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(A.D. 1255-1265)

I think that I better understand the proud, hardy, frugal Spaniard and his manly defiance of hardships since I have seen the country he inhabits.... The country, the habits, the very looks of the people, have something of the Arabian character." - Washington Irving's "The Alhamhra."

RAYMUND LULL was born of an illustrious family at Palma in the island of Majorca of the Balearic group in 1235.1 His father had been born at Barcelona and belonged to a distinguished Catalonian family. When the island of Majorca was taken from the Saracens by James I., king of

1Some authorities give the date 1234, and one 1236. bit most agree on the year 1235. See Baring-Gould: "Lives of the Saints," vol. vi., p. 489.

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Aragon, Lull's father served in the army of conquest. For his distinguished services he was rewarded with a gift of land in the conquered territory, and the estates grew in value under the new government.

Southern Europe between the Atlantic and the Adriatic is almost a duplicate in climate and scenery of Northern Africa. When the Moors crossed over into Spain and occupied the islands of the Western Mediterranean they felt at home. Not only in the names of rivers and mountains and on the architecture of Spain did they leave the impress of their conquest, but on the manners of the people, their literature, and their social life.

Catalonia, the eastern province of Spain, which was the home of Lull's ancestors and for a time of Lull himself, is about one hundred and thirty miles broad and one hundred aud eighty-five miles long, with a coast of two hundred and forty

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miles. It has mountain ranges on the north, three considerable rivers, and woodland as well as meadow. The climate is healthy in spite of frequent mists and rains, sudden changes of temperature, and great midday heat. Mountains and climate and history have left their impress on its people. The Catalonians are distinct in origin from the other inhabitants of Spain, and differ from them to this day in dialect, dress, and character. About 470 A.D., this part of the peninsula was occupied by the Goths, whence it was called Gothalonia, and later Catalonia. It was taken possession of by the Berbers in 712, who in turn were dispossessed by the Spaniards and the troops of Charlemagne. In 1137 Catalonia was annexed to Aragon. The Catalonians are therefore a mixed race. They have always been distinguished for frugality, wit, and industry; they have much national pride and a strong revolutionary spirit.

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The Catalan language and its large literature are quite distinct from that of the other Spanish provinces. The poetical works of Lull are among the oldest examples of Catalan extant.

The Balearic Islands have always belonged to the province of Catalonia as regards their people and their language. On a clear day the islands are plainly visible from the monastery of Monserrat, and by sea from Barcelona it is only one hundred and forty miles to Palma. Between these two harbors there has always been and is now a busy traffic. Majorca has an area of fourteen hundred and thirty square miles, a delightful climate, beautiful scenery, and a splendid harbor - Palma. Some of its valleys, such as Valdemosa and Soller, are celebrated for picturesque luxuriance. The northern mountain slopes are terraced; the olive, the vine, and the almond tree are plenteous everywhere in the plains.

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According to the description of modern travelers it is an earthly paradise. During the summer there is scarcity of water, but, following a system handed down from the Arabs, the autumn rains are collected in large reservoirs. On the payment of a certain rate each landholder has his fields flooded.

Palma, Lull's birthplace and burial-place, is a pretty town with narrow streets and a sort of medieval look except where modern trade has crowded out "the old-world, Moorish character of the buildings."

The cathedral is still a conspicuous building, and was commenced in 1230 and dedicated to the Virgin by the same King James who gave Lull's father estates near Palma. Portions of the original building still remain, and the visitor can enter the royal chapel (built in 1232) with assurance that if Lull did not worship here he at least saw the outside of the building frequently.

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Palma probably owes its name and harbor to Metellus Balearicus, who in 123 B.C. settled three thousand Roman and Spanish colonists on the island, and whose expedition is symbolized on the Roman coins by a palm branch. He also gave his name to the island group, and the Balearic slingers are famous in Cesar's "Commentaries."

Palma is to-day a busy little port, and direct commerce is carried on with Valencia, Barcelona, Marseilles, Cuba, Porto Rico, and even South American ports. The present population is about sixty thousand. Formerly, Palma was a great center for shipbuilding, and there is little doubt that in Lull's time this industry also gave importance to the town. As early as the fourteenth century a mole, to a length of three hundred and eighty-seven yards, was constructed to improve the harbor of Palma. This picturesque town was the birthplace of our hero, and today its

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ihabitants are still proud to lead you to the church of San Francisco where he lies buried. As late as 1886 a new edition of Lull's works was printed and published at Palma by Rosselo.

