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Pirineos-Monte Perdido

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This will cross-reference all available documents in our data base related to the UNESCO World Heritage Site

The faceras

Faceras are treaties between valleys on both sides of the Pyrenees that governed the joint use of pastureland along the French and Spanish border.
They must originally have been oral agreements that were first put down in writing in medieval times in the 14th century. In the area of the World Heritage Site, for example, they allowed the pastures in the Gascon valleys of Barges and Aure to be used by herds and flocks from the Aragonese valleys of Broto and Bielsa.

Faceras came into being for two main reasons: the complementary character of the environment on the two sides of the Pyrenees and the shared sense of identity between the people living in the mountains, which meant that these pacts also included measures to facilitate cross-border trade and guarantees that there would be no aggression between valleys at times of conflict between France and Spain.

This magnificent example demonstrates to perfection the fact that natural and political boundaries have never presented an obstacle nor have they broken the ties between the communities on the Monte Perdido massif, which made it possible for peace agreements to be drawn up as well as faceras on the shared use of pastureland.

Indeed, many valleys in Aragon, including the Broto Valley, forged closer relations with valleys in France than they did with their fellow countrymen further south.

An example: the treaty between the Bielsa Valley and the Barges Valley

The oldest treaty, between the Bielsa Valley and the Barges Valley dates from 1319. Another agreement was later renegotiated in 1384.


Llanos de La Larri

According to surviving documentation, it seems that in the times before these pacts, at the height of the Middle Ages, the property at the heart of the dispute -- the mountain of Oussona, the Gavarnie pastureland, etc. -- were communal and used by both sides, and there had been no need for any kind of legal or formal agreement governing them, revealing a degree of common interest and communal organisation between the people living on the northern and southern flanks of the Pyrenees.

In the Dark Ages, however, the situation changed. Europe was going through a period of social and economic crisis. In addition, common law was being developed that encouraged the creation and protection of private property owned by individuals and communities.

The states were becoming increasingly separate: the kingdom of Aragon and the counties of Bigorra and Cominga (belonging to the counts of Toulouse and Barn) no longer had shared interests.

So conflict arose, with various attacks on the other side being documented, including rustling, violence and even killings.

To solve legal cases, it was logical that this kind of peace treaty or facera should be drawn up between valleys on either side of the mountains.

Other recorded faceras

There were other peace treaties between French and Spanish valleys such as the facera between the Broto and Barges valleys (1390) or the facera between the Bielsa, Purtolas and Chistau valleys and the Aure Valley (1597).

Montaa de Sesa.