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Ut commutando donemus : An Approach to Female Artistic Patronage in Northeast Iberia (1000-1100)

Verónica Carla Abenza Soria

Résumés

Centré sur le contexte spécifique du nord-est de la péninsule Ibérique au xie siècle, cet article s’intéresse au mécénat tel qu’il était compris par les femmes qui le pratiquaient. Alors que les médiévistes sont habitués à reconstituer les circonstances dans lesquelles une œuvre d’art est née, lorsqu’on étudie le mécénat artistique, on a encore tendance à éviter de prendre en compte les différences sociales, économiques et juridiques entre les hommes et les femmes au Moyen Âge. En se concentrant sur un ensemble représentatif de femmes de l’époque, l’un des principaux objectifs de cet article est de montrer que, au-delà des motifs liés à la dévotion, le mécénat artistique a aidé les femmes médiévales à surmonter certaines de leurs contraintes sociales et leur a permis d’exercer différents degrés de pouvoir et d’autorité.

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Jaca Ivories. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Acc. n° 17.190.134, 17.190.33Afficher l’image
Crédits : Cl. With permission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York.

Introduction

  • 1 T. Vinyoles, « Las mujeres del año mil », Aragón en la Edad Media, 17 (2003), p. 5-26. Teresa Vinyo (...)

1The advent of the year 1000 provided women from the Catalan counties and the kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre opportunities to assume an active role in the patronage of the arts. As pointed out by Teresa Vinyoles, women from those territories were able to buy, sell, and trade, to own lands and hold castles in fief, and to receive and pay tribute for their property in their own rights1. For the most part, women’s prolific agency in the creation and consumption of works of art and architecture kept pace with economic and social changes ushered in by the new millennium. Indeed, the journey to the three great pilgrimage destinations of Santiago de Compostela, Rome, and Jerusalem ; the continual advance of the Christian frontier towards the lands under Muslim rule, as well as pervasive Benedictine spirituality and emerging Cluniac sensibility are all key factors to bear in mind when specifying the context.

  • 2 On this issue, particularly in the case of Ermessenda de Carcassone see J. Bowman, « Record, Chroni (...)

2Centring on the specific context of northeastern Iberia in the eleventh century, this article offers a concept of patronage as it was understood by the women who performed it. While medievalists are accustomed to reconstructing the circumstances in which an artwork was born, when studying artistic patronage there is still a tendency to avoid consideration of the social, economic, and legal differences between men and women in the Middle Ages. After a general reflection on this issue, this article focuses on the artistic patronage of three women of diverse status who to varying degrees ruled the counties, kingdoms, and lordships that were inherited or appropriated by their husbands, or whose agency actively contributed to shaping ruling policies when in power2.While scholarship has previously drawn historians’ attention to Ermessenda de Carcassone (d. 1058), countess consort of Barcelona, Girona, and Osona (r. 992-1017), for the works she commissioned, Estefanía de Foix (d. 1066), queen consort of Navarre (r. 1040-1054), and Arsenda de Fluvià (d. 1068), wife of the Catalan warlord Arnau Mir de Tost (d. 1072), are less known.

3My intention in bringing the three together for comparison is to shine a light on how patronage helped each to realise her own expectations, whether of personal, familial, or institutional origin, and of a social, political, or devotional nature. One of the goals of this article is to analyse how works from the period convey different methods of self-fashioning, including the use of textual and visual images to publicly present the patrons’ main concerns. In addition, these images and works were used by these women to obtain some acknowledgment from male counterparts, especially as active agents involved in ruling matters. As consorts with limited power, these works of art and architecture were also crucial to exercise different degrees of authority in typical male realms such as war or ecclesiastical affairs. An examination of the circumstances of these highborn, educated, and complementary figures will also help to illustrate how female aristocratic patronage mirrors the general concerns of the period.

Reflections on the broad concept of patronage

  • 3 For a discussion of the meanings of fecit, see T. Martin, « Exceptions and Assumptions : Women in M (...)
  • 4 M. Caviness, « Patron or Matron ? A Capetian Bride and a Vade Mecum for Her Marriage Bed », Speculu (...)
  • 5 X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra de la condesa. Estudio histórico de la documentación (c. 977-† 1 (...)
  • 6 I. Lorés, « La promoción artística de abades-obispos en monasterios románicos en Cataluña : algunas (...)
  • 7 X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra…, op. cit., t. 2, p. 514-515, n° 177.

4The deliberate use of the verb facere in the Middle Ages to denote the initiator whose decision made the creation possible may hint at a general definition of medieval patronage3. Yet, women’s multi-faceted dedication as « patrons4 » of art and architecture is illustrated by the various roles they played within the creative process, from donors to sponsors to facilitators, often performed simultaneously. Donors, whether men or women who commissioned and paid for the works, should be definitively credited as patrons. The will of Ermessenda de Carcassone, issued in 1058, contained a fundamental donation for the liturgical furnishings of the church of Sant Quirce i Santa Julita in the Catalan village of Besora : « tamtum argenti et auri ex quo possit esse una obtima crux » [as many silver and gold as needed for a good cross]5. Thus, the will portrays her as patron of the cross and main donor of the needed silver and gold. On the other hand, when supporting the creation of works of art and architecture commissioned by others by simply giving money or facilitating the provision of necessary materials, some donors could be better described as sponsors. An example of this could be the same countess who in 1013 donated 25 ounces of gold that Guitard, abbot of the Catalan monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès (r. 1010-1053), invested in the works that were carried out in the monastery during his prelacy6. A more complex case is the role played by Ermessenda de Carcassone when in 1053 she granted a woman named Adalets permission – « cum consensus » [with agreement] – for the foundation and construction of the Catalan church of Santa Maria de Cervià : « coepimus aedificare ecclesiam in honorem Domini et gloriosae Dei genitricis et perpetuae virginis Mariae in loco quen vocant Ceruiano » [we have begun building in the place called Cervià a church dedicated to God and the Glorious and ever-virgin Mary]7. Here Adalets and her husband, Silvio Llobet, were responsible for initiating and sponsoring the building process while the countess was not the patron but rather just involved as facilitator. Ermessenda de Carcassone’s help as mediator between the couple and the bishop and canons of the episcopal see of Girona was instrumental to fulfil Adalets and Silvio Llobet’s wish to establish there a community of Benedictine monks.

  • 8 T. Martin, « Exceptions and Assumptions… », op. cit., p. 6.

5The existence of a motivation, a reason, or interest behind female artistic agency demonstrates that medieval patronage of art and architecture cannot be studied as a linear phenomenon that begins with the patron responsible for the conception and ends with the recipient for whom it was undertaken in the first place. Dynamics of reciprocity, as has been proposed by Therese Martin8, are of necessity linked to an anticipated benefit. Perhaps, the best way to define this would be to conceive of it not within the modern construct of patronage, but through the notion demonstrated by the agents themselves in the Middle Ages. An enlightening example of such an idea can be found in the following donation fragment :

(…) Quapropter sciendum est ut commutando donemus Omnipotenti Deo de nostris terrenis facultatibus ut misericors Dominus post mortem nostrae carnis tribuere dignetur gloriam regni caelestis animabus nostris (…).

  • 9 F. Montsalvatge, Noticias Históricas, Olot, 1889-1911, t. 14, p. 77.

[So, it should be known that, as if it were an exchange, we give God almighty our earthly goods, so that after the death of our flesh, God merciful should deign to give our souls the glory of the heavenly kingdom]9.

  • 10 For a discussion of this phenomenon in the Middle Ages, see I. Silber, « Gift-giving in the Great T (...)

6Donors, in this case a group of women who offered wide-ranging goods for the foundation of the monastery of Santa Maria de Vilabertran (Girona, Catalonia), conceived their donation as some sort of exchange agreement with God, as if it were a commercial transaction or exchange (« ut commutando »). For this reason, artistic patronage is often discussed in relation to the praxis of gift-giving10. It is usually in this hope where medieval women’s motivations can be specifically identified.

