Privilegium Imperatoris, Charter Issued by Alfonso VII, king of Castile and León
Castile, Spain; 12th century
14 7/16 x 11 5/8 in. (36.7 x 29.5 cm)
The Hispanic Society of America, New York, B.16
In this early instance of an embellished legal document, a drawing provides the pictorial equivalent of the transaction described by the text: King Alfonso VII gives land to a local monastery. The recipient of the land—Willelmus, the monastery’s abbot—stands at the center under an arch with his crosier in hand. The granting king appears to his right, extending a branch as a gesture of donation. His two sons stand at Willelmus’s left, one of them also holding a branch. The man bearing shield and sword behind the king is the king’s majordomo, Count Ponce, whom the charter designates as the official witness.