Authoring the PastHistory, Autobiography, and Politics in Medieval Catalonia

Authoring the PastHistory, Autobiography, and Politics in Medieval Catalonia

Jaume Aurell

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226032320

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book surveys medieval Catalan historiography, the emergence and evolution of historical writing and autobiography in the Middle Ages, on questions of authority and authorship, and on the links between history and politics during the period. The author examines texts from the late twelfth to the late fourteenth century—including the Latin Gesta comitum Barcinonensium and four texts in medieval Catalan: James I's Llibre dels fets, the Crònica of Bernat Desclot, the Crònica of Ramon Muntaner, and the Crònica of Peter the Ceremonious—and outlines the different motivations for the writing of each. For the author, these chronicles are not mere archaeological artifacts but rather documents that speak to their writers' specific contemporary social and political purposes. He argues that these Catalonian counts and Aragonese kings were attempting to use their role as authors to legitimize their monarchical status, their growing political and economic power, and their aggressive expansionist policies in the Mediterranean. By analyzing these texts alongside one another, the book demonstrates the shifting contexts in which chronicles were conceived, written, and read throughout the Middle Ages.