  • 11 J. Bolòs, Diplomatari del monestir de Santa Maria de Serrateix (segles X-XV), Barcelona, 2006, p. 1 (...)
  • 12 X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra…, op. cit., t. 2, p. 530-531, n° 187.
  • 13 For the outcome of these military campaigns and perception of parias, see J. M. Lacarra, « Aspectos (...)

7Socially speaking, female artistic patronage in the eleventh century reflects the difference in status and financial resources among the various patrons. To give a brief example, there is no comparison in financial terms between the mule offered in 1050 by a woman named Adelaida for the creation and decoration of the silver altar frontal for the Catalan church of Santa Maria de Serrateix11, and the 20 ounces of gold donated in 1057 by Ermessenda de Carcassone to the female monastery of Sant Daniel de Girona (Catalonia)12. In the eleventh century, Northeast Iberia benefited from a redistribution of wealth. This derived from the war booty captured in the military expeditions in lands under Muslim rule, especially Córdoba (1010), Granada (1017), and Tortosa (1024), and from the collection of parias, a form of tribute paid by the Andalusi Taifas first to the rulers of the Catalan counties and later to those of the kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre13.

  • 14 On the uses derived from Gothic law in relation to marriage still in effect in the eleventh century (...)
  • 15 A detailed discussion on the concept of dowry in northeast Spain can be found in R. Le Jan-Hennebic (...)
  • 16 M. Aurell, Les noces del comte. Matrimoni i poder a Catalunya (785-1213), Barcelona, 1998, p. 102-1 (...)
  • 17 For the ambivalent and often confusing use of these two terms in Medieval Iberia : M. Cabré, « Deod (...)
  • 18 P. Bonnassie, Catalunya mil anys enrere. Creixement econòmic i adveniment del feudalisme a Cataluny (...)

8When discussing women’s access to wealth, it is generally acknowledged that the bulk of resources came from marriage and widowhood. According to Visigothic law, which for matters like marriage was still in effect at this time14, on the occasion of the wedding the bride was to be receive the dotalicium. This dowry included two different gifts. The first one was the dowry (dotis), which was given by the father to his daughter and, by extension, to the groom, who was entrusted with its management. The second was the one offered by the future husband, the dower (esponsalitium), which was normally equal to ten per cent of his assets15. Only during widowhood would women be almost completely free to dispose of their dowry16, as before it was always administered with permission of the husband. Even so, husbands on their deathbeds would often subject use of the dowry to the condition that their wives would never remarry. Without neglecting male religious institutions, because of this constraint many widowed women from the period found it convenient to use female monasteries as appropriate place to manage their wealth. This does not automatically mean that widows who were willing to invest their resources in the commission of works of art and architecture necessarily professed as nuns. In 992, a woman named Aurúcia, who had previously joined the female community of Sant Pere de les Puel·les (Barcelona) not as nun or deodicata but as deovota17, donated a good deal of wine and wheat for the vaulting of the Catalan monastery of Sant Serni18. Although committed to the monastery through promising to be chaste during her widowhood, she never observed enclosure.

  • 19 B. Marquès, « Els documents del Monestir de Santa Cecília d’Elins (881-1198) », Urgellia, 15 (2002- (...)

9Aristocratic women often opted for a different relationship with the monastery as dominae. The way of life of a woman acting as domina was much the same as that of the deovotae. The main difference lay in how they worked to increase the nunnery’s material wealth, sometimes even spending their own. Documentary evidence from the female monastery of Santa Cecilia d’Elins (Lleida) mentions Llúcia d’Urgell, countess consort of Urgell (r. 1077-1092), as « dominatrix », since around 1078 she undertook the reform of its previous male community, replacing it with a group of nuns from the same nunnery of les Puel·les, while endorsing at the same time the construction of a new church19.

Ermessenda de Carcassone

  • 20 As in the Libro de Notas de los óbitos from the cathedral of Girona (1624-1815), where the passage (...)
  • 21 R. Martí, Col·lecció diplomàtica de la Seu de Girona (817-1100), Barcelona, 1997, n° 169.

10As recorded by the obituaries from the cathedral of Girona, Ermessenda de Carcassone was celebrated for her generosity20. Her brother, Pere Roger (d. 1051), was appointed as bishop of Girona (r. 1010-1051), from an early date during her marriage to Ramon Borrell (d. 1017), count of Barcelona, Girona, and Osona (r. 992-1017). This contributed to her decision to address her power, and most importantly her means, to Girona. Indeed, she would eventually go so far as to invest some of them in the rebuilding of the cathedral and to choose it as her final resting place. This project begun in 1015 when Ermessenda de Carcassone and her husband acquired from the bishop the land on which they later built the female monastery of Sant Daniel de Girona21.

  • 22 (…) nos simul in unum uenditores tibi Raimundo, nutu Dei comiti et coniugi tuae Ermesendi iuuanmine (...)
  • 23 For an overview of this process of exclaustration, see J. Ferrer, Diplomatari de Sant Joan de les A (...)

11The goal of this transaction was double. In the first place, before the death of the count, charters in which the countess’ donations and patronal endeavours were enumerated usually portrayed her as equal to her husband in terms of patronage. An informative example is, precisely, the one that records the foundation of Sant Daniel : « we, as one, are the sellers to you Ramon, count by God’s will, and your wife Ermessenda, countess by God’s will, who are the purchasers22 ». Yet, we do not know of any document that confirms the residency of Ermessenda de Carcassone behind the walls of the monastery of Sant Daniel nor of any other donation she made in favour of the nuns or the nunnery following the years of its foundation. As such, the countess’s agency in establishing the monastery may have not resulted from her desire to have a place to retire after the death of her husband. The reasons for its foundation are to be found elsewhere, particularly, within the delicate situation experienced by the female monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses (Girona) in the years immediately preceding the establishment of Sant Daniel. As illustrated by the content of Cuperemus Quidem, the bull issued in 1016/1017 by Pope Benedict VIII (r. 1012-1024), the nuns of Sant Joan de les Abadesses suffered fierce persecution at the hands of count Bernard I of Besalú (r. 988-1020), who wanted to sponsor the foundation of a new episcopal see in his main territories. This eventually resulted in the expulsion of the nuns and thus the extinction of the only female monastery in the diocese of Girona23. This fraught situation, and the lack of any other suitable space for women from the Girona area who wished to be nuns, may have prompted Ermessenda de Carcassone’s decision to sponsor the construction of Sant Daniel. In so doing, she was presenting herself in the eyes of her subjects as fully capable of managing such religious issues.

  • 24 XXX. uncias auri de mancusos adalis, ex quibus sit cooperta domus, que debet esse dormitorium, quam (...)
  • 25 A discussion on this issue through a systematic set of examples involving women of diverse status c (...)

12Further to the second goal of the 1015 transaction, as part of the same operation, Ermessenda de Carcassone and her husband asked the countess’s brother to reinvest the amount of the acquisition of Sant Daniel’s lands in rebuilding and vaulting his cathedral. This undertaking concurred with the first steps of the canonical reform undertook in the same years by Pere Roger. As attested by a consecration charter of 1038, this process of rebuilding could begin as soon as in 1015 extending perhaps uninterruptedly to the early consecration of the cathedral in 1038 and continuing long after. Another piece of documentary evidence shows, however, that the countess’s interest in the process of rebuilding the church and the canons’ rooms, was perhaps greater than her husband’s. It is in her will, written some four decades later, where her executors are told to donate to the chapter of the cathedral of Girona, specifying « thirty ounces of gold in mancusos for the stone vaulting of the room, which should be the dormitory that I made24 ». The formula, particularly the phrase « that I made » (« quam ego feci »), underscores the problematic medieval use of the verb facere to refer ambivalently to the initiator/patron or to an individual physically involved in the craft or construction25. Rather than envisioning the countess as participating in the building process, her assertion should be understood metaphorically, as involved in the spiritual building of the cathedral’s community who used the dormitory.

