In March historian Patricia Andrés is set to finish her historical compilation project. She has spent 18 months rummaging through various archives and documentary sources with the aim of reconstructing the past of Abadía Retuerta.I
The work is very similar to assembling a puzzle from small pieces scattered in different places, with the difference that the final work will inevitably be unfinished because there are bits of information that were left out of the documents.
The sources are numerous: the Chancery Archive of Valladolid, the bibliography on monastic orders in Spain, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, the Academy of History, the Heritage Service of the Junta de Castilla y Léon or the Marqués de la Ensenada Land Registry.
It is particularly interesting to notice the connections between the estate’s past and the present. In this sense we are investigating, on the one hand, the routines of everyday life, the distribution of tasks and the hierarchical organisation of the Premonstratensian monks who inhabited the abbey and, on the other hand, the uses of the estate and its crops, with particular attention to the vineyard.
As an interesting bit of Christmas reading, we publish some of the most fascinating findings of Patricia Andrés. They allow us to add greater depth to our day to day routines in the hotel and the winery.
The cillero, an ancestor of the cellar manager
The distribution of tasks in the monastery was very precise. Beyond the organisation and management in the hands of the abbot and the prior, there was a librarian, a sacristan, a master of novices, a “provider of outside things”, a dresser (he was in charge of clothing), a servant of the sick, a lodger, a table reader (he read in the refectory during meals), a doorman and a cillero.
“The cillero (cellarius) -according to a doctoral thesis on the monastery of the Vine- was in charge of provisions and supply. He prepared the bread, wine and cider that were served in the refectory. He was in charge of the supervision of bakers, fishermen, gardeners and cooks. He received the pittances, offered after the abbot’s authorization. Because of his tasks, he was exempt from certain rules such as leaving the bedroom, leaving the refectory and remaining silent”.
It is clear that vines have been a part of the life of the monastery since ancient times. In fact, there is a book in the National Library that certifies two donations of vineyards made in 1148 and 1151.
At a much later date, the responses of the Marquis of La Ensenada Land Registry in 1752 reveal that “the lands are dry-farmed; they have sown wheat and rye (which is harvested every three years); they have an holm oak forest (which is used for charcoal)” and within the enclosure it mentions an orchard and a vineyard “which is used by the community”.
Meanwhile, the Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico de España y Portugal (Geographical-Statistical Dictionary of Spain and Portugal) published in 1827 by Sebastián de Minayo y Bedolla, mentions the production of “wine, wheat, rye, barley, oats, fruits, legumes and geese” in the Retuerta estate.
Wine and sin
One of the most interesting documents handled by Andrés is the transcription of a text found in the Retuerta archive which is included in Expossicion de la Regla de N. P. S. Augustín: questiones politicas, morales, regulares: segunda parte and in which some of the prohibitions issued in 1573 by Pope Gregory XIII to all religious orders are listed.
It is striking that “buying grapes to make wine and then sell it” was considered a “mortal sin,” although selling the leftover wine was allowed regardless of whether it was made by the producer or bought from third parties. This shows the importance of wine in the monks’ diet.
Things have changed a great deal since then. Now we are delighted to welcome visitors to the abbey so that they can enjoy the estate products in our restaurants or buy them in the shop. We will shortly be able to tell you more about this fascinating historical compilation full of fun and varied anecdotes.