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Archives and Libraries


The origins of the Chapter Library date back to the end of the 13th century, when the private library of King Alfonso X was donated to the Cathedral, where a series of books, at least those necessary for the worship and order of the Chapter, were to be kept from the beginning. The Biblioteca Capitular (Chapter Library) was the legacy of the Castilian king, according to a codicil granted in January 1284, the culmination of the many important cultural and artistic works developed throughout his life.

From two inventories of the 16th century, we know that among these books were an Evangeliary and a Bible in two volumes, the Bible of Pedro de Pamplona.

The library’s holdings were progressively enriched by donations, and thus, at the end of the 14th century, the will of Archbishop Pedro Gómez Barroso, a prelate who, according to the books he left, must have had a solid ecclesiastical and humanistic education. In a public document dated 1387, while he was still alive, he bequeathed 120 volumes to the library. Among them are two 12th century codices, a medical book by Isaac Judeus, and the Epistles of St. Augustine.

From the 15th century, the donation of Archbishop Juan de Cervantes, Cardinal of Ostia, in 1450, stands out. It consisted of 306 volumes, almost all of which dealt with ecclesiastical sciences. The Cabildo sued his successor, Archbishop Alonso de Fonseca, because he retained a large part of the deceased’s inheritance. The solution is Solomonic: the books pass to the archbishop, the rest of the inheritance to the Cabildo, but the final result was really curious: when Fonseca died, he left his books to the Cathedral, which reverted to the Cathedral both those of Cardinal Cervantes and those that belonged to Archbishop Fonseca.

Cardinal Cervantes was the author of texts such as the 12th century codex of the commentaries on St. Mark by Bede the Venerable, before the Italian humanist Coluccio Salutati, the Homilies of St. Augustine (late 11th century) or De vita solitaria by Francesco Petrarca.

Among the books of Archbishop Fonseca, his successor, a magnificent Pontifical begun on May 10, 1390 by order of Don Juan, bishop of Calahorra y de la Calzada, stands out.

The former archdeacon of Jerez and canon of Seville, Gonzalo Sánchez de Córdoba, granted in his will, dated June 22, 1473, a legacy of 63 volumes. A 13th century manuscript, commentaries to the Torah of the French Rabbi Rashi, is preserved from this heritage.

The Cabildo’s concern for its books is evident in the documents in its archives. According to the so-called “White Book”, one of the tasks of the Maestrescuela, the capitular dignity, is the care and attention to the books, let’s call them study books, because there was another collection, that of the choral and ritual books; this was the responsibility of another person in charge. Even today, choral books depend on the sochantre and not on the librarian.

For the Chapter Library, the 16th century was also of key importance, as the private library of Hernando Colón, son of Christopher Columbus, was added, at the express wish of its owner, to be known by all as the Biblioteca Colombina.

Before this legacy we know the donations of Don Juan de Alcocer in 1507 and that of Canon Solis in 1545, among others. To all of them must be added the manuscripts that the Cabildo was buying and those codices that were produced in the scriptorium of the Cathedral or in scribes’ workshops outside the Cathedral.

Don Hernando had left in his will that the magnificent library he had assembled should pass into the hands of his nephew Don Luis Colón, with the express condition that he would spend 100,000 maravedíes a year in its conservation and increase. If the former did not comply, he would have to go to the Cathedral Chapter, and if the latter did not accept, then he would go to the convent of San Pablo.

Neither Don Luis nor his tutors took any action, so the Fernandina Library, as it was then called, remained in the custody of the executor until 1544, when the decision was made to move the library to the Dominican Convent. A lawsuit for the possession of the books was then originated, which lasted until 1552, when the library was transferred to the Cathedral, being placed in one of the halls of the Patio de los Naranjos, over the chapels of the Lagarto nave, by sentence of the Chancellery of Granada. Since then, both libraries have been united under one roof, although they remain materially separate as two independent units and are known as the Biblioteca Capitular and the Biblioteca Colombina.

