Cathedral Archive – History

The Chapterhouse Archive is the repository of the Living Memory of the Cathedral of Oviedo.
The Church, from the first centuries, left proof of its implementation and development through documents, that transmitted the testimony of its actions throughout History. That is also how the Ecclesiastical Archives were founded.

The history of the Archives is so old, like the beginning of the complex called the Cathedral, given that the oldest document in possession dates to the year 803 (The Ego Fakilo).

Apart from the common historical vicissitudes, it suffered numerous damages and looting throughout history, especially the events of the French invasion in 1808, in addition to the damages during the First Republic (1869) and especially during the Civil War (1936-1937), where the old classification was lost of the Archive registered in the Master Record, in the Cabinet of Arch-Deanery or “Small Cabinet,” made in 1729 and in the Large Cabinet, as per the indications adhered to the drawers.

Other vicissitudes in the Archive are reflected in the book by Chapterhouse Archivist Mr. Raúl Arias del Valle, the manuscript from the Chapterhouse Archive of Oviedo (Inventory-Table of Contents) (Oviedo 1993) from which we have taken a few passages to profile the History of the Archive:


“…some pages were blacked out and lacked a few papers, that is why general censorships had been put in place, so that those who had them, put them back into place, and those who had the originals, verified the date, content and archive in order to get out whatever was deemed necessary.”

On September 3, 1715, it was agreed that the Archivist would be selected by cards and with a salary of 6000 maravedís.

 “…it was agreed that the Factory Administrator would repair the Upper Archive, so that the papers would be stored in better conditions, with more protection, in order to put the papers in it.” (The Upper Archive is the location connected to the Chapterhouse)

In an agreement signed October 6, 1725, it was expressed what to follow in the Master Book, whose copy is currently conserved in three volumes in the Archive:

 “…it was voted and agreed that 10 doubloons would be given to each one of the Archivists and that a Master Book would be made and it was agreed what they would do, giving them paid scribes, for which it was necessary to have three people: one to write, one to dictate and another to remove and replace the objects to their original place, checking them off in the Book”

In 1791, the Cathedral Archive was moved to the Gymnasium with access from the Gothic Cloister, where on some papers from the Archive had the following paragraph:

 “…it was seen as a piece made for this Archive. There are drawers and shelves with papers and writing instruments used for the Old Archive.”

In 1860, the Archivers Mr. Juan de la Cruz Ceruelo de Velasco and Mr. Pedro Fernández Caneja were commissioned to make the “Index of the Gothic Bookstore of the Holy Church of Oviedo,” beginning it with a quote from Saint John (6-10) that offers the following text: “Colligite fragmenta ne pereant” (Compile the fragments so that they do not vanish).

On January 26, 1869, the Archives were seized, which is reflected in the Chapter Records in the following terms:

“…revolutionary seizure of all records of the Archive by the Civil Governor”

In 1929, Mr. Claudio Sánchez Albornoz, mentioned the Chapterhouse Archives of Oviedo as follows:

“…the zealous guardian of the Cathedral Treasury of Oviedo, Sandoval, surrendered once again to our assault. Thanks to his extremely kind condescension to the initiative of the Bishop of the Diocese (Mr. Juan Bautista Luis Pérez) and to the works of Sandoval, García Villada and Sierra Corella, today the organized resources of the Archive of the Chapterhouse of Oviedo can be consulted.”

The Chapterhouse Clergy of Oviedo have had, throughout history, continued concern for protecting the “Records and Papers” that make up the rich Chapterhouse Archive of Oviedo.


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