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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

By 797 Gerona had been reconquered


_Kingdoms of Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia_

[Sidenote: The Christian reconquest of Catalonia.]

In essentials, the social organization of north central and northeastern Spain was not greatly different from that of the northwest. Navarre and Catalonia were considerably affected by French influence,--Aragon less so. The details for Navarre and Aragon are in any event obscure or lacking. The Moslem invasion caused an emigration of the people of Catalonia across the Pyrenees, with the result that most of the territory remained deserted for two centuries. By 797 Gerona had been reconquered, and by 801 Barcelona was retaken, and these dates marked the beginning of the social and political reorganization of what was to become Catalonia. Lands were allotted to the Frankish conquerors and to a number of Catalans who had either remained in that region, subject to the Moslems, or who came in at the time of the reconquest. These estates were given free of obligation, except for that of military service. The most important holders were the various counts, but there were a number of lesser proprietors beyond their jurisdiction. Many of these were converted in course of time into feudatories of the counts. The counts were at first the appointees of the French king; later they became hereditary; and finally independent. The church also acquired vast territories in Catalonia, and was allowed to enjoy immunity from obligations

and an absolute dominion over its lands. The most important holdings were those of the bishop of Gerona.

[Sidenote: Feudalism in Catalonia and Navarre.]

From the above it appears that the feudalism of France had taken root in Catalonia, where the nobles were more absolute in their own territories and more free from the power of the king or lord to whom they were subject than was the case in northwestern Spain. The greater importance of the counts of Barcelona has already been alluded to; by the beginning of the eleventh century they were saluted with the title of prince in recognition of their sovereignty. Aside from their own estates, however, their legal authority extended little further than that of a right to inspect judicial tribunals (in order to see that their decisions were in accord with the general law of the land) and to have certain cases appealable to their courts. The _Fuero Juzgo_, in so far as it applied to the changed conditions of Catalonia, was the general law, but numerous exceptions began to appear, much as in the northwest, although the development of free towns was not nearly so great. In Navarre the administration of justice belonged to the king, but on the other hand the king could not hold court, or make war, peace, or a truce, without consulting the nobles, and he was subject in every respect to the laws which confirmed their privileges. Furthermore, he acquired his throne by election, although the choice was confined as a rule to members of a single family. Feudalism not only weakened the power of the monarchy in north central and northeastern Spain, but also tended to impair the lot of the servile classes, which were delayed in achieving emancipation in these regions much longer than in other parts of Spain.

[Sidenote: Coming of the monks of Cluny.]

[Sidenote: Backwardness of Pyrenean Spain.]

The most important religious incident of the period was the entry of the monks of Cluny into Spain. This order had taken it upon itself to combat simony (the sale of church office) and offences against the ecclesiastical law of celibacy (requiring that men who had taken holy orders should not marry), both of which practices were than very prevalent in Christendom, and to bring about a complete and effective submission of distant churches to the bishop of Rome. These monks came into Spain by way of Navarre in the reign of Sancho the Great, and by 1033 they were already in Castile. Aside from their immediate objects they produced two other important effects: they reinforced the French ideas which had preceded them; and they accelerated the reconquest as a result of the influence which they acquired, employing it to urge on the kings in wars against the Moslems. In economic institutions, general culture, and the fine arts the north centre and northeast were very backward, like the northwest. It is noteworthy, however, that by the ninth century the Catalans were already beginning to engage in trade in the Mediterranean.


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