The exceptional variety and interest of the books in the Colombina collection is noteworthy Don Fernando did not limit himself to eagerly searching for rare and curious books in all the markets of Europe, but at the same time he classified, commented and annotated them in great detail. All this wealth of information is not only obtained from the immense bibliographic work involved in the preparation of his repertoires, but he also records in most of his books the conditions in which they came into his possession, sometimes by purchase and sometimes by donation. As an example, the final annotation to the printed copy of La chronique de Gênes: This book cost one sueldo in León on November 21, 1535, being very cold and foggy, the ducat is worth 570 dineros, which is 47 and a half sueldos, at 12 dineros a sueldo.

The splendid collection of astrological forecasts, the Complutense Polyglot Bible, the first Grammar of Nebrija, the Seville Rimada Bible, two 9th century Carolinian manuscripts… and those jewels, such as Marco Polo’s book, Imago Mundi or the Book of Prophecies inherited from his father the Admiral, deserve special attention.
The clause of his will is reproduced in each of Hernando’s books, at his express wish, which reads: “Don Fernando Colón, son of Don Cristóbal Colón, first admiral who discovered the Indies, left this book for the use and benefit of all his fellow men. Pray to God for him”.

Since these years, Colombina and Capitular have merged, sharing greatness and misery. They suffered the expurgations of the Inquisition, and there are many books that preserve annotations and crossings out of this Tribunal.

It was not until the end of the 17th century when new inventories were drawn up again, chronologically the third ones preserved, in this case by Canon Juan de Loaisa, a distinguished figure who already performed the double function of archivist and librarian, and of whom we can find evidence of his immense work throughout the rich bibliographic and documentary collection of the Cathedral, together with Don Ambrosio de la Cuesta y Saavedra, archivist and writer, who, concerned about the poor condition of many manuscripts, had them copied, and thanks to these copies, works such as those of Abbot Alonso Sánchez Gordillo are preserved today.

For the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina, the undisputed figure of the 18th century is Don Diego Alejandro de Gálvez, the Cathedral’s librarian, who was appointed librarian in 1763, although he was already concerned about it long before that. With the invaluable help of Don Rafael Tabares they renovated everything and made new inventories and registers (1783-1790); manuscripts in poor condition were copied, the rooms were restored, new shelves were acquired and the collection of portraits of the prelates of the archdiocese was continued.

The disappearance of the Ancien Régime and the secularization of Spanish society meant a change in the historical continuity, which was clearly reflected in the disentailment laws. It will affect the library, which will know unhappy moments, counteracted by the work of two great librarians: Don Cayetano Fernández and Don Servando Arbolí, who had an ideal assistant in the figure of Don José María Fernández Velasco. The most representative of the city and the queen herself were involved in the restoration and renovation of the Colombina. He obtained mahogany and cedar shelves from Isabel II; the Dukes of Montpensier and other personalities paid for the rest of the shelves, and paintings such as the one of Saint Ferdinand by Murillo and a portrait of Christopher Columbus, a work by E. Lassalle and a gift from Louis Philippe (father of Anthony Mary of Orleans, Duke of Montpensier), King of France, were placed on the shelves.

Among many other works, the index of Colombian books was begun, which was the seed for the publication of the first phase of the Catálogo de impresos de la Colombina by Servando Arbolí, with the collaboration of Simón de la Rosa y López.

It seems evident that in Seville there was almost a tradition among learned men to bequeath their books to the Cathedral library, and at the beginning of the 20th century one of the most unique donations took place: that of the library of Don José Gestoso y Pérez (grouped in 2017 in the Consultation Room).

The documentary collection was dispersed in different parts of the building for more than a century, until the 1970s.

In January 1986, part of the ceiling of the Chapter and Colombina Library collapsed, leading to the intervention of the Andalusian Regional Government, which financed its restoration. In 1992, once the building was restored, it was returned to its original location.

The two libraries, the Chapter and Colombina, which constitute one of the most important collections of manuscripts and printed matter (some 75,000 volumes), together with the bibliographic collections of the Archbishop’s library and the documentary collections of the Cathedral Archive and the Archbishopric Archive, of fundamental importance for the History of the Church and for the History of the Ancient Kingdom of Seville in its most varied aspects, make the Colombina Institution a center of the highest cultural interest.

