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Sauver son âme et se perpétuer

 | 
François Bougard
, 
Cristina La Rocca
, 
Régine Le Jan

Buying with masses

«Donation» pro remedio animae in tenth-century Galicia and Castile-León

Wendy Davies

Texte intégral

1A first glance at the earliest charters in the collections of northern Spain might suggest that the population was negotiating with the Christian deity, sometimes literally buying a place in heaven. A longer look suggests a more complex package of attitudes. What follows is an exploration of donation in northern Spain, outside Catalonia, in the first century for which we have rich documentation.

  • 1 O Tombo de Celanova, ed. J. M. Andrade, 2 vols., Santiago, 1995; the editor believes that the cart (...)
  • 2 Colección documental del archivo de la catedral de León, I (775-952), II (953-85), ed. E. Saez and (...)
  • 3 Colección documental del monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña, ed. G. Martínez Díez, Cardeña-Burgos, (...)

2Many hundreds of charter texts survive from tenth-century northern Spain, the first post-Roman period for which really substantial localizable documentation survives. These texts include records of sales, exchanges, disputes, and – as might be expected – many donations. The charters are preserved in some well-known, very large, cartulary collections, and also in a scatter of smaller compilations, monastic and episcopal. In what follows I have chosen to focus on material from three large groups of texts, because of the volume of relevant material in them, and hence the opportunity to take a comprehensive look and identify trends, as also to impart some sense of regional difference: even within northern Spain social structures and ecclesiastical relationships varied. These collections are: firstly, the late twelfth-century cartulary of the monastery of Celanova, in Galicia in the west, a green and hilly region dominated by a moist Atlantic climate; this has over 220 recorded tenth-century transactions1. Secondly, the several collections in the archive of the bishopric of León, a city of the hot and dry plateau of the meseta, to the east of Galicia, one of several foci of the Duero basin; this includes over 600 recorded tenth-century transactions, of which nearly 100 are originals2. Thirdly, the late eleventh-century cartulary of the monastery of Cardeña, which lies farther east, at the edge of the meseta, in the foothills of the sierras of the Rioja; it also lies just outside the city of Burgos and beside one of the main routes from central Spain to France, then as now; this cartulary includes about 215 recorded tenth-century transactions3.

The incidence of donation

3Records of donation occur throughout the tenth century. Although there are periods when recorded numbers grow, they did not increase consistently across the century and they did not increase at the same rate or at the same time in all three regions. So, whereas in Celanova numbers increased in the 930s to 950s and again in the 980s and 990s, in León numbers just increased in the 950s, 980s and 990s, and in Cardeña they increased across the midcentury, through the 940s to the 970s, but not at the end of it (see Table 1).

Table 1. NUMBER OF RECORDED GIFTS AND SALES IN CELANOVA, LEÓN AND CARDEÑA IN THE TENTH CENTURY, BY DECADE

Table 1. NUMBER OF RECORDED GIFTS AND SALES IN CELANOVA, LEÓN AND CARDEÑA IN THE TENTH CENTURY, BY DECADE

4These changes naturally reflect trends in the rise and fall of the documentation available: more transactions were recorded in the middle of the century, especially in the 950s, than at either end of it. But they do not do so consistently, for there are times when the proportion of donation to other kinds of transaction rises or falls. So, round Celanova donations dropped in the 960s as sales rose to 80% of all recorded transactions; round León numbers of donations may have increased in the 950s, but the proportion of sales topped that of donations for fifty years or so across the middle of the century, 930s to 970s; and round Cardeña sales rose to 59% of transactions in the 980s, although numbers were not especially high at that point (see Table 2).

Table 2. GIFT AND SALE AS PERCENTAGES OF ALL CELANOVA, ALL LEÓN AND ALL CARDEÑA TRANSACTIONS, BY DECADE

Table 2. GIFT AND SALE AS PERCENTAGES OF ALL CELANOVA, ALL LEÓN AND ALL CARDEÑA TRANSACTIONS, BY DECADE

5As might be expected, the beneficiaries of these gifts were overwhelmingly churches, monasteries and clerics, but there were clearly lay recipients too. The recorded proportions of the latter are tiny – about 11% of Celanova donations, 11% of León donations and 2% of Cardeña donations. Given the ecclesiastical source of most of the records, we should not expect these proportions to reflect the actual proportions of donation to the laity – many may well have been unrecorded, and/or the records of such transactions may not have been preserved. However, the fact that we have some such records is of particular interest and importance, a point to which I shall return.

  • 4 C117.
  • 5 C115, L288. On donation reservato usufructo, see further below, p. 404-415.
  • 6 L73.
  • 7 There is a large Spanish literature on donation reservato usufructo; see J. A. Rubio, «Donationes (...)

