History of Andorra
1. Prehistory (3.500
B.C.-2nd. century B.C.)
There are no findings regarding
populations in this area during the Paleolithic age, nevertheless
nomad tribes crossed undoubtedly the area at that time. The
valleys in the Pyrenees where inhabitated at a later time.
The prehistoric glacial period delayed the population of the
During the period known as Neolithic (3.500 B.C.-2.000 B.C.)
small groups of people lived by the Valira river, mainly at
"Sant Julià de Lòria". Some other
groups dwelled caves placed at "Cim de Pal", "Roc
de Llunsí", "Massana" and "Arinsal".
During the year 1.959, was found the oldest skeleton of Andorra.
It was a woman that lived about 4000 years ago, and found
at the "Balma de la Margineda", where they also
found arrow tips, flinstone industry, bone tools, ceramic
During this period, we can affirm the existence of the first
stabilization of the population, that adopt the particular
characteristics that will identify in the future as the genuine
"andorrans", the "Andosins".
The Andorra dwellers at the time, passed from a depredation
economy to a steady and constructive one, building hamlets
at the foot of "Serra d'Enclar", "Roureda del
Cedre" and others, receiving from the passing by travellers,
the "Bronze-culture" (taking advantage of all the
metals found in "Arinsal").
On the other hand, there is the evidence of progress in the
Megalithic industry, as shown by some dolmens ("Encamp"),
cave paintings as the "Roca de les Bruixes", "Prats",
"Ordino" and "Massana". They spoke an
Iberic dialect (Basque-type), that is still present at the
toponymy of the zone (Andorra, "Ordino", "Canillo",
"Arinsal", "Erts", "Certers",
etc.). We know that the primitive Andorrans adore the forces
of nature, the forests, the lakes, etc. From this time they
found as well "16" Iberic coins at "Sant Julià
2. Ancient Age (2nd
century B.C. till 7th century A.D.)
Centuries passed away. At 220
B.C. Romans and Carthaginians fought each other to conquer
the Iberian Peninsula. Polybius, the greek historian, refers
to the Roman expedition of Hannibal, that went through the
Pyrenees (219 B.C.-218 B.C.):
"After he made all preparations
during the winter, and once he had guaranteed the absolute
security of Africa and Spain, and when the day arrived, he
advanced his army with 90.000 infantry-men and 12.000 cavalry-men.
(...) He passed and crossed the "Segre" river, submitted
the tribes of "Ilergetes", "Bargusis",
"Arenosis" and "Andosins" till he arrived
to the Pyrenees, having many battles and a great deal of losses
in his army ..."
But Hannibal failed and Rome
strengthen its Empire. The Roman influence is evident in Law,
language origin, coins of the period and toponimic names as
"Escaldes", "La Massana", "Encamp",
"Incles", "Sispony", "Tristaina",
"Valira", "Runer", etc. Regarding the
language, this was originally at the "Valleys" probably
a conjunction "Basque Iberic", as shows the "Andorran
toponymy", with some "basque" evidences. The
agricultural improvements that came from outside, make a great
deal of benefit, in the archaic mountain crops.
During 414 A.D. barbarian Visigoths took "Narbone"
and passed to "Hispania". Andorra, was dependant
of Visigoths Monarchs as said in the "Manual Digest".
3. Middle Age (700
Three hundred years later, the
Visigoths were eliminated by other invaders, the "Muslims".
The take over of the Muslims getting into Andorra, through
the Segre valley, was absolutely minimal, at least in a direct
way, and the real evidences are the minute remnants of Arab
population used the Valleys of Andorra as a shortcut to reach
Toulouse, Narbonne, Carcassone and Nimes.
The famous battle of Poitiers, where Carles Martell defeated
Arabs, and that of "Roncesvalles" marked the end
of those expeditions to the other part of the Pyrenees (732
Andorra, is considered to be founded by the Emperor Charlemagne.
As tradition says, five thousand andorrans, conducted by Marc
Almugàver, appeared at the "Vall de Carol"
to help the army of Charlemagne, located at "Pimorent"
and "Campcardòs" in order to fight Muslims.