Library of the Archbishop’s Palace of Seville

The Archbishop’s Library has its origin in Don Luis Salcedo y Azcona, who governed this diocese from 1722 to 1741. A great bibliophile and scholar, he planned to locate his collection of books in the tribune that linked the palace with the Cathedral through the so-called Puerta de los Palos, a project that was never executed because it was not approved by the Cathedral Chapter.

He was the first to think of founding a public library, not only for the clergy of the diocese but also for all scholars and individuals who wished to use it, and Alonso Carrillo y Aguilar was the first librarian. The work begun by Don Luis de Salcedo would be continued by Cardinal Francisco Javier Delgado y Venegas in the years 1776 to 1781, drawing up an inventory of 2,173 titles in 3,557 volumes.

With the publication of the Regulations for the creation, regime and endowment of episcopal public libraries, in the time of Charles III, the title of librarian for the diocese of Seville was granted and the appointment fell to the person of Don Tomás de Morales. Later, the most enlightened of the Sevillian archbishops of the 18th century, Don Alonso de Marcos Llanes y Argüelles (1783-1795), in addition to enriching the library with numerous works, finally opened it to the public in 1792, granting his own constitutions and directing the alphabetical indexes.

Once it became a publicly accessible library, it was successively endowed by archbishops, especially Cardinals Francisco Javier de Cienfuegos (1824-1847), whose bequest reached 350 titles in 1,150 volumes, and Judas José Romo y Gamboa (1847-1855).

Over the years, like so many episcopal libraries, it encountered numerous obstacles to its normal maintenance and operation as a public library. With Queen Elizabeth II through the provisional law on the endowment of worship and clergy, the permanence and endowment of this type of libraries is taken care of. However, its economic state began to be disastrous and it ceased to function as a public center in 1895. Between 1869 and 1875 it was seized by the State. José Alonso Morgado served as librarian from 1879 to 1907.

In the 19th century, the collection of private individuals, such as the 288 luxuriously bound titles of Joaquín Gómez de la Cortina and the collection of José Ramón Vázquez Santana, consisting of 130 titles, stand out. As well as Cardinal Joaquín Lluch y Garriga.

José María Bueno Monreal (1957-1982) who, in the last years of his government, expressed the desire to take care of the library with the intention of making it available for public use, a fact that was finally achieved on January 7, 1984. At the beginning of the 21st century, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo (1982-2009) deposited the palace’s bibliographic collection at the headquarters of the Biblioteca Capitular y Colombina, and since then the three libraries have been located in the wing of the Patio de los Naranjos.

Its current collection amounts to 17,000 volumes, mostly of an ecclesiastical nature. We can highlight manuscripts such as the Décadas de Alonso de Palencia, Reglas y documentos de la Hermandad de san Bernardo, Árbol y descendencia de los señores del Castillo y Villa de Almofrague by Blas de Salazar, as well as the Biblia Regia de Arias Montano, printed in Antwerp by Christophe Plantin 1569-1573.

Archive of the Cathedral of Seville

The Archive of the Cathedral of Seville is one of the most important ecclesiastical archives in Spain. It is an “archive center” in which the Chapter Fund is kept, generated by the Cathedral Chapter from its establishment by Fernando III in 1248 to the present day, of which the sub-fund of the Music Chapel also forms part, and around which the documentary funds of other ecclesiastical entities have been deposited, linked from their origins to the Cathedral of Seville, which have ceased to function as such or have been integrated into others, each with its own historical development.

These documentary collections linked to the Cathedral and deposited or incorporated into the Archive of the Cathedral of Seville in recent years are: the Fund of the Board of Works, the Fund of the Royal Chapel of Seville, the Fund of the Sisterhood of the Maidens, the Fund of the Sisterhood of the Granada and the Old Archive of the Parish of San Roque.


The role played by the metropolitan chapter and the political and economic importance of the seat of Seville are documented in its Chapter Fund, showing the concern of the chapter institution for the proper conservation and control of the documents kept in its archives. In the same way, the continuous attention of the Royal Chaplains for their documents, which until 1998 were kept in the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Seville, can be verified, with a classification and inventory of documents at least since the XVII century.

