HistoryAndorra is the last independent survivor of the so-called Marca Hispanica — several buffer states created by Charlemagne to keep the Muslim Moors from advancing into Christian France. Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting the Moors. In the 800s, Charlemagne’s grandson, Charles the Bald, named the Count of Urgell as overlord of Andorra. A descendant of the count later gave the lands to the diocese of Urgell, headed by Bishop of Urgell.In the 11th century, fearing military action by neighboring lords, the bishop placed himself under the protection of the Lord of Caboet, a Catalan nobleman. Later, the Count of Foix became heir to the Lord of Caboet through marriage, and a dispute arose between the French Count and the Catalan bishop over Andorra.In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage (pariatges), which provided that Andorra’s sovereignty be shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of La Seu d’Urgell (Catalonia). The pareage, a feudal institution recognizing the principle of equality of rights shared by two rulers, gave the small state its territory and political form.Over the years the title passed to the kings of Navarre, and under the king of France Henry IV, an edict in 1607 established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra.In 1933, serious political and social unrest led to the seizure of power by Russian adventurer Boris Skossyreff, who declared himself King Boris I and proceeded to declare war on the Bishop of Urgell. Skossyreff was arrested, and the French military occupied Andorra; the French forces dismissed the local government and gave control to the Viguiers, delegates of the princes.
Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transport and communications have removed the country from its isolation.