HISTORY LINKED TO THE JACOBEAN ROUTE
The geographical location of the town, right on the Via Trajana, has marked its development as the birthplace of kings, saints and scholars. In Roman times it enjoyed great activity thanks to its location on the road between the VII Legion and Italy; This road led to Astorga, Saragossa and Tarragona…
Sahagún was born in the shadow of a medieval monastery in honour of Saint Facundo and Saint Primitivo (hence the name La Villa Sanctus Facundus), over nine centuries ago. The two saints were martyred in the II and III centuries. They were decapitated and their heads thrown into the river Cea. Groups of Christians buried them on the riverbank. The ancient sanctuary was built there before the IX century. Destroyed by a Muslim expedition in 883 and restored by the King and Abbot Alfonso, it became the birthplace of the Benedictine Community when monks from Córdoba revitalized the monastery of Domnos Sanctos. Sahagún gradually became more prosperous due to its privileged location on the banks of the river Cea, the area of confluence between Tierra de Campos and El Páramo.
A chapel was built there in the Late Roman period, which then became the Domnos Sanctos Monastery during the Visigoth period. It was partially demolished by Muslims on a number of occasions (714, 791, 988) and later rebuilt. In 872 Alfonso III the Great donated it to Adefonso, a Cordoban Abbot, who restored its monastic life.
X CENTURY “THE SPLENDOUR OF THE VÍA TRAJANA”
XI CENTURY “THE SPANISH CLUNY”
The town of Sahagún reached a high point in the XI century with the reign of Alfonso VI who introduced the Roman Rite in the Peninsula via the order of Cluny. The complete implementation of the new cult was the work of Abbot Bernard, of French origin, later to become the first Bishop of Toledo.
In 1085, Alfonso VI granted an advantageous jurisdiction to the Abbot and the town, whose monastic congregation was so important that it was named the “Spanish Cluny”. One of the most important boroughs in Spain in the late Middle Ages was born in the shadow of the monastery.
The Spanish Cluny.
The town became one of the most important cultural centres in our history. People from the most diverse races and cultures lived together within its walls, including merchants of French origin and other nationalities including Mudejar, Jews, etc…… On occasion, tension between middle class traders and artisans, etc… gave rise to conflicts. In this context, uprisings by the middle classes against the abusive power of the abbots are a paradigm throughout Medieval Castile, due to their importance and the knowledge we have of them.
THE XII CENTURY“THE GOLDEN AGE”
The XII century was undoubtedly the Golden Age of the town and monastery. Two periods of time were confirmed in the Anonymous Chronicles. The first, from when the monastery was founded to 1117, and the second between 1237 and 1255 when the middle classes rebelled. Apart from being testimony of the first order, this document is also of significant linguistic value with regard to the development of Romance dialect in the IX-XI centuries.
The Chronicles report some of the points of inflection in the history of the town. One of these took place between 1087-1110, during the mandate of Abbot Don Diego, the first Spanish Abbot. Don Diego granted the people the privilege of building a walled area to protect the town. It consisted of a trapezoidal structure made of concrete and rammed earth and three brick turrets which acted as watchtowers.
Another of the many privileges of the town was the right to mint coins. The first news of this is on 15th October, 1116. We assume that the currency was the “vellón” (a silver and bronze alloy), derived from the feudal European currency copied from the Carolingian system.
XIII CENTURY AND ITS AFTERMATH
The importance of the Abbey in the Hispanic context was such that it had its own university, a privilege granted by Clemente VI in 1347, and Benedict XIII in 1403. The institution reached its zenith when it exchanged honours with Salamanca University and provided professors for Alcalá de Henares university, and was the centre of the order of Saint Benito in Spain until the XVI century.
Sahagún is also famous for some of its illustrious sons. The Augustinian monk and patron saint of Salamanca and Sahagún, San Juan de Sahagún was the most well-known. He was famous for being a peacemaker and putting an end to infighting between the most important families in Salamanca. He was also known for his miracles, and the expression “Tente necio”, which he used to stop a wild bull from charging, still fondly remembered today on the streets of Salamanca.
The Mendizabal disentailment almost put a permanent end to the intense religious life of the town from the times of Alfonso VI.
Sahagún boasts the title of “Most Exemplary City” as, together with Jaca and Eíbar, it was one of the first populations to proclaim the Republic at dawn on 14th April, 1931.