  • 26 Ermessendis, comitissae, quae eadem die ad honorem Dei et matris ecclesiae trescentas auri contulit (...)
  • 27 For a full account of the destruction of the altar frontal by the Napoleonic troops, see E. Mirambe (...)
  • 28 Ad partem anteriorem aurea lamina coopertum cum pulcra imagine intemerate Virginis Marie cum eius F (...)

13The gold donated by the countess for the vaulting of the cathedral’s dormitory reveals her concern, even in her final moments, for what had been the project of her lifetime. This is certainly the reason why the consecration charter of 1038 recognises her as one of the cathedral’s main initiators. As part of assuming this role, in 1038 the countess took the opportunity to commission a gold altar frontal in which, as noted in a codicil to the same document, she invested 300 ounces of gold : « Countess Ermessenda, who on that day in honour of God and the mother Church gave 300 ounces of gold for the creation of an altar frontal26. » This altar frontal was lost in the aftermath of the Spanish War of Independence (1808-1809)27. However, a description from a 1511 inventory of the cathedral of Girona gives a general picture of its features (fig. 1)28.

Fig. 1 – Drawing of the lost golden altar frontal from the Cathedral of Girona. Used with permission of Iker Spozio.

Fig. 1 – Drawing of the lost golden altar frontal from the Cathedral of Girona. Used with permission of Iker Spozio.
  • 29 For a general survey on the altar frontal’s story and main features, see : J. Molina, « Ars Sacra a (...)
  • 30 J. Marquès, « El frontal de oro… », op. cit., p. 220-231.
  • 31 « En vna cornelina están gravadas vnas letras Hebreas, y en vna celidonia el nombre de ermesendis, (...)
  • 32 The correct transcription is taken from T. Martin, « Contribuciones del mecenazgo multicultural a l (...)

14The frontal was made of gold sheets worked in repoussé to depict a complete cycle of episodes from the life of Christ and the Virgin, adorned all over with gems and cabochons. Below the central image of the mother of God was an enamel29. A group of gems surrounded an enamelwork female donor portrait in which, according to the inventory, the inscription read « gisla comitissa me fieri iussit » [Countess Guisla had me made], referring to Guisla de Lluçà (d. 1079), Ermessenda de Carcassone’s daughter-in-law30. Another interesting detail was provided by Juan Gaspar Roig i Jalpí, who saw the antependium in the seventeenth century and stated that « some Hebrew letters are inscribed on a carnelian, and on a chalcedony the name of ermesendis, which is that of the countess of Barcelona31 ». Indeed, this chalcedony, still kept in the Museu del Tresor de la Catedral de Girona (Acc. nº 25), was incised with the name of the countess in reverse in both Latin ermesīdis and Arabic ارمسند (Irmisind) (fig. 2)32.

Fig. 2 – Ermessenda de Carcassone’s Chalcedony seal (10th-11th c.). Girona, Museu del Tresor de la Catedral, Acc. n° 25 (cl. T. Martin).

Fig. 2 – Ermessenda de Carcassone’s Chalcedony seal (10th-11th c.). Girona, Museu del Tresor de la Catedral, Acc. n° 25 (cl. T. Martin).
  • 33 Scholars still disagree on whether the countess acted as regent during the minorities of her son an (...)
  • 34 R. Franses, Donor Portraits in Byzantine Art. The Vicissitudes of Contact between Human and Divine, (...)

15During her widowhood, Ermessenda de Carcassone’s aspiration to rule over the counties of Girona and Osona was challenged first by her son and legitimate heir, Berenguer Ramon I (r. 1021-1035), and later by her grandson, Ramon Berenguer I (r. 1035-1076). This eventually meant that she gave away the extensive dower lands of Girona and Osona that Ramon Borell had bestowed on her, and they passed to her heirs and to their wives, namely Guisla de Lluçà, her son’s second wife, and Almodis de la Marca (d. 1071), her grandson’s third wife33. The question that stands out is why the countess finally involved her daughter-in-law in the creation of the antependium, unless it was a personal decision. Standing at the very feet of the central image of the Virgin the enamel depiction of a woman should be defined as what Rico Franses calls a « contact portrait »34, showing a lay figure together with a holy figure. In fact, in her depiction as a seated woman, Guisla de Lluçà’s portrait is not very much like other contemporary enamel examples such as the images on the so-called Otto-Mathilden-Kreuz (c. 971/973-982) and Mathildenkreuz (c. 1000) (Essen Domschatz). In these cases, abbess Mathilde of Essen (r. 973-1011) is portrayed as a supplicant or holding the cross she could have commissioned. Guisla de Lluçà’s image is, however, more reminiscent of the portrait of the seated Virgin depicted on the enamel from the second cross. Guisla de Lluçà’s donation may have been made long after her mother-in-law’s, but the general composition of the antependium, with the chalcedony and the enameled portrait deliberately positioned in relationship to the Virgin, argues for a strong cooperation between the two women.

16I argue this collaboration could be read as an attempt by Ermessenda de Carcassone to gain control over Guisla de Lluçà. After the death of Ramon Borrell, Berenguer Ramon I inherited the rights over the counties of Barcelona, Girona, and Osona while entrusting her wife Guisla de Lluçà and their son with special rights over the county of Osona. Thus, long before Ramon Berenguer I’s aspirations came into play, in the event of an early death of Berenguer Ramon I, Guisla de Lluçà was the person who was to control some of these same rights and thus the one who could challenge the position to which Ermessenda de Carcassone believed she was legitimately entitled. Berenguer Ramon I died in 1035, just some years before the commission of the antependium. While Ermessenda de Carcassone’s grandson begun governing the three counties immediately after his death, these marital rights bestowed to the countess and later to her daughter-in-law did not pass to Almodis de la Marca until long after Berenguer Ramon I’s death.

  • 35 See T. Martin, « Glimpses of Gold », op. cit. I am indebted to the author for sharing with me in ad (...)

17The text that accompanies the portrait in the antependium leaves no doubt about Guisla de Lluçà’s patronage. Ermessenda de Carcassone, on the other hand, chose a very different way to state her authorship. With the name incised in reverse in two languages, the gem was conceived in the shape of a seal, even if, as demonstrated by Therese Martin’s new findings, it was probably never actually used as such35. In this regard, the countess’s recourse to an object that was commonly used in diplomatic practices such as gift-giving between foreign courts, when wanting to signify her role as patron is noteworthy. It turns the gem into a self-representational device which speaks of her role as ruler, authenticates her donation and legitimates her authority. When facing widowhood, Estefanía de Foix, Ermessenda de Carcassone’s close relative, used artistic patronage to exercise her power as well.

Estefanía de Foix

  • 36 For a biography of the queen and a discussion on her ancestral home, see : J. Salazar Acha, « Nuevo (...)

18Married probably at a young age to King García Sánchez III of Navarre (r. 1035-1054)36, Estefanía de Foix’s most transcendent contribution to her adopted kingdom involved the political concerns of her husband. She was responsible for the commissioning of the episcopal see of Nájera’s foundation charter – Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, B-005-001 – (fig. 3).

Fig. 3 – Nájera Foundation Privilege (1054). Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, B-005-001 (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

Fig. 3 – Nájera Foundation Privilege (1054). Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, B-005-001 (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
  • 37 A full transcription of the text of the diploma can be found in F. Fita, « Santa María la Real de N (...)

19This presentation folio was copied and illuminated in 1056. Its content details the foundation terms of the new diocese of Nájera, in the kingdom of Navarre, as they were first established by both spouses in 105237. I argue that the commissioning of this privilege allowed the queen to present herself and her successors, especially her son and heir Sancho Garcés IV (r. 1054-1076), as strong and legitimate rulers, above all in the eyes of their neighbouring enemies.

