Compromise of Caspe

The Compromise of Caspe made in 1412 was an act and resolution of parliamentary representatives on behalf of the Kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia and the County of Barcelona, to resolve the interregnum commenced by the death of King Martin I of Aragon in 1410 without a legitimate heir, in Caspe.

The succession laws of the Aragonese Empire at that time were rather hazy, based more on custom than any specific legislation, and even case law did not exist. All successions in time of united Barcelona-Aragon had been to the eldest son, to the next younger brother, or to the only daughter. However, earlier successions indicated that agnates (males in male line) of Aragonese royal family had precedence over daughters and descendants of daughters—for example, Martin himself had succeeded over daughters of his late elder brother, King John I. However, very distant agnates had lost out to the daughter of the late king in 11th century, when Petronila of Aragon succeeded over claims of the then agnates (second cousins or the like), the Kings of Navarre and Castile.

J.N Hillgarth writes: "Among the descendants by the male line, the closest relation to Martín was James II of Urgell."[1]

T.N.Bisson writes: "… the issue was (or became) political rather than simply legal, a utilitarian question of which candidate with some dynastic claim would make the best king".[2]



The important candidates for succession were:

  • Frederic de Aragón y Luna (Frederick), Count of Luna, grandson of Martin I of Aragón and Queen María de Luna, bastard of their predeceased son Martin the Younger King of Sicily, though legitimized by Pope Benedict XIII.
  • Jaume (James), Count of Urgel, great-grandson of Alfonso IV of Aragon in the male line and appointed as Lieutenant of the Kingdom by Martin. Closest agnate, son of Martin's first cousin.
  • Alfons, Duke of Gandia, an octogenarian, grandson of Jaime II of Aragon in the male line, died in 1412 leaving his son as the next duke of Gandia. First cousin of Martin's father. The most senior (laterally as well as in age) and high in proximity to late reigning kings of Aragon (the stem of this succession).


The parties had agreed to a parliamentary process to resolve the issue. But coordinating deliberations between the cortes (parliaments) of Aragón, Valencia and Barcelona was difficult, due to their diverging interests. So a general cortes was called by the governor of Catalonia to meet in Montblanch, but the meeting was delayed and ended up in Barcelona starting in October 1410.[3] As the cortes dragged on, things got violent. Antonio de Luna, an Aragonese supporter of Count James II of Urgell, assassinated the archbishop of Zaragoza, García Fernández de Heredía.[3] There was fighting in the streets especially between partisans of Aragon and Valencia. Pope Bendict XIII (Avignon) intervened and proposed a smaller group of nine compromisarios (negotiators).[3]

The parliamentarians agreed, and on 15 February 1412 in the Concordia de Alcañiz they appointed the compromisarios who then met in Caspe near Zaragoza, to examine the rights of the pretenders. The compromisarios were:

  • Domènec Ram, bishop of Huesca.
  • Francesc de Aranda, ancient royal councillor as well as envoy of Benedict XIII]].
  • Berenguer de Bardaixí, jurist and official general of the Cortes of Aragón.
  • Pere de Sagarriga i de Pau, archbishop of Tarragona.
  • Bernat de Gualbes, syndicus and councillor of Barcelona.
  • Guillem de Vallseca, officer general of the Corts Reials Catalanes.
  • Bonifaci Ferrer, prior of the monastery of Portaceli.
  • Vicent Ferrer, Dominican monk, later canonized.
  • Pere Bertran (substitute for Gener Rabassa), citizen of Valencia and legal expert.

On 28 June 1412 by votes of three Aragonese, two Valencian and one Catalan, the compromisarios proclaimed the Castilian Infante as King Ferdinand I of Aragon.


James II, Count of Urgell, refused to accept the decision, and failed to present himself at the coronation. Ferdinand I entered into negotiations with James to prevent open warfare, but the negotiations failed, so Ferdinand I occupied castles and strong points in Urgell, and Ferdinand officially dissolved the County of Urgell in 1413 and the area came under the Count of Barcelona. There were uprisings in support of James in Valencia and Catalonia and James himself lead sorties out from his command headquarters in Balaguer. James's supporters were defeated in battle on 25 June 1413 outside of Lleida. Antonio de Luna enlisted the support of Gascon and English troops who invaded at Jaca but they were defeated on 10 July 1413, before being able to join with James's army.[4] In August, Ferdinand began the siege of Balaguer. Meanwhile, Antonio de Luna had organized defenses in Huesca; however, the Castle of Montearagón was taken on 11 August, and he and his troops fled to Loarre Castle. In October 1413, James surrendered at Balaguer. The following January, Loarre Castle fell and the rebellion was over.

See also


  1. ^ The Spanish Kingdoms 1250-1516 part 2 p.229, ISBN 0-19-822531-8
  2. ^ The Medieval Crown of Aragon, pp 135-6, ISBN 0-19-820236-9
  3. ^ a b c Earenfight, Theresa (2003) "Caspe, Compromise of" page 208 In Gerli, E. Michael (editor) (2003) Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia Routledge, New York, ISBN 0-415-93918-6
  4. ^ Gormedino, Luis Vela (1985) Crónica incompleta del reinado de Fernando I de Aragón Anubar, Zaragoza, pages 24–25, ISBN 84-7013-210-5; in Spanish

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