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Catalan regional plan 1995, the basis for the future veguerias.

   Àmbit metropolità

   Alt Pirineu i Aran

   Camp de Tarragona

   Comarques Centrals

   Comarques Gironines

   Ponent

   Terres de l'Ebre

The vegueria (pl. vegueries; Castilian: veguería, Latin: vigeria) was the territorial jurisdiction of a veguer (Latin: vigerius). The vegueria was an important feudal land division in the Principality of Catalonia, Kingdom of Sardinia, and Duchy of Athens during the Middle Ages and into the Modern Era until the Nueva Planta decrees of 1716. It was the primary division of a county in Catalonia and the basic territorial unit of government in Sardinia and Athens after those countries became part of the Crown of Aragon. The office of a veguer was called a vigeriate (Latin: vigeriatus).

Contents

History

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Origins and functions

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 even as they disappeared in the rest of Europe. The Catalan terms were even subsequently Latinised: vicariusvigerius.

The original functions of the vigeriate were feudal and it was probably initially hereditary. The veguer was appointed by his feudal lord, the count, 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 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.

Spread

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. These administrative divisions remained until 1716. Some of the larger vegueries included one or more sotsvegueries, which had a large degree of autonomy.

While Catalonia continued to use vegueries as subdivisions of counties, elsewhere in the Iberian peninsula there were the merináticos (Kingdom of Aragon) and the corregimientos (Kingdom of Castile) whose functions were similar to those of the Catalan vegueries. When the Kingdom of Sicily became a Catalan-run state, it was not subdivided into vegueries, since a similar Italian institution was already entrenched there: that of the capitania and the capità. The capità had similar to identical functions as the veguer. When the Catalans conquered Athens, they subdivided that duchy into three vegueries: Athens, Thebes, and Livadia. In the Duchy of Neopatria which the Catalans conquered in 1319, the institution of the capità appeared instead of the vigeriate, but the captaincies (Siderocastron, Neopatras, and Salona) were similar to identical in function to the veguerias of Athens. In Athens, the offices of captain and veguer were often held by the same individual as capitaneus seu vigerius and variants. Once the Aragonese crown had finally subdued most of the Kingdom of Sardinia to their rule by the end of the fourteenth century, they had subdivided its government into vegueries. All the vegueries of the Catalan possessions were, by the Usages of Barcelona, constrained to be held for only three years by any individual, though in practice some kings ignored this. In Athens, a vicar general on the Italian model was instituted above the veguers.

Historical veguerias

Catalan veguerias have change their limits along the history and there has not always been the same number of them. In 1716 the veguerias were replaced by 12 corregimientos, a historical Castilian administrative division.

The vegueries of Catalonia[1][2][3] at the time of James the Just were:

Later, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a few more vegueries were created:

The Duchy of Athens, during the brief Catalan dominion, was divided in three veguerias:[8]

Republican Generalitat 1931

Catalonian regions, from 1936 to 1939

During the brief years of the Spanish Second Republic, the Catalan autonomous government divided Catalonia into nine regions, which, in turn, were subdivided into comarques, as follows:

Current proposals

When Franco died and Spain returned to a democratic system, the Spanish regions entered a process of intense devolution. In Catalonia, the comarcas were reinstated in 1987, although the vegueries have yet to be formally reclaimed.

The current Catalan regional government has hinted that it plans to formally re-establish the veguerias in 2011[9] and used as the "building blocks" of the region. This in spite of the fact that there will be a Catalan regional election in 2010, which can always produce different results.

Under the 2006 Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, the four diputacions provincials (provincial government) which make up Catalonia are due to be superseded by seven consells de vegueries (veguerial government), which will also take over many of the functions of the comarques[9]. As of October 2008, whereas the final boundaries of the new vegueries have yet to be formally approved, they are expected to be similar to the 9 regions of the Republican Generalitat:

Some associations and town councils involved have asked for a Penedès vegueria to be created, as it was in the past (13th century — 1716)[12]. This would include the Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès, Garraf and Anoia, comarcas which the current proposal split between the Àmbit metropolità, Camp de Tarragona and Comarques Centrals. The city of Tarragona asks the government and the parliament to use the historical and official name Vegueria of Tarragona, used between the 13th century and 1716.

References

  1. ^ l'Enciclopedia, vegueria. (Catalan)
  2. ^ l'Enciclopedia, sotsveguer. (Catalan)
  3. ^ l'Enciclopedia, sotsvegueria. (Catalan)
  4. ^ GGCC, Alt Urgell (Catalan)
  5. ^ l'Enciclipedia, vegueria de Balaguer (Catalan)
  6. ^ l'Enciclopedia, vegueria d'Agramunt (Catalan)
  7. ^ Consell comarcal del Bages (Catalan)
  8. ^ Setton, Kenneth M. Catalan Domination of Athens 1311–1380. Revised edition. London: Variorum, 1975.
  9. ^ a b Radio Banyoles, (Catalan)
  10. ^ El País, (Spanish)
  11. ^ Vegueria de l'Alt Ter (campaign) (Catalan)
  12. ^ Plataforma per la Vegueria Penedès (campaign) (Catalan)

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