20Far from what we usually expect from an eleventh-century foundation charter, this diploma took the form of a very large folio, a full 80 cm long and 58 cm wide. Its borders were illuminated with a set of miniatures which speak of the queen’s wish to continue with the project after her husband’s death as attested in the words of the confirmation and the inscriptions that accompany the portraits of the couple. This is particularly revealed by the reverse composition of those verses running across the bottom edge :

haec sunt garsiae verbis formata marie / nititur haec propria fieri coniux stephania [This was signed to Mary in the words of García. Estefanía, his wife, accomplished this].

  • 38 The matter has been studied, especially regarding territorial and patrimonial issues among these th (...)

21Both size and decoration indicate that the folio was conceived to be displayed at critical points. At that time, the Kingdom of Navarre held several frontier territories that the late García Sánchez III’s brothers, King Ferdinand I of León (r. 1037-1065) and King Ramiro I of Aragon (r. 1035-1063), wanted to incorporate into their own neighbouring kingdoms. Some of the dioceses belonging to the territories under dispute were integrated within the properties of the new episcopal see of Nájera38. The early death of King García Sánchez III challenged this temporary solution and his wife needed to cope with the same problem. Once again, artistic patronage proved to be a useful tool. Indeed, Estefanía de Foix’s dignified role as patron is also highlighted in other works, including a now lost golden altar frontal commissioned by the royal couple to provide the church of Santa María de Nájera with the customarily required liturgical furnishings. Known from an early modern description that alludes to the queen as the most likely supervisor of its execution, the frontal’s outer frame was decorated with the following inscription :

beatae mariae quam si nesciret, ne quis dubitaret certissime sciat, hoc fecit rex garsias. haec rex piissimus fecit garsias benignus et stefania me factum, sub honore maria scilicet almanii decus artificis venerandis.

  • 39 J. de Moret, Annales del Reyno de Navarra, Pamplona, 1684, t. 1, p. 744.

[Holy Mary, King García made this, lest anyone to doubt on what is known. This was made by the pious and caring King García. And me, in honour of Santa María, Estefanía had me made by Almanio, who is said to be praised amongst artists]39.

  • 40 M. Cantera, Colección Documental de Santa María la Real de Nájera, t. 1 (Siglos X-XIV), San Sebasti (...)

22During her widowhood, Estefanía de Foix’s initiatives to reinforce her son’s weak authority were focused on the building and decoration of the church of Santa María de Nájera. Even in her final moments, the queen was still concerned with the completion of construction. Estefanía de Foix’s will recorded the sale of several silver vessels as a donation « in opera de Sancta Maria » [in the work of Santa María]40. This had also been emphatically illustrated in the folio’s large miniatures, one of which shows the queen’s interest in promoting the construction of the new church (fig. 4-5).

Fig. 4 – Detail of the portrait of Estefanía de Foix in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

Fig. 4 – Detail of the portrait of Estefanía de Foix in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

Fig. 5 – Detail of the model of the Church of Santa María la Real de Nájera in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

Fig. 5 – Detail of the model of the Church of Santa María la Real de Nájera in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

23The foundation of the bishopric had been a joint effort by the royal couple, and as such, the donor portraits show the queen and king in opposite corners, with a model of the church centred between them (cf. fig. 5). The collective nature of the project is stressed by the fact that both spouses are holding a copy of the foundational scroll in their hands. However, the king’s hand points directly to the text, seemingly defining him as the initiator and main donor (fig. 6).

Fig. 6 – Detail of the portrait of García Sánchez III in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

Fig. 6 – Detail of the portrait of García Sánchez III in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

24Conversely, the queen is facing and gesturing towards the model of the church, which allowed a limited, though significant, set of viewers to be aware of her contribution, her responsibility for the supervision of its construction. Not by chance, the upper border was significantly decorated with an illumination in which two figures depict the Annunciation (fig. 7).

Fig. 7 – Detail of the miniature depicting the Annunciation in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).

Fig. 7 – Detail of the miniature depicting the Annunciation in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
  • 41 For an alternative interpretation S. Silva y Verástegui, « Iconografía del donante en el arte navar (...)

25This decoration had a double purpose. On one hand, the depiction of the Virgin was meant to be an exemplum, that is an exemplary role model for the queen depicted in the opposite angle. Accordingly, acting as a sacred prototype, the Virgin was not only legitimizing Estefanía de Foix’s authority but also sanctifying her undertaking. On the other hand, the maternal connotations of the Annunciation are particularly suitable to stress Estefanía de Foix’s role in protecting her young son and thus in protecting, by extension, the kingdom itself41.

  • 42 The text has an empty space that was particularly left for the signature of the consecrating bishop

26The size and the sumptuousness of the folio, which is illuminated with gold in some of the miniatures, the recourse to such a trope and the use of the images to evoke this kind of devotion, all argue for the charter being engaged in some viewing practices, individual and collective. Although there is no reason to believe that the folio was on permanent public or private display, it is also hard to accept that, after the confirmation ceremony for which it was copied, it was stored indefinitely. On the contrary, I suggest that the folio and its decoration, intended as a perpetual reminder of García Sánchez III and Estefanía de Foix’s power, were conceived to leave a deep impression on the minds of a restricted set of viewers who were summoned to a range of special occasions. These would be the kind of events in which Estefanía de Foix, her sons or the clerics of Nájera would have needed to show their authority in public or to defend the rights to they were entitled. One of these occasions, as attested by the text itself, might have been the consecration of the main altar of the new church of Nájera in 105642.

  • 43 Fort the content of these additions F. Fita, « Santa María la Real… », op. cit., p. 155-198.
  • 44 On Sancho Garcés IV’ weak authority F. Miranda, « Sancho Garcés IV el de Peñalén (1054-1076) », in (...)

27Aside from important liturgical ceremonies, the folio and its miniatures seem to have been also instrumental in arguing against political claims and particularly suitable for display during ownership disputes. As such, it is worth noticing how the confirmation, on the occasion of the consecration, was specifically subscribed by the same kings of León and Aragón, Ferdinand I and Ramiro I. The rare occasions on which the charter was brought out and made visible would obviously have heightened its significance. In this regard, it seems to be no coincidence that the additions on the back of the diploma during the following centuries record three different judicial processes43. Thus, there are at least three different occasions on which, as the notes suggest, the document was momentarily viewed and shared between individuals who were raising claims against the clerics’ rights. It is worth remembering that, after García Sánchez III’s death and Sancho Garcés IV’s proclamation as king, Estefanía de Foix lost all legal and socially recognized authority. Yet, the commission and creation of the folio and the altar frontal not only allowed her to publicly exercise her power but also to protect and preserve her successors’ sovereignty over the Kingdom of Navarre for at least the next two decades44. The political and familial nature of Estefanía de Foix’ concerns was also shared by other women of lower socioeconomic status, such as Arsenda de Fluvià.

Arsenda de Fluvià

  • 45 For the most recent monography F. Fité and E. González, Arnau Mir de Tost. Un senyor de frontera al (...)
  • 46 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la villa de Ager, Barcelona, 1961, p. 342-347, n° 26.
  • 47 V. Abenza, « Arnau Mir de Tost y Arsenda de Fluvià : el deseo y la acción de peregrinar a Compostel (...)

28Arsenda de Fluvià is much less well known than her husband, the Catalan warlord Arnau Mir de Tost. In contrast, he has been constantly celebrated for the facts surrounding his life and for his artistic undertakings45. Yet, the couple’s first important effort to consolidate their power as lords of the frontier lordship of Àger (Lleida, Catalonia), which resulted in the construction of the village’s church of Sant Pere, was in fact a collaborative one : « quam ego et uxor mea, cui sit requies, simul edificavimus » [that I and my wife, who may she have rest, built together]46. Among the greatest deeds of Arnau Mir are his peregrinations to Jerusalem and Compostela, as well as his constant battles on behalf of the Catalan counts of Urgell to appropriate for them and himself lands previously under Muslim control. Arsenda de Fluvià’s artistic patronage shows that, while not being able to match her husband’s accomplishments, she evoked and emulated them through the works of art she commissioned47.

