Co-Princes of Andorra

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Co-Princes of Andorra
Coprínceps d'Andorra (Catalan)
Coat of Arms of High Authorities of Andorra.svg
Mons. Vives (30612833490).jpg
Joan-Enric Vives i Sicília
since 12 May 2003
Emmanuel Macron 2023 (cropped).jpg
Emmanuel Macron
since 14 May 2017
Style His Excellency
First monarch Pere d'Urtx
Roger-Bernard III
Formation1278;746 years ago (1278)
Residence La Seu d'Urgell Cathedral (Spain)
Élysée Palace (France)
AppointerThe Pope (for the Episcopal Co-Prince)
French citizens (five years, renewable once consecutively) (for the French Co-Prince)

The co-princes of Andorra are jointly the heads of state (Catalan : cap d'estat) [1] of the Principality of Andorra, a landlocked microstate lying in the Pyrenees between France and Spain. Founded in 1278 by means of a treaty between the bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix, this unique diarchical arrangement has persisted through medieval times to the 21st century. Currently, the bishop of Urgell (Joan Enric Vives Sicília) and the president of France (Emmanuel Macron) serve as Andorra's co-princes, following the transfer of the count of Foix's claims to the Crown of France and, subsequently, to the head of state of the French Republic. Each co-prince appoints a personal representative, the episcopal co-prince by Josep Maria Mauri and the French co-prince currently being represented by Patrick Strzoda. [2]


Origin and development of the co-principality

Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting against the Moors. The feudal overlord of this territory was at first the Count of Urgell. In 988, however, the count, Borrell II, gave Andorra to the Diocese of Urgell in exchange for land in Cerdanya. [3] The Bishop of Urgell, based in Seu d'Urgell, has ruled Andorra ever since. [4]

Before 1095, Andorra did not have any type of military protection, and since the Bishop of Urgell knew that the Count of Urgell wanted to reclaim the Andorran valleys, [4] he asked for help from the lord of Caboet. In 1095, the lord and the bishop signed a declaration of their co-sovereignty over Andorra. Arnalda, daughter of Arnau of Caboet, married the viscount of Castellbò, and both became viscounts of Castellbò and Cerdanya. Their daughter, Ermessenda, [5] married Roger Bernat II, the French count of Foix. They became, respectively, count and countess of Foix, viscount and viscountess of Castellbò and Cerdanya, and also co-sovereigns of Andorra (together with the Bishop of Urgell).[ citation needed ]

In the 11th century, a dispute arose between the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix. The conflict was mediated by Aragon in 1278, and led to the signing of the first paréage, which provided that Andorra's sovereignty be shared between the count [4] and the bishop. This gave the principality its territory and political form, and marked the formal commencement of Andorra's unique monarchical arrangement.[ citation needed ]

Through inheritance, the Foix title to Andorra passed to the kings of Navarre. After Henry III of Navarre was crowned Henry IV of France, he issued an edict in 1607 establishing the king of France and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra. In 1812–13, the First French Empire annexed Catalonia and divided it into four départements, with Andorra forming part of the district of Puigcerdà (department of Sègre). Following the defeat of Napoleon I, a royal decree reversed this annexation, and Andorra reverted to its former independence and political state. [6] [7] [8] The French head of statewhether king, emperor, or presidenthas continued to serve as a co-prince of Andorra ever since.[ citation needed ]

Recent history

On 12 July 1934, Andorra's monarchical system was challenged by an adventurer named Boris Skossyreff, who issued a proclamation in Urgell declaring himself "Boris I, King of Andorra". [9] Though initially enjoying some support within Andorra's political establishment, he was ultimately arrested by Spanish authorities on 20 July 1934 after declaring war on the Bishop of Urgell (who had refused to relinquish his own claim to the principality). Skossyreff was expelled, and was never considered to have been the Andorran monarch in any legal sense.

