Catalan constitutions

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The Catalan constitutions (Catalan: Constitucions catalanes, IPA: [kunstitusiˈons kətəˈɫanəs]) were promulgated by the Catalan Courts. The Corts in Catalan have the same origin as courts in English (the sovereign's councillors or retinue) but instead meaning the legislature. The first constitution was promulgated by the Corts of 1283. The last ones were promulgated by the Corts of 1705. The compilations of the constitutions and other rights of Catalonia followed the Roman tradition of the Codex.

Origin: The Corts of Barcelona[edit]

The first compilation was prescribed by Ferran I, and suggestion by the Corts of Barcelona from 1413. It spread in edition of the 1495, together with the Usages of Barcelona:

  • Usatges of Barcelona, constitutions, chapters and acts of court and other laws of Catalonia.

The compilations agreed in the Corts of 1585 and of 1702 were published in three volumes:

  • Constitucions i altres drets de Catalunya ("Constitutions and other rights of Catalonia")
  • Pragmàtiques i altres drets de Catalunya ("Pragmatics and other rights of Catalonia"
  • Constitucions i altres drets de Catalunya superflus, contraris i corregits ("Constitutions and other rights of Catalonia, Irrelevant, Contrary, and Corrected")

De jure abolition: Els Decrets de Nova Planta[edit]

Shortly after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, Philip V of Spain issued the set of decrees known in Spanish as the Decretos de Nueva Planta and in Catalan as the Decrets de Nova Planta. This series of decrees abolished the separate laws of the territories that supported his rival to the throne, the Archduke Charles of Austria; this included all territories of the Crown of Aragon. The Decretos attempted to make Spain into a centralized state on the model of France, applying the laws of Castile to all of Spain. These acts were promulgated in Valencia and Aragon in 1707, and were extended in 1716 to Catalonia and the Balearic Islands (with the exception of Menorca, a British colony at the time).

Thus, the Catalan Constitutions were effectively abolished by the King's authority after his military victory, rather than through any legislative process within Catalonia itself. The change ignored the Catalan Constitutions' own provisions for how they were to be amended or reformed.

Restoration promise: The Third Carlist War[edit]

During the Third Carlist War (1872-1876), the Carlist forces managed to occupy some cities in the Catalan interior. Isabel II was in exile and King Amadeo I had reigned since 1871, although he was not generally popular. The pretender Charles VII of Spain, grandson of Charles V of Spain (hence Carlist from Carlos, "Charles"), promised the Catalans, Valencians and Aragonese the return of their Charters or fueros (Catalan: furs) and the constitutions that Philip V had previously abolished.

The promise was never fulfilled, as the Carlist revolt did not succeed. Carlos María de los Dolores finally departed for France, 27 February 1876, the same day that Alfonso XII of Spain entered Pamplona.

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