Co-Princes of Andorra

The Co-Princes of Andorra or the Co-Monarchs of Andorra are jointly the head of state (cap d'estat)[1] of the Principality of Andorra, a landlocked microstate lying in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. Founded in 1278 by means of a treaty between the Bishop of Urgell and the French Count of Foix, this unique diarchical arrangement has persisted through medieval times to the 21st century. Currently, the Bishop of Urgell (Joan Enric Vives Sicília) and the President of France (Emmanuel Macron) serve as Andorra's princes, following the transfer of the Count of Foix's claims to the Crown of France and, thence, to the President of France. Each prince appoints a personal representative, the French prince currently being represented by Patrick Strzoda and the Episcopal prince by Josep Maria Mauri.

Co-Monarch of Andorra
Catalan: Co-Príncep d'Andorra
French: Co-Prince d'Andorre
Spanish: Co-Príncipes de Andorra
Coat of Arms of the high authorities of Andorra
Mons. Vives (30612833490)
Joan Enric Vives Sicília
since 12 May 2003
Emmanuel Macron in Tallinn Digital Summit. Welcome dinner hosted by HE Donald Tusk. Handshake (36669381364) (cropped 2)
Emmanuel Macron
since 14 May 2017
StyleHis Excellency
First monarchPere d'Urtx
Roger-Bernard III
ResidenceLa Seu d'Urgell Cathedral (Spain)
Élysée Palace (France)
AppointerThe Pope (for life)
French citizens (five years, renewable once)

Origin and development of the co-principality

Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting against the Moors. The feudal overlord of this territory was at first the Count of Urgell. In 988, however, the count, Borrell II, gave Andorra to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya.[2] The Bishop of Urgell, based in Seu d'Urgell, has ruled Andorra ever since.[3]

Before 1095, Andorra did not have any type of military protection, and since the Bishop of Urgell knew that the Count of Urgell wanted to reclaim the Andorran valleys,[3] he asked for help from the Lord of Caboet. In 1095, the Lord and the Bishop signed a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra. Arnalda, daughter of Arnau of Caboet, married the Viscount of Castellbò, and both became Viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya. Their daughter, Ermessenda,[4] married Roger Bernat II, the French Count of Foix. They became, respectively, count and countess of Foix, viscount and viscountess of Castellbò and Cerdanya, and also co-sovereigns of Andorra (together with the Bishop of Urgell).

In the 11th century, a dispute arose between the bishop of Urgell and the count of Foix. The conflict was mediated by Aragon in 1278, and led to the signing of the first paréage, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the count[3] and the bishop. This gave the principality its territory and political form, and marked the formal commencement of Andorra's unique monarchical arrangement.

Through inheritance, the Foix title to Andorra passed to the kings of Navarre. After King Henry III of Navarre became King Henry IV of France, he issued an edict in 1607 establishing the King of France and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra. In 1812–13, the First French Empire annexed Catalonia and divided it into four départements, with Andorra forming part of the district of Puigcerdà (department of Sègre). Following the defeat of Napoleon I, a royal decree reversed this annexation, and Andorra reverted to its former independence and political state.[5][6][7] The French head of state—whether king, emperor, or president—has continued to serve as a co-prince of Andorra ever since.

Recent history

On 12 July 1934, Andorra's monarchical system was challenged by an adventurer named Boris Skossyreff, who issued a proclamation in Urgell declaring himself "Boris I, King of Andorra". Though initially enjoying some support within Andorra's political establishment, he was ultimately arrested by Spanish authorities on 20 July of that year after declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell (who had refused to relinquish his own claim to the principality). Skossyreff was expelled, and was never considered to have been the Andorran monarch in any legal sense.

