Conflict and Chronicle in Twelfth-Century León-Castile: a Literary Study of the First Crónica Anónima of Sahagún
Schwarzrock, Ryan Evan
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis argues that the first Crónica anónima of Sahagún was written for two primary historiographical purposes: (1) to address the problematic nature of the events with which the conflict between the monastery and the burghers of Sahagún comes to an end in order to construe these as a legitimate victory of the monastery over the burghers; and (2) to capitalise on this victory by presenting within the dramatic story of conflict and chaos the chronicle tells a novel version of the monastery’s lordship over the burghers. We approach this argument by way of five chapters. The first three of these chapters provide close readings of the narrative according to a three-part scheme which we have identified. Thus, chapter one covers part one, ‘the history of the monastery’, part two, ‘the outbreak of conflict’, and part three, ‘the resolution of the conflict’. We show in the course of these how the strict political and narrative order of the monastery’s history gives way to a complex narrative disorder which dramatises competition in the narrative among various political and ecclesiastical actors, and various social groups, at both the local and regional levels. This complex story of political, religious, social, and narrative disorder, we argue, is intended to frame the burghers in their challenge against the monastery’s authority as treacherous and intriguing, and thus illegitimate, strivers. In the final two chapters we return to the narrative for a closer look at two defining features of the narrative: the role of the first-person narrator, and the role of documents. In our chapter on authorship we consider the way that the author, both as narrator and as participant in the story, intervenes between reader in text in order to point to a communal and subjective version of truth. In the chapter on documents we look more closely at the way that the chronicle uses its dramatised story of conflict to reinterpret the monastery’s cornerstone political and ecclesiastical privileges, the fuero of Alfonso VI and the libertas Romana, in terms of each other, in terms of a series of privileges granted by the archbishop of Toledo and the papacy during the conflict, and, finally, in terms of a charter produced by the burghers that would have undone some of the monastery’s powers over that social group.
PhD in History