The Relics and Religiosity of Martí l'Eclesiàstic

Friday, January 7, 2011: 9:30 AM
Wellesley Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Michael A. Ryan , Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
The last of the count-kings of the Crown of Aragon whose ancestry stretched back to Guifré, the ninth-century count of Barcelona, Martí l’Humà, or the Humane, is a figure about whom many scholars of the medieval past are largely unaware.  Indeed, as Teofilo Ruiz has remarked in his most recent survey of crisis in late medieval Iberia, there are neither full biographies of this late medieval sovereign, nor comprehensive analyses of his reign, which spanned 1395-1410, although some scholars, such as Nuria Silleras-Fernandez, have addressed social and cultural developments enacted by his queen, Maria la Luna.  The existence of this scholarly lacuna is regrettable, as both Martí and Maria were influential figures in the diplomatic, political, and religious worlds of late medieval Europe.  Moreover, the sovereigns were staunch defenders of the Church in their kingdom; so much so, that Martí is also known by another, lesser-known sobriquet, that of l’Eclesiàstic, or The Priest.  In many ways, Martí’s personality was radically different that that of his older brother, Joan, the prior sovereign who preferred to hunt, play music, and dabble with the occult.  In my presentation,“The Relics and Religiosity of Martí l’Eclesiàstic,” which dovetails nicely with the theme of the 2011 annual meeting of the American Historical Association, “History, Society, and the Sacred,” I shall study Martí’s donation of relics to various monasteries and churches in his dominions during his tenure as both prince and king.  I shall explain how his actions manifest both his profound, almost borderline obsessive, religious orthodoxy as well as his claims to secular authority during his kingship.  In doing this, I shall shed further light on a sovereign who, unfortunately, has received relatively short shrift within the English-language historiography of the late medieval Crown of Aragon. 
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