History of Tremp: in 1174 the city already celebrated an important fair, which was one of the most important in the Catalan Pyrenees

The town of Tremp (Spain, Catalonia, Pyrenees) is documented at least since 1079, when the counts of Pallars Jussà give up their own territory “at the end of the castle of Tendrui” the church of Santa Maria. So far, the date of 819 or 839 had been given, which appears in an apocryphal document: the act of consecration of the cathedral of Santa Maria d’Urgell, in La Seu d’Urgell.

At present, however, it is sufficiently established by the historians that this dating is false, and that it is a document actually written in the 12th century. It must be said that at the same time, and always within the same territory of central Tremp, there was more than one town center. In the present city, we should add the part that was there, as will be said below, around the present hospital, and the remains of the Despoblat de Congistols that were found years ago (and that nowadays seem to have disappeared completely due to the opening of an industrial estate) between the ravines of Juncà and the Fontvella, way of the Tendrui road.

Another medieval town center was in the place now known as Despoblat d’Enorts, of which the remains of its church were conserved in 1912. It was a ruin located 120 m. under the Farm of Enorts, or Borda dels Frares, on the left side of Susterris, about 2 kilometers from Tremp and at an altitude of 450 m. This relation would be completed by the disappeared church of Sant Jaume de Pallars, located where the Tremp hostel is now.

In the document from 1079, the church of Santa Maria is spoken of as a refurbished church because it had been for some long time destroyed by the pagans; Without a doubt, it is a reference to the presence of the alarbs in Pallars Jussà during the 11th century. In 1087 the donation of 1079 was completed, and the counts of Pallars granted Santa Maria de Tremp the town and municipality, along with the houses there and the men who lived there.

This first town soon earned the title of royal city, and in 1174 it already celebrated an important fair, which was one of the most important in the Catalan Pyrenees, and that served as a commercial agglutination in the many kilometers around. It is known that in 1288 there were two weekly markets that took place in Tremp on Wednesday and Friday (in 1664 the market was moved, and was only on Mondays, the day on which it is still underway currently).

As the celebration of markets and fairs was subject to royal concessions in the Middle Ages, it is possible to infer the importance that acquired the town of Tremp in those times. This important role of the town is still confirmed in 1385, with the granting of a second annual fair, of fifteen days, same as the first fair that has been held for 200 years prior. Over time, in more modern times, the number of markets increased, especially specific ones, such as the Garlic Fair, on August 4; the one of Saint Thomas, on December 21, dedicated to the pig; the one of San Joan, on June 24, dedicated to the wool … In recent times, the Industrial and Agricultural Fair has been strengthened, on Saint Bonifaci, copatroon of Tremp (May 14). Therefore, Tremp has never lost, since the Middle Ages, its relevant role as a regional center from all points of view.

The primitive nucleus of Tremp seems to have been noticeably more to the east than the present location of the old town. Approximately, it should have been around the place where the hospital is now, the former location of a Capuchin convent in the place formerly known as La Pedrera, and later as the Peiró. It is from the end of the 11th century that the new city grow, the current old town of Tremp. It soon moved to the walls, with towers that supported the walled circuit, and also soon all the interior enclosure was occupied. Thus, it became a military and economically strong city, as it became an important comercial center (in 1358, there were a total of 144 families: about 720 inhabitants).

Tremp, however, as a strategically well located square, was the object of many controversies in order to obtain the domain. Initially belonging to the canonical of Santa Maria de Tremp, in 1171, the bishop of Urgell Arnau gave rights to the counts of Pallars, Ramon Miró I and his English wife, and later the following bishop, Bernat de Vilamur, made another assignment in favor of Ponç de Vilamur, his relative, cession confirmed in 1219 by the bishop at the time, Peter. In 1257, in a bulla of Pope Alexandre IV, the canons of Tremp reached a concord with the bishop of Urgell and gave him the dominion of the town and place.

They do not end, however, here are the movements: in 1303, a new agreement has begun, now between the bishop of Urgell and the same count-king, Jaume el Just, on the subject of jurisdiction over the city. Until 1328, this subject was dragged, without completely resolving, by the pretensions of one side and the other on this jurisdiction, which ended in the hands of the king. On October 11, 1370, Pere el Cerimoniós sold the rights that had the crown in the same University of Tremp (name that received the precedent of the current city councils of that time). On sale there were together the castles of Talarn and Orrit.

Tremp became a strong, and at the same time, pretentious and withstanding city in all the wars that were in its territory. It was plundered in 1368 by the French, the king in aid of the town, granted the right to impose certain taxes, and in 1396 resisted the impetus of the count of Foix, in 1476 it was occupied by Lluís de Mudarra within the framework of the war with John II.

Modern age

In 1553, in the Fogatge of that year, it appears already with a population higher than that of Talarn, although the political importance and extension of the territory of this last town was higher than that of Tremp. There are already more than a hundred families (which, multiplied by five, give an approximate number of inhabitants, exceeding half a thousand).

The town of Tremp also had an important role in the War of the Succession. With a marked Austrian tendency, the Palladians supported, as most of Catalonia, the cause of Archduke Charles of Austria, therefore, suffered the severe repression of Philip V once the war ended, as well as the imposition of Decrees of the New Plant (Decrets de Nova Planta).

