Sales, swindles and sanctions: Bishop Salla of Urgell and the counts of Catalonia
Paper given at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds (2005)
With this paper I intend to take the audience back into a region and era where sermon literature and preaching barely survive in the evidence. The laymen who are being told their place are therefore in this paper not the preacher’s flock, but the rich and powerful with whom our subject, Bishop Salla of Urgell dealt in the myriad transaction charters which Catalonia offers to the early medieval scholar. Before I try and give you a sense of this characterful prelate, therefore, I hope you won’t mind if I spend a few minutes giving you some background.
Catalonia around the year 1000 was, it has been argued, a principality cut adrift: previously notable for its stalwart (and costless) loyalty to the distant Carolingians, the succession of Hugh Capet in 987 and, no less importantly, his subsequent inability to exercise control in the south of France left the area under its own masters. First among these were the sons of Count-Marquis Borrell II of Barcelona, Girona, Osona and Urgell, grandson of the man whom later Catalan generations would regard as their nation’s founder, Count Guifré the Hairy.