The corbels of the Chapel of the Cemetery of the Church of San Juan del Hospital
Article published in the magazine VALENCIAN ART ARCHIVE, of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos. Volume 101, 2020. P. 9-26 / ISSN: 0211-5808
Emilio Jesus Diaz Garcia. PhD in Art History. University of Valencia.
In the medieval cemetery of the Historic Site of San Juan del Hospital de Valencia there is a small funerary chapel founded at the end of the 13th century by the knight Arnau de Romaní. Along its cornice a series of heads carved in the corbels are preserved, which are one of the few sculptural vestiges inserted within the Romanesque marginal iconographic tradition that are preserved in the city. So far they have not aroused the interest of specialists and no one has devoted a complete and detailed study to these curious and interesting images located on the margins of such a beautiful building.. This article addresses the study of corbels, projecting a thematic journey both for its iconography and for its symbolic and functional meaning.
The corbel is an architectural element whose practical function is to support the eaves or roof that protrudes from the wall of the building. Originally, they were the ends of the wooden beams that supported the roofs and that protruded a little from the wall, being outside and in view of the people. Interest lies in tradition, especially in the Romanesque centuries, to decorate them with all kinds of motifs: animal heads, human heads, monstrous beings, domestic scenes, sex scenes, musicians, animals, everyday supplies and a long list of images of a motley nature. In addition, its attractiveness increases when it is discovered that through these representations objectives that went beyond the purely ornamental were pursued and it begins to investigate their meaning and symbolic character.
In the city of Valencia there are three buildings that preserve corbels from medieval times with figurative decoration. One of them is the chapel founded by the knight Arnau de Romaní at the end of the 13th century in the cemetery of the encomienda de San Juan del Hospital (Fig. 1 and 2). The building is architecturally conceived as a miniature temple. It consists of a polygonal head covered with a ribbed vault., a main or triumphal arch and a single section of a square nave covered with a quadripartite rib vault that was originally open on all three sides. The sculptural decoration is relegated to the outside of the building where twenty-one corbels are preserved.
Fig. I.- Location on the ground floor of the Chapel of Arnau de Roman. in the medieval cemetery of the encomienda of the church of San Juan del Hospital de Valencia.
LTHE CANCILLOS OF THE FFIND EYOU ARE
On the east façade of the chapel there are a total of nine corbels, all of them decorated with the shapes of animal and human heads.. From left to right a bovine head appears; one of ape; a young person; one from Leviathan; a cartoon demon-monk head; what looks like a reptile head, maybe a snake; a feline head; one of a young woman and, by last, a head of a bearded man wearing a crown (Fig. 3).
The bovid head features large bulging eyes, well marked and somewhat out of their sockets. Two lines emerge from the eyes that make up the stretch marks on the forehead and the large, flattened nose, in whose lower part its holes open. A couple of wrinkles are marked on the forehead by horizontal stripes. The mouth is very large and closed. It has pointed ears like those attributed to demons or fauns who, along with the big eyes, are the most prominent formal features.
It may be an ox head, toro, buffalo, and even resembles that of the bison. Sticking to the time in which he was executed, we opted for the option of the ox's head. Medieval bestiaries offer a rather positive view of the ox. The attributes and actions associated with it were of companionship and wisdom. He was also in charge of plowing the land and, Thus, one of those responsible for making human nutrition possible. On the other hand, the bull was seen in the Middle Ages as a defender or custodian animal, closely related to divinity.
The head of an ox and a bull are difficult to distinguish between them since when they appear in a corbel they usually present quite a few formal and morphological similarities. The most common is to find these full-body figured animals inserted in larger scenes such as one of the capitals of the presbytery of the parish church of San Salvador de Cantamuda (Palencia) and in the paintings of the hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga in Casillas de Berlanga (Soria). In the case of the bull, the most common is to find it represented as a symbol of the evangelist Saint Luke. In the case of the ox find it in the scene of the birth of Jesus. Nevertheless, although they are scarce, there are some examples in which the heads of ox or bull are represented in corbels. This is the case in the church of San Martín de Tours in Frómista (Palencia) and in the parish of Santa María de Tera in Zamora.
Fig. 3.- Canecillos on the Gothic access door with anthropomorphic and zomorphic heads of the Chapel of Arnau de Roman..
The ape head contains all the formal features of this animal. Has large open eyes, a flattened and small nose under which the mouth is placed. To the ears, that resemble those of the apes, they are given a certain demonic touch representing their beaked helix.
