The Principality of Catalonia (Catalan: Principat de Catalunya, Latin: Principatus Cathaloniæ, Occitan: Principautat de Catalonha, French: Principauté de Catalogne, Spanish: Principado de Cataluña) was a medieval and early modern political entity in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. During most of its history it was in dynastic union with the Kingdom of Aragon, constituting together the Crown of Aragon. Between the 13th and the 18th centuries it was bordered by the Kingdom of Aragon to the west, the Kingdom of Valencia to the south, the Kingdom of France and the feudal lordship of Andorra to the north and by the Mediterranean sea to the east. The term "Principality of Catalonia" remained in use until the Second Spanish Republic, when its use declined because of its historical relation to the monarchy. Today, the term Principat (Principality) is used primarily to refer to the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, as distinct from the other Catalan Countries. and usually including the historical region of Roussillon in southern France.
The first reference to Catalonia and the Catalans appears in the Liber maiolichinus de gestis Pisanorum illustribus, a Pisan chronicle (written between 1117 and 1125) of the conquest of Menorca by a joint force of Italians, Catalans, and Occitans. At the time, Catalonia did not yet exist as a political entity, though the use of this term seems to acknowledge Catalonia as a cultural or geographical entity.
The counties that would eventually make up the Principality of Catalonia were gradually unified under the rule of the Count of Barcelona. In 1137, the County of Barcelona and the Kingdom of Aragon were unified under a single dynasty, creating what modern historians call the Crown of Aragon; however, Aragon and Catalonia retained their own political structure and legal traditions, developing separate political communities along the next centuries. Under Alfons I the Troubador (reigned 1164–1196), Catalonia was regarded as a legal entity for the first time. Still, the term Principality of Catalonia was not used legally until the 14th century, when it was applied to the territories ruled by the Courts of Catalonia.
Its institutional system evolved over the centuries, establishing political bodies (such as the Courts, the Generalitat or the Consell de Cent) and legislation (constitutions, derived from the Usages of Barcelona) which limited the royal power and secured the political model of pactism. Catalonia contributed to further develop the Crown trade and military, most significantly their navy. Catalan language flourished and expanded as more territories were added to the Crown, including Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples and Athens, constituting a thalassocracy across the Mediterranean. The crisis of the 14th century, the end of the rule of House of Barcelona (1410) and a civil war (1462–1472) weakened the role of the Principality in Crown and international affairs.
The marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in 1469 laid the foundations of the Monarchy of Spain. In 1492 the Spanish colonization of the Americas began, and political power began to shift away towards Castile. Tensions between Catalan institutions and the Monarchy, alongside the peasants' revolts provoked the Reapers' War (1640–1659). By the Treaty of the Pyrenees the Roussillon was ceded to France. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the Crown of Aragon supported the Archduke Charles of Habsburg. After the surrender of Barcelona in 1714, the king Philip V of Bourbon, inspired by the model of France imposed the abolutism and a unifying administration across Spain, and enacted the Nueva Planta decrees for every realm of the Crown of Aragon, which suppressed the main Catalan, Aragonese, Valencian and Majorcan political institutions and rights and merged them into the Crown of Castile as provinces.
Principality of Catalonia
Territory of the Principality of Catalonia until 1659. Location superimposed to current borders
|Status||Realm of the Crown of Aragon|
Realm of the Monarchy of Spain
Realm of the Monarchy of France
|Common languages||Catalan, Latin|
|Government||Monarchy subject to constitutions|
|Alfons I (first)|
|Charles III (last)|
|President of the Deputation of the General|
|Berenguer de Cruïlles (first)|
|Josep de Vilamala (last)|
|Historical era||Medieval / Early modern|
• Reign of Alfons I
• First Catalan constitutions
• Reign of Charles I
|Currency||Croat, Ducat, Barcelonian pound, and others|
|Today part of|| Andorra|
Like much of the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula, it was colonized by Ancient Greeks, who chose to settle in Roses. Both Greeks and Carthaginians interacted with the main Iberian population. After the Carthaginian defeat, it became, along with the rest of Hispania, a part of the Roman Empire, Tarraco being one of the main Roman posts in the Iberian Peninsula and the capital of the province of Tarraconensis.
The Visigoths ruled after the Western Roman Empire's collapse near the end of the 5th century. Moorish Al-Andalus gained control in the early 8th century, after conquering the Visigothic kingdom in 711–718. After the defeat of Emir Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqiwas's troops at Tours in 732, the Franks gradually gained control of the former Visigoth territories north of the Pyrenees, which had been captured by the Muslims or had become allied with them, in what is today Catalonia under French administration. In 795, Charlemagne created what came to be known as the Marca Hispanica, a buffer zone beyond the province of Septimania, made up of locally administered separate petty kingdoms which served as a defensive barrier between the Umayyad of Al-Andalus and the Frankish Kingdom.
A distinctive Catalan culture started to develop in the Middle Ages stemming from a number of these petty kingdoms organized as small counties throughout the northernmost part of Catalonia. The counts of Barcelona were Frankish vassals nominated by the Carolingian emperor then the king of the Franks, to whom they were feudatories (801–987). During the 9th century, Wifred the Hairy, Count of Barcelona, made its title hereditary and founded the dynasty of the House of Barcelona, which ruled Catalonia until the death of Martin I, its last member, in 1410.
