The Congress


The society in which we live is the result of an evolution whose roots are lost in time. That collective journey through time is History. Their knowledge constitutes the consciousness of our formation as a people, that is, the keys that explain our present. Without it, we would lack our own self-awareness. That is why Cicero already stated that to ignore what happened before we were born is to always be a child, which is valid both for the biography of the person and for the history of society, which would both be doomed to live in a timeless present, without future project. That is why it is necessary to share John Berger's view that the most effective way to destroy the sense of identity is to systematically dismantle and fragment history, to erase the past, because in this way all capacity for resistance is broken.

But we could go back much further in time; to the very origins of Humanity. All societies have always sought their roots in the past, and when they could not reach it with the certainty of history they did so with the elaboration of the myth. Knowing the past is an intrinsic necessity of human societies, since, as Augustine of Hippo thought in the fifth century, the soul (of the person and of society, we add) resides in memory. Many have always believed that "no education is more suitable than knowledge of past actions."

The triumph of political liberalism, which gradually took hold in Europe after the French Revolution, throughout the nineteenth century, created the environment conducive to the development of history as we conceive it today, endowed with methodologies that approximate a certain knowledge of the past. but integrated into the political scheme of the time, which pursued the consolidation of the so-called nation-state, against the imperial and multinational conceptions of the feudal past, and history was subject to the mission of justifying the existence of contemporary states, by seeking an evolving remote past towards its conclusion in the creation of the present State, ignoring instead the existence of other frames of sociability different. In this way, the scientific methodologies with which History was endowed were limited by their putting into service a certain political and ideological program.

Thus, since the beginning of the nineteenth century, so-called national stories (to be exact, of the nation-state) have flourished throughout Europe, from which school curricula were extracted, with a notorious bias of national indoctrination, even chauvinistic, with a desire to standardize programs that it could be ridiculous, as if to make the schoolchildren of the colonies believe that their ancestors were the same as those of the Europeans and the colonizing states their homelands. The children of the Spanish Sahara would find the Iberians and the Celts in a common prehistory and in the Reconquest against the Moors the great national feat.

A lesson in Geography and History in the Belgian Congo, around 1930 ("Dear friends, today I am going to tell you about your homeland: Belgium").
The Gauls, ancestors of all the French.

With such premises, great importance was given to the Middle Ages, for it was not without reason that in this long period of a thousand years the phase of the emergence of the present European nations and the roots of modern states was perceived; precisely the two elements (nation and state) which, combined, constituted the quintessential support of the liberal political model. In the early Middle Ages they would lay the human (racial) foundations of nations and at the end the foundations of the Modern State.

This preferred place of the Middle Ages would not be alien to the very difficulties of knowledge which were still facing the most remote periods at that time, and, on the contrary, the excessive proximity of an Old Regime, still largely in force, when the foundations of the contemporary society. The Middle Ages, on the other hand, offered better possibilities for observation.

But at the same time that official histories were evolving along that path, in national stateless entities a similar intellectual effort was developed, from their perspective as a cultural nation. Using the same epistemological instruments, the existence of a culture, a language, an alleged idiosyncrasy, religion, race was shown; a common and different past, thus ascertaining, with greater or lesser emphasis, the existence of a nation, without political concretion but perfectly identifiable. For all peoples, and even more so for those who have suffered the external mediation of their history, the discovery of the past represented "a resurrection," as Michelet, the father of modern French historiography, put it.

It is therefore not surprising that the first contemporary Galician historians (Murguía and Vicetto), with their vindictive attitude towards the country, militated in progressive liberalism, understanding the historical process as a path of emancipation towards greater levels of democracy.

Thus, historical research began its journey in Galicia on time, at the same time as in the rest of Europe. But from that moment on, by bringing to light the story itself and understanding it from itself, controversy became inevitable with an official interpretation that privileged the centralist perspective and granted the explanatory monopoly to events that pointed in the direction indicated above, turned into inexcusable motives. of school outreach.

As far as the Middle Ages are concerned, three obstacles hindered its study in Galicia. First, the prejudices that generally gravitate towards the perception of the period, as the liberal movements of the nineteenth century were explicitly directed against an antagonistic model of society, the feudal, with a notoriously pejorative charge of the term, on which all sorts fell. of negative valuations, and feudalism was identified with the Middle Ages. Secondly, in Spain the dominant historiographical model weighed only, which only accommodated a national history and subjected the peripheral ones to the centralist scheme, as complementary episodes and without coherence outside it. But also, thirdly, it operated negatively the discontinuous evolution of the historical investigation in the own Galicia, incapable to offer a paradigm of the sufficient solidity to counterbalance the tax by the official means.

The successive crises (political and cultural) that suffered, first in the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century and then following the coup of 36 and much of the dictatorship, led to the respective interruptions and even the setback in the process of drafting the history of Galicia, but from the 1970s onwards, continuous progress has been made, both in the exploration of medieval sources, particularly documentaries, of which there is a very considerable volume, and in their interpretation and, therefore, in the elaboration of a historiographical discourse in which the explanation of the evolution of our society is displacing the topical models, because following the idea of ​​J. Huizinga that “history is the way in which a culture gives reason of its past”, which today we aim is to find the explanation of our present free of anachronistic political essentialisms.

At the same time, rigid methodological schemes of the past, which overemphasized certain specific aspects of historical complexity (e.g., law or politics over economics), yield to the innovations introduced by economic and social history and to the need to restore the validity of varied approaches, with the return to narrative systems, the revaluation of chronology, the recourse to the closest story within the globalizing conception of total history.

This facilitates the transition between the time of research and the time of dissemination, escaping the exclusive erudition to make history socialize, satisfying a notoriously high demand from the public, aware that in the past is the explanation of the present and needing to boost self-esteem, because, without missing the truth reflected by the sources - without which, as the Portuguese chronicler of the 15th century Fernão Lopes aptly argued, we would act with "fantastic wisdom or perverse and malicious will" - in history we seek the best image of ourselves.

It can be stated that the current conditions of our historiography offer sufficient conditions to undertake the challenge of illuminating that past of a thousand years by responding to the need to recover our historical memory.

The occasion also presents circumstances of opportunity, both because the existence of Galicia as a kingdom is of some relevance, which stimulates the public's interest in deepening their knowledge, but also because, in return, its recognition drags an obvious delay with respect to other territories that have constituted kingdoms and have already held events (Navarre, Granada) or have it well recognized (Aragon-Catalonia). Coincidentally, today has the favorable political conditions offered by some public administrations (in this case the Provincial Council of A Coruña), essential support for the celebration of events of this nature and with the ability to publicize them.

On the other hand, the cultural and artistic legacy produced at that time and transmitted to us in a very satisfactory quantity and quality facilitates a fruitful dialogue between history and heritage. It allows us to have an incomparable framework of contextualization, thus demonstrating that the past is not something outdated, but fully valid in our society, of which that heritage, between which we move every day, is the element, not unique, but more visible . At the same time, the realization of the proposed event gives this legacy the added value of being advertised, as awareness of its significance by the public provides the greatest guarantee of its preservation and transmission to future generations.

Anselmo López Carreira
scientific curator