Marca Hispanica (a tale of two scholars)

With a certain amount of annoyance and a certain amount of pleasure, I am facing the necessity to go and renew my acquaintance with one of the oldest books I’ve ever cited, the Marca Hispanica of Bishop Pierre de Marca. It is most likely that you’ve heard of neither the man nor the book, and the last person I tried to explain it to said, “you could do a thesis on that by itself!” So I don’t know, maybe someone would want to, maybe it’s just interesting, I think it is anyway. (Edit: if by chance someone actually is interested in this as a topic, please note the comments by Charles de Vries below which contend strongly, and justly, for the idea that this is properly a tale of three scholars, the third being Jeroni Pujades, on whose earlier work de Marca seems to have extensively (and silently) rested and whose manuscripts he may have appropriated, delaying publication of Pujades’s work by two hundred years…)

Bishop Pierre de Marca

Pierre de Marca was a latecomer to the priesthood, having until the age of 47 been a Béarn lawyer and political climber, but in 1641 this political climbing, along with a reasonable amount of theological learning which made seen him writing pro-government Catholic propaganda in the local battles against the Protestants in his area, saw him offered a bishopric (Couserans, in Gascony) by Louis XIII on the advice of Cardinal Richelieu, so he took orders fairly rapidly thereafter. Until the papacy had received confirmation of his abjuration of some earlier things that he’d written, however, which happened in 1648, he wasn’t allowed to take up the see, and he therefore spent the years from 1641 to 1651 as governor of recently-captured Catalonia, which is, as far as I’m concerned, where the story really starts.

Although he went on to greater things in the service of the French crown, his learning, which was not small, and his readiness to turn his pen to state propaganda, made him a recourse when the French crown needed its position in Catalonia, which was heavily disputed in this era, affirmed in text. From this stemmed the book I’m actually writing about here, the Marca Hispanica sive Limes Hispanicus, hoc est geographica & historica descriptio cataloniae, ruscinonis, & circumiacentium populorum.1

The MH, as I usually have to abbreviate it, is a very complicated book. It is big; it is also a genuine and serious piece of scholarship, and gathers a great deal of material and information that we might not otherwise have about how Catalonia’s history was remembered in the seventeeth century. On the other hand, it also makes a very strong thesis to the effect that the line of the Counts of Barcelona, and therefore the Kings of Aragón right up to the point at which he was writing (because of the marriage of Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona to Petronilla the heiress of Aragón in 1137 and subsequent dual succession of their son Alfons(o)), were usurpers who had displaced the rightful heir from a higher branch of the family in the early tenth century. He didn’t actually say “and therefore the French should be allowed to kick them out because it’s no more than they deserve” but it could certainly have been put into the service of such an argument. That factoid is actually false, but it’s been very durable, a minor-league Catalan equivalent of the blood libel that wasn’t corrected in print until the work of Prosper de Bofarull in 1836,2 and still lurks around for many years thereafter. For this reason, if you FWSE for Sunifred of Barcelona, you find a lot of confused genealogists unable to settle whether this person should be identified as Marquis Sunyer of Barcelona or Count Sunifred of Besalú, the correct answer being ‘neither: he was Count of Cerdanya and you are all one hundred and seventy years out of date’. The argument was sufficiently influential that even now, the archive of the counts of Barcelona in the Arxiu de la Corona d’Aragó (in Barcelona, and of which Bofarull was archivist when he wrote), which has for centuries indexed its documents by count, still has a whole swathe filed under the name of this Sunifred who never ruled there. This is, as much as anyone’s, de Marca’s fault (and it was sufficiently established practice in Bofarull’s day that he felt unable to change it). It is however impossible to discern whether de Marca really thought it was the case, for the documents are genuinely confusing, or had come up with it as a spin for his king. This is one thing any thesis about his work would have to aim to disentangle.

Étienne Baluze

The problems don’t end there, though, and nor does the utility of the book, because it was not published in de Marca’s lifetime. The work was in fact finished twenty-four years after de Marca’s death, by his erstwhile secretary Étienne Baluze, a name that many medievalists who study France will recognise as a prolific editor and copyist of medieval documents and legislation. In fact, about half of the book as it stands is Baluze’s work, as not only did he go through the text cleaning it up and correcting it from his own considerable knowledge and collection of documents, but he also supplied a vast number of appendices and interesting related texts, so that the book as it stands contains the oldest edition of the Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium, the Barcelona house’s dynastic history, several other narrative texts, and about six hundred charters. Now bad things have happened to Catalan archives since Baluze got his copies of these documents made, most of all the Spanish Civil War but not just that by a long chalk. In particular, de Marca and Baluze made great focuses on the monasteries of Santa Maria de Ripoll and Sant Pere de Rodes; the former lost its entire archive in a fire in 1835, and the latter lost its cartulary, which was all that remained of the medieval archive by then, in the Civil War, so everything in the MH from these houses is known from nothing earlier. There are plenty of other lost documents here preserved too, including a goodly chunk of the Frankish legislation covering the area, which as it showed a ‘French’ king making law for the province, fitted de Marca’s purposes very well.3

So it’s an invaluable resource, and so rich that whenever I hunt through my notes on it I find myself being distracted by something that would have been really useful to remember, but which I didn’t realise was important at the time, and this is why I have to go back to it this time. On the other hand its editorial agendas make it very difficult to use unchecked and may well mean that a lot of stuff we would have liked to have was discarded, and it left the history of the area badly bent for two centuries. It’s been reprinted in Barcelona twice in the last fifty years and also translated entirely into Catalan, yet it gets a big part of their history screwed up in a pro-French direction, something which the northern Catalans don’t really want to hear. A proper research project on it would follow citation patterns, see who’d found it useful, who refuted it and who listened. I myself just use it for the unique documents, and also the general bibliophiliac experience of messing with quarto hard parchment bindings held together with canvas tape half an inch broad, or tooled brown leather (the Cambridge University Library has two copies of the book), but the wish to try and clarify it from its two authors’ different aims and do some quite necessary criticism on it is never completely absent.

