Huelgas de Burgos
The royal monastery of Las Huelgas de Burgos was founded by Alfonso VIII at the instance of his consort, Doña Leonor of England, about the year 1180, and, upon the completion of the work necessary for their installation the first nuns were brought to it, conformably with the wishes of its founders from the monastery of Tulebras in Navarre. Doña Misol, or María Sol, was its first abbess, and to her was addressed the charter of foundation, in which Alfonso VIII granted to the community the lordship of sundry villages and territories, entire exemption from taxes, numberless immunities and franchises, and the enjoyment of its possessions under the king's own privilege. These grants were augmented until at the end of the fourteenth century, no feudal lord in Castile, except the king, had a larger number of vassals. In 1199 the monastery was solemnly incorporated with the Cistercian Order and became the burial-place of the royal family ; the general chapter of the order made this monastery the mother-house of all the monasteries of Cistercian nuns established in Castile and Leon and the annual meeting-place of the abbesses for the holding of their chapter. In 1212, two months before the battle of Las Navas, Alfonso VIII made the King's Hospital, with all its dependencies, subject to the Abbess of Las Huelgas. Immediately after its foundation, ladies of the noblest families began to take the habit at Las Huelgas, following the example of the Infanta Doña Costanza, daughter of the founder, and another Doñ Costanza, sister of St. Ferdinand, his daughter Doña Berenguela, Doña Blanca of Portugal. and others. The most auspicious events took place here, and such, for example, as the knightly consecration of St. Ferdinand and his successors, the nuptials of Leonor (Eleanor of Castile ) with Prince Edward, heir to the throne of England and of the Infante Don Fernando de la Cerda with Blanche, second daughter of St. Louis, the coronations of Alfonso XI, Henry II, and John I, and the proclamation of the coming of age of Henry III . Here, too, were buried Alfonso VII, Sancho III, and many infantes and infantas, and the monastery was often visited by, and received gifts from, the kings and queens.
The characteristic peculiarity, however, which made this monastery famous was its abbess's exercise, for some centuries, of the vere nullius ecclesiastical jurisdiction , until, in 1873, all exempt jurisdictions were abolished by the Bull "Quae diversa". The abbesses of Huelgas, in consequence of this privilege, issued faculties to hear confessions, to say Mass, and to preach; they nominated parish priests, appointed chaplains, granted letters dimissory, took cognizance of the first instance in all causes, ecclesiastical, criminal, and relating to benefices, imposed centuries through their ecclesiastical judges , confirmed the abbesses of their subject houses, drew up constitutions, visited monasteries -- in a word, they possessed a full ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Don Amancio Rodríguez, who has made a special study of Huelgas, assures us that there never was any pontifical Bull in which these rights were specifically granted; but there certainly was the tacit consent of the popes, without which the practical exercise of the jurisdiction would never have been possible under the eyes of the bishops of Burgos and the papal nuncio. Besides, not only the nuncio, but the Roman Curia confirmed the abbess' decisions on appeal and rejected appeals unduly made, in order that the abbess might deal with the cases as in the first instance. The origin of this privilege, then, must be sought in the king's intervention in the affairs of the Church, in the protection accorded by the abbots of Cîteaux and by the Roman pontiffs, and in the fact that several infantas were nuns in the monastery. The royal foundation fell somewhat into decay in the time of Charles I, but afterwards recovered some of its ancient splendour, chiefly in the beginning of the seventeenth century, when Doña Ana de Austria, natural daughter of Don John of Austria, brother of Philip II, became its abbess in perpetuity. From the time of the secularization of church property ( Leyes de Desamortización ) its support and conservation has been the care of the sovereigns of Spain.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online