The editors of the Crónica

 

Félix Torres Amat de Palou (1772-1849) was born in Barcelona, a Catholic priest and language expert in charge of the project. He taught philosophy, mathematics, and theology in Tarragona, and translated the Bible for the kings of Spain into "vulgar Castilian". After moving from Madrid to Barcelona in 1817 he became vicario general, senator of the city, and supported the Trienio Liberal (1820-1823). Once the monarchy was empowered again, critics accused him of being a Jansenist, a Revolutionary, and Freemason. When he began to edit the Crónica of Pujades, he chose Pujol and Bofarull as collaborators who may have shared his interest in Jansenism, a heretic movement within the folds of the Church which leaned towards Calvinism. His apologetic biography of an uncle, an open Jansenist, was put on the Index by the Vatican, which prevented his election as Bishop of Barcelona. After completing the Crónica, Torres retired to the monastery San Jeroni de la Murtra near Barcelona in 1831, where Pierre de Marca had spent his summers to write the Marca hispanica. In spite of his questionable faith he was ordained Bishop of Astorga in 1834 and celebrated as obispo reformador. He also continued the work of his late brother Ignasi, a Jesuit, on the "Memorias para ayudar a formar un diccionario critico de los escritores catalanes ...", published in 1836.  (Here is one of his letters to Bofarull from 1824).

 

Albert Pujol Gurena (1783-1847) was from Barcelona, a doctor of theology and the abbot of "Discalced Augustinian Brothers" who had reformed during the Counter-Reformation - but left for a secular life in 1822. He is probably the most fascinating personage of this trio of liberals! His friends called him Pujolito because he was lame (cojo) and "short in stature - but large in talents and literary activities" (1). He taught at Santa Anna, a College in Barcelona, and was a member of the Academia de Ciencas y Artes since 1820 as director of various departments while still an abbot. He founded at the Acadèmia de Bones Lletres a department of Spanish language, literature and history, which students could attended for free. Pujol was also secretary of the Casa Provincial de Caritat (Caritas), co-founder of the Societat d'Amics del Pais, active in economics, and presided over numerous commissions to benefit public education. He became vice-president and rector of the restored University of Barcelona in 1836, where he taught canon law, and rector of the Universitat Literària de Cervera (1838-41). Biographers point out that he is remembered for liberal ideas, eloquent sermons on morality, and inspirational orations and eulogies.

 

Pròsper de Bofarull Mascaró (1777-1859) was born in Reus, Catalonia, and director of the Archives of the Crown of Aragon (1814-1849), president of the Academia de Bones Lletres de Barcelona (1822), and like Pujades, an erudite historian with a doctorate in law. He began his career as a lawyer in Madrid and followed the Spanish government to the Cádiz Cortes during the Peninsular War, where he met his wife. He is described as a "moderate liberal and meticulous person" and joined the commission to plan the future Universitat Literària de Barcelona, and a group to save documents from the monasteries Sant Cugat del Vallès and Santa Maria de Ripoll. After the latter was secularized, its vast archives were destroyed by fire in 1835 during the Carlist Wars, and his work with these documents and the Crónica inspired him to write Los Condes de Barcelona Vindicados, which was published in 1836 and corrects some historical errors. He also wrote a pro-Catalan interpretation of the Llibre del Repartiment del Regne de Valéncia in 1838, and became in 1847 a Chevalier of the French Legion d'Honneur.

More research is in progress, but these erudite Catalans seem to have been highly qualified to edit the complex work of Pujades. Their support of the Crónica reveals more about the character and humanism of Pujades than his modern peers. Undoutedly, the editors would have addressed any ultra-conservative views and especially the religious fanatism and prejudism Pujades has been accused of lately, if there was any evidence other than his flowery, Castilian satires that emulate Cervantes! The editors support his difficult task of comparing the revelant chronicles of his time, and applying his legal expertise as a judge with two doctorates, in canon and civil law, to find the most logical conclusions, which he explains in vol. V (Barcelona, 1829) pp. 8-9. Hence, we have to consider what a team of German scholars published in 2016, that "a good third" of the documents until the late 12th century about Louis the Pious are forgeries, and that it led historians in the past to false conclusions (see link). This would explain why Pujades had his share of errors four centuries ago, although some were corrected by the editors in footnotes. But his findings anticipated the work of the Bollandists and the most controversial revise the legends of three famous monasteries, which the editors did not dispute: 1. St Miquel de Cuixa was once known as Qur'an or Coran and Sunifred of Urgell an iconoclast who "did not venerate the Holy Images." 2. The Black Madonna of Montserrat may not be the virgin Mary, but the dark-skinned countess Almira and wife of Sunifred. 3. St Pere de Rodes is not built on the cave where Peter's skull and a vessel with Christ's blood were allegedly lost, but on Roman foundations which predate and disprove the legend.

        We are fortunate that the editors lived right between Pujades and our era, two hundred years either way, which makes them ideal mediators! They obviously understood the esoteric messages of Pujades and supported his ambiguities to facilitate our access. Two editors had distinguished careers after the publication of the Crónica, with the exception of Torres Amat perhaps. His retirement in 1831 may have had political reasons because his nomination as Bishop of Asturga in 1834 reduced his influence in Barcelona. We still have to examine how the editors were affected by the Peninsular War, the Carlist War, and the Spanish exclaustration in 1835. These were undouptedly difficult times, which could explain why they announced in vol. 5 of the Crónica a forthcoming vol. 7 with corrections, revisions and documents, which was never published and may explain the ultra-conservative foreword by an anonymous author in the final volume.

 

Notes

1. Cayetano Barraquer y Roviralta, Las Casas de Religiosos en Cataluña, Tomo II, (Barcelona, 1906), pp. 199-204.

We should add that the above portrait of Félix Torres was difficult to find because most biographies recycle a picture from his early years as Bible translator, which doesn't quite match his image as a charismatic reformer and scholar. We found his portrait in a digital journal from Astorga, which features his liberal views and reveals he had a clandestine contact in England, which financed a second edition of his Bible translation through a Portuguese bank. It also informs us that he lost his beard and suffered from a serious skin disease. 

 

 

GRAILGATE