1. P. de Marca, Marca Hispanica sive Limes Hispanicus, hoc est geographica & historica descriptio cataloniae, ruscinonis, & circumiacentium populorum, ed. É. Baluze (Paris 1688; repr. Barcelona 1972, 1989), transl. J. Icart as Marca Hispànica, o País de la Frontera Hispanica: versió catalana (Barcelona 1965).

2. P. de Bofarull y Mascaró, Los Condes de Barcelona Vindicados, y Cronología y Genealogía de los Reyes de España considerados como Soberianos Independientes de su Marca (Barcelona 1836; repr. 1990), 2 vols.

3. On the other hand, once Spain itself became the enemy of Catalonia under Franco, these ties were once more locally celebrated, and it is probably for this reason that the Frankish royal documents were the first things published in Ramon d’Abadal’s monumental Catalunya Carolíngia series: R. d’Abadal i de Vinyals (ed.), Catalunya Carolíngia II: els diplomes carolíngis a Catalunya, Institut d’Estudis Catalans: Memòries de la Secció Històrico-Arqueològica II & III (Barcelona 1926-1950, 1952), 2 vols.

41 responses to “Marca Hispanica (a tale of two scholars)

  1. Your blog is great fun to read, but some information is — how should I say? — misleading. It should be a tale of three scholars, which you’ll find out if you google “Jeroni Pujades” and check out “The Pujades Affair”. It certainly looks like de Marca and Pujades are the good guys, and that Baluze is a real villain. He published de Marca’s “Marca”, eliminated all references to Pujades, and even bashed him as “ignorant”. The “Gesta” you mention is another con job, because he withheld the all-important original redaction (also under Baluze at BNF), and printed the “definite” with a wrong date on the cover. The “affair” includes a mind-blowing link to Sant Pere de Rodes…

    Best Regards, Charles

    • Hullo and welcome. As with my last correcting commentator, it seems that you’ve picked up on some keywords rather than engaging with what I was actually writing about, which was the Marca Hispanica and its editing by Baluze. I know Pujades by name, of course, though I hadn’t realised his meisterwerk was online: that’s fabulously useful as a number of documents that he published, just as with the Marca Hispanica, are now otherwise lost. So thankyou for that. However, the site that you reference dismisses several perfectly sound medieval chronicles as ‘cover-ups by the Church’ without explaining what it is that they covered up, as if Baluze or de Marca had destroyed the manuscripts which have been well edited since. It is worse than “misleading”. You may not have followed up the link to the Pujades text that they give, but I can tell you that it has nothing to do with the subject matter of the page. Let us take this neat example of what sort of scholarship we’re dealing with:

      According to Coromines, du Cange, the Oxford, et al. the word graal comes from gradalis, a simple bowl or service dish, not a chalice. The earliest documented use of gradal was in Urgell (Pyrenees), in two testaments of the counts of Barcelona, dated 1010 and 1030 CE. Their genealogy is recorded in a Latin chronicle from before 1162 CE, which opens with the vita of Guifré el Pelós, the legendary first count of Barcelona (circa 850-898 CE). The story of his youth in Flanders and first deeds in Catalonia identify him clearly as the historical model of Perceval, and thus confirms the count of Flanders as a qualified informant (See article.) This led us to the conclusion that the “grail region” is not a fictitious realm in England, as most latter-day poets propose, but a historical reality in the Pyrenees of Catalonia (Spain). It is where bishop Felix of Urgell revived Adoptionism in the late 8th century, which influenced the Albigensian and Cathar “heresies”. According to Pujades (7), Guifré’s father count Sunifred of Urgell “did not venerate the holy images”, which makes him a disciple of Felix.

      Now, this person just doesn’t know what’s what. No counts of Barcelona died in 1010 or 1030; these would be counts of Urgell, Ermengol I and II. Guifré the Hairy was not legendary, although the version in the Gesta is close to it. I agree that it is weird that de Marca and Baluze printed the later version of the Gesta rather than the earlier but I don’t think this needs to be sinister: the best explanation is simply that the later version is more elaborate and would have seemed more complete to them. Adoptionism has nothing to do with Catharism; they flourished in different areas, there are hundreds of years between their attested existences, and Catharism is a dualist religion in its own right, whereas Adoptionism was merely a refinement of Catholic Christianity. There’s no equal negative principle in Adoptionism, whereas Catharism doesn’t make sense without one. The Albigensian and Cathar heresies are of course one and the same, but this author doesn’t know that. And in the last sentence, he or she is using an unreferenced statement from 800 years after the fact to prove something about Sunifred’s beliefs, but they have the wrong heresy: Adoptionism had no stance on images that we know, that would be the Byzantine Iconoclasm, which they later accuse Felix of propagating, something else that is without foundation.

