Alfonso I. Marriage with Urraca. Capture of Zaragoza. Alfonso's death and will. Claimants to the throne. Ramiro the Monk. Petronilla's marriage with Ramon Berenguer IV. Union of Aragon and Catalonia. Earlier history of Ramon Berenguer. Alfonso II. Political and social organisation. The Church. Literature and language.
Pedro of Aragon died in 1104; in addition to his conquest of Huesca, he had recovered Barbastro which the Moors had recaptured, and had gained some other strong points in the territory of Lérida. He was succeeded by Alfonso I, the Battler, who was unmarried at that time. In Castile, Alfonso VI, the conqueror of Toledo, the grandson of Sancho the Great and the uncle of the Aragonese king, was anxious about the succession to his crown. His only descendant was a daughter, Urraca, the widow of Raymond of Burgundy, a French noble who had helped in the conquest of Toledo, by whom she had a young son, Alfonso. The prospect of leaving his possessions to Urraca, a woman of no particular abilities and of doubtful character, at a time when Castile was suffering from the defeats of Zallaca and Uclés at the hands of the fanatical Almorávides, caused Alfonso much anxiety; there was no prospect that his grandson would be fit to rule for many years, and in any case a certain dislike to the late Raymond of Burgundy seems to have alienated his affections from the boy. The Castilian nobles were equally alive to the dangers of the situation, and proposed that Urraca should marry the Count Gómez de Campdespina, one of the most powerful among their number; it is possible that this union would have legitimized relations which were not above suspicion, while it would certainly have enabled the turbulent nobles to pursue their separatist and selfish ambitions. Alfonso VI solved the difficulty by negotiating a marriage with Alfonso of Aragon; and when  Urraca's father died in 1109, Castile and Aragon were for the moment united. Had Urraca been a respectable character and had the Castilian nobles possessed any tincture of patriotism and statesmanship, the union might have been a definite advance towards the work of reconquest. As things were, a series of domestic, which speedily became political, troubles were the result. The chronicler Lucas de Tuy described Urraca as "a bold, bad woman," and her behaviour obliged Alfonso to confine her in one of his castles near Zaragoza; unable to trust the Castilian nobles, he replaced them by Aragonese and Navarrese governors, and aroused much discontent in consequence; as the Pope declared his marriage void upon grounds of consanguinity, he lost the support of the Castilian clergy. The result was a series of petty wars, which were further complicated by the rise in Galicia, where Urraca's son, Alfonso, was being brought up, of a party who wished to place him upon the throne as the legitimate heir. When Urraca felt indignant at the pretensions of her son, she and her Castilian friends supported her husband; when she was on bad terms with her husband, she stirred up her friends against him; one of these was the Count of Lara, by whom she had a son and whom she is said to have married when her union with Alfonso was finally dissolved. The struggle was yet further complicated by the action of her sister, Teresa, who had married Henry of Lorraine; Alfonso of Castile had granted him certain territories in the north of Lusitania, which became the nucleus of the later Portugal, by which name were then known the districts between the Minho and the Tagus. The Count of Portugal considered that the opportunity for asserting his claims to the throne of Castile was not to be lost and succeeded after intrigues and struggles which do not here concern us, in gaining some extension of territory. It was, moreover, a period in which the towns were beginning to fight for independence and were forming alliances or hermandades against the nobles; thus Urraca and her damnosa hereditas considerably hampered the Battler in his struggles with the Moors.
