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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Principal among them were the bishops of Gerona


[Sidenote:

The Catalan _Cortes_.]

The _Cortes_ continued to meet separately from that of Aragon and to be chiefly important for its grant or refusal of taxes. The third estate (representatives of the towns) endeavored to establish its right to participate with the king in legislation, but the latter made laws independently of the _Cortes_ as before. When the _Cortes_ was not in session, it was represented by the general deputation, or _Generalitat_, usually made up of three members, or one for each branch of the _Cortes_. In addition to keeping watch to see that the laws were strictly observed, the deputation had certain police powers, including the defence of the principality, and other less notable administrative functions. The general _Cortes_ of the entire realm held occasional meetings, as did also a new _Cortes_ for the Mediterranean possessions of the kingdom (Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples).

[Sidenote: Legislation in Catalonia.]

[Sidenote: Administration in general.]

Legislation was characterized by the variety of jurisdictions of former years, but the number of grants of new municipal charters diminished greatly, and the general decrees of the kings increased. If this manifested a tendency toward unity, the citation of the principles of the Roman law did so even more. This had already proved influential in the preceding era, but it did

not establish itself securely until the fifteenth century. There was a strong sentiment in its favor in Catalonia, and Pedro IV ordered its study and its use in cases at law. Finally it was established in the _Cortes_ of 1409 that the Roman and canon law might be cited as supplementary law after certain other specified legal sources. Like the adoption of the _Partidas_ in Castile (in 1348) this meant an ultimate, complete victory for the Roman principles. In most other respects the administration of justice in Catalonia followed the course already described for Castile. In financial history the only features worthy of note were the development of a system of taxation by the deputation of Catalonia, whereby it met its own expenses and provided funds for the grants to the king, and the growth of a system of municipal finance in Barcelona on a scale in keeping with its extensive power. In both military and naval affairs the authority of the deputation was the most striking element. This body merely loaned the army and navy to the king, specifying the cases when the loan was allowable. The principal military force was that of the municipal militia, although the seigniorial levies still formed part of the army. In addition to the flotilla of the deputation there were the navies of the king, of the corporation of merchants of the city of Barcelona, and of private individuals or towns. The most persistent enemies in the Mediterranean were pirates, both the Moslems of northern Africa, and the Christians from Majorca, southern France, Italy, and Catalonia itself. Towers were built and a messenger service developed to advise of the presence of pirates, but the evil was not eliminated.

[Sidenote: Power of the great prelates.]

The general relaxation in the customs and discipline of churchmen already mentioned in the case of Castile and the course of ecclesiastical history described for Aragon apply equally to the church of Catalonia. The most noteworthy characteristic in the relations of the church and state was the continuation of the feudal authority of the more powerful prelates. Principal among them were the bishops of Gerona, whose dominions and wealth in personalty were greatly increased in this period. As they were virtual monarchs on their lands, they were able to challenge the authority of neighboring nobles or of the kings themselves, and they oppressed the people. Their scant respect for the royal power was often displayed; on one occasion they compelled two of the highest officials of the kingdom to walk through the streets of Gerona in the garb of criminals, submitting all the while to a beating, and made them ascend the long stairway fronting the cathedral on their knees, wearing only a shirt, and carrying a candle. Several of the bishops were banished, and even the nobles joined the kings against the ecclesiastical lords. The Franciscans and Dominicans opposed the bishops and abbots, but although they had popular sympathy in their favor they did not have an equal political influence, since they were not represented in the _Cortes_. The power of the great churchmen was not materially diminished, but the last bishop of Gerona in the era was a strong partisan of the king.


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