Cartulary of Valpuesta

Identity statement area

Supplied Title:

Cartulary of Valpuesta

Reference number:


Date of creation:

Approximate s.IX  -  s.XIII

Level of description:

Unidad Documental Compuesta_en

Reference code:



Biography / Administrative history:

The history of the monastery of Santa María de Valpuesta is linked to the diocese of Valpuesta, to which it belonged. The sources available for its knowledge are the documents gathered in the two cartularies that have been conserved. Since the sixteenth century, historians like Esteban de Garibay, Ambrosio de Morales and Juan de Mariana dedicated attention in their respective stories ¿works? to Valpuesta, showing the importance that this small town had in Castilia during the High Middle l age. Juan de Salazar, Gregorio de Argaiz, José de Landázuri and especially, Enrique Flórez looked into the monastery with more depth.  The bishopric of Valpuesta arose as a result of the Muslim conquest of these lands because it did not exist before (for this reason it was not mentioned in the first preserved episcopal lists. Its creation was motivated by the suppression of the old Episcopal Sees of Oca, Osma, Palencia and Calahorra.  During the ninth and tenth centuries, the territory where Valpuesta settles settled? En pasado, was populated by a large number of small monasteries that arose as the repopulation of the territory advanced. In a certain way, they worked in the same way than the suppressed bishoprics, making spiritual functions and controlling the territory. The sources refer to them under different denominations, such as monasterium, ecclesia, cella, cenobium, atrium, etc. We don't have many information about the rule followed by these small communities. Documents refer to it as "regula prima, regula sancta, regula monasterii. For this reason, it is thought that this monastery accomplish the rule called "monacato pactual" (Its clearest example was the Regula Communis of San Fructuoso). The existence of these pacts??? Deals??? in Valpuesta is reflected in the documents of the "Becerro Gótico" of the years 865, 870, 929 and 1030.  Therefore, the origin of Santa María de Valpuesta has to be framed in the repopulation campaigns that the monarchs delegated in private hands. It is deduced from the controversial document of December 18, 804, where these facts are explained. Bishop Juan, along with some monks and other people (gasalianes) arrived to Valpuesta, during the reing of Alfonso II of Oviedo. In this place he found an abandoned and half destroyed church dedicated to Santa Maria, which was repaired. He also took possession of the surrounding abandoned lands (presuras), which were populated and cultivated. In this moment, Alfonso II confirmed to the church of Valpuesta the properties acquired by Bishop Juan. Both documents are considered false today, (they were written several centuries later). According to the latest research, the first documented bishop who does not offer any doubt is Felmiro. He appears signing a document of the year 881.  The diocese of Valpuesta, which is the successor of the diocese of Oca, exercise its jurisdiction in the north of the province of Burgos, besides the current provinces of Santander, Álava and Vizcaya. Except for a brief interruption between 1052 and 1064, when it became part of the diocese of Nájera, Valpuesta continued until its abolition in 1088. The restoration of the bishopric of Oca in 1067 by Sancho II was the beginning of the end of Valpuesta. In this document, although the Diocese of Valpuesta is not suppressed, its territory is assigned to Oca. Munio was the last bishop of Valpuesta who was mentioned in a document (1087). When the council of Santa María de Husillos (Palencia) met the following year, no bishop of Valpuesta's signature will appear in the minutes, what means this bishopric had been suppressed, and its place would be occupied by Oca. In 1074, the infantas Doña Urraca and Doña Elvira donated to Don Jimeno, bishop of Burgos, the church of Santa María de Gamonal to install the headquarters of Oca, which will definitely take place with Alfonso V. In this moment, the restoration of the old Visigothic sites could be considered finished.  Valpuesta became Archdeacon, dignity of the cathedral of Burgos and its collegiate chapter was erected. The documents of the "becerro gótico" are testimony of this change. The monachos and frates, became clerici ecclesiae Vallispositae or regulating clerici. We know the names of the first who held the office, Domingo (1090-1095) was the first, succeeded by Vicente (1097-1109), Bernardo (1117-1137) and Arnaldo (1138-1144).  A new change took place in the first half of the thirteenth century, when under the mandate of Archdeacon Hilario (1225-1240?) the town council was secularized, abandoned the traditional "life in common" of the canons. It was continued until the collegiate seats were eliminated by the Concordat signed between Spain and the Holy See in 185. Valpuesta was among them. As a result, the collegiate church of Valpuesta became a parish church.  In spite of losing the category of bishopric, the Archdeacon of Valpuesta should have enjoyed prestige sticking to people who held such office, as the popes Alejandro VI and Adriano VI, the cardinals Alonso Carrillo de Albornoz, Gil Carrillo de Albornoz , and bishops, such as Pedro Fernández Vaca and Antonio Osorio de Acuña.  Its jurisdiction extended to the lands of Miranda de Ebro, Santa Gadea del Cid, Bujedo de Candepajares, Cellorigo, Frías, Tobalina valleys and Losa to the sea. Also, by Old Castile, part of Álava, Mena Valley, Encartaciones, Castro Urdiales, Laredo and Merindad de Trasmiera.   