None the less, his enterprise was rewarded with considerable success. Having cleared the way by the gradual reduction of various strongholds between his southern frontier and the Ebro, he prepared to lay siege to Zaragoza. A number of  counts from Southern France came to his support, rather as vassals than as crusaders; such were Gaston of Béarn, Centullo of Bigorre, Auger of Miramon, Arnauld of Lavedan, the Bishop of Lescar and others. The Count of Toulouse became his vassal in 1116, and Alfonso thus gained help from the whole area of the Narbonnais. The Almorávides attempted to anticipate his operations, but Alfonso defeated their army as it was advancing from Valencia and Zaragoza surrendered on December 18, 1118. This was at least as great an achievement as the conquest of Toledo by Castile; it secured not merely the possession of the valley of the Ebro, but of a number of places dependent upon Zaragoza, such as Tarazona, Calatayud, and Daroca, and enabled the Aragonese to extend their power as far as Cuenca and Teruel. The obvious culmination of these successes was the capture of Lérida; but Alfonso's preparations for this purpose were opposed by Ramon Berenguer III of Barcelona, who was equally anxious to secure the town and hoped to gain possession by negotiation with the local chieftain, one Abifilel. Thus, when Alfonso laid siege to Lérida, a battle took place between the Aragonese and Catalan forces, in which the former appear to have been victorious; but the intervention of the Church induced both kings to abandon the attempt for the moment, and Alfonso was the more ready to accept the arrangement, as he wished to make a raid into Andalucía, with the purpose of helping the Mozárabes who were suffering under the tyranny of the Almorávides. Starting from Zaragoza, he reached Valencia, Murcia and the confines of Granada, ravaging the country as he went and collecting the Mozárabes for settlement elsewhere. He crossed the Alpujarras and captured Málaga, returning by way of Córdoba, Alcaraz and Cuenca; a Muslim army which attacked him between Granada and Córdoba at Arinzol was defeated, and Alfonso returned to his own state after thus traversing the greater part of Muslim Spain and bringing with him some 10,000 Mozárabes to settle in his new conquests. In 1131, after an absence in the South of France, whither political interests had called him, Alfonso resumed his project of conquering Lérida. It was first necessary to capture the strongholds, Fraga and Mequinenza, which the Moors had reoccupied during his absence; while advancing upon Fraga  he was surprised by a superior force and obliged to fight a rearguard action, in the course of which he was mortally wounded.
Alfonso died in 1134; in view of the difficulties with which he was confronted both in his domestic and public life, his achievements were remarkable and placed the idea of reconquest before his successors as a feasible policy. In his hands this policy assumes a definitely religious character, typified perhaps by his quartering of a white cross on a blue field in the arms of Aragon. He was, at any rate, a restorer of churches and monasteries; in contrast to many of his contemporaries and successors, he left neither bastards nor concubines behind him, and his strange testamentary disposition which bequeathed his kingdom to the two religious orders of the Templars and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem was probably dictated by religious convictions as sincere as they were unintelligible to those of his Aragonese subjects who did not regard the Reconquista from his point of view. Whether the knights of these two orders took any steps to claim their inheritance is unknown; in any case, Alfonso's dispositions were disregarded by both Aragon and  Navarre. Three claimants to the vacant throne appeared, the most obvious being Ramiro, the late king's brother, who was proclaimed in Jaca as his successor, in spite of the fact that he was a monk and bishop-elect of Roda. In Monzon, one Garcí-Ramírez, a descendant of King García of Navarre, and in Borja, one Pedro de Atarés, an illegitimate connection of the royal line, both asserted their claims. The last-mentioned candidate soon retired, but Garcí-Ramírez held his followers together and secured his proclamation by the Navarrese as king of that country. A further complication was the interference of Alfonso VII of Castile, who asserted a shadowy claim through his mother Urraca, entered Zaragoza with an army and styled himself King of Aragon. The course of events from this point is far from clear; certain powerful people met at Zaragoza, including the Archbishop of Tarragona, San Olegario, the confidential adviser of the Count of Barcelona, and the Counts of Toulouse, Comminges and Urgel; Ramiro then married Doña Ines, a niece of the Count of Toulouse, and Alfonso VII withdrew his claims and retired to his own dominions. Ramiro, who abdicated after a reign of three years, left a daughter, Petronilla, whom he betrothed to Ramon Berenguer IV, the Count of Barcelona. It is probable that the influential personalities who met at Zaragoza, representing the interests of Catalonia and Southern France, informed Alfonso VII that they had no intention of seeing themselves absorbed by Castile; it was obvious that they could not allow Alfonso to retain the territory of Aragon apart from that of Barcelona; Catalan ambition was determined to extend southward and the possession of Zaragoza might lead to that of Lérida and of the whole valley of the Ebro. While Aragon and Barcelona thus became united, Navarre resumed its independence under Garcí-Ramírez.
