Guifré I el Pilós, XI comte de Barcelona

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Guifré I 'el Pilós' de Barcelona, XI comte de Barcelona

Dutch: Guifré I 'el Pilós' de Barcelona, XI Comte de Barcelona MP, Spanish: Conde de Barcelona, Ausona, Girona, Cerdeña y Urgel Wilfred I "El Melenudo" de Barcelona, XI comte de Barcelona
Also Known As: "Wilfred o Cabeludo", "El Velloso", "Guifré el Pilós; también conocido como Wilfredo", "Vifredo", "Guifredo o Guilfredo", "Le Velu", "the Hairy", "El /Velloso/", "/Wilfrid/I", "Conde De Besalu", "Wilfred I de Barcelona", "Wilfred the Hairy"
Birthplace: Prades, Tarragona, Catalunya, Spain
Death: circa August 21, 897 (48-65)
Castellvell del Camp, Tarragona, Cataluña, Spain (killed in a battle versus the Moors)
Place of Burial: Ripoll, CT, Spain
Immediate Family:

Son of Sunifred I, IV comte d'Urgell and Ermessenda D' Ampurias, Comtesse de Carcassone
Husband of Guinidilda de Ampurias
Father of Sunyer I, XIII comte de Barcelona; Guifré II Borrell, comte de Barcelona; Emma, abadessa de Ripoll Sant Joan; Radulf, bisbe d'Urgell; Absa. Ermessenda de Barcelona and 5 others
Brother of Sesenanda; Sunifred, abbé d'Arles; Ermessenda; Riculf, bisbe d'Elna; Radulf I, comte de Besalú and 1 other
Half brother of Sunyer II, IX comte d'Empúries and Delà, IX comte d'Empúries

Occupation: Conde de Barcelona, Berga, Besalú, Greve, 'THE HAIRY', Count, Foi conde de Barcelona desde 878 até 897, ano da sua morte., Comte, de Barcelone, de Besalù, de Girona, d'Osana, d'Urgel, de Cerdagne, COUNT OF BARCELONA, .
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About Guifré I el Pilós, XI comte de Barcelona

Count of Cerdanya and of Urgell (870(?) - 897) and of Barcelona, of Girona as Wilfred II, and of Besalú (878-897), he also held the title of Marquis. Son of Sunifred I and Ermessenda. His most important achievement was the repopulation of the centre of Catalonia, devastated and almost deserted after the revolt of Aissó and Guillemó, and the incursion of Abū Marwān in 827. He began the enterprise in the valley of Lord, between 872 and 878, and carried on through Ripollès (from 879), Osona (from 881) and Bages (from 889), until he left an established boundary with the Saracens along the watershed of the Llobregat and the Segre basins. He founded the monastery of Ripoll in 879, as well as that of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, consecrated in 887. He organised the county of Osona, declared in 885, and facilitated the restoration of the bishopric of Vic in 886 or 887. Between 885 and 890, he supported Esclua's attempt to emancipate the Catalan bishoprics from Narbonne. During the years from 888 to 890, he was forced to confront the counts of Empúries, Sunyer II and Delà, who had seized the city of Girona and a part of his county and the county of Besalú, and eventually drove them out. In 877, he married Guinedilda. He attacked Ismā'īl ibn Mūsà, who had seized Saragossa in 871, and between 883 and 884, he fortified Lleida, but in 884, he was defeated and suffered heavy losses. In 897, he forestalled the governor of Lleida, Llop ibn Muhammad, who had set fire to the castle of Aura (possibly near Caldes), but he was overcome and wounded or killed by the spear of Llop himself. His estates were inherited jointly by his wife and his non-ecclesiastic male children, although, perhaps at the suggestion of the authorised advisers, a distribution was made that left Guifré with Barcelona-Girona-Osona, Miró with Cerdanya (together with Berguedà and Conflent), Sunifred with Urgell (with Andorra). Also, finally, Sunyer with Besalú, under the protection of the older brother Guifré, until the death of the paternal uncle Radulf, regent of Besalú. Around the figure of Guifré el Pelós, there soon formed a legendary aura, which already seemed to radiate when Bishop Idalguer of Vic praised his merits in 906. The epithet Hairy is undoubtedly related to his legend, cited only in the initial nucleus of the which credits him with securing the independence of his estates in circumstances which correspond to the era of Borrell II. A later legend credits the emperor Louis the Pious with having drawn his fingers across the count's golden shield with the blood of the count, thus creating the red pallets which were to constitute the Catalan coat-of-arms and the Catalan flag, the (Catalan stripes).

