Marca Hispanica

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By the second half of the ninth century, three political subdivisions (marches) existed in the eastern Pyrenees: Toulouse (green), Gothia (blue), and Hispania (pink). At times they were placed under one authority and at other times not.
The Marca Hispanica (Hispanic or Spanish March, also March of Barcelona) was a buffer zone beyond the province of Septimania, created by Charlemagne in 795 as a defensive barrier between the Umayyad Moors of Al-Andalus and the Frankish Kingdom. It was known as the Upper Mark by the Caliphate to the south.

In its broader meaning, Marca Hispanica refers to a group of early Iberian lordships or counts created by the Franks, of which Andorra is the sole autonomous survivor. As time passed, these lordships merged or gained independence from Frankish imperial rule.

Geographical context

The area broadly corresponds to the region between the Pyrenees and the Ebro River. The local population of the March was diverse, including Iberians, Basques, Jews and Goths who had been conquered or subjugated by the Muslim emirate or the Frankish Empire to the south and north. The territory changed with the fortunes of the Empires and the feudal ambitions of those, whether the Counts or Walis, appointed to administrate the counties. Eventually the rulers and people of the March became autonomous and claimed independence. Out of the welter of counties in the region emerged the principalities of Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia.

Counties that at various times formed part of the March included: Pamplona, Sangüesa, Jaca (Aragón), Sobrarbe, Ribagorza, Pallars, Urgell, Cerdanya, Conflent, Roussillon, Vallespir, Perelada, Empúries, Besalú, Ausona (Osona), Barcelona and Girona.

Origins

The Marca Hispanica developed as the result of three generations of fighting by the Franks and Muslims (Moors) in the Iberian Peninsula. The Muslim invasions reached the Pyrenees in the Iberian Peninsula. In 719 Al-Samh ibn Malik surged up the east coast overwhelming the remaining Visigoth kingdom of Septimania and establishing a fortified base at Narbonne. Control was secured by offering the local population generous terms, inter-marriage between ruling families or treaties.

Further expansion was halted by defeat in the Battle of Toulouse (721). Wālis were installed in Girona and Barcelona. The Muslim forces however continued to raid their Frankish neighbours to the north, reaching as far as Autun.

Peace was made in 730 between the victor at Toulouse the Duke of Aquitaine and 'Uthman ibn Naissa (Munuza), the Berber deputy governor of Narbonne. A peace treaty was sealed with the marriage of the Duke’s daughter to Munuza. However, when Munuza rebelled against his Andalusian masters he was defeated, and another period of Muslim expansion commenced.

In 732, Muslim forces again attacked Gaul and Aquitaine and secured initial victories including the sacking of Bordeaux. The Duke of Aquitaine failed to secure support from his Frankish overlord Charles Martel who wanted to re-impose control over the dukedom. At the Battle of Tours, Charles defeated the Muslim army and repelled the invasion. Control was re-imposed by the Carolingian monarchs who now sought to secure the southern boundary of their kingdom from further Muslim attacks.

Further campaigns in 736737 drove the Moors further south, although Charles failed to re-take Narbonne which was defended by both its Muslim and its Visigoth citizens. However, in 759 Narbonne fell to Pippin Charles’ son.

Although his attempts to extend the defensive boundaries of his kingdom beyond Septimania ended when he died, his son Charlemagne finished the job, creating a strong barrier state between the Umayyad Emirate/Caliphate of Iberia, and the Frankish Kingdom.

Creation

The Franks created the Marca Hispanica by conquering former Visigoth states which had been captured by the Muslims or had become allied with them.

The first county to be conquered was Roussillon (with Vallespir) in around 760. In 785 the county of Girona (with Besalú) to the south of the Pyrenees was taken. Ribagorza and Pallars were linked to Tolosa and were added to this county around 790. Urgell and Cerdanya were added in 798. The first records of the county of Empúries (with Perelada) are from 812 but the county was probably under Frankish control before 800.

After a series of struggles the County of Barcelona (with Ausona) was taken by Frankish forces in 801. A number of castles were established in Aragón between 798 and 802. Pamplona (and Sangüesa) were briefly controlled by the Franks until 817, when it was lost to Basque and Christian Iberian forces. The date Sobrarbe was incorporated into the March is unsure.

