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El Cid Campeador's Grant to the Church of Valencia (1098)
Although in my overview and translation of the Historia Roderici (the anonymous Latin biography of the Spanish knight and ruler of Valencia El Cid Campeador) I questioned the conception of El Cid as a ‘Christian hero’ or ‘defender of the West,’ it is nonetheless true that the later sections of the Historia Roderici- in relation to his conquest of Valencia- portray El Cid as driven with zeal for Christianity. It is also the case that the image of a Christian warrior is the one El Cid sought to convey in his own propaganda while he was ruling Valencia, as attested in this official document- dated to July-December 1098 CE- that is the main surviving contemporary evidence of his brief period of rule there.
The document, in short, details various grants El Cid made to the cathedral church of Valencia and its bishop Jerome, who originally came from France. The document underscores the image of El Cid as a Christian warrior though an extended preface to the grants providing a grand historical narrative of God’s relation with mankind, in which God first elevated the Israelites as the chosen people, and then, following the advent of Jesus and the Jewish rejection of him (‘the Jewish perfidy’), the message of Christianity spread all over the world, including to Spain, which initially gained correct understanding of the faith, but subsequently went astray and was thus punished with the Muslim conquest, whose dominion has been lasting for nearly 400 years (beginning with the original conquest in 711 CE), but then finally God showed mercy for the Christians and thus elevated El Cid Campeador as their avenger and the propagator of Christianity, conquering Valencia and converting its mosque into a cathedral.
Besides this image of El Cid as a Christian warrior, it is also clear from the document that El Cid functioned as an independent ruler and did not subordinate his realm to the authority of Alfonso VI of Castile and León or any other Christian ruler. There is no hint of any higher secular Christian authority, and the confirmation of Jerome as bishop of Valencia seems to have been done by Pope Urban II in direct dealing with El Cid.
Below is the document fully translated by me. The edition of the Latin text is taken from La España del Cid by Ramón Menéndez-Pidal (7th edition, vol. II, pp. 868-871). I have also annotated the text partly relying on Pidal’s notes.
XPS.[i] Although no Catholic doubts that the divine presence is present with its power in every place, nonetheless one reads that the Omnipotent chose certain places above others in order for the faithful to propitiate Him. Yet the Israelite people were overshadowed with legal ceremonies, and the tabernacle of Shiloh, where the Lord had dwelled among men, was rejected because of the wickedness of the sons of Eli.[ii] After this, God placed the house of prayer for all peoples on Mount Zion.[iii] In the dedication of this mountain’s temple, the glory of the Lord openly appeared in a cloud to strengthen the hearts of the simple people, and determined that power should belong there forever to God, who had premeditated this.[iv]
But as the fullness of time approached, the truth arose from the Earth and the iniquity of the Jews lied against it. Once the mass of the nations entered the bedchamber of their Spouse and Redeemer, they were redeemed, and immediately what the Holy Spirit had predicted through Malachi’s prophecy became clear: from the rising to the setting of the Sun, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place a pure offering will be sacrificed and offered to My name.[v]
So as soon as the Jewish perfidy[vi] was rejected (as should have been the case), the sound of the apostolic preaching came out from eastern Zion into the ends of the world, and filled all of Spain under the west. Spain was firmly informed by the most erudite teachers for the worship of God, cast aside superstitions, extirpated the errors, and with no-one offering resistance, it rested in peace for several periods of time. But once adversity receded by the gift of God and wholesale prosperity came about as desired, its kindness grew cold, its iniquity became abundant, and pursuing horrendous leisure, it forgot the judgement of God, and thus endured sudden destruction, and through the cruel sword of the sons of Hagar,[vii] its secular dignity collapsed at the foundation together with its sanctuary. He who did not want to serve the Lord of the lords, was compelled by law to become a slave of the natural slaves.[viii]
And so as a cycle of almost 400 years slipped into this calamity, eventually the most merciful Father deigned to show mercy on His people, and thus raised the wholly undefeated prince Roderic Campeador- the avenger of the disgrace of His servants and propagator of the Christian religion. After multiple excellent victories of battles that he pursued with divine intervention, he captured the city of Valencia, very opulent in its glorious riches and large number of men. Indeed also he overcame an innumerable army of the Moabites[ix] and barbarians of all of Spain as though that happened in a moment in a way that is beyond believable and without any loss of his own. He then converted the mosque, which was considered a house of prayer among the Hagarenes, into a church to be dedicated to God.[x] The venerable priest Jerome was consecrated as bishop per harmonious and canonical acclamation and election through the hands of the Roman pontiff, and elevated with the liberty of special privilege.
Roderic then enriched the beloved church with the following grant from his own assets: Thus in the year 1098 of the incarnation of the Lord, I Roderic Campeador, the leading men, and the peoples whom God, in so far as it has been pleasing to Him, has committed to my power: we grant to our Redeemer, who alone is dominant in the kingdom of men and gives that realm to whomsoever He wills, to our holy mother church (namely, of Valencia), to our venerable pastor Jerome, the town that is called Pigacen,[xi] together with its villages, lands, and cultivated or uncultivated vineyards, the trees of various kinds, and all the property that belongs to this locality in whatever way. Similarly also we grant all the villages of Alcanitia, with its mills and aqueducts, and all the property belonging to them. We also grant the fortification that they call ‘Almunia[xii] de Sabaleckem’[xiii] with its mills and aqueducts, and a certain field located to the south, together with all the property belonging to it in whatever way. We also grant to the declared seat and bishop another almunia that is next to the church of the blessed Mary and outside the wall of the aforementioned city.