6Given that our focus in this volume is on donations post mortem, it has to be said that it is often not at all clear if a gift was completed during the donor’s lifetime or after his or her death. There are three patterns of recording that are unambiguous about the moment of transfer. Firstly, some texts specify that a gift was made during the donor’s lifetime and will continue after death, often using the standard phrase tam in vitam quam post obitum to make the point. So, for example, in June 964 the old man Nunnu Sarraziniz gave the priest Enneco his enclosure (serna) in Orbaneja and a vineyard, in order to ensure lifetime support and then a proper burial; and Enneco was to have that land in perpetuity4. Secondly, some texts specify a small grant during the donor’s lifetime and a larger one after his or her death, for example by reserving benefits for the donor or his/her relatives while they lived but transferring the entire inheritance at the point of death. Hence in 964 Didaco Gudistioz gave the monastery of Cardeña some woodland, with provision that it should get a fifth of his estate on his death, and on 25 April 955 the priest Citaius gave the monastery of Saints Cosmas and Damian (León) various properties, on condition that his brother Abdella took the usufruct from half of two of them, until his death5. Thirdly, some texts specify unambiguously that the beneficiary will receive the grant after the donor’s death, like the childless woman Letitia who in 927 left the entire inheritance she had received from her parents (a fifth of their estate, as she had four siblings) to that same monastery6. Of the donations considered here about 17% from Celanova are unambiguously in vitam and 3% post obitum; 19% and 12% respectively from León; and 12% and 13% respectively from Cardeña. In other words, in over 70% of cases it is unclear which of the above arrangements applies – and there are far too many variables in play to make a satisfactory guess. Notably, although there are plenty of cases of reservation of usufruct to support a family member until his or her death, it seems that it was very rare to reserve the usufruct for the family in future generations – as commonly happened north of the Pyrenees7.

  • 8 Cf. the paper by Josiane Barbier in this book.
  • 9 See also Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 129-131.
  • 10 Cel75, L220, Cel228, L147, L273.

7One might imagine that use of the word testamentum would supply some helpful clues and point specifically to donations after death. However, as happened elsewhere in Europe8, the usage of this word is wide: often describing in vitam gifts, and sometimes revocable gifts, as well as post obitum gifts, its essential reference is to transactions witnessed, and recorded in a written deed9. Indeed, there are very few texts – perhaps thirty or forty from the thousand under consideration here – that might be recognized as performing the function of wills, and even these are recognizable by their content rather than their form. A dying man lists his goods and divides them in four between his wife, his nephew, Abbot Rosendo and the community of Portomarín; a bishop lists the totality of his goods, movable and immovable (including mills, vineyards, 56 cows and 720 sheep, books and blankets), and allocates them to a single monastery; a couple revoke the will they had made in favour of some cousins, for the cousins could not wait for their deaths and had assaulted and imprisoned them, and bequeath their property instead to the local bishop; another couple revoke their entire inheritance which they had left to a priest and direct it to the monastery of Saints Cosmas and Damian; two executors give the monks of Saints Justo and Pastor their dead brother’s third of their family lands, as he had directed on his deathbed; and so on10.

  • 11 L331 (cf. the same couple, L420); cf. C202, Cel228, Cel257.
  • 12 A Godesteo was abbot of Saints Cosmas and Damian at this time.
  • 13 L354.
  • 14 P. Merêa, «Perfilhação» (Achega para um dicionário histórico de língua portuguesa), in Revista Por (...)

8Despite the rarity of wills of classic form, there was nevertheless a characteristic instrument used by the laity, especially the childless laity, to specify an heir; this was the carta perfiliationis, literally an action for taking on a son. The collections include a number of records of such acts, texts which tend to focus on transmission of an inheritance to a single heir rather than list many different possessions and divide them between several heirs. In 960 Aueiza and his wife Egelo made a carta perfiliationis in favour of Nuno Sarraquiniz and his wife Gudigeua, and their heirs11. In fact they only passed on a third of their property, though that third was to include land, vineyards, houses, sheep and cattle, gold and silver, and clothes; what happened to the rest we do not know, but the concluding confirmation of one Godesteo may suggest that there were family members or a monastery (or both) which had an interest12. This instrument was adopted directly for the purpose of giving to the church: Fredenando and his wife Domna Maira gave their house, with all its appurtenant lands, to the abbess Domna Flamula by kartula/scriptura perfiliationis13. As an established instrument for choosing an heir, it was particularly useful for diverting property to an ecclesiastical beneficiary, as emphasized by several notable Spanish commentators of the twentieth century14.

Strategies of remembrance

  • 15 But see J. Orlandís, La elección de sepultura en la España medieval, in La iglesia en la España vi (...)
  • 16 For all kinds of giving see S. D. White, Custom, Kinship and Gifts to Saints: the Laudatio Parentu (...)