In 987 Count Borrell II did not recognise the Frankish king Hugh Capet and his new dynasty, effectively taking Barcelona out of Frankish rule. During the 9th and 10th centuries, the counties increasingly became a society of aloers, peasant proprietors of small, family-based farms, who lived by subsistence agriculture and owed no formal feudal allegiance. At the start of 11th century the Catalan Counties suffer an important process of feudalisation, as the miles formed links of vassalage over this previously independent peasantry. The middle years of the century were characterized by virulent class warfare. Seigniorial violence was unleashed against the peasants, utilizing new military tactics, based on contracting well armed mercenary soldiers mounted on horses. By the end of the century, most of the aloers had been converted into vassals. During the regency of countess Ermesinde of Carcassonne the disintegration of central power was evident. The response of the Catholic Church to the feudal violence was the establishment of the sagreres around churches and the movement of Peace and Truce of God. The first assembly of Peace and Truce was presided by Abbot Oliba in Toulouges, Roussillon in 1027.
In 1137 Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, married Petronilla of Aragon, establishing the dynastic union of the County of Barcelona and its dominions with the Kingdom of Aragon, which was to create the Crown of Aragon. The reign of Ramon Berenguer IV saw the Catalan conquest of Lleida and Tortosa.
The Battle of Muret (12 September 1213) and the unexpected defeat of King Peter of Aragon and his vassals and allies, the counts of Toulouse, Comminges and Foix, resulted in the fading of the strong human, cultural and economic ties existing between the ancient territories of Catalonia and the Languedoc.
In the Treaty of Corbeil, 1258, James I of Aragon, descendant of Sunifred and Bello of Carcassonne and therefore heir of the House of Barcelona, relinquished his family rights and dominions in the Languedoc and recognized the Capetian king of France Louis IX as heir of the Carolingian Dynasty. In return, the king of France formally renounced his nominal feudal lordship over all the Catalan counties. This treaty turned the de facto independence of the Catalan counties into a full de jure, but meant the irremediable separation between the people of Catalonia and the Languedoc.
As a coastal territory within the Crown of Aragon and with the increasing importance of the port of Barcelona, Catalonia became the main centre of the Crown's maritime power, helping to expand its influence and power by conquest and trade into Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia and Sicily.
At the same time, the Principality of Catalonia developed a complex institutional and political system based on the concept of pact between the estates of the realm and the king. The laws (called constitutions) had to be approved in the General Court of Catalonia, one of the first parliamentary bodies of Europe that banned the royal power to create legislation unilaterally (since 1283). The first Catalan constitutions are of the ones from the Catalan Courts (Corts) of Barcelona from 1283. The last ones were promulgated by the Courts of 1705–1706, presided by the disputed king Charles III. The compilations of the Constitutions and other rights of Catalonia followed the Roman tradition of the Codex. This constitutions developed an advanced compilation of rights for the whole citizens of the Principality and limited the power of the kings.
The General Court of Catalonia (or Catalan Courts), dating from the 11th century, is one of the first parliaments in continental Europe. The Courts were composed by the three estates of the realm and were presided by the king of Aragon. The current Parliament of Catalonia is considered the symbolic and historic successor of this institution.
In order to recapt general taxes, the Courts of 1359 established a permanent representation of deputies, called Deputation of the General (in Catalan: Diputació del General) and later usually known as Generalitat, which gained an important political power during the next centuries.
The Principality saw a prosperous period during the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th. The population increased; Catalan language and culture expanded into the islands of the Western Mediterranean. The reign of Peter III of Aragon ("the Great") included the conquest of Sicily and the successful defense against a French crusade; his son and successor Alfonso III ("the Generous") conquered Menorca; and Peter's second son James II conquered Sardinia; Catalonia was the center of the empire. The Catalan Company, mercenaries led by Roger de Flor and formed by Almogavar veterans of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, were hired by the Byzantine Empire to fought the Turks, defeating them in several battles. After the assassination of Roger de Flor by orders of the emperor's son Michael Palaiologos (1305), the Company took revenge sacking Byzantine territory, and they founded the duchies of Athens and Neopatras in the name of the King of Aragon. Catalan rule over the Greek lands lasted until 1390.
This territorial expansion was accompanied by a great development of the Catalan trade, centered in Barcelona, creating an extensive trade network across the Mediterranean which competed with those of the maritime republics of Genoa and Venice. In this line, institutions were created that would give legal protection to merchants, such as the Consulate of the Sea and the Book of the Consulate of the Sea, one of the first compilations of maritime law.
The second quarter of the 14th century saw crucial changes for Catalonia, marked by a succession of natural catastrophes, demographic crises, stagnation and decline in the Catalan economy, and the rise of social tensions. The domains of the Aragonese Crown were severely affected by the Black Death pandemic and by later outbreaks of the plague. Between 1347 and 1497 Catalonia lost 37 percent of its population.
In 1410, King Martin I died without surviving descendants. Under the Compromise of Caspe, Ferdinand from the Castilian House of Trastámara received the Crown of Aragon as Ferdinand I of Aragon. During the reign of John II, social and political tensions caused the Catalan Civil War (1462–1472). From 1493 France formally annexed the counties of Roussillon and Cerdagne, which it had occupied during the conflict. Under his son, Ferdinand II, recovered without war the northern Catalan counties and the Constitució de l'Observança (1481) was approved, establishing the submission of royal power to the laws approved in the Catalan Courts. After decades of conflict, the peasants of remença (a mode of serfdom) were liberated from the majority of feudal abuses by the Sentencia Arbitral de Guadalupe (1486), in exchange for a payment.
The marriage of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon (1469) unified two of the three major Christian kingdoms in the Iberian peninsula, while the Kingdom of Navarre was incorporated later following Ferdinand II's 1512 invasion of the Basque kingdom.
This resulted in the reinforcement of the concept of Spain, which was already present in the mind of these kings, made up by the former Crown of Aragon, Castile, and a Navarre annexed to Castile (1515). In 1492, the last remaining portion of Al-Andalus around Granada was conquered and the Spanish conquest of the Americas began. Political power began to shift away from Aragon toward Castile and, subsequently, from Castile to the Spanish Empire, which engaged in frequent warfare in Europe striving for world domination. In 1516 Charles I of Spain became the first king to rule the Crowns of Castile and Aragon simultaneously by his own right. Following the death of his paternal (House of Habsburg) grandfather, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, he was also elected Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1519. The reign of Charles V was a relative harmonious period, during which Catalonia generally accepted the new structure of Spain, despite its own marginalization.