The emperor thankful to the Andorran army gave his protection
to Andorra and declare it as "Sovereign People"
"Fiter i Rossell" writes in the "Manual Digest"
that the Valleys were recovered to the Arabs by Charlemagne,
and so were submitted to his supreme dominion. The emperor
give the "dècimes" (tenths) and some other
rights to the Bishops of Urgell. There exists a "Bill
of Andorra's Foundation", kept by the archive of the
Principate; this bill was issued by Charlemagne to his son
"Lluís" and it is not accepted by all the
historians, because it was written and given in a late period.
This document establish that Andorran people, where his tributaries,
but however he specifies that they only have to pay "one
or two fishes as tribute", this fact is quite peculiar,
because is the first reference to the "Valira's trouts".
Nevertheless, Andorra yet reminds the protection of the great
emperor, and at the National Anthem sings:
"The great Charlemagne, my father,
set me free from the Arabs"...
The fact is that Andorra as well as
L'Urgell and "La Cerdanya" passed in 817 A.D. to
depend of the Carolingian Sovereignty integrating themselves
in the "Marca of Tolosa". We suppose that when the
Carolingian Empire disappear, during the kingdom of "Carles
el Calb" (Charles the Bald) (823 A.D.-877 A.D.) this
king gave the Andorran territory to Sunifred the first, count
of Cerdanya and Urgell (843 A.D.), thanking him specifically
his help in the fights against Normands.
The year 839 A.D. is the moment to rebuild the territory of
the Pyrenees. Forty six years before, the Arabs have destroyed
the cathedral of Urgell. At this time, they set up a new one
in the place called "Vicus".
The first unquestionable document regarding the history of
Andorra is the "Act of Consecration and Assignment of
the Cathedral of Urgell" done by the bishop in front
of the Count Sunifred the first of Urgell. In this document,
they specifically cite the six andorran parishes, as being
dependant of such diocese:
"Tradimus namque ipsas parroquias
de Valle HAndorransis id est ipsa parroquia de Lauredia atque
Andorra cum Sancta Columba sive illa Maciana atque Hordinaui
uel Hencamp sive Kanillaue cum omnibus ecclesiis atque villulis
uel uilarunculis earum."
("We give as well the parishes of the Valleys of Andorra,
this is to say, Loria and Andorra, and Santa Coloma, Massana,
Ordino, Encamp, and Canillo with all their churches and possessions,
big or small.")
During this century and the next,
by means of purchases and permutes, the successors of the
counts of Urgell, enlarge their possessions at Andorra.
The year 988 A.D. count Borrell the second of Barcelona and
the bishop Sal.la, reach an exchange agreement for their property:
the first mentioned gave lands of Lòria, Santa Coloma
and Ordino in change of several rights for "Berga"
While the "romanic" evolves at the Principate, the
episcopal dominions increase at Andorra, thanks to several
concessions from private people and from the counts of Urgell,
always backed by the Popes, ending this situation in 1133
when count Ermengol the 4th of Urgell, gave to the bishop
"Pere Berenguer" and the Cathedral of Urgell, by
means of an indemnification of 1.200 "sous", all
the rights that have or may have in the future to the Valleys
of Andorra, "in perpetuity and without any reservation"
and orders to the inhabitants of the Valleys to swear fidelity
to the bishop and his successors, and respect all the duties
of good vassals. Altogether with count Ermengol guarantee
this donation the six andorran delegates, "Arnau"
count of the "Pallars", "Pere de Castellbó"
viscount d'Urgell and "Cerdanya" and "Miró
Guitard", Master of the "Valls de Cabó and
The territorial dominion of the bishop of Urgell, was then
transformed into a "jurisdictional mastership" and
their relations with Andorra will be in the future of "feudal
style". So Andorra, converts in an episcopal mastery
The "Caboet", Masters of the "Valls de Cabó
and Sant Joan" convene with the bishop "Bernat Sanç",
the supremacy of the "Mitre of Urgell" over his
rights at the Valleys of Valira.