Before 1993, Andorra had no codified constitution, and the exact prerogatives of the co-princes were not specifically defined in law. In March 1993, a Constitution was approved by a vote of the Andorran people and signed into law by the two reigning co-princes at the time: Bishop Joan Martí Alanis and President François Mitterrand. It clarified the continuance of the unique Andorran diarchy, and also delineated the precise role and prerogatives of the two co-princes. Prior to adoption of the Constitution, Andorra paid in odd-numbered years a tribute of approximately $460 to the French ruler, while on even-numbered years, it paid a tribute of approximately $12 to the Spanish bishop, plus six hams, six cheeses, and six live chickens. This medieval custom was subsequently abandoned in 1993. [10]

In 2009, French president Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to abdicate as French co-prince if the principality did not change its banking laws to eliminate its longstanding status as a tax haven. [11]

In 2014, Joan Enric Vives i Sicília said that he would abdicate as bishop of Urgell and co-prince of Andorra if the Andorran Parliament passed a law legalizing abortion. The bishopric would then be held in abeyance at least until the law had been promulgated, so that no cleric would have to sign it. [12] This would make Andorra the second country (after Belgium) where a head of state refused to sign a law legalizing voluntary interruption of pregnancy without preventing the law's promulgation.

Contemporary political role

The Constitution of Andorra carefully defines the exact role and prerogatives of the co-princes of Andorra today. The constitution establishes Andorra as a "parliamentary coprincipality", [13] providing for the Bishop of Urgell and the president of France to serve together as joint heads of state. [14] The constitution distinguishes between which powers they may exercise on their own (Article 46), and which require the countersignature of the head of the Andorran government, or the approval of the "Síndic General", the Andorran legislature (Article 45).

Powers the co-princes may exercise on their own include: [15]

Powers the co-princes may exercise in conjunction with the head of government include: [16]

Each co-prince is granted an annual allowance by the General Council to dispose of as he or she sees fit. [18] Each appoints a personal representative in Andorra, [19] and in the case of incapacitation of one of them, the constitution provides for the other prince to govern in his or her absence, with the concurrence of the Andorran head of government or the General Council. [20]

Certain treaties require the participation of the co-princes (or their designated representatives) in their negotiation process as well as their final approval; these are detailed in Articles 66 and 67 of the constitution.

The co-princes jointly retain the right to propose amendments to the constitution; this same right rests with the General Council. [21] They have no veto power over legislation passed by the General Council, though they do retain a veto over certain international treaties, as described above.


In case of vacancy of either co-prince, Andorra "recognizes the validity of the interim procedures foreseen by their respective statuses, in order for the normal function of Andorran institutions not to be interrupted". [22]

List of rulers

See also


  1. This implies that the letters of credence of ambassadors of France to Andorra or vice-versa are signed twice by the French president: once as sender and once as recipient.

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Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked country on the Iberian Peninsula, in the eastern Pyrenees, bordered by France to the north and Spain to the south. Believed to have been created by Charlemagne, Andorra was ruled by the count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell. The present principality was formed by a charter in 1278. It is currently headed by two co-princes: the bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain and the president of France. Its capital and largest city is Andorra la Vella.

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a sovereign landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of Andorra</span>

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">La Seu d'Urgell</span> Municipality in Catalonia, Spain

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joan Enric Vives i Sicília</span> Episcopal Co-Prince of Andorra

Joan-Enric Vives i Sicília is a Spanish cleric, who has served as Bishop of Urgell since 2003, and is therefore the Co-Prince of Andorra. This makes him a joint-head-of-state and one of the two Catholic religious figures in the world who also leads a country, the other such prelate being the Pope himself.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pau Claris i Casademunt</span>

Pau Claris i Casademunt was a Catalan lawyer, clergyman and 94th President of the Deputation of the General of Catalonia at the beginning of the Catalan Revolt. On 16 January 1641 he proclaimed the Catalan Republic under the protection of France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coat of arms of Andorra</span>

The coat of arms of Andorra is the heraldic device consisting of a shield divided quarterly by the arms of the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix – who have historically been the two co-princes of Andorra – in addition to the emblems of Catalonia and the Viscount of Béarn. Utilized unofficially since the Middle Ages, its status as the coat of arms of the Principality of Andorra was formalized in 1993 upon the implementation of their new constitution. The escutcheon is featured on the flag of Andorra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Constitution of Andorra</span> Supreme law of the Principality of Andorra

The Constitution of Andorra is the supreme law of the Principality of Andorra. It was adopted on 2 February 1993 and given assent by the Andorran people in a referendum on 14 March 1993. According to the Constitution itself, it was to enter into force on the day of its publication in the Butlletí Oficial del Principat d'Andorra, which occurred on 28 April 1993.

