Family Resemblances, Part 2

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 26/52
A guest post by University of Pennsylvania Manuscripts Cataloging Librarian, Amey Hutchins

  
Carta executoria, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 241, fols. 1v–2r (large illuminated initial D, coat of arms; facing text page)

As Richard L. Kagan explains in Lawsuits and Litigants in Castile,1 minors (under the age of 25) and women of any age were not allowed to litigate on their own behalf in the Castilian courts. The exception to the rule about women was that widows were allowed to bring lawsuits, which meant that they could protect their dowries from creditors of their dead husbands. One of the cartas executorias at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 241, records an example of a widow filing a pleito de hidalguía, the lawsuit by a private individual to prove a claim of nobility. Her name first appears as “Marí Lopez de Colmenares muger de Pedro de Matienzo ya defunto vezína de la dicha vílla de Carrión” (Marí Lopez de Colmenares, wife of Pedro de Matienzo already deceased, resident of the town of Carrión, fol. 2r).

This carta executoria was probably quite plain in its original form, with the floral borders added later. For comparison, simple pairs of diagonal lines like these in the upper margin of another, less extravagant, carta executoria,  UPenn Ms. Codex 74:

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Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, UPenn Ms. Codex 74, fol. 6v

…are visible under the borders in Lewis E 241:

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Lewis E 241, fol. 17r

…and the notarial marks like these at the bottom of each page in UPenn Ms. Codex 74:

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UPenn Ms. Codex 74, fol. 6v

…have been roughly avoided by the later decoration in Lewis E 241:

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Lewis E 241, fol. 17r

At the end of the text of the carta executoria, the later decoration does not fill the lower margin, in order not to cover the title-like summary at the end, where the name of Marí Lopez de Colmenares appears again, slightly damaged:

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Lewis E 241, fol. 28r

The full-page illuminations in Lewis E 241 are at the end of the manuscript, not the beginning, and this departure from the usual order, together with the later date of the decoration, makes the shadowy double portrait at the end of the manuscript (fol. 30r) a bit enigmatic.

  
Lewis E 241, fols. 29v–30r

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Lewis E 241, fol. 30r (detail)

Is it a retrospective portrait of Marí and Pedro? A portrait of their son García de Matienzo (named in a later addition on fol. 28v), with his wife? Or another member of the same family?


With thanks to Richard Kagan, Johns Hopkins University; Scotland Long, University of Pennsylvania; and Francis Turco, Temple University, for their assistance.

Family Resemblances, Part 1

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 25/52
A guest post by University of Pennsylvania Manuscripts Cataloging Librarian, Amey Hutchins

  
Carta executoria de hidalguia de Agustin de Yturbe, vezino de la ciudad de Sevilla, Bethlehem, PA, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Codex 22, fols. 1v–2r (Full-page miniature, Yturbe family praying before the Virgin Mary; Full-page miniature, John the Baptist and Saint Augustine)

One of the great outcomes of the BiblioPhilly project is how easy it is to discover similar manuscripts in multiple partner libraries. As a cataloger at Penn, I was aware of seven cartas executorias in the Penn Libraries: six in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and one at the Library at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. These are sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century manuscripts celebrating the aristocratic genealogy of Spanish families and confirming the privileges of aristocracy, issued at the end of lawsuits brought in the chancillerías (royal chancery courts) in Granada or Valladolid to prove nobility. These privileges were worth having: they included exemption from taxes and protection from a variety of criminal punishments including torture and being sent to the galleys, and protection from imprisonment for debt.1 Through the BiblioPhilly project, I have made the acquaintance of six more cartas executorias in the region: one at Lehigh University (not described as a carta executoria prior to the project), one at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and four in the John Frederick Lewis Collection of European Manuscripts at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The manuscripts often begin with two full-page illuminations, including images of their owners, sometimes with their families. Here we see Alonso Ximenez de Canizares and his wife Maria de Zuniga (1574):

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Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1923-17-1, fol. 1v

Juan de Londono and family (1587):

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Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 59, fol. 1v

and Agustin de Yturbe and family (1593):

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Bethlehem, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Lehigh Codex 22,  fol. 1v

Some manuscripts also have historiated letters or small miniatures with portraits of the ruling monarch. The thirteen manuscripts in the BiblioPhilly region span the years from 1538 to 1606, issued in the reigns of Charles I (1516–1566):

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 263, Carta executoria a pedimiento de Alonso Mendez de Parada, fol. 48v
Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 263 (1538), fol. 48v

Phillip II (1556-1598):

University of Pennsylvania LJS 20: Carta executoria de hidalguia a pedimiento, fol. 65r
Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 20 (1578), fol. 65r

and Phillip III (1598-1621):

University of Pennsylvania LJS 21: Executoria de hidalguia a pedimiento, fol. 49r
Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 21 (1606), fol. 49r

In this group of highly formulaic manuscripts, one has a significant difference, which will be the subject of the next post.