Since the early days of Christianity the ape did not enjoy a good reputation and was associated with the worship and idolatry of the pagans. For example, Bishop Teofilo, when he destroyed the pagan idols of the temple of Alexandria he decided to preserve the image of a monkey as a monument of pagan perversion. In the Middle Ages it was no less and the figure of the monkey was associated with the profane, obscene and idolatry. Described as agile, mocking, fickle the thief, it was an undesirable animal in the medieval West. It was considered a symbol of the devil because it had no known or good end and appeared to be a deformed creation of a human being.. Thus, many devils represented in Romanesque sculpture appear with simian features or with an ape face, as occurs with one of the devils in the Puerta de las Platerías of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral.. It was also an animal closely associated with the sin of lust..
The monkey was usually represented as a full body. This is how it appears in the church of Nuestra Señora del Rivero in San Esteban de Gormaz (Soria) and in the Church of San Martín de Tours in San Martín de Unx (Navarra). We also find representations of full-length apes in corbels such as those of the Collegiate Church of San Martín in Elines and the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana in Santillana del Mar, both in Cantabria.. Our chapel, together with the case of the hermitage of La Soledad in Calatañazor (Soria), It is one of the few examples that we have found so far in which only the head of the animal occupies the entire surface of the corbel.
The head of a young person has very rough and robust formal features. Facial physiognomic features consist of open eyes, nose, big smooth cheeks and thick lips. It seems to be wearing some kind of hat or cap, since its forehead is cut by a horizontal line and under the chin it seems that the chin strap that holds this element to the head is marked. Finally, long wavy hair flanks both sides of the face. It seems that they wanted to represent a double chin, that along with “swollen” of his cheeks gives the appearance of being a head corresponding to a fairly stout person.
It is a corbel of very difficult interpretation. Perhaps because of the features with which it has been characterized, especially for the appearance of being a chubby person with a double chin, may be referring to the sin of gluttony. Some specialists have related the representation of this type of human heads with negative characters or with the image of the Muslim infidel defeated and crushed by the weight of the Christian building.. Placing the head in view of everyone would function as a symbol of triumph, constituting the exaltation of this practice and legitimizing before the believer the need for war against this group. In many Romanesque buildings of the Spanish geography and the south of France there are corbels decorated with human heads whose formal features are clearly Negroid or present characteristic Islamic elements such as the forked beard.. Nevertheless, In the case of the corbel of our chapel, neither of the two interpretations fits.
The heads of persons were one of the most recurrent iconographic motifs on the corbels of Romanesque buildings. Perhaps the most outstanding and curious example is that of the church of San Cristóbal de Salamanca in which there are triple-headed corbels in the corner area.. Also in smaller and less important churches like Santiago in Cezura (Palencia) there is a corbel decorated with a bearded man's head.
The head of Leviathan combines animal and human features. Features almost demonic beaked helix ears. Its broad forehead is divided by a vertical strip that descends and forms the large nose on the sides of which are its two large slanted eyes.. The nasolabial lines are excessively marked and together with the huge mouth and its thick lips they create a shocking grimace. The highlight from a formal point of view is the large mouth through which it shows huge saw-shaped teeth, tightly pressed as a sign of threat or rejection.
Leviathan is one of the fantastic animals described in the Bible that was most frequently depicted in the Middle Ages. In the Holy Scriptures it is described as a monstrous animal with large teeth, that emits smoke from the nose and fire from the mouth, it is called snake and dragon. Already the first parents of the Church related him to the Devil due to his attributes and in the Middle Ages he was taken as a representation of the devil and as a demonic character par excellence. Especially his monstrous mouth, played a fundamental role in the iconographic conception of medieval hells. In the medieval imagined world, its huge and flaming mouth was taken as the gateway to hell as it is reflected in the lintel of the door of the church of San Salvador de Sangüesa (Navarra) where a leviathan swallows through its enormous jaws a group of damned.
The heads of Leviathan, for its symbolic functional character, they are a motif that was used regularly to decorate the corbels of Romanesque churches and cathedrals. As with the heads of person, It is common to find heads with Leviathanesque or demonic features among the modillions of the temples. This is how some corbels were carved in the portico of the church of San Miguel in Beleña de Sorbe (Guadalajara) and in the apse of the church of San Juan de Rabanera (Soria).
The demon-monk head is formally highlighted by its large mouth, that seems to outline a smile, for his large and flattened nose with Negroid features and for his hair that seems to be divided into flaming locks like tonsure. Well defined and well defined nasolabial lines emerge from the nose, that help make the face more forced. The big open eyes, the smooth and plump cheeks and chin make up the rest of the facial features of this mysterious character.
