Publication of a Diplomatic Collection of Sant Martí Vell, Spain

Project location: SPAIN, Girona
Project start date: May 2016 - Project end date: June 2017
Project number: 2016-021
Beneficiary: Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural


The archives of the city of Girona contain a wealth of mainly unexplored historical information about the small municipality of Sant Martí Vell, located in the same county. In spite of this, very little is actually known about the place and its inhabitants in past centuries. In order to fill some of this void, since 2010 the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has been supporting the creation of a Diplomatarium of the village with a view to publishing a collection of old documents that refer to the village and cover the period from the 11th to the 16th centuries.

The Foundation's interest in the Diplomatarium of Sant Martí Vell arises from the founders' passion for knowledge, dissemination and conservation of the world's historical and cultural heritage, focused on this occasion on this village, with its close ties to their life and work.

The current phase of work on the Diplomatarium is centred on identifying and editing documents dated from 1500 to 1599, with the intention of publishing in the near future a first volume devoted to the 16th century. Research has concentrated particularly on the records of the notaries' practices that existed in the city of Girona during this period. The investigation includes all contracts typical of notarial documentation such as land terriers, emphyteutic leases, deeds of sale, wills, prenuptial settlements, etc. The results obtained to date are very encouraging: so far, over four hundred deeds either executed by inhabitants of Sant Martí Vell or associated with the village's activities and business have been found. Together they have yielded a very considerable amount of hitherto unpublished information on disparate subjects regarding not only the village's private and family life but also public and collective matters.

The information recovered features details of the village's political functioning, particularly the exercise of royal jurisdiction and the organisation of municipal government, two aspects about which nothing at all was known until now. It also sheds light on the local economy, the production and trade in pastel, the blue colouring traditionally used for dyeing fabrics, by the Gempere family. The main allodial titles that yielded ownership rights in the municipality have also been identified: the benefice of Santa Maria founded by the noble Brunissenda de Gironella in the 13th century at the Benedictine nunnery of Sant Daniel in Girona, and the small lay title of the Flaçà family of minor nobles with a seat at El Ginestet in Sant Martí Vell.

Special mention should be made of over forty texts that have been uncovered so far on the construction of the current parish church, which combines both late Gothic and Renaissance elements. The documentary records are significant for the quality and quantity of information they yield and reveal the evolution of the construction process in remarkable detail. Through them it has been possible to answer questions regarding construction of the church, with starting and completion dates established definitively in the first quarter of 1587 and mid-1606, respectively; and to identify the groups of French stonemasons and carpenters, directed by the master builders Pere Boris, Joan Jausí and Marçal Cassanyes. These documents have also yielded information on other aspects of the building, such as the procedures and materials involved, costs, sources of inspiration, financing, management of resources, etc.

In the future, fresh details will be added to the Diplomatarium in order to enlarge upon the existing information, with the goal of offering a vision that is as accurate and complete as possible of the life and history of Sant Martí Vell in the 16th century.

Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural
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