Maurice and the Mozarabic charter: a cross-cultural transaction in early thirteenth-century Toledo

Teresa Witcombe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Bishop Maurice of Burgos (1213–1238) was one of the most powerful and important prelates to serve under Fernando III. Very little, however, is known about his early life and career as archdeacon of Toledo cathedral, where he served from 1208 until his election to the episcopate of Burgos in the summer of 1213. This article analyses an Arabic charter from Toledo cathedral, drawn up in October 1209, in which we see Maurice as representative of Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, conducting negotiations with an important local Jewish man, the vizier Abi Harún Musa bin al-Shahath al-Israeli. The nature of the transaction, the language(s) in which it was carried out and the figures involved all raise important questions about Maurice and the cathedral chapter of which he was a member. This article first analyses the charter in question, assessing Maurice’s role within the linguistically and culturally complex society of early thirteenth-century Toledo. I then situate the events of October 1208 within the context of Maurice’s broader career as archdeacon, including his commission of two translations from Arabic into Latin, and his interaction with the community of local Mozarabs within the cathedral chapter, shedding new light on Maurice’s origins and cultural identity. A full English translation of the charter is supplied in the appendix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-256
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Medieval Iberian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018


  • Arabic
  • Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada
  • Bishop Maurice of Burgos
  • cathedral chapter
  • charters
  • Jews
  • Mozarabs
  • Toledo


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