The Chronicle of San Juan de la Pena

The Chronicle of San Juan de la Pena
A Fourteenth-Century Official History of the Crown of Aragon

Translated, with an introduction and notes, by Lynn H. Nelson

160 pages
Ebook 2016 | ISBN | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

By the end of the fourteenth century, the Crown of Aragon had reached the height of its power and was the most powerful Christian state in the region. Under the rule of King Pedro IV, its navies controlled the western Mediterranean and held the balance of power in the eastern; at the same time, its poets, artists, scholars, and musicians were admired and respected throughout Europe.

Commissioned and supervised by King Pedro IV, and compiled some time around 1380, The Chronicle of San Juan de la Pena was long valued as the earliest complete history of the Crown of Aragon. In the period following its composition, it was considered the official history of the realm; even into modern times, virtually every Aragonese historian has relied heavily, and often uncritically, upon the text. A mixture of fact, fantasy, and royal propaganda pegged to an uncertain chronology, it is the sole source of many of the most famous episodes of Aragonese history.

With Lynn H. Nelson's translation, the Chronicle is at last available in English. His introduction sets the historical context within which the text was written and suggests various approaches to the work. Extensive notes provide explanations of critical passages and point out historical inaccuracies embedded within the Chronicle; maps and chronological tables of rulers are included as aids to the reader.

If there was a single mind that shaped the Chronicle, Nelson contends, it was that of King Pedro himself. Although many scholars worked on the project, the Chronicle was completed only when it had received the king's final approval. It is not simply a history but also a political treatise on the origins and constitution of the Crown of Aragon; if it provides a wealth of historical and narrative material found nowhere else, it also affords an unparalleled insight into the thoughts and aspirations of one of the leading figures in the complex political world of the fourteenth century. The Chronicle of San Juan de la Pena will be an invaluable resource for students and scholars of Spanish medieval history.

Lynn H. Nelson is Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at the University of Kansas. He is the author of The Normans in South Wales, 1070-1171 and editor of The Global Perspective, The Human Perspective and Classics of Eastern Thought.

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