The Viscounty of La Selva

The Cabrera's

On July 26, 1364, after a summary trial, Bernat II, Viscount of Cabrera, was beheaded in Saragossa in compliance with the sentence urged by Queen Leonor of Aragon, wife of Pere el Cerimoniós. There is no proof that the head of Bernat was taken to Barcelona as demanded by the queen.

This was the end of one of the most relevant men in the history of the Kingdom of Catalonia and Aragon during the 14th century. Bernat II, Viscount of Cabrera, first counsellor and majordomo, teacher and preceptor of the heir to the crown, infant Joan, commander of the Catalan troops in different battles… and artifex of the great reformation of Montsoriu Castle, which was his residence and palace during a good part of his life. Bernat of Cabrera planned and executed the reformation of Montsoriu to transform the old Romanesque castle into the great fortress that became Catalunya’s most important Gothic castle.

The castle planned by Bernat de Cabrera is the one that can be seen today thanks to the restorations carried out over the last years, which have allowed the recovery of the castle’s splendour, which in the 12th century was considered to be “one of the most beautiful and noble in the world”.

Throughout its history, Montsoriu has always been identified with the viscounty of Cabrera and was its true military capital. It could be said that Hostalric was the administrative capital, Breda the religious capital, and Blanes the commercial capital.

The first mention of Montsoriu is in the year 1002. In 1017 it belonged to the nobleman Amat de Montsoriu, Viscount of Girona. Ermessenda of Montsoriu married Guerau de Cabrera in 1033, thus originating the viscountal lineage of the Girona-Cabrera’s. Of the primitive rock castle, today we can still admire the imposing keep, along with the remains of a small pre-Romanesque castle-chapel. Between the end of the 12th century and the mid-13th century it was enlarged with a lower level, the fortified bailey. The whole perimeter of the hill was walled, up to the Witches watchtower, thus forming an enclosure with a perimeter of more than 500 metres. During this period Ponç III of Cabrera was responsible for the construction of the striking Romanesque chapel of Saint Peter.

In the mid 14th century important architectural reformations were undertaken, transforming Montsoriu into the great Gothic castle-palace, headquarters of the Viscounts of Cabrera. The works were undertaken quickly between the years 1347 and 1348, and they were finished completely towards 1350. These works were ordered by Bernat II, Viscount of Cabrera and Bas (1298-1364), a key military and political figure in the history of the Crown of Aragó during the mid-14th century. In 1356 King Pere III created the county of Osona for Bernat III of Cabrera (son of Bernat II) as a reward for the Cabrera’s loyalty in the campaigns against the Genovese and in Sardinia, with Montsoriu as the dominion’s centre of military power. The death sentence handed out to Bernat II caused the Count of Osona to lead a revolt against King Pere III. Monstoriu Castle resisted long periods of siege, between 1365 and 1368, during which it was shown to be inexpugnable.

Montsoriu Castle maintained its military and residential usefulness until the first quarter of the 14th century, when the Cabrera’s changed their residence to Blanes at first, and afterwards to Ragusa (Sicily). This marked the beginning of an abandonment process, which resulted in the slow ruin of the fortification (GEC). Reconstruction of the castle started at the end of the 20th century and it is recovering its old splendour in order to evoke the great Gothic castle of Bernat de Cabrera.

What is the Viscounty of Cabrera?

Feudal jurisdiction that, during its apogee (1356-1365), embraced the courses of the river Ter (the plain of Vic, north of Tona, Collsacabra, Guilleries and a marginal area of La Selva up to Anglès), of the river Tordera (with the Montseny and the maritime area between Arenys and Blanes), and the river Fluvià (plain of Bas).

This jurisdictional patrimony had been gradually put together, and comprised the baronies of the Cabrera’s along with other baronies merged by the Viscounts of Girona (viscounty that became related to this family) during the 11th and 12th centuries, thus placing other barons under their dominion. Marriage ties and purchases, and above all the creation of the county of Osona in 1356, with the city of Vic (along with one league of territory surrounding it) and the union with the viscounty of Bas in 1352, completed the ensemble, within which, nonetheless, were the enclaves of Sant Celoni (that belonged to the Knights Hospitaliers), and the Gualba valley and district of Montnegre that belonged to the Gualba family. Some of the lands were sub enfeoffed (Palafolls, Blanes, Solterra). At Monclús, on the contrary, the main fiefdom belonged to the Hospitaliers and the Cabrera’s were sub enfeoffed; they did not achieve full dominion of this barony, along with the town of Sant Celoni, until 1403. The sub fiefdoms of Blanes and Palafolls also came under full jurisdictional control of the Cabrera’s in 1381 and 1383 respectively, by way of purchase. Other places, such as Campins and Vilardell, were domains shared with the houses of Palau and of Vilardell. Due to the 1364 trial (Bernat II of Cabrera), the properties of the house of Cabrera were confiscated. The 1373 return was strictly limited to the viscounty of Cabrera, and the 1381 return to the viscounty of Bas; the county of Osona and the city of Vic were not returned to the Cabrera’s, notwithstanding a nominal donation by Alfons IV. Hostalric was the administrative centre of the viscounty alone, Castelló d’en Bas was that of Bas, and Vic that of the county of Osona.

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The great Gothic castle of Montsoriu that can be visited today is that of the great reformation undertaken in the 16th century by Bernat II, Viscount of Cabrera. In fact, the main tower of the castle boasts more than 1,000 years of history.



The over 1,000 year history of Montsoriu Castle has been accompanied by many traditions and legends, transmitted from generation to generation.



Des dels anys 80 del segle XX s’han dut a terme campanyes d’excavació arqueològica al castell de Montsoriu gràcies a les tasques promogudes pel Museu Etnològic del Montseny on s’exposen les millors troballes.



Collection of images from different periods, of different spaces and activities with Montsoriu as the subject.



In 1995 the Patronat del Castell de Montsoriu promoted the first restoration works, that continue to this day and have allowed the recovery and opening to the public of a good part of the enclosure.