9Whatever the point in the lifecycle or the method of making a gift, the reasons for giving to a church or monastery are frequently unstated, particularly in the first half of the tenth century. When they are stated, they are most commonly a very unspecific pro remedio animae meae or animae parentum15. This very basic concern for the health of one’s soul was sometimes elaborated, in very formulaic terms: the gift was made so that sin could be avoided or penalties for sin could be avoided; it was made – crudely – to evade hell, to merit entry to the heavenly kingdom, to get a reward in heaven, to do a deal before God. Such elaborations occur most frequently when the donor was a king, a count or countess, or a highly placed cleric. However, in the majority of cases, there is nothing – or very little – in the text to associate the gift with any deliberate strategy for perpetuating the memory of the donor or his/ her family16.

  • 17 L378, Cel527, Cel409, Cel169, for example.
  • 18 Cel501, C117, L455, Cel519.
  • 19 L357; cf. L222. The statement that the donor accepts authority (guvernas) (presumably of the head (...)

10Nevertheless, a small proportion of texts does include a specific rationale for giving. There are of course gifts to the church for all kinds of practical business reason – payment of legal compensation, payment in settlement of a dispute, a gift in lieu of repaying debt or paying a fine, and so on17. There are also gifts designed to ensure physical care and protection for the rest of the donor’s life, a kind of insurance for old age: there was the woman who in 932 gave Bishop Rosendo lands she had got from her husband, so that he should ‘do good’ to her, defend her properties and look after her business; and the man who gave a priest an enclosure and a vineyard in Orbaneja in 964 so that he had support in old age and infirmity, and so that his burial could be arranged; and the couple who in 978 gave the priest Monnio a third of all their property so that he should do good to them as well as keep a check on their sins; and another couple who made gifts to Celanova in 998 so that they could get protection18. This kind of donation is much more to do with taking on a powerful patron than remembrance. Indeed, the same kinds of transaction occur between lay people, like the woman Recosinda who gave Taurellus and his wife half a villa in 962 and in return got clothes and a bed, and a promise of heating, ‘much good’ and authority19. Some gifts – be they to the church or to members of the laity – were for purely material reasons.

  • 20 L121, C44, L230, C32, Cel216, Cel84.
  • 21 C39; cf. C82, C211.

11Other donors who expressed their intentions were not quite so concerned about life and comfort. A priest gave all his goods to the monastery of San Vincencio and Santa Marina in 937, so that all the brothers and sisters could pray for him. Seven years later, a man called Mutarraf gave some land by the river Arlanzón and an orchard in Pesquera so that incumbents of the church of San Justo could commend him to God in their prayers. In 950 the sick woman Eulalia bequeathed her house in the city of León to the monastery of Saints Cosmas and Damian, so that her soul, and those of her children, could be commended to God in the monks’ prayers. A man gave Cardeña part of a vineyard for the self-consciously elegant reason that he and his son would get indulgence at the last judgment while the monastery would get a subsidy here and now. More elaborately, in 993 two abbesses gave all their property to Celanova so that rites could be said for them every year after their deaths; and a few years earlier Hermegildus Menendus gave many properties to Celanova so that rites could be said every year after his death, and a special prayer for his soul be said every year after the feast of St Anthony20. A few of these also, like the man from Orbaneja mentioned above, specify burial arrangements: another person from Orbaneja, a woman, bequeathed property to Cardeña so that when she died she could be buried beside the brothers; thereby, at the last judgment, she would be worthy of reaching eternal heaven21. Cases like these show a concern for the simple practicalities of death – what to do with the body – and sometimes suggest a concern for the afterlife.

  • 22 See above, p. 408 (L230, L121, L109).
  • 23 C110, L288.
  • 24 L137; cf. C29. See further below on these two texts, p. 411-412.
  • 25 It might of course be argued – with some justification – that the simple explanation pro anima par (...)
  • 26 J. Orlandís, La elección de sepultura, p. 260-269, and «Traditio corporis et animae», p. 261, assu (...)

12Others take the function of prayer a stage further and anticipate commemoration in earthly life at the very moment that they were being helped towards a seat in heaven. Eulalia of León pointed out that she and her children would be remembered in the regular prayers of the monks who commended her soul to God; and the priest who gave his goods to San Vincencio and Santa Marina spelled out that he should be commemorated every year; and a deacon quoted Moses on remembrance from generation to generation22. Another family – several members of it – gave a territory for the memory of the souls of their ancestors; and in the most elaborate case recorded in these collections the priest Citaius who joined the monastery of Saints Cosmas and Damian in 955 gave all his lands so that when he died the monks could build an oratory in memory of him23. In another transaction, the two children of a deceased couple, as executors, handed over some of their patrimony to the priest Mauia so that thirty votive masses could be said for the parents and so that they could be commemorated along with other dead24. The latter transaction took place on 17 April 940 and the earliest explicit reference to such conscious memorialization in these collections comes in 93625. It is perfectly clear from these examples – and particularly from the 940 case – that deliberate acts of commemoration of the dead did happen, and they happened in all three of the regions considered here; it has to be said, however, that explicit reference to such intentions is extremely rare. Given that the reasons for some donations to the church were purely material, we cannot suppose that most transactions without an explicitly articulated rationale were performed in order to perpetuate the memory of the dead. Of course it is likely that some of these gifts were made in order to memorialize self, or parents, or ancestors; but clearly all were not made for such reasons; and we need to keep open the possibility that the practice was relatively uncommon26.

