Turismo Prerrománico > TUMBO ‘A’ DE SANTIAGO


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  • Reference: Archivo de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela: ACS CF 34.
  • Other names: Libro de los Privilegios de la Catedral de Santiago, Álbum de
  • Dimensions: 475 x 335 mm.
  • 71 folios of parchment written in two columns in the letter carolina.
  • 29 miniatures.



Entorno histórico

It is the oldest and most important manuscript, from the point of view of historical information, that is preserved in the Archive of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and in turn the first volume of the cartulary called “Tumbos de Compostela”, set formed by five “Tumbos” which collect copies of privileges of the diocese of Santiago between the 9th and 17th centuries.

In principle in these codices, very common in Christian Spain during the Middle Ages, called tumbles, calves or Alfonso VI, detalleThey included copies of documents that were loose in the cathedral and monastic archives and that constituted the documentary baggage of these institutions. They were made up of copies of privileges, donations and other official documents which, granted by kings, bishops or other persons, constituted the legal foundation of the institution’s patrimony. Therefore, in principle, their purpose was based on the legal value that they brought in the event of loss or deterioration of the originals, although in many cases, especially in the most luxurious cases, which, as in the latter, were amply illuminated, the real aim was the desire of the person responsible for its preparation, in this case Bishop Gélmirez, who through the profusion of ornaments and miniatures that decorate the manuscript, looks for ways to show the greatness and richness of the new archbishopric of Santiago de Compostela, created a few years before, in 1120.

This type of codices, whose first and most important known antecedent is the Book of the Testaments of the Cathedral of Oviedo, and which in general provide information on official documents of several centuries, as they continued to be completed with subsequent documentation, are one of the most important sources for the study of the Spanish High Middle Ages, although in some cases they require a thorough analysis since they are not always totally reliable.


The Tumbo A consists of a total of 165 diplomas, forming two highly differentiated parts. Ordoño II, detalleThey belong to the first, developed between 1129 and 1134, the 41 initial folios. The rest was added in several phases, between the 12th and 13th centuries, ending in 1255. In its preparation at least four different hands are distinguished.

It offers an interesting set of illustrations that in the first phase includes 24 effigies of kings and other royal figures seated frontally, while in the second, possibly in the year 1180, The equestrian effigies of Ferdinand II and Alfonso IX were added in a more evolved style. Also of interest are the capitular letters, widely decorated, and some chrysmones.

All the information is distributed by reigns, and includes the effigies of the monarchs of Asturias and León, from Alfonso II (791) to Alfonso X (+1262), each of them preceding the documentation provided by the corresponding monarch. The documents of the later kings are continued on Tumbo B and following.

The content of this manuscript is of great historical interest, since it has allowed to know the documents granted by the Asturian-Leonese kings and by the royal family in favor of the church of Compostela, whose originals are only Ordoño IV, detallehave preserved some of the late twelfth and first half of the thirteenth century. His miniatures provide interesting information about the characteristics of each monarch’s clothing and certain pieces of clothing and, in some cases, also include images of buildings or other architectural elements.

As another detail of historical interest, we find in this document the first known text on the discovery of the tomb of the apostle James in the copy of the order of Alfonso II the Chaste (791-842) to build a church in his honor: “The precious treasure of the blessed Apostle, that is, his most holy body, was revealed to us in our day… And we ordered to build a church in his honor”. It is considered dated 829 or 834, although there are some doubts about its authenticity.

His miniatures, in a Romanesque that connects both with the integrating spirit that begins Facundo in the Blessed of Ferdinand I and Sancha and is continued in the Book of Testaments of the Cathedral of Oviedo, and with the dominant European Cluniacense style, conserve that imprint of Hispanic art so common in all the manifestations of that time existing in the Camino de Santiago, with stylizations in the treatment of the folds of the mantles that remind the Spanish ivories of the end of the XI century and beginning of the XII.


In short, both from the artistic point of view and from the historical point of view, we find ourselves before one of the most interesting manuscripts of the Spanish Middle Ages and that, together with the Book of the Testaments of the Cathedral of Oviedo, is the most important cartulary among those who have come to us. 



Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomos VI y VII*
L’Art Préroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Arte y Arquitectura española 500/1250: Joaquín Yarza


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