But when the mastery power exercised the "mitre",
rose the trouble. During 1162 A.D. being bishop "Bernat
Sanç", an agreement regarding the election of
mayors was signed, compromising a yearly tribute: "four
hams, forty breads and a little bit of wine". In 1176
a new agreement with bishop "Arnau de Preixens",
completes and explains fully the above mentioned one, the
people from Andorra accepted the compromise of giving the
bishop "one hundred 'diners' every two years", in
Christmas day. This concordant agreement was signed by 838
"house heads" from Andorra, and thanks to this data
we can establish the existing population at the Valleys at
that time (1176), 2.298 inhabitants approx.
But, since the middle of the XIth century, the Bishops of
Urgell had lived quite worried, because they could not secure
their dominions, so the bishop entrust the "Caboet"
the defense of Andorra, giving in change properties and some
rights in the Valleys. So, in 1096, "Guitard Isarn de
Caboet" swear fidelity to the bishop "Bernat Sanç",
in 1110 "Guillem Guitard" did the same, and in 1159
"Arnau de Caboet".
In 1185, "Arnaua", lady of the "Caboet family",
married "Arnau de Castellbó" (heir at law
of the viscountcy of Castellbó), and this unite his
name to the destiny of Andorra.
Taking advantage of the antiecclesistical climate, promoted
by the heresy, the troops of the "Viscountcy of Castellbó"
and those of the "Count of Foix", steal and destroy
the cathedral of Urgell and many other churches, because "Arnau"
as well as his heiress and only daughter "Ermessenda"
practice "Catarism". Anyhow, during 1201 A.D. the
bishop "Bernat de Vilamur" and "Arnau de Castellbó"
reach an agreement, and the bishop granted the Viscount and
his daughter the "investiture" of the Valley of
Andorra, asking in change to swear fidelity to him by both.
Seven years later, "Ermessenda" marries "Roger
Bernat II" count of Foix. Now they unite states and rights
of the "Caboet", "Castellbó" and
"Foix". The matrimonial alliances, enlarge even
more the "House of Foix". In 1257, "Roger Bernat
III", marries "Margarida de Bearn" and convert
himself in one of the mightiest magnates of Southern France,
as well as from the kingdom of Catalunya-Aragó. Considering
himself that he had no ties and submission to the bishop,
initiates a period of struggle in some cases serious and bloody.
The situation get worse when "Pere III el Gran"
from Aragó, gives support to the rights of the bishop,
while his brother "Jaume II" of Mallorca, "Rosselló"
and "Cerdanya", married to "Esclarmonda"
(sister of "Roger Bernat III) protected his brother in
law, the Count of Foix. "Pere II" of Catalunya forced
the count of Foix and the bishop of Urgell to reach an agreement,
by which the last party gave part of his rights, and both
rested as co-sovereigns of Andorra. The signature was done
at "Lleida" the 8th of September of 1278 A.D.
This agreement is known as "primer pariatge" (first
co sovereignty) being a very important deed in the history
of the Principate of Andorra.
Several years after, on December the 6th of 1288, both co
masters signed a "second pariatge". The andorran
people had the moment two sovereigns. Thanks to this situation,
that remain through history, Andorra has maintained its independence
if front of powerful nations on both border-lines.
Both co-princeps, living outside Andorra, named their councilors
every other year alternatively, receiving the tribute of the
"Questia", given by the andorrans. Andorra, then
conforms as the actual co principate. The andorran people
at that time feed normally of bread, milk, and some vegetables,
as well as cheese "de llesca" (laminated), used
usually to pay tributes.
In year 1419 A.D., "Andreu d'Alàs" as a messager
of the Valleys of Andorra, got from the bishop co-prince "Francesc
de Tovia" and the count of Foix, "Joan I" the
permission to create the "Consell de la Terra" (Earth
Council) -origin of the "General Council"-. At the
same time they granted the right to the people of Andorra
(in this election the only able to vote were the house-heads
of the most important "houses or families") to elect
several people to represent them in the Council. This Council
may be considered one of the oldest Parliaments in Europe.