  • 27 I do not of course intend to imply that the entire population was making transactions – but the si (...)
  • 28 Nor do I think this an effect of changing recording practice; see further below, p. 413-414.

13With that possibility in mind, it is worth noting that the texts that do offer a specific religious rationale for giving – be it explicitly to memorialize or more generally to say a prayer – overwhelmingly occur in the middle of the tenth century. This partly reflects the weight of mid-tenth-century documentation but not entirely. There are no such cases before 936; there are many in the 940s and 950s; and then they tail off towards the end of the century as the volume of texts declines. In fact, the habit of expressing a specific pious reason looks like a development of the 930s (and one that was more characteristic of León and Cardeña than Celanova, from which there are more examples later in the century). Now, the 930s is the decade when numbers of documents markedly started to increase; it is also the decade when records of the transactions of the ‘ordinary’ laity start to be preserved27; before then, records usually detail the doings of high aristocracy and high clergy – a change which is particularly striking in the large collection from León, and in the originals which survive from León. It is not just that the numbers of texts increased; the social range of the actors in those texts expanded enormously. Since the aristocracy did not choose to memorialize early in the century but did develop the habit in midcentury, this adds to the impression of changing practice: it is not just that we have more texts – habits were changing too28.

  • 29 We cannot necessarily see very far: a male without apparent religious connection may in fact be a (...)
  • 30 See further below, p. 416. On women’s powers of disposition in Spain, see Barbero and Vigil, La fo (...)

14As for the kind of people who expressed pious intentions, a very high proportion were monks and clergy or women, together more than 85%, as far as we can see29. That priests and monks should ask for prayers and services to be said is hardly surprising. That women should do so is potentially interesting – though it should be noted that there are far more cases of women seeking to perpetuate memory of themselves than of their families30.

Gift, reciprocities and sale

  • 31 See above, p. 403-404.
  • 32 See W. Davies, Sale, price and valuation in Galicia and Castile-León in the tenth century, in Earl (...)
  • 33 L357; cases of this kind are more common in the León collection than in the other two.
  • 34 L168, L265, L276, C12, C23, C27, C46, Cel570, for example.

15My comments thus far have been about donation – gifts to the church and to others. As indicated above, gifts were by no means the only kind of transaction recorded in this material and at times they feature less frequently than sales31. While one might argue about what constitutes a gift and what constitutes a sale, the distinction is one that was used by tenth-century writers: the language of gift and sale was in most cases strongly differentiated, and the concept of price was central to sale32. By ‘giving’ they meant transferring something to another party, without a pre-arranged price or return gift being necessary to validate the transaction (although a countergift might subsequently follow it); by ‘selling’ they meant transferring something to another party, as a result of contract between the two parties, for a pre-determined price, to be paid at a pre-determined time. Though the essence of this distinction was usually clear and consistent, there are a few texts in which it was not, and indeed when the concepts appear confused – hence kartula donationis uel uenditionis33. Of course, donation could be couched in terms of reciprocities, and often was. Gifts to the church might sometimes provoke a material countergift in response, especially if the donor was a high aristocrat, and gifts made for the sake of the donor’s soul had an inevitable element of the reciprocal, and even a touch of the contractual, though they were a long way from legal contract and price34.

  • 35 L137.
  • 36 C29.

16However, some gift transactions were much closer to the contract. Gifts to ensure appropriate burial were recorded, and presumably conceptualized, as gift, where in practical terms the transaction was much more like a deal, for both parties. One can imagine the preliminary conversations: «if I give you so much, will you reserve me a suitable burial place? If so, I will do it and you put my name on the plot». Or even «how much do you want to reserve my burial plot?». In fact, in two cases when land was handed over in order that masses be said for the donor, the transactions were actually recorded as sales not gifts. When the children Hatita and Totadomna gave for the souls of their dead parents in 940, the 30 masses and memorialization that they got in return are explicitly called the ‘price’, and the text itself is called a kartula uenditionis35. And Munnio sold Anderquina his vineyard in Rama for the suitable price of a shroud to be sent and masses to be said at the time of his death36. These latter two transactions were conceptualized with the religious as purchaser and the donor of the land as vendor, with the cleric paying the price in spiritual goods.

  • 37 See above, p. 403.
  • 38 For an elegant discussion of the social function of gift in an early medieval society, and of the (...)

