Capbreu of Sant Miquel del Fai
Capbreu from the 14th century
A capbreu is a collection of documents in which all persons subject to a jurisdictional lord acknowledged said submission and listed their possessions. This explains why, in the capbreu of Sant Miquel del Fai, we find this acknowledgement of submission to the prior of the monastery of Sant Miquel del Fai, representing the entire monastery; the possessions they had and the detail of all the loans they paid annually for those possessions.
The capbreus were prepared when, due to historical vicissitudes, the conditions of the vassals were out of date. Making the capbreu updated these conditions and clarified cases in which, either due to conflicts, successions or loss of documents, it was no longer clear enough who owned the property of the monastery or what they paid for it. For this reason, the capbreus constitute an incomparably rich historical resource.
In the case of Sant Miquel del Fai, the existence of other capbreus pertaining to the monastery was already known, albeit ones of a different scope and related to different entities but all dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. The one that we present here, that the Barcelona Provincial Council has been able to recover, is therefore the most extensive (439 documents) and the oldest, including documents dating from between 1364 and 1389. Most of these documents date from the period 1364 to 1366. The documents also include references to earlier documents, from 1167.
This capbreu is also the most distinguished, since, due to its format, size and the high-quality materials from which it is made (large sheets of parchment and what was most probably a sumptuous binding, although this one was made in modern times), it also had a certain symbolic function, having been used to record the binding or submission of vassals or subjects in the monastery’s jurisdiction.
The capbreu of Sant Miquel del Fai compiles the properties of the monastery in a good number of nearby and not-so-nearby districts (fifty localities, from Vallès Oriental, Vallès Occidental, Maresme, Moianès and Osona, apart from Barcelona), plus more than 340 people who were subject to the domain of the monastery, together with their families. In addition, with the descriptions of the lands and loans that were paid, it provides a detailed overview not only of the geographical features in our counties but also agricultural and economic aspects.
Below you can consult the full document in this folder:
In this video (in Catalan) we explain the process behind restoring the document, carried out by the Conservation and Restoration Laboratory of the Cultural Heritage Office of Barcelona Provincial Council.