In the year 1469, "Ferran" of Aragó married
"Isabel de Castella", and in 1479 on the other hand,
"Gastó IV de Foix" viscount of "Castellbó"
and of "Foix", co-prince of Andorra, marries "Joan
d'Albret". The "Albrets" became the kings of
Navarre, dominating as well "Foix", "Bearn"
and "Bigorre", being at the same time co-princes
The attempts of annexation of the catalan lands dependant
of the countcy of "Foix" to the crown catalano-aragonesa,
done by Pere II de Catalunya (and IIIrd of Aragó) (1280-1283),
"Alfons II" (1333-34) and "Marti the Human"
(1396-1400) did not arrive, having account their temporary
character, to interrupt the continuity of the peculiar regime
of the andorran valley.
4. Modern Age (1.512
5. Twentieth Century
The institutions, maintain their
spirit, and curiously are respected, as "Civil Justice"
administered by "batlles" appeal judges and superior
courts; "Criminal Justice" administered by the "Tribunal
de Corts"; and the "Administrative-neighbour to neighbour"
by the Court of "Veeduria" and places as "Sant
Julià de Lòria" are witnesses. In 1899 they
constitute the "Road Administrative Joint" that during
1907 found a definite impulse by the new co-prince, "Joan
Benlloch i Vivó". Starting in 1914, Andorra, begins
to break its traditional isolation, by the construction of the
first road communicating Andorra and the "Seu d'Urgell".
During 1933, this road is continued till the "Pas de la
Casa", border-line with France.
The survival, after the definite
union of those territories to the royal patrimony, decreed
a century later by "Ferran II of Catalunya Aragó"
(1512), results completely unexplained.
To say the truth, however "Ferran II the Catholic"
(1512) conquers the southern part of Navarre and later obtains
the viscountcy of "Castellbó" and the valleys
of Andorra, and although he gave this as donation next year
to his second woman, "Germana de Foix" as life present
converted in perpetual by "Carles V" (1519 and 1523),
the andorran people, continues being loyal and paying regularly
the "Questia" to the kings of Navarre-counts of
"Foix" as established in the previous "pariatges".
In 1589, "Enric III" king of Navarre and count of
"Foix", became king of France, with the name of
"Enric IV". This king, educated in the protestantism
by his mother "Joana D'Albert", embraced the catholicism,
in order to reach the French throne. "Lluís XIII"
successor of "Enric IV" incorporates during 1607
the countcy of "Foix" to the French Crown, and this
fact converted him in co-prince of Andorra with the bishop
of Urgell, dignity that two centuries later, once disappeared
the monarchy in France, passed to the following heads of the
Fortunately for Andorra, none of its mighty neighbours, never
attempted to make reivindications that could go further that
those established in the medieval "pariatges".
This let Andorra keep its co-sovereignty, and obtain as well
a "corpus" of privileges, juridical (citizens of
a neutral country, no military service, no war contributions
or of a foreign country occupation) as well as commercial
(basically, free circulation of goods between both border-lines
and very reduced taxes).
The first years of the 18th century, Andorra maintains neutral
during the war of Spanish Succession, that affected so much
Catalunya. During 1715 the bishop of Urgell, "Simeó
de Guinda" dictates several orders, indicating the consuls
of the Valleys of Andorra not to obey any order dictated by
third parties others than the king of France or himself co-princes
of the Valleys of Andorra.
Later on, appears in Andorra the most important person of
the "Il.lustració", "Antoni Fiter i
Rossell", attorney at law, born in Ordino, that compiled
"the uses and costumes" of Andorra in the "Manual
Digest", published during 1748. In this book, he transcripted
everything that was in the andorran archives starting with
the documents of "Charlemagne" and "Lluís
el Piadós". The original manuscript is kept at
the House of "Ordino", but there are two more copies:
one at the closet of the seven keys of the House of the "Valls
d'Andorra" (1580), and the other one at the bishopric
of "Seu D'Urgell".
