There have been many territorial changes in the
Pyrenees in the centuries preceding the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659.
In most cases the Pyrenees proved to be a natural border between
territorial entities north and south. As far as we know there were no
systematic delimitations by bordermarkers.
Some treaties are important in this respect:
- 1258 Treaty of Corbeil: the kingdoms of France and Navarra settled
their division in the eastern Pyrenees, the border shifted to the north
of the current Pyrénées-Orientales.
- 1278 and 1288 Signing of the first and second "Paréage" of Andorra,
which arranged the joint sovereignty of Andorra by the Count of Foix
and the bishop of Urgell. That's how Andorra came into existence.
- 1375 Junte de Roncal: a local treaty between the communities of the
Baŕetous valley and the Roncal valley on either side of the esfr-border
on and near Col de Saint-Martin (bm262). Following two years of mutual
bloodshed, the conflict about access to the only watersource on this
dry plateau (at the Spanish side of Pic d'Arlas) was settled. The
yearly ceremony on 13 july of the "Tribut de trois vaches" still exists.
- 1462-1493 Treaty of Bayonne: temporary shift of Rousillon and
Cerdagna from Navarra to France in exchange for military aid to help
Navarra in the Catalonian civil war.
- 1513 "Le serment de Plan d'Arrem": a local treaty about bordercross
use of pastures, forests, sources, transport and mutual help between 19
French and Spanish communities in a wide area around
Fos where the treaty was signed. There were more of such local "Lies
and passeries" in the Pyrenees, providing stability and peace in these
borderregions. In the Bayonne demarcation treaties (1856-1868) some of
them were incorporated.
1641 Treaty of Péronne: giving the king of France the title of count of
Barcelona, Cerdagne and Roussillon while these
territories remained under the jurisdiction of Catalonia.
1659: Treaty of the Pyrenees
Louis XIV of France and Philippe IV of Spain agreed to
this treaty to end their 1635-1659 war. It
was signed on an island in the river Bidassoa near Hendaye, exact at
the border. Known as
"l'Île des Faisans" (and later "l'Île de la Conférence") it was
transformed in a condominium: a shared territory between
France and Spain.
the border in the Pyrenees was only a part of this broad-range treaty.
However: the description of the borderline remained very vague. Article
42 states that the mountains of the Pyrenees will
divide the two kingdoms as it did between de French and Spanish tribes
in the roman era.
a specification of the borderline was discussed in march 1660 in Céret
by Spanish and French deputees. Roussilion was lost by Spain The
Cerdagne was divided, a
settled in the
Treaty of Llivia of 1660. Thirty-two villages became French but Llivia
- considered as a town - remained Spanish and turned into an
enclave in autumn 1660. There's no mention
Convention of Perpignan
South of Perpignan - at and near the Col de Perthus - France and Spain
didn't agree about the exact borderline to be established after the
treaty of the Pyrenees. France claimed for historical reasons
a strip of territory south of the watershed as shown approximately on
this map with a blue line. After a century,
France gave in and the borderline was fixed as it is still today.
The treaty involved the placing of 10 bordermarkers:
- 2 pillar-like markers with coat of arms of both countries at either
side of the main road from Perpignan passing through the Col de Perthus
into Spain (nowadays bm574 and 575)
- 4 pyramid-shaped markers around the Fort de Bellegarde to the west
(nowadays bm567, 568, 570 and 571)
- 4 pyramid-shaped markers to the east (nowadays bm576, 577,
578 and 579).
In 1866 these markers were
restorated and incorporated in the 1 to 602 number sequence.
1785: Treaty of Elizonda: settling the Pays Quint
1785 there was an first attempt to precisize the
esfr-borderline in the Treaty of Elizonda. Two French and Spanish
military engineers (the "Commision Internationale Caro-d'Ornano") were
primarily meant to settle the border-disputes in the valleys
of Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry. The so-called "ligne d'Ornano" -
two straight lines neglecting the watershed - was
the border in the valley of Baïgorry. This line is
first from bm130 straight to
bm141 at the hilltop of Ichterbegui and from there to bm155 at Col de
Lindus. There were special cross-border rules for the French and
Spanish shepherds and peasants. But the disputes went on. In the end
in 1856 in a special
status for the part south of the Ornano-line: "le pays Quint".