To the Aragonese, Ramon Berenguer must have been practically a foreigner, and his acceptance implied a sacrifice of national feeling and an assertion of statesmanship very creditable to all concerned. Barcelona then, as now, was a far more important country than Aragon in respect both of population and wealth. It had a flourishing trade with the ports of the Mediterranean and was one of the chief points at which foreign influences and ideas could enter Spain. Aragonese stubbornness and conservatism was thus taken  into partnership with a spirit of cosmopolitanism, ready for expansion and for commercial and political relations with any country from which advantage could be derived. Ramon Berenguer III, whose first wife, as has been said, was the daughter of the Cid, had done much to increase the importance of Catalonia. After the death of Maria, he married Almodis in 1106 and on her death, Douce of Provence in 1112. These marriages and his relationships enabled him to increase his territory considerably. In 1111 he inherited the county of Besalù, and in 1117 that of Cerdaña; in 1112 the alliance with Douce brought him territory extending as far as Nice, so that he was in possession of a considerable part of Southern France and of all Catalonia, except the counties of Ampurias, Urgel and Peralada. In 1123 the Count of Ampurias became his vassal; this was one of the final steps in the process by which the frontier counties created by the Frankish kings were gradually and peacefully absorbed by Barcelona. Ramon Berenguer III also strove to extend his power at the expense of the Moors; in alliance with the Count of Urgel, he conquered the town of Balaguer in 1106; in 1115 in alliance with the Italian republic of Pisa, he attacked the Balearic Islands; the object in this case was to secure vassalage and tribute from the Moors; the term Catalan first appears in a Latin poem upon this expedition composed by an Italian, Lorenzo Vernes. The Italians also helped Ramon in an expedition against Valencia; Lérida and Tortosa were attacked, but none of these towns was captured. Ramon Berenguer's purpose in these operations was to secure his southern frontiers against the Almorávides; their vulnerable character was demonstrated in 1114, when Ibn al-Hajj of Valencia invaded Catalonia and ravaged the country almost as far as Barcelona. He was decisively defeated at Martorell and the contingents coming to his aid were also destroyed in detail. Ramon Berenguer III died in 1131; he had considerably strengthened his power both by land and sea, and to him was due the beginning of commercial and diplomatic relations with Italy, which were to be a strong and fruitful source of influence upon the national life both of Catalonia and of Spain at large in later years.
The dead king left his territories to his two sons, one, Ramon Berenguer IV, taking Barcelona, and the other,  Berenguer Ramon, taking Provence and the other possessions north of the Pyrenees. The new Count of Barcelona continued his father's policy; he secured his southern frontiers by capturing Tortosa, Lérida, Fraga and Mequinenza, at the expense of the Almoravid King of Valencia and Murcia. This ruler, Abenmerdanix, bought his alliance for four years with the object of resisting the advance of the Almohades and maintaining the independence of his Muslim kingdom. Ramon Berenguer IV supported his brother in France against the house of Baus, which laid claim to Provence, and also against the Count of Toulouse. In 1150 he married Petronilla, as has been said, and thus united Aragon with Barcelona. He died in 1162 and left his Catalonian possessions to his son Ramon, who changed his name to Alfonso in compliment to the Aragonese. The county of Cerdaña and his French possessions went to another son, Pedro. In 1164 Petronilla renounced the crown of Aragon and Alfonso thus became the undisputed King both of Aragon and of Catalonia. The advantages of the union both to Aragon and to Catalonia were obvious; Catalonia was not much more than a strip of coast-line territory, cut off from communication with the interior of the country and, as such, was not likely to become more than a replica of Pisa, Genoa, or some other Italian maritime republic, and, in a small state, the amalgamation of the several counties which formed its component parts was less easy than when they found themselves parts of a much larger whole. The union thus provided Catalonia with an interior, a hinterland, which could reinforce her armies and stimulate her commerce, while Aragon obtained an outlet to the sea, from which she was cut off upon her western frontier. Before proceeding to follow the fortunes of the united kingdom, some account must be given of the political and social customs and institutions of the two provinces which composed it.