      Furthermore, the logic is quite broken here: Guifré, legendary or no, was never in Flanders and his exploits in real life had nothing to do with the area or the antics of Perceval. There therefore isn’t any special information the Count of Flanders could have had about such things to influence Chrétien! The author wants Guifré to be merely a story that nonetheless left memories in a country where he never went! And this is nothing compared to the pages that deal with the Grail legend more closely:

      It is mentioned in the testament of a daughter of Borrell, count of Barcelona, the patron of the celebrated alchemist and monk Gerbert, who later became pope Sylvester II in 999 CE. Borrell was the great-grandson of Guifré el Pilós , the famous founding father of Catalonia. According to scholars of the region, the father of Guifré was Sunifred of Urgell and Carcassonne, count of Barcelona. According to the Arabian historian Abenhayan (6) Sunifred was celebrated by the Moors in the early 9th century as Almondir (the Extraordinary).

      Quickly: Gerbert was not an alchemist, this was a charge levelled about him in later years when he was also condemned as an Arab-taught wizard. In fact he was never in al-Andalus as far as we know and studied astronomy; he was one of three people who introduced the astrolabe to Western Europe. Next, Borrell was not great-grandson of Guifré (whose soubriquet I see that they have spelt differently this time) but grandson; great-grandson is the pedigree provided by the faulty Gesta. The Arabic title however is genuine and I wish we knew more about how Sunifred got it!

      In short, this is pseudo-scholarship, unaware of work in the last fifty years and without full understanding of work from before then, and I would earnestly counsel you against forming any opinions based on it. If you helped write it then I would still more earnestly counsel you to read some Miquel Coll i Alentorn. It’s a pity, though, because the core of it, the similarity between Chrétien and the Gesta legend, is relatively strong and worth working on. It would stand perfectly well as a theory were it not burdened with so much extra weight of Grail conspiracy.

  2. Charles de Vries

    You are right, I did help write some of this stuff and will tell my friends that we don’t know “what’s what” and better correct the errors you pointed out. You are also right on by calling our efforts “pseudo-scholarship”, because that’s what it is. We are merely amateurs who enjoy poaching in your field. Besides, English is not our first language — which is why we wrongly assumed that “counts of Barcelona” would include their relatives.
    Although we deeply appreciate a scholar’s evaluation, you can’t say “de Marca and Baluze printed the later version of the Gesta” because de Marca had been dead for a while.
    And thanks for recommending Miquel Coll i Alentorn – do you know if there is a translation of the “gesta” (primitive redaction)because none of us remember the Latin we learned at school. That’s also why the Marca Hispanica is pretty much out of our reach.

    • Sarcasm is hard to read in ASCII, so I shan’t risk trying to answer that in kind. However, as far as I know there is no translation of the Gesta except into Catalan, in the Catalan translation of the Marca Hispanica by Icart. I’m guessing that you already knew of that, however. If you would like other references to more recent secondary work I’m happy to provide. As I say, the resemblance between Chrétien and the Gesta is a point worth making into real scholarship, and all that requires from where you guys are is a prudent concern for accuracy and verifiability.

  3. Charles de Vries

    Seriously: You have no idea how much we appreciate your visit to our site and the detailed response, which is a favor we would like to return. Especially, because you are unusually open-minded for a scholar and willing to dismiss obstacles like “grail” and “conspiracy”, which is an instant turn-off for most.

    You suggest that someone should write a thesis on the Marca Hispanica (a tale of two scholars), and we would like to point out that this person needs to know that the MH would not exist without the “forty years of research” of Pujades. Prosper de Bofarúll, whom you quote, labels the MH a plagiarism of Pujades. He was one of the editors of the Cronica, and had , I hesitate to say this, a major Baroque conspiracy to deal with: Did Pujades hand his manuscripts and collection of rare documents voluntarily to de Marca, as reported by the Dominican historian Jaime Villanueva, or did de Marca take them “by force of arms”, as claimed by the descendants of Pujades? This is discussed in great detail in the ADVERTENCIAS of the editors, see volumes I, V, and VII (1).

    The thesis would also have to show that Catholic sources perpetuate the negative image of de Marca, because he was an ardent defender of Gallicanism, which reduced the power of the popes to a symbolic act. It may not be a coincidence that Villanueva was later persecuted for his “liberal views” and had to escape to England. As far as we know, only the Biographie Universelle (Michaud)and Gaquère(2)offer a balanced description of “bishop” de Marca. He was a protégé of cardinal Richelieu, and in line to succeed his friend Mazarin when Louis XIV decided to rule himself. By that time he was minister of state and archbishop of Toulouse – without ever bothering to live there. The king made him archbishop of Paris, where he died in 1662, before the papal “bull” had arrived. It’s obviously a French zeitgeist the Vatican would prefer to forget!

    Although Baluze is a “celebrated savant”, he was only de Marca’s secretary for 10 years, yet inherited all books and documents, probably because of a promise to publish the MH and other works. Nevertheless, it took Baluze another 26 years to rewrite the MH while hanging out with the Benedictines at St.-Germain-des-Près. The work got him a job as librarian for Colbert, but the manuscripts of Pujades went to the youngest son of Colbert, who took them to Rouen where he became archbishop by the king’s grace. This was no problem under Louis, although the whole Colbert family was known to favor the Protestants. Let’s not forget that his grandfather, Henry IV, only converted to Catholicism to make his subjects happy. The manuscripts of Pujades were rediscovered in the archbishop’s library by the Catalan scholar Pau Ignasi de Dalmases, who founded the “Academy of the Distrustful” in Barcelona, which is a lack of confidence we recommend to anyone writing the thesis!