The most interesting thing is the way in which this head has been characterized. His features and the way he is caricatured allow him to be associated with the figure of the devil. It is no coincidence that he wanted to represent himself with those features, with that big mouth and with that nose with Negroid features. It also occupies the center of the space and is located right at the central point of the arch, in a vulnerable area of the building which seems to watch with those big and open eyes.
The thick features that characterize the character's face could be referring to an undesirable behavior in medieval society: gluttony. This, apart from being one of the seven deadly sins, was intimately linked to greed, that along with lust were two of the sins that most haunted medieval society. In addition, We know that the San Juanists defended the ideals of austerity and asceticism, so that this demon-monk could also be serving as an example of what not to do. Finally, the negroid features that it presents follow the line of the exotic, the negative and the unfaithful, the devil and evil.
Reptile head, possibly from a snake, formally stands out for its huge mouth through which it shows, with a very forced and monstrous grin, huge saw teeth, tight, in a threatening tone, protective and repellent, just like we saw in the head of Leviathan. From his forehead lines emerge that mark and delimit the rest of the elements that make up his face. Has large open eyes, ragged and bulging. On the sides of the upper part of the head there are pointed ears, heavily worn today.
The snake was one of the animals that had the most negative connotations in the mentality and in medieval society, so that we are before the quintessential symbol of the devil, of evil and temptation. In addition to its physiological characteristics, because it moves crawling on the ground by divine punishment, It was the one that induced Adam and Eve to eat the apple and therefore the trigger for Original Sin. In this way, the snake, that has not always had negative connotations throughout history, was in medieval Christian culture intimately linked with the devil, temptation and sin. His figure was also related to the sin of lust, not so much as a symbol of this, if not as an animal that participates in the punishment of the same. It was an animal that was repeatedly resorted to when trying to personify evil or sin.
Regarding its appearance in medieval art, the most common is to find it represented as a whole body and as an animal inserted in a scene. The most characteristic scene is that of the Original Sin in which the serpent appears curled up in the tree of the forbidden fruit, tempting or delivering the apple to Eve with its mouth.. It is also common to find the full-length serpent in the iconographic type of the woman with snakes where he bites or sucks the breasts or the sex of the lustful. To name an example similar to the one in the chapel of the San Juan del Hospital cemetery, in which only the reptile's head is represented, We can mention the serpent's head carved in one of the corbels of the church of San Martín de Elines (Cantabria).
These last three corbels must have had a value and an apotropaic effect. His mission was to guard the most vulnerable areas of the building, achieving protection and removal from evil, the devil and everything that the human being could not control by himself. Place images of an apotropaic character with that sense of threat, rejection and repel just in the most conflictive areas and “weak” of construction was very common in medieval times and most religious buildings from the Romanesque period plague their margins with images of these characteristics. For example in the church of San Martín de Tours in the town of Vizcaínos de la Sierra (Burgos) a monstrous head showing its teeth with this aggressive attitude that we have been describing stands on the key of the access door to the portico. Something similar happens on the door of the church of Santa María del Rey in Atienza (Guadalajara) on which two monsters carved in two corbels open their mouths and show their enormous teeth in a very forced grin.
Follow these three corbels, one decorated with a feline's head. Morphologically it is composed of two large ears with a pointed helix, very flattened nose and two large open eyes. In the nose, a fine line draws the mouth that remains closed. Could it be a panther head, leopard the like. In the Middle Ages the leopard was associated with negative connotations, as a sinful and corrupt figure. It was believed that it changed the color of its fur to deceive men, inseparable and determining quality of the devil. For his part, the panther was considered a symbol of Christ. Maybe here, being located outside the sacred place and in a marginal area, This more related to the figure of the leopard than with that of the panther. It is also possible, for giving one more interpretation, that it is a cat's head, animal that symbolized the worship of the devil and that was related to eroticism, treachery, hypocrisy and blasphemy. It was also considered a negative animal due to its condition of seeing in the dark, his demonic gaze and for being a nocturnal animal.
Although it is not very frequent to find representations of felines due to their confusion and formal similarity to that of dogs, in the case of the chapel, the appearance and similarity of the head with a feline is clear. Other examples in which a feline's head is represented occupying the surface of the modillion are in the cathedral of San Pedro de Jaca. (Huesca), in the Magdalena de Zamora church and in the Espinosa de Cervera parish church (Burgos).
Closing the platform of corbels and located at the extreme right of the group, there are the so-called "head of a woman" and "head of a bearded man" (Fig. 4). Woman's head, unlike the previous two human heads, presents very fine features. His long, wavy hair flanks both sides of his face. The face is made up of two open and strongly slanted eyes, a flat nose, which has no holes, and a small, restrained mouth with thin lips. The cheeks and chin are well defined by a line running down from the temples. Perhaps this is because it appears to be wearing a cap, whose chinstrap is observed in the horizontal line that flows through the forehead and runs along the sides of the cheeks and the chin, pressing these areas of the face.
