BEGINNING AND AGGRAVATION OF THE REDEMPTION PROBLEM
Historians tell us that about the 1000, the peasants settled during the Spanish March, after the Frankish arrival, were freemen and owners of their fields. The farms were small, their production was Iimited but the peasants owned themselves and their property and were protected by thecount and his justice court.
This situation kept on going until the 1030s, when the Count of Barcelona Iost power and nobles, who were managing the great domains of the country in the Count's direction, became independent. They took the county's property, governed their domains freely and with despotism, and became absolut judges. Doing all this, they transformed themselves from Count's officials into independent jurisdictional Iords. This fact provoked that each Iord created his own police with armed knights (milites) who collected their bans following the Iord provitions.
In the 1060s, the Count of Barcelona and his wife Almodis achieved to recover some power. They bought castles and made the great Iords enter in their rooms thanks to treaties. But within these treaties there was a great Ioser: the peasant class, who could not resist the avalanche of serfdoms, charges and impositions that were pressing this class, had to assign their property and Iook for the protection of some Iords. From here to the appointment to the estate in the beginning of the 12th century and Iater to the redemption of the peasant and his family if they wanted to Ieave the farm where they worked, at the end of that century, there was only a slow and gradual process, which had just started.
The peasants of the Catalunya Vella (most of the present provinces of Girona and Barcelona) had already over their shoulders the weight of the capital abuses: íntestía, eíxorquía, cugucía, arsína and fírma d'espolí forçada (forced signature of marriage). With the imposition of the redemption as an habit barons and great Iords who were very powerful at that time got from the king-count Pere I a constitution which prohibited the fact of buying peasant's property without the consent of his Iord. The Truce and peace constitution itself did not protect peasants if they ran away from the Iordship. However the Constitution of Cervera of 1 200 was even harder, it gave the dret de maltractar (right to maltreat) to the Iords which allowed them to jail their own men and to get their property arbitrarily and without justification.
The 13th and 14th centuries were full of Court disposition against the redemption serfs. Since 1333 (the first bad year) a group of calamities in form of hunger and epidemics of bubonic plague provoked a great mortality, many peasant died and their farms became empty. Therefore, the phenomenon of the masos rònecs (deserted farms) was beginning. That phenomenon would even increase the problem of the redemption serfs because, on the one hand, Iords strengthed their demands to avoid their Ioss of incomes, and on the other hand, the Iack of Iabour forcE reinforced the peasant class due to the revaluation of their work. The first generation of revolutionary peasants had already been born. In the early 15th century, the problem in the Catalan field was terrifying. Crops were burned, graves were digged and crosses and other death signals were emerging. Lords did not want to reduce their pretensions under any circumstances, in spite of the efforts made during the reigns of Martí I'Humà (the Human) and Alfons el Magnànim (the Magnanimous). Besides, peasants, who were more aware of their raison and strength, claimed the recognition of their economic rights and human being dignity. Finally, in 1455, king Alfons interrupted temporarily the capital abuses, but it was nothing because Iords ignored the king's Sentence. The great drama of war was already. Peasants were completely decided to free themselves from the capital abuses of the personal redemption and from the right to maltreat; Iords did not want to see their abusive privileges reduced.
With the imposition of the redemption as an habit, barons and great Iords who were very powerful at that time got from the king-count Pere 1 a constitution which prohibited the fact of buying peasant's property without the consent of his Iord. The Truce and peace constitution of 1200 itself did not protect peasants if they ran away from the Iordship. However the Constitution of Cervera of 1202 was even harder, it gave the dret de maltractar (right to maltreat) to the Iords which allowed them to jail their own men and to get their property arbitrarily and without justification.
The 13th and 14th centuries were full of Court dispositions against the redemption serfs. Since 1333 (the first bad year) a group of calamities in form of hunger and epidemics of bubonic plague provoked a great mortality, many peasants died and their farms became empty. Therefore, the phenomenon of the masos rònecs (deserted farms) was beginning. That phenomenon would even increase the problem of the redemption serfs because, on the one hand, Iords strengthed their demands to avoid their Ioss of incomes, and on the other hand, the Iack of Iabour force reinforced the peasant class due to the revaluation of their work. The first generation of revolutionary peasants had already been born. In the early 15th century, the problem in the Catalan field was terrifying. Crops were burned, graves were digged and crosses and other death signals were emerging. Lords did not want to reduce their pretensions under any circumstances, in spite of the efforts made during the reigns of Martí l'Humà (the Human) and Alfons el Magnànim (the Magnanimous). Besides, peasants, who were more aware of their raison and strength, claimed the recognition of their economic rights and human being dignity. Finally, in 1455, king Alfons interrupted temporarily the capital abuses, but it was nothing because Iords ignored the king's Sentence. The great drama of war was already. Peasants were completely decided to free themselves from the capital abuses of the personal redemption and from the right to maltreat; Iords did not want to see their abusive privileges reduced.