Medilands (24 Mar 2022) "Catalonia"

GUIFRÉ [Guifred/Wifredus] [I] "el Pilós/el Velloso/the Hairy" de Barcelona, son of SENIOFREDO Count in the March of Spain & his wife Ermesende --- (-killed in battle near Santa María del Puch [21 Aug 897/31 Dec 898], probably 11 Aug 898, bur Santa María de Ripoll monastery).
The Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium names "Guiffredus…cum filio suo Guiffredo qui cognomento est Pilosus"[84].
The Crónica de San Juan de la Peña names "Guiffré que fue de la villa Darriá, sitiada en la tierra de Conflent cerca el río de Ter" when recording that he received "del Rey de Francia, el Condado de Barschinona", as well as "su fillo…Guiffré Pelloso" (stating that the latter was so-called "porque pellos hauía en lugars do homs nondan acostupnado de hauer")[85], although the Crónica is very confused in its narrative about the early rulers of Barcelona. No other source has so far been found which identifies two separate counts named Guifré, father and son. He was confirmed by Charles II "le Chauve" King of the West Franks as Comte de Urgell, Cerdanya and Conflent in 870, and as Comte de Barcelona and Girona in 878.
A charter dated 23 Sep 873 records the foundation of the church of Notre-Dame de Formiguera by "comitibus…Vuifredo et fratre eius Mirone et comitibus Olibano et fratre eius Ayfredo"[86].
"Wifredus…comes et marchio et Winiedildes cometissa" donated "Castru Mochoronio cum ecclesias Sancta Maria et Sanctum Petrum et Sanctum Stephanum" to the monastery of "Sancti Johannis Babtiste…in comitatu Ausona in Valle Riopullo juxta flumen Tezer" [San Juan de las Abadesas], when "filiam nostram Emmone" became abbess, by charter dated 27 Jun 875, which names "fratre meo…Seniefredo clerico"[87].
Wifredo...comes et marchio et Winedildis commetissa” donated “castro in valle Riopullo valle Martini...qui mihi fratri meo Soniefredo” to San Juan Bautista de Osona, and “Winedildes commetissa” donated “in comitatu Impuritano villa...Chabannas de comparacionem de patre meo...Sonifredo”, by charter dated 26 Jun 885[88].
He encouraged colonisation in the unsettled frontier areas of Urgell and Cerdanya along the valley of the River Lord. He restored the Bishopric of Vic in 887. The death in 888 of Emperor Karl III marked a decline in Carolingian power and a trend towards independence of the Catalan counties. This was helped by their geographical remoteness from the central Frankish authority, their own relative stability and the direct relations which they had established with the Papacy[89].
A charter dated 20 Apr 888 records that “Wifredus comes et Widinilles comitissa” dedicated Ripoll Santa Maria and donated “in comitatu Cerdania...villa...Loci... [que] nobis advenit ex comparatione de partibus Sesenando”[90].
Guifredus Winildis comitissa” donated property to Ripoll Santa Maria when “filium suum...Rodulfo” entered the monastery by charter dated 20 Apr 888[91]. Widinildis comitissa” dedicated Ripoll Sant Pere by charter dated 25 Jun 890[92]. >“Wifredus...comes et marchio et uxor mea Guinezelles” donated property “in villa Exaduce” to Ripoll Santa >Maria by charter dated 31 Jul 890, subscribed by “...Willermus vicecomes”[93].
A charter dated 21 Aug 897 names Wifredo and his wife Winidilda[94].
Guifré was killed resisting a Moorish incursion which reached Barcelona. The Crónica de San Juan de la Peña records that "Guiffré" (meaning Guifré the father, see above) was killed "cerca de la villa de Senyora Sancta Maria del Puch"[95].
A necrology of Ripoll Sant Joan monastery records the death "III Id Aug" of the founder of the monastery (who was Guifré) and his burial there[96]. On his death, his territories were divided between his sons.
m (before 27 Jun 875) GUINIDILDA, daughter of SENIOFREDO & his wife --- (-[21 Aug 897/18 Feb 900]). Wifredo "el Velloso" and his wife Winidilda donated property to Ripoll Sant Joan monastery by charter dated 27 Jun 875 which names "fratre meo…Seniofredo"[97].
Her parentage is confirmed by charters dated 875, 877 and 878 under which "Winidildes commitissa" donated property "in comitato Impuritano in villa…Kabannas omnem portionem mihi…de comparatione de cuondam patrem meum…Seniofredo" to Ripoll Sant Joan monastery[98].
The name of her father "Seniofredo" suggests that Guinidilda may have been a close relative of her husband, whose father had the same name. [According to Weir[99], she was Gunhild, daughter of Baudouin I Count of Flanders. It is assumed that this is based on the Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium which records that Charles II "le Chauve" King of the Franks gave a daughter of the Count of Flanders in marriage to "Pilosi" at the same time as granting him the county of Barcelona[100], although this source is unreliable in points of detail concerning the family of the early counts of Barcelona. The Crónica de San Juan de la Peña also records that "Iuffré Pellos" married "una filla del..Conte de Flandres"[101].
Considering that the early counts of Flanders were in 877 still in the process of consolidating their newly founded county, it is not clear what contact they would have had with a count whose territory was so distant from their own sphere of activity, or the advantages they would have seen in such a dynastic marriage. The only known point in common between the two counts appears to have been King Charles II "le Chauve" who was suzerain of both. Gunhild is not shown among the children of Count Baudouin in Rösch[102]. In any event, this supposed Flemish origin is disproved by the charters quoted above.]
"Wifredus…comes et marchio et Winiedildes cometissa" donated "Castru Mochoronio cum ecclesias Sancta Maria et Sanctum Petrum et Sanctum Stephanum" to the monastery of "Sancti Johannis Babtiste…in comitatu Ausona in Valle Riopullo juxta flumen Tezer" [San Juan de las Abadesas], when "filiam nostram Emmone" became abbess, by charter dated 27 Jun 875, which names "fratre meo…Seniefredo clerico"[103].
Wifredo...comes et marchio et Winedildis commetissa” donated “castro in valle Riopullo valle Martini...qui mihi fratri meo Soniefredo” to San Juan Bautista de Osona, and “Winedildes commetissa” donated “in comitatu Impuritano villa...Chabannas de comparacionem de patre meo...Sonifredo”, by charter dated 26 Jun 885[104].
A charter dated 20 Apr 888 records that “Wifredus comes et Widinilles comitissa” dedicated Ripoll Santa Maria and donated “in comitatu Cerdania...villa...Loci... [que] nobis advenit ex comparatione de partibus Sesenando”[105]. “Guifredus Winildis comitissa” donated property to Ripoll Santa Maria when “filium suum...Rodulfo” entered the monastery by charter dated 20 Apr 888[106]. Widinildis comitissa” dedicated Ripoll Sant Pere by charter dated 25 Jun 890[107].
Wifredus...comes et marchio et uxor mea Guinezelles” donated property “in villa Exaduce” to Ripoll Santa Maria by charter dated 31 Jul 890, subscribed by “...Willermus vicecomes”[108].
A charter dated 21 Aug 897 names Wifredo and his wife Winidilda[109].
She died before 18 Feb 899, the date of a charter which confirmed the possessions of "domna Hemmone habbatissa" in "comitatu Cerdaniensis in valle Petrariense in villa…Stegale", in the presence of "Mirone comite et judices…", the document specifying the exclusion of "ipsa hereditatem de Domna Windilde cometissa condam…in villa…Provenca…qui sunt de Recosindo"[110].
Guifré [I] & his wife had [ten] children:
1. EMMA [Emmone] (-942).....
2. RODOLFO (-940).....
3. GUIFRÉ [II] BORRELL (-murdered 911, bur Ripoll Monastery).....
4. SUNYER [I] (-15 Oct 954).....
5. MIRÓ [II] "el Joven" (-Oct 927).....
6. SENIOFREDO [I] (-948).....
7. ERMESINDA (-after 13 Jun 921)....
8. RIQUILDA (-before 25 Mar 925).....
9. CIXILONA (-22 Feb 945, bur Chapel of Torres de la Garriga).....
10. [GUINIDILDA]....