Finally the head of a bearded man appears. It is a totally hieratic face, with thin lips, a flattened nose and two large bulging eyes formed by two large pupils. Most of the face is occupied by a bushy, strongly curled beard. The hair appears from the lower part of the crown and from the sides of the face. The most striking and outstanding fact is that he is wearing a crown with three peaks.
Tradition and myth have wanted to relate the head of a bearded man wearing a crown with a possible portrait of Jaime I. The reason is that there is a legendary legend that says that the king himself came to this chapel to listen to mass while the Cathedral and the church of the order were being built.. This has caused many people to call it the chapel of King Don Jaime today.. It is not a wild claim and it could even be so, but since there is no more documentary and artistic evidence, it cannot be affirmed one hundred percent. It is also possible, although it is still a mere hypothesis, that Arnau de Romaní, in honor of their king and as a show of admiration and loyalty to him, decided to place a portrait of the monarch in the chapel.
Fig. 4.- Corns of a woman's head and a bearded man's head with a crown perhaps representing Mrs.. Violante of Hungary and King Jaume I.
Another interpretation may be that of the portrait of the knight Arnau de Romaní who paid for and founded the chapel. This is evidenced by two vestiges, the first of them is preserved in situ and it's the inverted crescent, symbol of his shield, that is represented in the cornice of the head. The second, It is a document dated in 1324 in which the grandson of Arnau de Romaní, Rodrigo Llançol de Romaní, institutes three anniversaries in the chapel that his grandfather had founded in the San Juan del Hospital cemetery. It is not a crazy option either, but we doubt that Arnau had the courage to represent himself wearing a crown., Therefore, this theory cannot be affirmed one hundred percent either.
Regarding the head of a woman, taking as valid one of the two interpretations made above and taking into account, as a premise and previous work the corbels of the Door of the Palau of the Cathedral of Valencia where marriages are represented, It may be that we find ourselves in front of a portrait of Violante from Hungary, Jaime I's wife, or the wife of Arnau de Romaní. In this way, both corbels would be forming a married couple and this would explain the non-relationship with the rest of corbels in the chapel.
LOS CANECILLOS DE LA CABECERA
At the head, a total of twelve corbels are distributed in groups of three for each of the sections that make up the polygonal head. Usually, having been embedded in a later construction, its state of conservation is quite poor. In the first section a human head is arranged, another animal and an unrecognizable corbel (Fig. 5).
The anthropomorphic head is very worn. Maybe it could be a woman because of her hair and fine features. She is wearing a kind of cap whose sides show long hair. Has open eyes marked only by incisions made in the stone. In the center the nose with its two holes is represented. To its large sides, smooth and puffy cheeks, help to exaggerate the grimace of the mouth. This grimace, that seems of pity or pity, It is the most interesting of the canecillo. He is a grieving person who supports on his shoulders the weight of the frieze decorated with inverted half moons. It could be the figure of an infidel who supports on his shoulders the weight of the Church that dominates him, represented by the inverted crescents of the Romani family.
The head of an animal has certain formal similarities with that of a feline. The difference from the previous one is that in this case it shows its tongue in a mocking tone, being the most relevant of the representation. The language had negative connotations associated with it in the Middle Ages as it was considered a sign of bad feelings, of impiety, of idolatry and satanism. In addition, along with the mouth, it was the instrument through which the human being could lie and blaspheme, so it could also be referring to this sin.
Fig. 5.- Polygonal head of the Chapel of Arnau de Romaní provided with corbels.
The resource of showing the tongue in a burlesque tone was widely used in medieval representations. It is common to find this muscle sticking out of the mouths of the heads, either people or animals, which decorate the corbels of Romanesque buildings. For example, in one of the corbels of the hermitage of San Bartolomé del Cañón del Río Lobos in Ucero (Soria) a demonic head is depicted showing its tongue through its mouth with a strong and monstrous grin. It is also shown in one of the heads of person that adorn one of the corbels of the hermitage of La Soledad in Calatañazor (Soria) where its protagonist sticks out his tongue in a mocking tone and shows his teeth in a threatening tone. Another variant of this iconographic type appears in one of the corbels that are preserved in the church of San Esteban in Pineda de la Sierra. (Burgos) in which a character shows his tongue while grasping and stretching the corners of his lips with his hands in a clear mocking attitude.