THE ABOLISHMENT OF THE CAPITAL ABUSES BY THE SENTENCE OF GUADALUPE
According to the Sentence of Guadalupe, there were six capital abuses. The remença personal (personal redemption) was the hereditary binding which united the peasant and his family to the field. This redemption was Iinked to the obligation of any owner who wanted to abandon his field. After the Constitution of 1283, the redemption became an exclusive right of the Iord. The eíxorquía was the right of the Iord on the peasant succession when he died without issue. In this case, the deduction had been equivalent to the sons' part, if they had existed. The íntestía was the right of the Iord when the peasant died without making his will. Then, the Iord confiscated one third of the deceased property if he had Ieft widow or orphans, or one half of it if the deceased had not Ieft either widow or orphans. The cugucía was the confiscation from the Iord to one half of the adulteress property, if the adultery was commited without the consent of her husband, or to all her property if her husband agreed. The arsína represented the deduction of one third of the peasant estate when his farm was burnt. It was a punishment to his neglect. The fírma d'espolí was the price paid to the lord when he agreed to his vassal marrying; the Iord signed at the end of the marriage agreement.
THE WARS OF THE REDEMPTION SERFS
It was in 1462 when king Joan 11 and the Díputacíó del General (the former Catalan autonomous government) broke their relations. Joana Enríquez, the wife of the Catalan king's Iieutenant, sheltered in the city of Girona with her son Ferran, where she was defended by the redemption serfs. Meanwhile, in the domains of the Mountain some decided redemption serfs were gathering and, at that moment, Francesc de Verntallat appeared as a clear Ieader. He was born in Sant Privat d'en Bas and was married in Batet where he used to work as a peasant. Some violent riots took place in that zone, especially in Ia Vall d'Hostoles and Ia Vall de Santa Pau, where peasants were unhappy. When the hostilities began, about the 20th of May, the Queen comunicated to Verntallat that he was the nominated Ieader of the peasant host and owner of the "royal flags''. Helping the king, the redemption serfs watched over their interests. During this first war of the redemption serfs, Verntallat remained strong in the Mountains, from where he both helped with supplies the city of Girona and attacked it once the enemy had conquered it. Hostoles was his headquarters, however Verntallat with a well organized reduced army as soon was in Ia Vall d'Hostoles as in Vic, in Vallfogona, in Camprodon, in Rupit or even in other spots of the Mountain. Once the war was over in 1472, the king did not solve the redemption serf problem, although he granted with some privileges those redemption serfs from the Mountain who had helped him. He created the Viscounty of Hostoles, to tame those Mountain serfs. There, Verntallat Ieaded a rebellion from 1472 to 1481. In 1481, in the Corts of Barcelona, king Ferran 11, forced by Iords, granted a constitution that accepted capital abuses which had been abolished in 1455. That represented the Iast straw. The second war began with the uprising of Mieres, on the 22nd of September 1484, under the Ieadership of Pere Joan Sala, who came from Granollers de Rocacorba. Pere Joan Sala went to the plain and dared to blockade the city of Girona. In January he defeated a troop whose Ieader was the chief magistrate of Barcelona in Montornés del Vallès; later he entered in Granollers, Sabadell and Terrassa, but he was defeated in Llerona, he became a prisoner and finally he was executed. The nerve of Sala drove him near Barcelona and this was probably his fault. The king thought about the action of Sala and he saw that the only possible solution was the pacification process. Vicens Vives says that without the second war of the redemption serfs, the Constitution of 1481 would be the Iegal instrument of the modern serfdom of the Catalan peasants. The more revolutionary and warlike position of Sala was complementary of that of Verntallat who was in favour of treaties and a strong passive resistance in the Mountains. Both positions strengthened the situation of the redemption serfs, in spite of Sala's defeat.
THE PACIFICATION PROCESS
Once the second war was over, Infante Enric, king Ferran's Iieutenant in Catalonia, carried out a time of repression. However, the peasants still preserved their force. The Iieutenant anounced that he had managed to bring peace to the country. It was false. Even king Ferran said to the consellers of Barcelona in a Ietter written from Ronda on the 4th of May 1485: ''Those Mountains still are not peaceful Iands''. In fact, Verntallat and the redemption serfs kept all the castles in the Mountain. There was no war because any of the enemies moved from their territory. Nobody dared to start a new conflict. Within these circumstances, king Ferran adopted a policy of pacification. He sent their attorneys, first Margarit and Iater Iñigo Lòpez de Mendoza, in order to negociate with the peasants. Negociations were held with the staff of the redemption serfs, and meetings almost always took place in the Mountain or in Ia Selva: Sant Feliu de Pallerols, Sant Gregori, Cassà de Ia Selva, Viloví d'Onyar, Quart, Sant Esteve de Llémana, Olot. Verntallat did not Ieave his territory; both Margarit and López de Mendoza always had to go in there. Finally, on the 8th of Novembre 1485, the agreemant of Amer was signed. Thanks to this agreement, the redemption serfs accepted the arbitration of king Ferran between the lords and the peasants. Besides, the redemption serfs accepted to give their castles. This agreement failed because in mid December, Verntallat still had not given his castle of Hostoles.
