Wielding the Cross: Crusade References in Cerverí de Girona and Thirteenth-Century Catalan Historiography

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In 1213, fresh from victory at Las Navas de Tolosa, King Peter the Catholic of Aragon died at Muret, in a turning point of the Albigensian crusade, while siding with his Occitan vassals against the crusaders. His death left his young son, the future James I, in Simon de Montfort's custody, until Pope Innocent III claimed him and entrusted him to the Templar knights. This was a difficult period for the kingdom and the young monarch, as he recalls in his Llibre dels fets (Book of Deeds), but James, known today as the Conqueror, went on to acquire fame as a warrior and crusader. He was involved in several projected expeditions to the Holy Land in the 1260–70s, yet his successful campaigns, which allowed him to enlarge his possessions with Mallorca and Valencia, were all against peninsular Muslims. It was in the early stages of a crusade in Tunis that, after the Vespers uprising in 1282, James's son King Peter the Great, married to Constance of Hohenstaufen, made a detour in order to successfully claim the Sicilian throne from Charles of Anjou. Last but not least, in 1285, briefly before Peter's death, the king of France unsuccessfully tried to invade the Crown of Aragon with papal approval as a direct consequence of the Aragonese intervention in Sicily. These pivotal moments in the history of the thirteenth-century Crown of Aragon, all associated with crusading campaigns, did not receive equal coverage in Catalan vernacular historiography, each version often revealing substantial differences, even disparities, depending on the nature of the outcome from a Catalan viewpoint, but also on the chronological distance from the incidents recalled and the motivations behind each report. Composed mainly in the last decades of the century, the earliest chronicles in Catalan are contemporary to the rise of vernacular historiography in neighbouring traditions, such as Alfonso of Castile's historical summae or the translation of the Grandes chroniques de France commissioned by King Louis IX, all undertaken c. 1270. In the Crown of Aragon, monks at Ripoll had been compiling the Gesta comitum Barchinone et regum Aragonie since the late twelfth century, based on which a Catalan version recounting rather swiftly some of the main events up to c. 1268 was drafted ​
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