  • 48 J. Verdaguer, « Reliquiari de la Vera Creu que el bisbe Oliba va regalar a Arnau Mir de Tost », in (...)

29One that has received some scholarly attention is a wooden box from the family church of Sant Martí de Tost (Lleida, Catalonia) today kept in the Museu Episcopal de Vic (1040) (Acc. nº 8641) (fig. 8)48.

Fig. 8 – Reliquary from the Church of Sant Martí de Tost (1040). Vic, Museu Episcopal, Acc. nº 8641 (cl. Museu Episcopal de Vic).

Fig. 8 – Reliquary from the Church of Sant Martí de Tost (1040). Vic, Museu Episcopal, Acc. nº 8641 (cl. Museu Episcopal de Vic).
  • 49 E. Junyent, Diplomatari i escrits literaris de l’abat i bisbe Oliba, Barcelona, 1992, p. 338-340, n (...)
  • 50 F. Fité, « Arnau Mir de Tost i el culte a les relíquies. Un exponent pirinenc en la promoció dels s (...)
  • 51 M. Dels Sants Gros, « Carta del bisbe Oliba i autèntica de la consagració del reliquiari », in J. B(...)

30As recorded in the letter that was found inside, this reliquary contained relics from the Holy Land, namely « portiunculas de ligno et sepulcro Domini, deque vestimentis sive calciamentis Sancte Marie » [fragments of the Holy Cross and the Lord’s sepulchre, and of the Virgin’s garments and footwear]49. By the mid-eleventh century, the long and unsettled journey to Jerusalem was obviously not easily achievable except for a few privileged travellers, including her husband50. Yet, Arsenda de Fluvià, who never set a foot in the Holy Land, was the one who asked Oliba, abbot of Saint-Michel de Cuxa and Santa Maria de Ripoll and bishop of Vic (r. 1008/1009-1046, 1017/1018-1046), to send them the relics. The prelate, in turn, possibly acquired these precious items in Rome and forwarded them to Arnau Mir « rogatu tue dilectisime uxoris » [at request of your loving wife]51.

  • 52 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 348, n° 27.
  • 53 Donations to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela were common in the family. In 1030, Bernat de (...)
  • 54 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 348, n° 27.

31Travelling to Santiago de Compostela, another of the great pilgrimage destinations, was probably a desire shared by the couple. It was not until after Arsenda de Fluvià’s death, however, that her husband, as suggested by an inventory of his assets52, made the journey. As a prolific patron seeking for salvation, it would not be surprising if Arsenda de Fluvià’s will had included any donation for its cathedral53. Her testament records how she offered substantial sums of money for the creation of silver altar frontals for the Catalan churches of Sant Serni de Tavèrnoles and Sant Andreu de Tresponts, and donated a range of textiles, censers and other liturgical furnishings to many churches54, without any specific mention of Compostela. Instead, her wish to visit the tomb of St. James was perhaps expressed in a less direct way. By means of her last will, she ordered several bridges to be built.

  • 55 A. Ubieto Arteta, Cartulario de San Juan de la Peña, Valencia, 1963, p. 177-181, n° 150, p. 199-203 (...)
  • 56 A. Arcaz, « Implantación y desarrollo territorial de la Orden Militar de San Juan de Jerusalén en G (...)

32As part of their civic duties, rulers from neighbouring kingdoms promoted the construction of bridges. Just before dying, King Ramiro I of Aragón commanded his executors to build two bridges, one of them the so-called bridge of Cacabiello over the river Gállego55. Sometimes, as with the bridge of the Galician village of Portomarín that queen Urraca of León (r. 1109-1126) ordered to be rebuilt, the motivation is much discussed. The destruction of the bridge and its subsequent reconstruction has traditionally been seen as the result of hostilities between the queen and the archbishop of Compostela, Diego Gelmírez (r. 1120-1140), especially as its deliberate collapse prevented the prelate from collecting the « pontazgo » a tax paid by pilgrims for crossing the bridge56.

33Interpreted as a charitable gesture, the key to Arsenda de Fluvià’s initiative is probably in her last words :

Et hoc que remanserit de meum mobilem precipio dare (…) in pontibus super aquas siue ingredibus malignis construendos in itineribus santis (…).

  • 57 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 339-342, n° 25.

[And from what remains of my assets, I decide to donate to the bridges over waters or dangerous paths on the holy routes]57.

34These « itineribus santis » or holy paths on which Arsenda de Fluvià’s bridges were to be built, are none other than the pilgrimage roads of the Way of St. James.

  • 58 S. Silva y Verástegui, « Los sepulcros de los santos constructores del Camino de Santiago a Compost (...)
  • 59 J. Villanueva, Viage literario…, op. cit., t. 10, p. 306-312.

35The trip to Compostela was certainly more accessible than the Holy Land. Yet, being on the verge of death and, thus, incapable of personally reaching the Apostle’s tomb, through the construction of the bridges Arsenda de Fluvià facilitated the pilgrimage of others. In so doing, her action was likened to the virtues of the so-called builder saints of the Way of Saint of James58, for example St. Raymond Gairard, St. Gonçalo de Amarante, Petrus Deustambem and, especially, to those of St. Ermengol, a saint native to the same lands of Urgell and almost a contemporary of the couple who, according to his hagiographic legend, had built with his own hands some years before the Bridge of Bar (Lleida, Catalonia)59.

  • 60 C. Baraut, « Els documents dels anys 1051-1075, de l’Arxiu Capitular de la Seu d’Urgell », Urgellia(...)

36The pair of objects that best convey Arnau Mir’s interest in warfare are the sword, shield and spear that in 1066 Arsenda de Fluvià donated for the decoration of the altar frontal of Sant Serni de Tavèrnoles60. For a better understanding of the consequences of such donation, it should be compared with the donation made around 1100 by Felicia de Roucy, queen consort of Aragón (r. 1070-1094). The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds two panels consisting of wooden supports, one displaying Byzantine and the other Romanesque ivory carvings, each depicting a Crucifixion and surrounded by a precious metalwork frame (Acc. n° 17.190.134, 17.190.33). The Romanesque ivory figures are framed by repoussé silver with the following text :

ih(e)c(us) // na / zar // en(u)s [Iēsus Nazarēnus or « Jesus the Nazarene »] (on top), feli // cia / reg // ina [Felicia Regina « Queen Felicia »] (in the lower section) (fig. 9).

Fig. 9 – Jaca Ivories. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Acc. n° 17.190.134, 17.190.33 (cl. With permission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York).

Fig. 9 – Jaca Ivories. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Acc. n° 17.190.134, 17.190.33 (cl. With permission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York).

37Thus, the inscription running at the feet of Christ, clearly sets out the identity of the patron.

  • 61 For a biography of the king and his military expeditions D. Buesa, « Reconquista y cruzada en el re (...)

38The inclusion in the work of a tenth-century Byzantine plaque and a sapphire incised with an Arabic inscription is quite significant. We do not know if Felicia de Roucy had them as diplomatic gifts or as a result of pillage from one of the many military campaigns her husband, King Sancho Ramírez of Aragón (r. 1063-1095), carried out against the Muslims61. Either way, they were probably part of her personal treasury. If so, a donation of such costly objects to a work conceived not for personal use but for devotional purposes speaks of the queen’s desire to incorporate a part of herself within the panels, even at the expense of her own impoverishment. At the same, this donation also helped her to show publicly how she was participating, even indirectly as recipient, in matters of war or diplomatic exchange that were mainly carried out by the male members of her family. In fact, the presence of the sapphire, a type of object that belonged to the elite realm of the culture these rulers almost obsessively sought to suppress, into an essentially Christian item, may be considered, alongside battles and conquests, another form of appropriation.