Conde de Barcelona (?, ? - ?, 898). Este noble catalán reunió bajo su mano un conglomerado de estados feudales que gobernó de forma autónoma, aunque como vasallo del reino franco, que dominaba la Marca Hispánica. La tradición posterior le convirtió en arranque de la unidad e independencia de Cataluña, envolviendo esta figura entre leyendas de dudosa veracidad, como la que le atribuye la creación del escudo barrado (actual distintivo de Cataluña, Aragón, Valencia y Baleares). Heredó primero de su padre el Condado de Urgel (873), al que unió más tarde los condados de Barcelona (874), Gerona y Cerdaña-Conflent (895). Extendió los territorios recibidos impulsando la reconquista contra los musulmanes por las comarcas del Ripollès, Osona, Bergedà y Bages, aunque fracasó en el intento de tomar Lérida (884). Murió por las heridas recibidas en la batalla de Aura contra el gobernador musulmán de Lérida, quedando sus estados divididos entre sus hijos. De Wifredo arranca la dinastía condal de Barcelona.

(Fuente: Biografías y vidas)

Wilfred the Hairy

Wilfred or Wifred, called the Hairy (in Catalan: Guifré el Pilós),[1] was Count of Urgell (from 870), Cerdanya (from 870), Barcelona (from 878), Girona (from 878, as Wilfred II), Besalú (from 878) and Ausona (from 886). On his death in 897, his son, Wilfred Borrell, inherited these Catalan counties.