17Despite these oddities, we should not lose sight of the fact that most records of sale recorded sales of land, for a specified material price, the price changing hands at the same time as the land; the occasions were clearly contractual. As indicated above37, there were times when the numbers of sales exceeded those of donations in the surviving material, sometimes markedly so – 68 to 38 in the León collection in the 950s, 38 to 8 in that of Celanova in the 960s. While some of these were straightforward transactions between lay parties, many were purchases by abbots, who were strategically acquiring properties, consolidating their lands (for example by exchanges) and exploiting them for greater profit. This suggests that the acquisition strategies of churches and monasteries were mixed: sometimes religious leaders encouraged gifts from their flocks (and, in a world where reciprocities were a norm, presumably expected a continuing relationship with them)38; and sometimes they paid a worldly price, and – by implication – did not strive to sustain the relationship. The fact, therefore, that there are periods when sales overtook donations says something about churches’ relationships with the lay community, as well as the ecclesiastical leaders’ acquisition strategy. That this happened at different rates and at different points in the tenth century emphasizes regional difference within northern Spain.

  • 39 C170, C173, C175, C176, C179, for example.
  • 40 See Orlandís, «Traditio corporis et animae», and Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa» (...)
  • 41 C92; sometimes the gift was not to a monastery but to a priest, as in the case of C117.
  • 42 Cf. the paper by Régine Le Jan in this book, and her points about family donation strategies in ot (...)

18Pursuing the regional difference a little, it is notable that the Cardeña collection is unusually marked by donation in the 940s to 970s, a time when León transactions were more characterized by sales. In fact, sales only became prominent in the very particular circumstance of the abbot buying rights in saltpans in the period 976-8439. The Cardeña material is also differentiated by the frequent presence of a type of donation that does occur but is much rarer in the other collections. These are gifts by which the donor gives himself or herself, anima and corpus, soul and body, and also some property, to a monastery40; a fair proportion are unambiguously post mortem gifts, like that of the couple who gave themselves and a fifth of their property to Cardeña in 957, but by no means all41. Half of these donors are demonstrably clerics or monks, and some of the others have demonstrable connections with clerics. This makes this a characteristically ecclesiastical form of donation, even if others used it too. Since many of the properties given in this way were in fact churches, it appears that the abbot of Cardeña was acquiring existing religious property in the neighbourhood; it seems highly likely that this was a deliberate acquisition strategy – again, to acquire by accumulating gifts42.

  • 43 See further W. Davies, Sale, price and valuation, in Early Medieval Europe, 11, 2002, p. 173-174. (...)

19The Cardeña records stress reciprocities and continuing relationships, rather than contract and short-term relationships: Cardeña formulas are much more prone than those from León to note the expected reward in heaven, for example. They project a culture of gift and countergift (countergifts are also much more notable in this collection than in the others considered here) rather than a culture of commercial exchange, as is projected farther west. It looks as if the monastic community chose to organize its local networks by stressing continuing relationships with the laity and local clergy43.

  • 44 Note also that if one compares the cartulary copies of the León collection with its originals (as (...)

20The obvious question which this raises is that of scribal habits: were practice and relationships at Cardeña really different from those in other regions or is it simply that the record was written in a different way? My view is that the differences were more than scribal. This is because the formulas used of buying, across the regions and across the century, are very similar, as is also true of formulas of selling; it is the content that varies with time and place, not the formulation. It is also clear from transactions between lay persons that their records were made (for the parties, not for a local monastery) by local priests and sometimes by notaries, both clearly using a standard language, which was widespread44.

Things to think about

21Some people in mid-tenth-century Spain clearly thought that they were buying spiritual benefits when they gave to the church and several seem to have thought that they were negotiating with God. This kind of approach looks as if it was of clerical origin – and may have been longterm. Extending this perception of an afterlife to a wider range of the population seems to have been a development of the 930s. It was a development within an established Christian society – a new thing – not a continuous tradition. We do not know why.

22Buying, negotiating and doing deals with God was much less characteristic of Cardeña than of Celanova and León. Even if the abbot(s) in mid-century Cardeña were deliberately encouraging donation, one has to ask if the lay/church relationship was closer than in the other cases and the quality of the culture different. And therefore were acts of ritual remembrance more common in this context? At the least this is a warning that we should not expect standardization; individuals and communities had differing patterns of behaviour, within Spain as also without.

  • 45 See the paper by R. Le Jan in this book. There are a few cases in which things were reserved from (...)
  • 46 For example, Cel 338, L231, L337, cf. Cel 489, C50, C115; C47, C71, C73, C75, C76, C92, etc. Speci (...)
  • 47 Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 151; cf. Valdeavellano, La cuota de libre di (...)
  • 48 For example, Cel231, Cel343, Cel424, Cel490, Cel497,?Cel476. It was not a normal practice round Le (...)