Of the political and social organization prevailing in the territories afterwards known as Aragonese not very much is known of the periods before the eleventh century. Early documentary evidence is lacking or has been insufficiently examined. The Gothic Fuero Juzgo was observed in the eastern as in the western principalities, except that those parts of Catalonia under the Carolingian kings were governed by  Frankish law, and the social divisions of free and serf, with some grading of nobility in the former class, undoubtedly existed. But the Fuero Juzgo applied only to the personal relations of men in civil life and not to the constitution or organized power under which they might be governed. By degrees local customs grew up and obtained the force of law, and were ratified or completed by the grant of privileges in special fueros given to particular towns or social classes. The most famous of these is the so-called Fuero de Sobrarbe, a document conceived in the interests of the nobility and long believed to belong to the early years of the Reconquest. Modern criticism has rejected these ideas and regards this fuero as a fourteenth-century document. Municipal fueros have not been preserved of earlier date than the end of the ninth century and eventually became sufficiently various to impress Ramon Berenguer I with the need for codification. The great difference between the social organization of Aragon and Catalonia as compared with that of the western provinces was the greater intensity of feudalism in the east, and this was due to the greater strength of Frankish influence in this part of the peninsula. As has been pointed out, the Arab invasion drove large numbers of emigrants into France, many of whom passed through Catalonia, and it seems that this province did not contain many of its former inhabitants at the end of the eighth century. With the conquest of Gerona and Barcelona repopulation began under Louis the Pious who divided lands among his military officers, among such of the natives as had remained in the country and a certain number of returned refugees; the natives were under the old Fuero Juzgo and the Franks under their own legal codes. A feudal hierarchy was soon developed; the Count of the Spanish mark was the royal representative in his district and enjoyed the usufruct of the land, so far as it was not already in the ownership of a freeman: his holding was styled a beneficio, fisco or feudo. He could transfer his land to others in return for military service or rent; thus came into being farmer vassals who paid rent, and viscounts, barons and other subordinates to the count, who might represent him as he represented the King and exercise certain judicial powers, holding their land under the obligation to perform military service when required; they were known  as beneficiarios. Frankish kings in course of time, made grants of land freehold and outside of the jurisdiction of the Counts, in return for homage to themselves and acknowledgement of the obligation to military service. These allodial holders were often at variance with the Counts who naturally desired to secure their own territorial supremacy and the Frankish kings were obliged to intervene. As the Frankish power declined, the original life-interest in and tenure of a beneficio became hereditary and the Counts of the Spanish mark rose to independence, while most of the allodial holders voluntarily became vassals to a count in return for his protection, and if their holdings were sufficiently great, might themselves grant lands to subordinate holders upon the usual feudal conditions. The rent-paying class or censatarios might and did descend in the scale to the position of serfs bound to the soil; on the other hand, service in the wars against the Moors or the mere need of repopulating a barren district might provide them with entire exemption from the usual rents and tribute. Thus a system grew up much more nearly resembling feudalism than anything that existed in Leon or Castile; lands were given by the King to the holder as payment for or to secure military service, such gift being irrevocable and, under certain reserved rights, capable of becoming a hereditary property; the relationship of vassalage implied the fidelity of the holder to the giver; the vassal had sovereignty and jurisdiction over the inhabitants of his land and stood in the same relationship to them as did his overlord to himself, with the power to make gifts of land on the same conditions and thus to become the head of a feudal hierarchy of his own creation. In Leon and Castile, on the other hand, gifts of land were not made by the ruler upon condition of military service; in the few cases where such condition is laid down, the gift was usually made by some ecclesiastical corporation to a layman for the purpose of securing his aid against aggressors. The Castilian King also retained control of the legislative and judicial powers, and if a noble exercised such powers, he did so in virtue of some special concession from the Crown and not in his own right. In consequence, though there were subordinate grades of nobility, there was never a feudal hierarchy in the proper sense of the term, and the "lordship" of the western states, though analogous in  some respects to the feudalism of the eastern states, must not be identified with it. What has been said of the Aragonese and Catalonian nobility is equally applicable to the Church; monasteries and churches grew rich through gifts from kings and counts, held land, ruled the occupants and exerted seigneurial rights as did secular lords.