Acquisition method:


Acquisition source:

Procedente de la Biblioteca Provincial de Burgos.

Acquisition date:


Content and Structure

Scope and Content:

The "Becerro Gótico de Valpuesta" or Gothic Cartulary of the Monastery of Valpuesta (Burgos, España) is a special cartulary due to its structure, which isn't the normal one. Ruiz Asencio, one of the main researchers, qualifies it as the most complex Castilian cartulary. The first thing which draws our attention is that it is a factitious meeting of several booklets of an independent nature, as well as some loose folios which were bound together, creating a book with them. 
It consists of seventeen parchment booklets, with one hundred and seventeen folios, including some fragments of folios and three original loose documents. The size of them is unequal, oscillating between 95x140mm (in booklet 16) at 175x230mm (Booklet 5). On the other hand, some booklets are written in a Visigothic letter (twenty-two) and other in Carolina (twelve). It continued being used until the beginning of the thirteenth century as evidenced by the hand notes on the blank pages. This structure is what the cartulary had in the thirteenth century, because when it was copied into a new one, the Galician Becerro, in 1236, the documents were copied in the same order as this cartulary. 
It is necessary to emphasize that there are in it some documents which shouldn't be in it, as the documents of the Buezo monastery, to which we will refer later and perhaps, and what is more striking, three original documents (doc 37, 966, April, 1, f 77, doc 53, 1044, f 20bis and doc 87, 1093, December 18, f.101v.-102r.) 
It contains 187 documents, eight of the ninth century, thirty-nine of the X, and 90 of the XII; finally, one of the XIII. As for the diplomatic typology of the documents which inserts, the most remarkable fact is the scant presence of real documents, which is limited to one of Alfonso II of 804. There are also very few, three only, episcopal documents of the ninth century. On the contrary, private documents abound, among which we find donations, sales, swaps, appointment of guarantors for judicial processes, letters of familiarity, anniversaries, etc. 
Among all these documents, the donations "traditio corporis et animae" stand out for their number (it was accompanied by donations through which the donors paid the expenses of their burial and those of the persons in charge of praying for the soul of the deceased). Some of which are not copied in full, but only the data of the author and recipient, with the news of the delivery of the body and the description of the donated goods, but lacking a date. 
The total number of private documents rises to one hundred sixty-six, excluding those of the monastery of San Pedro and San Pablo de Buezo de Bureba (15 documents), although not all researches share this opinion. Four are from the ninth century, twenty-five, from the X; forty-nine of the eleventh; eighty-seven, of the XII; and, one from the beginning of the 13th century. There are also numerous documents which have no date, fifty-seven, or which present problems for their interpretation, either due to the erroneous use of Roman numerals, due to the mistake in the use of the dating system by kalendas, nonas and idus, or because of the lack of agreement between the day of the month and the day of the week. 
Finally, regarding the false documents, the most significant are the two oldest ones in the cartulary (year 804). Although today the majority of the researcher defend their falsity, the opinion is not unanimous. The first of them, despite its falsehood, was a great success, according to the confirmations made from Fernando III to Felipe IV. Furthermore we must add the donation of Bishop Fredulfo [894-900]. 
The Gothic Cartulary of Valpuesta has been known by historians from a very early date and has been used in their works by Garibay, Morales, Mariana, Argaiz and Flórez. In the XX century, Louis Barrau-Dihigo made its first modern edition, although he only published the oldest documents, when Valpuesta was bishopric (804-1087). Julián Sainz de Baranda published other edition in 1935 riddled with errors. It is not based on the original Gothic Cartulary, but also on a copy of the Gallican existing in the Salazar and Castro Collection of the Royal Academy of History. 
In 1970, Mª Desamparados Pérez Soler published a new edition based on Barrau-Dihigo. It was described by its most recent editors as "plagiarism". Fuerthermore, it has errors of translation, but it stand out making accessible to scholars this document with difficult consultation in our libraries. It is preceded by a brief introduction of two pages and indexes at the end. 
It was Saturnino Ruiz de Loizaga the first who published the documents of the Gothic Cartularaty of Valpuesta from 1090 to 1140 (1935), not included in the previous editions. But, in addition, he also did the same with the Galicano Cartulary, publishing in double column the documents of both cartularies. 
The last and most complete edition of the two cartularies has been carried out by the Castilian-Leonese Institute of Language in 2010 (José Mª Ruiz Asencio, Irene Ruiz Albi and Mauricio Herrero Jiménez). It is preceded by an extensive introductory study where all the problems presented by these cartulars are studied, which we have explained previously. It was published with a careful transcription and exhaustive indexes. The second volume includes a photographic reproduction of the Cartularies. Without a doubt, it is currently the most complete edition we have. 
But, in addition, of all these singularities that we have been highlighting, the Gothic Cartulary of Valpuesta has another and maybe the most important: the importance it has for the study of the origins of Castilian. Among their documents appear voices in romance "glosas" which can be considered as one of the oldest testimonies of the Castilian language. 
Experts have declared those cartularies contain the firt signs of Spanish language. The "first written spanish" was traditionally considered to have appeared in the "glosas emilianenses". But in this case the cartularies are written in a Latin Romanceado, in a language which is a mixture between latin and spanish (They are written in Latin but including unintentionally phonetics, syntactic and lexical elements which are more typical from Spanish than from Latin). 

