Las Sociedades Economicas de Amigos del Pais (1): The Enlightenment

The Real Sociedad Económica Aragonesa de Amigos del Pais was an important institution in Saragossa and Aragon as a result of the work of many of its members who, as well as being residents of Saragossa, had important economic interests in every part of the country. The Society consisted of the more important members of the aristocracy, the Civil Service, the Church and local businessmen. It was an association much more aware of the realities of Aragon than its outward, official appearance might suggest.

The highly centralised nature of the Society was one of the reasons for the creation of similar societies in other parts of Aragon. In April 1782, four members of the Society resident in Jaca organised a similar society called La Sociedad Económica de Amigos del Pais de la Ciudad de Jaca y sus Montañes (2).

It was founded in October 1782 and membership grew rapidly. When the statutes of the Society were approved there were already 40 members. Although it was supposedly subordinate to the Society in Saragossa, the new Society governed directly from Jaca. The society had control over the city and the surrounding area, although there were members from outside the region.

Half of its members were members of the clergy, of which a sizeable number were parish priests from small villages. Thus, in spite of the lesser number of notables in the society in comparison to Saragossa, it is highly likely that the society of Jaca had more success in spreading its message to a wider section of the population.

Local figures of importance in Teruel attempted to follow the model of Jaca by organising a Sociedad Económica in the city in 1803. However it was impossible to repeat the success and relative autonomy of the Society in Jaca due to the fact that at such a late date, associations of this nature had gone through a period of decline and were by that time moribund.


Source: Peiró, A. Atlas de historia de Aragón. Zaragoza,1991.


Notes

1. The Economic Societies of Friends of the Nation.
2. The Economic Society of Friends of the City of Jaca and its Mountains.

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