The restoration of Christian worship in Seville took place in 1248, the year in which King Ferdinand III incorporated the city of Seville to the Castilian crown. In the Bull of Innocent IV of July 11, 1251, Don Felipe, son of Fernando III, is cited as the elect of Seville and indulgences are granted to all those who were present at the dedication of the Cathedral, celebrated on March 11, 1252, days before Fernando III endowed the chapter economically for the first time on March 20, 1252, as evidenced by the privilege preserved in the Chapter Fund. From its origins, the chapter established in the Cathedral of Seville was directly supervised by Ferdinand III and his successors in the Castilian monarchy. Ferdinand III and his son Alfonso X are at the origin of the great privileges and rents that are the basis for the preeminence and prominent role of the see of Seville and its metropolitan chapter in the following centuries. Along with all the documentation corresponding to royal endowments, both of Ferdinand III and his successors in the Kingdom, numerous papal, episcopal, notarial and administrative documents were incorporated into the Chapter Fund for various reasons:

– Until the Council of Trent, in the second half of the 16th century, in most of the dioceses, including Seville, the government of the bishoprics fell to the cathedral councils, which is one of the reasons that led them to have a rich medieval documentary heritage.

– There were many private endowments of both rural and urban properties that were linked to the Cathedral over the centuries, preserving the archive the numerous documentation generated by the administrative management of the chapter property, not forgetting that the chapter was responsible for the collection of tithes and their distribution with the archbishop’s table.

– Finally, the archive contains all the documentation generated as a result of the economic management process established by the Chapter to control, monitor and pay for the different elements involved in the construction and conservation of the cathedral building we know today, in the maintenance of the personnel that formed part of the Chapter and in the development of the liturgical ceremonial applied to divine worship and the spiritual functions entrusted to it.
All this collection has been kept in the Cathedral building itself, and its different locations are known from different sources. During the Middle Ages in the Arcas del Sagrario, in the XVI and XVII centuries in the area of the Corral de los Olmos, from the XVIII century in the surroundings of the Patio de los Naranjos, at the end of the XIX and XX centuries in the area of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, southwest corner of the Cathedral, From 1992 to 2006 in the north bay of the Patio de los Naranjos and at present it is located in the first and second bays of the second courtyard of the Archbishop’s Palace of Seville, sharing facilities and personnel with the General Archive of the Archbishopric of Seville.

Consisting of about 1,300 meters of documentation generated and received by the chapter, from the 13th century to the present, it currently has more than 12,400 described installation units.


All original scores and copies, composed by the Chapel Masters themselves who have held this prebend over the centuries.


It holds a large part of the projects presented to the Ministry of Development by the Board of Works, created in the Cathedral of Seville by Royal Order on December 14, 1881.


Documentation generated by the Cabildo de Capellanes Reales, in charge of the royal bodies buried in the Chapel of the Cathedral of Seville, from 1285, date of its first endowment until 1998, year in which the institution was annexed to the Cabildo de la Catedral de Sevilla.


The Hermandad de las Doncellas was founded in the Chapel of the Annunciation of the Cathedral of Seville in the year 1521, whose main mission was to grant dowries to maidens who lacked economic means to contribute to the marriage.


It owes its name to the fact that the Brotherhood meets in the Chapel of the same name in the Cathedral of Seville, to the left of the Puerta del Lagarto. According to its rules, “working men of the lever” were part of it, and its chronological frame covers from 1616 to 1926.


The Church of San Roque, a subsidiary of the Cathedral, suffered an important fire on December 8, 1759, destroying a large part of the building and archives. As a result, it was decided to send to the Cathedral the few remains that remained from its archives, even though they were in a very poor state of conservation.

General Archives of the Archbishopric of Seville

The General Archive of the Archbishopric of Seville is an archival center in which a main documentary collection, the Archbishopric, which corresponds to the documentation generated by the archiepiscopal curia in the ordinary government of the diocese, is kept. As Don Pedro Rubio Merino pointed out, the archive should be the documentary memory of the institution that created it and a reflection of its activity, for which reason “it should conform in its organization to the governmental schemes of the bishop”, who responds to the diverse functions of pastoral care, government, justice and administration over the territory corresponding to his diocese.