He was responsible for the repopulation of the long-depopulated no-man's land around Vic (the county of Ausona, a frontier between Christian and Muslim), the re-establishment of the bishopric of Vic and the foundation of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, where he is buried.

Wilfred was the Catalan Count of Barcelona (878–897) who created the tradition of hereditary passage of titles. His son, Wilfred Borrell, inherited the county without any interruption and held it from 897–911.

A number of primitive feudal entities developed in the Marca Hispanica during the 9th century. They were generally self-sufficient and agrarian, but ruled by a small military elite. The pattern seen in Catalonia is similar to that found in similar border lands or marches elsewhere in Europe.

Traditionally the Count of Barcelona was appointed directly by the Carolingian (Frankish) emperor, for example the appointment of Bera in 801. The appointment of heirs could not be taken for granted. However, with the rise of strong counts such as Sunifred (fl. 844–848) and Wilfred, and the weakening of Carolingian royal power, the appointment of heirs eventually become a formality. This trend resulted in the counts becoming de facto independent of the Carolingian crown under Borrell II in 985.

Wilfred remained obscure until drawn into the historians' net by Sir Richard Southern, in The Making of the Middle Ages, 1953. Origins

Wilfred was of Gothic lineage from the region of Carcassonne. Tradition claims he was born near Prades in the County of Conflent, now Rià, in Roussillon, France.

According to legend, he was the son of Wilfred of Arriaount (or Wilfred of Arri), a county near Prades. His father was murdered by Salomón and Wilfred became his avenger, killing the assassin.[2] After the research done by French monks Dom De Vic and Dom Vaissete, authors of Histoire Générale de Languedoc,[3] he is identified as the son of Sunifred I of Barcelona, count of many counties under Louis the Pious and Charles the Bald. Wilfred's mother may have been named Ermesende. Sunifred may have been the son[4] of Belló, Count of Carcassonne during the reign of Charlemagne, or more probably, his son-in-law.[5] Thus, as a descendant of Sunifred and his brother, Sunyer I, count of Empúries and Roussillon (834-848), Wilfred is considered to be a member of a Bellonid dynasty by Ramon d'Abadal and other historians. Investiture

The Bellonid lineage lost its power when Sunifred and Sunyer died in 848, but was revived slightly by the appointment of Dela and Sunyer II, sons of Sunyer I, to the countship of Empúries in 862. Later, at an assembly at Attigny in June 870, Charles the Bald made their cousins, Wilfred the Hairy and his brother Miró (known as the Old), counts of Urgell and Cerdanya, and Conflent, respectively. For in that year, the poorly-chronicled Solomon, count of Urgell, Cerdanya, and Conflent, had died.

After becoming Count of Urgell and Cerdanya in 870, Wilfred received the counties of Barcelona, Girona, and Besalú in 878 from the Carolingian king of France, Louis the Stammerer. His reign coincided with the crumbling of Carolingian authority and unity. Wilfred was thus the last count of the Hispanic March appointed by the French king and the first to pass his vast holdings as an inheritance to his sons (albeit sanctioned by the monarch[citation needed]).

Wilfred came into possession of Barcelona through his service to Charles the Bald against the rebel Bernard of Gothia, Count of Barcelona, Roussillon, and numerous other Septimanian counties. Wilfred, Miró, their brother Sunifred (who became the Abbot of Arles), and Lindoí, the Viscount of Narbonne, marched against Bernard on behalf of King Charles and his son, Louis the Stammerer. In March and April 878, they defeated the nobles loyal to Bernard, including Sigebuto, Bishop of Narbonne, and expelled all partisan priests from the church.

At the Council of Troyes in August 878, presided over by Pope John VIII and King Louis II the Stammerer, Wilfred was formally invested as Count of Urgell and Cerdanya, Miró as Count of Conflent, Sunyer as Count of Empúries, and Oliba II as Count of Carcassonne. On 11 September 878, Bernard was dispossessed of all his titles. Bernard's former possessions were given to Wilfred (Barcelona with Ausona, Girona, and Besalú) and Miró (Roussillon). The counties of Narbonne, Béziers, and Agde were separated from that of Barcelona. Sunifred was made Abbot of Arles, Riculf Bishop of Elna, and the Bishops of Urgell, Girona, and Barcelona were confirmed in their sees. Wilfred immediately ceded Besalú to his brother Radulph (878-920). Intervention in Ausona

After the investiture of 878, Wilfred's lands stretched from Urgell and Cerdanya in the Pyrenees to Barcelona and Girona on the Mediterranean coast. This was the first time since the reign of his father (which ended in 848) that these different areas had been united politically and the only other time within the 9th century. The land between these regions—Ripollès, Vall de Lord, Berguedà, Lluçanès, the Plana de Vic, Moianès, Guilleries, and Bages—had long been depopulated due to the rebellion of Aissó in 827, but was considered territory belonging to the Count of Barcelona since 820, when it was given to Rampon upon the death of Borrell, the first Count of Urgell, Cerdanya, and Ausona.

