TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Ordenanças y regla de la cofradia dela caridad de la villa de Maqueda [Ordinances and Rule for the Confraternity of Charity of the city of Maqueda]

In Spanish, decorated manuscript on parchment
Spain, Maqueda (Castilla-La Mancha), after 1493, c. 1520 (little before 1521)

TM 416


18 ff., complete (collation: i8, ii7 [8-1, wanting ii], iii3), written in brown ink in a gothic rounded hand, on up to 24 lines (justification 150 x 105 mm), ruled in brown ink, vertical catchwords, rubrics in red, a few crosses in red used as word separators, opening initial in red 4-lines high with purple filigree penwork, 38 similar smaller initials introducing each chapter, added paragraph in cursive script with witness signatures on f. 18, a number of added inscription, some in relatively faded ink. Bound in a Spanish plateresque binding (second half of the 16th c.?), brown calf over wood boards, sides gilt with single frame formed by a gilt roll, gilt fleurons at inner and outer angles, central gilt motif flanked by four smaller tools, smooth spine with gilt fleurons, two fore-edge clasps and catches, similar to (although here a much simpler decoration) Huesco Rolland, Exposicíon de encuadernaciones españolas siglos XII al XIX (Madrid, 1934), cat. no. 82, p. 193, pl. XVII: “Encuadernacion renacentista, siglo XVI”; see also for comparisons Encuadernaciones españolas en la Biblioteca nacional (1992): no. 77, 79, Enc. plateresca endorado s. XVI (Binding a bit scratched and stained, renewed pastedowns, stitching a bit loose, a few stains to parchment, some fading to ink, else in its contemporary condition). Dimensions 215 x 155 mm.

In a near-contemporary binding, this manuscript preserves an interesting copy of Ordinances relating to the Confraternity of the Charity of the city of Maqueda, near Toledo. Little is published on this town of Maqueda and the history of its confraternities. Further research in archival and public repositories might yield comparative elements and allow for a better study of the Cofradía de la Caridad of Maqueda.


1.Copied, decorated and bound in Spain, based on internal and codicological evidence. The manuscript was evidently copied in Maqueda, a Spanish town located 80 kilometers from Madrid and 45 kilometers from Toledo. Located within the autonomous community Castilla-La Mancha and the province of Toledo, Maqueda is in the comarca of Torrijos. The town is best known for its remarkably well-preserved castle, the Castillo de la Vela. Although these ordinances were likely copied in the first quarter of the 16th century, the actual text was composed and promulgated in 1493 as stated in the prologue: “Anno del nascimento de nuestro redemptor ihesu christo de mill y quatrocientos y noventa y tres…[1493]” (f. 2v).

2. Antonio Capucho, Portuguese book collector, his bookmark pasted on f. 18v: “Ex biblioteca Antonio Capucho.”


ff. 1-18, Ordenanças y regla de la cofradia dela caridad de la villa de Maqueda [Ordinances and Rule for the Confraternity of the Charity of the city of Maqueda], in 38 chapters, rubric, Esta es la regla ed ordenanca de la cofradia dela sancta caridad del villa de maqueda; incipit, “En el nobre de dios padre et hylo et spiritu sancto que son tres personas en trinidad incomprehensibilies et un solo dios verdadero todo poderoso… ”; explicit, “[…] la qual dicha cofradia y hermandad fue hordenada en esta villa de maqueda. Anno del nascimento de nostro redemptor ihesu christo de mill et quatrocientos et noventa et tres a nos en la manera siguiente” ; Chapter 1 [rubric] Capitula primero de que manera deven ser elegidos los officiales desta cofradia et desl cabildo que sea de haber por navidad;

f. 18, Confirmation of the Rule and Ordinances by the Archbishop of Toledo in an added note dated 9 October 1521: “Don alonso de fonseca por la dibina miseracion arcobispo de la santa yglesia...bimos las ordnancas y regla dela cofradia dela caridad dela villa de maqueda...,” followed by three signatures, validating and authorizing these Ordinances.

Alonso III de Fonseca (1475-1534) was a Spanish archbishop and politician, first archbishop of Santiago de Compostella in 1507, and then archbishop of Toledo from 1523. He was the son of the archbishop Alonso II Fonseca and Alonso II’s concubine María de Ulloa. He assumed the leadership of the Galician nobility, who wished to maintain their privileges and was named by Charles I of Spain as a member of the Royal Council. The Galician nobility was not included in the Cortes (Legislature) of Santiago and the Cortes of La Coruña, and Fonseca led the fight for their inclusion in these legislative bodies. The definitive consolidation of the University of Santiago de Compostela comes with Fonseca. Fonseca was an extremely erudite man, a Renaissance man and patron of numerous artists of the time, who was in touch with important thinkers such as Erasmus of Rotterdam. In 1523, he was named Archbishop of Toledo, and in this position, served as a patron to scholars, artists, and humanists.

