Friday, 25 September 2009

Tampered Texts...?

None of the charters mentioned in the last blog have survived in their original form; what we have are copies made in the 10th, 11th, and 13th centuries. The texts have been “tampered with”. Are they, Fletcher asks, “outright forgeries of a much later period”, or are they only authentic 8th century texts which have undergone only minor touchings up later on?

In fact there are so many forgeries connected with the “evidence for St. James” that it’s hard not to throw out both baby and bathwater at the same time.

For example: a royal charter of 829 has survived only as a 12th century copy. This mentions a “grant of privileges to the apostle’s church”. It is likely to be a forgery. Besides, if we look at the date this would indicate that the tomb had been discovered between 818 and 829. A later tradition mentions that Alfonso built three churches, one of them to St. James, and that there were also two monastic houses and a wall to surround the complex. Again, widely accepted, but we only have evidence of the church of St. James. This was “poorly built, made of rubble and clay” according to a document which dates from the time of the second church of 899. Such a church would have been a very modest little building compared with Alfonso’s church in Oviedo which was reportedly richly endowed. And as for the first appearance of St. James as “ Santiago Matamoros” as we have already seen it was not Ramiro but Ordoño his son who fought at this battle, and neither of the two kings seem to have been overly pre-occupied with James.

P.S. Don't forget the competition posted below. There is still one copy of Pilgrimage to Heresy or Peregrinos de la Herejía yet to be claimed...Could it be yours?

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