Carl Pyrdum had a post at Got Medieval trying to counter the idea of a medieval scribe as a hunched and wizened keeper of secrets from the laity. I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever met that idea—monks, yes, but not scribes per se—but I owe all my material to scribes, and I will some day manage to find time to start work on a decent project that Wendy Davies suggested about who the scribes of our documents were and how far we can understand what they knew and whence. And, I’ve already confessed to having a favourite scribe in my material. So, I just want to join my voice with Carl’s really: thank goodness for our scribes.
Although I’ve asked what a tenth-century scribe looked like here before, and provided an answer, I don’t have an image of my favourite scribe. But, I do have this, which is an image of perhaps the most powerful scribe in my area, Ramón de Caldes, who was a lawyer, a deacon of the cathedral of Barcelona and the man who, in 1194, compiled the royal cartulary of King Alfons I of Aragón, Count of Barcelona (or, if you are looking from Aragó, King Alfonso II), the Liber Feudorum Maior, in which this picture occurs. Here he sits, with the king, in the palace symbolised by the castellated framework, surrounded by charters and minions, and it’s not all clear that the king is the senior partner in the picture. I’m sure this guy kept secrets, that’s why they call people secretaries, right? But hunched and wizened, no, and he’s what Carl’s chosen image reminded me of.
You can, if you choose, learn much more about the Liber Feudorum Maior and its amazing cycle of illustrations in Adam J. Kosto, “The Liber Feudorum Maior of the Counts of Barcelona: the cartulary as an expression of power” in Journal of Medieval History Vol. 27 (Amsterdam 2001), pp. 1-21.