Andorre, Or Andorra
urgel counts bishop france
ANDORRE, or ANDORRA, a small semi-independent state on the south side of the Pyrenees, between the Spanish province of Lerida and the French department of Ariege. It is surrounded by mountains, and consists of one main valley, which is watered by the Balira, a tributary of the Segre, which itself flows into the Ebro, and of several smaller valleys, the most important of which are those of the Ordino and the Os. It has an area of about 600 square miles, and is divided into six parishes, Andorra la Viejo, (the capital), San Julian de Loria, Canino, Encamp, Ordino, Massana. The population is under 7000. The territory was once densely wooded, whence probably its name, from the Arabic Aldarra, " a place thick with trees;" but the forests have been almost entirely destroyed for fuel. The pasturage is extensive and excellent ; the mountains contain iron and lead mines ; rye, potatoes, fruits, and tobacco, are grown on the lower grounds; game and trout are abundant. The population is rather pastoral than agricultural; but smuggling, together with the manufacture of tobacco, occasion some traffic. The Andorrans are a robust and well-proportioned race, of an independent spirit, simple and severe in their manners, but mostly ignorant and ill-educated, although they receive instruction gratuitously at the parish schools; they speak the Catalan dialect of Spanish, and are all Roman Catholics. This remarkable little state is a surviving specimen of the independence possessed in medival times by the warlike inhabitants of many Pyrenean valleys. Its privileges have remained intact, because the suzerainete of the district became equally and indivisibly shared, in 1278, between the bishops of Urgel and the counts of Foix ; the divided swerainete being now inherited by the French crown and the present bishop of Urgel, and the two powers having mutually checked innovations, while the insignificant territory has not been worth a dispute. Thus Andorra is not a republic, but is designated in official documents as the " Valloes et Suzerainetes." Before 1278 it was under the suzerainete of the neighbouring counts of Castelbo, to whom it had been ceded, in 1170, by the counts of Urgel. A marriage between the heiress of Castelbo and Roger Bernard, count of Foix, carried the rights of the above-named Spanish counts into the house of Folk, and hence, subsequently, to the crown of France, when the heritage of the feudal system was absorbed by the sovereign ; but the bishops of Urgel claimed certain rights, which, after long dispute, were satisfied by the "Act of Division" executed in 1278. The -claims of the bishopric dated from Carlovingian times, and the independence of Andorra, like most other Pyrenean anomalies, has been traditionally ascribed to Charlemagne. Preserved from innovations by the mutual jealousy of rival potentates, as well as by the conservative temper of a pastoral population, Andorra has kept its inedixval usages and institutions almost unchanged. In each parish two consuls, assisted by a local council, decide matters relatinc, to roads, police, slight taxes, the division of pastures, the right to collect wood, Ake. Such matters, as well as the general internal administration of the territory, are finally regulated by a conseil general of 24 members (4 to each parish), elected, since 1866, by the suffrages of all heads of families, but previously confined to an aristocracy composed of the richest and oldest families, whose supremacy had been preserved by the principle of primogeniture. A general syndic, with two inferior syndics, chosen by the conseil general, constitutes the supreme executive of the state. Two viguiers - one nominated by France, and the other by the bishop of Urgel - command the militia, which consists of about 600 men, although all capable of bearing arms are liable to be called out. This force is exempt from all foreign service, and the chief office of the viguiers is the administration of criminal justice, in which their decisions, given simply according to their judgment and conscience, there being no written laws, are final. Civil cases, on the other hand, are tried in the first instance before one of the two aldermen, who act as deputies of the viguiers ; the judgment of this court maybe set aside by the civil judge of appeal, an officer nominated by France and the bishop of Urgel alternately ; the final appeal is either to the Court of Cassation at Paris, or to the Episcopal College at Urge!. A tribute of 960 francs is paid annually to France, in return for which the Andorrans are permitted to import certain articles free of duty ; the bishop of Urgel receives a tribute of almost the same amount. The expenses of government are defrayed by a species of rent paid by owners of flocks to the community for the use of the pasture land.