Saturday, 9 January 2010

Back to the Future: Part Seven...

And now we are almost back to where we left off before the holidays and ready to take a good long look at Feudal Galicia in the days of Diego Gelmirez, the man who put the Santiago into Santiago de Compostela.

Diego was not born into the nobility; indeed we might say he grew up on the periphery of it. His father, Gelmirio, was a devoted servant to Bishop Diego Pelaez who administered the Torres del Oeste, the strategic fortress on the River Ulla closer to Padron (Iria Flavia).

The future archbishop of Santiago de Compostela would have witnessed many important comings and goings, perhaps some royal. Certainly he received the patronage of Diego Pelaez the bishop who made sure that the young Diego received his education at the cathedral school in Compostela. Afterwards, Diego spent time at the court of Alfonso VI, the king. He clearly was a master of watching and learning.

After Diego Pelaez was arrested for treason there was a vacancy at Compostela. Not that Diego was ready for the bishopric by any means but he made himself so useful that he was awarded the "Honor" and became the administrator of the church funds from its landed holdings, most of which went into the royal pocket while the diocese was without a bishop.

Two interim bishops came and went very quickly and Diego was back holding the purse strings. In the meantime, Diego Pelaez was still petitioning the Pope to obtain back his see, with very little success. (He was to die in exile in 1104)

Upon the death of Urban II (who was a monk of Cluny about which I shall shortly be writing) and the election of a new pope, Pascal II (also Cluniac) the influence of France was creeping on noisy feet across Spain. Diego Gelmirez loved all things French having learned that being a Francophile at the court of Alfonso (and his Burgundian queen) was the way to preferment. At the turn of the 12th century he visited Rome and returned with directions to the Canons of Compostela that he was a worthy candidate for Holy Orders.

Within a very short time, and "unanimously", Diego is put forward as the choice for the new and long needed bishop.

And so the story continues...

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