23I have not said much about family strategies of donation post mortem in order to preserve the patrimony. This is because, although the corpus of this Spanish material is so rich, the descent of the patrimony is often very difficult to trace; and because many gifts to the church were of the donor’s ‘whole’ inheritance, without any reservation of the usufruct for succeeding family members45. The implication is that many donors were childless, or chose to join a monastery and leave the family, or merely gave their own individual portion, not diminishing the core family land. If that is so, the patterns of donation that were characteristic of northern Spain in the tenth century do not fit the characteristic patterns of other parts of western Europe; whether that is because Spanish society was intrinsically different, or had a different relationship with Christian institutions, or simply because our documents focus on a period after a comparable process had finished, is something to think about. There are however two kinds of tenth-century gift that may well have helped preserve the patrimony for families. The first is the gift to the church of the classic fifth of the family property, the portion available for free disposition according to Visigothic law (and occasionally of other fractions, a third, a half or even a quarter)46. Restriction of the donation to a limited portion of the patrimony clearly potentially preserved the rest for the family. The mechanism is quite different from that used elsewhere but continuing family interest in the patrimony is explicit. However, the number of cases is small and – as Spanish legal historians have demonstrated – the system was clearly breaking down by the tenth century47. The second may well represent a more straightforward strategy and is the gift by carta incommuniationis, in effect a grant to share the property with the beneficiary48. It was overwhelmingly married couples who employed this latter strategy and everything suggests that their gifts were of very small scale – i.e this is peasantlevel practice. It should be emphasized that the numbers of both kinds of case are small: family strategies to preserve the patrimony despite, or even by means of, alienation to the church are not striking in this material. The fact that few wills survive, and that cartae perfiliationis tend to focus on a single heir, may in fact suggest that many families were neither large nor extended – hence the low incidence of this practice.

  • 49 See especially Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance; and references cited above, n. 30. M. del Carmen Pa (...)
  • 50 Walker, Images of royal and aristocratic burial, p. 153-154, does not detect a specific female rol (...)

24Where specific pious reasons are given for making a grant, the people associated with the pious gift were more often clerics or women than non-religious males. This surely indicates that the pious donation arises out of a particularly ecclesiastical way of looking at life and death. The point may seem obvious but it is easily overlooked. The corollary is that those who were not religious professionals did not necessarily share this worldview, and many may not have done. The prominence of women is of course interesting and raises the much-discussed issue of the special role of women in ‘memorializing’ the family line49. Of course, women’s pious donations may well have had that effect, in Spain as elsewhere, but it is perverse to propose that this was a distinctively female role: in the cases considered here, more men than women were associated with donation for the purpose of commemoration, at the rate of about two to one. It really needs consideration, therefore, if the appearance of women in this role is more to do with the disposability of women’s property, outside normal inheritance patterns50.

  • 51 I am extremely grateful to Ann Christys, Julio Escalona and Patrick Wormald for their much-appreci (...)

25Perhaps the most striking reflection, on consideration of the material available from these three collections in the tenth century, is that overall there is very little to associate donation with deliberate strategies of remembrance, whether we look at all gifts to the church, or indisputably post obitum gifts, or all gifts that might have been post obitum gifts had we sufficient information. It unquestionably did happen – masses were said, prayers were said annually, oratories were built – but donations to the church happened for a good range of other reasons too. Any decent analysis of transactions simply has to bear this in mind. Donation could be for practical, material, corporeal reasons, just as the provision of spiritual services could be seen as a purchasable commodity. Life and death had many strands51.

Notes

1 O Tombo de Celanova, ed. J. M. Andrade, 2 vols., Santiago, 1995; the editor believes that the cartulary was constructed from three earlier cartularies. Charters from this collection are hereafter referred to by number, as Cel1, Cel2, etc.

2 Colección documental del archivo de la catedral de León, I (775-952), II (953-85), ed. E. Saez and C. Saez, III (986-1031), ed. J. M. Ruiz Asencio, León, 1987, 1990, 1987 – the core is a large cartulary of the first third of the twelfth century; charters hereafter cited by number as L1, L2 etc.

3 Colección documental del monasterio de San Pedro de Cardeña, ed. G. Martínez Díez, Cardeña-Burgos, 1998 (older edition: Becerro Gótico de Cardeña, ed. L. Serrano, Silos-Valladolid, 1910 = Historia de Castilla por los P. Benedictinos de Silos, III). Charters from this collection are hereafter referred to by number, as C1, C2, etc.

4 C117.

5 C115, L288. On donation reservato usufructo, see further below, p. 404-415.

6 L73.

7 There is a large Spanish literature on donation reservato usufructo; see J. A. Rubio, «Donationes post obitum» y «donationes reservato usufructo» en la alta edad media de León y Castilla, in Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 9, 1932, p. 1-32; F. de Arvizu y Galarraga, La Disposición «mortis causa» en el derecho español de la alta edad media, Pamplona, 1977, especially p. 187-211. Arvizu y Galarraga, p. 210-211, does cite a mill rights case of 958 in which some interest was reserved to the descendants of the donor, but such examples are extremely rare.

