Police Recover Royal 12th-Century Document In Cadiz Which Was Stolen 43 Years Ago

Cuenca Cathedral's Historic Document Recovered

Cathedral of Cuenca. Credit: Mario modesto/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

A historical document bearing the seal of King Alfonso VIII of Spain has been recovered after it went missing 43 years ago.

‘Operation Alfonsusrex’ launched by Law Enforcement authorities with the help of experts in antiquities have retrieved the ‘Privilegio Rodado de Alfonso VIII’ dated 1195, which was being offered for sale in Barcelona for €25,000, writes Policia Nacional, Wednesday, July 19.

The case centred around the recovery of one of the oldest documents of the Diocese of Cuenca, the ‘Privilegio Rodado de Alfonso VIII’ from the year 1195, which disappeared in 198o. The ancient document was in the custody of a law firm in Barcelona and had been offered for sale outside of the usual channels for €25,000.

Cold Case Went Back To 1980

The investigation began when a complaint was filed by the Dean of the Cathedral at the Cuenca Police Station. He had learned that the ‘Privilegio Rodado con sello de plomo de Alfonso VIII,’ an 828-year-old document which had been stolen from the Chapter Archive of the Cathedral of Cuenca in 1980, was being offered for sale in Barcelona.

The missing artefact was included on an Interpol list of stolen documents, a fact which made it difficult to sell legally in auction houses or antique shops, hence it was being sold outside the usual sales channels.

The theft had already been reported on March 23, 1980, and an investigation by the then High Police Corps recovered a large number of books from the Seminary Library and documents plundered from the Chapter Archive. The whereabouts of the ‘Privilegio Rodado’ was lost in 1989, when all indications pointed to it being in Bogotá, Colombia.

New Lead After 43 Years

Investigators made numerous enquiries in the world of buying and selling antiques and works of art and eventually managed to identify the people who were offering the document for sale.

There were strong indications that the document was being held by a law firm with offices in the city of Cádiz. A search warrant was requested at the professional office. Once the 4th Court of Instruction in Cuenca authorised the search of the law firm, the officers set up a joint operation to enter and search the office and recover the document.

The individuals who were trying to sell it are under investigation as alleged perpetrators of the crime of receiving and related conduct. A statement was also taken from a professor at the University of Barcelona, a specialist in Medieval History, who had been hired by the suspects to give an opinion on its authenticity.

Officers successfully recovered the missing ‘Privilegio Rodado,’ which reportedly is in excellent condition, and returned to the Cathedral of Cuenca, as its legitimate owner.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.