Contemporary age

The strategic role of the town of Tremp once again conferred a prominent place in the French War and the three Carlist Wars, until the walls were dismantled from 1876. In 1910 the last piece of the wall fell, that which surrounded the apse of the church of Santa Maria and the rectory attached to the north side; only the tower of the Sacristy has been preserved.

However, these same walls had been reinforced and enlarged more than once, as a result of some of the warlike events that took place there. It was especially during the Carlist wars, fortresses outside were built: one at La Quera, in the direction of Claret, another at Pinell, on the way to Palau de Noguera, and a third at the Xut, on the way to Talarn. In 1874, as a result of the Third Carlist War, most of the walls and forts mentioned were destroyed, which allowed the subsequent growth of the city.

The first population censuses date back to the second half of the 14th century; in the one of 1365, 165 households (around 825 people) appear in Tremp, and in the one of 1394, 195 (970). It is a considerable population volume, as is the increase that is experienced in a few years. However, the multiple crises experienced since the 15th century seriously affected Tremp (as in the whole Catalan territory), and in 1515 there were only 77 households (about 385 inhabitants), and 113 (around 565) in 1553.

The town does not recover until the 18th century, still following the general tone of the whole of Catalonia; thus, in 1718 it is known that there were 700 inhabitants, which were already 1,262 in 1787. The growth was continued during the following century, and it reached 2,238 in 1860 and 2,631 in 1887.

Until the abolition of monoralism (el senyoriu), in 1831, Tremp belonged stately to the bishop of Urgell Pascual Madoz, who knew Tremp very well for having lived there, and fought during the Second Carlist War around Tremp with the Isabelins or liberals, dedicated three different articles to talk about Tremp: one for the judicial party, one for the town as it was at the time, and a third for the Conca. He says, about the town, that it is in the center of its basin, on a wide and open plan, quite well ventilated, healthy climate, without more diseases than the then the periodical ones in summer. In 1845, he writes of missing walls, even though he mentions fragments. The inner wall included exclusively the strict urban nucleus, while the exterior also hugged the ravals. The town had 313 houses of lime, chalk and plaster, generally of regular construction, of 2 floors and elevated over the level of the streets by 64 Catalan pams. The streets were flat, with rigs and sewers and well aligned. It had 5 small squares, one with portals.
Of public buildings, there was the Casa de la vila, the school of first letters (where there are the the town jails), the old hospital, whose chapel serves for school, a school for girls, and the hospital located in the old Capuchin convent. Gives, for Tremp 266 neighbors (heads of household) and 1,600 souls (inhabitants).

Just at the end of this nineteenth century Tremp is shaken again by a series of misfortunes which seriously affected the economy and demographics of Pallars Jussà. In the General Geography of Catalonia directed by Francesc Carreras i Candi, he says that in 1888 the city has 564 buildings, with 2,497 inhabitants, and in 1900 it is made up of 605 buildings, with 1,978 inhabitants. In 1910 there are 1,937: the phylloxera damaged the vineyards of the region and the lack of industrial development forced many Palladians to migrate to the areas where the industry of the late nineteenth century was being developed.

The contemporary history of Tremp can be considered as starting when the company La Canadenca arrives there, responsible for building the dam of San Antonio and the complex derived from the corresponding swamp. Until that moment, Tremp, and the whole region, continued with the secular forms of life build around agricultural activity and small business, that derived from it. The industrial activity was confined to small local industries (flour mills, oil mill, some pot stilling) and the activity of craftsmen, almost always family operated. The beginning of the marshes work meant an important opening towards the outside, with workers from outside, more traffic from incoming people, and Palladians impelled by various causes to leave outside the region, and in the end, a reshaping even of customs, including the entrance of machinery for the works on the fields.

The incorporation of La Canadenca into the life of the county led to a demographic increase, but immediately caused an economic revival, which allowed to stop a little the depopulation of the city and the county. The irrigation systems were improved, which considerably improved crops, and Tremp reached in 1920 to 2,115 inhabitants, which were already 3,329 in 1930, 3,521 in 1940 – with the shock of the Civil War in the middle, 4,015 in 1950, 4,466 in 1960 and 4,919 in 1965 (the last two, with the addition of inhabitants of the Adoberies district, until that time of Talarn.

In the last 40 years, growth has stopped and, despite the incorporation of the seven municipalities already mentioned, there have been ups and downs that are once again in the growth tendency in recent years: 4,676 inhabitants in 1970, 4,880 in 1975, 4,793 in 1981 and 5,332 in 2005. It should be noted that while the growth of the population of Tremp seems, at least, stagnant, that of the aggregate towns has diminished dramatically, reaching total depopulation in some cases, a phenomenon that has deserted huge areas of the region, only saved in some isolated cases, such as that of Espluga de Serra, where a colony of new settlers, often called neorurals, which have even forced to reopen the village school,in the same way as it has happened in Bóixols, of the Abella de la Conca territory. The progressive aging of the population must be added to this observation, accompanied by a significant drop in the birth rate. All in all, it makes it necessary to look at the future of the region with certain doses of concern, expressed by geographers and sociologists.

This modernization and profound change were interrupted by the civil war, and the slowdown in all aspects of the postwar period, mainly due to the ideas imposed in 1939, and the life models that had to be followed for many years after the fall of the Second Republic.


Ajuntament de Tremp

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