    Now a brief defense for our site: We are attempting “an interactive search for the grail” and because scholarship is admittedly in the dark, we exploit this weakness with our own attacks. We break the “academic rules” whenever necessary, which allows us to keep an open mind. After all, who can trust the History of Britain, although it was written by bishop Geoffrey? Or the vita of Charlemagne as promoted by Einhard, a monk? This got even worse when the Bollandists (Jesuits) used fissions and fusions to make their saints more holy, just as the Maurists (Benedictines) were obliged to rewrite history to please the faithful. If Baluze is seen in this light, it is quite logical that he withheld the original edition of the Gesta, which originated at Cuixà, and rather published the revised edition of Ripoll (3)to please his friends. The original questions the vita of Guifré by using narratur, dicitur, dicuntur, ut fertur, ut aiunt, even the legend that he was raised in Flanders. An honest monk, who was ahead of his time, because it took historians hundreds of years to expose it as a legend. Here is the comparison:

    The original edition:
    Susceptum tamen [rex] puerum cuidam comiti, ut fertur,de Flandres…

    Later Baluze edition:
    Susceptum tamen rex puerum cuidam comiti de Flandris…

    This is a great example of Chrétien’s sophistication, because it reverses the “lavish praise” of the count of Flanders as provider of the source, which gave erudite scholars like Roach, Hilka, and Frappier so much trouble.

    The count was the rejected suitor of Marie de Champagne, the patroness of Chrétien, and because his family chronicle did not mention Guifré, Chrétien was able to rhyme the better “conte” on the account of a lesser count.

    1. Gerónimo Pujades, Crónica Universal del Principado de Cataluña, Imprenta de José Torner, Barcelona, 1829-32

    2. Gaquère, Chanone Francois, Pierre de Marca, Sa Vie, ses Oevres, son Gallicanisme, Lethielleux, Paris, 1932.

    3. L.BARRAU DIHIGO & J.MASSO TORRENTS, Gesta comitum Barcinonensium, Fundacio Concepcio Rabell i Cibils, Barcelona, 1925

    • Charles, thankyou for continuing this debate in such a mature manner; I rather regret the savageness of my original take-down now. I recognise that you’ve done a lot of research, and it’s as much presentation and, perhaps, a certain confidence that old work still holds good when in fact it’s been queried that keeps your stuff back from the frontline of debate (though I for one will be surprised if you ever get any Catalan scholars paying much attention, alas). An example of the sort of thing I mean: you say above we should be wary of Einhard because he was a monk. I don’t know where you got that from, but there’s no evidence that Einhard was in orders of any kind; he never says as much and though he was abbot of several monasteries including one he founded, in the Carolingian age that doesn’t make someone a monastic. I don’t suppose you need to know about lay abbots particularly—the principal study is a German monograph by a guy called Felten, title something like Äbten und Laieäbten…—but you might enjoy Paul Dutton’s The Complete Einhard which translates not just the Vita Karoli but all his other works including his letters. There are of course a bunch of reasons we shouldn’t take Einhard at his word, because he was neck-deep in court politics for thirty years and never entirely lost favour so he must have been extremely careful, but monasticism isn’t one of them.

      As to the edition process of the Gesta, again Miquel Coll i Alentorn’s final work would give you a lot more meat on that as he spent much of his life working on this, when not politicking, and things have moved a bit since 1925. There’s also a very good article by Nat Taylor about the dynastic purpose of the Gesta which gives some recent references: “Inheritance of Power in the House of Guifred the Hairy: contemporary perspectives on the formation of a dynasty” in Robert F. Berkhofer III, Alan Cooper & Adam J. Kosto (eds), The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe, 950-1350: essays in honor of Thomas N. Bisson (Aldershot 2005), pp. 129-151, and because Nat is an exemplary scholar in this way, you can find that online at, last modified 9th December 2006 as of 20th May 2007.

      You have me fully convinced that Pujades should be part of the de Marca story, however! I doubt that the politics can easily be untangled, but I would say in Baluze’s defence that, 29-year delay or no, he was at least very busy with other things and it couldn’t be said that he failed to publish anything else in that time. Also, the amount of work in putting together that Appendix is still painful to contemplate. I don’t know if that has to be a deliberate delay so much as just regular pressures of academia. The French capitularies etc. were probably wanted more loudly than the magnum opus of a bishop who, as you rightly say, was a troublesome figure in times where ideologies were being confronted. (I would rather like someone to do this thesis, by now…)

      As for other more recent work, have you met the Regesta Imperii OPAC at the University of Mainz? It’s a very useful way to find out about stuff one might not manage any other way. A quick search for Pere and Marca as title search-words, for example, brings up Anscari Mundó’s “Les inscripcions de Tassi i d’Hildesind de Sant Pere de Rodes segons Marca i Pujades” in Homenaje a Jaime Vicens Vives (Barcelona 1965-1968), I pp. 293-308, which you may know about but which I for one would read with different eyes for having met your site…

    • Also, not very relevant but I really feel for Villanueva. So enjoyable to read, so often right even now when others have disagreed, so laboriously painstaking, so very much in love with his country and its heritage, and so generally keen to inform—he’s one of these people who deserves Gregory VII’s famous epitaph better than the pope himself. You know it? “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; wherefore I die in exile”…

  4. Charles de Vries

    Jonathan, and thankyou even more! What would we do without scholarship — and your wisdom? It’s like being frozen in time and you are bringing us through a “stargate” to the present. Your positive evaluation of some of our Pujades and Chrétien/Gesta ideas is a nice impetus for our “quest”.

