Manuscript on parchment (380 x 270 mm). 8. complete. Contents: ff. 1r-4v: Regla, in Spanish, in 30 numbered sections (inconsistent numbering on ff. 3v-4v), in a rounded script in brown ink (the first page slightly larger), up to 27 lines. F. 1r: incipit, first four lines in large lettering, with very large calligraphic initial: En el no[m]bre de dios todo poderoso padre y hijo y espiritu sa[n]cto tres personas y una esencia... Section 30 (f. 4v) added in a slightly later hand. The word Cruz symbolized by a red Maltese cross. Text on ff. 2r-2v underlined in red. Calligraphic initials, some with marginal extensions in brown, purple or red. Marginal drawings of prickly foliage, some in the shapes of fantastic animals. Later marginal notes opposite many sections. Ff. 5r-5v: [Heading:] Este es traslado de un testimonio, followed by two notarial subscriptions on f. 5v, one partially in cursive, signed and dated Ávila, 11 May 1527, the other in italic (partly faded), including the date 1615. F. 6r: A cerca de la procession de la Resurrection. After an introductory portion in a small round early 16th-century hand in brown ink, the text continues from f. 4v with sections 32-37 of the Regla, of which sections 33-37 are in a later sixteenth-century hand; these sections ruled through with light diagonal lines. Signatures or notes in lower margin. F. 6v: blank except for five lines heavily cancelled in red. Ff. 7r-7v: five paragraphs, in a fine upright italic hand, the first and third with headings in red, La orden que han de tener en la procession de la Resurxection [sic] en la [faded and illegible]…; La orden que sea de tener en la procession de la Resurretion [sic] en el domingo de pascua es la siguente... Followed on f. 7v by a note in a different hand dated from La Horcajada, 21 May 1550. Ff. 7v-8v and back inner cover: later additions, some quite faded. A few later marginal annotations throughout.
Rubrication and decoration: headings and line fillers in red, a few ornamented line fillers or borders, some passages underlined in red or light purple, else ruled in dry point, numerous calligraphic initials in red or brown ink, opening initial with purple filigree extension filling left margin, numerous foliate, vegetable and zoomorphic ornamental designs in the margins in red, purple and brown ink.
Binding: stitched into the original parchment cover with title “Regla de la P[a]sio[n]” in large letters, the R with decorative extensions, above a large cross in green ink, entwined with the snake and in the margins apparently the instruments of the Passion.
Condition: rubbing and staining, vertical crease from folding causing occasional erasure of text, outer edge of first page somewhat rubbed affecting legibility of text (some words at line ends helpfully written over in a later hand), the inks used in the last two leaves quite faded; wrapper worn and darkened, with tears at top and 3 small holes in lower cover.
Provenance: Confraternity of the Holy Cross of Horcajada; purchased in France (with export licence). ***
A Spanish confraternity manuscript, containing the rules and statutes that governed the Confraternity of the Holy Cross (referred to as the Cofradía or Hermandad de la [Cruz], the word Cruz being supplied by a Maltese cross in red) of La Horcajada, a town located in Castile y León, in the province of Ávila. As in other Roman Catholic countries, confraternities or lay brotherhoods played a vital role in community life in Spain, functioning as mutual aid societies and venues for laypeople to express their piety and perform charitable acts. vernacular manuscript confraternity statutes from the iberian peninsula surface much more rarely than, for example, their italian counterparts, although it appears that Spain had a larger number of confraternities proportional to the population, especially in Castile y Leon, than the other Catholic lands. Virtually every community, including small villages, had at least one confraternity. While exact numbers of confraternities in sixteenth-century Spain are unknown, “studies carried out for a number of cities suggest that the number of confraternities and brotherhoods in the Hispanic kingdoms was larger than elsewhere in Catholic Europe.... The reasons behind the extraordinary popularity of confraternities and brotherhoods in the Hispanic kingdoms cannot yet be established, however, in view of the current state of research on the topic.... There has been a tendency for scholars to emphasize the confraternity as a primarily urban phenomenon, a reflection, perhaps, of their early development in Italy where they formed an essential part of civic and urban life. In the Hispanic kingdoms, however, these institutions were equally important in the religious and social life of the small village. Pastoral visitations carried out by the bishops of Cuenca during the sixteenth century found that `nearly every community had at least one brotherhood,’ even small villages of 500 inhabitants. A similar pattern prevailed in villages around Toledo during the late sixteenth century” (Callahan, pp. 18-19).
In his article William Callahan further points out the popular nature of Spanish confraternities, which “arose from the initiative of the laity rather than the clergy, prime examples of the lay piety that began to flourish in late medieval Europe. This piety developed largely on its own uncontrolled by either local bishops or the pope, both of whom regarded its manifestations with some suspicion.... The resiliency of traditional confraternities and brotherhoods developed from their connection to local religious cultures. It also reflected a fact noted by scholars who have studied specific cities and regions, the strongly popular character of membership. There were, of course, some associations that limited membership to the nobility or clergy, but in most cases members were recruited from the popular classes. This was obviously true in the case of peasant villages where only one or two confraternities existed...” (pp. 22-23). In spite of the centrality of confraternities to early modern religious life in Spain, there is comparatively little modern scholarly literature, especially on the rural confraternities. (Note the absence, for example, of any articles on Spain or Portugal in Brill’s recently published Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Confraternities, edited by Konrad Eisenbichler.)
This working manuscript bears witness to this important but understudied aspect of Spanish popular religious culture, before the restrictions placed on confraternities by the Council of Trent and succeeding Popes. Consulted frequently and contributed to by members of the confraternity, the manuscript includes abundant interlinear and marginal additions and corrections, and half- or full-page later additions. The town of La Horcajada is identified in the opening page. Ff. 1r to 5v contain the introduction, the first 30 statutes, and a notarized testimony with heading “Este es traslado de un testimonio” which relates to the apparently recent establishment of the confraternity. The statutes cover admission of new members, general rules of comportment, requirements of prayer and confession for feast days and for the canonical hours, charity for poorer members of the confraternity, chants, etc. Several paragraphs relate to processions, including required habits and admission of non-members into the processions. On f. 6r a paragraph on the procession de la Resurrection is followed by six entries numbered 32 to 37, of which paragraphs 33 to 37 are in a later 16th-century hand. Several light diagonal lines through these five paragraphs may indicate that they were cancelled. The verso (f.6v) contains only five lines, heavily cancelled in red ink, and f. 7r continues discussion of the procession of the Resurrection on a feast day (the name of the saint is smudged) and on Easter Sunday, in a different 16th-century upright cursive. This second section (of which portions are difficult to read because of fading), ends on f. 7v and is followed by a note in a larger hand, dated from La Horcajada, 21 May 1550. The final leaf and inner back cover contain later additions, some quite faded. One late addition in the lower margin of f. 5v is dated 1615.
The manuscript is decorated in a popular style. Some of the leafy plant designs have a thorny look that may reflect local vegetation. Animals and grotesques include a scorpion-like creature, birds, and possibly imaginary mammals. A witness to the central role played by religious confraternities in early modern Spain, bearing the marks of its use and in original condition, it is a rare survival, and would repay further study.
Cf. William Callahan, “Confraternities and Brotherhoods in Spain 1500-1800,” Confraternitas: The Newsletter of the Society for Confraternity Studies 12:1 (2001) 17-25. See also William A. Christian, Local Religion in Sixteenth Century Spain (Princeton 1981); Maureen Flynn, Sacred Charity: Confraternities and Social Welfare in Spain, 1400-1800 (Basingstoke, 1989). Item #4007