I have two more posts in draft from the April trip to Catalonia after this one, but I’m waiting on materials from other people before I can write them, so after this I shall go back to interspersing my own thoughts with seminar and conference reports, which is after all what many of you come here for. For now, however, I’ll share with you the other fruits of a trip into Barcelona on the last day of the trip. The first time I went to Barcelona, I saw a lot of things but they did not include Sant Pau del Camp, a rather special Romanesque church tucked away right behind the Rambla del Raval. They should have done, as it comes closest of all of Barcelona’s remains other than one doorway in the Palau Comtal to touching my period. The reason, here again, is a funerary stone, but first let’s introduce the place.
You will observe that I didn’t catch it at its best, but happily the entrance redeems the trip there, fittingly enough.
When looking more closely at that lintel, too, I at least became suspicious that it doesn’t belong with the building it’s now in; that script is not really late Romanesque, surely, and so on. Also, what is that dedication doing on a church called Sant Pau? (Saint Paul, for the non Catalanolexic among you.) And, indeed, it turns out that some of the ornament here around the portal is basically what’s left of the first church here, which was presumably SS Pere i Pau, Peter being elbowed out in the rebuild after the sack of Barcelona in 985. This may have taken some time, because what’s now standing around the portal is eleventh- or twelfth-century, or so thinks Antoni Pladevall which, on this as on so many other things, will do for me.1
There is also, however, another sign that this site has been in use longer than the building now on it, because just inside the building, in what is apparently a fourteenth-century chapter-house, we find this:
And this is the funerary stone of Guifré the Hairy’s eldest son, Guifré Borrell, who succeeded him as Count of Barcelona, Girona and Osona. He has become a bit of a footnote to history, because although he was the first of this family to take the title Marquis, the last Count of Barcelona to go north in person to recognise a Carolingian king and possibly the first to strike coin, he also had no sons, only daughter, and so was succeeded by his younger brother Sunyer who made himself (a) a lot more famous and (b) ancestor of the comital line for the next few hundred years.2 Guifré Borrell was nonetheless not a useless ruler, and he appears to be have been a bit more focused on his leading city, hence his choice to be buried here, a choice which few of the rest of his family emulated.3
Now the standing church is a lot newer than the stone, and the actual location of Guifré Borrell’s grave is not known, but stepping into the nave from the joyful sounds of skateboarders and allotment digging just outside causes one almost immediately to forget such things. It is so quiet and tranquil. I took numerous photoes of the inside, but the light was poor and very few of them came out as well as the ones already online at Sacred Destinations or indeed Wikimedia Commons. I will however share just a couple from the cloister, because this church was apparently a very small self-contained monastery and it is beautifully preserved. Look at these and marvel, not at my photography which was as ever very much of the spot it, line up and click variety, but at the carving and its freshness even today. It is such a little place and all this is packed into a few tens of square meters. I was there for a while just gawping.
This was the only church in the whole trip that I visited where someone charged me (or at least, respectfully and firmly suggested that a donation was necessary) to go in, and I have absolutely no quarrel with how this money will be spent.4 Go and have a look, it is marvellous. (And I’d like to dedicate this post to Shane Bobrycki, if he’s reading, who told me to go here and without whose urging I might not have.)
1. For once I have not run straight to the Catalunya Romànica for references in this post, because I am currently kept from the library by welcome commitments, but on the course of the trip, in the same foray into Costa Llibreter in Vic that I already mentioned I was also unable to resist a nice copy of Antoni Pladevall’s & Francesc Català Roca’s El Monestirs Catalans, 4th edn. (Barcelona 1978), which, if I tell you that Català was the photographer, you will understand is substantially an art book (and it is substantial, and the photoes well worth the credit). Nonetheless, Pladevall contributes his usual high standard of learning, they cover Sant Pau pp. 204-207 and I don’t actually know that there’s any more substantial treatment of the place, so that’s what I’m running off here. That said, the early dating for the portal ornament I found on Sacred Destinations, though as I say I think it’s clear from the script and dedication that the timpanum does not belong to the rest of the structure.
2. Sunyer has the somewhat surprising qualification of an Arabic by-name: Ibn Hayyān, writing in the eleventh century with the aid of documents from Córdoba, knew him as al-Mundhir, `the Magnificent’, and Ibn Khaldūn, three centuries later, reckoned him King of Barcelona and Tarragona. He also had a range of military successes, but the references are again almost all in Arabic sources; they’re collected by Dolors Bramon in her De quan érem o no musulmans: textos del 713 al 1000. Continuació de l’obra de J. M. Millàs i Vallicrosa (Vic 2000), pp. 306-312, but as far as I know despite his importance there’s no actual study of Sunyer beyond the now-ageing Prosper Bofarull y Mascaró, Los condes de Barcelona vindicados, y cronología y genealogía de los reyes de España considerados como soberanos independientes de su marca (Barcelona 1836, repr. 1990), I pp. 64-138, which to be fair is still pretty useful. For Guifré II there is some attempt to update Bofarull (who covered him ibid., I pp. 47-63) in Ramon d’Abadal i de Vinyals, “Un gran comte de Barcelona preterit: Guifré-Borrell (897-911)” in Cuadernos de Arqueología e Historia de la Ciudad de Barcelona Vol. 5 (Barcelona 1964), pp. 83-180, repr. in Miscellanea Barcinonensia Vol. 3 (Barcelona 1964), pp. 49-90 & in idem, Dels Visigots als Catalans, ed. Jaume Sobrequés i Callicó, Estudis i Documents XIII & XIV (Barcelona 1969, repr. 1974 & 1989), I, pp. 323-362.
3. Guifré the Hairy himself was buried in his foundation of Santa Maria de Ripoll, as were his sons Miró II the Young and Bishop Radulf of Urgell, his grandson Miró III Bonfill and a fair few more after that. Sunyer was buried at Notre Dame de la Grasse, where he ended up as a monk; no-one knows where Guifré’s other children were buried, I think. If there was a family mausoleum it was Ripoll but there was no effort to get some of the family there, to say the least. Borrell II, for example, was buried where he died at Castellciutat in Urgell.
4. There is, technically, a charge to see the older parts of the cathedral of Sant Pere de Vic, but, when I looked round briefly there was no-one there to take it so I just tipped Euros into a donation box instead.