    There’ll be a bit of a quetus on my part, because your list of references will keep us busy for a while. It will be fun to see what’s new, especially on the Gesta front, and how it was queried since the 1920’s.

    I can see why the MH would be too much of a tangled web for a thesis, at least until the Catalans resurrect Pujades as one of their heroes. Meanwhile, it’s an open hunt for amateurs, because we can’t get crucified for calling Einhard a monk. Having spent part of my life in “Empuries”, I tried Catalan understatement and thought it safe to reduce the abbott (that I vaguely remembered and not much care about) to a monk. Of course, I also forgot that we had Laienäbte. That’s probably how de Marca felt, taking holy orders pro forma to pursue politics. For those who read our discussion, your reference is “Äbte und Laienäbte in Frankreich” by Franz J. Felten.

    By the way, you have inspired us to try your venue for a grailgate forum next year. Are there others out there you could also recommend? Especially for grail stuff or the 9th century? As I will enter the blogsphere soon, is “Hullo” and “thankyou” blogspeak or a Brit’s understatement?

    • Catalan understatement and British understatement don’t mix as well as I’d like, but when I say ‘hullo’ and ‘thankyou’ it is possible that my enthusiasm is being guarded. I don’t always notice these habits of speech till someone queries them.

      When you say, venue, what do you mean? I don’t really want my comments threads taken over by a conversation I didn’t start, so if you mean this blog I would advise you against. If you mean WordPress, then I would recommend it, they are continually developing things and their engine is highly customisable if you want more than just a blog and don’t mind giving them some money. Others worth considering are Typepad and, I suppose, though it is somewhat basic to look at. I wouldn’t recommend Blogger, which has technical issues when it meets other systems. If you mean physical Cambridge! then there have got to be cheaper places. A colleague of mine has been organising a conference here and had to persuade the organisers to let him raise the usual fee by about ten per cent and still subsidise it so that there would be some chance of breaking even after the ridiculous venue costs. Even London would be cheaper, and also more accessible.

  5. Charles de Vries

    Sorry for interrupting my quietus – I just had to follow one of those links and ruined my wife’s Sunday afternoon. I followed the Bisson homage by American scholars, comprised of three (3) editors and one writer.
    Taylor, the writer, bases his paper largely on the Gesta, yet his editors allow him to claim falsely: “The earliest portion of the Gesta comitum Barcinonensium was begun, probably by a monk at Ripoll, shortly after 1162” (p.133).
    The paper bulges with foreign language references, and even lists Barrau Dihigo and Masso Torrents of 1925. But instead of considering these Catalan scholars and their detailed analysis of the much older edition that was begun before 1162 – the one Baluze kept up his sleeve – the four Americans shrunk those ancient parchments at the BNF to a little “kernel” with the help of another modern scholar: ”The kernel of the Guifred legend may have come from Sant Miquel de Cuixà earlier in the twelfth century”. (Josep M. Salrach, 1978)
    It would be funny if Taylor is writing a book about the Holy Grail. It’s okay that he omits that Guifré was allegedly raised in Flanders and merely says “exiled by the king of France”, but in another paper that’s available on line, he disputes Arthur Zuckerman’s claims of a “Jewish Princedom in Feudal France” — which he must have found in “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”.
    Maybe it’s time to revive the “Academy of the Distrustful” on the internet? How about it, Jonathan! Members must at least be perfectly bi-lingual, one having to be English because it’s simplistic and popular in the media. Members would support each other with the languages they master

    • Zuckerman’s book is out there independent of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, whether one buys it or not; anyone who’s been interested in the history of the Jews in this period has probably stumbled across it. It is also eight years older than Holy Blood, Holy Grail, so I really don’t see the necessity of any connection. As to whether Dr Taylor’s claim is false or not, I once again have to urge you to follow up the Coll reference before assuming that scholarship has not moved on since 1925. I’m pretty sure he is not writing a book about the Holy Grail however!

  6. Charles de Vries

    Seriously: I can see that Taylor’s article is full of interesting references, but I can’t trust anything he writes after his mistaken identification of the Gesta, which is something I know about, even having held the original in my hands at the BNF. The 1925 book omits the reproduction of the second page, which I have and can link if it is of interest to you. And here is the Latin text I hope to get translated so that I can compare it with the revised Baluze, which is available in Catalan.
    I enjoyed Zuckerman’s book tremendously and consider it the most interesting part of the HBHG hypothesis. The “Historiografia” of Coll is available at a nearby library and I will check it out tomorrow to begin the quietus I promised. Do you mean the edition with a prologue by Joaquim Xicoy, Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, 1991? And thanks for the good tips! Of course I meant Worldpress as venue, just couldn’t think of the name.

