The Chapter of Toledo's Archive

The history of the Chapter of Toledo's Archive commenced in the late 11th century, in close connection with the birth and development of the Cathedral's Chapter. Over the centuries, the Chapter accumulated a document collection consisting mainly of privileges granted by kings, papal bulls, appointments of archbishops, own statutes, pious foundations and private donations, as well as all the documented acts related to the wider community.

In the 12 and 13th centuries, many documents were systematically copied in the Libri Privilegiorum to preserve them from damage. In 1226, Archbishop Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada and King Ferdinand III officially started the construction of a new Gothic cathedral where a mosque once stood, to replace the existent church that was in a poor state of repair. This gave rise to the gradual formation of an administrative unit within the Chapter, called the Obra y Fábrica (Art and Construction Work Department), which would produce an important quantity of documents on the building's construction and ornamentation, including its funding, revenue and assets, and on the artists and craftspeople who worked on it.

The large Mozarabic Christian community that lived in Toledo and that spoke and wrote Arabic as a mother tongue also produced over seven hundred documents written in Arabic in which its activities and possessions were recorded. Currently, nearly all these documents are deposited in the National Historical Archive.

In the 14th century, the Chapter Archive's document collection began to be classified by subject matter and in alphabetical order. By the 18th century, the number of documents was so huge that Benedictine fathers Diego Mecolaeta and Martín Sarmiento undertook to organise them again in 1727, and drew up a Universal Index of the Archive that followed the same classification by subject matter and in alphabetical order. To that end, they introduced an alphanumeric system which is still followed today, with a few variations.

With the addition of collections from several other annexes to the Primate Cathedral, such as its important Chapels and the Obra y Fábrica, the Archive grew in importance and quality, making it possible to learn more about the cathedral from different points of view.

In the 18th century, under the Enlightenment, the Archive of the Cathedral of Toledo became a Historical Archive and was opened to the public, scholars and researchers.

Document collections:

6) CHAPELS: St. Peter, St. Blas, Mozarabic, New Kings.

The ‘Parchments’ Archive. The Chapter's document collection

This is the oldest Archive. It was started in 1085, to house the documents produced by the Chapter and the Archbishop in the course of their ministerial and worldly activities. It holds around 12,000 documents covering many aspects of ecclesiastical and civil life: legal and administration documents, papal bulls, royal privileges, confirmations of suffragan bishops, donations, lists of saint's days, titles of ecclesiastical and royal nobility, contracts, a list of places, entitlements and possessions belonging to the Chapter and the Archbishop, lists of the Bishop's  Chair with the religious and military orders, litigation, books of records, last wills and testaments, and so on. Originally it was classified in chests, one for each section organised under the letters: A, E, I, O, V, X, Z. Subsequently, new numbers and letters were added to accommodate a more complex classification. This system is still used today.

Chapter Records

Sporadic agreements from 1351-1362 are kept, but the series commences formally in 1466 and continues to the present, recording regular meetings of the canons and the dean. The Records reflect the everyday activity of the Primate Chapter and its members, the concerns of the primate temple, and of the institution that governs it.

Dossiers on Cleanliness of Blood

The collection was created in 1547 after a decision by Cardinal Juan Martínez Silíceo to impose a by-law by which candidates to a position in the Primate Cathedral (dignitary, canon, ration distributor or beneficiary thereof, acolytes and choir boys) had to provide evidence that they were clean of heresy and Judaism. The dossiers and their index serve to find information on anyone who was investigated for cleanliness, and on their families and place of residence. The by-law was abolished in 1865. The collection comprises around 3,500 dossiers.

Obra y Fábrica

This collection is a compendium of everything related to the Cathedral’s construction, conservation and ornamentation: expenditure, staff, works of art and cult, contracts and salaries of artists, workers, employees; inventories of clothing and jewels; and the Stewardship. A catalogue compiled by Carmen de Torroja describes most of the documents filed from the 14th century to the year 1600.

Modern Music Archive

This collection comprises many musical scores and some books handwritten by the most salient masters of the Cathedral of Toledo's Music Chapel (16th-19th centuries).


Documentation collected in the course of the creation of the Cathedral's most important Chapels and their members: their liturgical life and cultural, artistic and administrative activities, and the execution of Last Wills and Testaments. The main Chapels are: St. Peter and Mary Magdaleine Chapel, the Mozarabic Chapel and the New Kings Chapel.

The Accountant's Office, Chapter Board or Financial and Social Administration

This collection contains a vast number of files on the Cathedral's accounting, income and expenditure, town and country properties, leased property, assets, foundations, pious works, hospitals, memorandums on masses, charities and social activities, etc. It is a valuable collection for research into Spain's social and economic life at any level.

The Chapter's Secretariat

The documents in this collection are related to the administration carried out in the Chapter's Secretariat. It comprises many files, documents and books on a broad range of topics that tell the story of the Chapter, of its members and the archbishops, and of its relationship with the State and state institutions, families, and cultural and political institutions. To name a few, the documents include chapter by-laws, chapter records during vacancies in the see, correspondence, pious foundations, books of records, and contracts.

The Racioneros Brotherhood

The Racioneros Brotherhood was a religious, social and financial association whose members were the Cathedral's racioneros, or ration distributors. Their mission was to provide mutual assistance, protect their social status in the cathedral and, more specifically, to finance themselves by performing the religious activities set forth in the memorandums of association, anniversaries and solemn promises, and to assist in the liturgical and devotional celebrations, as well as undertaking acts of charity and piety. The Brotherhood managed their own revenue and assets, as well as the income from the underpopulated areas of the archdiocese, which depended on the decisions of the Archiepiscopate's Board of Trustees. The Concordat of 1851 marked the end of the Racioneros Brotherhood. Their management office was closed and the assets that served to fund their prebends were sold as national assets.