Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ripoll. St. Mary's. Burial, Ramon Berengeur IV and maybe Berengeur III III

Ripoll is a place of medieval history: monastery, cathedral, cloisters. It dates from early middle ages. Prominent among the burials is Ramon Berengeur, possibly III and certainly IV.

This noble name, Berengeur, is important to us, because the name Berengeur, Berenger, Beringer, other forms, extends from Catalonia and Aragon in Spain, across the Pyrenees into the old Languedoc in France, Carcassonne, the Pyrenees.

Berenger at Rennes le Chateau. In France, just over the Pyrnees, is fodder for mystery buffs: a priest of the same name centuries later, and with local connections to Berenger nobility dating 'way back (the local castle), who suddenly came across or into a fortune, perhaps of Templar or Cathar roots in times of stress and flight from France, Inquisitions, Cathar "heresy".  See Rennes le Chateau, 

The lords of that Castle were of Cathar stock, Cathar sympathies. 

Was this 19th Century Berenger the recipient of the knowledge of the treasure because he was Berenger, or happenstance, or is all this just fun for researchers.

Another Berenger was a bishop at Carcassonne at the time of the Pope's infamous Crusade against fellow Christians, who would not swallow the required papal dogma, and so, were killed.

Most plaques at St. Mary's are in Catalan.  The plaque here, the Berenger memorial, is to be translated.  Looks like sepulchre of Ramon Berenguer IV, is he Sainted?  El Sant?  Count of Barcelona, marquis of Provence, prince of Aragon?  What is the reference to Ramon Berenguer III?

Google Translate says, "tomb of the saint ramon berengeur IV, Count of Barcelona, ​​marks Provence, prince of Aragon and, supposedly contains the remains of the great Ramon Berengeur III."

  • Ramon Berengeur III. Raymond the Great. He ruled variously from 1082 until his death in Barcelona in 1131, as Count of Barcelona, Girona, Besalu, Cerdanya (have to look all these up), and as Count of Provence (watch the territories shift over centuries:  Provence is southern France, across the Pyrenees) .  He enjoyed the Provence connections through right of his wife. Summary bio at Women in those days inherited, ruled. Husbands inherited lands through them, as Ramon here.  Ramon III died in 1131, and also ruled in early years in some areas with Ramon II, see site. A line of Ramon Berengeurs.

Berenger.  Berenguer.  Beringer.  An old name, nobility back to the middle ages in a time when boundaries were fluid, countries were unformed, dukedoms, counts, kings, empires jostled and warred and conspiracies danced through the years. Go to a place and then look up its history.

Ripoll:  Ripoll is a town in the foothills/midst of the Pyrenees.  Drive about an hour from Figueres, hairpin turns up the mountainsides. At Ripoll Place of the Santa Maria Monastery with its scriptorium where monks copied manuscripts, created books.  The earliest church on the site dates from 879. The monastery complex, begun in 977, is Romanesque, see  Cloisters were begun in 1180, work continued for centuries.  There are fine and surprising Corinthian columns there.

Buried inside is Raymond Beregeur IV, name spelled variously as Raimond, Ramon, Berengeur.  Other counts of Catalonia are there as well.  Raymond was the "founder" of Catalonia, see, that region including Barcelona and at one time extending across the Pyrenees to Carcassonne in the Languedoc, southwest France to us.

Berengeur, Beregeur.  Any nation has its treasured dynasties, some facts airbrushed out, some embroidery, but offering roots into a country's history. National family dynasties. We have our Kennedys -  the Bushes can never compare.  See the Kennedys at their compound, now in process of re-use, at Hyannis MA.

