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History of the Archive of the Crown of Aragon

It was created by a royal decision of Jaime II of Aragon in 1318. For centuries, it was considered a Royal Archive, the exclusive property of the monarch, and was housed in the Royal Palace in Barcelona until 1770. Along with the deeds regarding the Royal Heritage, government and legal documents were kept there, among them the series of records of the Chancellory. The complexity of the office soon increased: in 1346, the King appointed the first archivist, with this exact name, and in 1384 he gave him practical rules regarding the competencies of the post.

The number of cabinets used to hold the deeds that were considered useful grew to 32, and four rooms were made available as a document deposit. The proto-notary saw to it that records, Parliamentary processes etc., were periodically deposited in the Archive, as stipulated. In addition, the collections of some houses of the Order of the knights Templar, which had been suppressed, archives confiscated from rebel nobles, and archives from estates acquired by the Crown, were also deposited, also by royal decree. In order to neutrally resolve a legal dispute, in the early 17th century a large part of the archive of the abbeys of Sant Joan de les Abadesses and Santa Maria de l' Estany (diocese of Vic) was deposited.

Enlightenment officials laid their eyes on the Royal Archive of Barcelona. The Bourbon monarchy added a new floor (1738) and provided specific internal regulations (1754); the name was then changed to the Archive of the Crown of Aragon. In the 19th century, the archivist Próspero de Bofarull (1859) revealed its richness as regards the ancient history of Catalonia when he published "Los Condes de Barcelona Vindicados" (1836). At the same time, he sought to augment collections by adding historical archives and those of institutions that ceased to exist during his term of office. His successors have proceeded along the same lines.

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