In the second section a Leviathan head is arranged, a shell and an animal head. The Leviathan head, much worse preserved than the previous one, maintains the anthropo-zoomorphic morphology in which animal and human traits coexist. Like the one on the east section, the highlight of this canecillo is the large mouth through which it shows its enormous teeth in a warning and threatening tone. As already indicated, Leviathan is one of the most feared beings in medieval society, therefore it makes sense for him to reiterate his presence in the chapel. Next we have another animal head with features similar to the previous one and that, like her, he's also showing his tongue in a mocking tone.
In the third section, an unrecognizable corbel is distributed, a Leviathan head and a shell-shaped corbel. The head of Leviathan is morphologically similar to that of the previous section, but in this case the enormous teeth that occupy almost the entire surface of the face can be well appreciated, causing a very forced and monstrous grimace (Fig. 6). The highlight is the place where it is located. As can be seen in the image, it occupies the central place of the headboard and is placed just above the window, one of the vulnerable places of construction. The pattern that we have seen for the east facade of the chapel is repeated, place the figure with the greatest apotropaic and prophylactic character just above an access space to the sacred site, with that aggressive attitude, of rejection and warning. Placing images with this character on windows and doors was very common in Romanesque times.. For example, in the church of Santa Cecilia in Hermosilla (Burgos) there is just over the center of one of its windows a monstrous corbel that shows its teeth in a threatening tone.
Finally, in the fourth section there are two unrecognizable corbels and one carved in the shape of a shell.
UNOS CANECILLOS EN FORMA DE CONCHA
A total of three corbels carved in the shape of a shell are currently distributed along the different sections of the chapel's head (Fig. 7). These interesting figures are the most unique that is preserved in the Historic Site of San Juan del Hospital de Valencia. The interpretation of these corbels, along with the head of a bearded man and that of a woman beside him, it has been the one that has generated the most controversy over the last few years.
Two hypotheses are currently being considered for its meaning and symbolism. The first one defends that it is a symbol referring to the shell of Santiago since, according to some specialists, This assignment was the beginning of the Camino de Santiago de Levante that started from Valencia to Santiago de Compostela. For this they have been based on the hospitable character of the order and that where they settled they built churches, cemetery and a kind of shelter-hostel in which to attend and give protection and shelter to pilgrims and people with few economic resources. This theory has been reinforced with some of the findings that occurred during the archaeological excavations of the cemetery. Some of the deceased carried jet beads with them, scallops and shells. A miniature Santiago also appeared on a kind of ship whose prow was also carved in the shape of a shell. Another fact on which this theory is based is that until the Christian wall of the city was built in the middle of the 14th century, the door of the Xerea, which was very close to the whole, It was the one that gave access to the city from the sea so that the pilgrims who came by boat and went to Santiago entered Valencia through this door, finding as soon as they arrived in the city with the encomienda of San Juan and his hostel.
Figs. 6 and 7.- Detail of the carved corbels. The first unrecognizable and the second in the form of a shell.
The other theory defends that the shells that appear carved in the corbels of the head are a symbol referring to San Juan Bautista. There are several arguments and facts that reinforce and support this hypothesis. First, the order of Saint John of Jerusalem is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin and the one in charge of baptizing him, so its relationship to water and baptism is clear. In this way, It would not be unreasonable to think that in this construction we wanted to include a symbol of the saint as a symbol of baptism and as protection of the building.
Secondly, right in the back of the chapel, under the shell-shaped corbels, there was originally a kind of raft in which the preparation of the corpses was carried out before carrying out the burial. Next to this raft there was a well from which the San Juanistas were supplied with water so that this shell-water-baptism relationship is even more evident. This idea of relating the shell or shell-shaped elements with water and baptism is reliably demonstrated through the study of a large number of baptismal fonts from the Romanesque period that have survived to this day in which the interior and / or the exterior of the cup were carved with this morphology. Good examples are the Romanesque baptismal fonts in the churches of Santa María la Real de Cillamayor, of San Pantaleón de Helecha de Valdivia and San Andrés de Cabria, all of them located in the province of Palencia. There are also examples in other parts of the peninsular geography such as the baptismal fonts of the churches of San Cristóbal de San Cristóbal del Monte (Cantabria), of Santa María Magdalena de Valdeavellano (Guadalajara) and of San Esteban de Cuéllar (Segovia). To insist a little more on this water-shell-baptism correspondence, it is worth mentioning some of the aguabenditeras carved with this motive that are currently preserved in some churches and cathedrals.. As an example, the aguabenditeras of the church of San Julián and Santa Basilisa in Rebolledo de la Torre are worth mentioning. (Burgos), that of the refectory of the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia) and, although from a later time, the aguabenditera of the Cathedral of Valencia. Finally, it should be mentioned that the shell is, next to the bowl, the usual element with which Saint John is usually represented when he baptizes Christ.