The moral state of the Church before the tenth century was far from edifying, though it was probably no worse in Spain than in other countries in view of the social anarchy which prevailed. Simony and the sale of ecclesiastical posts were frequent, while the attempts of church councils to maintain the celibacy of the clergy were impotent. Clergy lived with their wives or concubines, put their sons into church offices and dowered their daughters with church property. Papal control, though fully recognized by the Spanish bishops, could not always be effectively exerted in an age when communications were slow, difficult and often disturbed by war. The Cluniac movement brought renewed life to the Spanish Church in Catalonia and Aragon, as in the western states. The Cluniac monks, whose object was to restore discipline in monasteries and in the ranks of the clergy in general, and to secure a closer connection with the Papacy, entered Spain early in the tenth century by way of Navarre in the time of Sancho the Great; thence they spread into Castile and by degrees into the other Christian states. To them was due a revival not only of morality but of learning; the Latin of church and local records, which displayed a tendency to the forms of the colloquial vernacular, suddenly reverts to a more strictly grammatical style shortly after the beginning of the Cluniac reforms in Spain; among other effects of their work must be mentioned the stimulus which they gave to the task of the Reconquest by investing it with a definitely religious character. Of the various heretical movements which arose in Spain before the tenth century, the most famous and the only movement which immediately concerned the eastern provinces was the so-called adoptionism professed by Felix the Bishop of Urgel and Elipandus the Archbishop of Toledo, a doctrine which taught that Christ became the Son of God by adoption at His baptism, previous to which He had been as any other man; similarly, every Christian at his baptism is adopted in like manner, and the  difference between him and Christ is one of degree and not of kind; "et ille Christus et nos Christi" is the catchword of the heresy. It has been regarded by some writers as an earlier form of the Albigeois heresy, which became the occasion of the death of Pedro II, arid as such it is not without interest to students of Aragonese history.
Such literary and artistic culture as existed was chiefly ecclesiastical in character. Churches and monasteries maintained schools and collected and copied books; the monastery of Ripoll was of especial importance in this connection. The schools of Catalonia were in good repute and attracted students from abroad; they had a particular reputation for mathematical learning; thus Gerbert, afterwards Archbishop of Rheims and eventually Pope, studied at the school of the Bishop of Vich. Vernacular literature has no examples to show before the time of James the Conqueror and probably there were not many laymen who could read and write. Barcelona, in the tenth century, was an important commercial harbour and an inlet for foreign influences as well as for wares from various parts of the Mediterranean; but most of the evidence on this point belongs to the following century.
The question of language is a matter for philologists rather than for historians; the fact remains that Aragon and Catalonia spoke different languages which were not assimilated by their union. The Aragonese dialect, with which must be associated that of Navarre, shows certain divergencies from the dialect of Castile in the earliest documents available for study; some of these are peculiar to it, as for instance, the Gascon article ero, era, the possessive pronoun lur, lures (also Catalan); certain verb forms such as monet for murió, aduxomos for adujimos; other characteristic forms reappear in other parts of the peninsula, feito or feto for fecho, pueyo for poyo, muller for mujer, which are seen in Gallego-Portuguese or in the Leonese dialect. These differences were not, however, sufficiently great, so far as can be seen, to impede communication to any great extent between Aragon and the other western or southern states. Catalan presents a different problem; the question whether it belongs to the Hispanic or to the Gallo-Roman branches of the Romance languages is even yet in dispute. It has obviously been strongly influenced by the dialects of Southern France, as is seen to  have been inevitable, when the geography and political history of the country is considered. Certain points are brought forward as proving that Catalan belongs by phonetic development to the Gallo-Roman system; such are its preservation of initial f and g, the fact that tonic o and e do not become diphthongs; Spanish has puerta, siete, which in Catalan are porta, set. But in Portuguese e and o are preserved, though they become diphthongs in the geographically intervening dialects; the same may be said concerning f. Or consider the