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Los rebaños de Gerión

Joaquín Gómez-Pantoja



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1Pedro García Martín
«La principal sustancia destos reynos». On pre-Mesta transhumance in the Iberian Peninsula
This exercise in synthesis of the papers presented at the seminar on Aspects of Animal Husbandry in the Iberian Peninsula provided the opportunity to produce a backwards discourse in the history of Iberian transhumance, tracking the chronology in reverse in search of permanent features of husbandry and of sources and methods through which to detect them. In this approach to history as a long-term
continuum, research into animal husbandry prior to the Mesta is beset by the scarcity and limitations of traditional sources, leaving no alternative but to resort to other alternatives and disciplines. Thus, from theory we move on to a reconstruction of pastoral landscapes and peoples, building general models from regional analyses to arrive finally at a global view encompassing elements common to transhumant stockraising the world over.

2Marie-Claude Gerbet
A Little-Known Transhumant Route. The Soria-Portugal Cañada in the Age of the Catholic Monarchs
The subject of this study is a major transhumant route in the late Middle Ages, hitherto unknown. Beginning in Soria and the surrounding area, it ran through Old Castile to Medina del Campo and Salamanca and from thence to Portugal. Thanks to the invaluable data contained in the Registro General del Sello (Archivo General de Simancas), which details all exactions on transhumance during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs, we are in a position to decipher the nature of that route (defined as a marked drove road, a path or a livestock trail through uncultivated land), its cross section, its connections with the great north-south drove roads and its economic importance.

3María Concepción Quintanilla Raso
Stockbreeding in Cuenca in the Late Middle Ages. Principal Features of an Economic Model within a Complex Agrarian System
The aim of this paper is to give a general picture of the complexity of stock-raising in Cuenca, and particularly in the area known as La Sierra. There, the geographical features have always been propitious for such activity, but in the late Middle Ages it was very much subject to conflicts between landlords and cattle farmers over the use of pasture land. A study of the law suits underlines the difficulties that characterized the coexistence of both sides and, besides, the conflict of interests between local breeders and owners of transhumant herds (mesteños).

4María Asenjo González
Animal Husbandry. Development and Impact of Transhumance in East-Castilian Extremadura in the Late Middle Ages
The development of transhumance in the second half of the 15th century reached maturity during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs (1475-1516). The Crown’s institutional support of the Mesta was a highly significant factor, even in traditional stock-raising areas like East-Castilian Extremadura. Conflicts and tensions arose in Sofia and Segovia when the growth of husbandry clashed with the interests and ways of life of local inhabitants. Documentary evidence shows that the consequences of pressure from expanding stock-raising activity were quite different in these two crown lands; whereas in Sofia it prompted a drastic change with considerable influence on patterns of settlement, economy and social organisation, in Segovia it failed to attract the interest of the powerful urban oligarchy that controlled the city’s grazing lands. The expansion of stock-raising was a speculative activity which in Sofia brought with it depopulation and reorganisation of the land, new forms of human settlement and alteration of the economy of agriculture and animal husbandry throughout East Castilian Extremadura. The tremendous growth of transhumance was a factor in both the consolidation of urban oligarchies and the emergence of rural oligarchies of «wealthy farmers» (labradores ricos) in Castile in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

5Julio Escalona Monge
Social Stratification and the Organisation of Space. Woodland and Pasture in the Sierra de Burgos (10th-12th centuries)
The development of stock-raising in late mediaeval Castile habitually obscures previous periods of development or causes them to be viewed ideologically as leading up to the foundation of the Mesta. This study starts with the earlier period (10th-12th centuries) and works along two lines: a) The relationship of the various different social groups with livestock. As against the long-held dichotomy of «peasant farmers/lordly stock breeders», it is suggested that all social groups were involved in livestock breeding, the differentiating factor being rather the scale of the economic system in which they operated; b) An essential feature of stock-raising in the 10th to the 13th centuries was the process of seigneurialisation, meaning on the one hand the subjection of peasant communities and control of resources by lordly power, and on the other hand the insertion of small-scale economies (family, local or district) in large-scale economic circuits in which the peasantry had no power to act. Lastly, to further develop this aspect, the author examines the latter part of the High Middle Ages (10th-12th centuries) on the southern watershed of the Sierra de la Demanda in Burgos, an area possessing plentiful natural woodland and grazing resources, which was crucial for the abundance of summer pastures and characterised by the existence of strong seigneurial estates with considerable stock-raising interests.

6Francisco Javier Fernández Conde
Stock Raising in Asturias in the Early Middle Ages. Some Features of the Castreño and Roman Economy
The article gives a brief sketch of the economy of Asturias in the Castreño and Roman period, as a basis on which to contextualise mediaeval livestock production. This is followed by a close examination of the available documentation relating to Asturias up to the 13th century in order to analyse the basic outlines of livestock production, a very important facet of the region’s economy in the early Middle Ages, with particular reference to the herds of church domains. A later section describes the different spaces in which the territory was organised, specifically linked to this kind of production, to try and define the nature and morphology of these spaces and their significance for common and seigneurial landholding. The article closes with a section on brañas (summer pastures) and transhumance.

