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In the period 1427-1428 there was a series of earthquakes in the Eastern Pyrenees that caused considerable damage over an extensive area of Catalonia (Fig. 1). These are spme of the most destructive known earthquakes in the whole Pyrenees, so their study is of great importance for the determination of the seismic risk, not only in the epicentral region but also in the main part of the North-East of the Iberian Peninsula and the South of France. This interest is all the more so given the existence in these regions of relatively important towns, tourist centres, industrial installations including large dams and hydro-electric stations, as well as other transport and communications infrastructures. The fact that the instrumental seismicity being observed at present is moderate also bolsters the interest in the historical study in this region.
Within the framework of the project of the CEC Review of Historical Seismicity in Europe (RHISE) much effort has been put into documentary research in archives and libraries, making a critical analysis of the known sources - basically compiled in the catalogue of Fontserè and Iglésies (1971) - and searching for new ones in order to calibrate, extend and, if necessary, to modify the knowledge already existent about these earthquakes.
A preliminary result of the above-mentioned research shows (Fig. 1) a map of the areas most affected by the three quakes in the series, dated 15th March 1427, 15th May 1427, and 2nd February 1428 (Olivera et al., 1990).
It is not the aim of this report to make a synthesis of the current state of the intensive study in course of the seismic series 1427-1428, but to present the results of an ecclesiastical documentary source which up to now has scarcely
been explored. We refer to the Pastoral Visits, documents which resulted from the journey which the Bishop or his representative made around the churches, chapels and convents of his diocese, taking note of the state they were at the time of the visit.
The Pastoral Visit of the Diocese of Girona of 1432 contains, as shown in this study, extremely valuable information about the effects of the earthquakes which had occurred four and five years previously. It is clear that one of the main drawbacks of this document lies in the impossibility of separating the effects of the different earthquakes of the series. The description in the visit of the state of the different buildings must be seen as the result of the different earthquakes superimposed one on top of the previous one and thus only constitutes a source which complements the direct accounts, regarding each earthquake in the series, which are obtained from other types of information. In spite of this serious drawback the big advantage of this source is the high number of places that correspond and the detail and precision of the descriptions contained which allow a fairly reliable classification of the degrees of damage.
None of the published seismic catalogues include references to this visit. Prades (1989) publishes a study that points out the interest of this source for the study of earthquakes and carries out an initial analysis, expressing the results in a map in which three different degrees of damage are given. In the complete extraction we have made of the same source the number of points has increased and unlike the above mentioned author we have included the negative information, that is to say those places in which no damage is known to have been observed. This negative information is of as great an interest as the positive, as in some cases it allows us to give an adequate value to information coming from other sources and helps to limit the areas of significant damage of the different earthquakes.
The Catalan-Aragonese Crown in the 15th century
The territories of the Catalan-Aragonese Crown (Fig. 2) are situated in the North-East of the Iberian Peninsula.
The history of the Crown in the 15th century is renowned for the introduction of the castillian dynasty of the Trastámara with whom some historians have associated, as it coincides with the collapse of the House of Barcelona, with the beginning of the decline of Catalonia.
From an internal point of view this is a century full of conflicts and tensions, with the rise of the peasants' revolt against the power of the nobility, all this occurring against a background of economic, demographic and agrarian crisis.
The diocese of Girona around 1430
Fig. 3 shows the episcopal divisions in Catalonia in the Middle Ages (13th -16th centuries). The diocese of Girona, situated in the North-East of Catalonia, is one of the oldest of the Iberian Peninsula: it was created in the 4th Century, during the Early Roman Empire. The musulman invasion interrupted its operation between 720 and 785. The boundaries of the diocese were to remain unaltered until 1957.
The organization of land.
We do not have documents showing the exact boundaries of the Bishopric of Girona until 1115. They enclose an area of some 4,990 square kilometers. The Bishopric of Girona (Fig. 3) had a common boundary as today, with Elna to the North, Vic to the West, Barcelona to the South and the sea to the East.