case of O before a "yod," when the vowel becomes a diphthong in many Romance languages; Catalan has pueyo against Spanish poyo; but the diphthong also occurs in the Asturias, though not in Castile or the Galician-Portuguese area; the same is true of initial 1 which is palatalized in Catalan and Asturian, but not in the two areas of Castile and Galicia-Portugal. The frontier between Catalan and the other Spanish dialects is not abrupt, but the changes take place gradually over a broad band in Aragon and Ribagorza. Catalan is therefore not a language of French origin imported brusquely from Provence, but it takes its stance upon the Latin spoken in Spain in Visigothic times, representing the most easterly phase of a relatively uniform speech -- a phase which, on the other side, merges into the Latin of Southern France, though there is a clear line of demarcation between the two, situated to the north of Roussillon. The lack of early documents forbids dogmatic assertion upon the question; but it is not unreasonable to suppose that Catalonians and Aragonese were not unintelligible to one another in the tenth century, whatever the state of affairs may be at the present day. In any case, instances of bilingualism and of trilingualism are known to every medievalist and the difficulty was not one that concerned any large section of the population. Catalan was the language of the Count of Barcelona, the most substantial title held by the Kings of Aragon: the first work of literature in Catalan was the Chronicle of James I, who also decreed that Catalan should be used instead of Latin as the official and legal language. The importance which it attained as the Aragonese power increased is probably the explanation of Dante's statement in the De Vulgari Eloquentia (I. 8): "alii oc, alii oil, alii si affirmando loquuntur; ut puta Hispani, Franci et Latini."
 Latin documents in the latter half of the tenth century show Catalan forms and vocabulary which become increasingly frequent in later years. The first document in pure Catalan is the Homilies d'Organyà, a didactic work which is considered to be anterior to the Chronicle of James I. Provençal troubadours are supposed to have entered Catalonia at the time of the marriage of Ramon Berenguer III with Douce of Provence in 1112; this is likely enough, but is only a conjecture unsupported by evidence. In the second half of the eleventh century was composed the poem of" Sainte Foy," one of the earliest known compositions in Provençal, which was written north of the Pyrenees and probably in the Narbonnais:
Canczon audi q'es bella 'n tresca,
Que fo de razon espanesca;
Non fo de paraulla grezesca
Ni de lengua serrazinesca.
* * *
Tota Basconn' et Aragons
E l'encontrada delz Gascons
Sabon quals es aquist canczons
"I heard a song which is fair in the dance, which was on a Spanish theme, not of Greek word nor of Saracen tongue....All the Basque country and Aragon and the country of the Gascons know what that song is." This prologue suggest that communication and mutual understanding was constant between the territories north and south of the Pyrenees. Ramon Berenguer IV is twice mentioned by the troubadour Marcabru who sends greetings to Barcelona as also to Castile and Portugal; in a crusade song, composed about 1146, he considers that the help of Barcelona is indispensable, if the Almorávides are to be defeated:
Ab la valor de Portegual
E del rei Navar atretal
Ab sol que Barsalona.s vir
Ves Toleta l'emperial,
Segur poirem cridar: reial!
E paiana gen desconfir
"With the power of Portugal and also with that of the King of Navarre, provided that Barcelona turns to Toledo, the imperial city, we shall certainly be able to raise our war-cry, Royal, and discomfit the pagan people." We may thus  assume that troubadours had begun to visit Catalonia about this time and to find there the patronage that was indispensable to them; similarity of language would make such communications the easier. Catalan was now adopted by the rulers of Aragon as their language and its influence upon Aragonese is clearly marked in the documents of the period. The latter tongue continued in use as a vernacular only.
This work was originally published by Methuan Publishing Ltd. in 1933.
Pagination of the original edition is indicated set off in brackets, as in .
If you want to extend your information on Aragon you can begin crossing another interesting route is the Mudejar, Patrimony of the Humanity, also you can extend your cultural knowledge on Aragon examining its municipal and institutional heraldry without forgetting, of course, some of its emblematics figures as Saint George Pattern of Aragon also book of Aragon.
The information will not be complete without a stroll by its three provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca and his shines, with shutdown in some of its spectacular landscapes like Ordesa, the Moncayo or by opposition the Ebro.
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