Research Subjects: Miscellaneous


Document about the Occupation of Romangordo, Spain by the French and about the Damage that They Did to Houses and Farms

By Pedro Prieto Translated by: Francisco Nieto

Introduction

Origin of the Document

The present document is a photocopy of the first pages of “Book of Becerro”,[1] from the parish church of Romangordo (Caceres) in whose municipal territory the French had built the Fort Napoleon, Fort Ragusa and the pontoon bridge over the Tagus River, which were attacked and destroyed by General Hill on 19 May 1812.

Nature of the Document

The document is a certificate in which the notary public of the Ecclesisastical Court of Plasencia certifies the existence of a dossier made by the request of the parish priest of Romangordo and in which he includes a copy of the writ submitted by the Court, guaranteeing that the copy of the writ is true to the original that is under his own custody.

Reason for This Document

The parish priest of Romangordo was the administrator of the properties of a Chaplaincy,[2] which consisted of houses and farms. With the money coming from this he had to fullfil the obligations imposed by the statutes of the Chaplaincy. The French that occupied the village since 1809, destroyed two houses of the Chaplaincy and several farms, which caused a great reduction of income. The parish priest of Romangordo requested from the Ecclesiastical Court to modify the obligations of this Chaplaincy.

Prominent Personages Mentioned in the Document

Don Pedro Martínez de Masa: founder of a Chaplaincy in the parish church of Romangordo was a priest who held the position of parish priest of Romangordo from 1638 to 1648. The foundation was started on 19 February 1649. Don Pedro also had a doctorate of law and was considered to be a lawyer.

Don Manuel Rosado Ribero: parish priest of Romangordo in 1812.

Don Francisco Serrano Alvarez Rodriguez: the notary public or Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Court of the City and Bishopric of Plasencia. His stamp and signature appear at the end of the document.

The Church Attorney General: his name does not appear in this document.  He prepared the dossier with all the relevant information and brought it before the court.

Doctor Don Rafael Aznar: the President of the Court where the problem of the Chaplaincy of Romangordo was examined. He submitted the writ on behalf of the Bishop, because among other posts he is the Vicar-General of this Bishopric. In the document he is also addressed with the title “su merced”. He signed the original document of the writ, though he did not sign this document, which is a copy.

Don Lorenzo Igual de Soria: the Bishop of Plasencia in 1812. He did not take part in the process.

Parts of the Document

The document consists of three parts:

The first part certifies the existence of a dossier carried out by request of Don Manuel Rosado Rivero and summarises the facts.

The second part is the most important. It starts at the end of page one, where the word “Writ” appears, and it ends on line three, page four. It contains in full the writ issued by the church Court of the Bishopric of Plasencia with reference to the aforementioned dossier. The writ has two parts: the first one is an account of the events and the second one includes the decisions taken by Doctor Don Rafael Aznar, President of the Court, as the Bishop’s Vicar.

The third and last part certifies that the writ is a legally validated copy and declares that such a copy is made in order to carry out one of the provisions of the writ, which states that one copy should be kept in the “Book of Becerro” in the church of Romangordo

Paper of the Document

The paper used in the document is an official paper, where official documents are written. On the first and last pages there are the coat of arms of the Bourbon Kings, though besides the Toison de Oro there is a second ornament surrounding the coat of arms. Around the coat of arms there is the following caption: “Regional Office of Plasencia”, which means that it is a State paper.

Traslation of document

Page 1



of Plasencia
Regional Office
Fourth Stamp
40 maravedís
Valid for the Reign of His Majesty King Ferdinand VII,
and the year 1812

 

 

I, Francisco Serrano Alvarez Rodriguez, one of the four high Notary publics of number and seat[4] in the Episcopal and Ecclesiastical Court of the city of Plasencia and its Bishopric, certify and bear witness of the authenticity that there came before me and the Court a process by request of Don Manuel Rosado Ribero, priest of the parish church of Romangordo and therefore the administrator of the Chaplaincy founded by Don Pedro Martinez de Masa, concerning the following matter: that  -because the rents of this Chaplaincy had been drastically reduced to a small amount owing to the damage in some farms that the French had destroyed during the long time they had occupied this village and others near to it, and no one could work the lands that were left nor rent them for fear of the French and the price of the rent could not be paid because those who paid them have abandoned their villages and no one knows their whereabouts - the allowance of 20 ducats ordered by the founder to be given every two years to a relative maiden of his have to be suspended, and the high charge for the masses celebrated each year praying for him have to be reduced, besides other items included in the process in more detail, according to what was stated by the Ecclesiastical Attorney General of this Bishopric who was let into the Court by the Governor, the Church Judge and the General Vicar of this city and Bishopric, [and I certify that] the following writ was made before me:

Writ:

In the city of Plasencia on 20th April 1812 Doctor Don Rafael Aznar, Priest, Lawyer of the Royal Councils, Governor, Church Judge and Vicar General of  Plasencia and its Bishopric____________