Before 1993, Andorra had no codified constitution, and the exact prerogatives of the co-princes were not specifically defined in law. In March of that year, a Constitution was approved by a vote of the Andorran people and signed into law by the two reigning Co-princes at the time: President François Mitterrand and Bishop Joan Martí Alanis. It clarified the continuance of the unique Andorran monarchy, and also delineated the precise role and prerogatives of the two Co-princes. Prior to adoption of the Constitution, Andorra paid in odd-numbered years a tribute of approximately $460 to the French ruler, while on even-numbered years, it paid a tribute of approximately $12 to the Spanish bishop, plus six hams, six cheeses, and six live chickens. This medieval custom was subsequently abandoned in 1993.[8]

In 2009, French president Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to abdicate as Co-prince if the principality did not change its banking laws to eliminate its longstanding status as a tax haven.[9]

Contemporary political role

The Constitution of Andorra carefully defines the exact role and prerogatives of the co-princes of Andorra today. The constitution establishes Andorra as a "parliamentary coprincipality",[10] providing for the President of France and Bishop of Urgell to serve together as joint heads of state.[11] The constitution distinguishes between which powers they may exercise on their own (Article 46), and which require the countersignature of the head of the Andorran government, or the approval of the "Síndic General", the Andorran legislature (Article 45).

Powers the princes may exercise on their own include:[12]

  • Joint exercise of the "prerogative of grace" (the power to pardon);
  • Each co-prince may appoint one member of the Superior Council of Justice and one member of the Constitutional Tribunal;
  • Establishment of such services as they deem necessary to fulfil their constitutional prerogatives, and appointment of individuals to fulfil these services;
  • Requesting a preliminary judgement about the constitutionality of proposed laws, or of international treaties;
  • Agreeing to the text of any international treaty, prior to submitting it for parliamentary approval;
  • Bringing a case before the Constitutional Tribunal in the event of any conflict over the exercise of their constitutional prerogatives.

Powers the princes may exercise in conjunction with the head of government include:[13]

  • Calling for elections or referendums in accordance with constitutional provisions;
  • Appointing the head of government in accordance with constitutional provisions;
  • Dissolve the General Council (the Andorran legislature) prior to the expiration of its current term (but not until at least one year has passed since the prior election);[14]
  • Accrediting diplomatic representatives from Andorra to foreign states, and receive credentials of foreign representatives to Andorra;
  • Appointing office-holders in accordance with appropriate constitutional provisions;
  • Sanctioning and enacting laws in accordance with constitutional provisions;
  • Granting formal consent to international treaties, once ratified by the General Council.

Each prince is granted an annual allowance by the General Council to dispose of as he or she sees fit.[15] Each appoints a personal representative in Andorra,[16] and in the case of incapacitation of one of them, the constitution provides for the other prince to govern in his or her absence, with the concurrence of the Andorran head of government or the General Council.[17]

Certain treaties require the participation of the co-princes (or their designated representatives) in their negotiation process as well as their final approval; these are detailed in Articles 66 and 67 of the constitution.

The co-princes jointly retain the right to propose amendments to the constitution; this same right rests with the General Council.[18] They have no veto power over legislation passed by the General Council, though they do retain a veto over certain international treaties, as described above.

See also


  1. ^ "The constitution of the Principality of Andorra".
  2. ^ "La formació d'Andorra". Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana. Enciclopèdia Catalana. (in Catalan) English version
  3. ^ a b c Things about the history of Andorra Archived 9 February 2010 at French Co-prince (in Catalan)
  4. ^ "Ermessenda de Castellbò". Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana. Enciclopèdia Catalana. (in Catalan) English version
  5. ^ Armengol Aleix 2009, p. 172.
  6. ^ Guillamet Anton 2009, p. 172.
  7. ^ Armengol Aleix 2009, p. 342, 343.
  8. ^ Andorra: Septicentennial for a Ministate, from Time, 30 October 1978.
  9. ^ Sarkozy threatens to renounce Andorran title.
  10. ^ Constitution of Andorra, 1:4.
  11. ^ Constitution of Andorra, 43:1-2.
  12. ^ Constitution of Andorra, Article 46.
  13. ^ Constitution of Andorra, Article 45.
  14. ^ Constitution of Andorra:45:1:E and 71:1-3.
  15. ^ Constitution of Andorra, 47.
  16. ^ Constitution of Andorra, 48.
  17. ^ Constitution of Andorra, 45:3.
  18. ^ Constitution of Andorra, 105.