For an extended period, Catalonia, as part of the late Crown of Aragon, continued to retain its own laws and constitutions but these gradually eroded in the course of the transition from a contractual territory to a centralized dominions and the king's struggle to get from the territories as much of the power as possible until they were finally suppressed as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession defeat.
Over the next two centuries, Catalonia was generally on the losing side of a series of wars that led steadily to more centralization of power in Spain. Despite this fact, between the 16th and 18th centuries, the role of the political community in local affairs and the general government of the country was increased, while the royal powers remained relatively restricted, specially after the two last Courts (1701–1702 and 1705–1706). Tensions between the constitutional Catalan institutions and the gradually more centralized Monarchy, alongside other factors such as the economic crisis, the presence of soldiers and the peasants' revolts caused different conflicts, such as the Reapers' War, also called Catalan Revolt (1640–1652), in the context of the Franco-Spanish War, in which Catalonia, led by the president of the Generalitat, Pau Claris, declared itself an independent republic under French protection in 1641, and later again as a principality of the Monarchy of France, but the Catalans were finally defeated and reincorporated into the Crown of Spain in 1652.
In 1659, after the Treaty of the Pyrenees signed by Philip IV of Spain, the comarques (counties) of Roussillon, Conflent, Vallespir and part of la Cerdanya, now known as French Cerdagne, were ceded to France. In recent times, this area has come to be known by nationalist political parties in Catalonia as Northern Catalonia (Roussillon in French), part of the Catalan-spoken territories known as Catalan Countries.
Catalan institutions were suppressed in this part of the territory and public use of Catalan language was prohibited. Currently, this region is administratively part of French Départment of Pyrénées-Orientales.
In the last decades of the 17th century during the reign of Spain's last Habsburg king, Charles II, despite intermittent conflict between Spain and France, the population increased to approximately 500.000 inhabitants and the Catalan economy recovered. This economic growth was boosted by the export of wine to England and the Dutch Republic, this countries were involved in the Nine Years' War against France, as a consequence, there weren't able to trade with French wine. This new trade caused many Catalans to look to England and, especially, the Netherlands as political and economic models for Catalonia.
At the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, in which the Catalans and its army, alongside the other realms of the Crown of Aragon, supported the unsuccessful claim of the Archduke Charles of Austria as Charles III of Spain, the victorious Bourbon Duke of Anjou, now Philip V, occupied the capital of Catalonia after a long siege on 11 September 1714 and in 1716 signed the Nueva Planta decrees, which abolished the Crown of Aragon and all remaining Catalan institutions and laws (except the civil law) and prohibited the administrative use of Catalan language.
So late as in the 18th and 19th centuries, despite the military occupation, the imposition of high new taxes and the political economy of the House of Bourbon, the Catalonia under Spanish administration (now as a province) continued the process of proto-industrialization, relatively helped at the end of the century from the beginning of open commerce to America and protectionist policies enacted by the Spanish government (although the policy of Spanish government during those times changed many times between free trade and protectionism), consolidating the new economic growth model that was taking place in Catalonia since the end of the 17th century, becoming a center of Spain's industrialization; to this day it remains one of the most industrialized parts of Spain, along with Madrid and the Basque Country. In 1834, by decree of minister Javier de Burgos, all of Spain was organized into provinces, included Catalonia, which was divided in four provinces without a common administration.
On several occasions during the first third of the 20th century, Catalonia gained and lost varying degrees of autonomy, recovering, after the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, the Generalitat as an institution of self-government, but as in most regions of Spain, Catalan autonomy and culture were crushed to an unprecedented degree after the defeat of the Second Spanish Republic (founded in 1931) in the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) which brought Francisco Franco to power. Public use of the Catalan language was again banned after a brief period of general recuperation.
The Franco era ended with Franco's death in 1975; in the subsequent Spanish transition to democracy, Catalonia recovered political and cultural autonomy. It became one of the autonomous communities of Spain. In comparison, "Northern Catalonia" in France has no autonomy.
The vegueria was a territorial organization of Catalonia headed by a veguer (Latin: vigerius). The origins of the vegueria go back to the era of the Carolingian Empire, when vicars (Latin: vicarii, singular vicarius) were installed beneath the counts in the Marca Hispanica. The office of a vicar was a vicariate (Latin: vicariatus) and his territory was a vicaria. All these Latin terms of Carolingian administration evolved in the Catalan language.
The veguer was appointed by the king and was accountable to him. He was the military commander of his vegueria (and thus keeper of the publicly owned castles), the chief justice of the same district, and the man in charge of the public finances (the fisc) of the region entrusted to him. As time wore on, the functions of the veguer became more and more judicial in nature. He held a cort (court) del veguer or de la vegueria with its own seal. The cort had authority in all matter save those relating to the feudal aristocracy. It commonly heard pleas of the crown, civil, and criminal cases. The veguer did, however, retain some military functions as well: he was the commander of the militia and the superintendent of royal castles. His job was law and order and the maintenance of the king's peace: in many respects an office analogous to that of the sheriff in England.
Some of the larger vegueries included one or more sotsvegueries (subvigueries), which had a large degree of autonomy. At the end of the twelfth century in Catalonia, there were twelve vegueries. By the end of the reign of Peter the Great (1285) there were seventeen, and by the time of James the Just there were twenty one. After the French annexion of the vegueries of Perpignan and Vilafranca de Conflent in 1659, Catalonia was divided into 15 vegueries, 9 sotsvegueries and the special district of the Val d'Aran. These administrative divisions remained until 1716, when they were replaced by the Castilian corregimientos.
