Aragonese Itinerary – Part I
Wherefore it was said to (Abram) by Theos:
Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father’s house, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
Thus did I exit the House of my lord King, to undertake a journey of survey of our land, and this is Aragona. From the splendid city of Valencia the Kings hail of this day, and there live many a noble of the Gran Senhora. And my lord has tasked me in order to be more accomplished, and we may know better what this realm of ours owns and where, and in what it abounds and thirsts. Thus did I venture through the land, on a journey of survey and recording of all property and natural good, and mountain and stone, and field and rock, and pit and river, and tower high and church marbled.
For this my journey I had to establish also a path and route, but also a time and scope. It is said that the land of Arago’ is formed as a triangle, and that one may travel in three parts around it to see it all, should he start from Murcia, the farthest south, and from Valencia, if he should ignore the afore.
But it is also apparent to some in mind, that one would have four stages of journey, wherefore he should at four times stop to change cardinal direction. Others yet claim that if one would to go in a great circle, he would not have to stop at all, but just realign his bearings, and around the land go and never stop. Thus I intended to see for myself, to see which fit the most. And another legend has it, that to travel the whole of Arago’(in this game), one will take but three days, and no more. And this interested me so, that I put on myself this wager also.
Therefore I chose that I should travel swift by fastest horse, but I do keep in mind always the not so fortunate, and will account of their story also, how they travel. Also I had a thirst to see for myself the Holy city of Toledo, that not even iv years have passed since it was taken from the Moor. Therefore I had my route set, and would travel through the night, all night long. And this would be on the day of (St. Concordia) in the February of MCCCXVI AD.
First, let me describe what a traveler needs in order to avoid thirst and other needs, on the road. For one day of travel one should pack at least 3 cheeses entire, and bread in buns at least four. If you may find it, take some wine, and milk also. Then to take a paper and note what you have seen along the road. If one does not write let him at least pictures put in there, that he may not forget the miles he goes. Also you should have a good pair of boots, or comfy shoes, that travelling consumes them and your feet, and before the end, you might be barefoot and cold. Also that you should take for your journey whatever you might find useful for yourself, for we are not all alike, but always one is in peril of starvation, and we all know the hunt is scarce these days, and very much forgot.
Now when one decides to leave Valencia, city of Kings, he is advised to view the ships in port, as many galleys may take him anywhere in the world, but also he might want to head to the north by foot or horse, to Castellon. Also he may head south to Denia and Murcia, the cities of salt and stone. Also he may head inland, towards the arid but fertile plains of La Mancha, enclosed by the Sierra Morena, and the mountains of Toledo and hills of Cuenca.
I went by horse quickly to Denia, and by the 7th hour I had reached that city (18-Feb-1316, 13:43:39). Denia was known to the Romans as Dianum, the city of the goddess of the forest, yet the romans used it for a harbour. Later the Saracens called it Daniyya, and we now Denia. It sits upon a beautiful sprout of land in the Costa Blanca, and the weather is there hot, and it is a flatland. ‘Tis today considered not more than a village, for there’s no castle, or tower, but the farmers grow swine for the market of Valencia there, and it’s lord is Berton Berton. And here the taxes of the domain of the lord Berton:
Citizen tax: 2%
Then for Murcia (18-Feb-1316, 13:54:20). In this city I had arrived by the 8th hour of the day (18-Feb-1316, 14:31:44), and I stood in amazement of the beauty of it’s castles and towers, and toured the salines for a brief time, The inhabitants dwell a tranquil life, selling their hard harvested salt and fish, of which there is in abundance in the sea of the Costa Calida. It’s lord is Prince Fabio of Valencia, duke of Murcia.
To avoid too much curiousity the visitor from the city of Kings would gather, I rode for Almansa (18-Feb-1316, 14:53:45), leaving behind the city of the Prince. There I came in about half an hour, (18-Feb-1316, 15:35:46) and saw that it was forest all around, and it was warm verily so, and that hills were abound. Here the main trade is that of the forrester, and the lumberjack, and this trade they do with those carpenters in Valencia that make fine planks for our galleys and barrels. Its lord is Berton Berton, the great connestable!