The territory of the bishopric of Girona coincides almost exactly with the vegueries (administrative, judicial and military districts, entrusted to a public official who depended directly on the Attorney General of Catalonia) of Girona-Besalu and Camprodon. The operation of the feudal system in which the ownership of land could provide the occupant with certain public advantages above the other farmers, created in the administrative divisions a dense network of senyorius (territory under the influence of a noble who could administer civil, and more rarely, criminal justice, levy taxes, appoint officials and representatives of the noble's authority, maintain law and order, issue letters of settlement - special local statutes - and requisit military
duties). The working of each of these institutions generated a great deal of documentation, a significant part of which has been lost or has been incorporated, through marriage or inheritance, into the family archives throughout the Iberian peninsula, areas where it is difficult for researchers to gain access to. The search for written evidence regarding the seismic activity which occurred during the Early Middle Ages in the bishopric of Girona cannot be confined to royal and municipal documentation, but has to include that of the ecclesiastics and the nobility although these may be a lot less accessible.
Population and settlement.
It is not an easy task to determine the number and the spatial distribution of the people settled in a specific data of the Middle Ages, in any region of the Principality due to the lack of suitable documentation. The only sources that indirectly contribute quantitative information about the Catalan population are of a fiscal nature: the fogatges (relation of homes subject to the payment of taxes according to localities, townships and superior demarcations), talles (relation of the heads of households of a locality drawn up in order to distribute a tax) and estims (relation of the goods of each family limited to one locality drawn up to distribute a tax). From the fogatges immediately previous to the period which concerns us, i.e. 1378, it has been learnt that in the diocese of Girona there were about 15,991 focs (homes subject to the payment of taxes; it is conventionally admitted that the "foc" was made up of 4 or 5 people in the 15th Century which were fiscally solvent). The population with few resources were disregarded by the study.
The population was concentrated in the Lowlands: some 70% of the fiscal focs are situated in the coastal plains of the Empordans, in the middle valleys of the Ter and the Fluvià and their respective tributaries and in the area surrounding Lake Banyoles. These form concentrated nuclei of some 20 families. In the mountain regions, where the human presence was scarce, on the contrary there was a predominance of dispersed settlements; the people were spread out among a few villages, a long way from one another and a great number of parishes made up of a group of isolated farmhouses, normally about 10 in number.
The socio-economic context.
The earthquakes occurred in a period of economic and demographic stagnation and of social tension, at least in the majority of the rural regions of Old Catalonia, those situated to the north of the Llobregat. The Plague in 1348 had caused a high mortality rate throughout the Principality. The resurgences of the epidemic and the poor harvests, occurring among a population that lived from one day to the next and was short of savings, held up the recovery from the demographic decline. The noblemen tried to neutralize the loss of workforce and the fall in their incomes by arbitrarily increasing the economic and labour demands on the peasants and by restricting their freedom of movement to prevent them from fleeing to the towns or to other regions. The countrymen for their part try to capitalize on the revaluation of work in the fields as a result of the sudden contraction of supply; they want to be able to dispose freely of the land and property as well as of their own person and they want to obtain their freedom without loosing the mas (agrarian holding of a family nature endowed with fields for cultivation, wasteland and pastures and dwelling).
Their aim is to change from being a slave tied to the land to free tenant of the land they cultivate. The Crown takes advantage of the agrarian dispute, with the support of the peasants, to weaken the power of the nobility and to recover the "senyorius" that it had to sell or to pledge in the times of most acute economic difficulties. The peasants, in order to attain their objectives, and with the consent of the sovereign, organize themselves in syndicates. The aristocracy and the high clergy use their over representation in the Corts Catalanes to neutralize the agreement of the monarch with the peasants. The tension explodes in the form of local uprisings. The struggle impoverishes the peasants especially those who live in the mountain regions of Old Catalonia.
By 1425 the situation became particularly serious in the area where the earthquakes of 1427 and 1428 occurred, which suffered a strong depopulation. Consequently this area was going through an adverse economic climate which the quakes, by taking human lives, causing some of the survivors to flee, damaging the infrastructure and destroying economic resources, did not exactly help to redress. The delay of those affected in getting back to normal can be ascribed as much to the unquestionable magnitude of the destruction as to the previous lack of savings and perhaps of positive vision of their own future.