  7. Charles de Vries

    Being a newcomer to blogs, I wrote the above in WORD and pasted it with two hyperlinks that were suddenly gone. The one for “Latin text” is: and for revised “Baluze” is
    While capturing these links, I could not resist the quote that backs up my lack of trust in Taylor’s research: According to Barrau Dihigo and Masso Torrents, p. XXII, the author of chap. V in the original edition was a contemporary of Ramon Berenguer IV (d. 1162):

    “Escrits despres de la mort de Ramon Berenguer IV (1162), I abans de la d’Ermengol VII, comte d’Urgell (1184), aquests caps I-VIII formen no pas precisament una historia, pero si una genealogia de les dinasties comtals de Catalunya… Si en aquest fragment que es, en general, bastant posterior als fets querelata, hi ha alguna part d’originalitat, es el cap. V que s’ha d’anar a cercar, essent l’autor un contemporani de Ramon Berenguer IV…”

    Because only chapters I and II relate to Guifré’s legends, and question their authenticity before 1162, they may have been written even earlier because of changes of hands. Recent study in Valencia suggests the eleventh century, which is not relevant for our site because we merely needed to show that the Gesta existed before Chrétien began the “Conte du Graal”.

    • No but look! The quote you give there says, does it not, that the text, at least cap. V which Barrau-Dihigo and Masso think is earlier than the rest, dates from between 1162 (because the author knew Ramon Berenguer IV was dead) and 1184 (because he didn’t say that Ermengol VIII was). So Taylor’s ‘shortly after 1162’ is not just reasonable but perfectly in line with that! What’s the problem?

      Your point about changes of hands is interesting though. I don’t know enough about this area’s palæography in the centuries after I know best, but at least one of the hands in the image that you link to from the link above is so old-fashioned as to sit happily with the tenth century stuff I know. However, old-fashioned it must be because the interleaved italic lines are decidedly more Gothic. A twelfth-century date for the MS in that picture thus seems perfectly plausible to me, but it’s weird that one of the hands working on it is writing so much older.

  8. Charles de Vries

    I guess we were writing the above at the same time. Taylor does not open with the “Brevis historia…”, but clearly with the “Gesta comitum Barcinoensium”.

    1. There is the Brevis historia monasterii Rivipullensis, probably completed in 1147.

    2. There is first edition of the Gesta… from “Sancti Michaelis Coxanensis” (Cuixa), which was probably started before 1., but references it later with the counts of Urgell.

    3. There is the second edition (Baluze) of the Gesta… also from Ripoll, with all doubts and the reference to Cuixa removed.

    4. And there is the CHRONICA DELS COMTES DE BARCELONA E DELS REYS D’ARAGO, similar to 2.

    • I’m sorry, I must have rethought and deleted the comment you’ve replied to here as you were writing. However, I am still not understanding how your picture differs from the one Taylor is using.

  9. Charles de Vries

    Sorry, this was a bit rushed — without research! I should have said 4. is similar to 3.

  10. Charles de Vries

    You are confusing the opening of the Catalan text with the last line, where the author of V is identified as a c o n t e m p o r a r y of Ramon BNerenguer IV.

    • Oh for heaven’s sake, I’m not doing any such thing. The author is contemporary with Ramon Berenguer IV. The text is not, but anyone who could write such a thing “shortly after 1162” obviously must have been a contemporary of Ramon Berenguer IV. Do you see?

  11. Charles de Vries

    You may be right on with the old style. The most recent study I know is:
    STEFANO MARIA CINGOLANI, Gestes dels Comtes de Barcelona i Reis d’Aragó, Universitat de València, p.35, ISBN 8437070864, 9788437070865
    Congolani starts with 1137, estimates the period of 977-1067, which he compromises as circa 1058 CE.

    I didn’t research this because “before 1162” is good enough.

  12. Charles de Vries

    Your link to Cingolani’s voluminous oevre is quite enlightening. Now I get it: The Italian professor is preparing a separate work on the original Gesta! It all makes perfect sense now, especially from my usual “desconfiat” point of view:

    He downplays the two Gesta’s of my above list (2 &3), because they did not get the academic attention they deserve, and features the Catalan version for its great cultural and historical significance. No wonder the Catalans love his stuff! He even changes the name and order of the chronicles , and the original Gesta (2) is now GCB I, the Catalan becomes GCB II, and the definite edition is demoted to GCB III. To amplify its importance, he adds “Gesta comintum Barcononensium” in front of the Catalan chronicle and voilá, the stage is set for the next publication.

    According to Barrau and Masso, there are similarities and differences in both Latin texts, which makes Cingolani’s switch a bit arbitrary. He would probably have loved to put it first, but couldn’t because Sant Miquel de Cuixá is removed, like in the second Latin Latin edition. It doesn’t mention Ripoll either, which is odd because it was the major cultural center at the time and happens to be where Guifré is allegedly entombed. See their first page:

    I have gone through my old notes, and found the study at ( It was contributed by a Catalan visitor to our site, who shares links and much invaluable criticism since our first contact in August, 2008. His site starts in typical Catalan understatement with “barretines”, but expands to great links, including Pujades, and might be of interest to you.

    He also points out that Cingolani says on p. 34 (not avalible on Google) that the date of the original edition of the Latin Gesta should probably be revised, and gives on p. 35 “an estimated range between 977 and 1067”. (Without the context, we were unable to interpret these dates, but now we know he meant the original Gesta — of which there is more to come!) Our Catalan visitor adds “further works refine the date to 1058”, without specifying a source, and remaining skeptical himself.