In 1763, clergy "Antoni Puig", born in "Les
Escaldes", writes another very important book for the
history of Andorra, inspired in that of "Fiter i Rossell",
entitled "Politar Andorrà", a costumes book
describing the privileges of the Principate and the attributions
of the authorities in other topics. These two books, well
understood that have to be contextualized at that time, show
evidence that Andorra did not live isolated of the european
ideological currents in the 18th century.
In 1789, the French Revolution places Andorra between two
powerful nations, France and Spain, confronted permanently.
Beheaded "Lluís XVI" (1-21st-1793) the "pariatge"
was interrupted because the french revolutionaries considered
the acceptance of tributes of the "Questia", as
simple feudal remnants. So, France decided to renounce to
all her master rights on Andorra not accepting the payment
of the "Questia", this fact put in a serious risk
the neutrality of the Valleys as well as the privileges attained
from the french kings in the past.
In 1794, during the war with Spain, french troops penetrate
till "Soldeu" in an attempt to occupate the "Seu
D'Urgell". Representatives from Andorra, went to "Puigcerdà",
where General "Chabret" had his headquarters, and
convinced him to renounce to the operation. Years later, on
Andorran request, in 1806, "Napoleon Ist" re-established
the positions of "Veguer" and "French Batlle",
the "Questia" and the custom exemptions given in
the past by king "Lluís XVth".
This definite re-establishment of the "co-sovereignty"
marked a new period in the history of Andorra. We can say
that the Valleys of Andorra get open to the world. The first
european travellers, get interested by the beauty of landscapes
and their customs. Appear the first books, as "Relació
sobre la Vall d'Andorra" written by "Fray Tomas
Junoy". Even the music crosses the border-lines: in 1848
the opera of Paris plays Halevy's piece "La Val d'Andorra",
and in 1852 in Madrid was presented the "sarsuela"
"El Valle de Andorra" from "mestre Gaztambide".
At the same time, the andorran neutrality was seriously threatened
by the Spanish dynastic conflict, and their associated battles.
Frequently, "liberals" and "Charlists"
look for shelter in the Valleys, as for example "Dalmau
de Baquer" that even wrote a book entitled "History
of the Republic of Andorra".
In the year 1866, "Guillem de Plandolit i d'Areny"
nobleman and rich landowner, headed the "Nova Reforma",
that was accepted by the bishop "Josep Caixal i Estradé"
in April 14th 1866. This deep reform of the institutions gives
a more active participation of the people in the government
of Andorra. The "General Council" is composed by
24 "Consellers", that will be elected by the "síndics".
Three years later, the co-prince "Napoleon IIIrd"
ratified the reform done.
During the last years of the last century, the economic difficulties,
forced many people to migrate, at the same time they inaugurated
the first telephone and telegraph lines. At the end of the
19th century, Andorra, was an almost unknown and isolated
country, that from time to time was visited by some travellers
that frequently wrote down the accounts of their journeys.
Meanwhile, in 1914, the "Virgin of Meritxell" is declared
"Patrona de les Valls d'Andorra", reckoning this way
an andorran tradition of unknown origin, by Pope "Pius
X". The Cardinal "Vidal i Barraquer", archbishop
of Tarragone, altogether with the bishop co prince "Justí
Guitart", crown the image of the "Mother of God from
Meritxell" on September the 8th (National Holiday of the
Principate) of 1921. We must emphasize as a highlight the first
public interpretation of the National Anthem of Andorra, during
the above mentioned act. In 1928, the Spanish Government creates
a postal service between Andorra and Spain, printing stamps
on andorran topics. France will do the same three years later.
In 1929, are installed the first electric plants, because up
to this point every parish made its own electricity with small
electric generators. The new society "Forces Hidroelèctriques
d'Andorra, S.A. (FHASA)", acquired all the exploitation
rights of the andorran waters. The concession of this hydroelectric
plant attracts workers from outside the Principate.
The aspiration of the Andorran people to exercise their universal
right to vote (universal suffrage) not restricted, causes during
1933, a great political and social tension. On June the 10th,
the "Tribunal de les Corts" removes the "Council",
and the permanent delegates of the co-princes convoke elections.
