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Aragón (ârˈəgŏn, Span. ärägōnˈ), autonomous community, 18,425 sq mi (47,720 sq km), and former kingdom, NE Spain, bordered on the N by France.

Land and People

Comprising the provinces of Huesca, Teruel, and Zaragoza (Saragossa), Aragón includes the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, where the mountains reach their greatest height; a semiarid central plain drained by the Ebro River; and the western fringe of the central plateau of Spain. Much of the region is sparsely populated and desertlike. Irrigation works, started by the Moors, were resumed in the 16th cent.; the two lateral canals of the Ebro are the most important. In the oases and irrigated areas cereals, grapes, olives, and sugar beets are grown. Sheep are raised throughout Aragón, and cattle in the Pyrenees. Machinery, electrical appliances, and industrial vehicles are manufactured, and iron, sulfur, and lignite are mined.


The city of Zaragoza was founded by the Roman emperor Augustus. Visigoths conquered the area in the late 5th cent. and Muslims in the early 8th cent. Carolingians pushed out the Muslims (c.850), and Aragón came under the rule of Navarre. At the death (1035) of Sancho III of Navarre, his western territories were organized as the kingdom of Aragón for his illegitimate son, Ramiro I. He and his successors, notably Alfonso I, extended their dominions southward at the expense of the Moorish emirate of Zaragoza, and in the 12th cent. Zaragoza replaced Huesca as the capital.

In 1076, Aragón annexed Navarre, and in 1137 it became united, through personal union, with Catalonia. Both regions preserved their own Cortes, laws, languages, and customs and evolved along separate lines; their deep historical, social, and cultural differences at times caused great friction. With the expansion of the house of Aragón (see separate article), the name Aragón came to signify a confederation of its Spanish possessions (Aragón, Catalonia, Majorca, and Valencia) and several French fiefs. In the bitter struggles (12th–15th cent.) between kings and nobles, the nobles gained more and more privileges until Peter IV defeated them in 1348. The justiciar, a type of magistrate created in the 12th cent., acted as a sort of intermediary between king and nobles; after 1348 he lost most of his political power but gained more juridical importance. Aragón played only a minor role in the expansionist policy of its kings in the Mediterranean.

United with Castile after 1479 through the marriage of Ferdinand V (Ferdinand the Catholic) with Isabella, Aragón preserved its cortes and its city privileges. These, however, were gradually limited by the centralizing policies of the Spanish monarchy, and in 1716 Philip V abolished most of the remaining political privileges to punish the Aragonese for siding with Archduke Charles (later Emperor Charles VI) in the War of the Spanish Succession. The passionate attachment of the Aragonese to their liberties was illustrated by the episode of Antonio Pérez under Philip II and by the heroic defense of Zaragoza in the Peninsular War. In 1833 the administrative unit of Aragón was divided into the three present provinces. The provinces became an autonomous community in 1981.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a historical region in northeastern Spain in the Ebro River valley. Aragón comprises the administrative provinces of Zaragoza, Teruel, and Huesca. Area, 47,700 sq km. Population in 1968, 1,100,000. Capital, Zaragoza.

Aragón occupies most of the Aragón plain and the central regions of the Pyrenees (the highest mountain is Aneto, 3,404 m) and the eastern part of the Iberian Mountains, which enclose it. The plain (except for the fertile valley of the Ebro) is covered mainly with dry steppes and the mountains with deciduous and coniferous forests. Aragón is an agricultural region; more than 65 percent of its population was engaged in agriculture in 1965. It is characterized by large-scale landownership and small and tiny peasant holdings. In the valleys and mountain foothills, olives, grapes, and sugar beets are grown on irrigated lands (by the Imperial and Aragón canals and so on); grain crops are grown on unirrigated lands (chief region, Cincovillas); part of the lands usable for cultivation lie idle for lack of irrigation.

Aragón is a big producer of electric power; its hydroelectric stations (including Fortunada on the Cinca River and Barasona on the Esera River) serve Aragón as well as neighboring provinces. The heat and power plants in Escatrón and Aliaga use lignite; Aragón is the biggest producer of lignite in Spain (about 1 million tons a year; deposits in Utrillas and Miraflores). The iron ore basin of Ojos Negros holds an important place in the economy of Aragón. It supplies the metallurgical complex in Sagunto, Valencia Province. Industry is also represented by sugar refining, butter production, flour milling, viticulture, metalworking, and chemical and aluminum production (Sabiñánigo). Zaragoza is the main industrial center of the province.

The county of Aragón was established in the ninth century during the Reconquista in the basin of the Aragón River, a tributary of the Ebro. In the early 11th century Aragón became part of the kingdom of Navarre and an independent kingdom in 1035. In 1118, King Alfonsol (1104–34) conquered Zaragoza, which became the capital of Aragón, and extended the frontiers of his estate beyond the Ebro. In 1137 the county of Barcelona was united with Aragón through a personal union; other lands of Catalonia later became also part of Aragón, and the counts of Barcelona became kings of Aragón. In 1172 the county of Roussillon was added to Aragón and the Balearic Islands were won from the Moors during 1229–35; in 1276 the sovereign kingdom of Mallorca was established there but was reconquered by Aragón during 1344–49; in 1238, Valencia was added to Aragón. The Aragonese kings became masters of Sicily in 1282–1302, of Sardinia in 1326, and of the kingdom of Naples (where they had viceroys) in 1442. Economically the most developed parts of the kingdom of Aragón were Catalonia and Valencia, which retained considerable degrees of independence (their own cortes, legislation, and administration); Aragón proper was the poorest part, but it retained political dominance.

The closely knit nobility of Aragón had secured enormous privileges for itself in exploiting the population of Aragón and its subject provinces. In 1281 the cortes of Zaragoza legally sanctioned oppressive forms of peasant serfdom. Serfdom was intensified in Aragón and Catalonia in the 13th and 14th centuries; it survived in Aragón until the 17th century, while it was abolished in Catalonia in 1486. The policy of the Aragonese kings was determined by the cortes (established in Aragón in 1071), which reflected the interests of the higher nobility. The General Privilege of Peterlll (1276–85) in 1283 and the Privileges of the Union of Alfonso III (1285–91) in 1287 granted the nobility the right to defend its interests with arms in hand (including the deposition of the king). The abrogation of the Privileges of the Union in the middle of the 14th century Restricted Somewhat The Intervention Of The Nobility In The Administration Of The State, But The Power Of The Feudal Class Over The Peasantry Was Fully Retained. In 1479, AragÓN And Castile Became A Unified State—Spain.


Kudriavtsev, A. E. Ispaniia v Srednie Veka. Leningrad, 1937.
Altamiray Crevea.R. Istoriia Ispanii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1951. (Translated From Spanish.)
Lacarra, J. M. Origines del condado de AragÓN. Zaragoza, 1945.
Chaytor, H. J. A History of AragÓN And Catalonia. London, 1933.

L. T. MIl’Skaia

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Louis (lwi). 1897--1982, French poet, essayist, and novelist; an early surrealist, later a committed Communist. His works include the verse collections Le Crève-Coeur (1941) and Les Yeux d'Elsa (1942) and the series of novels Le Monde réel (1933--51)


an autonomous region of NE Spain: independent kingdom from the 11th century until 1479, when it was united with Castile to form modern Spain. Pop.: 1 059 600 (2003 est.). Area: 47 609 sq. km (18 382 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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