The Repartition Book of Valencia

The Repartition Book of Valencia is not made up of the partitioners’ record books, nor is it the result of their actions, because it redistributes lots that had already been specified before the reconquered territory had been demarcated and whose contents were suited to the social status of the receiver. They are in fact made up of very succinct notes, penned by royal scribes of the properties granted by the King as he went along conquering lands or as a pledge for when it was the right time to actually grant the properties. In Valencia, there was no repartition, only a disorderly series of transfers, but these transfers are documented in more than one book.

Salto de línea What is today universally known as the Book of Repartition of Valencia is a series of three books of manuscripts kept at the Archives of the Crown of Aragon (Real Cancillería, Registros, 5, 6 , 7), made up of fragments of notebooks not in order, from different places and of very different content. The first volume (today known as register 5), originally titled Donationum regni Valentie, contains notarial annotations of the transfers of properties and trades in the city, the Horta (=vegetable garden) and the district of Valencia, granted by James I of Aragon to those that had accompanied him on his conquest. It includes both verbal and future pledges as well as actual, functional transfers. It begins in July 1237 and ends in June 1245, with a short addition from 1252. It also includes a modern copy of the register, dating from before 1790.

Salto de línea The second volume (currently register 6, originally entitled Donacionum regni Valencie et Cathalonie) is a new register of royal transfers and confirmations of properties in the city and kingdom of Valencia. It attempts to arrange them by place and by clause or circumstances of the transfer. In fact, it appears to be made up of several local repartition books dating from 1247 to 1249, although their contents actually span from 1235 to 1250. The original order of the folios was lost after the binding was removed and some pages were lost. The different sizes of folios reveal a variety of formats, both booklets and volumes.

Salto de línea The third volume (register 7, entitled Domibus Valencia) is a detailed list of owners of houses in the city of Valencia, organized by street and neighbourhood and specifying the names of the former Muslim owner and the new Christian settler, with acronyms to denote their property deeds and other information. This review was begun on April 9th, 1239. At the end of the volume, there is a list of houses that were available to the King. The expert Spanish Arabist and academic Julián Ribera described the Book of Repartition of Valencia as “a highly complex document” that could only be studied properly from the original manuscript or an exact copy. It was produced by numerous different people in many different circumstances, with amendments, blots, insertions, repetitions (sometimes even triplications, with differences) and many other elements added to the initial register at different times, in different places and by different hands. It was, above all, an administrative resource that was used assiduously in the royal offices, especially in the period that directly followed the conquest. The books were produced according to the notarial practices of the mid-13th century, in drafts with crossings out, scribbles, signs and other symbols of the time, made by the scribes themselves and whose significance has been debated by historians. To this must be added the difficulties of the text, packed with all kinds of Christian, Arab and Jewish surnames and numerous lesser place names that are difficult or impossible to identify and locate. Both the nature of this document and its content (type of transfers, beneficiaries, legal conditions, origin of the settlers, onomastics, place names, statistics and many other important matters) have been the subject of very rich and heated debate among historians. However, there is no basis to claims that the document was afterwards tampered by its first editor, Próspero de Bofarull, or that he erased or rewrote names over the original. No academic has even deigned to mention these slurs in their works.

Salto de línea Ever since the first publication of 1856 brought it to the attention of historians, the importance of the information in the Book of Repartition of Valencia means that it has frequently been used, particularly when it comes to the controversial issue of the first Christian settlement of Valencia after the conquest. It is a unique resource in the study of the processes of feudal expansion in European societies in the Middle Ages. For that reason, as Julián Ribera highlighted, “however much it is studied, it will can never be exhausted”. Salto de línea