The electoral system, was reformed in July 17th, and from now
on every man older than 30 years would be eligible, voting only
men 25 years and older.
As a curious happening we must say that during 1934, a Russian
citizen called "Boris Skossyreff" Count of Orange,
propose the "General Council" to be nominated King
of Andorra, stating that he would accomplish the transformation
and modernization of the country. The bishop of "Seu d'Urgell"
disapproved it, and as an answer he declare the war, proclaiming
himself "Sovereign Prince", and convoking general
The bishop of "Seu d'Urgell" let a group of civil
guards to enter in the Principate, under the command of sergeant,
arresting the Russian citizen. He was sent to Barcelona, and
once judged was sent out of Spain. During 1935, the "General
Council" establish the concession of a radio: "Radio
Andorra". Between 1936 and 1945 (Spanish Civil War and
Second World War) Andorra continues with its strict neutrality,
and gave shelter to the continuous arrival of political refugees
and immigrants. During 1937 Andorra suffered severe floods.
In 1940, during the second world war, German troops arrived
till "Pas de la Casa", and Spanish garrison established
at "Seu d'Urgell", but the intervention of the apostolic
nuncio "Monseigneur Antoniutti", avoided confrontation.
In 1943, was done the last execution of a death penalty in the
Valleys. In 1944, German troops, without any permission by the
bishop of "Seu d'Urgell", and a group of Spanish Civil
Guards stationed in Andorra, but they did not have any confrontation
until they left in 1945.
The standard of living at the Principate starts being that of
a modern state. Population duplicates in 12 years arriving to
12.199 in 1964. At this point begins the commercial and touristic
take off, as a consequence of the increase in the standard of
living. They developed the first ski resorts to practice winter
sports. The ski is declared national sport. New generations
of andorran people educated in foreign countries start to appear.
In 1968, is created the "Caixa Andorrana de Seguretat"
(CASS), and the automatic telex and telephone service. In 1967,
the co-prince "Charles de Gaulle" was received enthusiastically
at the Principate. Three years later, during 1970 the electoral
law is reformed again, and women are allowed to vote from now
Now, men and women older than 21 years are allowed to vote,
being eligible as well. In 1973, the first encounter of the
co-princes since the 13th century S.S.E.E. "Joan Martí
i Alanis" and "George Pompidou". In 1978, the
parish "Escaldes-Engordany" segregates from "Andorra
la Vella", and became the seventh civil parish of the Principate.
Years after, Andorra enter the "World Tourism Organization";
separate executive and legislative powers, and in January the
14th 1982 establishes the first government of Andorra, with
"Mr. Oscar Ribas" as President. During this year,
Andorra suffered severe floods, that left uncommunicated the
Principate and caused a great number of dead and injured. During
1984, the Head of the Government, resigned and in 1989, the
nationalist candidates won the elections. Between 1990 and 1992,
Andorra signed an agreement with the European Economic Community,
approves the "Penal Code", and the population census
increases a great deal.
The year 1993, Andorra lived a great moment, approving the "Constitution",
and the entry in the United Nations, and all their entities.
The representative of the Principate, raises the catalan language
to the highest European institutions, using this language (official
language of Andorra) in his speech at the U. N.
Nowadays, Andorra, under the government of the "Molt Honorable
Sr. Marc Forné i Molné", consolidates as
a great touristic and commercial center, as well as in the practice
of winter and mountain sports, as well as an incomparable place
to enjoy some days with its thermoludic complex "Caldea".
Meanwhile, the modernization of the Principate continues, as
is shown by the concession of new television frequencies that
permit the reception of the spanish private televisions, because
till now the only public televisions received were the catalans
TV3 and C33, spanish (TVE-1 and the "2") and french
(TF1, A2 and FR3, actually not all of them are public tv), and
the definite consolidation of the Andorra Television (ATV).
At the moment, on December 11th 1997, the Government of Andorra
made a proposal in order to issue driving licenses to young
people (16 years old) being accompanied by an adult, and this
can be compared with the rest of European countries such as