Carolingian Catalonia: The Spanish March and the Franks, c.750–c.1050


Correspondence: Department of History, Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, USA. Email:


Catalonia is an autonomous community within modern Spain with a distinct history. In the Middle Ages the region became a key component of the Crown of Aragon, and it has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention for its wealth, power, and ‘feudal revolution’. Most historians recognize but do not emphasize the earlier history of the later principality, with roots in the Carolingian period. This article draws attention to the conclusions reached by historians who have built our understanding of Catalonia's early medieval history. The nucleus of the later Catalonia was the Carolingian Spanish March, established as the Franks conquered the territory in the period around 800 CE. The Spanish March functioned as an integral province of the Carolingian Empire, and its leaders, both Franks and locals, played important roles in the dynamics of monarchy in the ninth century. In the tenth century, as Carolingian royal power faded, the locally based leaders of the Spanish March had to find their own ways through trying times. By the beginning of the 11th century, the Carolingian legacy remained intact, even as Frankish royal authority was a thing of the past.