In third place, at the time of the construction of the Arnau de Romaní chapel, the kingdom of Valencia was a frontier land and the long process of colonization initiated by Jaime I from 1238. A good part of the population that remained in the city was Jewish or Muslim, that they were allowed to stay in the kingdom due to the slow arrival of new settlers and that therefore were necessary for the optimal functioning of the Kingdom. One of the objectives pursued would be for these members of the other monotheistic religions to be baptized and convert to Christianity, so that, it makes sense that in this chapel they wanted to capture a symbol of baptism to proselytize between the people of both groups, more if we take into account that the cemetery was immediately next to the Jewish quarter or Call.
Fourth, the fact comes into play that when the encomienda sanjuanista and, shortly after, the chapel the war front was still close to the capital. This data allows doubting the flow of pilgrims who could reach the city of Valencia in order to start their way to Santiago. It is very doubtful that at such an early date there was such a large and constant flow of pilgrims that the San Juanistas decided to include a symbol of Santiago in their enclosure..
Fifthly, it should be mentioned that the Hospitallers together with the Templars, they were the two military orders and crusades par excellence of international projection. There is no doubt that, somehow, They “looked over their shoulders” at local orders and felt superior to them, Therefore, it is difficult to accept the idea that the San Juanists allowed the inclusion of a symbol of another order that they considered lesser and / or inferior to them in their own enclosure..
Finally, even though it is true that in the conquest of Valencia knights from Santiago participated, It is very difficult to be able to affirm that the Order of Santiago had such influence as to leave its mark on a set of these characteristics and that it belonged to another totally different religious-military order. In addition, the competition to win the favors of the king to get more gifts and possessions and thereby gain more strength, economic power and resources, would certainly generate quarrels between them, something that also works against this being a Santiago symbol.
To all this we must add that, although it does not allow being able to affirm anything one hundred percent, there are other commanderies founded by the knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in which shells were carved in some of its architectural elements. In this sense, so far two more examples have been located apart from the Valencian. One is that of the church of San Juan de Jerusalem in Cabanillas (Navarra) in which one of its modillions in the headboard area was carved in the shape of a shell. The other is the Monastery of San Juan de Duero in Soria, in which in one of the capitals of the doors of the famous cloister of interlaced arches appear two shells carved and inserted between the decoration of rhomboidal motifs.
LA FUNCIÓN APOTROPAICA COMO TEORÍA MAS ACEPTABLE
In the Middle Ages the corbels were used for two occupations: one architectural and one symbolic. The practical utility is clear but there is a more complex debate about the symbolic function. There are a large number of theories about the meaning and symbolism of these images. The currently most widely accepted theory among specialists is that in these media everything that remained and was practiced outside of the sacred places was figuratively represented and, by extension, what was relegated to the margins of society. They also functioned as an indoctrinating instrument through which to condemn and denounce the bad practices of the faithful, showing what should not be done in order not to break with the established order..
A theory that has been gaining strength in recent years argues that many of these images functioned as a kind of defensive mechanism that protected the building and monitored its weakest areas.. Therefore they would be figures with an apotropaic value whose function was to achieve a prophylactic effect against evil, evil spirits, the demon, bad omens, etc. with the aim of chasing evil from the sacred space and guarding against it, but also to move away from the enclosure everything related to the negative, the magic, the evil and what disturbed the established order.
The theory that attributes an apotropaic value to the images carved on the corbels is the one that best fits the case of the Arnau de Romaní chapel.. As has been explained throughout the study, the corbels characterized in a more monstrous way and with a threatening and rejecting attitude are located just above the openings, guarding and protecting the most vulnerable areas of the building (Fig. 8). Like the mouth, it is an open hole through which the demons have an easier time entering and possessing the body., the openings are the place through which the evil one can access the sacred precinct with the greatest facility and therefore must be protected and guarded with permanent images. In this way, we would be in front of a surveillance and protection mechanism that would act twenty-four hours a day, the seven days of the week, the three hundred and sixty five days of the year.
Fig. 8.- Canecillos de la Capilla de Arnau de Romaní.
 The study of these decorative-architectural elements and the marginal images of medieval art emerged at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century., having its heyday today. One of the pioneers in the study of these images was the Englishman Michael Camille: CAMILLE, M. Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. London, Reaction books, 1992.