  • Armengol Aleix, E. (2009). Andorra: un profund i llarg viatge (in Catalan). Andorra: Government of Andorra. ISBN 9789992005491.
  • Guillamet Anton, J. (2009). Andorra: nova aproximació a la història d'Andorra (in Catalan). Andorra: Revista Altaïr. ISBN 9788493622046.

External links

2005 Games of the Small States of Europe

The 2005 Games of the Small States of Europe, or the XIth Games of the Small States of Europe, were held in Andorra la Vella, Andorra from May 30 to June 4, 2005. Andorra la Vella previously hosted the games in 1991. Administration of the games was done jointly by the Andorran government and the Andorran Olympic Committee. Joan Enric Vives Sicília, one of the Co-Princes of Andorra, declared the games open on May 30.

2011 Andorran parliamentary election

Early parliamentary elections were held in Andorra on 3 April 2011 after the General Council of Andorra was dissolved over problems in passing important laws, including the budget and laws related to a value added tax.The Democrats for Andorra won an absolute majority of seats making Antoni Martí the prime minister-designate.

Arms of dominion

Arms of Dominion are the arms borne both by a monarch and the state in a monarchy.

In this respect they are both the national arms and the arms of the nation's monarch, who is the monarchy's sovereign, and are thus simultaneously the personal arms of the monarch and the arms of the state he or she reigns over.

Coat of arms of Andorra

The coat of arms of Andorra (Catalan: Escut d'Andorra) is the heraldic device consisting of a shield divided quarterly by the arms of the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix – who have historically been the two co-princes of Andorra – in addition to the emblems of Aragon and the Viscount of Béarn. Utilized unofficially since the Middle Ages, its status as the coat of arms of the Principality of Andorra was formalized in 1993 upon the implementation of their new constitution. The escutcheon is featured on the flag of Andorra.

Count of Foix

The Count of Foix ruled the independent County of Foix, in what is now southern France, during the Middle Ages. The House of Foix eventually extended its power across the Pyrenees mountain range, moving their court to Pau in Béarn. The last count unified with King Henry IV of France in 1607.

El Gran Carlemany

"El Gran Carlemany" (Catalan pronunciation: [əl ˈɣɾaŋ kəɾləˈmaɲ]; "The Great Charlemagne") is the national anthem of the Principality of Andorra. Enric Marfany Bons composed the music, while the lyrics were authored by Joan Benlloch i Vivó, written in a first-person narrative. It was adopted as the national anthem on September 8, 1921, which is also the national day of Andorra. The lyrics make reference to several key aspects of Andorran culture and history, such as the heritage of the Carolingian Empire.

Elections in Andorra

There are two types of elections in Andorra: parliamentary elections and local elections. The 28 members of the General Council of the Valleys (Consell General de les Valls) are elected in parliamentary elections for a maximum term of four years. In the local elections, the council members of the seven parishes of Andorra are elected for a four-year term.

Elections in Andorra are regulated since the promulgation of the Nova Reforma in 1867.


Foix (French pronunciation: ​[fwa]; Occitan: Fois [ˈfujs, ˈfujʃ]; Catalan: Foix [ˈfoʃ]) is a commune, the former capital of the County of Foix. Today it is the Préfecture of the Ariège department in southwestern France in the Occitanie region. It is the second least populous administrative centre of a department in all of France, the least-populous being Privas. Foix lies south of Toulouse, close to the border with Spain and Andorra. At the 2009 census, the city had a population of 9,861 people. It is only the second city of the department after Pamiers which is one of the two sub-prefectures. Foix is twinned with the English cathedral city of Ripon.

