The Diocese of Barcelona during the Black Death
The Register 'Notule Communium' 15 (1348-1349).
536 p., 165 x 245 mm, 1994
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In the spring of 1348, the Black Death arrived in the diocese of Barcelona. The immediate effects were extraordinary mortality and fear. Over the long term, rural life was marked by conflict as peasants and lords reacted to an economy where death had made labour scarce and expensive. Urban society also suffered from plague mortality, but it is a matter of controversy how such demographic changes contributed to the eventual decline of Barcelona in the fifteenth century. The documents of the diocesan register Notule communium 15 (1348-1349) reveal the church's immediate reactions to the plague and provide evidence for patronage and ecclesiastical administration that will be useful to social and economic historians in assessing the immediate and long-term consequences of the Black Death, especially since contrastng material from before 1348 is available in the register Notule communium 14 (1345-1348) calendared by Jocelyn N. Hillgarth and Giulio Silano in the present series.
The Black Death is an overwhelming influence on the register, although it is mentioned directly only a handful of times. The bishop of Barcelona, Miquel de Ricoma, was absent at Avignon throughout his tenure (1346-1361), but his vicars-general continued to provide churches to worthy candidates, promote new clerics, and hear cases in the episcopal court. Their work was complicated in the wake of the Black Death: churches lost rectors, patrons did not present candidates for vacant positions (perhaps due to a lack of qualified replacements), and last wills were left unexecuted. Meanwhile, the usual business of the diocesan courts continued, with debts being registerd, criminal clergy punished, and lax parishioners exhorted.
The introduction to the present calendar describes the historical and ecclesiastical setting, and includes analysis of the process of registration. The calendar contains detaild summaries of the 1036 documents in the register; selected ent