As State under royal sovereignty, Catalonia, like the other political entities of the period, didn't have an own flag or coat of arms in the modern sense. However, many royal and other symbols were used in order to identify the Principality and its institutions.
|The Senyera is one of the oldest flags in Europe to be used in present-day (but not in continuous use). There are several theories advocating either a Catalan or Aragonese origin for the symbol. It was usually used in the early modern period as the flag that identified the Principality of Catalonia.|
|St George's flag, used by the Deputation of the General or Generalitat and its army.|
|Flag of Barcelona, capital of the Principality, replaced during the last times by the Saint Eulalia's flag. It also appears in some maps as the flag that identified the Principality of Catalonia.|
|Royal arms of the king of Aragon and count of Barcelona until the 16th century.|
|The arms with the Aragonese crown of the early modern period.|
|St George Cross as ensign of the Deputation of the General or Generalitat.|
The counts of Barcelona were commonly considered the princeps or primus inter pares ("the first among equals") by the other counts of the Spanish March, both because of their military and economic power, and the supremacy of Barcelona over other cities.
Thus, the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer I, is called "Prince of Barcelona, Count of Girona and Marchis of Ausona" (princeps Barchinonensis, comes Gerundensis, marchio Ausonensis) in the Act of Consecration of the Cathedral of Barcelona (1058). There are also several references to the Prince in different sections of the Usages of Barcelona, the collection of laws that ruled the county since the early 11th century. Usage #64 calls principatus the group of counties of Barcelona, Girona, and Ausona, all of them under the authority of the count of Barcelona.
The first reference to the Principatus Cathaloniae is found in the convocation of Courts in Perpignan in 1350, presided by the king Peter IV of Aragon and III of Barcelona. It was intended to indicate that the territory under the laws produced by those Courts was not a kingdom, but the enlargement of the territory under the authority of the Count of Barcelona, who was also the king of Aragon, as seen in the "Actas de las cortes generales de la Corona de Aragón 1362–1363". However, there seems to be an older reference, in a more informal context, in Ramon Muntaner's chronicles.
As the Count of Barcelona and the Courts added more counties under his jurisdiction, such as the County of Urgell, the name of "Catalonia", which comprised several counties of different names including the County of Barcelona, was used for the whole. The terms Catalonia and catalans were commonly used to refer to the territory in Northeastern Spain and western Mediterranean France, as well as its inhabitants, and not just the county of Barcelona, at least since the beginnings of the 12th century, as shown in the earliest recordings of these names in the Liber Maiolichinus (around 1117–1125).
The name "Principality of Catalonia" is abundant in historical documentation that refers to Catalonia between mid-fourteenth century and early nineteenth century. According to research carried out in recent decades, is considered to be in the second half of the twelfth century when the Catalan counties form a unified and cohesive political entity, -although jurisdictionally divided- called "Catalonia". This happens because the counts of Barcelona became the one hand, the majority of sovereigns Catalan Counties and the other hand kings of Aragon, which helped them prevail in the rest of autonomous Catalan counts (Pallars, Urgell and Empúries) if they were not in their feudal vassals, while also incorporated its extensive domain the Islamic territories of Tortosa and Lleida. The political entity resulting from this process since the thirteenth century, was repeatedly mentioned the term "kingdom" as a medieval state, i.e. public domain political regime monarchist government.
However, it consolidated this denomination officially, because, for various historical reasons, the rulers of the Kingdom of Aragon never uses the title "King of Catalonia." This is where comes in the use of the term "principality", since at least since the twelfth century, the word was synonymous total term "kingdom" which alluded generically political entities which categorize historiographically the expression "Medieval States". Yet it was not until the fourteenth century -specifically, since 1350- that, greetings to work of Peter III of Aragon, the Principality of Catalonia became an official and popular name. This political entity was part of some composite monarchies or dynastic conglomerates as the Crown of Aragon, the Spanish Monarchy and the Kingdom of France (1641–1652), being on an equal footing with other political communities of the time, or external in relation to such great empires, as were the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Valencia, England or the Duchy of Milan for to mention a few.
Following the Nueva Planta decrees of 1716 at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) and the subsequent dismantling of Catalan institutional system, the territory being annexed to Castile became a province of the new and more unified Kingdom of Bourbon Spain, but "principality" continued to be the definition of the territory, as witness the Nueva Planta decrees created the Royal Audience of the Principality of Catalonia in 1716. This situation remained until the Kingdom of Spain was transformed permanently, despite several Carlist Wars, into a liberal state in 1833, when Secretary Javier de Burgos eliminated the province of the Principality of Catalonia, dividing the territory in four provinces that still exist. Thus, the term disappeared from the administrative and political reality of the country.
Neither the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, Spanish Constitution nor French Constitution, mention this denomination, but, despite most of them being republican, it is moderately popular among Catalan nationalists and independentists.
Catalonia constitutes the original nucleus where Catalan is spoken. The Catalan language shares common traits with the Romance languages of Iberia and Gallo-Romance languages of southern France, it is regarded by a minority of linguists as being an Ibero-Romance language (the group that includes Spanish), and by a majority as a Gallo-Romance language, such as French or Occitan from which Catalan diverged between 11th and 14th centuries.
By the 9th century, Catalan had evolved from Vulgar Latin on both sides of the eastern end of the Pyrenees. From the 8th century on, the Catalan counts extended their territory southwards and westwards, conquering territories then occupied by Muslims, bringing their language with them. In the 11th century, feudal documents written in macaronic Latin begin to show Catalan elements. By the end of the 11th century, documents written completely or mostly in Catalan begin to appear, like the Complaints of Guitard Isarn, Lord of Caboet (ca. 1080–1095), or The Oath of peace and truce of count Pere Ramon (1098).
