Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies around the Mediterranean

By Donald J. Kagay; L. J. Andrew Villalon | Go to book overview

THE BUSINESS OF SALVATION: CASTILIAN WILLS
IN THE LATE MIDDLE AGES1
Teofilo F. Ruiz

In early September of 1347 Martín Ortiz de Agonçiello, a merchant and citizen of Logroño (a town in the Rioja, in the northwestern region of Old Castile), lay sick in bed awaiting death. He was probably still quite young for his children had not yet come of age and his mother, Elvira Jiménez, was alive and active. Wishing to put his affairs in order, Martín sent for the royal scribe of Logroño, Ruy García, and for witnesses and relatives. In their presence, “being of good memory and good understanding and cobdiciando (coveting, greedy for) the glory of Paradise, Martín dictated his will. Obviously, this was mainly an impromptu testament dictated from his bedside. In it he moves from one concern to another in no apparent order, trying to make certain that nothing has been left out. Yet he had given some thought to the matter. Martín had selected beforehand the thirty poor envergoñados who were to be fed and clothed the day of his burial. In fact, he had already given the chaplain Pedro González and his wife María Pérez a list of their names. But, above all, what is evident in these final dispositions is Martín's desire to settle his property on those of his own blood. Half of his earthly goods was to go his wife but with the condition that she not remarry and that for the next fifteen years she care for the children. If she married before the established period, María would have to relinquish

____________________
1
The inspiration to write this paper came from two presentations to the Davis Center Seminar by Professor Peter Brown and, above all, Dr. Judith Herrin. A short version of this article was presented to the Denys Hay Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance History of the Antiquary Program at the University of Edinburgh and a full version to the Davis Center at Princeton University. I greatly benefitted from the many useful suggestions made in both seminars. In particular I owe many thanks to Robert Bartlett, Giles Constable, Olivia Constable, Natalie Z. Davis, John H. Elliott, Angus MacKay and Lawrence Stone. In addition I also owe many thanks to Elizabeth A. R. Brown, Paul Freedman, Scarlett Freund, Ruth Behar, David Frye, Peter A. Linehan, Hilario Casado, Adeline Rucquoi, Raymond S. Willis, and specially to Charles M. Radding and Xavier Gil Pujol for their most valuable comments. In truth this has been a collective enterprise, though for the opinions and mistakes, I am solely to blame.

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