Pastoral Visits in medieval Catalonia
The Pastoral Visits form without doubt one of the most suitable means of ecclesiastical documentation for the studies of historical seismicity. Every three or four years the Bishop or his representative went around the parishes of his diocese, at a rate of one or two a day, in order to be informed in situ of their situation and with knowledge of cause to adopt appropriate measures. The records of these regular inspections consist of two very distinct parts: the visitatio hominum (visit of the people) a survey of the conduct of the parish clergy and his parishioners, and the visitatio rerum (visit of the things), an extremely thorough report regarding the state of conservation of the church, the rectory, the cemetery and other religious properties (monasteries, chapels, hermitages, etc.) as well as of the books, liturgical wardrobe and other religious "gear" (chalices, relics, lamps etc.). While the visitors in the 14th Century gave more importance to the moral aspects, those in the 15th Century, for reasons as yet unclarified, tended to concentrate their attention on the material infrastructure of the parish clergy's work and showed more interest in the things than in the people. The Pastoral Visit, around 1400, from being an investigation of the conduct of the clergymen and laymen, turned into an inventory of churches and liturgical objects.
The visitatio rerum, especially in the 15th Century, a century of great seismic activity in Catalonia, constitute, as a result of the care with which they were recorded, an important store of precise and reliable information about the effects of the earthquakes and other cataclysms, beyond the above-mentioned properties, many of them small rural buildings almost absent from the documentation of the civil administration. The analysis can achieve high degrees of precision in those very few cases where visits close to the earthquakes were maintained, one before and one after the event.
The catalan ecclesiastical archives maintain a wide range of Pastoral Visits, eighty for the Middle Ages. The earliest date from the beginning of the 14th Century. Geographically they are not so well distributed: there are available 28 in Barcelona, a few others in Girona, 15 in Vic, 8 for Urgell and one in Tortosa, whereas none has been kept for Tarragona nor for Lleida for the years before 1500. The dioceses located to the North of the Llobregat, in the "Old" Catalonia, however, are those that contribute practically all the information, which is particularly favourable considering that they are the areas where the earthquakes were the most intense and frequent.
The visit to the Diocese of Girona in 1432
It is a report of a visit (Llibre de Visites Pastorals, 1432) immediately following the most critical phase of the seismic series; among all the affected dioceses which are available it is the only one useful for the investigation of the earthquakes of 1427-28, since the others correspond to periods previous to or too long after the seismic crises. It is written in Latin, it is composed of 295 sheets written on both sides, and its state of conservation is good. It was drawn up, on the orders of the Bishop Joan de Casanova, by the visitor Pere Joan, between the 3rd August and 15th December 1432. It concerns a special visit; more than 400 ecclesiastical properties examined, which is an unparalleled number for the Visits in the Middle Ages. It arises from the eagerness of the Bishop to ascertain precisely the damage caused by the latest earthquakes to the ecclesiastical properties.
The visitor notes down in great detail, parish by parish, the noticeable effects that the earthquakes had caused to the ecclesiastical buildings. From the whole range of these notes groups of different categories of damage can be distinguished. In order to grasp the wealth and quality of the information contributed by the visit, the following transcriptions are reproduced, the first one corresponding to a completely devastated monastery and the second one to a partially destroyed church:
Reperit dictum monasterium (Santa Maria d'Amer) et ecclesiameiusdem totaliter distructum et distructam, propter terremotum (the above mentioned monastery and its church were found totally destroyed as a result of the earthquake).
Invenit dictam ecclesiam (Sant Cristòfol dels Horts) in quadam sua parte postrata per terremotum (the above mentioned church was found, a part of which collapsed as a result of the earthquake).
Analysis of the Pastoral Visit
The analysis of the Pastoral Visit to the diocese of Girona of 1432 has allowed us to classify the information obtained according to the following criteria (Fig. 4):
A) buildings completely devastated by the earthquakes;
B) buildings destroyed in a very large proportion;
C) buildings partially destroyed;
D) buildings which had suffered some form of slight damage;
N) buildings in which there were no noticeable effects.
An important problem has been to determine the geographical location of the buildings reported in the Visit. For this purpose it has been of great help the work of Gavin (1978-1991). It consists of a photographic record, published in different volumes, each one containing an inventory of the churches and convents of one or two regions, including geographical coordinates. Each volume is accompanied by very useful indices that have helped us in the task of identifying the toponymy. Obviously Gavin's work does not account for 100% of the churches with the original toponymy of the Pastoral Visit. In order to situate the remaining buildings we have resorted to the Gran Geografia Comarcal de Catalunya (1981). This work, at least the volumes that have been consultedm for this study, do not have an index of churches as in the case of Gavin, but includes some complementary indices of the names of municipalities and villages. In this way we have been able to identify and locate the churches the name of which was accompanied by a toponym or we knew the municipality in which it could be found.