8 Cf. the paper by Josiane Barbier in this book.

9 See also Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 129-131.

10 Cel75, L220, Cel228, L147, L273.

11 L331 (cf. the same couple, L420); cf. C202, Cel228, Cel257.

12 A Godesteo was abbot of Saints Cosmas and Damian at this time.

13 L354.

14 P. Merêa, «Perfilhação» (Achega para um dicionário histórico de língua portuguesa), in Revista Portuguesa de Filologia, 7, 1956, 119-126: p. 119; G. Braga da Cruz, Algumas consideraço˜es sôbre a «perfiliatio», in Boletim da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade (Coimbra), 14, 1937-1938, 407-478; L. G. de Valdeavellano, La comunidad patrimonial de la familia en el derecho español medieval, in Acta Salmanticensia. Derecho, 3, 1956, p. 9-40: p. 33; Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 74-79; A. Barbero and M. Vigil, La formación del feudalismo en la península Ibérica, Barcelona, 1978, especially p. 379-394.

15 But see J. Orlandís, La elección de sepultura en la España medieval, in La iglesia en la España visigotica y medieval, Pamplona, 1976, p. 257-306: p. 259-261, on the potential significance of the standard phrase.

16 For all kinds of giving see S. D. White, Custom, Kinship and Gifts to Saints: the Laudatio Parentum in Western France, 1050-1150, Chapel Hill, 1988; although the focus here is on a slightly later period, the approach is very relevant.

17 L378, Cel527, Cel409, Cel169, for example.

18 Cel501, C117, L455, Cel519.

19 L357; cf. L222. The statement that the donor accepts authority (guvernas) (presumably of the head of the household) in this (and similar) cases is precocious notice of some norms of the later middle ages; there is also an interesting implicit corollary that he who governs also provides. On this, see also Barbero and Vigil, La formación del feudalismo, p. 381; J. Orlandís, «Traditio corporis et animae». Laicos y monasterios en la alta edad media española, in Estudios sobre instituciones monásticas medievales, Pamplona, 1971, p. 217-378: p. 335-338.

20 L121, C44, L230, C32, Cel216, Cel84.

21 C39; cf. C82, C211.

22 See above, p. 408 (L230, L121, L109).

23 C110, L288.

24 L137; cf. C29. See further below on these two texts, p. 411-412.

25 It might of course be argued – with some justification – that the simple explanation pro anima parentum is a kind of memorialization (cf. Cel70); these phrases do occur earlier.

26 J. Orlandís, La elección de sepultura, p. 260-269, and «Traditio corporis et animae», p. 261, assumes that it was a norm.

27 I do not of course intend to imply that the entire population was making transactions – but the size of properties, their locations, and the status of the witnesses of many grants show that the social range of donors clearly extended.

28 Nor do I think this an effect of changing recording practice; see further below, p. 413-414.

29 We cannot necessarily see very far: a male without apparent religious connection may in fact be a priest, or have a brother who was a priest, and so on. Some lay donations were clearly made in connection with clerical family members, e.g. C32.

30 See further below, p. 416. On women’s powers of disposition in Spain, see Barbero and Vigil, La formación del feudalismo, p. 355-365, 399-400, 404. On women’s responsibility for preserving memoria in many parts of Europe at this time, cf. K. J. Leyser, Rule and Conflict in an Early Medieval Society, London, 1979, p. 49-50; P. Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance, Princeton, 1994, p. 21, 5173, who argues that this is distinctively gender-specific; J. L. Nelson, Gender and genre in women historians of the early Middle Ages, in Id., The Frankish World, 750-900, London, 1996, p. 183-197: p. 185-186; E. van Houts, Memory and gender in Medieval Europe, 900-1200, London, 1999, p. 6-13, 65-92; E. van Houts (ed.), Medieval Memories. Men, Women and the Past, 700-1300, Harlow, 2001, p. 6-7; and, like Leyser, emphasizing the functions of royal women, R. Le Jan, Famille et pouvoir dans le monde franc (viie-xe siècle), Paris, 1995, p. 31-58 and her Douaires et pouvoirs des reines en Francie et en Germanie (vie-xe siècle), in F. Bougard, L. Feller, R. Le Jan (dir.), Dots et douaires dans le haut Moyen Âge, Rome, 2002 (Collection de l’École française de Rome, 295), p. 457-497: p. 479-483. Rose Walker’s Images of royal and aristocratic burial in northern Spain, c. 950-c. 1250, in Medieval Memories, ed. van Houts, p. 150-172: p. 150-152, shows royal women organizing royal memoria in late eleventh-century León.

31 See above, p. 403-404.

32 See W. Davies, Sale, price and valuation in Galicia and Castile-León in the tenth century, in Early Medieval Europe, 11, 2002, p. 149-174, for substantial discussion of sale and price.