After the loss of Pamplona (817) and Aragón (820) the March was often called Gothia after the Visigoth population. In addition, as the Counts often held land in Septimania, the whole region was sometimes referred to as Septimania.

Structure

The local population of the Marches was diverse including Hispano-Romans, Iberians, Basques, Jews and Goths who had been conquered or subligated by the Muslim or Frankish Empires to the north and south. The area changed with the fortunes of the Empires and the feudal ambitions of the Counts or Walis appointed to administrate the Counties. As Frankish imperial power waned, the rulers of the March became independent fiefs. The region would later become part of the principalities of Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia.

Charlemagne's son Louis took Barcelona from its Moorish ruler in 801, thus securing Frankish power in the borderland between the Franks and the Moors. The Counts of Barcelona then became the principal representatives of Frankish authority in the Hispanic March. The March included various outlying smaller territories, each ruled by a lesser Miles with his armed retainers and who theoretically owed allegiance through the Count to the Emperor. This oath of loyalty weakened with each successive Carolingian and, later, Ottonian successor. The rulers were called Counts, when they governed several Counties they often took the name Ducem (Duke). When the County formed the border with the Muslim Kingdom the Frankish title, Marquis was chosen. In the counties occupying the area of modern Catalonia, each Mile incorporated a catlá ("castellan" or lord of the castle) in an area largely defined by a day's horse ride. The region became dotted with these strongholds and became known by their name as "Catalunya". The same thing occurred later in Castile.

Counties formed in the 9th century at the eastern end of Pyrenees as an appanages of the Counts of Barcelona included Cerdanya, Girona and Urgell.

In the early 9th century, Charlemagne began issuing a new kind of land grant, the Aprisio, which reallocated land previously held by the imperial crown fisc in deserted or abandoned areas. This included special rights and immunities that allowed considerable independence from the imperial control. Historians have interpreted the aprisio both as an early form of feudalism and in economic and military terms as a mechanism to entice settlers to a depopulated border region. Such self-sufficient landholders would aid the Counts in providing armed men to defend the Frankish frontier. Aprisio grants (the first ones were in Septimania) were given personnally by the Carolingian king, so that they reinforced loyalty to central power, to counterbalance the local power exercised by the Marcher Counts.

However poor communications and a distant central power allowed basic feudal entities to develop often self-sufficient and heavily agrarian. Each was ruled by a small hereditary military elite. These developments in Catalonia follow similar patterns in other borderlands and Marches. For example the first Count of Barcelona Bera was appointed by the King in 801), however subsequently strong heirs of Counts were able to inherit the title such as Sunifred, fl. 844848. This gradually became custom until Countship became hereditary (for Wifred the Hairy in 897). Eventually the County was declared independent (by Borrell II in 985).

At each stage the de facto situation precedes the de jure assertion. The law regularising the existing facts. Certain Counts aspired to the Frankish (Germanic) title "Margrave of the Hispanic March". A "Margrave" is a Graf ("Count") of the March. The early History of Andorra in the Pyrenees provides a fairly typical example of a lordship of the region, and is the only modern survivor of the Hispanic March.

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buffer zone is any zonal area that serves the purpose of keeping two or more other areas (often, but not necessarily, countries) distant from one another, for whatever reason. Common types of buffer zones are demilitarized zones and certain restrictive easement zones and greenbelts.
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Septimania was the western region of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis that passed under the control of the Visigoths in 462, when Septimania was ceded to their king, Theodoric II. Under the Visigoths it was known as simply Gallia or Narbonensis.
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Charlemagne (En: [ˈʃa(ɹ).lə.meɪn]; Fr: [ʃaʀ.lə.
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AD Tulunid dynasty 868-905 Hamdanid dynasty 890-1004 Ikhshidid dynasty 935-969 Uqaylid Dynasty 990-1096 Zengid dynasty 1127-1250 Ayyubid dynasty 1171-1246 Bahri dynasty 1250-1382 Burji dynasty 1382–1517