The geographical boundaries of the diocese of Seville have undergone significant changes since 1248 when Ferdinand III reconquered the city of Seville and reestablished Christian worship, corresponding during the late Middle Ages and the Modern Age its territory with that of the Old Kingdom of Seville. With the new division of provinces in Spain in 1833 and following the determinations of the Concordat between Spain and the Holy See in 1851, which abolished the exempt territories, the territorial demarcation of the diocese was modified. A century later, the new Concordat of 1953 expressed its willingness to adapt to the civil delimitation. Thus, in 1954 the diocese of Huelva was created, in 1958 the towns that had historically belonged to the diocese of Seville were incorporated into the bishopric of Malaga, and in 1978 the bishopric of Jerez was created. At present, the geographical limits of the diocese coincide with those of the current province of Seville.

All these territorial modifications and institutional suppressions are clearly reflected in the documents kept in the Archive. Thus, over the last three centuries, other documentary collections of ecclesiastical institutions that no longer exist as such have been incorporated or deposited around the Archbishop’s Fund, except in the case of the Seminary of Seville, an entity in full force, respecting in each of them the principles of provenance, origin and arrangement, being the main source of information to acquire knowledge and news about the entities that generated them, their reason for being, historical development and, in short, for the correct preservation of their memory.


It is the custodian of all the documentation generated by the Archbishops in the government of the diocese throughout its history, and responds to this triple pastoral, governmental and administrative function. This collection is very important both for the volume of its documentation, more than 2,500 m, as well as for its historical value.


Deposited in this Archive in 1871, following its suppression as a Collegiate. It currently consists of 990 installation units, with a starting date of around 1435, which corresponds to factory visits and endowments.


Deposited in this Archive in 2007, date on which it became an exempt Church dependent on the Archbishop, by means of a priest with the position of Rector. It covers parish documentation from the 15th century to 1900.


Founded by the Priests or Beneficiaries of Seville, with extreme dates from 1271 to 1870. Consisting of 144 installation units.


This Hospital is popularly known as “Los Viejos”, founded in 1355 by some Sevillian priests for, as expressly stated in its rules, “sustenance and gift of the venerable elderly and honorable old age”. Deposited in this Archive in 1975, it consists of 150 installation units.


Founded in 1627 by the Brotherhood of Priests of Ntro. Padre Jesús Nazareno and Santa Cruz de Jerusalén, in order to provide relief to priests without means to subsist. This collection consists of 103 files and was deposited in this Archive around 1980.


In 1559 the town of Estepa with all its villages became the lordship of the Centurion House, later Marquisate of Estepa, passing the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to the prior of San Marcos de León, as “nullius dioecesis” or “vere nullius”. When this vicariate nullius disappeared, its territory was incorporated into the Archbishopric of Seville and the documentation was incorporated into the Archive in 1896. Consisting of slightly more than 500 units.


The extinct parish and jurisdiction of the Order of St. John of Acre in Seville, after the Concordat of 1851, will no longer have its own jurisdiction. From that moment on, their marriage records will be transferred to this Archive.


Likewise, the documentary collection of the Bailiwick of Lora, belonging to the Order of St. John of Acre, whose extreme dates range from 1655 to 1775, will also be deposited in this General Archive of the Archbishopric of Seville.


Created by Cardinal Cienfuegos y Jovellanos in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in 1831, it had an ephemeral existence, since in 1842 it was closed for lack of economic funds, to be inaugurated again on October 1, 1848 in Seville. The volume of the collection deposited in this Archive in 1997, is 250 files and 115 books, documents without administrative validity since it is an institution in full operation.


The only non-ecclesiastical collection, its documentation has always been the property of the Brotherhood of Saint Eloy or Eligio, the governing body of the guild. Consisting of eight installation units, with a chronological framework ranging from 1354 to 1867, it was deposited in 1917.


Formed by the Secular Priests of the city of Seville. The Fund was located at its headquarters, the Parish of San Pedro in Seville, from 1610 until March 8, 2011, when it was transferred in deposit, maintaining the property, to the premises of this Archive. It consists of 28 boxes and 78 books.