restricted access A Bishopric between Three Kingdoms: Calahorra, 1045–1190 by Carolina Carl (review)
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Reviewed by
Carl, Carolina. A Bishopric between Three Kingdoms: Calahorra, 1045–1190. The Medieval and Early Modern Iberian World 43. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2011. 292 pages. ISBN: 978 90 04 18012 3

After the capture of Calahorra by King García Sánchez of Navarre in 1045, the episcopal see, like a great many others in the Peninsula, was to find its fortunes subject to political and ecclesiastical conditions far removed from the circumstances of the Visigothic period. In this new study, based on published primary sources, Carolina Carl traces the history of the bishopric from its restoration until the end of the episcopate of the formidable Rodrigo Cascante in 1190.

The central argument of the book is that the oft-changing political fortunes of the Christian kingdoms determined the development of the diocese during this period. As a frontier see, Calahorra was initially strongly favoured by the crown of Navarre in the decade after its recovery. But too close a tie with one royal partner, would prove somewhat detrimental when power shifted to another, first in the form of Alfonso VI of Castile, then, once Calahorra had established a Castilian identity, with the appearance of Alfonso I of Aragon, largely unwilling to allow the see to share in the greater benefits of his conquest. The see made hay in the 1150s, while the Infante Sancho shone in the kingdom of Nájera, and the Almohad advance in the south allowed Rodrigo Cascante, in alliance with Alfonso VIII of Castile, to pursue his territorial advance in the north, until late on, when Alfonso II of Aragon looked the better option for the bishop. This book is at its strongest when describing the fluctuating political fortunes both of the diocese and the various kingdoms.

While Calahorra was subject to the contests of kings it was perhaps surprisingly [End Page 237] less subject to the conflicts between archbishops. The potential for such conflict was there, of course, especially from the 1140s when the primacy of Toledo itself was thrown into doubt by Compostela and the emerging powers of Braga and Tarragona. Yet after Anastasius IV firmly placed the diocese under Tarragona’s control in 1154, this was little contested by Toledo, a testimony to the power of the ecclesiastical structures of the Visigothic past, as well as to the fact that the influence of the metropolitan was really rather limited.

If the extant sources can be sufficiently trusted, then it appears that while the territorial advance or decline of Calahorra rested largely on political conditions, then the situation of the cathedral of Calahorra was a little more complicated. Under Sancho de Funes (1116–46), Calahorra was in significant measure strengthened economically by a good number of small-scale donations from local families. Under Rodrigo Cascante (1147–90), the situation shifted, so that the chapter was sustained by royal donations, those of the regional nobility and the input of the cathedral canons themselves. Institutionally, as one might expect, political changes, had less impact. The offices of the cathedral canons developed across the course of the twelfth century in their own peculiar way, as usual defying all attempts to allow us to establish a pattern across Iberian dioceses. It appears that the cathedral canons were on relatively good terms with their bishop and with each other, especially when we consider that at Vic by the end of the century they were pretty much divided into two armed camps.

While the work is generally well researched, there are inevitably some slips. For instance, Bishop Rodrigo did not receive the pallium from the archbishop of Tarragona in 1147 (p. 196). The pallium was a gift of the pope to primates and metropolitans. There were some special occasions where it was awarded to a bishop, but always by the pope (and Calahorra was not one of them). The author should also have used Paul Kehr’s Papsturkunden for Navarre and Aragon (Papsturkunden in Spanien. Vorarbeiten zur Hispania Pontificia: II Navarra und Aragon [Berlin, 1928]). This provides a significant amount of material which is not available elsewhere. As well as helping to understand relations with Rome generally, it would have elucidated Rodrigo Cascante’s...