Catalan lived a golden age during the Late Middle Ages, reaching a peak of maturity and cultural plenitude, and expanded territorially as more lands were added to the dominions of the Crown of Aragon. Examples of this can be seen in the works of Majorcan Ramon Llull (1232–1315), the Four Great Chronicles (13th-14th centuries), and the Valencian school of poetry which culminated in Ausiàs March (1397–1459). Catalan became the language of the Kingdom of Majorca, as well the main language of the Kingdom of Valencia, particularly in coastal areas. It was also extended to Sardinia and it was used as an administrative language in Sicily and Athens. Between the 13th and 15th centuries this language was present all over the Mediterranean world, and it was one of the first basis of the Lingua Franca
The belief that political splendor was correlated with linguistic consolidation was voiced through the Royal Chancery, which promoted a highly standardized language. By the 15th century, the city of Valencia had become the center of social and cultural dynamism. The novel of chivalry Tirant lo Blanc (1490), by Joanot Martorell, shows the transition from medieval to Renaissance values, something than can also be seen in the works of Bernat Metge and Andreu Febrer. During this period, Catalan remained as one of the 'great languages' of medieval Europe. The first book produced with movable type in the Iberian Peninsula was printed in Catalan.
With the union of the crowns of Castille and Aragon (1479), the use of Castilian (Spanish) gradually became more prestigious and marked the start of the relative decline of the Catalan. Along the 16th and 17 centuries, Catalan literature came under the influence of Spanish, and the urban and literary classes became largely bilingual. The defeat of the pro-Habsburg coalition in the War of Spanish Succession (1714) Spanish replaced Catalan in legal documentation, becoming the administrative and political language in the Principality of Catalonia and kingdoms of Valencia and Majorca.
Today, Catalan is one of the three official languages of autonomous community of Catalonia, as stated in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy; the other two are Spanish, and Occitan in its Aranese variety. Catalan has no official recognition in "Northern Catalonia". Catalan has official status alongside Spanish in the Balearic Islands and in the Land of Valencia (where it is called Valencian), as well as Algherese Catalan alongside Italian in the city of Alghero and in Andorra as the sole official language.
The Catalan Courts or General Court of Catalonia (Catalan: Corts Catalanes or Cort General de Catalunya) was the policymaking and parliamentary body of the Principality of Catalonia from the 13th to the 18th century. The courts were made up of three arms or estates: the military estate which included representatives from the nobility, the ecclesiastical estate which saw representatives from the religious hierarchy and the royal estate which had representatives from the municipalities. The courts were summoned by the king who opened with a royal proclamation while the arms were in charge of legislating, always with the support of the sovereign. If the laws that were approved came from the king they received the name of "Constitutions", if they came from the Estates, "Court Chapters". If the king passed a law unilaterally it was called "Acts of Courts" and required ratification by the courts.
It is comparable to similar institutions across Europe, such as the Parliament of England and the Diets (German: Landtage) of the German "lands".
The General Courts of the Crown of Aragon were the simultaneous meeting of the Courts of Aragon, Valencian Courts and the Courts of Catalonia. The Kingdom of Majorca did not convene Courts and thus sent their representatives to the Courts of the Principality. As the courts could not be held outside of Aragon nor the Principality, they were frequently held in Monzón or in Fraga, Aragonese towns which lay equidistant between Zaragoza and Barcelona.
Unlike the Courts of Castile of the time which functioned only as an advisory body to which the king granted privileges and exemptions, the Catalan Courts was a regulatory body, as their decisions had the force of law, in the sense that the king could not unilaterally revoke them.Catalan Republic (1641)
The Catalan Republic (Catalan: República Catalana, IPA: [rəˈpubːlikə kətəˈlanə]) was a short-lived independent state under French protection proclaimed in 1641 by the States-General of Catalonia led by Pau Claris, during the Reaper's War.The States-General of Catalonia, headed by the President of the Deputation of the General of Catalonia (or Generalitat) Pau Claris, proclaimed the Catalan Republic on January 17, 1641. On January 23, 1641, the Braços Generals led by Pau Claris proclaimed Louis XIII of France as Count of Barcelona, putting the Principality of Catalonia under French sovereignty. Louis XIII was succeeded upon his death in 1643 by Louis XIV (the 'Sun King'), who remained Count of Barcelona until 1652, when Catalonia was reincorporated into the Spanish Monarchy.Catalan constitutions
The Catalan constitutions (Catalan: Constitucions catalanes, IPA: [kunstitusiˈons kətəˈlanəs]) were the laws of the Principality of Catalonia promulgated by the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona and approved by the Catalan Courts. The Corts in Catalan have the same origin as courts in English (the sovereign's councillors or retinue) but instead meaning the legislature. The first constitutions were promulgated by the Corts of 1283. The last ones were promulgated by the Corts of 1705. They had pre-eminence over the other legal rules and could only be revoked by the Catalan Courts themselves. The compilations of the constitutions and other rights of Catalonia followed the Roman tradition of the Codex.Consell de Cent
The Consell de Cent (Catalan pronunciation: [kunˈsɛʎ də ˈsen], meaning in English "Council of One Hundred") was a governmental institution of Barcelona. It was established in the 13th century and lasted until the 18th century.
Its name derives from the number of its members: one hundred (Catalan: cent).
In 1249, James I created the fundamental structure of the municipal government of Barcelona: a board of advice of 4 members, helped by 8 counselors and an assembly of probi homines (leaders), all them members of the mà major (Catalan for senior hand, or the upper class formed by wealthy merchants).
After several modifications, by the year 1265, the municipal organization gained its more permanent structure: the municipal authority rested on 3 counselors elected by a Council of one hundred individuals.
