Count of Barcelona

The Count of Barcelona (Catalan: Comte de Barcelona, Spanish: Conde de Barcelona) was the ruler of Catalonia for much of Catalan history, from the 9th until the 17th century.

The County of Barcelona was created by Charlemagne after he had conquered lands north of the river Ebro. These lands, called the Marca Hispanica, were partitioned into various counties, of which the Count of Barcelona, usually holding other counties simultaneously, eventually obtained the primacy over the region.

As the county became hereditary in one family, the bond of the counts to their Frankish overlords loosened, especially after the Capetian dynasty supplanted the Carolingians.

In the 12th century the Counts formed a dynastic union with the Kingdom of Aragon, merging the two realms under a single ruler. In 1258, the king of France relinquished his feudal authority over the County in the Treaty of Corbeil.

Barcelona remained part of the Crown of Aragon when the latter around 1500 entered into a union with the Kingdom of Castile, thereby forming the Spanish Kingdom. It maintained its own laws, taxes and privileges until they were removed after the War of the Spanish Succession in the 18th century.

Count of Barcelona remained one of the many hereditary titles of the Spanish monarchy.

In the 20th century, the title regained some prominence when Juan de Borbón, the exiled heir to the Spanish throne, adopted the title of Count of Barcelona. In doing so, he claimed a historical royal title without claiming to be the current king of Spain, especially after his son Juan Carlos became the prospective successor of the then-ruler of Spain, Francisco Franco. In 1977, after Juan Carlos had become King upon Franco's death in 1975, he officially awarded the title of Count of Barcelona to his father, who had renounced his rights to the throne. Juan held that title until his death in 1993, when it reverted back to the King who has held it ever since. Juan de Borbón's widow used the title Countess of Barcelona until her death in 2000.

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