History of Andorra

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Principat d'Andorra), also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra (Catalan: Principat de les Valls d'Andorra), is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France.

Juan Benlloch i Vivó

Juan Baptista Benlloch i Vivó (29 December 1864 – 14 February 1926) was a Spanish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Archbishop of Burgos from 1919 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1921.

List of Co-Princes of Andorra

This is a list of Co-Princes of Andorra. For further information on the origin and development of the unique Andorran monarchial system, together with details concerning the powers and prerogatives of the Andorran co-princes, see the article Co-Princes of Andorra.

List of heads of government of Andorra

The Head of Government of the Principality of Andorra (Catalan: Cap de Govern del Principat d'Andorra), alternatively known as the Prime Minister of Andorra, is the chief executive of the government of Andorra. They are appointed by the General Council.

The position was created in 1982 after constitutional reforms separated the executive and legislative power. Òscar Ribas Reig was elected as the country's first Head of Government on 4 January 1982. The current Head of Government is Antoni Martí, who has been in office since 31 March 2015.

List of living former sovereign monarchs

This is a list of former monarchs of sovereign states who are living to date. While most monarchs retain their position for their lifetime, some choose to abdicate in favour of a younger heir, while other monarchs are deposed when their monarchies are abolished or when another ruler seizes power by force. By international courtesy, these individuals are usually still addressed by their monarchical titles.

Nemesi Marqués Oste

Nemesi Marquès Oste (born 17 May 1935) was the personal representative to Andorra of the Bishop of Urgell, who is one of the co-princes of Andorra. He is a Roman Catholic priest, and has been rector of Bellestar, a village of 55 inhabitants.He was succeeded as representative of the episcopal co-prince by Josep Maria Mauri on 20 July 2012.

New Parliament of Andorra

The New Parliament of Andorra (Catalan: Nou Parlament d'Andorra) or New General Council (Catalan: Nou Consell General) is the headquarters of the General Council of Andorra since 2011. It is located in Andorra la Vella, near the government headquarters, and it replaces the previous parliament in Casa de la Vall.

Ordinary sessions take place in the New Parliament of Andorra, whereas traditional sessions (the constitutive session or the Sant Tomàs session) take place in Casa de la Vall.

Outline of Andorra

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Andorra:

Principality of Andorra – small landlocked sovereign country located in the eastern Pyrenees Mountains of Southern Europe and bordered by Spain and France. Once isolated, it is currently a prosperous country mainly because of tourism and its status as a tax haven. The people of Andorra are currently listed as having the highest human life expectancies on Earth, at an average of 83.5 years at birth (2007 est).

Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell

The Diocese of Urgell is a Roman Catholic diocese in Catalonia (Spain) and Andorra in the historical County of Urgell, with origins in the fifth century AD or possibly earlier. It is based in the region of the historical Catalan County of Urgell, though it has different borders. The seat and Cathedral of the bishop are situated in la Seu d'Urgell town. The state of Andorra is a part of this diocese.

Among its most notable events are Bishop Felix's adoptionist revolt, the coup of Bishop Esclua and the overthrowing of the bishop by members of aristocratic families (namely Salla i Ermengol del Conflent, Eribau i Folcs dels Cardona, Guillem Guifré de Cerdanya and Ot de Pallars) between the years 981 and 1122.

Also important is the diocese's patronage of Andorra, with the bishop holding the role of ex officio Co-Prince of the Pyrenean Catalan-speaking nation jointly with the President of France (and formerly, the King of France). Andorra was ceded to the Bishop of Urgell by the Count Ermengol VI of Urgell in 1133.Up to 1802, the ecclesiastical border corresponded with the royal one established under the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. As such the 33 towns of the northern Cerdanya (now in France) came under the diocese's control.

Salvador Casañas y Pagés

Salvador Casañas y Pagés (5 September 1834 – 27 October 1908) was a Spanish cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Barcelona from 1901 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1895.

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