During the medieval period, Moor became a common term to refer to the Muslims of Islamic Spain and North Africa, who were of Arab or Berber descent. The name remains associated with the Muslims of Spain even today, despite being archaic and inaccurate, as it lumps Muslim and
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Al-Andalus (Arabic: الأندلس al-andalus) was the Arabic name given to those parts of the Iberian Peninsula governed by Muslims, or Moors, at various times in the period between 711 and 1492.
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Franks or Frankish people (Latin: Franci or gens Francorum) were West Germanic tribes first identified in the 3rd century as an ethnic group living north and east of the Lower Rhine.
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Motto
"Virtus Unita Fortior"   (Latin)
"Strength United is Stronger"
Anthem
El Gran Carlemany, Mon Pare
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Pamplona (Basque: Iruñea or Iruña[1]) is the capital city of Navarre, Spain. It has a population of 195,769[2], and a metropolitan area of 300,000 habitants[3], and it is 407 kilometres northeast of Madrid.
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Sangüesa is a town in Navarra, Spain, 44.5 kilometers from Pamplona. It is close to River Aragón, and it is located in the Way of Saint James, that passes through the Major Street. It has been an important stop point for pilgrims since Middle Ages.
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Jaca (Chaca in Aragonese) is a city of northeastern Spain near the border with France, in the midst of the Pyrenees in the province of Huesca. Jaca, a ford on the Aragón River at the crossing of two great early medieval routes, one from Pau to Zaragoza, was the fortified
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Sobrarbe is one of the comarcas (counties) in the northern part of the province of Huesca, part of the autonomous community of Aragon in Spain. Many of its people speak the Aragonese language locally known as fabla.
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Ribagorza is an Aragonese county, or comarca, in the north-east of the province of Huesca, Spain. It borders the Haute-Garonne department in France to the north; and the Catalan province of Lerida to the east.
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Pallars is one of the historical Catalan counties, adjacent to the counties of Ribagorça and Urgell. Its territory was between the Pyrenees and the Montsec mountains, that is, the current comarques of Pallars Sobirà and Pallars Jussà. The historical capital was Sort.
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Urgell (Spanish: Urgel) is one of the historical Catalan counties, bordering on the counties of Pallars and Cerdanya. Its maximal extension territory was between the Pyrenees and the taifa of Lleida, that is, the current comarques of Alt Urgell, Noguera, Solsonès, Pla
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Cerdanya (Catalan: Cerdanya; French: Cerdagne; Spanish: Cerdaña) is a small region of the eastern Pyrenees divided between France and Spain and which is historically one of the counties of Catalonia.

Cerdanya has a land area of 1,086.07 km² (419.
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Conflent is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, now part of the French Département of Pyrénées-Orientales..

The capital of this pays is Prades (Catalan: Prada de Conflent), and it borders the
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Roussillon (French: Roussillon, pronounced /ʀusijɔ̃/; Catalan: Rosselló, pronounced /rusəˈʎo/
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Vallespir is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, now part of the French Département of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca is Ceret, and it borders Conflent, Rosselló, Alt Empordà, Garrotxa and Ripollès. It is in the Tech River valley.
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Perelada is the most north eastern portion of Spain.

Located on the French border where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean Sea, a large portion is now part of a national park.
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The County of Empúries or Ampurias was a medieval county centred on the town of Empúries and enclosing the Catalan region of Peralada. It corresponds to the historic comarca of Empordà.
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Besalú is a medieval town in the Catalan comarca of Garrotxa, in Catalonia.

The town was once more important being the capital of the county of Besalú, whose territory was roughly the same size as the current comarca of Garrotxa.
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Osona, or Ausona (in Latin and Castilian), was one of the Catalan counties of the marca Hispanica in the Early and High Middle Ages. It was based around the capital city of Vic (Vicus
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Count of Barcelona was, through much of its history, merged with that of King of Aragón, but before that it referred to the count of the city and its surrounding countryside. It was a Carolingian creation.
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Muslim (Arabic: مسلم) is an adherent of the religion of Islam. The feminine form of 'Muslim' is Muslimah (Arabic: مسلمة).
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Umayyad conquest of Hispania (711–718) commenced when an army of the Umayyad Caliphate consisting largely of Moors, the Muslim inhabitants of Northwest Africa, invaded Visigothic Christian Hispania (Portugal and Spain) in the year 711.
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Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani (Arabic: السمح بن مالك الخولاني) was the Arab governor general of the Muslim occupied region of the Iberian Peninsula called Al-Andalus
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