2016-06-14 21:20:30 UTC
I recently got hold of an article from a Portuguese journal by Antonio Rei that presents a novel alternative to the reconstruction of the Maia/Maya origin legend.
As a reminder, the Livro Velho de Linhagens is a collection of accounts of the noble families of Portugal, thought to have first been compiled in a preliminary form in the latter half of the 13th century, and finalized by Pedro, Count of Barcelos, in the mid 14th century. In its account of the origin of the Maia, it presents what is referred to as the Lenda de Gaia (the Legend of Gaia, also called the Miragaia), which relates that king Ramiro II of Leon, while campaigning in what is now Portugal, fell in love with the sister of the local lord, Alboazar Albocadam. He kidnapped her, planning to divorce his wife and marry her, only to have Alboazar kidnap his wife and when he tried to sneak in and rescue his wife, she revealed his presence to Alboazar out of revenge for Ramiro's infidelity. However, Ramiro's son Ordono stormed the castle, killing Alboazar, and Ramiro took the sister, baptized as Artiga, back to Leon, where he married her and had children (he having murdered his prior wife for her role in the affair). The Livro Velho then makes Alboazar (soemtimes called Cid - lord) the founder of the Maia, the son of Ramiro by Artiga.
This connection has provided the basis for many claims of Muslim descent, but there have long been flaws observed in the connection. Notably, none of this finds any mention in the historical record of Leon. While one could argue that the christian chroniclers of the Reconquest may have purged a Muslim connection, it seems inexplicable that they would not at least have condemned Ramiro for murdering his wife. Likewise we are not restricted to histories, as there are surviving (as copies) charters from Ramiro's reign, and again no indication of this wife. Likewise, the account in problematic on the Maia side of the descent, for the Maia founder appears in contemporary documents, not as Alboazar Ramires as he is named in the Livro Velho, but as Alboazar Lovesendes - Alboazar, son of Lovesendo. Still when there is a desirable descent at stake, it rarely stops the enthusiast to find contradictory evidence.
A decade ago there was extensive discussion of this connection. Notably, Chico Doria presented his thoughts that culminated in a self-published book, Uma hipotese sobre a origem dos senhores de Maia, seculo X. I have not seen this but have seen a preliminary manuscript, and the crux of his argument comes from finding several of the names from the legend in the contemporary documents of the region, and notably he finds a Lovesendo whom he identifies as father of Alboazar Lovesendes - basically, he would argue that Ramiro was interposed into an authentic account of the Muslim origin for the Maia, but that it was Lovesendo who married a Muslim princess (as well as himself having Muslim descent). While he mention's Doria's work as an inspiration for his own, Rei takes a different tack, one that effectively arises out of an evaluation of the name forms found in the Lenda and the Maia pedigree.
Rei first presents come cultural background and documents that Ramiro II was active in the region in question. However, the crux of his argument comes from an evaluation of name forms. He starts with that of the Maia founder, Cid Alboazar. Doria had interpreted Cid as an honorific, 'lord', and Alboazar as coming via a garbled intermediate, Abouazar, from the name Abu Nazar, a common Arab name. Rei instead interprets it as Abu l-'Asar, which effectively means 'Founder of the Lineage'. He interprets this along with Cid (from the Arabic Sayyid) as being an honorific. This allows him to conclude that the name Cid Alboazar Lovesendes does not mean 'Lord' Alboazar, son of Lovesendo, but rather that it means 'Lord Founder' Lovesendo, and by so doing, removes the impediment that the patronymic represented in making the Maia founder the son of Ramiro.
Rei likewise analyzes Artiga (Ortiga in later versions of the pedigree). In this name he sees a corruption of Ariqa. (The two would be quite similar, bearing in mind that the guttural Q is often represented as a G in the Latin alphabet, and that soft vowels are omitted in older written Arabic, makign the two Artqa vs Aryqa, with 't' and 'y' differing in the placement of two dots above vs. below the letter.) Ariqa, he tells us, means 'she of a noble lineage', so that this name likewise is honorific in nature. I will add here that just because it was honorific does not mean it was not being used as a given name, although it can be hard to tell sometimes - the Codice de Roda refers to a daughter of Muhammad al-Tawil as Velasquita, while in Muslim sources she is Sayyida - the feminine form of Sayyid and a name also familiar to genealogists in the form of Zaida, Alfonso VI's mistress.
With this then Rei concludes that, lost within the honorific name forms found within the Livro Velho account is an authentic pedigree, in which the Maia founder was Cid (honorific) Abu l-'Asar (honorific) Lovesendo Ramires, the son of king Ramiro by the lady of most noble lineage (Ariqa), daughter of (and this part is not explained, simply shown in a chart referencing Ibn Hazm's collection of Al-Andalus pedigrees) Sa'd (Abu Sa'dun), brother of Umayya, governor of Santarem in 937, both in turn sons of Ishaq, an Umayyad descendant of founder Marwan al-Umawi, who married the great-granddaughter of Muhammad.
So, is this a viable solution? I say no. The interpretation of Alboazar as Abu l-A'sar is certainly possible, but it cannot be a literal honorific, because it appears in documents from the man's own time. It is the rare man who is called founder of a lineage during his own life, and as I mentioned above, these honorifics were used as actual literal names (Abu Nazar is also such an honorific). The format used at the time was name/patronymic, and while there are cases where an honorific is used, it replaces the name, rather than displacing it at the expense of the honorific. Were Lovesendo Ramires to be called instead by his honorifics, we would expect Cid Ramires or Abu l-A'sar Ramires. This is particularly the case given that the patronymic in question was the highest claim the man could make - being a lord is one thing, and being the (prospective) founder of a lineage is another, but this man was (we are told) son of the king and the patronymic would have been a continual reminder to everyone that this was the case - I can't see him forgoing it just so he could be called 'lord' Lovesendo. No, as much as some want it to be otherwise, this man was lord Abu Nazar (or Abu l-A'sar) Lovesendes, son of a Lovesendo and the royal connection (and the Muslim connection along with it) is just a myth like so many 'my ancestor was secret lovechild of the king' myths.