THE ARBITRAL SENTENCE OF GUADALUPE
Although the agreement of Amer was signed on the 8th of November 1485, the Sentence was not signed before the 21st of April 1486, due to some reticences of the redemption serfs of the Mountain. On the 5th of December, the king regreted that Verntallat had not given his castle of Hostoles in spite of his promise sworn in Amer. In January, the representatives of the redemption serfs of the Mountain still had not gone to the Royal Court. In February, the king had to give a formal order to Verntallat: ''... we order Verntallat to come here, and we assure him that if he does not come immediately we will punish him...''. Verntallat left the Mountain on the 1st of Mars. The sentence was signed in the monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe (Extremadura) on the 21st of April 1486 and, according to the great part of historians, it is seen as the great legal instrument that brought the peace to the Catalan field. This Sentence made by king Ferran II abolished the six following capital abuses: remença personal, íntestía, eíxorquía, cugucía, arsína and fírma d'espolí víolenta. It also abolished the dret de prendre i maltractar (right to take over and maltreat) and made the lords responsible of its application. The sentence Iaid down that peasants had to render homage to their Iords for the property of Iands, farms and other honours; it allowed peasants to abandon the Iand and to go freely where they wanted. It abolished particular personal abuses too: jus primae noctis, economic abuses Iike the prohibition of saling wheat, oat, wine and other products without the consent of the Iord.The Sentence also abolished many other rights if they were not written down. This Sentence also granted Iords with an economic compensation for the abolishement of capital abuses and another compensation to the king of 50.000 Catalan pounds payable within a term of 10 years and which sum was due to the Court since the reign of Alfons the Magnanimous. After the sentence, people who had killed, stolen and burnt churches were executed, although the king kept his power to commute death sentences. What happened with the peasants according to this sentence? , Pierre Vilar asks himself: ''they obteined the freedom, the abolishement of the redemption, the capital abuses and the right to take over and maltreat. This was the true guarantee. However, peasants did not become owners. Nowadays, the Iordly right and hereditary Iease are still in force in Catalonia. The Iack of freedom was not useful any more to pay the right to the establishement on the cultivation. The lordly rights would not be heavy if the cultivated Iands were wide. These measures did not affect all the peasants but an important rate of them... The fight for the condition of Iand was over and peace would remain for many centuries... Ten years after the Sentence of Guadalupe, a new balance was imposed undoubtedly''.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE PHENOMENON OF THE REDEMPTION SERFS
1000 The Justice Court of the count of Barcelona Ramon Borrell, guarantees peasants' freedom and the ownership of their fields.
1030-60 From the jurisdiction of chief magistrates to the Iordship.Nobles usurp the counts' power and public rights, they dictate laws and apply justice in their domains. Great economic charges and personal serfdoms are imposed to peasants.
1100 The redemption serfdom is imposed in fact. Peasants are considered as part of the land they work.
1118-49 Reconquest of the last part of the Catalunya Nova (most of the present provinces of Lleida and Tarragona), where peasants settle with a higher degree of freedom. In the Catalunya Vella, peasants suffer a hard oppression.
1150 Definitive compilation of the Usages of Barcelona, where the redemption serfdom and the capital abuses intestia,eixorquia and cugucia are accepted. Later, arsina, and firma d'espoli forçada, both created as an habit, will joint the rest
of capital abuses. Peasants consider capital abuses as terrible charges. .
1198 In Barcelona. Truce and peace constitution AOUESTA ES LA PAU... Where is prohibited to buy peasant property without the consent of the lord.
1200 In Barcelona. Truce and peace constitution DE LES DIVINALS... If peasants run away from the Iordship they are not protected because the lord can cauth them without breaking the Truce and peace.
1202 In Cervera, under the reign of King-count Pere I.
Constitution of Corts: EN L'ANY DE NOSTRE SENYOR... It gave Iords the dret de maltractar (right to maltreat). The lord can jail his vassal and get his property arbitrarily and without justification. This terrible abuse will not be abolished until the Sentence of Guadalupe in 1486.
