Catalan Historical Review, No 1 (2008)

Barcelona, a Society and its Law: 11th-13th Centuries

Tomàs de Montagut i Estragués

Abstract


The legal system in Barcelona in the Lower Middle Ages - which we regard as a synthesis of rights (usages, customs, privileges, laws, and so on) and organization (municipality, universitat de prohoms, consulates, etc.)- had already attained maturity in the 13th century. It was first and foremost the outcome of the self-interested wishes of its leaders, the prohoms, or patricians, who directed the growth of Barcelona society, a development which was of clear benefit to them and enabled them to consolidate and perpetuate themselves as a social group by means of legal forms and formulas, relating to the individual, family and society, which were suitable for and orientated towards their aim of assuming the political and financial leadership of the city.

The considerable degree of autonomy achieved by Barcelona society in the 13th century thanks to its public and private legal institutions endured until the 18th century, when the new Bourbon dynasty abolished the municipal self-governing institutions.


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