The treaty was accompagnied by
describing 197 -
unnumbered - borderstones and -crosses from Col d'Ispéguy (current
bordermarker 91) to Col d'Arnostéguy (current bm205).
Robert Darrieumerlou concludes in this article (in French)
that 'Beorzu' must have been a location slightly to the west
of the hilltop of Harguibel, not far from the current bm126. He
considers the delimitation of 1785 as more precise (using 197
bordermarkes) then the one of 1856 (114 bordermarkers). The old spots
and crosses were used for the new bordermarkers.
In fact there were two "procès-verbaux":
1. (between august 29th and september 8th 1785) describing the 162
bordermarkers from 'Beorzu' until Col d'Arnostéguy ( from west to east)
2. (september 21th and 22th 1785) describing the 35 bordermarkers from
'Beorzu' until Col d'Izpeguy (from east to west).
1785: Treaty of Elizonda:
bordermarkers 1-130 installed
The delimitation-efforts of the Caro-d'Ornano-commission
didn't stop with the above settlement of the Pays Quint-disputes.
They went on to demarcate the borderline west of the Pays Quint - from
the Atlantic coast Col d'Ispeguy and placed the bordermarkers 1 to
130. They were incorporated 71 years later in the Bayonne treaties. A
lot of these bordermarkers still exist and are well recognizable by
the capital R above the number and the demarcation line of direction at
The demarcation-job E of Pays Quint was however
suspended in 1792 or 1793, due to the political situation and the
difficulties encountered in the mountainous terrain (see this article)
1856-1868: the Bayonne treaties
These treaties are still the foundation of the present delimitation of
the French-Spanish border. The objective was "to determine more
precisely the border and to
resolve difficulties encountered since 200 years". That job
performed so well that there have been only minor changes and
adjustments ever since.
There are 3 major treaties and one minor about Llivia.
1856: the first one describes the borderline and the
bordermarkers between the Atlantic ocean and the mountain top
of "table des trois rois". That's the tripoint where France,
Aragon and Navarra meet. It includes the bordermarkers 1 to
1862: the second one continues to Andorra to its western
tripoint on Pic de Médecourbe, from bordermarker 273 to 426.
1866: the third one covers the last section from the eastern
tripoint of Andorra at la portella Blanca to the mediterranean coast.
That is from bordermarker 427 to 602.
1868: the spanish enclave
Llivia received its own delimitation agreement and set of
Note that there has never been an overall delimitation agreement
& France (and Andorra & Spain).
Andorra shares only
one bordermarker with his neighbours, that's bm427 at its eastern
1875: establishment of the "Commission
Internationale des Limites" - later "Commission Internationale de
Pyrénées"- , charged with the application of the treaties mentioned
above. See the bm maintenance-page for more information on how
inspection and maintenance were organized in later years.
As said before, there have been minor changes and adjustments since the
Bayonne treaties. We can draw up this list:
-14 submarkers of bm044, placed in 1988 (see esfr-html-bibliography-treaties.html)
-on the Port de Larrau: 237b BIS
-adjustments along the road to Arette in 1985, concerning bm258 and 259
-the BIS-pillar at Col de Somport: 305 BIS
-4 submarkers of bm408, placed in 1960 or later
-14 submarkers of bm409, placed in 1970 or shortly later
-bm420bis, added in 1997 (see esfr-html-curiosities.html
-bm422bis, added in 1963
-bm467/1 and bm467/2, on eitherside of the railway Puigcerda -
La-Tour-de-Carol, date unknown
-bm481: together with bm482 replaced in 1996 by a bronze plate in the tarmac, see this treaty concerning bm481
-bm567bis near Le Perthus, date unknown
-BIS-plate in the tarmac-surface in Le Perthus: 574 BIS
-bm579bis beyond Le Perthus, probably placed in 1906
-the BIS-pillar at the mediterranean coast: 601BIS