Conditions of Access and Use

General Conditions of Access:

©MECD. Archivos Estatales (España). La difusión de la información descriptiva y de las imágenes digitales de este documento ha sido autorizada por el titular de los derechos de propiedad intelectual exclusivamente para uso privado y para actividades de docencia e investigación. En ningún caso se autoriza su reproducción con finalidad lucrativa ni su distribución, comunicación pública y transformación por cualquier medio sin autorización expresa y por escrito del propietario.

State of conservation:


Related documentation

Medium/Archival Material:

Digitized contains digitized images

Publication Notes:

BARRAU-DIHIGO, Louis: "Chartes de l'église de Valpuesta. Du IX au XIe siècle", en Revue Hispanique, VII (1900), p. 272-389. También en Estudios Mirandeses, 20 (2000) p. 43-53. Traducción de este artículo en Ibidem, p. 55-62.

Cartulario de Valpuesta, edición crítica e índices por Mª Desamparados Pérez Soler, Valencia: Anubar , 1970.

RUIZ DE LOIZAGA, Saturnino: Los Cartularios Gótico y Galicano de Santa María de Valpuesta (1090-1140). Segunda parte, continuación del "Cartulario de Valpuesta" de M D. Pérez Soler (Valencia, 1970), Vitoria: Diputacion Foral de Alava , 1995.

Los becerros gótico y galicano de Valpuesta / José M. Ruiz Asencio, Irene Ruiz Albi, Mauricio Herrero Jiménez, Burgos: Instituto Castellano y Leonés de la Lengua, 2010.

Cartulario de Valpuesta: Becerros Gótico y Galicano, Burgos: Siloé, Arte y Bibliofilia, 2016. 2 v. Reproducción facsímil de los Becerros Gótico y Galicano de Valpuesta, conservados en el AHN (Códices, L.1166 y L.1167)

RUIZ ASENCIO, José Manuel: "Los cartularios de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 24 (2004) p. 354-381.

RUIZ DE LOIZAGA, Saturnino: "Sobre la autenticidad del cartulario de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 20 (2000) p. 89-99.

DULANTO SARRALDE, Nicolás: "Singularidad del cartulario de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 20 (2000) p. 9-18.

ZABALZA DUQUE, Manuel: "Tipología de los documentos de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 24 (2004) p. 320-353.

RAMOS REMEDIOS, Emiliana: Los cartularios de Santa María de Valpuesta. Análisis lingüístico, Donostia: Eusko Ikaskuntza, 2000.

DULANTO SARRALDE, Nicolás: Valpuesta, la cuna del castellano escrito, Vitoria: Diputación Foral de Alava, 2000.

RAMOS REMEDIOS, Emiliana: "La lengua romance a través de los cartularios de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 20 (2000) p. 139-142.

RAMOS REMEDIOS, Emiliana: "En torno a la importancia de los cartularios de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 24 (2004) p. 382-397.

RUIZ DE LOIZAGA, Saturnino: "Léxico del cartulario de Santa María de Valpuesta (804-1138)", en Scriptorium victoriense, 38, nº 4 (1991) p. 412-439.

RUIZ DE LOIZAGA, Saturnino: "Revisión y nuevas conclusiones sobre el cartulario de Valpuesta", en Estudios Mirandeses, 24 (2004) p. 423-439.

RUIZ DE LOIZAGA, Saturnino: "La nueva edición de los cartularios de Valpuesta (Valpuesta en los orígenes del castellano)", en Estudios Mirandeses, XXXI (2011) p. 1-24.

RAMOS REMEDIOS, Emiliana: "Aportaciones del análisis antroponímico al área vasco-románica (siglos IX-XII). La documentación de Santa María de Valpuesta", en Revista internacional de los estudios vascos, 55, nº 2 (2010) p. 499-566.

CIERBIDE MARTINENA, Ricardo: "Santa María de Valpuesta y sus Cartularios. Comentario filológico", en Estudios mirandeses, nº 19 (1999) p. 143-154.

Los cartularios de Valpuesta. Estudios. Edición a cargo de José A. Bartol Hernández, Antonio Álvarez Tejedor, José Ramón Morala, Salamanca: Luso-Española de Ediciones , D.L. 2014, donde se tratan diferentes aspectos lingüísticos de los mismos en p. 121-302.

Related Units based on Origin:

Se conservan documentos del antiguo archivo de Valpuesta en el Archivo de la catedral de Burgos. MANSILLA REOYO, Demetrio: Catálogo documental del archivo catedral de Burgos (804-1416), Madrid: CSIC, 1971, passim. (Ver ínidces, s.v. Valpuesta) Los fondos antiguos del archivo parroquial de Valpuesta se conservan en el Archivo Diocesano de Burgos. VICARIO SANTAMARÍA, Matías: Censo-Guía de los archivos parroquiales de la diócesis de Burgos, Burgos: Publicaciones del Arzobispado de Burgos, 1988, p. 567-569.

Extent and medium

1 Libro(s) .