33 L357; cases of this kind are more common in the León collection than in the other two.

34 L168, L265, L276, C12, C23, C27, C46, Cel570, for example.

35 L137.

36 C29.

37 See above, p. 403.

38 For an elegant discussion of the social function of gift in an early medieval society, and of the ‘anti-social’ use of sale, see W. Miller, Gift, sale, payment, raid: case studies in the negotiation and classification of exchange in medieval Iceland, in Speculum, 61, 1986, p. 18-50. See also Barbara H. Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of Saint Peter. The Social Meaning of Cluny’s Property, 909-1049, Ithaca, 1989.

39 C170, C173, C175, C176, C179, for example.

40 See Orlandís, «Traditio corporis et animae», and Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 176-177.

41 C92; sometimes the gift was not to a monastery but to a priest, as in the case of C117.

42 Cf. the paper by Régine Le Jan in this book, and her points about family donation strategies in other parts of western Europe, endowing churches and maintaining interests therein. I suspect that what we see in these Cardeña documents is a later stage in a comparable process: we pick up the existence of the private churches, and can deduce the family interests, although we do not see the moment of endowment; what we do see is the end of the lives of these places as private churches and thereafter their incorporation in a wider ecclesiastical interest. I hope to develop this theme elsewhere.

43 See further W. Davies, Sale, price and valuation, in Early Medieval Europe, 11, 2002, p. 173-174. For an extended treatment of the social role of donation, see Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of Saint Peter, especially p. 75-77, 99, 125-136.

44 Note also that if one compares the cartulary copies of the León collection with its originals (as it is sometimes possible to do in that case), it is evident that the language of gift and sale in the originals is exactly the same as that of the cartulary copies – there is no reason to suspect updating of the formulas at the time of copying into a cartulary. What does change at that time is that spelling and grammar (which are extremely non-standard in the originals) get improved, and names of some witnesses get omitted.

45 See the paper by R. Le Jan in this book. There are a few cases in which things were reserved from the patrimony for family members – L118, L293, L303, Cel70, Cel338, ?Cel117, ?C50, ?C115 – but they are very few. The Santa Comba case (Cel265), however, really does say something about the patrimony and its continuation, as also Cel271. The classic Spanish literature argues that donation to the church, especially by use of cartae perfiliationis, broke up the patrimony – i.e. the very opposite process to that postulated for much of Europe north of the Pyrenees; Barbero y Vigil, La formación del feudalismo, p. 379-394.

46 For example, Cel 338, L231, L337, cf. Cel 489, C50, C115; C47, C71, C73, C75, C76, C92, etc. Specification of a fraction of a property is more characteristic of Cardeña and, especially, Celanova than León material, in which it is rare. There is much treatment by Spanish legal historians of the ‘fifth’; see L. G. de Valdeavellano, La cuota de libre disposición en el derecho hereditario de León y Castilla en la alta edad media, in Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 9, 1932, p. 129-176, Orlandís, «Traditio corporis et animae», p. 277; Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 62-63, 179.

47 Arvizu y Galarraga, La disposición «mortis causa», p. 151; cf. Valdeavellano, La cuota de libre disposición, p. 152-157. As indicated in the previous note, there are regional differences in the incidence of references to the fifth in the tenth century, and I hope to explore these elsewhere.

48 For example, Cel231, Cel343, Cel424, Cel490, Cel497,?Cel476. It was not a normal practice round León. See C. Sánchez-Albornoz, Pequeños propietarios libres en el reino Asturleonés. Su realidad histórica, in Settimane di studio del Centro italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, 13, 1966, p. 183-222: p. 187.

49 See especially Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance; and references cited above, n. 30. M. del Carmen Pallares Méndez, Ilduara, una Aristócrata del Siglo x, A Coruña, 1998, especially p. 125-134, deals with some relevant Galician material.

50 Walker, Images of royal and aristocratic burial, p. 153-154, does not detect a specific female role in preserving royal memoria in ninth-century Oviedo; cf. recent discussions of male as well as female roles in memorializing, van Houts, Memory and gender, p. 13, 97, 114-118, 147-148, and B. Jussen, Challenging the culture of memoria. Dead men, oblivion, and the «Faithless Widow» in the Middle Ages, in G. Althoff, J. Fried and P. J. Geary (ed.), Medieval Concepts of the Past: ritual, memory, historiography, Cambridge, 2002, p. 215-231.

51 I am extremely grateful to Ann Christys, Julio Escalona and Patrick Wormald for their much-appreciated comments on early drafts of this paper.

Table des illustrations

URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/2295/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,6M
Titre Table 1. NUMBER OF RECORDED GIFTS AND SALES IN CELANOVA, LEÓN AND CARDEÑA IN THE TENTH CENTURY, BY DECADE
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/2295/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 134k
Titre Table 2. GIFT AND SALE AS PERCENTAGES OF ALL CELANOVA, ALL LEÓN AND ALL CARDEÑA TRANSACTIONS, BY DECADE
URL http://books.openedition.org/efr/docannexe/image/2295/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 127k

Auteur

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2005

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