Citizen tax: 2%
Now, this is in the month of February, and in this month we must tend to the fields, and sow, and thus, fortunately, for it is very near to Almansa, I proceeded to La Mancha, where I tend to the growing of vine, and forgive me say so, but ‘tis very fine! From Almansa to La Mancha, which stem from the same word, and this is a land arid and unhospitable, there is not much travel to be done. I departed by the 9th hour or so(18-Feb-1316, 16:08:11), to arrive by the end of it (18-Feb-1316, 16:50:14).
When one is in La Mancha, he will see mills that work on wind, and fields and little hills as far as eyes can see, and villages prosper, and also a cosy tavern where farmers abound. And these tell me of the bountiful harvests that the region provides, for even inhospitable and in many parts quite arid, it is wonderful for the growing of plants, such as grape and fruit and flowers. But there is also a mine of good Iron to be found, and rich in veins, and this the Catalans use for the finest of their swords and hoes. Here the King resides at times in the summer, for it is quite moderate in heat, and fresh the drinks of wine, and for the King the sweetest of fruit is found.
There I rested, having tended to my estate, and departed there from again when the sun had long descended after a sunset of red and arrange tone. Thus I had made my decision to head for the bastion of Calatrava, seat of the holy knights of the same name, to see that proud castle upon the rock. Therebefore many a foe was slain of the Holy faith, and many a traveller left his mark upon the stone. And this was well after the prayer of matins in the night (19-Feb-1316, 02:31:59).
Calatrava I reached by the laudes of that morn, (19-Feb-1316, 03:14:00). There I saw the rock so famed, yet ‘tis not considered a castle, but has the rights of a village or so, and it’s lord is Berton Berton. And by the rock is a mountain, wherefrom the locals extract black gold, and that is coal. I prayed there for my soul and ate, that I may continue strong. Thus having received blessing, I hardly rode, for Holy Toledo, seat of the Archbishop.
My horse was also blessed by the (Holy Ghost), and swiftly rode, for it was said to me; “19-Feb-1316, 04:09:54 Vous êtes arrivé à TOLEDO”.
This city is told to be among the richest, and most beautiful in the world, and hosts many a great church, and mosque, and is sat upon a hill most raw. Indeed, the archbishop has there a grand palace, and the King also, that he confided to Trastamara Enrico. Also there is a great civic guard, and barracks, and prison, and a market where many things are sold, and a magnificent court of law. Yet one can still see the signs of the great plague there, of which the citizens have long been in recovering estate, for a sign there said so:
“Burgos, nel giorno 28 di Gennaio dell’anno 1314
Con questo annuncio si decreta una misura speciale per prevenire contagi ai cittadini di Burgos.
Si fa obbligo a tutti i cittadini stranieri presenti ed in arrivo nella regione di Burgos, infettati dal virus della peste nera e in cerca di cure di recarsi nella regione limitrofa di Vizcaya.
Li saranno messe e a loro disposizione pillole curative e cibo per mantenere sotto controllo la loro situazione di salute in attesa di ricevere le cure necessarie per debellare la malattia.
Per poter ricevere codeste cure presso la parrochia di Burgos sarà necessario prendere appuntamento direttamente con il parroco Carlos de Guzmàn, contattandolo per iscritto e quindi donare un’offerta alla parrochia stessa.”
For those that do not read this langue, I will translate so: That the King in Burgos decreed that all plagued by the great morb, should seek the shelter of the Holy Church or head to the salutary region of Biscay, and purchase there pills and cures for the cough. There I left a message from my Lord King for all to read and hear, that I had come there in peace among our brethren Iberians, and that forever we would wish it to be so, for us and them!
The taxes are thus in Toledo:
Citizen tax: 5%