In year 1335, Peter III the Ceremonious permitted the Consell de Cent to use the royal insignia of the four (red) bars.
The importance of the Consell de Cent in the history and the government of the Principality of Catalonia is supported by many examples. For instance, in year 1464 it proclaimed Peter V of Aragon (known as Peter the Constable of Portugal) as count of Barcelona. Another example is the rejection by the Consell de Cent of Martin the Humane's foundation on January 10, 1401 of the General Medical School in Barcelona with the same prerogatives as the University of Montpellier, because they felt this encroached on their municipal jurisdiction. This ultimately led to the creation of the University of Barcelona in 1450.
In the last decades of the 17th century it was represented in the Conferència dels Tres Comuns (in Catalan: Conference of the Three Commons). The Consell de Cent was abolished by Philip V of Spain with the Decretos de Nueva Planta upon his occupation of Barcelona after the Siege of Barcelona in 1714. Since that moment, the new government of the city was controlled directly by the monarchy.
A main street in the city of Barcelona, the Carrer (street) del Consell de Cent, is named after this institution (before 1978 it was known as Calle del Consejo de Ciento, in Spanish).Consulate of the Sea
The Consulate of the Sea (Catalan: Consolat de mar; pronounced [kunsuˈlad də ˈmaɾ]) was a quasi-judicial body set up in the Crown of Aragon, later to spread throughout the Mediterranean basin, to administer maritime and commercial law. The term may also refer to a celebrated collection of maritime customs and ordinances in Catalan language, also known in English as The Customs of the Sea, compiled over the 14th and 15th centuries and published at Valencia in or before 1494.
In the 21st century, the Catalan term Consolat de mar is today used for a commercial arbitration service operated by the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, and also for a series of trade-promotion offices operated by the city of Barcelona.County of Barcelona
The County of Barcelona (Latin: Comitatus Barcinonensis, Catalan: Comtat de Barcelona) was originally a frontier region under the rule of the Carolingian dynasty. By the end of the 10th century, the Counts of Barcelona were de facto independent, hereditary rulers in constant warfare with the Islamic Caliphate of Córdoba and its successor states. The counts, through marriage alliances and treaties, acquired the other Catalan counties and extended their influence along Occitania. In 1164, the count of Barcelona, Alphons I, inherited the Kingdom of Aragon (as Alphons II). Thenceforward, the history of the county of Barcelona is subsumed within that of the Crown of Aragon, but the city of Barcelona remained preeminent within it.County of Cerdanya
The County of Cerdanya (Catalan: Comtat de Cerdanya, IPA: [kumˈtad də səɾˈðaɲə]; Latin: Comitatus Ceritaniae; Spanish: Condado de Cerdaña, French: Comté de Cerdagne) was one of the Catalan counties formed in the last decades of the 8th century by the Franks in the Marca Hispanica. The original Cerdanya consisted of the valley of the upper Segre. Today Cerdanya is a Catalan comarca.County of Empúries
The County of Empúries (Catalan: Comtat d'Empúries, IPA: [kumˈtad dəmˈpuɾiəs]), also known as the County of Ampurias (Spanish: Condado de Ampurias), was a medieval county centred on the town of Empúries and enclosing the Catalan region of Peralada. It corresponds to the historic comarca of Empordà.
After the Franks conquered the regions in 785, Empúries and Peralada came under the authority of the County of Girona. Around 813, Empúries, with Peralada, became a separate county under Ermenguer. He and the other early counts were probably of Visigothic origin. In 817, Empúries was merged with the County of Roussillon, a union which lasted until 989. One of the ninth-century counts of Empúries assembled a fleet powerful enough to conquer the Balearic Islands, but only for a brief time. From 835 to 844, Sunyer I ruled Empúries and Peralada while Alaric I ruled Roussillon and Vallespir.
At the death of Gausfred I in 989, Roussillon and Empúries were separated. Gausfred's elder son Hugh I received Empúries while Giselbert I received Roussillon. Hugh's comital dynasty lasted until 1322, when Empúries passed to a collateral branch of his family. The last count, Hugh VI, sold the county to Peter IV of Ribagorza in 1325 in exchange for the barony of Pego and the towns of Xaló and Laguar, all located within the Kingdom of Valencia. Peter later traded it with Ramon Berenguer d'Aragona for the county of Prades in 1341. From that point on, Empúries was an apanage of the Crown of Aragon.
In a letter of December 1002, Pope Sylvester II confirmed the county of Empúries and the "county of Pedralbes" as a part of the diocese of Girona. The latter is probably to be identified with the Peralada region in the north of Empúries. A portion of the "taxes of the port", consisting of dues and anchorage, were passed on to the diocese.County of Roussillon
The County of Roussillon (Catalan: Comtat de Rosselló, IPA: [kumˈtad də rusəˈʎo], Latin: Comitatus Ruscinonensis) was one of the Catalan counties in the Marca Hispanica during the Middle Ages. The rulers of the county were the Counts of Roussillon, whose interests lay both north and south of the Pyrenees.County of Urgell
The County of Urgell (Catalan: Comtat d'Urgell, IPA: [kumˈtad duɾˈʒeʎ]; Latin: Comitatus Urgellensis) is one of the historical Catalan counties, bordering on the counties of Pallars and Cerdanya.House of Barcelona
The House of Barcelona was a medieval dynasty that ruled the County of Barcelona continuously from 878 and the Crown of Aragon from 1137 (as kings from 1162) until 1410. They descend from the Bellonids, the descendants of Wifred the Hairy. They inherited most of the Catalan counties by the thirteenth century and established a territorial Principality of Catalonia, uniting it with the Kingdom of Aragon through marriage and conquering numerous other lands and kingdoms until the death of the last legitimate male of the main branch, Martin the Humanist, in 1410. Cadet branches of the house continued to rule Urgell (since 992) and Gandia. Cadet branches of the dynasty had also ruled Ausona intermittently from 878 until 1111, Provence from 1112 to 1245, and Sicily from 1282 to 1409. By the Compromise of Caspe of 1412 the Crown of Aragon passed to a branch of the House of Trastámara, descended from the infanta Eleanor of the house of Barcelona.Kingdom of Aragon
The Kingdom of Aragon (Aragonese: Reino d'Aragón, Catalan: Regne d'Aragó, Latin: Regnum Aragonum, Spanish: Reino de Aragón) was a medieval and early modern kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding to the modern-day autonomous community of Aragon, in Spain. It should not be confused with the larger Crown of Aragon, that also included other territories — the Principality of Catalonia (which included the County of Barcelona and the other Catalan Counties), the Kingdom of Valencia, the Kingdom of Majorca, and other possessions that are now part of France, Italy, and Greece — that were also under the rule of the King of Aragon, but were administered separately from the Kingdom of Aragon.
