County of Aragon or Jaca was a
small Frankish marcher
county in the central Pyrenean valley
of the Aragon river, comprising
Ansó, Echo, and Canfranc and centred
on the small town of Jaca
(Iacca in Latin and
Chaca in Aragonese).
It was created by the
late in the eighth or early
in the ninth century, but soon fell into the orbit of the Kingdom of Navarre
, into which it was
absorbed in 922. It would later form the core of the 11th
century Kingdom of
Originally intended to protect the central Pyrenean passes from the
in the same way that the Duchy of Vasconia
and the Marca Hispanica
were to protect the west and
east, Aragon remained largely out of the reach of its nominal
lords, though it was an
expressly Frankish creation and not an ethnically distinct region.
The earliest attested local ruler was Oriol
(807), probably Frankish,
Visigothic or Hispano-Roman. That Aragon was a combined creation of
Frankish efforts at Reconquest
activity of the local Hispano-Visigothic elite to unite the rural
populace against the Moors of the Ebro
In the first half of the ninth century, under the strong
Carolingians, such as Charlemagne
county of Aragon was culturally oriented northwards, across the
important passes at Echo and Canfranc. The monastery of San Pedro de Siresa
, founded about that
time, was a Benedictine
by the reforms of Benedict of
. The cultural endowment of the monastery was extensive;
by 848 its collection of manuscripts included Vergil
, and Augustine
of Hippo's De Civitate
In the later ninth century the Carolingians ceased to be powerful
sovereigns in the outyling regions of their empire and the Moors of
the Ebro valley simultaneously ceased being a threat to the
Christian population to their north. As Carolingian influence
wanned, the counts of Aragón sought new allies. In 820
Charlemagne's vassal, Count Aznar
, was ejected from the county by his son-in-law García 'the Bad'
, who rode to
power on the back of troops supplied by Íñigo Arista
, ruler of
the fledgling Kingdom of
. He then repudiated his wife in order to marry Íñigo's
daughter. In 844, Aznar's son Galindo
was forced to make himself a
vassal of Íñigo in order to secure his return and succession to the
county. Count Aznar
II looked south, marrying his daughter to the wali of Huesca, Muhammad al-Tawil.
The Navarrese also expanded their kingdom to the region south of
the Aragón, a zone devastated militarily by the Arabs in the
preceding centuries of conflict. The Navarrese fortification of
this area severely curtailed the possibility of Aragonese expansion
via reconquest by cutting off the obvious route of such conquest.
The death of Galindo Aznárez
without surviving legitimate sons resulted in a division of
his lands, with Sobrarbe
passing with a
daughter to the Counts of
, while Aragon itself fell under the direct control of
the Pamplona crown, king García Sánchez I
marrying Andregota Galíndez
another daughter of the defunct count.
During the century of direct Navarrese lordship, the diminutive
county of Aragon retained a separate administration and its
charters referred to it as the "land of the Aragonese lords", and
counts were appointed by the kings, starting with the illegitimate
son of the last autonomous count. In the tenth century the religious centre
of the county moved south to San Juan de la Peña. San Juan, contrary to San Pedro, had been
founded by Christian refugees from Moorish Zaragoza and the
monastery had a militant Visigothic character; the war with the
Moslems was espoused and the Visigothic
rite was the standard of worship.
In 922 the Aragonese had finally secured their own bishopric.
itinerant "bishops of Aragon" (sometimes called bishops of Huesca or Jaca) were established
in the valley of Borau.
bishops regularly took up residence in one of the major
monasteries, like San Juan, San Pedro, or Sásave
. The location of the see also serves as
evidence that the upper valleys in the south of the country were
becoming increasingly more populated as the region south of the
river Aragón became more fortified and the Moorish threat
diminished further. This frontier zone, too, was seeing
repopulation in light of militarisation.
Sancho the Great
, who had united
most of Christian Iberia under his control, gave lands in Aragon to
his illegitimate son, Ramiro
early as 1015. With the deaths of his father in 1135 and
brother, Gonzalo of
Sobrarbe and Ribagorza, whose lands he also acquired, in 1043,
Ramiro held the nucleus of what would become the Kingdom of
List of counts
death of Galindo Aznárez II, the county of Aragon was incorporated
within the crown of Navarre (for
kings of Navarre during this period see: List of Navarrese
The rulers of Navarre appointed a series
of nobles as their (non-sovereign) counts in Aragon. These are
poorly documented, but include:
- Bisson, T. N. The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short
History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986. ISBN 0 19 821987 3.
For the county, see pp. 10–11.
- del Arco y Garay, Ricardo. "España Christiana: Hasta el año
1035, fecha de la Muerte de Sancho Garcés III" in España
Christiana: Comienzo de la Reconquista (711-1038).
Historia de España [dirigida por Don Ramón Menéndez
Pidal], vol. 6. Espasa Calpe: Madrid, 1964.