After my death, we grant the almunia that is within the boundary of the fort that is called Cepolla[xiv] and part of which our excellence had already handed to lord Jerome the bishop before he should ascend to the honour of the bishopric, when he arrived from Susaña.[xv] It has also been pleasing to our sublimity, and all our leading men, to augment the town that is called Frenales,[xvi] together with all its adjacent areas, placed as it is within the boundary of the same fort of Cepolla, as well as twelve parcels within the boundary of Murisueterum[xvii] and twelve others within the boundary of the fort that is called Almanar,[xviii] similarly also twelve parcels in the hamlet of Burriana.[xix] We also have granted that whoever of the faithful, for the sake of remedy of his soul or his relatives, wishes to give to our mother church or the bishop from those things that he has obtained by hereditary right or our grant or by any just acquisition, let him have that free opportunity to grant away.
We grant all these things outlined above to the Lord God and the church of Valencia, which has been consecrated and made free and absolute in honour of Mary the blessed and glorious eternal Virgin Mother of God, with the removal of hot-headed dispute by all of our posterity and succession, the voice of all the perverse ones drowned out, the machination of the unjust beaten down and all nay-saying laid to rest. We grant these things in the hand of our pastor Jerome, who has been ordained per canonical procedure by Pope Urban II and predestined by God, as we believe, to restore the same church, so that the most pious Lord may make us immune from the bonds of our sins and also powerfully and mercifully set us free from the traps of our enemies both visible and invisible. If any however, by the instinct of the devil or some other instinct, attempts to come and cause disruption against these grants or institutes of ours, let them be compelled to pay 1000 pounds of gold to the bishop or church, and so that they should be sure that they cannot at all fulfil what they should try to do, we implore the bishop that he should strike them with the sword of anathema and strictly pierce them with the javelin of the ultimate penalty.[xx]
I Jerome, the bishop of the church of Valencia and all the priests subject to me, by the demand of justice and the pious entreaties of our prince and his optimates, the authority of God the Omnipotent Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the blessed Mary the eternal Virgin, and the power of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul brought to us by God in His divine intervention through hem and their successors: we excommunicate and declare anathema and separate from the lap of our mother church and from all the company of the Christians, and we join to the devil and his agents, all people of both sexes who presume to take away, break apart or remove these property or gifts of our church, until they should regain sense and canonically make amends with the bishop and clerics of our seat.
I Roderic together with my wife, also affirm what has been written above.
Martinus is the who wrote this on the day and year as above, with the letters above erased on the 22nd line.
Peter as witness
Ferdinand as witness
John as witness
Written by Martinus.
[i] An abbreviation for Christ’s name.
[ii] The Lord’s tabernacle, considered to be God’s earthly-dwelling place, was originally hosted at the city of Shiloh. Eli was the priest of Shiloh and his sons were known to be wicked, as a result of which they were killed in battle with the Philistines, who also captured the Ark of the Covenant that had been housed in the tabernacle and brought by the Israelites to battle. When Eli heard of his sons’ death, he fell over his chair and died (cf. 1 Samuel 4:12-22).
[iii] The Temple Mount.
[iv] Cf. 2 Chronicles 7:1-16. It may be that the Latin text should be slightly corrected here, with Deo changed to Dei and thus giving a slightly different meaning: “and the power of God, who had premeditated this, determined to remain there forever.”
[v] Cf. Malachi 1:11.
[vi] i.e. The Jewish rejection of Jesus.
[vii] i.e. The Arabs/Muslims.
[viii] i.e. Compelled to serve the Arabs/Muslims, who, by virtue of their supposed descent from Hagar (who had been a slave of Abraham’s wife and Abraham’s concubine), are seen as ‘natural slaves’ as opposed to the Christian faithful whose lineage symbolically goes back to Isaac born to Abraham’s free wife Sarah.
[ix] i.e. The Berbers (cf. the Historia Roderici’s use of this term). The reference here is to a failed Almoravid attempt to take Valencia from El Cid during his lifetime (cf. Historia Roderici section 62 ff.).
[x] Cf. Historia Roderici (section 73).
[xi] Picasent, a town located 18 km southeast of Valencia.
[xii] Almunia: a type of territorial division derived from an Arabic term for ‘farm.’
[xiii] i.e. Sahib al-Ahkam (Arabic for “Master of Rulings”), a kind of judicial authority.
[xiv] i.e. Yuballa (cf. Historia Roderici), corresponding to Puig (18 km north of Valencia).
[xv] “The land of above”: i.e. the north.
[xvi] Today the locality of Farnals, next to Puig.
[xvii] Murviedro, seized by El Cid in 1098 CE.
[xviii] Almenara, seized by El Cid in 1097 CE.
[xix] A locality north of Almenara.
[xx] Latin: animadversio ultima. I believe this refers to the death penalty.