Catalan Historical Review, No 8 (2015)

Bandits, banditry and royal power in Catalonia between the 16th and 17th centuries

Ernest Belenguer

Abstract


This article is a synthesis of a phenomenon – banditry in Catalonia – which peaked in the century and a half between approximately 1500 and 1630. In this article, by ‘banditry’ we mean the kind waged by both the upper classes and nobility and the lower classes. With forerunners in the late Middle Ages, banditry is ultimately part of a history of social transversality in all sectors, which seriously hindered
its official repression – from the Crown to the Diputació del General (General Deputation) – because bandits had infiltrated all the institutions, including the Reial Audiència (Appellate Court). This article then describes the most vivid periods of banditry, its leading personalities or groups, including the nyerros and cadells, and the savage violence that it generated far and wide. Nonetheless, a minimal comparison with broad swaths of the Mediterranean reveals that banditry is not unique to the history of Catalonia.

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