Origin of the Romagosas


Romagosa Name

The name Romagosa goes back many centuries. It was found in some form by the year 800, when Spain had undergone Visigothic influence and most of its territory and fallen to the Moors. Catalunya was reconquered by Frankish troops in 801, becoming part of the empire of Charlemagne. There is evidence that the Romagosas were among the Frankish knights that settled in Catalunya as a result of this. See the last paragraph of this page.

According to Romualdo Romagosa, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Montserrat, the name Romagosa derives from Romantic Latin, Rumicosa and Rumicus, the place where a plant by the name of Rumicaria grows. This plant gives a fruit that is fed to ruminants (cows, horses, etc.). A variety of this plant is known in the United States as rhubarb. The people who live in the place, that is, Rumicosa, where the rumicaria grows, are the people of (de) Rumicosa. Going from Rumicosa to Romagosa is a simple step in all Romance languages. For example, amicus, friend in Latin, becomes amigo in Spanish.

Another possible explanation for the origin of the Romagosa name refers to their location in the south of France near the town of Rocamadour, just to the north of the Languedoc.  Rocamadour was on the pilgrimage road to Rome and pilgrims were called “Roumieux.” Unfortunately, it has to be admitted that there is no firm basis or universal agreement as to the origin of the name.


The oldest mention of the name Romagosa in Catalunya in an extant document is from a bill of sale dated November 30, 1275, by which the widow Ermessen de Parellada and her son Guillem Canut sold a farm, two parcels of land, to Guerau (Gerard) de Romagosa.  According to this document, Gerau de Romagosa resided in Vallirana/Lladoner, parish of Saint Esteve (St. Stephen) de Cervello’ Vell (the old) diocese. The oldest written reference to the name of Romagosa includes a “de” in front of it.  This “de” appears on and off throughout many other documents preserved by the Romagosas of Vallirana.  The use of “de” implies a place or thing.  In our case the “de” refers to a place.


Coat of Arms and Battle of Baeza

The Romagosa Coat of Arms, as found in Catalunya, includes a field of green (sinople) with three silver stripes and a gold border(bordure) with eight red crosses (sotueres de gules). [The Romagosa Coat of Arms to the right incorrectly has a border that is not gold and the stripes are not silver as they should be]. The crosses refer to participation by a family member in the Battle of Baeza in Andalucia, north of Cordoba. An ancient Roman city, Baeza is mentioned by both Pliny and Ptolemy.  An important city to the Arabs, it was conquered several times by the Christians. The battle by which the city became definitively Christian was fought by king St. Ferdinand of Castile and Leon (1200-1252).

Because the city fell on St. Andrew’s day, 1227, the king decreed that the city’s Coat of Arms would be modified to include a “bordure” of gold with 12 crosses of St. Andrew in red to signify the Holy Apostle and Martyr’s intervention in favor of the city.The Coat of Arms of the families whose members had fought with the king would be likewise modified, bearing a golden border and, as is usual with family coat of arms, eight (and not twelve as for a city) red crosses of St. Andrew, which are x-shaped.


Since the Romagosa Coat of Arms bears such a border and only the arms associated with the Battle of Baeza bear such a border in Spanish Heraldry, it can be surmised that one or more members of the Romagosa family engaged the Arabs at Baeza with King St. Ferdinand on November 30, 1227, St. Andrew’s day. The Coat of Arms in the first page would date from before this event, since it lacks the border. Since the design is of utter simplicity, the inference is that both the name and the arms are quite old, for the older the coat of arms, the simpler it is.  The family documents show that the Romagosas have been members of the landed gentry occasionally marrying into nobility, but themselves never possessing a title.


Romagosas in Languedoc

A recently published book, Can Romagosa de Begues (May 2004), by Vicente Medina, a Romagosa relative, details the origins of the Romagosa family in the Languedoc area in Southwest France.  Existing documents dating from the 12th century refer to the Roumegouse family and a town called Roumegoux, near the city of Albi.  At the time when the Romagosas resided there, the Languedoc, situated between the French and the Aragon-Catalunya kingdoms, had a strategic location that contributed to political and religious conflicts after the end of the Carolingian empire. The area was eventually incorporated into France in mid XIII century.  Its residents, called occitans, spoke Langue d'oc, a language similar to Catalan. At that time residents of the area, just north of the Pyrenees, shared a common culture and language with those to the south of the Pyrenees. Members of the Romegouse family were involved in the conflicts in the area as knights and administrators. One of these, Guerau de Romegouse settled in Catalunya in the early thirteenth century under the King of Aragon/Catalunya. He is believed to be the direct ancestor of our family.

In a later booklet Primer Asentamiento de los Romagosa en Catluña en el Siglo IX (2006), Vicente Medina shares a new investigation that concludes that the Romagosa or Romageoux family had had an earlier settlement in Catalunya in the ninth century. This is based on a record of a Vilars de Romegoso in the church records of the Bishop of Girona from the year 923. The reference then disappears. A "vilars" is a feudal settlement usually named after its owner, in this case by the name of Romegoso. His conclusion is that this family came into the area with the Carolingian Franks from Languedoc, later went back to Languedoc, and again returned to the area (Gerau de Romegouse) as described in the previous paragraph.  Thus it appears that the family was active on both sides of Pyrenees, without a known documented origin.