Wilfred embarked on the process of repopulating these territories with immigrants from the heavily populated mountain regions—Pallars, Urgell, and Cerdanya—to which people had fled in the two centuries between the collapses of Visigothic and Carolingian authority. Wilfred's plan involved repopulating and subsequently annexing the counties to those he already controlled. Thus, Vall de Lord became part of Urgell and Berguedà part of Cerdanya. Wilfred re-created the County of Ausona from the remaining counties of Ripollés, Lluçanès, the Plana de Vic, and Guilleries—centred around the city of Ausa, a region which in ancient times had been ethnically and culturally distinct, inhabited by the descendants of the Ausetani. (ref is prob Lewis, A.R. - needs to be checked) To Ausona, Wilfred also attached Moianés and Bagés and their traditional capital, Manresa, which had historically been the region of the Lacetani. In 885, Wilfred designated a Viscount to control the County of Ausona in his absence as it formed the frontier with the Muslim Kingdoms to the south. The "County of Manresa" received special attention from King Odo, granting it the privilege of constructing defensive towers in 889 and 890, although it was actually part of Ausona. Ecclesiastical reform

The ecclesiastic state of the region was no less isolated than its political state, with the parishes largely remaining outside of the universal hierarchy. Wilfred brought the parishes of Bergueda and Vall de Lord within the control of the nearby Diocese of Urgell. However, he had to re-establish the lapsed bishopric of Vic in Ausona. After consulting the Archbishop of Narbonne in 886, he was given permission to install Gotmar, a priest, as Bishop of Vic. The new bishop immediately set about restoring the repopulated city and its cathedral, which had been devastated and in ruins since the last Muslim conquest and the rebellion of Aissó.

The churches in the region during this period flourished gaining much power and privilege. This included the right for monks to elect their own abbots as espoused by Saint Benedict. Wilfred founded two new monasteries: Santa María de Ripoll (880) and Sant Joan de les Abadesses (885). The Abbey of Sant Joan de les Abadesses was founded in the Diocese of Vic by Wilfred and his wife Guinedilda to provide for their daughter Emma, who became the community's first abbess in 899 and was given immunity from lay jurisdiction by King Charles the Simple.[citation needed] Carolingian crisis

When Louis the Stammerer died in 879 after a two-year reign, the kingdom was divided between his two young sons. Louis III received the ancient northern partitions of the Merovingian kingdom, Neustria and Austrasia (including the Lorraine). His second son Carloman received the southern partitions, Burgundy and Aquitaine (including Septimania). The problems plaguing the throne were exacerbated when both Louis (882) and Carloman (884) died soon after their succession. Not wanting to crown Louis the Stammerer's remaining son, Charles the Simple, who was only five, the nobles of France looked about for a powerful man who could defend the land from the fearsome Vikings and their vicious raids on the Channel and Atlantic coasts.

At the Assembly of Ponthion (884)[citation needed], the Franks chose the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fat, who was already king of Germany and Italy. Charles, son of Louis the German, therefore became the first person since the death of Louis the Pious to reign over the entire realm of Charlemagne, his illustrious great-grandfather. He would also be the last.

Incapable of much, Charles was lethargic and probably suffered from epilepsy. In November 885 he raised a grand army to fight off the Norsemen besieging Paris, after two requests from the French nobility. However, he chose to buy the Vikings off, paying them to attack Burgundy (then in revolt) instead. He left Paris in December. He subsequently failed to deal with revolts in Swabia, Saxony, Thuringia, Franconia, and Bavaria. The nobles of the Empire deposed him in 887, and he died two months later in 888.

Charles' nephew Arnulf of Carinthia succeeded him in Germany, Berengar of Friuli succeeded him in Italy, and Odo, Count of Paris, succeeded him in France. Splinter realms also arose in Aquitaine and Burgundy. The breakdown of central royal authority and the dynastic changes broke the Holy Roman Empire and Frankish Kingdom apart. The Carolingian polity which empowered the counts at the beginning of the century was nonexistent by the end; the Counts were de facto independent—especially in the outlying regions, like the Marca Hispanica. The crisis and the counts

In the great tradition of their family, Wilfred, Miró, Dela, and Sunyer II maintained their loyalty to the Carolingian monarchs until 888 and the death of Charles the Fat. Upon the death of Louis the Stammerer, however, this loyalty became largely nominal. When Louis's sons Louis and Carloman marched against Boso, King of Provence, the Catalan counts supported them, but did not join the campaign. This was a far cry from the prompt action the family had taken against Bernard of Gothia. The Counts became more interested in issues that directly affected them and did not attend the Assembly of Ponthion dealing with the Viking problem, which they regarded as meaningless to their domains. However they did visit the royal court in 886 to ask for privileges and precept to be granted to Teotario (Teuter), Bishop of Girona.

