By Tim Fanning THE 800th anniversary of the birth of King Jaume (James) I of Aragon was celebrated yesterday in a ceremony in the assembly rooms of the Council of Majorca in Palma.

Luminaries from the worlds of arts, culture, politics and the media, including the editor of the Bulletin stable mate newspaper Balears, Miguel Serra, read passages of Llibre dels Feits, an autobiographical chronicle of the medieval monarch's deeds.

President of the Council of Majorca Francina Armengol pointed out that King Jaume had brought to Majorca and all the territories he conquered “the concept of a modern society, that some historians describe as a democratic regime ahead of its time or an authentic rule of law”. Armengol also pointed out that Majorcans owed King Jaume for making them all citizens with rights and obligations.

The Llibre dels Feits, which translates as book of deeds, is one of the great works of medieval literature in Catalan.
President Armengol pointed out that the decision to write it was unusual. “He was the first monarch to want to leave behind a record of his own story in the vulgar language that he spoke.” For the first time, Magdalena Vadell, a member of the Majorcan Association of the Deaf, read passages of the book in sign language. After the opening remarks of Armengol, Antoni Furió, Professor of Medieval History and author of The Conqueror King: James I between History and Legend, of the University of Valencia, spoke about the figure of Jaume I.

Meanwhile, members of the Balearic Parliament attended more ceremonies marking the monarch's 800th anniversary yesterday in the French city of Montpellier, the birthplace of Jaume.

Among the events were a parade through the centre of the city, an exhibition, two book launches, a conference, a play based on the monarch's life, and a concert and traditional dancing.