The Cartularies of Valpuesta are two interesting examples of documents preserved in a monastery in the locality of Valpuesta, in the province of Burgos. Containing a total of 184 documents which date back to the 12th century, these cartularies are considered the oldest document featuring the earliest words written in Spanish.
From Valpuesta to the National Archives
Today housed in the National Archives of Spain, these cartularies are identified as Becerro Gotico and Becerro Galicano (becerro meaning both cartulary and calf) according to the script they respectively bear.
It does not come as a surprise that the small village of Santa Maria de Valpuesta was home of these important documents, for it was an Archdeaconship with documentarily rich archives.
The Origin of Spanish Language
The contents range from donations to confessions to inventories, featuring even churches repair contracts. However, what is most striking about these documents is that they represent significant evidence of the evolution from Latin into Castilian Romance, so much so that the Real Academia has declared the Valpuesta Cartularies the oldest document featuring the earliest words written in Spanish.
The Gothic Cartulary – written in Visigothic script – features 117 pages while the Galician Cartulary only 64 pages. The oldest documents of these cartularies date back to 804, 844, 864, 875 providing a significant cultural heritage. Because the Valpuesta Cartularies cover a long period of time, starting from the 9th century, an exceptional amount of 34 hands has been identified.