Medieval -- the Diocese of Barcelona during the Black Death: The Register "Notule Communium" 15 (1348-1349) by Richard Francis Gyug

Article excerpt

The Diocese of Barcelona during the Black Death: The Register "Notule Communium" 15 (1348-1349). By Richard Francis Gyug.

Subsidia Mediaevalia, 22.

(Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. 1994. Pp. x, 526. $94.50.)

Studies that bring medieval documents to the scholarly public are always welcome, and this calendar of documents from the exceptionally rich Barcelona diocesan archives, second in the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies' series of the episcopal communa or general registers, records the activities of the diocesan curia during the worst of the Black Death. Although many scholars of church history may not realize it, Barcelona's diocesan archives provide a truly amazing array of documents, many in series which continued uninterrupted for centuries. If these could be made generally available for study, scholars, especially social historians, could learn a great deal about diocesan life and administration, and this knowledge would enhance our understanding of the medieval church in general. Unfortunately, very few documents have been published and much of the secondary literature is not readily available in North America. The fact that eleven years have elapsed since the first volume of this series of registers appeared gives a clue about likelihood of a flood of these archival records in print. Nonetheless, even tastes from this important archive provide welcome additions for study.

The book is divided into three sections. The introduction contains a brief history of the Diocese of Barcelona, with special attention given to the functioning of the episcopal curia Dr. Gyug explains the registration of documents and their survival up to the present time. This particular set of registers primarily records the filling of benefices, and the curia was especially active in this area as a result of the Black Death, which hit Barcelona as did much of the rest of Western Europe, causing the death of perhaps one-third of its population. Clerics were certainly not immune to its force, and many of them died, leaving an increased workload for the diocesan staff, which may itself have been reduced for the same reason. …