrarban monastery of San Juan de Pano for San Juan de la Pe–a. Second, judging from the superlatives accorded to the memory of Saint Martin of Tours in the Life, he was probably French. His account of the saint's final homecoming would suggest that he was not immune to homesickness. Last, he probably left the monastery by 1095, the date of the last documents entered in the Caroline Cartulary and the year in which the Annals were apparently no longer being kept.
The cover of the Libro de San Voto states that the Life had been composed by a certain "Macario," of whom nothing else is known. All in all, this may well have been the author of all of the Aragonese sources utilized by the compilers of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a: Macario, a French monk who arrived at San Juan de la Pena sometime after 1090 and probably left in 1095. In short, the Aragonese sources were not been written by an Aragonese at all. They were composed by a Frenchman in response to a specific archival requirement.
This raises the question as to why a proud, dynamic, and expanding people such as the Aragonese failed to produce any historians. The simple fact of the matter appears to be that the Aragonese instead produced an oral tradition which has since disappeared. Only infrequently does the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a reveal its reliance upon written histories, but time and again it discloses the remnants of a rich and vibrant oral literature. Sometimes these stories, such as the rise of Ramiro and the Council of Borja, are drawn from Jime'nez de Rada. Most, however, such the Campana de Huesca and the warrior transported from Antioch to Alcoraz must have drawn directly from the oral tradition, since no other source of these stories survives.
The number and nature of these cantares de gesta suggest that the Aragonese were intensely interested in history, but not in immutable facts fixed forever on ink and parchment. We can see in the inaccuracies of their tales some of the uses to which their histories were put: to explain the origin of families, to establish the antiquity of institutions, to justify custom, to cast past events in human proportions, to make a political point, or perhaps to point out a moral. In this sort of activity, the songs of the minstrel are infinitely more useful than the manuscripts of the historian since they evolve with the times. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the cantares de gesta adequately embodied Aragonese ambitions and aspirations. There appears to have been no historiographical tradition in the modern sense of the term.�ENDNOTES
1. The standard Latin text of the Chronicle is that provided by the Cr'nica de San Juan de la Pe–a, ed. Antonio Ubieto Arteta (Textos Medievales, 4: Valencia: Anubar, 1961). The modern Aragonese version is Cr'nica de San Juan de la Pe~a (vers’n aragonesa). Edic’n cr'tica, ed. Carmen Orcastegui Gros (Zaragoza: Instituc’n Fernando el Cat'lico, 1986); also published in J. Zurita. Cuadernos de Historia 51-52 (1985): 419- 569. The Catalan version is found in Cr—nica general de Pere III el Ceremoni—s. dita comunament Cr—nica de Sant Joan de la Penya, ed. Amadeu-J. Soberanas Lle— (n.p.: Alpha, 1961).
2. Cronica de los estados peninsulares (texto del siglo XIV), ed. Antonio Ubieto Arteta (Colecci—n filol—gica, 11: Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1955).
3. Rodericus Ximenius de Rada, Opera (Textos Medievales, 22: facsimile reproduction of the edition of 1793: Valencia: Anubar, 1968).
4. San Juan's contribution is found in chapters four through twenty-one. Antonio Ubieto Arteta, "Notas sobre la Cr—nica de San Juan de la Pe–a," Pirineos, 6 (1950): 463-493, discusses the organization of the work as a whole, as well as the procedures of its compilation.
5. The Donation of Abetito is contained in the so-called Libro g—tico of the Library of the Faculty of Law of the University of Zaragoza, charter no. 273, and dated 959. See Angel J. Canellas L—pez, "El cartulario visig—tico de San Juan de la Pe–a," Homenaje a Don Agust’n Millares Carlo (2 vols.: Madrid: Caja Insular de Ahorros de Gran Canaria, 1975), 1: 205-250 for the structure and catalogue of this cartulary. Canellas, p. 216, dates the compilation of the section of the cartulary in which this document is found to the period 1086-1103. Another copy is found in the Libro de San Voto, in the same library, charter no. 2, dated 959. See Antonio Ubieto Arteta, "El Libro de San Voto," Hispania Sacra, 3 (1950): 191-204 for a discussion of this compilation. The Donation of Abetito has been published by Manuel Magallon Cabrera, Colecci—n diplom‡tica de San Juan de la Pe–a (Anexo de la Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas, y Museos: Madrid, 1903-04), pp. 44-54 as charter no. 13, dated 959. A text and discussion of The Donation of Abetito will appear in Antonio Dur‡n Gudiol, El condado de Arag—n, but was not available at the time of writing.
6. The fact that the monastery was not actually founded until about 1025 and did not achieve much importance until 1071, militates against accepting the Donation as genuine, although it does utilize historical material and its authenticity cannot be definitively rejected until Dur‡n's views are available. It occupies the position within the so-called Caroline Cartulary, contained within the Libro g—tico, in which a foundation charter would be expected to appear, and, by its historical character, performs that function. This is not unusual. See Cartulario de San Juan de la Pe–a, ed. Antonio Ubieto Arteta (2 vols.: Textos Medievales, 6 and 9: Valencia: Anubar, 1962-63), charter no. 9, dated (ninth century?), where a similar historical account is provided for the foundation and endowment of the monastery of San Mart’n de Cercito. If The Donation of Abetito was written to serve this purpose, its date would be that assigned by Canellas to the compilation of the Caroline Cartulary, 1086-1103.