The Bellonid counts rejected Charles the Fat's successor, Odo, but they also did not rise in favour of Louis the Stammerer's surviving son, Charles the Simple. In the end, Odo was too absorbed with the Norsemen and those loyal to Charles the Simple to be bothered with the far south of the realm.

In 886, a presbyter named Esclua, taking advantage of the absence of Teotardo, Archbishop of Narbonne, had himself consecrated as Bishop of Urgell and expelled the titular Bishop Ingoberto with the tacit permission of Wilfred and Raymond I, Count of Pallars-Ribagorza. Esclua complicated the situation further by declaring himself metropolitan of Tarraconensis, separating his diocese (and others) from the Archbishopric of Narbonne. Now acting as metropolitan, Esclua promptly removed Servus Dei from the Bishopric of Girona.

Servus, who was consecrated by Teotardo, but had been rejected by Dela, Sunyer, and Wilfred, took refuge in the monastery of Bañolas. Esclua, with the help of the Bishops of Barcelona and Vic, consecrated Eremir (Hermemiro) as the new Bishop of Girona. In 888, Esclua resurrected the sees of Pallars and Empuries to repay Raymond, Sunyer, and Dela for their support.

At first Wilfred tolerated the dethronement of Ingoberto — there had been little love between them — but he could not allow the metropolitan pretensions of Esclua because of his friendship with Teotardo. The creation of independent dioceses was a method of securing political independence and Wilfred opposed this. He could not allow the lands under his control to be affected by the nobility or the Church. However there is no indication that he took any action, possibly because of other external issues (such as the Muslim presence to his south and west). Death

By 884, the Muslims had become increasingly uneasy by the expansion of the Christian counties to the north. Wilfred had established defensive positions or castles in Ausona at Cardona, Bergueda, and Vall de Lord; some were even south of the River Llobregat in the Vall de Cervelló. Essentially the frontiers of Wilfred's counties had now extended too far to remain irrelevant.

The Muslim ruler Ismail ibn Musa ibn Qasi fortified Lleida in response. Provoked by this, Wilfred attacked Ismail at Lleida. The attack however was a disaster. The historian Ibn al Athir describes the massacre of the attackers by the city's defenders. Buoyed by this success, Ismail's successor Lubb ibn Muhammed ibn Qasi attacked Barcelona in 897. Wilfred died in battle on 11 August 897. He was buried in the monastery at Ripoll. Succession

The weakening of Frankish royal authority in the Hispanic March is principally the result of the establishment of hereditary succession of the counties rather than by choice of the monarch. In 895, Miró the Old died and his county of Roussillon passed, without interference from King Odo, to Sunyer II of Empúries. In fact, Wilfred himself was never confirmed by any monarch as Count of Ausona. The importance of this development in the Middle Ages cannot be overstated. As hereditary succession became the custom, it became accepted as law and the kings lost control over the counts. The counts had become sovereigns in their own dominions.

The lack, however, of a legal basis for inheritance led to various experiments in hereditary succession. When Wilfred died in 897, his counties were divided amongst his sons. Wilfred Borrell and Sunyer (oldest and youngest) ruled over Barcelona, Girona, and Ausona; Miró over Cerdanya and Conflent; and Sunifred over Urgell. It is uncertain whether this distribution was the intention of Wilfred, or a decision eventually reached by the brothers themselves. Wilfred and Catalonia

Wilfred the Hairy has become a figure of importance for contemporary Catalan nationalists. Nineteenth century European Romanticism looked to the medieval world for references and links to modern national and cultural identities, and in the context of Catalan nationalism and its search for its historical foundations in a distant and idealised past, Wilfred soon arose as a figure of independence, the de facto founder of the House of Barcelona, and, by purported extension, one of the forefathers of the latter Catalonia.

One of the legends that has arisen around his person is that of the creation of the coat of arms from which the Catalan flag (the Senyera) derives today. After being wounded in battle (some versions say against the Moors; others, the Normans), the Frankish king Charles the Bald rewarded his bravery by giving him a coat of arms. The king slid Wilfred's blood-stained fingers over the Count's copper shield, and thus was the Senyera first born, with its four pallets in Gules on Or. As much as this legend is popular and extended, there is no historical evidence to support it.