In 1479, upon John II of Aragon’s death, the crowns of Aragon and Castile were united to form the nucleus of modern Spain. The Aragonese lands, however, retained autonomous parliamentary and administrative institutions, such as the Corts, until the Nueva Planta decrees, promulgated between 1707 and 1715 by Philip V of Spain in the aftermath of the War of the Spanish Succession, finally put an end to it.List of viceroys of Catalonia
This is a list of Spanish viceroys (also called lieutenants) of the Principality of Catalonia from 1479 to 1713.
1479–1493: Enrique de Aragón
1493–1495: Juan de Lanuza y Garabito
1495–1496: Juan Fernández de Heredia
1496–1501: Juan de Aragón, Conde de Ribagorza
1501–1514: Jaime de Luna
1514–1521: Alonso de Aragón, Archbishop of Zaragoza
1521–1523: Pere Folc de Cardona, Archbishop of Tarragona
1523–1525: Antonio de Zúñiga, Prior of Castile, Order of Saint John of Jerusalem
1525–1539: Fadrique de Portugal y Noroña, Bishop of Sigüenza
1539–1543: Saint Francis Borgia, 4th Duke of Gandia, 3rd General Father of the Jesuit Order
1543–1554: Juan Fernández Manrique de Lara, Marqués de Aguilar de Campoo
1554–1558: Pedro Afán de Ribera, Duque de Alcalá
1558–1564: García Álvarez de Toledo, 4th Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo
1564–1571: Diego Hurtado de Mendoza y de la Cerda
1571–1580: Fernando de Toledo
1580–1581: Francisco de Moncada y Folc de Cardona, Marqués de Aytona
1581–1583: Carlo d'Aragona Tagliavia
1583–1586: Juan de Zúñiga y Avellaneda, Conde de Miranda del Castañar
1586–1590: Manrique de Lara y Girón, Conde de Valencia de Don Juan
1590–1592: Pedro Luis Galcerán de Borja y de Castro-Pinós
1592–1596: Bernardino de Cárdenas y Portugal, Duque de Maqueda
1596–1602: Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa y Córdoba, Duque de Feria
1602–1603: Joan Terès i Borrull, Archbishop of Tarragona
1603–1611: Héctor de Pignatelli y Colonna, Duque de Monteleón
1611–1611: Pedro Manrique, Bishop of Tortosa
1611–1615: Francisco Hurtado de Mendoza, Marqués de Almazán
1615–1619: Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 7th Duke of Alburquerque
1619–1622: Fernando Afán de Ribera y Téllez-Girón, 3rd Duke of Alcalá de los Gazules
1622–1626: Juan Sentís, Bishop of Barcelona
1626–1627: Luis Diez de Aux de Armendáriz, Bishop of Urgel
1627–1629: Miguel Santos de San Pedro, Bishop of Solsona
1629–1630: Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, 3rd Duke of Feria
1630–1632: Enrique de Aragón Folc de Cardona y Córdoba
1632–1633: Cardinal-Infante Fernando de Austria
1633–1638: Enrique de Aragón Folc de Cardona y Córdoba (2nd time)
1638–1640: Dalmau de Queralt, Count of Santa Coloma
1640–1640: García Gil Manrique, Bishop of Barcelona
1640–1640: Enrique de Aragón Folc de Cardona y Córdoba (3rd time)
1640–1642: Pedro Fajardo Requesens y Zúñiga, Marqués de los Vélez
1642–1644: Pedro Antonio de Aragón
1642–1644: Felipe de Silva
1644–1645: Andrea Cantelmo
1645–1647: Diego Felipez de Guzmán, Marquis of Leganés
1647–1648: Guillermo Ramón de Moncada, Marqués de Aytona
1648–1650: Juan de Garay
1650–1653: Francisco de Orozco, Marqués de Mortara
1653–1656: John of Austria the Younger
1656–1663: Francisco de Orozco, Marqués de Mortara (2nd time)
1663–1664: Francisco de Moura y Corterreal, Marqués de Castel Rodrigo
1664–1667: Vicente de Gonzaga y Doria
1667–1669: Gaspar Téllez-Girón, 5th Duke de Osuna
1669–1673: Francisco Fernández de Córdoba, Duque de Sessa
1673–1675: Francisco de Tutavilla y del Rufo, Duque de San Germán
1675–1676: Juan Antonio Pacheco Osorio Toledo, Marqués de Cerralbo
1676–1677: Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma
1677–1678: Juan Domingo Méndez de Haro y Fernández de Córdoba
1678–1678: Diego Dávila Mesía y Guzmán, 3rd Marquis of Leganés
1678–1685: Alejandro de Bournonville, Duque de Bournonville
1685–1688: Diego Dávila Mesía y Guzmán, 3rd Marquis of Leganés (2nd time)
1688–1688: Juan Tomás Enríquez de Cabrera, Conde de Melga
1688–1690: Carlos de Gurrea Aragón y Borja, Duque de Villahermosa
1690–1693: Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, Duque de Medina Sidonia
1693–1694: Juan Manuel Fernández Pacheco, 8th Marquis of Villena
1694–1696: Francisco Antonio de Agurto, Marquis of Gastañaga
1696–1698: Francisco de Velasco y Tovar, Conde de Melgar
1698–1701: Jorge de Darmstadt, Landgrave of HesseDuring the War of the Spanish Succession, Catalonia was contested between the Bourbons and Habsburgs.