Family Dynasties. Example: Kennedy Compound, Hyannis MA. 1960's

Ripoll also memorializes the deaths of later "martyrs" from the Spanish Civil War 

Berengeur:  also a martyr of the Spanish Civil War, Aragon's Jean Baixeras Berenguer, see footnote, Wikipedia. *  Those of this Diocese of Urqell include names on the plaque -- but where is the nun, the sister also beatified. Sister Maria de los Angeles Ginard Marti. Was she not of this Diocese?  See

*There were some 20 martyrs from Aragon: Louis Vila Masferrer, priest, and nineteen companions, Joseph-Marie Blasco Juan Alfonso Sorribes Teixeido, Joseph-Marie Badia Mateu, Figuero Joseph Beltran, Edward Diego Ripoll, François-Marie Roura Farro, Jesus Augustin Viela Ezcurdia, Joseph-Marie Hernandez Amoros, Jean Baixeras Berenguer, Rafael Morales Briega Louis Escalé Binefa, Raymond Illa Salvia, Llado Teixido Louis Michel Gonzalez Masip, Faustin Perez Garcia, Sebastien Riera Coromina, Joseph-Marie Ros Florensa, François and Castan Messeguer Emmanuel Martinez Jarauta  Site:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Roses - Fine Dining. See Culinary Accolades

The Financial Times has a fine Food and Drink section. It features a restaurant near Roses this time, issue December 1-December 2, 2012, this long after our return:  The place is the family-owned Almadraba Park Hotel: Jordi Subiros and his father, Jaume. Jaume Subiros or a different? Not clear on Spanish naming.

We missed it -- staying instead last-minute and grateful, at the venerable, courteous and helpful Hostal Rom. This was a crowded, hot weekend (and that was fine, too, although our two rooms, one bed each, did not have an ensuite bathroom:  each did, however, have a sole-user lockable bathroom down the hall; the price was right).  Had we known of the Almadraba, we might have ventured out of town to eat, where all was booked, to find it. You can find it at Then again, we had an excellent parking space and would have lost it if we went wandering.

Does the Rom, where we stayed, have any connection to Roma?

  • Menu for meal, Almadraba Park Hotel for the reporter's fine dinner at the Almadraba: GENERAL QUOTES -- cool cherry gazpachy, creamy asparagus mousse, two fish courses (delicate brochettes of squid with tarragon vinaigrette; and two large sea bass oven-cooked "fisherman style (?), then slow-roasted duck with pear chutney, and then a birthday cake. CLOSE GENERAL QUOTES.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Figueres, Sant Ferran Castle, Fortress Castillo de San Fernando

Castillo de San Fernando
Sant Fernan Castle
Figueres, Spain
Citadel at Figueres

For military history buffs, and even those just interested in migrations and empire-expansion over centuries, and the resulting conflict and conquests, this Citadel / Castle named for Saint Fernando, Sant Ferran, San Fernando, is a major find.  It is a site where small forces began, and the same site enlarged and recycled for later needs, and is larger than the Citadel of Roses at the coast on the Costa Brava, nearby. It served more than Roses as a bulwark against invasion from the Pyrenees, and a launching pad for attacks over them. Roses concerned itself with invasions from the sea, just by location.

At San Fernando, the concentric (not quite circular, of course) walls show the progression of weaponry:  each wall could focus on a specific kind of threat coming its way.

This fortress began as a defense against the French in the early 1600's.  See  It was in use through the 19th Century. 

In the far distance, the Pyrenees.  As firepower range increased, the placement of the walls enabled short and long range weapons to defend.

The area covered is some 35 hectares (what is that? -- about 2.5 acres make a hectare)

Parade Ground.

The parade ground had to be large because this place housed some 6,000 troops and some 500 horses, here down below.  Note the dividers between horses, the tilt of the cobbles to a central drain.

Every citadel needs a jail.  This one offers at least one nice view.

Back to horses.  Cavalry in warfare.  Cavalry logistics.  How to manage 500 war horses. Five hundred down here.  Imagine the feeding, grooming, cleaning.  Horses in warfare:  see the Field Museum, Chicago,

Citadel at Figueres.  Spend time.