The significance or the derivation of Lull's family name is lost in obscurity. His personal name Raymund (in Spanish Ramon or Raymundo) is Teutonic and signifies "wise protection" or "pure in speech." It was borne by two distinguished counts of Toulouse: one of them, Raymund IV., was a Crusader (1045-1105), and the other (1156-1222) befriended the Albigenses against the Pope. It is possible that Lull received his first name from one of these martial heroes whose exploits were well known in Catalonia.

Of Lull's infancy and early youth nothing is known for certain. He was accustomed to medieval luxury from his birth, as his parents had a large estate and his


father was distinguished for military services. Lull married at an early age, and, being fond of the pleasures of court life, left Palma and passed over with his bride to Spain, where he was made seneschal at the court of King James II. of Aragon. Thus his early manhood was spent in gaiety and even profligacy. All the enthusiasm and warmth of his character found exercise only in the pleasures of the court, and, by his own testimony, he lived a life of utter immorality in this corrupt age. Wine, women, and song were then, as often since, the chief pleasures of kings and princes. Notwithstanding his marriage and the blessing of children, Lull sought the reputation of a gallant and was mixed up in more than one intrigue. For this sort of life his office gave him every temptation and plenty of opportunity.

A seneschal (literally, an old servant)1

1From Latin Sene + scalcus, or Gothic sineigs + skalk.

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was the chief official in the household of a medieval prince or noble and had the superintendence of feasts and ceremonies. These must have been frequent and luxurious at the court of James II., for Aragon, previous to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, enjoyed the most liberal government of Europe. According to one authority, "the genius and maxims of the court were purely republican." The kings were elective, while the real exercise of power was In the hands of the Cortes, an assembly consisting of the nobility, the equestrian order, the representatives of cities, and the clergy. A succession of twenty sovereigns reigned from the year 1035 to 1516. At such a court and amid such an assemblage, probably in the capital town of Zaragoza (Saragossa), Lull spent several years of his life. He was early addicted to music and played the cithern with skill. But he was yet more celebrated as a court poet. According

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to his own confessions, however, the theme of his poetical effusions was not seldom the joys of lawless love. "I see, O Lord," he says in his Contemplations, "that trees bring forth every year flowers and fruit, each after their kind, whence mankind derive pleasure and profit. But thus it was not with me, sinful man that I am; for thirty years I brought forth no fruit in this world, I cumbered the ground, nay, was noxious and hurtful to my friends and neighbors. Therefore, since a mere tree, which has neither intellect nor reason, is more fruitful than I have been, I am exceedingly ashamed and count myself worthy of great blame."1 In another part of the same book he returns thanks to God for the great difference he sees between the works of his after-life and those of his youth. "Then," he says, all his "actions were sinful and he enjoyed the pleasures of sinful companionship."

1 "Liber Contemplationis in Deo," ix,257, Ed. 1740.

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Raymund Lull was gifted with great mental accomplishments and enthusiasm. He had the soul of a poet, but at first his genius groveled in the mire of sensual pleasures, like that of other poets whose passions were not under the control of religion. We do Lull injustice, however, if we judge his court life by the standards of our Christian century. His whole environment was that of medieval darkness, and he was a gay knight at the banquets of James II. before he became a scholastic philosopher and a missionary. As knight he knew warfare and horsemanship so well that among his books there are several treatises on these sciences,1 first written in Catalan, and afterward put into Latin. Undoubtedly these were written, as was most of his poetry, before he was thirty years old. He was the most popular poet of his age in Spain, and his influence on

1For a list of these works see Heltfferich, p.74, note.

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Catalonian poetry is acknowledged in such terms that he might be called the founder of the Catalonian school of poets. The philological importance of Lull's Catalonian writings, especially his poems, was shown by Adolph Helfferich in his book on "Lull and the Origin of Catalan Literature." In this volume specimens of his poetry and proverbs are given. A writer in the "Encyclopedia Britannica" speaks of one of his poems, Le Desconort" (Despair) as eminently fine and composite in its diction. This poem, if it was written before his conversion, as is probable, would already show that Lull himself was dissatisfied at heart with his life of worldly pleasure. Already; perhaps, there arose within him a mighty struggle between the spirit and the flesh. Sensual pleasures never satisfy, and his lower and higher natures strove one with the other.

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It seems that at about his thirty-second year he returned to Palma, altho there is little certainty of date among his biographers. At any rate it was at the place of his birth that Lull was born again. It was in the Franciscan church, and not at the court of Aragon, that he received his final call and made his decision to forsake all and become a preacher of righteousness. The prodigal son came to himself amid the swine, and his feet were already toward home when he saw his Father, and his Father ran out to meet him. The story of St. Augustine under the fig-tree at Milan was reenacted at Palma.

Raymund Lull

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