    However, I have become a major “desconfiat” of Cingolani’s researches, because he writes about something I know from ”The Pujades Affair”. He claims on p. 29: “…lat. 5132 es un del codexs que Etienne Baluze s’endugue des de Ripol a Paris — i aixi molt possiblament, li salva la vida…”

    That’s prettry much in line with other historians who exploit Pujades so that they can impress with “findings” that are nothing but plagiarisms. By cutting out de Marca and Pujades, he credits the last in line for the heriocs of “very probably saving the manuscript”. That’s the lowest level of scholarship I have recenty seen. So, please, forgive me for being a bit disgruntled with some inhabitants of those “ivory towers”.

    • The 977 date is likely coming from the date of the consecration of Santa Maria de Ripoll’s new church, because Bishop Miró Bonfill, who did that, wrote a potted history of the dynasty as part of his account of the place’s benefactors and he is the first major source of the whole Guifré-took-this-land-from-the-Saracens routine, though you can find earlier instances of it (my “Power over Past and Future” discusses one). I can probably find the 977 act and type it up for you if it will help.

      I don’t know the significance of the 1067 date, but I think I also know what Cingolani is getting at with his “li salva la vida” that you quote, and I don’t think it’s as underhand as you imply. If Pujades’s manuscripts had remained at Ripoll, they would have presumably shared the fate of the rest of its archive when it burnt in 1835. There was plenty of stuff thus lost, and that is of course exactly why the Brevis historia… rivipullensis is only preserved in the MH. You may not care for Baluze and may not trust his texts but we owe him that text’s survival, however sniffy Prosper de Bofarull was about the quality of the edition (which is maddening, because he wrote before the fire, but of course didn’t edit it…).

      Of course, the BNF lost a chunk of its Catalan holdings in its own fire in 1871… but thankfully not Baluze’s stash.

  13. Charles de Vries

    Before getting punished for my lack of scholarship, I better correct myself:

    Cingolani is right on one point. Mss. A and B call the Catalan chroicle “Cronica comitum barchinone et regum Aragone”.

    And back to hair-splitting: If a contemporary of Ramon Berenguer IV (d. 1162) is the author of chap. V, how can anyone specify he wrote it “after 1162”? And ignore the changes of hand before chap. V? Rudolf Beer established this in 1908. (The detailed reference is on the bottom of the Barrau/Masso page that I scanned for you.)

    • We know that part of the text dates till after 1162 because it records Ramon Berenguer IV as being dead. But whoever wrote that, since he obviously wasn’t born that moment, must have lived through the reign and thus been contemporary with the Count-Marquis. You have your logic flowing in the opposite direction to that of Barrau-Dihigo & Masso here.

  14. Charles de Vries

    Hmm. Very interesting. I didn’t know that the “Brevis historia…” is also quoted by Baluze in the MH. Based on what I do know is that de Marca and Pujades (not Baluze!) swiped a lot of original manuscripts from monastic libraries, and de Marca took them all to Paris. Does Bofarull say he worked with the original at Ripoll? If he quoted it from the MH, the “Brevis…” may still collecting dust in the rue de Richelieu…

    • It’s Appendix no. 404, in an irony that’s taken three hundred plus years to emerge. Bofarull (who is online, as you may know) just says (Condes de Barcelona Vindicados I p. 71 n. 1) “Mal copiada del archivo de Ripoll”, without further details, which is comparatively mild given his tendency to insult Baluze’s scholarship at every opportunity elsewhere in the text. But I think from that that it must still have been at Ripoll when Bofarull wrote, or he would have made it clear that the text was no longer at Ripoll to be consulted.

  15. Charles de Vries

    Sorry, my incomplete response makes my logic indeed flow the wrong direction. If a contemporary refers to the death of Ramon, he most certainly outlived him.

    But Taylor did not mean chapter V, but the entire work. Beer mentions five changes of hands until V, and even if he is incorrect, one change of hands would allow me to conclude, with logic flowing in the right direction, that chapters I and II about Guifre were written b e f o r e 1162.

    • Well, it would allow you to conclude that the dates of writing weren’t necessarily the same, though as I said above that picture I found on your site appears to show scribes of very different habits working on the same page, even, so I don’t think a change of hand has to prove anything very much. But yes, it would be possible that the dates weren’t the same, though it doesn’t mean that they were earlier. You then wind up having to do serious work on the manuscript before you can explain why these bits might have been floating around separately and combined into a codex later, though. I mean, if it should turn out that the pages of cc. 1-2 and of cap. 5 were all ruled in the same way, have the same number of lines and columns and so on and only show signs of having been sewn into the existing codex, and not having been bound before, your theory would come to bits.

      Cingolani et al. aren’t arguing about the manuscript date, however, they’re suggesting that the sources of the actual composition are earlier, and that would seem to me to be far safer ground for you, since we then get into questions of whether the actual story was in circulation already or whether the scribes of 1147, 1162 or whenever were originating. And since there’s things like Guifré’s famous byname which they don’t think need explaining in 1162X, it’s clear that there were stories in circulation.