Wilfred's actions as a Frankish vassal towards carving out his own domain from several counties and moving out of the sphere of influence of the Carolingian crown — coupled with his re-creation of the County of Ausona and the restoration of the Bishopric of Vic — laid out the territorial and patrimonial base for the House of Barcelona. As such, Wilfred has retrospectively been identified with the creation of Catalonia, even though a written reference to such a territorial entity would not appear until more than two centuries later in the Liber maiolichinus de gestis Pisanorum illustribus, a 12th-century Pisan manuscript describing the raids of 1114 by Pisans and Catalans on the island of Mallorca. Family

Wilfred married Guinidilda daughter of Baldwin I of Flanders and Judith of Flanders and had the following issue:

   Emma, Abbess of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, d.942
   Wilfred Borrell
   Rodolfo, Bp of Urgel, Abbot of Ripoll, d.940
   Ermesinde, d.after 925
   Cixilona, a nun, d.945
   [parentage not proven] Guinidilda; m.Cte Raymond II of Toulouse (d.923)


The Gesta comitum barcinonensium reported that "...[h]e was hairy in places not normally so in men..." Notes

   Jump up ^ Guifré el Pilós in Catalan. In the Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium he is called Guiffredus Pilosus, and other early medieval Latin spellings are Vuifredus, Wifredus, and Guifredus. The Crónica de San Juan de la Peña calls him Guiffré Pelloso.
   Jump up ^ According to Ramon d'Abadal (Els primers comtes catalans, p. 14), this legend was first reproduced in the Medieval (13th century) chronicle of the counts of Barcelona, Gesta Comitum Barcinonensium, and it was repeated by Catalan historians until the 18th century. French historian Pierre de Marca was the first to define it as a "fable" in Chapter 30 of Book 3 of his work, Marca Hispanica Sive Limes Hispanicus (1688).
   Jump up ^ See Pierre Vilar (dir.), Historia de Catalunya, Vol. II, p. 164. Also Ramon d'Abadal, "La família catalana dels comtes de Carcassona. Genealogía de Guifré el Pilós", in Els primers comtes catalans, pp. 13-28.
   Jump up ^ As suggested by Ramon d'Abadal, Els primers comtes catalans (1958)
   Jump up ^ See A. Lewis, The Development of Southern French and Catalan Society, 718-1050 (1965), Ch. 6, note 9 (Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

re Guifré el Pilós:

Like almost all the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, the land occupied by modern Catalunya was overrun by Moorish forces shortly following their landing near Gibraltar in 711. By 714 Moorish soldiers were heading over the eastern Pyrenees into Septimania and beyond and were only halted at Poitiers in 732 by the Frankish prince Charles Martel (the Hammer).

The Moors did not abandon Septimania immediately, but gradually a lack of manpower, factional dissension and Berber revolt in al-Andalus (as the Moors called the land they occupied) precluded further expeditions or expansion and precipitated their return south of the Pyrenees.

Repossession of land was undertaken almost immediately by the Franks but it was Charlemagne (742-814, king in 768 and emperor 800-14) who stamped Frankish authority over the southern area in an attempt to create a buffer zone against further possible incursions by the Moors.

However, a failed expedition to Zaragoza in response to requests for help by Moorish leaders rebelling against Abd al-Rahman I, emir of Córdoba, ended in disaster. The Moorish leaders had a change of heart and during Charlemagne’s retreated across the Pyrenees, his forces were decimated at the pass of Roncesvalles by Basque soldiers.

Still, Charlemagne persisted and in 801 his Frankish army, commanded by his son Louis the Pious, drove the Moors out of Barcelona. It was a decisive victory for the future of the region because all the territory from Barcelona north was to remain from then on in Christian hands. It also explains why we find no traces of Moorish presence in Barcelona, unlike for example at Zaragoza, only 300 kilometres/ 186 miles inland (and which was not reconquered until 1118).

Catalunya Takes Shape. The buffer zone created under Charlemagne and his heirs against the Moors extended south of the Pyrenees. Known as the Marca hispánica Spanish march (i.e. a border or frontier region), the area gradually broke up and already by the 9th century three political units or counties emerged: Aragón, Pamplona/Navarre and Catalunya.

However, these counties, although geographically in “Spain” or Hispania, owed their allegiance to the Frankish court north of the Pyrenees, and formed part of Charlemagne’s immense Holy Roman Empire, unlike the early Christian kingdoms to the north west of the peninsula.

The umbilical north-south cord was further strengthened by the selection of Frankish aristocrats to govern the counties at first, and by the annexation of the church in the newly reconquered territories to the Archbishopric of Narbonne in Septimania.