This manuscript contains the rule and ordinances that governed the Confraternity of Charity of the city of Maqueda (Cofradía de la caridad de Maqueda), copied in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, perhaps for the personal use of a member of the brotherhood or for use within the cofradía itself.

Medieval confraternities in Spain were voluntary organizations whose members devoted themselves to the public expression of forms of piety in order to promote the welfare of the community. Gabriel Lebras has called them “artificial families in which all members were united by voluntary fellowship; confraternities had as their objective to satisfy within a narrow group the most poignant needs of body and soul” (G. Le Bras, “Les confréries chrétiennes: problèmes et propositions,” in Revue historique de droit français et étranger, Paris, 1940-1941, p. 310). Amongst the many ways in which medieval confraternities met the “poignant needs of body and soul,” charity was paramount, to wit the name and appellation of the present “Cofradía dela caridad de la villa de Maqueda.” Through almsgiving and practical services such as lodging, hospitality and nursing, confraternities physically supported the poor and needy of their communities and heightened the members’ aspirations for the afterlife.

Confraternities created communities that extended beyond the family or the parish and often competed with other ecclesiastical institutions. Members paid special veneration to a common patron or cause (here Sacred Charity), prayed for each other, cared for the same shrines and wore the same clothing when they marched in procession. Just as parishes created bonds between parishioners, these brotherhoods (cofradías) maintained the connections between the living and the dead, the rich and the poor. The confraternities exerted many functions often tied to civil administration and social welfare, with its members working in hospitals or other civic welfare facilities. Confraternities were an important part of an individual’s social and religious life and many men and women engaged in multiple memberships.

In his monograph on the Cofradías of Astorga (Province of León), G. Cavero Dominguez (1992) provides a very thorough study of the phenomenon of medieval confraternities, exemplified by the city of Astorga. The same could be done for many Spanish cities, especially with such sources as the present Ordinances. Cavero Dominguez discusses (and publishes) Ordinances as one of the major sources for the study of the Cofradías (see in particular Cavero Dominguez, 1992, pp. 259-263). Interestingly, Cavero Dominguez states that most often the Ordinances for a specific Cofradía were bound together with other documents pertaining to the Brotherhood such as Statutes or Chapter Proceedings. A fuller inspection of Spanish archival resources would yield either other examples or complimentary documents to write the history of the confraternities of Maqueda, for which we have not found a study.

The present manuscript details the rules, regulations and rituals that were to be respected by members of the confraternity. The purpose and reason of the Cofradía de la caridad is described in the prologue of the Rule, as follows: “[…] con verdadera caridad obrar lo que assy el eterno dios nos mando que hygiesemos dando de comer y beber y vestir a los pobres y curando los enfermos y visitando los espitales y enterrando los defuntos et digiendo missas por ellos y todas las otras obras de misericordia y caridad prometemos a dios nuestro senor delo complir…” […with true charity, as God asks, to ensure food, drink and clothes to the poor, to heal the sick and visit hospitals, to bury the dead and say masses in their name, and to promise to accomplish other works of charity…] (f. 2)


Alonso Revenga, P. A. “El corpus y las hermenadades sacramentales en algunos pueblos de los montes de Toledo,” in III Jornadas de etnologia de Castilla-La Mancha, Guadalajara, 1985, pp. 323-328.

Cavero Dominguez, G. Los cofradías en Astorga durante la edad media, León, 1992.

Flynn, M. Sacred Charity. Confraternities and Social Welfare in Spain, 1400-1700, Ithaca, New York, 1989.

Flynn, M. “Charitable Ritual in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain,” in Sixteenth Century Journal 16 (1985), pp. 335-348.

Goitia Graells, M. “Cofradias y Hermenandades de Toledo. Real e illustre cofradia de la Santa Caridad,” in Toletum ser. 2, 7 (1976), pp. 209-224.

Matrz, L. Poverty and Welfare in Habsburg Spain. The Example of Toledo, Cambridge, 1983.

Online resources

Maqueda, Province of Toledo

Alonso de Fonseca y Ulloa