Atlantic Cities cooperating since the XIII Century


21st September is the day designated by the European Union to celebrate territorial Cooperation. CAAC celebrates the Atlantic Day the first week of July, in the anniversary of the creation of the Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities. But, in Spain, Atlantic Cities could take May 4th as their holiday, reminding a History that involves also the UK,  Portugal  and West France.

In Spain in the Middle Ages, the name of Brotherhood (Hermandad) designates groups of people, cities or social institutions of any kind, bound by an oath of fidelity and mutual assistance in defense of common interests. Although this is a general phenomenon throughout Europe ( the Germanic religious societies extended by Cluny: guilds) in the Hispanic kingdoms the association is complete. Besides the political type, others whose purpose is essentially economic arose, differing from the first in its organization and development.

In 1248 the towns of Biscay participated, in the battle for the conquest of Seville. Half a century later, in May 4th in 1296, the Brotherhood of the Marshes of Biscay (Hermandad de las Marismas del Cantabrico) was created and by the greater strength of its organization and its projection abroad, ended disassociating itself from Castilian networks. At its foundation, it was composed of the towns of Castro-Urdiales, Santander, Laredo, Bermeo, Guetaria, San Sebastian, Hondarribia and Vitoria, but in 1342 it included 18 coastal villages and in 1496 it became a true Hansa.

The center of the Hermandad was based at CASTROURDIALES where three permanent delegates resided. These delegates signed partnership with a stamp depicting a castle on the waves and the legend: “Seello de la Hermandat de las villas de la marina de Castiella con Vitoria”. In each city two alcaldes were nominated to seat at the Hermandad Council and a troop of 60 men guaranteed their rights and privileges. Its aims were commercial and their ordinances regulated their relations with other Atlantic countries, like Flandes, Portugal, France and England.

In 1311, the commissioners of Castro Urdiales, Laredo and Santander Hondarribia signed a peace agreement with Bayonne and Biarritz which would be extended to St. Jean de Luz and Capbreton in 1536

In 1350 a naval battle waged against Winchelsea over 50 Allied ships, so a year later Edward III of England pacts with these ports so as not to afflict English trade. It was not the only incident with the English.

After the wedding of the daughter of Spanish king Peter I with the sons of Edward III, one of them claimed for the Crown of Castile. The Kingdom of Castile refused and sent 12 ships of the Brotherhood to take La Rochelle, on the French coast, which emerged victorious. When it seemed that the British were preparing a counterattack on Santander, the Cantabrian Sea fleet came out again, achieving new victories.

Never or almost never it had had a stable regime, but before serious problems it seem to be convene meetings and act together. Despite his notorious independence, it was protected by royal authority until the Catholic Monarchs submitted to theirs, putting a magistrate at the head to finally dissolve it, yielding their sovereignty to the Consulate of Burgos.

More info and sources (in Spanish):

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