  • 62 A. Ubieto Arteta, Colección diplomática de Pedro I de Aragón y Navarra, Zaragoza, 1951, p. 212-213, (...)
  • 63 On both works, their manufacture, and their donation to the female monastery of Santa María de Sant (...)
  • 64 A. Ubieto Arteta, Cartulario de San Juan…, op. cit., p. 177-181, n° 150.
  • 65 M. González Miranda, « La condesa doña Sancha y el Monasterio de Santa Cruz de la Serós », Estudios (...)

39This appears as relevant, especially because in 1086, even before her husband’s death, the marriage rights to which Felicia de Roucy was entitled were removed from her in favour of the heir. Her dowry had been quite significant since it granted her certain control over lands in the Aragonese county of Ribagorza62. Thus, she was devoid of her primary income. Relegated to play only a minor role in the kingdom’s political affairs, Felicia de Roucy may have found in this commission an alternative way to perform her already limited power as widow and queen consort. Not surprisingly she decided to offer the work to the nunnery of Santa María de Santa Cruz de la Serós (Aragón)63. Induced by their father, King of Aragón Ramiro I, two of her sisters-in-law, Teresa and Urraca Ramírez (d. 1090), had joined the community at an early date64. A third, Sancha Ramírez (d. 1097), countess consort of Urgell (r. 1063-1065), had provided most of the nunnery’s foundational wealth65. It was thus a monastery ruled by the female members of Felicia de Roucy’s family by marriage and a place where the queen may not have found limitations on expressing her queenship.

40It is of particular interest to see how these objects that come essentially from the secular world, instead of being regifted as diplomatic gifts or used to fund the sort of military campaigns that may have supplied them in the first place, were repurposed by the will of these women into liturgical objects. The motivation behind this, aside from piety, relates to the fact that, when donating in favour of the Church, women did not encounter the same restrictions that they experienced when trying to participate typically male affairs.

  • 66 A discussion on this attempt of subjection to Cluny in F. Fité and E. González, Arnau Mir de Tost…, (...)
  • 67 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 335-336, n° 22.

41As potential followers of their legacy, Arsenda de Fluvià and Arnau Mir were very much involved in instructing and taking care of their children, both in life and after death. Again, some of the works of art and architecture they sponsored or treasured mirror this particular concern. In 1065 the early death of their only son and heir stimulated them to attempt to subject the church of Àger to Cluny66, while expecting in return from the Cluniac monks annual commemoration for him and prayers « propter remdium animae karissimi filii nostri Guilelmi » [for the soul of our dearest son Guillem]67.

  • 68 F. Fité, « El lot de peces d’escacs de cristal de roca del Museu Diocesà de Lleida, procedents del (...)

42Their daughters, Valença and Ledgarda (d. 1094), received a valuable though also intangible inheritance. From all the items listed in Arsenda de Fluvià’s will, the only surviving object is an incomplete group of rock crystal chess pieces today kept in the Kuwait National Museum and the Museu de Lleida (Acc. n° 1473, 1473bis) (fig. 10)68.

Fig. 10 – Chess pieces from the Church of Sant Pere d’Àger. Lleida, Museu de Lleida, Acc. n° 1473, 1473bis (cl. V. C. Abenza Soria).

Fig. 10 – Chess pieces from the Church of Sant Pere d’Àger. Lleida, Museu de Lleida, Acc. n° 1473, 1473bis (cl. V. C. Abenza Soria).
  • 69 C. Baraut, « Les actes de consagracions d’esglésies del bisbat d’Urgell (segles IX-XII) », Urgellia(...)
  • 70 On later recipients of the chess pieces J. Duran-Porta, « Nuevos datos sobre la temprana difusión d (...)

43This small treasure received as an inheritance by Ledgarda not only embodies her parents’ lifetime contact with the Muslim world, but is also part of a far-reaching lesson she learned from her mother. Following Arsenda de Fluvià’s example, Valença founded and built the church of Santa Maria de Mur (Lleida, Catalonia) at the core of her own territorial domains and later endowed its treasury with a rich set of books, crosses, chalices, reliquaries, and textiles for its assisting priests69, while Ledgarda finally bequeathed the chess pieces to her own heirs70.

Conclusions

44When dealing with the Middle Ages, the notion of patronage should be taken as a multi-layered concept. This is illustrated, for instance, by the different roles assumed by women who donated, sponsored, or simply facilitated the creation of medieval works of art and architecture. In view of the limited power these women were able to exercise in typically male affairs such as war or diplomacy, in most cases they decided to address their efforts to the Church, a realm in which, in terms of artistic patronage, their agency was not subjected to the same kind of social and gender restrictions. At the same time, in an exercise of authority to demonstrate their, even indirect, involvement in such government matters, they repurposed the items derived from this secular world into devotional furnishings.

45Even when women were directly involved in lay undertakings, as in the construction of bridges, their initiatives were in most cases mediated by their spiritual duties and expectations. Yet, significant examples, such as queen Urraca’s destruction of the bridge of Portomarín, prove this sort of agency could also respond to the need of accomplishing their own political interests. Although generally included in works of a religious nature, the visual and textual devices these women used for self-representation were also deliberately conceived as political statements and, thus, aimed at a wider audience. Whereas their patterns of patronage were not dissimilar to those of their male counterparts, the motivations behind their agency were in many cases attempts to subvert their social restrictions, ones that men did not face.

Reçu : 30 août 2021 – Accepté : 11 février 2022

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Notes

1 T. Vinyoles, « Las mujeres del año mil », Aragón en la Edad Media, 17 (2003), p. 5-26. Teresa Vinyoles presents a complete and well documented set of examples.

2 On this issue, particularly in the case of Ermessenda de Carcassone see J. Bowman, « Record, Chronicle and Oblivion : Remembering and Forgetting Elite Women in Medieval Iberia », in S. Barton and R. Portass (ed.), Beyond the Reconquista : New Directions in the History of Medieval Iberia (711-1085), Leiden, 2020, p. 208-213.

3 For a discussion of the meanings of fecit, see T. Martin, « Exceptions and Assumptions : Women in Medieval Art History », in Id. (ed.), Reassessing the Roles of Women as “Makers” of Medieval Art and Architecture, Leiden, 2012, t. 1, p. 2-4. For comprehensive studies on the notion of patronage as it was performed and understood in the Middle Ages, see : T. Martin (ed.), Reassessing the Roles of Women…, ibid., and C. Hourihane (ed.), Patronage. Power and agency in Medieval Art, Pennsylvania, 2013.

4 M. Caviness, « Patron or Matron ? A Capetian Bride and a Vade Mecum for Her Marriage Bed », Speculum, 68/2 (1993), p. 333-362. As Madeline Caviness noted, it is worth mentioning that, as a part of our modern predominantly male idea of patronage, English in common with other languages, including Spanish, does not have a specific female word like « matron ».

5 X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra de la condesa. Estudio histórico de la documentación (c. 977-† 1 marzo 1058), Ph.D. diss., Bellaterra, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2004, t. 2, p. 532-533, n° 188.

6 I. Lorés, « La promoción artística de abades-obispos en monasterios románicos en Cataluña : algunas notas a propósito de Sant Cugat del Vallès y de Sant Miquel de Cuixà », in J. Á. García de Cortázar and R. Teja (ed.), Monjes y obispos en la España del románico : entre la connivencia y el conflicto, Aguilar de Campoo, 2013, p. 149-167.

7 X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra…, op. cit., t. 2, p. 514-515, n° 177.

8 T. Martin, « Exceptions and Assumptions… », op. cit., p. 6.

9 F. Montsalvatge, Noticias Históricas, Olot, 1889-1911, t. 14, p. 77.

10 For a discussion of this phenomenon in the Middle Ages, see I. Silber, « Gift-giving in the Great Traditions : The Case of Donations to Monasteries in the Medieval West », Archives européennes de sociologie, 36 (1995), p. 209-243.

