Culture crunch: more casualties

Charter of sale by Miró and Ego of land at Espinosa, 1031, Berkeley, Bancroft Library, UCB 120:01

Charter of sale by Miró and Ego of land at Espinosa, 1031, Berkeley, Bancroft Library, UCB 120:01

Oh dear. Do you, by any chance, use the Digital Scriptorium at Columbia University? I haven’t, really, because not very many of my target manuscripts are in the USA, and the ones that are, the Gili Collection at Harvard, aren’t contained in this resource. I don’t know why not as the relevant library, the Houghton, is part of the venture. There is, anyway, within the DS one Catalan land charter, pictured above, but it’s from 1031 and I have long enforced a cut-off date in my work of 1030 because that’s a full generation after the point I really want to stop and the material is just unhandleable by one person because of its volume thereafter. So I myself don’t make good use of this resource, but it has an exemplary search function and I can imagine it being very useful to people not so chauvinistically early or Iberian as myself. Anyway, I am told that its funding is not to be renewed, so at some point fairly soon that hotlinked image is going to disappear because the website will go. I find this a bit shocking – how much money does it take to keep a website up, even if it’s not being updated? but apparently this is what’s threatened.

So far I’ve felt fairly safe from the recession, but despite being three thousand miles from me and centuries too late, it’s a bit too close to [Alt] [Home]…


That Espinosa charter has set me off on a curiosity now. There are two places called Espinosa, and there’s nothing I can see in that charter to indicate which is concerned. One is close to Sant Joan de les Abadesses, but largely outside their purview so I don’t know it well (it’s mentioned in I think one of their early charters as site of one of several estates in a donation). The other’s really interesting, though, and I would be fascinated to see that anyone has something from there close to my period. Even in 1031 it was pretty much just inside the edge of ‘Christian civilisation ™': it’s in Tarragona (Vallespinosa on that map, because the actual village is basically three streets now and the valley nearby is what gets marked), which is so frontier that, apart from tenth-century episodes no-one but me cares about because they didn’t last, it wasn’t reconquered till the twelfth century. It’s actually over the edge. This doesn’t however mean that it was out of touch: one of the oldest documents in the comital archive of Barcelona is a sale from 887 to none other than Count Guifré the Hairy of land out there (and it is the distant one, because the document specifies a county, albeit that it’s Manresa), land that I cannot really imagine how he could exploit, it being so far from his other domains. But that part of the world was real no-man’s land back then and if the people out there wanted to wander up to Barcelona to deal with the count, then they just did. Who cares about this supposed frontier? So if this charter was from there that would be fascinating. But given the great detail it goes into about dues from the lands, numbers of wethers and so on, I suspect it’s from somewhere that had been under lordship a bit longer than that. ANYWAY. This sort of thing is obviously why its home shouldn’t disappear, isn’t it…

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2 responses to “Culture crunch: more casualties

  1. Wow… this is just a fantastic resource and I cant believe its going to go :(

  2. Pingback: Uniting the uniters: electronic resource corpora and competition « A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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