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Aragón

Aragón (âr´əgŏn, Span. ärägōn´), region (1991 pop. 1,221,546), 18,382 sq mi (47,609 sq km), and former kingdom, NE Spain, bordered on the N by France.

Land and People

Comprising the provinces of Huesca, Teruel, and Zaragoza (Saragossa), Aragón includes the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, where the mountains reach their greatest height; a semiarid central plain drained by the Ebro River; and the western fringe of the central plateau of Spain. Much of the region is sparsely populated and desertlike. Irrigation works, started by the Moors, were resumed in the 16th cent.; the two lateral canals of the Ebro are the most important. In the oases and irrigated areas cereals, grapes, olives, and sugar beets are grown. Sheep are raised throughout Aragón, and cattle in the Pyrenees. Machinery, electrical appliances, and industrial vehicles are manufactured, and iron, sulfur, and lignite are mined.

History

The city of Zaragoza was founded by the Roman emperor Augustus. Visigoths conquered the area in the late 5th cent. and Muslims in the early 8th cent. Carolingians pushed out the Muslims (c.850), and Aragón came under the rule of Navarre. At the death (1035) of Sancho III of Navarre, his western territories were organized as the kingdom of Aragón for his illegitimate son, Ramiro I. He and his successors, notably Alfonso I, extended their dominions southward at the expense of the Moorish emirate of Zaragoza, and in the 12th cent. Zaragoza replaced Huesca as the capital.

In 1076, Aragón annexed Navarre, and in 1137 it became united, through personal union, with Catalonia. Both regions preserved their own Cortes, laws, languages, and customs and evolved along separate lines; their deep historical, social, and cultural differences at times caused great friction. With the expansion of the house of Aragón (see separate article), the name Aragón came to signify a confederation of its Spanish possessions (Aragón, Catalonia, Majorca, and Valencia) and several French fiefs. In the bitter struggles (12th–15th cent.) between kings and nobles, the nobles gained more and more privileges until Peter IV defeated them in 1348. The justiciar, a type of magistrate created in the 12th cent., acted as a sort of intermediary between king and nobles; after 1348 he lost most of his political power but gained more juridical importance. Aragón played only a minor role in the expansionist policy of its kings in the Mediterranean.

United with Castile after 1479 through the marriage of Ferdinand V (Ferdinand the Catholic) with Isabella, Aragón preserved its cortes and its city privileges. These, however, were gradually limited by the centralizing policies of the Spanish monarchy, and in 1716 Philip V abolished most of the remaining political privileges to punish the Aragonese for siding with Archduke Charles (later Emperor Charles VI) in the War of the Spanish Succession. The passionate attachment of the Aragonese to their liberties was illustrated by the episode of Antonio Pérez under Philip II and by the heroic defense of Zaragoza in the Peninsular War. In 1833 the administrative unit of Aragón was divided into the three present provinces. The provinces became an autonomous region in 1981.

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Aragón

Aragón Region in ne Spain. In 1479 the Kingdom of Aragón became part of Spain, but retained its own government, currency and military forces until the early 18th century. It is now an autonomous region, comprising the provinces of Huesca, Teruel, and Zaragoza. It produces grapes, wheat, and sugar-beet. Industries: textiles, chemicals, iron ore, marble, and limestone. Area: 47,670sq km (18,500sq mi). Pop. (1998) 1,183,234.

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Aragon

Aragon an autonomous region of NE Spain, bounded on the north by the Pyrenees and on the east by Catalonia and Valencia; capital, Saragossa. Formerly an independent kingdom, which was conquered in the 5th century by the Visigoths and then in the 8th century by the Moors, it was united with Catalonia in 1137 and with Castile in 1479.

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Aragon

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Aragon

Aragon

Aragon, northeastern region and former kingdom of Spain united with Castile through the marriage of Ferdinand II and Isabella I.

The states of Catalonia, Aragon, and Valencia composed the crown of Aragon, which in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries acquired a commercial empire in the Mediterranean. Aragonese prosperity was eclipsed in the fifteenth century by plague, civil war, and a financial crisis which led to a decline in trade and industry. Although the marriage of the "Catholic kings" (1469) united the crowns of Castile and Aragon, the three Aragonese states retained separate courts (cortes) and distinct feudal privileges (fueros), which limited the Castilian monarch's ability to raise armies and taxes. However, this unification, alongside the defeat of the Moors, gave the kingdom the necessary stability to look to overseas commerce. Consequently, Ferdinand and Isabella funded Christopher Columbus's expedition to find a new trade route to the Indies. This project ultimately led to Europe's invasion of the New World.

When the Aragonese sensed an infringement on their traditional liberties by the Spanish crown, they characteristically rebelled (1591–1592, 1640–1652). In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) Aragon supported the Archduke Charles of Austria, and consequently Philip V abolished its political privileges (1716) as punishment for supporting his rival claimant to the Spanish throne.

See alsoCastile .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gerald Brenan, The Spanish Labyrinth (1943), esp. pp. 87-130.

John H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469–1716 (1963), esp. pp. 17-43, 273-280, 317-353.

Raymond Carr, Spain 1808–1975, 2d ed. (1982), esp. pp. 1-78.

Henry Kamen, Spain, 1469–1714: A Society of Conflict (1983, 2d ed. 1991) esp. pp. 9-15, 139-144, 235-240.

Additional Bibliography

Cawsey, Suzanne F. Kingship and Propaganda: Royal Eloquence and the Crown of Aragon, C. 1200–1450. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002.

López Pérez, María Dolores. La corona de Aragón y el Magreb en el siglo XIV, 1331–1410. Barcelona: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1995.

                            Suzanne Hiles Burkholder

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