7. The Vita of Saints Voto and Felix may be found in the Acta Sanctorum, 7 (29 May): 56-63. There are two versions, a primitive account and a later, expanded and elaborated narration attributed to an otherwise unknown Macarius. The author of the second version mentions that he had based his expansions upon traditions told to him, suggesting that he was not a native. His use of superlatives ('sanctissimis ac gloriossissimis") when referring to Saint Martin, and his allusion to Martin's eventful return home, suggests that he was French, and not immune to a certain degree of homesickness. If this author was Macarius, he would have been a French monk, perhaps one of the Cluniacs assigned to San Juan de la Pena after its reestablishment as a Benedictine house by King Sancho Ram’rez in 1071.
8. For a discussion of San Juan de Pano and its history, see Antonio Dur'n Gudiol, Ramiro I de Arag'n (Zaragoza: Guara Editorial, 1978), pp. 100-104. Dur'n suggests that Blasco, abbot of San Juan de Pano, was head of a monastic congregregation of which San Juan de la Pe–a was only an almonry until 1071. In that year, Sancho Ram'rez elevated San Juan de la Pe–a into the mother house on the occasion of his introduction of the Cluniac reform. This would explain the presence of a chronicle from San Juan de Pano in the archives of San Juan de la Pe–a.
9. Chapter fifteen is merely transitional, explaining the reasons for moving from consideration of the kings of Navarre to those of Aragon.
10. Ubieto believes that these annals were written probably in the early years of the reign of Alfonso I (1104-1134). He also suggests that they may be related to the Adnotaciones de ecclesia Sancti Iohannis de Pe~a, MS Aemilian. 30 of the Biblioteca de la Academia de Historia, which would date them to about 1120. See Antonio Ubieto Arteta, Historia de Arag'n. Literatura medieval, 1 (Zaragoza: Anubar, 1981). p. 25 and note 28.
11. The notice for 1084 is concerned with the translation of Saint Indalecius, the acount of which was written by a monk by the name of Hebrethme. See Hebrethme, "Acta translationis Sancti Indaletii," Acta Sanctorum April, vol. 3: 733-739. It is unlikely that the compilers of the Chronicle worked directly from Hebrethme's account, since they date the event to Holy Thursday, 5 April. In 1084, Holy Thursday fell on 28 March, the correct date of the translation. For a discussion of this passage, see Antonio Ubieto Arteta, "Sobre la nunca re–ida batalla de Morella (1084)," Bolet'n de la Sociedad Castellonense de Cultura 49 (1973): 97-115.
12. See Federico Balaguer S‡nchez, "La muerte del rey Sancho Ram’rez y la poes’a e'pica," Argensola 4 (1953): 197-216, for a discussion of the death of Sancho Ram'rez and the possible relation of the accounts of that event to a lost cantar de gesta.
13. Cr—nica de los estados peninsulares, p. 126; Lynn H. Nelson, "Rotrou of Perche and the Aragonese Reconquest," Traditio 26 (1970): 113-133.
14. See Antonio Ubieto Arteta, "La Campana de Huesca," Revista de Filolog’a Espa–ola 35 (1951): 29-61.
15. See Charles J. Bishko, "A Hispano-Cluniac Benefactor in the Epoch of Navarro-Aragonese Separation: Fortu'n Garce's Cajal and the Foundation of San Adri‡n de Vadoluengo (Sanguesa), 1133- 1145," Estudios en homenaje a Don Claudio S‡nchez-Albornoz en sus 90 anos, 2 (Buenos Aires: 1983), 275-312. The text may be found in Pr—spero Bofarull Mascar—, Colecci—n de documentos ine'ditos del Archivo General de Arag—n, (40 vols.: Barcelona: 1847-1910), 4: 360-364. The manuscript states that it was faithfully copied from a carta percamenea in the year 1293, but fails to indicate the provenance of the original or whether the transcription was complete or partial. Neither question can be easily solved. Since the account was utilized by the compilers of the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a, it is reasonable to assume that a version was present in the library of San Juan de la Pe–a in the 1350's. Since it has not survived, it likely perished there, perhaps in the fire of 1492. Since no other version has appeared, it is likely that the source located at San Juan de la Pe–a was the sole exemplum, and the source of the copy in the Archives of the Crown of Aragon. Authorship is a more difficult matter to decide. C.J. Bishko (p. 305) suggests that it may have been written by a monk of the monastery of San Salvador de Leire, perhaps even Abbot Garc’a himself, shortly after 1137. This conclusion is based upon the prominence of Fortu'n Garce's Cajal and the monastery of Leire in the carta pergamenea, however, and would be less certain if the carta were only a partial transcription. Nevertheless, if the passages in the Chronicle of San Juan de la Pe–a represent the entire account, Bishk—s suggestion is still attractive. In any event, except for the fact that the manuscript was found in San Juan, there is no reason to believe that a member of that congregation was its author.
16. Published in Documentos correspondientes al reinado de Sancho Ram’rez. Volumen I. Desde TLXIII hasta TLXXXXIIII anos, ed. Jose' Salarullana y de Dios (Colecci—n de documentos para el estudio de la historia de Arag—n, 3: Zaragoza: M. Escar, 1907), charter no. 41, dated 15 May 1090.