Hispanists rejoice! It seems to have been a long while since The Library of Iberian Resources Online was updated, but it recently has been. Wait: you didn’t know about LIbRO? It’s worth knowing about. What it is, is e-texts (and pleasantly laid-out ones, too, not Project Gutenberg style plain text) of important scholarly texts covering the period 500-1500, and it’s not just secondary work but some really useful sources, most obviously until now, for me at least, Scott’s translation of the Visigothic Law, but also a few important chronicles. They have a link offsite to a text of Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies, which would be a glorious thing for many if it were still there. It’s not, but a cursory Google reveals that the whole thing, in Latin of course (I’m not even sure how you could translate an etymological dictionary, even one as packed as that), is in fact still online here. They also link out to a page that, o important thing, turns out to be all the journals of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas online, or at least their most recent issues, which has given my reading list an immediate and guilty start as I discover what’s been in the last two issues of Anuario de Estudios Medievales that Cambridge UL haven’t yet made available. But anyway, LIbRO has been worth a look for some time, and is now even more so as a small shedload of new texts seems to have gone up in the last two months.
For my immediate purposes the most exciting and useful of these is the first two volumes of the cartulary of Sant Cugat del Vallès. I’ve written here before about Sant Cugat and its charters, but to reprise, Sant Cugat’s archive is one of the largest in the area, and although its records only go back to 875 (and are then very patchy till about 940) even though it has claimed to be much older, they are important for two reasons. Firstly, they are from an area which is rich, and much focussed on by the powerful because of being near the capital and the fertile and commercially-useful coast which is also the first line of expansion. Secondly, there is that expansion. In 875X7 King Charles the Bald conceded to Sant Cugat a huge swathe of territory in the far edges of the frontier which at that time was utterly beyond use and contact with authority. Then, over the next hundred years or so, the border of authority inches forward by a process I’ve referred to in the past as “the continuation of Carolingian expansion”, and about which I hope to be writing again soon. And by the 980s, say, Sant Cugat, which has a long memory, are suddenly looking at these lands that they were then given being accessible to them. Now of course, people are living there, people who do not recognise the monastery’s supposed rights, and who even if they did would and do appeal to the Visigothic Law’s thirty-year-rule that says unchallenged tenure for that long is permanent. And the result is loads of hearings in which these frontier people, whom Sant Cugat’s monks either joyfully greet as friends of the saint or dismiss as christiani perversi or worse, depending on how opposed they are, turn up and state their positions. It’s gold for someone like me who wants to find out what existed out on the edge. Also, because Sant Cugat are dealing with so much of this stuff, they get blasé about it. There is for example a place which is now called Sant Boi de Llobregat, a big town. Barcelona cathedral has lands there, given by Count Miró Borrell II’s brother, and so from various other sources do the Barcelona monasteries of Santa Anna and Sant Pere de les Puelles. And so does Sant Cugat, but it’s only from Sant Cugat that we know that the place was actually called Alcala, that is, the Arabic for castle, al-qalat, until quite late, because Sant Cugat see Arabic names and weird half-Christians all the time and don’t see the need to dress it up, whereas the city institutions seem to want to make their properties look, well, proper. So if you are looking for frontier weirdnesses and places where people have made their social structures up out of leftover bits, this is where you’ll find it.
The only downside is that the fourth, index, volume, which was done by a different editor some thirty years later after the original editor died ‘in post’, is not here. In fact I only know of one place that has it, although quite a few places in the UK have the original three volumes of texts. If and when that goes up it will be a huge help, because simply searching is not very effective. LIbRO’s searchability leaves much to be desired, and even Googling will not usually get you through the various possible spellings of the Romanticising Latin used by the scribes, though it’s a start. But even for the meantime, just having the actual texts that handy will be useful to me again and again. I have no idea whether it might also be to you, but I thought I would enthuse about it anyway.