Nevertheless, despite the close north-south relationship the counties were frequently at odds with their Carolingian rulers, as well as with each other. At the same time, conflicts with the Moors were a constant reminder of the menace to the south and of the need to retain contact with the Franks. Still, a thirst for power and a desire to make the office hereditary, together with a weakening of the Frankish hegemony, not to mention distance from the Frankish court, led gradually to a degree of independence.

Out of the convoluted political manoeuvres of these early days, one figure emerges who has achieved mythical proportions in the annals of Catalunya: Guifré el Pilós (ca. 840-897) or, in English, Wilfred the Hairy! Something like Fernán González a hundred years later in Castile, Guifré wrested control of most of Catalunya and by 878 was its de facto ruler having by that time absorbed in his person the titles of Count of Barcelona, Girona, Urgel, and Cerdeña.

On his way to the top, Guifré overpowered many Frankish overlords, something he was able to do largely because of the instability and weakness of the Carolingian monarchy at this moment (four kings came and went in the space of eleven years, 877-888). Still, Guifré stopped well short of declaring independence, probably in view of his constant skirmishes with the Moors to his south and his ongoing need for the good will of the Carolingian kings.

What he did do, however, was to establish Catalan leadership over the region despite nominal Frankish suzerainty.

The cornerstone of Guifré’s authority was the city of Barcelona, at that time not much more than a small harbour, but well protected by its Roman walls. Thanks to Guifré, Barcelona grew to become the major centre of forays against the Moors in the east of the peninsula and the administrative capital of those counties that he had conquered. And with the prestige of the city, the title of Count of Barcelona became the preeminent rank of the region, and Guifré’s heirs became rulers of virtually all the counties of the Marca hispánica until union with Aragón (but that was not until 1137).

Guifré’s contribution to the establishment of Catalunya as a political entity is fundamental, but equally important in the eyes of many was his policy of repopulating central Catalonia. Most of the newcomers came from the more inhospitable mountain valleys of the Pyrenees, where many of their predecessors had earlier fled to from the advancing Moors. Some were also from Septimania; curiously, however, in view of what happened in the west, relatively few Mozarabs from the south seem to have hastened to the region.

Guifré’s success is a measure of the security felt by the settlers and a mark of the growing military strength of the region. Hand in hand with this development and further proof of Christian determination was the establishment of numerous castles to protect the pioneers as well as churches and monasteries, which provided the spiritual backbone to the political events.

Guifré himself founded the Monastery of Ripoll (880), one of the most important in Medieval Spain, and where he himself was buried after his death in 897 at the hands of the Moorish governor of Lleida/Lérida.

In the policy of resettlement there is some parallelism with what happened with the expansion of Christian kingdoms to the west. There was nevertheless a fundamental difference in the liberty enjoyed by the settlers: in the western kingdom of León pioneers risked their lives in a precarious no-man’s-land and were rewarded by a significant degree of autonomy whereby authority rested mainly in a council and their rights were encoded in their charters (fueros).

In the settlements in Catalunya power lay with the lord appointed by the Count of Barcelona, the first step towards a feudal relationship. At the same time, too, the lost Visigothic past was constantly evoked, even relived, in León as Christian response to the Muslim threat gradually took form.

The Marca hispánica on the other hand was a creation of the Franks, and not of the Visigoths, which probably explains that appeals to a Visigothic past never resonated in Catalonia compared with Castile. Fernán González figures prominently in the Castilan/Visigothic legend of reconquest; Guifré el Pelós does not.

But Guifré el Pelós has his own place in the founding myths of Catalunya, in particular in the origin of the Catalan flag. Legend has it that while fighting alongside the French king, Charles the Bald, against the Moors, Guifré was wounded. Visiting him in his tent after their victory, the king noticed that Guifre’s shield –although gilded– had no distinguishing features.

What better way, then, to reward Guifré’s valour than to confer on him royal recognition, whereupon Charles dipped four fingers in Guifré’s blood and drew them down the shield; the four crimson stripes on a gold field have since signalled the identity of Catalunya.

Like all founding heroes, Guifré became a larger than life figure, a fighter of dragons in one legend, in another a fatherless child brought up in a distant court who returns to claim his inheritance and is recognised by his mother because he had hair on a part of the body where it should not have been (Hughes 82).

Even his hairiness –with its biblical echoes of Esau– may be a folkloric evocation of his prowess. However, according to some modern historians, the epithet el Pilós may in fact be a nickname alluding to the wild nature of the country Guifré ruled.

Guifré died in battle against the Moors in 897, but not before consolidating under his rule most of the counties of Old Catalunya, and establishing the dynastic House of Barcelona, which was to guide the destiny of the region for five centuries.