Page 2

by his grace Bishop Don Lorenzo Igual de Soria, of the Council of His Majesty[5] and “Señor de la Villa de Jaraicejo”,[6] having seen this process caused by request of Don Manuel Rosado Ribero, priest of the parish church of Romangordo and therefore the administrator of the Chaplaincy founded by the Lawyer Don Pedro Martinez de Masa, concerning the following matter: that –because the low rents that this Chaplaincy has been reduced to, due to the fact that the enemies had destroyed the farms and properties during the long time they have occupied this village and others nearby in order to keep clear the pontoon bridge placed over the Tagus River and Almaraz bridge, -he (the priest) must be exonerated from paying every two years the allowance of 20 ducats  to a woman relative of the founder and that the high number of masses that the Chaplaincy has to celebrate each and every year must be reduced; and also requesting that –because two large houses owned by the Chaplaincy in Romangordo have been destroyed as well as many others by the Enemies and because the Chaplaincy lacks the means to have them rebuilt and there will be no one to buy the lands, due to the abundance of them in the village, and its inhabitants are wretched and ruined,- he (the priest) asks to be allowed  to sell wood and tiles, if the Enemies do not carry it with them and to invest its worth in masses and all this must be considered since the year 1809 onwards, the period which the village has been occupied by the Enemies, (and having seen) the rest of the process which the Church Attorney General of this Bishopric has expressed, according to it and in my presence, the Notary public, His Grace (Don Rafael Aznar) affirmed that, considering the short rent to which the Chaplaincy has been reduced, and (considering) the preference of the masses to the payment of the allowance  destined to the women relatives and that, on the other hand, the Chaplain must be paid an annual allowance to support himself and to fulfil the obligations he has, without forgetting that the lack of essencial goods has never been so acute__________________

Page 3

and that the decency all church ministers must have, in the right use of his power and the Ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as it was his obligation, he ordered to stop paying the allowance of 20 ducats to the founder’s women relatives, who won’t have any right to ask for it unless they prove before this Court that the farms of this Chaplaincy  produce the same rent as when it was founded and set up:  And in relation to the obligation of celebrating the masses His Grace ordered the above said Don Manuel Rosado Ribero current administrator of the Chaplaincy as well as his successors to fulfil his obligations by celebrating or asking to celebrate every year only the masses for 11 reales each that can be celebrated according to the rent after deducting the expenses, farming and all the necessary things, which is the pri ce fixed by His Grace to the Chaplain until a new writ has been submitted by the court, since the rights and obligations of this Chaplaincy must be regulated by distributive justice; and when the bishop or his delegate visits the parish he will check the account book according to this writ –which must be applied to the above mentioned Don Manuel Rosado Ribero since 1809, this year included, when the rents of the Chaplaincy started to be reduced due to the invasion of our Enemies; and His Grace gave him the right to sell the wood and tiles if they do not carry it with them and to invest its worth in masses for the amount of 11 reales each in the memory of the Founder; and likewise, if there happens to be someone  who wants to buy some of the lands of the two houses of the Chaplaincy  destroyed by the Enemies, after its valuation by experts, His Grace authorises the Chaplain in charge of the Chaplaincy  at that moment to sell it, without modifying the rest of  the stipulated clauses of the  Foundation which do not contravene this writ about which  His Grace ordered me, the  Notary, to give testimony in order that the corresponding notification be written in the Book of Becerro in the aforesaid church of Romangordo and always be there: this writ according to the law___________________________________________________

Page 4

of Plasencia
Regional Office
Fourth Stamp
40 maravedís
Valid for the Reign of His Majesty King Ferdinand VII,
and the year 1812

 

was submitted and signed by His Grace and I, the Notary Public certify this. Doctor Don Rafael Aznar. Before me Francisco Serrano Alvarez Rodriguez:

Since all that has been written in detail so far comes from the above-mentioned process, and the writ here included is literally true to the original and is a part of the process and at present is in my hands and I refer to it and certify its authenticity, carrying out the order that a Notary or a Secretary must write the corresponding notification in the Book of Becerro  of the parish church of Romangordo so that it serves as a voucher to the above-mentioned Don Manuel Rosado Ribero and also that both he and his successors in the Chaplaincy must let the Bishop or his delegate know in his visits to the parish, I extend the present (certificate) in a “pliego”[7] of fourth high stamp of 40 “maravedís”,[8] which I sign and stamp in the city of Plasencia on 20th of April 1812

 

I confirm its validation
In testimony and truth
Francisco Serrano
Álvarez Rodríguez

 

Notes:

[1] “Book of Becerro” is the book where the parish priest collects the information he considers interesting for his successors.

[2] “Chaplaincy” is in this document equivalent to a religious foundation.

[3] “Maravedí” is an old Spanish coin whose worth was not always the same.

[4] “Of number and seat” refers to a number of individuals of a corporation, in this case the Ecclesiastical Court of Plasencia, which has a limited number of seats.

[5] “His Majesty ", refers to Fernando VII, who had been proclaimed King of Spain in the Spanish Parliament of Cadiz on 19 March 1812, that is to say, one month before the draft of this document. Article 179 of the Constitution passed on 19 March 1812 states: "The King of the Spain is D. Fernando VII of Borbon, and he is the one who reigns nowadays”. Inspite of the declarations of the Spanish Parliament in Cadiz, Fernando VII was at that time imprisoned in France and Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, was governing in Madrid as King.

[6] “Señor de la Villa de Jaraicejo” was an honorary title that all Bishops of Plasencia had.

[7] “Pliego” is a quadrangular piece of paper folded in two, approximately equivalent to two A4 sheets. It means, then, the size of the paper.

[8] “Fourth High Stamp of 40 Maravedís”: That expression indicates the tax or duty paid to the state, at that time reperesented by Ferdinand VII.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2002

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