1207 The word "redemption" appears in the private saling documents. Peasants are sold together with their farms and the have to redeem theirselves if they want to abandon their farms. It consists on the redemption in fact imposed as an habit.
1214 During the minority of Jaume I. Constitution of the Cardinal Pere. A HONOR DE DEU... The truce and peace in the lord's domains only can be applied with the consent of the lord.
1250 ''Commemorations of Pere Albert". Compilation of customary right which fixes the Iegal condition of the redemption serfs.
1283 Corts of Barcelona. Constitution EN LES TERRES O LLOCS... of the king-count Pere II. It consists on the obligatory redemption for the peasant and his family if they want to abandon their farm, wherever the redemption is an habit (Catalunya Vella). The peasant becomes an instrument of the agricultural production and his Iife is in the Iord's hands.
1299 Barcelona. Constitution ORDENAM OUE OUISCUN... of Jaume II, where the redemption serfs can not circulate freely.
1321 Girona. Constituion STATUIM E ENCARA ORDENAM... King's officers will not protect the redemption serfs.
1333 "Lo mal any primer" (the first bad year). It begins a time of hunger and epidemics of bubonic plague that will persist until 1387. Great mortality. Many farms are abandoned due to the death of their inhabitants. It also begins the problem of the masos rònecs.
1339 Under the reign of Pere III el Cerimoniós (the Ceremonious) a pragmatic is published. REVERENDO IN CHRISTO... Churchmen can not redeem themselves from the serfdom although they go to royal spots.
1370 Council of Tarragona. Redemption serfs can not receive holly orders.
1348-70 King Pere el Cerimoniós sells many royal jurisdictions to lords.
1391 King Joan I tries to carry out a policy in order to favorate the redemption serfs. These peasants say, ''the serfdom time is over''.
1400 Great riots in the fields. Crops are burned, graves are digged and crosses and other death signals are emerging. The problem of the masos rònencs joints to the redemption serfs's one.
1402 King Martí I'Humà tries to recover sold jurisdictions and peasants want the king to recover them.
1432 Constitution. COMMEMORANTES... Due to the riots, king Alfons el Magnànim remembers that lord can announce the escape of his redemption serfs in fairs and markets and he can seek them as ''outlaws of truce and peace''. It is the Iast obstacle in the emancipation of the redemption serfs.
1439 Tomas Mieres's compilation CONSUETUDINES DIOCESIS GERUNDENSIS. It collects the applicated right in the Diocese of Girona: the capital abuses, the redemption serfdom, the personal redemption and the right to maltreat.
1444 Bails show the great number of redemption serfs of the Mountain,
1455 Due to the high pressure made by the peasants, king Alfons dictates a Sentence where capital abuses are temporarily abolished. Lords ignore this Sentence.
1462 Great riots and violence in the Mountain, especially in Ia Vall d'Hostoles and Ia Vall de Sta. Pau. The Diputació and the king break their relations. Queen Joana Enríquez shelters in Girona, where she is protected by the redemption serfs.
1462-72 Civil war and rebellion of the redemption serfs. Verntallat, leader of the redemption serfs, resists during ten years in the zone of the mountain and he Ieads the operations from his castle of Hostoles. In spite of the important role of the redemption serfs in king Joan II's victory, he does not solve the conflict between lords and redemption serfs.
1474 Creation of the viscounty of Hostoles. Vicens Vives says that from 1472 to 1481, the rebel zone of the Mountain, Ied by Verntallat, resists.
1475 Verntallat helps the redemption serfs of Corçà who has risen up against the Capítol of the See of Girona which wants to receive some incomes. In August, he makes the proclamation of Contestins and organizes the armed resistance with the slogan "Via fora, sacramental".
1480 Provition of the abbots of Ripoll, Banyoles and Besalú against the redemption serfs, to which the canons of the See of Girona accept.
1481 Barcelona. Constitution COM PER LO SENYOR... granted by Ferran II, where he revokes the Sentence of 1455 and capital abuses are accepted again. This event will provoke another conflict.
1484-85 Second war of the redemption serfs: Pere Joan Sala is defeated in Llerona. This war makes the king think, and he starts the negociation process.
1485 Verntallat keep on resisting in the mountain. King Ferran announces the agreement which is accepted by the redemption serfs, in Amer on the 8th of November.
1486 On the 21st of April the Arbitral Sentence is signed in Guadalupe. It abolishes the capital abuses, the personal redemption, the right to maltreat and other abuses. It is the Peace of the redemption serfs.
1498? Francesc de Verntallat, the main leader of the redemption serfs, dies in St. Feliu de Pallerols,
PUBLISHER: Organizing commitee of the 500 years of the death of Francesc de Verntallat, leader of the redemption serfs