THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CORTES IN THE CROWN OF ARAGON, 1064-1327

DONALD JOSEPH KAGAY, Fordham University

Abstract

The purposes of this dissertation are to review the individual and joint parliaments of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia between 1064 and 1327 in regard to exact dates, sites, duration, format, functions, and impact on society; to differentiate between the royal court (curia regis) and the parliament (curia generalis); to determine when and how the later emerged as a political institution; and to examine the attendance, powers, and influence of townsmen in the assemblies of the Crown of Aragon. ^ The primary sources for this dissertation are found in the collections of the Archivo de la Corona de Aragon in Barcelona, the Biblioteca Nacional and Real Academia de Historia in Madrid, and the Biblioteca of the Escorial. Many of these documents have been published in the Coleccion del Cortes de Aragon, Valencia, y Cataluna and the Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos de Archivo General de la Corona de Aragon. The principal secondary works dealing with the subject are those of Post, Marongiu, Gonzalez Anton, Arregui Lucea, and Procter. ^ The public meetings of the Crown of Aragon sprang from the afforced sessions of the twelfth century royal court and consisted of the great nobles and clergy who were called to advise the king on many subjects or render feudal allegiance and military service. In a few of these meetings, townsmen were present. During the first years of their growth, these assemblies had little more than an advisory capacity but, during the thirteenth century, the parliament, called a curia generalis and Cortes, was increasingly used for legislation, litigation, and approval of taxation. Under Jaime I, the parliaments of Aragon and Catalonia were held frequently and, after 1238, the parliamentary tradition was extended to Valencia. Townsmen were often called to the public meetings, and from 1272 onward, were increasingly considered true representatives of their principals. In the late thirteenth century, the parliaments of the Crown of Aragon were recognized as important political institutions. This development was largely due to the organization of the Aragonese and Valencian nobility for the purpose of gaining redress for grievances. In 1283 and 1287, the Aragonese and Catalan parliaments made great gains in relation to the Crown. The defensive position of the king was reflected in the increased legislative role of the assemblies by the use of the common petition and in litigation by the right to seek judgement against the Crown before Justicia and Cortes. The parliaments also extended their power between sessions by the appointment of royal counsellors chosen from the parliamentary membership and the collection of extraordinary taxation by the Cortes itself. Jaime II accepted the new situation, however, and turned it against the Union.^ From their early emergence, the Cortes of the Crown of Aragon set definite traditions. The assembly of Aragon was to be summoned biennially whereas those of Catalonia and Valencia, triennially. This schedule, however, was not always maintained. The duration of these meetings was usually less than a week but could last for over three months. The parliaments were most frequently held in the cathedral or monastery complexes of Zaragoza, Valencia, and Barcelona. All public meetings in the Crown of Aragon were unicameral, being composed of bishops, abbots, chapter representatives, barons, knights, and townsmen. Though the growth of separate estates had only begun by the early fourteenth century, parliamentary protocol was highly developed by 1327.^ From the foregoing, it can be seen that the parliaments of the Crown of Aragon constituted an important chapter in the history of European representative institutions during the Middle Ages and compared favorably with contemporary parliaments of England, France, Castile, Germany, and Italy. ^

Subject Area

History, Medieval

Recommended Citation

DONALD JOSEPH KAGAY, "THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CORTES IN THE CROWN OF ARAGON, 1064-1327" (January 1, 1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8123551.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8123551

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