11 J. Bolòs, Diplomatari del monestir de Santa Maria de Serrateix (segles X-XV), Barcelona, 2006, p. 173-174, n° 95.

12 X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra…, op. cit., t. 2, p. 530-531, n° 187.

13 For the outcome of these military campaigns and perception of parias, see J. M. Lacarra, « Aspectos económicos de la sumisión de los reinos de taifas (1010-1102) », in J. Maluquer (ed.), Homenaje a Jaime Vicens Vives, Barcelona, 1965-1967, t. 1, p. 255-277.

14 On the uses derived from Gothic law in relation to marriage still in effect in the eleventh century, see J. Lalinde, « Los pactos matrimoniales catalanes », Anuario de Historia del Derecho Español, 33 (1963), p. 133-169.

15 A detailed discussion on the concept of dowry in northeast Spain can be found in R. Le Jan-Hennebicque, « Aux origines du douaire medieval (vie-xe siècle) », in Ead. (ed.), Femmes, pouvoir et societé dans le haut Moyen Age, Paris, 2001, p. 51-67.

16 M. Aurell, Les noces del comte. Matrimoni i poder a Catalunya (785-1213), Barcelona, 1998, p. 102-104.

17 For the ambivalent and often confusing use of these two terms in Medieval Iberia : M. Cabré, « Deodicatae y deovotae. La regulación de la religiosidad femenina en los condados catalanes, siglos IX-XI », in A. Muñoz Fernández (ed.), Las mujeres en el cristianismo medieval. Imágenes teóricas y cauces de actuación religiosa, Madrid, 1989, p. 169-182, and M. P. Yáñez Cifuentes, El monasterio de Santiago de León, León, 1972, p. 50-53.

18 P. Bonnassie, Catalunya mil anys enrere. Creixement econòmic i adveniment del feudalisme a Catalunya de mitjans del segle X al final del segle XI, Barcelona, 1979, t. 2, p. 392.

19 B. Marquès, « Els documents del Monestir de Santa Cecília d’Elins (881-1198) », Urgellia, 15 (2002-2005), p. 79-81, n° 47.

20 As in the Libro de Notas de los óbitos from the cathedral of Girona (1624-1815), where the passage commemorating Ermessenda’s death reads, « Aquest dia òbit d’Ermessenda Comtessa, que va dotar aquesta Santa Església amb moltes coses » [On this day Countess Ermessenda died, who donated many things to this Holy Church] : J. Villanueva, Viage literario á las iglesias de España, Madrid, 1803-1852, t. 12, p. 296.

21 R. Martí, Col·lecció diplomàtica de la Seu de Girona (817-1100), Barcelona, 1997, n° 169.

22 (…) nos simul in unum uenditores tibi Raimundo, nutu Dei comiti et coniugi tuae Ermesendi iuuanmine Deu comitisse, emptores. R. Martí, Col·lecció diplomática, ibid., n° 169.

23 For an overview of this process of exclaustration, see J. Ferrer, Diplomatari de Sant Joan de les Abadesses (995-1273), Barcelona, 2009, p. 41-46.

24 XXX. uncias auri de mancusos adalis, ex quibus sit cooperta domus, que debet esse dormitorium, quam ego feci, et sit edificata auulsura. F. Miquel Rossell, Liber Feoudorum Maior. Cartulario real que se conserva en el Archivo de la Corona de Aragón, Barcelona, 1945, t. 1, p. 490.

25 A discussion on this issue through a systematic set of examples involving women of diverse status can be found in T. Martin, « The Margin to Act : A Framework of Investigation for Women’s (and Men’s) Medieval Art-making », Journal of Medieval History. « Me fecit ». Making Medieval Art (History), special issue, 42/1 (2016), p. 1-25.

26 Ermessendis, comitissae, quae eadem die ad honorem Dei et matris ecclesiae trescentas auri contulit uncias ad auream construendam tabulam. R. Martí, Col·lecció diplomàtica, op. cit., n° 224.

27 For a full account of the destruction of the altar frontal by the Napoleonic troops, see E. Mirambell, « Un relato popular de la Defensa y Ocupación de Gerona durante la Guerra de la Independencia », Annals de l’Institut d’Estudis Gironins, 13 (1959), p. 205-206.

28 Ad partem anteriorem aurea lamina coopertum cum pulcra imagine intemerate Virginis Marie cum eius Filio in brachio in medio sculpta. Et cum innumeris pretiosis lapidibus ac circumquaque ex argento et auro ac quamplurimis lapidibus pretiosis ornatum (…) [The front is covered with sheet of gold with a beautiful sculpted image of the pure Virgin Mary, hieratic and holding the Child. And with countless precious stones, and surrounded by silver and gold, and adorned with numerous precious stones]. For a full transcription of the inventory, see J. Marquès, « El frontal de oro de la seo de Gerona », Annals de l’Institut d’Estudis Gironins, 13 (1959), p. 220-231.

29 For a general survey on the altar frontal’s story and main features, see : J. Molina, « Ars Sacra a la Catedral de Girona. Esplendor i renovació d’una seu a l’entorn de l’any 1000 », Girona a l’abast, 7 (2005), p. 166 ; F. Español, « El escenario litúrgico de la Catedral de Girona (s. XI-XIV) », Hortus Artium Medievalium, 11 (2005), p. 218 ; V. Abenza, « ¿Patronazgo en cuestión o cuestión de patronazgo ? Ermessenda de Carcassone y el desaparecido frontal de altar de la catedral de Girona : el enigma de su piedra sigilar », Locus Amoenus, 18 (2020), p. 5-26 ; T. Martin, « Glimpses of Gold: Material Evidence of Cross-Cultural Connections in Rock Crystal Chess Pieces and a Countess’s Seal (10th-11th c.)», Archivo Español de Arte, 94, 375 (2020), p. 201-214.

30 J. Marquès, « El frontal de oro… », op. cit., p. 220-231.

31 « En vna cornelina están gravadas vnas letras Hebreas, y en vna celidonia el nombre de ermesendis, que es el de la Condessa de Barcelona (sic.) ». J. G. Roig i Jalpí, Resumen historial de las grandezas y antigüedades de la ciudad de Gerona, y cosas memorables suyas Eclesiásticas y Seculares, allí de nuestros tiempos, como de los passados, Barcelona, 1678, p. 207-210.

32 The correct transcription is taken from T. Martin, « Contribuciones del mecenazgo multicultural a la autoridad de las élites femeninas en la península ibérica (siglos X-XI) », in M. E. Díez Jorge (ed.), Arquitectura y mujeres en la historia, Madrid, 2015, p. 115-144, n. 74.

33 Scholars still disagree on whether the countess acted as regent during the minorities of her son and grandson : X. Gil Román, Ermesèn, vida y obra…, op. cit., t. 1, p. 96-98.

34 R. Franses, Donor Portraits in Byzantine Art. The Vicissitudes of Contact between Human and Divine, Cambridge, 2018, p. 17-62.

35 See T. Martin, « Glimpses of Gold », op. cit. I am indebted to the author for sharing with me in advance some of her interesting and stimulating findings.

36 For a biography of the queen and a discussion on her ancestral home, see : J. Salazar Acha, « Nuevos datos para la identificación familiar de la reina Estefanía de Pamplona », Príncipe de Viana, 68 (2007), p. 853-864, and Á. García de La Borbolla, « Estefanía (1014/1016-1060/1066), esposa de García Sánchez III el de Nájera », in J. Pavón (ed.), Reinas de Navarra, Madrid, 2014, p. 91-115.

37 A full transcription of the text of the diploma can be found in F. Fita, « Santa María la Real de Nájera. Estudio crítico », Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 26 (1895), p. 155-198.