The Bellonids, sometimes called the Bellonid Dynasty, were the counts descended from the Goth Belló who ruled in Carcassonne, Urgell, Cerdanya, County of Conflent, Barcelona, and numerous other Catalan and Septimanian counties and marches in the 9th and 10th centuries. His most famous grandson was Wilfred the Hairy, who founded the House of Barcelona, rulers of the County of Barcelona from 878, and since 1164 the Crown of Aragon, until the end of the reign of Martin the Humane in 1410.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andorra–France relations</span> Bilateral relations

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Listed below are articles about or related to Andorra, arranged alphabetically:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paréage of Andorra (1278)</span> 1278 charter granting joint sovereignty over Andorra

The first Paréage of Andorra was a feudal charter signed in Lleida on 8 September 1278. It codified a lay and ecclesiastical agreement between the Count of Foix, Roger-Bernard III, and the Bishop of Urgell, Pere d'Urtx, establishing their joint sovereignty over the territory of Andorra. The paréage established the system of condominium in Andorra, placing it under suzerainty of both lords. This system was later ratified in 1993 by the signing of the Constitution of Andorra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Executive Council of Andorra</span>

The Executive Council of Andorra is the chief executive body of the Principality of Andorra.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lord of Caboet</span> Catalan nobleman

The Lord of Caboet or Lord Arnau de Caboet was a Catalan nobleman. He played an influential role in the creation of Andorra, which was established by Charlemagne as one of the buffer states that kept the Moors from invading France. In the 11th century, an account cited how the lord protected the Bishop of Urgel from military action conducted by neighboring lords through a defensive agreement. The title was fought over by the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix, who became the heir of Lord Caboet through marriage. The lord's family later merged with the house of Castellbo with the marriage between Viscount Arnau de Castellbo and the lord's descendant Arnaua de Caboet.

Pere d'Urtx was Bishop of Urgell from 1269 to 1293. He became the first Episcopal Co-Prince of Andorra when he signed the paréage establishing joint-sovereignty over the territory with Roger-Bernard III, Count of Foix in 1278.

Events in the year 2020 in the Principality of Andorra.

The Andorran Revolution, also known as the Revolution of 1933, was a democratic uprising led by the Young Andorrans that called for political reforms, universal suffrage for all Andorrans and acted in defense of the rights of local and foreign workers during the construction of FHASA's hydroelectric power station in Encamp. On April 5, 1933, the Young Andorrans seized the Andorran Parliament. These actions were preceded by the arrival of Colonel René-Jules Baulard with 50 gendarmes and the mobilization of 200 local militias or sometent led by the Síndic Francesc Cairat.


  1. "The constitution of the Principality of Andorra".
  2. "Why is the President of France Co-Prince of Andorra?". Royal Central. 7 October 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2019. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, serves as Co-Prince of Andorra in addition to his duties as French President and is one of the few examples of a democratically elected leader serving in a royal capacity in another country. Since 2003, the other Co-Prince is the bishop of Urgell from Spain, Joan-Enric Vives i Sicília.
  3. "La formació d'Andorra". Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana . Enciclopèdia Catalana.(in Catalan)
  4. 1 2 3 Things about the history of Andorra Archived 9 February 2010 at French Co-prince (in Catalan)
  5. "Ermessenda de Castellbò". Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana . Enciclopèdia Catalana.(in Catalan)
  6. Armengol Aleix 2009, p. 172.
  7. Guillamet Anton 2009, p. 172.
  8. Armengol Aleix 2009, p. 342, 343.
  9. Events, Issues 19–24, p. 46, 1938
  10. Andorra: Septicentennial for a Ministate, from Time, 30 October 1978.
  11. Sarkozy threatens to renounce Andorran title.
  12. Jesús Bastante (22 September 2014). "La aprobación de la ley del Aborto en Andorra podría llevar a Vives a Barcelona". Religión. Periodisto Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  13. Constitution of Andorra, 1:4.
  14. Constitution of Andorra, 43:1–2.
  15. Constitution of Andorra, Article 46.
  16. Constitution of Andorra, Article 45.
  17. Constitution of Andorra:45:1:E and 71:1–3.
  18. Constitution of Andorra, 47.
  19. Constitution of Andorra, 48.
  20. Constitution of Andorra, 45:3.
  21. Constitution of Andorra, 105.
  22. Constitution of Andorra, 49.