 LLORCA DÍE, F. San Juan del Hospital in Valencia. Foundation of the 13th century. Valencia, Paris-Valencia bookstores, 1995, p. 36-38.
 HERRERO MARCOS, J. Romanesque bestiary in Spain. Palencia, Cálamo editions, 2012, p. 84 – 85 y p. 189 – 196.
 CAMILLE, M. The Gothic Idol. Ideology and Image Creation in Medieval Art. Madrid, Intellect, 2000, p. 29-30.
 MALAXECHEVARRIA, I. Medieval Bestiary. Madrid, Siruela, 1986, p. 39.
 It cannot be said that the head corresponds to a man or a woman since there is no feature that allows doing so.
 MONTEIRA ARIAS, I. “Physical banishment, spiritual banishment. The symbols of triumph over him “unfaithful” in the secondary spaces of the Romanesque temple” in MONTEIRA ARIAS, Ines; MUÑOZ MARTÍNEZ, Ana Belén; VILLASEÑOR SEBASTIÁN, Fernando (eds.): Relegated to the sidelines: Marginality and spaces marginal in medieval culture. Madrid, Superior Council of Scientific Investigations, 2009, p. 137.
 Isaiah 27: 1; Psalms 74: 14 and 104: 26; Job 41: 1 – 34.
 HERRERA MARRIED, TO. Romanesque iconography in Guadalajara. Guadalajara, Aache, 2014, p. 14.
 Genesis 3: 14. “The Lord God said to the serpent: For having done that (inciting Eve to commit sin), damn you among all the domestic and wild animals; you will crawl on your belly and eat dust all your life”.
 For example in ancient Rome “the role of snakes as protectors of the home is known, family and pets. They ensured fertility, the happiness and health of those who lived in the house” HERRERO MARCOS, J. Romanesque bestiary in Spain. Palencia, Cálamo editions, 2012, pp. 181-182. Likewise, in the Gospel of Saint Matthew the virtue of prudence was attributed to him, San Mateo, Gospel 10: 16. “Behold, I send you like sheep in the midst of wolves: be cautious as serpents and candid as doves”.
 The apotropaic effect is a kind of defensive mechanism based on certain acts, rituals, objects, images or formulaic phrases, consisting of warding off evil or protecting oneself from it, from evil spirits or from a particular evil action. In the case of the chapel, this prophylactic effect would be sought through the images carved in the corbels that are on the door and the window.. La RAE define apotropaico, -ca like: Said of a rite, of a sacrifice, of a formula, etc., What, for its magical character, it is believed to drive away evil or promote good.
 HERRERO MARCOS, J. Romanesque bestiary in Spain. Palencia, Cálamo editions, 2012, p. 118 – 125.
 HANGER, René. Medieval bestiary of pets. Rennes, West-France editions, 2015, p. 96-99.
 The cat was an animal that was blamed for an infinity of evils in the Middle Ages, especially if it was a black cat. In Le Goff's words “he is the symbol of the heretic, you luxury, of the sodomite and the devil himself, especially when it is black“. THE GOFF, Jacques. A Middle Ages in pictures. Paris, Hazan, 2000, p. 120.
 This corbel has also been interpreted as a possible maiden's head.
 It seems that it was Pascual Esclapés on the page 113 from his Summary History of the Foundation and Antiquity of the City of Valencia de los Edetanos, vulgò del Cid. Your progress, Expansion and famous factories with notable particularities published in 1738 who stated for the first time that “King Don Jaime heard mass there”. It is a legend whose origin is not very well known, but it was passed down through time and is currently deeply rooted among the inhabitants of the city who know this magnificent building..
 EASTER GASCO, L. The Church of San Juan del Hospital de Valencia and its relationship with the Sovereign Order of Malta (Recovery history 1967 – 1969). Valencia, Paris-Valencia bookstores, 1998, p. 46.
 AHN, Military Orders, binder 701, nº1.
 In this sense, it also fulfills the idea of exposing the head of the infidel as spoils of war and as a group dominated by the dominant religion.. MONTEIRA ARIAS, I.: “Physical banishment, spiritual banishment. The symbols of triumph over him “unfaithful” in the secondary spaces of the Romanesque temple” in MONTEIRA ARIAS, Ines; MUÑOZ MARTÍNEZ, Ana Belén; VILLASEÑOR SEBASTIÁN, Fernando (eds.). Relegated to the sidelines: Marginality and spaces marginal in medieval culture. Madrid, Superior Council of Scientific Investigations, 2009, pp. 129-142.
 MIGUÉLEZ CAVERO, TO. Gesture and gestures in the Romanesque art of the Hispanic kingdoms: reading and iconographic assessment. Doctoral thesis. Lion, University of Leon, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Department of Artistic and Documentary Heritage, 2009, pp. 77-83.