7Pedro Sáez
Latin Agronomists and Stockraising
This paper draws attention to the deliberate exclusion of extensive stockraising by Cato in his treatise on farming, less as a defence of agriculture than as a form of propaganda to attract people to the latter and thus augment the number of adsidui that could legally be mobilised by the Roman legions. A similar attitude can be seen in the Sasernae. The changes in the army following the reforms of Marius relieved the nobilitas from the need to sustain such a posture, and consequently Varo was the first agronomist to write re pecuaria. Nonetheless, the aversion to stockraising seems to have persisted in such authors as Virgil, Columella and Pliny, although perhaps in purely conventional form, and is still found in Palladius. The latter in fact deals with stockraising as a subject apart, and this dividing line seems to have been retained subsequently with the appearance of various veterinary treatises.

8Joaquín Gómez-Pantoja
Pastio Agrestis. Pastoralism in Roman Hispania
This paper deals with the existence of transhumance and other
pastiones agrestes in the Iberian Peninsula before and after the Roman conquest. The historical evidence is scanty and ambiguous, but there are some sources from late antiquity which indicate the existence of a sodalitas oviarorum; there are cases of cities holding lands in eminently pastoral areas, the continuous presence of emigrants from certain areas in complementary grazing areas; and finally, there are classical sources - notably Livy - which are open to a «pastoral» interpretation.

9Carmen Alfaro Giner
Livestock Trails and Romanisation in the Iberian Peninsula
On the subject of forms of Romanisation in the Iberian Peninsula, we are systematising the data we have regarding the importance of old livestock trails as a vehicle of interchange. These trails, traditionally used by shepherds and cattle drovers to cover more or less long distances, were amost certainly used by Roman and Carthaginian armies in their first expeditions. The role of shepherd guides is also analysed.

10Martín Almagro-Gorbea
The Serranía de Albarracín. Ethno-archaeological Analysis of Animal Husbandry in Southern Celtiberia.
Ethno-archaeological analysis of the Serranía de Albarracín (Teruel, Spain) provides a useful avenue of approach to the palaeo-ethnology of southern Celtiberia, in that it identifies a husbandry-centred socio-cultural structure, reflected in the organization of territory and settlement characteristic of the Celtiberian culture from which it emerged. The uplands over 1000 m above sea level which constitute the core of ancient Celtiberia, were the scene of a system of land exploitation that persisted until recently thanks to a profound degree of interaction between man and his natural surroundings. Although the «upland landscape» is considered to be of mediaeval origin, the correlation between hill settlements and Celtiberian «castros» suggests that it closely matches a «Celtic landscape». An analysis of its structure in the light of archaeological and ethnological data therefore opens up new perspectives for Celtic studies.

11Eduardo Galán Domingo y María Ruiz-Gálvez
Drover Routes, Transterminance and Old Drove Roads. The Case of the Western Iberian Peninsula between the Chalcolithic and the Iron Age
The paper addresses the existence of systematic drover movements in Prehistory and the nature and importance of these. It is held that these commenced in the Copper Age, when animals began to be raised for their secondary products and hence a specialised stockraising economy evolved. Palynologic data from SW Spain confirm the appearance of a man-made dehesa landscape at that time. However, during most of Prehistory, drover movements were probably systematic but short, going only as far as bordering areas, for prior to the Roman conquest interterritorial movement would have been difficult. But even such short, transterminant drover movements would have required a network of political and social alliances. Such alliances would have created a political basis for the emergence of processes of territorial definition on the eve of Phoenician colonisation of Iberia.

12Philippe Gardes
The Problematics of Protohistorical Transhumance. The Example of the Western Pyrenees
Transhumance has a prominent place in the Proto-history of the Pyrenees. However, since the ground-breaking syntheses of Pedro Bosch Gimpera and Geneviève Fabre, there has been little progress in research. The opinions put forward then are not entirely convincing. They implicitly favour geographical determinism and historical logic, grafting contemporary reality onto the past. Another objection is that they take too little account of the diversity, the complexity and even the historicity of stock raising systems –and the underlying societies– presenting an undifferentiated view of transhumance. We have attempted to qualify such views by placing more emphasis on certain sources, namely settlement patterns, archaeozoology, palinology and ethnoarchaeology. The findings give grounds for several hypotheses; predominance of farm husbandry throughout the period, the practice of semi-nomadic husbandry until the late Neolithic, the appearance of short-distance transhumance in the early Bronze Age, and rapid development of stock-raising from the mid-late Bronze Age.

© Casa de Velázquez, 2001

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