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PATRIMONIO MUNDIAL PYRÉNÉES-MONT PERDU

Historia

Aragon and the Spanish empire


A time of revolts and uncertainty

The factions of nobles continued to fight during the 16th century. Other sporadic riots also occurred, occasioned by shortages.

The towns and the farmland around them did not always share the same interests.

In the Broto Valley, friction developed between the town and a number of its nearby villages in 1520. The same occurred between Bielsa and Sin and Serveto, where records show that goods were stolen.

In the 16th century, the increasing conflict prompted some nobles to fortify their houses.

Defiance of the Hapsburgs

Aragon was a part of the Hapsburg Spanish empire but retained its legal idiosyncrasies. It also kept its separate identity in its patterns of behaviour.

Indeed, it is not at all clear that Aragon respected Austrian authority, as is reflected in events such as Justice of Aragon's call for the defence of the kingdom when protection was given to Antonio Pérez, who had fled the court.

In response to the Justice's call, the councils of Puértolas and Gistaín offered troops and a number of battalions set off from there. By the time they reached Barbastro, however, the Justice's army had already been defeated by the forces sent by the court and the men from Puértolas and Gistaín returned home.

Antonio Pérez took refuge in Béarn, where he was taken in by the sister of Enrique of Navarra. There he organised an invasion with the help of Martín de Lanuza, the Lord of Biescas and a relative of the vanquished Justice.

The invaders were turned back at Biescas, where various nobles joined in the defence of the kingdom, among them Martín Íñiguez, Lord of Fanlo and Espín.

Religion: fear of the Protestant heresy and the creation of the see of Barbastro

Felipe II asked Pope Pius V to create a new bishopric as a means to combat the Protestant reform, or heresy as he saw it, that was beginning to spread.
The bishop's see of Barbastro was founded in 1571 and in 1573 the bishopric of Jaca split from the bishopric of Huesca.
The new bishopric of Barbastro was granted lands in the sees of Huesca and Lleida, as well as a considerable portion of the revenues of the jurisdiction of the Monastery of San Victorián in Sobrarbe, which was about to close.

Hunger, poverty, fear and witchcraft

The population grew in the 17th century but severe droughts caused hunger and poverty and led to a rise in the number of beggars.
This was also a period of collective hysteria concerning heresies and the crime of witchcraft. In this climate of emotion and dread of supposed magic, 13 witches were identified in Bielsa and Azlor.

The War of the Spanish Succession and its dire consequences

In the fighting that occurred in the War of the Spanish Succession, most of Aragon sided with Archduke Charles (the House of Hapsburg) and not King Felipe V (of the Bourbon dynasty).

The troops of the Archduke of Austria entered Aragon via the valleys of Gistaín, Broto and Tena.

The king, however, began to reclaim the lands of Aragon from 1707 onwards.

That same year, Aínsa was taken by troops loyal to the monarch under the command of the Marquis of Saluzzio, who ordered that the town be burned.

Villa medieval de Aínsa

The king immediately issued a decree revoking all the privileges, exemptions and freedoms of the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia.

In 1708, Colonel Juan Mola, posted in Benasque, attacked the lands of Bielsa, which was garrisoned by a company of migueletes (militia) and a few peasants loyal to Felipe V.

In 1709, the Duke d'Estaing, quartered in the area of the upper reaches of the Cinca River, asked the populace to provide food for twelve battalions.

The locals were unable to meet the duke's request and guerrilla activity forced him to move on.

Peace at last came in 1713 with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, but Spain was left demoralised after a civil war in which it had been bled dry and impoverished and in which it had lost its international power and prestige.

The decrees of the New Plan altered the status of the Crown of Aragon and the kingdom now came under the laws of Castile. Discontent became widespread.

Aragon was divided into 13 districts known as corregimientos, each with its own corregidor, the equivalent of a military and political governor.

Fear of a French invasion

Following the triumph of the Revolution in Paris and almost the whole of France in 1789, a fear of invasion spread along Spain's border with its northern neighbour.
The fear was justified, because in 1793 the French Revolutionary Wars began, in which France sought to extend its revolution throughout part of Europe. The Pyrenean valleys saw some of the fighting, which took place in Bielsa and Gistaín.