38 The matter has been studied, especially regarding territorial and patrimonial issues among these three kings, by several scholars whose studies form the basis of my reflexion, especially : Á. Martín Duque, « Don García Sánchez III “El de Nájera” : biografía de un reinado », in García Sánchez III “El de Nájera”. Un Rey y un Reino en la Europa del siglo XI, Logroño, 2005, p. 17-37, and F. Miranda, « Monarquía y espacios de poder político en el reino de Pamplona », Ante el Milenario del reinado de Sancho el Mayor. Un rey navarro para España y Europa, Pamplona, 2004, p. 43-70, with extensive bibliography.

39 J. de Moret, Annales del Reyno de Navarra, Pamplona, 1684, t. 1, p. 744.

40 M. Cantera, Colección Documental de Santa María la Real de Nájera, t. 1 (Siglos X-XIV), San Sebastián, 1991, n° 18. The concept « in opera » may refer either to the management or to the building works of the church.

41 For an alternative interpretation S. Silva y Verástegui, « Iconografía del donante en el arte navarro medieval », Príncipe de Viana, Anexo 11 (1988), p. 445-457.

42 The text has an empty space that was particularly left for the signature of the consecrating bishop.

43 Fort the content of these additions F. Fita, « Santa María la Real… », op. cit., p. 155-198.

44 On Sancho Garcés IV’ weak authority F. Miranda, « Sancho Garcés IV el de Peñalén (1054-1076) », in I. Bango (ed.), La Edad de un Reyno. Las Encrucijadas de la Corona y la Diócesis de Pamplona, Pamplona, 2006, t. 1, p. 174-175.

45 For the most recent monography F. Fité and E. González, Arnau Mir de Tost. Un senyor de frontera al segle XI, Lleida, 2010.

46 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la villa de Ager, Barcelona, 1961, p. 342-347, n° 26.

47 V. Abenza, « Arnau Mir de Tost y Arsenda de Fluvià : el deseo y la acción de peregrinar a Compostela », Compostellanum, 63/3-4 (2018), p. 363-381.

48 J. Verdaguer, « Reliquiari de la Vera Creu que el bisbe Oliba va regalar a Arnau Mir de Tost », in M. Castiñeiras and J. Verdaguer (ed.), El Cel pintat. El Baldaquí de Tost, Vic, 2008, p. 76, with extended bibliography.

49 E. Junyent, Diplomatari i escrits literaris de l’abat i bisbe Oliba, Barcelona, 1992, p. 338-340, n° 22.

50 F. Fité, « Arnau Mir de Tost i el culte a les relíquies. Un exponent pirinenc en la promoció dels santuaris », Urgellia, 16 (2006-2007), p. 537.

51 M. Dels Sants Gros, « Carta del bisbe Oliba i autèntica de la consagració del reliquiari », in J. Barrachina (ed.), Thesaurus estudis : l’art als Bisbats de Catalunya 1000-1800, Barcelona, 1986, p. 100.

52 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 348, n° 27.

53 Donations to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela were common in the family. In 1030, Bernat de Tost, who was brother of Arnau Mir, gave five mancusos F. Fité, « Arnau Mir de Tost i la fundació de la col·legiata de Sant Pere d’Àger », Lambard : Estudis d’Art Medieval, 21 (2009-2010), p. 125.

54 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 348, n° 27.

55 A. Ubieto Arteta, Cartulario de San Juan de la Peña, Valencia, 1963, p. 177-181, n° 150, p. 199-203, n° 159.

56 A. Arcaz, « Implantación y desarrollo territorial de la Orden Militar de San Juan de Jerusalén en Galicia (siglos XII-XV) », En la España Medieval, 18 (1995), p. 259.

57 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 339-342, n° 25.

58 S. Silva y Verástegui, « Los sepulcros de los santos constructores del Camino de Santiago a Compostela », in M. C. Lacarra (ed.), Los caminos de Santiago. Arte. Historia y Literatura, Zaragoza, 2005, p. 129-168.

59 J. Villanueva, Viage literario…, op. cit., t. 10, p. 306-312.

60 C. Baraut, « Els documents dels anys 1051-1075, de l’Arxiu Capitular de la Seu d’Urgell », Urgellia, 6 (1982), p. 159-160, n° 795.

61 For a biography of the king and his military expeditions D. Buesa, « Reconquista y cruzada en el reinado de Sancho Ramírez », in E. Sarasa (ed.), Sancho Ramírez, rey de Aragón y su tiempo (1064-1094), Huesca, 1994, p. 47-63.

62 A. Ubieto Arteta, Colección diplomática de Pedro I de Aragón y Navarra, Zaragoza, 1951, p. 212-213, n° 2.

63 On both works, their manufacture, and their donation to the female monastery of Santa María de Santa Cruz de la Serós V. Abenza, « The Jaca Ivories : Towards a Revaluation of Eleventh-century Female Artistic Patronage in the Kingdom of Aragon », in J. McNeill et al. (ed.), Romanesque patrons and processes, London/New York, 2018, p. 183-193.

64 A. Ubieto Arteta, Cartulario de San Juan…, op. cit., p. 177-181, n° 150.

65 M. González Miranda, « La condesa doña Sancha y el Monasterio de Santa Cruz de la Serós », Estudios de Edad Media de la Corona de Aragón, 6 (1956), p. 185-202.

66 A discussion on this attempt of subjection to Cluny in F. Fité and E. González, Arnau Mir de Tost…, op. cit., p. 226.

67 P. Sanahuja, Historia de la Villa…, op. cit., p. 335-336, n° 22.

68 F. Fité, « El lot de peces d’escacs de cristal de roca del Museu Diocesà de Lleida, procedents del tresor de la col·legiata d’Àger (segle XI) », Acta Mediaevalia, 5-6 (1984-1985), p. 281-312.

69 C. Baraut, « Les actes de consagracions d’esglésies del bisbat d’Urgell (segles IX-XII) », Urgellia, 1 (1978), p. 144-148, n° 68.

70 On later recipients of the chess pieces J. Duran-Porta, « Nuevos datos sobre la temprana difusión del ajedrez en los Pirineos, y una reflexión sobre las piezas de Àger », Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. Serie VII. Historia del Arte, 5 (2017), p. 171-187.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Drawing of the lost golden altar frontal from the Cathedral of Girona. Used with permission of Iker Spozio.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 724k
Titre Fig. 2 – Ermessenda de Carcassone’s Chalcedony seal (10th-11th c.). Girona, Museu del Tresor de la Catedral, Acc. n° 25 (cl. T. Martin).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 164k
Titre Fig. 3 – Nájera Foundation Privilege (1054). Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, B-005-001 (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,6M
Titre Fig. 4 – Detail of the portrait of Estefanía de Foix in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 536k
Titre Fig. 5 – Detail of the model of the Church of Santa María la Real de Nájera in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,0M
Titre Fig. 6 – Detail of the portrait of García Sánchez III in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,5M
Titre Fig. 7 – Detail of the miniature depicting the Annunciation in Nájera’s Foundation Privilege (cl. Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 976k
Titre Fig. 8 – Reliquary from the Church of Sant Martí de Tost (1040). Vic, Museu Episcopal, Acc. nº 8641 (cl. Museu Episcopal de Vic).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 452k
Titre Fig. 9 – Jaca Ivories. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Acc. n° 17.190.134, 17.190.33 (cl. With permission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 660k
Titre Fig. 10 – Chess pieces from the Church of Sant Pere d’Àger. Lleida, Museu de Lleida, Acc. n° 1473, 1473bis (cl. V. C. Abenza Soria).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cem/docannexe/image/19020/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 364k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Verónica Carla Abenza Soria, « Ut commutando donemus : An Approach to Female Artistic Patronage in Northeast Iberia (1000-1100) », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [En ligne], 26.1 | 2022, mis en ligne le 25 juin 2022, consulté le 10 août 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cem/19020 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/cem.19020

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Auteur

Verónica Carla Abenza Soria

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales – Instituto de Historia, Madrid (Spain)

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