The Counts of Barcelona

April 21, 2021 Off By barcelonas

Catalan Dynasty 897-1410

Shield of Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona

The first Counts of Barcelona were nominated by the Frankish Kings of the Carolingian Dynasty, who became Kings of France from 843 onwards, and so were vassals of France.

After Guifré el Pilós the title became hereditary but the House of Barcelona remained vassals until, following the attack of the Saracens under Al-Mansur against Barcelona in 985.

The Franks failed to help the city and consequently Borrell II declared his territories independent from France.

After Ramon Berenguer III married Petronilla, heiress to Aragón, in 1150, the Counts of Barcelona also became Kings of Aragón and later controlled an empire that included most of Southern France as well many Mediterranean territories and islands.

The House of Barcelona ruled this extensive Empire until 1410 when Martí el Humà died without heir and following the Compromise of Casp, Ferran I from the Castilian Trastamara family was chosen as Count of Barcelona and King of Aragón.


Guifré I – 878-897

Guifré el Pilós (Wilfred the Hairy) was the son of Sunifred I and from his reign onwards the title of Count of Barcelona became hereditary.

Although his authority depended on the Franks, he was also Count of Osona, Girona, Urgell, Cerdanya and Conflent and so effectively ruled all of the Catalan territories that had been reconquered from the Moors at the time.

Guifré II (also known as Borrell I) – 897-911

Guifré Borrell, Guifré el Pilós’ son, began the conquest of territories south of the River Llobregat.

Sunyer I – 911-947

Sunyer I was also Guifré el Pilós’ son and consequently Guifré Borrell’s brother.

He took the Penedès region from the Moors.

Miró I – 947-966

Miró I was Sunyer’s son and governed together with his brother Borrell II.

Borrell II – 947-988

Governed with his brother until his death in 966, alone until 988 and then jointly with his son Ramon Borrell until 992

He was the Count of Barcelona who achieved independence from the Franks because when the Moors under Al-Mansur atacked and razed Barcelona in 985, he asked for help from the Frankish King Lothair.

As aid was not given, Borrell II refused to recognise Hugh Capet as King of France in 987 and the counties under his control became independent.

Ramon Borrell – 992-1017

First governed jointly with his father Borrell II from 988 until 992 and then with his wife Ermessenda de Carcassone.

Berenguer Ramon I – 1017-1035

Berenguer Ramon el Corbat (the Crooked or Stooped) was son of Ramon Borrell and his mother Ermessenda de Carcassone exercised as regent until 1021.

He consolidated the independence of the territories that were later to become Catalonia and began the confusing period when all the Counts of Barcelona were called Ramon Berenguer or Berenguer Ramon.

Ramon Berenguer I – 1035-1076

Ramon Berenguer el Vell (the Old) was son of Berenguer Ramon I.

Ramon Berenguer II – 1076-1082

Ramon Berenguer II el Cap d’Estopes (the Towhead) was son of Ramon Berenguer I and ruled jointly with his twin brother Berenguer Ramon II.

Berenguer Ramon II – 1076-1097

Berenguer Ramon el Fraticida (the Fratricide) ruled jointly with his twin brother Ramon Berenguer II.

Together they continued the consolidation of territories under the control of the House of Barcelona and pushed south towards the River Ebro.

Statue of Ramon Berenguer El Gran

Ramon Berenguer III – 1097-1131

Ramon Berenguer el Gran (the Great) was son of Ramon Berenguer II and so nephew of Berenguer Ramon II.

He extended Catalan territories through his marriage to Douce of Provence and also captured Tarragona and Balaguer from the Saracens.

Ramon Berenguer ceded the throne to his son Ramon Berenguer IV in to become a Knight Templar.

Ramon Berenguer IV – 1137-1162

In 1137, Ramon Berenguer IV el Sant (the Saint) signed an agreement with Ramir II of Aragón to marry his baby daughter Peronella, which he fulfilled in 1150 so incorporating the Crown of Aragón into the domains of the House of Barcelona.

Throughout his lifetime he was officially ‘Prince and Dominator’ of Aragón rather than King but was effectively ruler after Ramir’s death.

He also extended the Lenguadoc domains through the acquisition of Bearn and Bigorra and also took Lleida and Tortosa from the Moors.


Alfons I (II of Aragón) – 1162-1196

Alfons el Trobador (the Troubador) was the first of the Count-Kings uniting the twrritories of Catalonia, Aragón and Provence.

In fact, it is that this point that Catalonia is first recognised as an entity – the Principality of Catalonia – rather than a collection of Counties with the same language ruled by the Count of Barcelona.

Pere I (II of Aragón) – 1196-1213

Pere el Catòlic (Peter the Catholic) ruled over the whole of what is now Southern France as well as Aragón and Catalonia.

He supported the Cathars and was victim of the Albigensian Crusade dying in the Battle of Muret near Toulouse.

From then on the French territories were reduced to Rosselló (Roussillon), Montpelier and the French part of the Vall d’Aran.

Statue of Jaume I outside the Ajuntament de Barcelona

Jaume I – 1213-1276

Jaume I el Conqueridor (James I the Conqueror) conquered Mallorca from the Saracens in 1229 and Valencia in 1238 and created Kingdoms for both territories.

The House of Barcelona now ruled Catalonia, Aragón, Valencia and Mallorca.

Jaume I also extended the city walls of Barcelona to include Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera.

Pere II (III of Aragón) – 1276-1285

Pere el Gran (Peter the Great) completed the Drassanes, the shipyards started by his father Jaume I and also conquered Sicily.

Alfons II – 1285-1291

Alfons el Liberal continued his father’s policy of Mediterranean expansion.

Jaume II – 1291-1327

Jaume el Just (James the Just) was second son of Jaume I and brother to Alfons II.

He conquered Sardinia and Corsica and created another Kingdom and it was also during his reign that the majority of Barcelona’s great Gothic churches were built.

Alfons III (IV of Aragón) – 1327-1336

Alfons el Benigne (Alfons the Gentle or Kind) was the second son of Jaume II.

His reign saw the incorporation of the County of Urgell, Duchy of Athens, and Duchy of Neopatria into the Crown of Aragon and he laid the first stone of the Church of Santa Maria del Mar.

Pere III (IV of Aragón) – 1336-1387

Pere el Ceremoniós (Peter the Ceremonious) was responsible for reuniting the territories of Mallorca, Rosselló, Sicily and Sardinia and also used the mercenary

Almogàver forces to complete the conquest of Southern Greece and make incursions into Asia Minor.

In Barcelona, he completed Les Drassanes and built the most important part of the Palau Reial Major, the Saló de Tinell, as well as the third city wall that enclosed El Raval.

Joan I – 1387-1396

Known by posterity as Joan el Caçador (John the Hunter), Joan I was a lover of the arts who established the Jocs Florals, a medieval poetry and chivalry competition, similar to those popular in the French Court at the time.

Martí I – 1396-1410

Martí el Humà (Martin the Humanist) was Joan I’s brother and he was the last of the Count-Kings from the dynasty of the House of Barcelona.