Commons in the late medieval Crown of Aragon: Regulation, uses and conflicts, 13th-15th centuries

Official Coat of Arms of AragonCommons in the late medieval Crown of Aragon: Regulation, uses and conflicts, 13th-15th centuries

Rural History (2013)


In this paper, we shall show some characteristics of the use of pastures and commons in the Crown of Aragon between the thirteen and fifteenth centuries. As is widely known, the Crown of Aragon was configured in the twelfth century by the union of the kingdom of Aragon and the principality of Catalonia, to which the kingdoms of Valencia and Majorca joined in the thirteen century after the conquest of its southern Islamic lands. By this period, the Crown of Aragon occupied the eastern parts of the Iberian Peninsula and constituted four different political entities that operated autonomously, with different legal systems and political institutions. This system differed widely from the Crown of Castile, for which there was a unique general legislation for the whole territory thereby allowing the creation of broader institutions such as the Mesta, which regulated livestock.

The Mesta is well known because it was one of the main guilds of stockbreeders in pre-modern Europe: it brought together stockbreeders of Castile and Leon in 1273 through a series of royal privileges that protected their herds and gave them free pastures in some areas around the so-called ‘cañadas,’ or cattle routes. In the Crown of Aragon, however, the stockbreeder institutions organized in smaller regions according to their territorial diversity. Moreover, there was another particularity and it was that the capital of each kingdom enjoyed freedom of pastures in the respective countries as we shall explain.


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