By consulting these two publications we have managed to locate 360 points, that is 93% of the buildings quoted in our original source of information, the Pastoral Visits.
The effects of the earthquakes on the buildings reported in the Pastoral Visit have been coded according to the criteria explained above. For the moment we are keeping to this particular classification, and we are not going to assign a degree of intensity by using any of the usual scales because of the great difficulty and uncertainty that this entails and because of the need to approach the data of the Visit with information coming from other sources.
Of a total of 387 places analyzed, 50 (13 %) correspond to churches or latria (ecclesiastical buildings) completely or mainly destroyed (categories A and B considered together); 264 (68%) buildings were not affected (category N).
These results are shown in Fig. 4, which presents the effects on the constructions using symbols of different gray shades for the above described damage categories.
Given the time of these earthquakes the wide spread and the concentration of the information available are remarkable. It must be pointed out that the main concentration of buildings destroyed occurs in an extended area in an
approximately SE-NW direction, which runs from Amer as far as approximately 10 km NW of Olot, half way between Olot and Camprodon. These data agree with the information existing from other documentary sources of the earthquakes of 1427, as can be seen by comparing Fig. 1 and 4.
These results are shown on the map of Fig. 4, which shows another area with a certain number of points of destruction at a distance of between approximately 10 and 20 km to the North of Girona. In principle this is to be contrasted with the absence of data about the effects in this region which arises from other archive documentation consulted up to now; this is something that will have to be analyzed in detail.
There are no points which correspond to destruction far from the two areas previously mentioned. What can be found are a few relatively isolated places where damage is described which in some cases could be due to local effects.
Summary and Conclusions
In this study we have carried out an extraction, translation and analysis of the original Latin text of the Pastoral Visit to the Diocese of Girona in 1432. This is a source of exceptional interest for the study of the seismic series 1427-28, as it contains detailed information of the state of 387 churches and other ecclesiastical buildings at the time of the Visit.
Starting from the descriptions contained in the Visit we have identified the different buildings and classified them according to five categories of effects: buildings completely devastated by the earthquakes, buildings destroyed in a very large proportion, buildings partially destroyed, buildings that had suffered some form of slight damage, and buildings in which there were no noticeable effects. The results of this analysis are shown in Fig. 4.
As the Visit was carried out in 1432, the effects classified in this way cannot be directly attributed to a particular earthquake, but in principle have to be considered to be the accumulated effects of the 1427-28 series, and can thus only be analyzed together with all the information available from other sources which are still being investigated. We have taken care to include all the negative information, i. e. that which corresponds to buildings not
affected (by any of the earthquakes). This will be of great help in defining the areas of damage from the different earthquakes.
An initial global analysis of the data of the Pastoral Visits together with that from other different sources, suggests the presence of significant local effects. Nevertheless this can only be described after a detailed study of all the information which will be made available by the current research.
Fontserè, E. i Iglesies, J., 1971. Recopilació de dades sísmiques de les terres catalanes entre 1100 i 1906. Fundació Salvador Vives Casajuana, Barcelona, 547 pp.
Gavin, J.M., 1978-1991. Inventari d'Esglèsies. Vols. 4, 11, 13, 14, 24. Artestudi, Barcelona. Gran Geografia Comarcal de Catalunya, 1981. Fundació Enciclopèdia Catalana, Barcelona.
Llibre de Visites Pastorals, 1432. Arxiu Diocesà de Girona, P.19, 590 pp.
Gran Geografia Comarcal de Catalunya, 1981. Fundació Enciclopèdia Catalana, Barcelona.
Llibre de Visites Pastorals, 1432. Arxiu Diocesà de Girona, P.19, 590 pp.
Olivera, C., Riera, A. and Roca, A., 1990. Study of the 1427 earthquakes in Catalonia. Proc. XXII General Assembly European Seismological Commission, In: A. Roca and D. Mayer-Rosa (Editors), Proc. XXII ESC General Assembly and activity report 1988-1990, Barcelona, 17-22 September 1990, I, pp. 327-331.
Prades, I., 1989. Els terratrèmols de la sèrie olotina i el cas de la vila d'Amer, Quaderns de la Selva, 2 (Sta. Coloma de Farners, s.d.), 103-112.
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