Bernat Desclot (1240? - 1288?), Chronicler. Author of the Llibre del rei En Pere d'Aragó i els seus antecessors passats (1280-1288), also known as "Crònica de Bernat Desclot".
His life can't be traced with documented certainty, although, in modern times, he has been identified as Bernat Escrivà, originary from the Kingdom of Valencia, who woud have developed several relevant tasks within the royal administration. The chronicle is mainly focused on the reign of Jaume I el Conqueridor (1213-1276) –with special attention given to the conquest of Majorca (1229) and its precedents–, and in the reign of Pere el Gran (1276-1285), the central character of the chronicle. From the reign of Pere el Gran, the chronicle reports the conquest of Sicilia as a result of the Sicilian Vespers (1282), the mysterious challenge of Bordeaux with the king Charles I of Naples (1283), and the final victory against the French invasion of Catalonia by Philip III (1285), which ended at the time of Pere el Gran's death, killed by plague in 1285 in Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès).
Even though the author was confined to the style and language of the chancellery, one can identify influences from epic and chivalric romances, sacred scriptures, juridical texts, and the minstrel's tradition. In spite of the multiplicity of sources and styles that he used, he wrote perfectly cohesive texts. Its descriptions are precise, the language is rich and vivid, and the dialogues are considered among the best of the Catalan medieval prose.
Bernat Desclot's chronicle has had a great literary and historical reputation, and from the very beginning it has been object of numerous manuscript copies, translations and editions, at the same time an influence to further writers and historians.
Page by Josep Miàs for the AELC.
Pòrtic's image: Detail from a manuscript copy (1300-1350) of the Bernat Desclot's chronicle, property of the Biblioteca de Catalunya (ms. 486, f. 15v).