Viceroys named by Philip V of Spain:
1702–1703: Luis Fernández de Portocarrero, Conde de Palma
1703–1705: Francisco de Velasco y Tovar, Conde de Melgar (2nd time)
1705–1706: José Antonio de Mendoza, 3rd Marquis of Villagarcía
1706–1719: Claude François Bidal d'AsfeldViceroys named by Archduke Charles:
1711–1712: Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
1713–1713: Guido StarhembergIn 1713, by the Nueva Planta decrees, King Philip V of Spain replace the function Viceroy of Catalonia, by that of Captain General of Catalonia.Northern Catalonia
Northern Catalonia (Catalan: Catalunya del Nord [kətəˈluɲə ðəl ˈnɔɾt], also known as Catalunya Nord French: Catalogne Nord [katalɔɲ nɔʁ]), French Catalonia or Roussillon refers to the Catalan-speaking and Catalan-culture territory ceded to France by Spain through the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 in exchange of France's effective renunciation on the formal protection given to the recent founded Catalan Republic. The area corresponds exactly to the modern French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales which were historically part of Catalonia since the old County of Barcelona, and lasted during the times of the Crown of Aragon and the Principality of Catalonia until they were given to France by Spain.
The equivalent term in French, Catalogne Nord, is used nowadays, although less often than the more politically neutral Roussillon (the French word for Catalan: Rosselló).Reapers' War
The Reapers' War (Catalan: Guerra dels Segadors, Eastern Catalan: [ˈɡɛrə ðəls səɣəˈðos], Spanish: Guerra de los Segadores), also known as Catalan Revolt was a conflict that affected a large part of the Principality of Catalonia between the years of 1640 and 1659. It had an enduring effect in the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), which ceded the County of Roussillon and the northern half of the County of Cerdanya to France (see French Cerdagne), splitting these northern Catalan territories off from the Principality of Catalonia and the Crown of Aragon, and thereby receding the borders of Spain to the Pyrenees.Siege of Tortosa (1708)
The Siege of Tortosa was a siege of the city of Tortosa (then in the Principality of Catalonia) from 12 June to 8 July 1708 during the War of the Spanish Succession. It pitched a Franco-Spanish force of 28,000 under the Duke of Orleans and Antoni de Villarroel against a combined Catalan and British force of 5,140 infantry and 70 cavalry under Ignasi Minguella, Francesc Montagut and general Jones. It ended in the Franco-Spanish force conclusively taking the town and as a result ending the occupation of Valencia.Treaty of the Pyrenees
The Treaty of the Pyrenees (French: Traité des Pyrénées, Spanish: Tratado de los Pirineos, Catalan: Tractat dels Pirineus, Portuguese: Tratado dos Pirenéus) was signed on 7 November 1659 to end the 1635–1659 war between France and Spain, a war that was initially a part of the wider Thirty Years' War. It was signed on Pheasant Island, a river island on the border between the two countries which has remained a French-Spanish condominium since the treaty. The kings Louis XIV of France and Philip IV of Spain were represented by their chief ministers, Cardinal Mazarin and Don Luis Méndez de Haro, respectively.Usages of Barcelona
The Usages of Barcelona (Catalan: Usatges de Barcelona, IPA: [uˈzadʒəz ðə βəɾsəˈlonə]; Latin: Usatici Barchinonae) were the customs that form the basis for the Catalan Constitutions. They are the fundamental laws and basic rights of Catalonia, dating back to their codification in the twelfth century.
The Usages combined fragments of Roman and Visigothic law with the resolutions of the comital court of Barcelona and the religious canons of ecclesiastic synods. The first Usages were compiled and codified by Ramon Berenguer I, Count of Barcelona (1035–1076), to repair the deficiencies of Gothic law. However, the evidence for Ramon's work dates from the codes of James the Conqueror of a later date (reigned 1213–1276). James, seeing that some judges ruled by Gothic law and some by Roman law, according to a tradition of usus terrae (local custom), approached the Catalan Courts in 1251 to establish the primacy of the Usages. Though the Usages applied legally only to the Barcelonan county, in practice they were applied to the entire Principality of Catalonia.
The Usages incorporated several other competing codes of the same era:
Usages of Girona
Customs of Lleida
Customs of Tortosa
Furs of Valencia
Franquesas of Majorca
Chapter of Athens and NeopatriaThe oldest manuscript containing the Usages dates from the end of the 12th century. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, they were copied frequently. The Nueva Planta decrees superseded them with the central legislation of the Bourbons, though continued to have some force.Vegueria
The vegueria (Catalan pronunciation: [bəɣəˈɾi.ə]; pl. vegueries) was the feudal administrative territorial jurisdiction of the Principality of Catalonia (to the Crown of Aragon) during the Middle Ages and into the Modern Era until the Nueva Planta decrees of 1716. The vegueria was headed by a veguer (Latin: vigerius) and its office was called a vigeriate (Latin: vigeriatus).
Vegueries were also in place during the Crown of Aragon dominion of Sardinia, and –briefly– during the same in the Duchy of Athens .
European Middle Ages by region
of current political units