  16. Charles de Vries

    What started as an entertaining “joust” turned into quite a learning experience! Some of the stuff on our website “grailgate” is twenty years old, and I almost started to believe it. You really opened our minds, especially with the idea that “before 1162” is not such an issue, because it weakens our theory. Wow, “pilosus”, of course! Many thanks!
    As the Pujades “expert” in our group, I was so entangled with the past that I didn’t even notice that Bofarull’s work is online! This is great news, and I have already scrolled it once. He was president of the “Academia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona” (1823), director of the “Archives of the Crown of Aragon“ (1814-1849), and like Pujades, an erudite historian with a law degree. But above all, as editor of Pujades, better acquainted with his work than any later scholar. His book is clearly inspired by Pujades! As the MH was held in high esteem in Catalonia, see Villanova, his criticism of Baluze was not without risk. Although the Inquisition had just ended, Bofarull was “poaching” in a field that was firmly in the hands of the Bollandists and Maurists.
    I think you are right, the “Brevis historia…” perished in Ripoll because “mal copiada” suggests that Pujades and de Marca left the original behind, which Bofarull compared with their copy.
    In your researches, you may want to consider that Bafarull mentions repeatedly that we must consider “the times” when Pujades worked on the Cronica, and that Bofarull deserves the same consideration. I made a few stops during my fast scroll and noticed a few “signals”: When he addresses the “fabula” of Guifré in Flanders, he seems to omit that Pujades debunked it by calculating that the alleged daughter of Judith could not been old enough to get pregnant. He shows the same caution when he retells the ghastly Montserrat legend by keeping talking about “Juan Garin” to mention Montserrat only briefly at the end. This shows me great caution, and that many of his findings need to be understood through Pujades. The same goes for the Sunyer /Sunifred discussion, when he says that the names are synonymous. Pujades explains that “Wifredo” and “Seniofredo” are used in chronicles to distinguish son and father of the same name. This “duplication de nombre” is a problem for modern historians, even with Richildis (Riquilda), because these families liked to use the same name for generations. This is why Pujades had the wisdom to preserve the name of the chronicle he was quoting, which made his work inaccessible for “outsiders” — like Inquisitors. Any scholar that works with Bofarull should have simultaneous access to the Cronica and the MH. They should also consider that all references to the “Gesta” are limited to the later edition, Bofarull had no idea that Baluze withheld the original.
    Jonathan, Dr. Jarrett, thank you for offering such an interesting blog! It’s quite a learning experience, and I deeply appreciate that you made it a dialogue! (How come no one else jumped in?) After a few inspiring days I am forced to focus on other matters. But I will keep visiting, also your other blogs, and hope to start a few myself next year. It will be under another name, but you’ll recognize me instantly. Not by the typos, they happen when I’m rushed, but by my strange “style” — because English was the fourth language I learned – before Spanish and some Catalan.

    • Bofarull was very careful but retains a lot of personality and I enjoy reading his stuff. He does pay a lot of attention to Pujades, though even more to Masdeu who however seems largely to have been working from Baluze. But his main point throughout is to give the Catalans back their history by rescuing it from the French slander that made Borrell and his descendants usurpers, hence … vindicados… of course. So he is quite open about ‘poaching’ in others’ fields.

      As for Sunyer/Sunifred, I’m less convinced of that though I can see how one comes to the conclusion. Later scholars have not been so keen on this idea (Salrach and Aurell, especially) but I think at least in part because it threatens to undermine our knowledge. Where we do have a problem is with the names Uifredo and Unifredo which really do get swapped in contexts where we know the source is referring to the same person. Hyper-correction of Unifred to Sunifred then becomes a possibility and, argh.

      As to your kind words, well, glad to have helped: I’ve learnt about several new pieces of scholarship I’d missed out on and am now able to consult Pujades online, so it has been a two-way experience and I look forward to the blog. I reserve the right to think that your conclusions are mad, you understand :-) but I can enjoy the ways in which you reach them quite honestly.

      (Also, if I had your facility with English in my fourth language, which I suppose would be Catalan, I’d be far better adjusted to my country of study so I envy your success there also. Your style is far more coherent than many native writers’!)

  17. Charles de Vries

    As you can imagine, I’m using my free time to collect the references I missed, and not always remember from where. While searching latter-day “iconoclasm” I stumbled on “Ramon Monsalvatge” — Spanish Monk — WOW — are you familiar with his amazing tale? He was there when Carlistas burned Ripoll, and shares his ghastly tale with a reverent in New York, which makes it quite difficult to discern where the disgruntled friar ends and the zealous Lutheran begins…

    • I don’t know the fella, no, but I wonder if he’s any relation to the historian Francesc Monsalvatje y Fossas? I suppose it’s unlikely; neither the name nor tales of war-related woe are rare from modern Catalan history…

  18. Cullen Chandler

    Wow. What an exchange! I don’t know why it took me this long to see it… I was a better follower of this blog in late 2009 than I am now. But… wow.

    I always knew I hadn’t paid enough attention to de Marca, Bofarull, and co. I had found out about Villanueva and then Pujades rather late in the game, so they are rarely/never cited in my work. But this discussion was enlightening for me.

    • Well, they’re not easy to get at! I was lucky where I was and Bofarull is now online, as is Pujades, but de Marca and Villanueva are still only in a very few libraries, largely on this side of the ocean. Someone did alert me to a copy of de Marca going for auction a while ago, because of this post, but it went for much more than I could afford… More digitisation is needed! (Villanueva may yet be in, even, since he seems to be present but invisible on Google Books.)

  19. Charles de Vries

    I enjoyed Cullen Chandler’s comments, and as always Joan Vilaseca, but my preferred link to Villanueva is, which is offered in the notes of “The Pujades Affair”.

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