 It is something that has been commented by word of mouth but not scientifically written in any study, at least as far as the time the chapel was built. Today, for just two years, the church of San Juan del Hospital is officially taken as the starting point to Santiago from Levante. Every day, after the mass of 19, blessings are given to pilgrims embarking on the road.
 The door of the Xerea of the Islamic wall was approximately in the current Plaza de San Vicente Ferrer, colloquially called of the ducks, a few meters from the commission of the hospital order.
 In the Middle Ages it was believed that shells and jet were elements that had the power to protect corpses, that is why many deceased were buried with shells or with objects made with jet.
 There are some vestiges of this raft that are still visible today (Fig. 5).
 These are just some of the many examples that are preserved in the Peninsula of baptismal fonts whose cup is carved in the shape of a shell.
 On the wall above the aforementioned blessing of the Cathedral of Valencia, Vicent Macip's painting is exhibited The Baptism of Christ painted around 1535y in which Saint John uses a shell to baptize Christ. Both the blessing box and the painting are after the construction of the chapel since they belong to the Modern Age, However, they help us to better see and understand that tradition that symbolically related the shell to water and in turn to baptism.
 Despite the fact that Muslims were expelled from the city towards the interior areas, shortly after, a morería was created because due to the slow colonization process they were needed in the city, therefore we can speak of a certain condescension in which Muslims were allowed to exercise, inside a closed room, your daily activities. The serious problems in coexistence came, from 1391 with the Jews on the occasion of the assault on the Jewish quarter, And from, especially, of 1519 with the Germanías in relation to the Muslims.
 For example, questions such as what function they fulfilled, what was sought to represent in them, what objectives were the architects looking for with these images, to whom they were addressed and a long etcetera, follow, at present, without a certain answer.
 Among the most accepted and studied proposed theories is the one that defends that through these images, especially in which scenes of high sexual content are represented, objectives were pursued such as inciting the faithful to procreation: DEL OLMO GARCÍA, Á. Sexual iconography in the Romanesque. Palencia, Zamart Charts, 2018. Another widely accepted theory among specialists is the one that states that scenes of everyday life are represented with no other objective than to adorn the stone with playful dance scenes., contortionists, musicians, household supplies, family and domesticated animals, imaginary beings, etc. Among others: BOTO VARELA, G, No crime ornament: the imaginary beings of the Cloister of Silos and their echoes in peninsular Romanesque sculpture. Santo Domingo de Silos Burgos: Silos Abbey, 2001; HUERTA HUERTA, P. L. (coord.), The symbolic message of the Romanesque imaginary. Aguilar de Campoo, Santa María la Real Foundation for Historical Heritage, 2007.
 That is why it is very common to find grotesque and vulgar images in these areas, imaginary monsters, animals, theriomorphic beings, hybrids, escenas things;, sexual acts, deliveries, got damn, etc.
 For example the deadly sins: DÍAZ GARCÍA. E.J. Margins and outcasts in medieval art. Deadly sins and condemned to hell in the Hispanic Romanesque. Final Degree Project. Valencia: University of Valencia, 2017.
 HERNANDO GARRIDO, J.L. "Obscene representations in Romanesque art: between vulgarity and handsomeness ”in HUERTA HUERTA, Pedro Luis (coord.): Art and sexuality in the Romanesque centuries: images and contexts. Aguilar de Campoo, Santa María la Real Foundation for Historical Heritage, 2018, pp. 201-242.
 HERNANDO GARRIDO, J.L. "Antidotes to the devil: amulets, talismans and other artifacts to scare away evil spirits ”in HUERTA HUERTA, Pedro Luis (coord.): About Satan. The diabolical underworld in Romanesque times. Aguilar de Campoo, Santa María la Real Foundation for Historical Heritage, 2019, pp. 223-260.
ARAGON.S ESTELLA, E. The image of evil in the Navarrese Romanesque. Pamplona: Prince of Viana Institution, 1996.
BOTO VARELA, G. (to you.), Codex Aquilarensis. Medieval Art Magazine. Research notebooks of the Monastery of Santa María la Real, 2017, n. 33, The profane in medieval sacred art.
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DÍAZ GARCÍA. E. J., Margins and outcasts in medieval art. Deadly sins and condemned to hell in the Hispanic Romanesque. Final Degree Project. Valencia: University of Valencia, 2017.
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HUERTA HUERTA, P. L. (coord.), Power and seduction of the Romanesque image. Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia): Santa María la Real Foundation for Historical Heritage, 2006.
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