The historical origins of the Sindicatura de Comptes de Catalunya can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The Court of Audit of the King of Aragon in the 13th century is the first audit institution covering the entire Kingdom for which we have evidence. The properties and finances of the King of Aragon were monitored by a royal official, the Master Rational (magister racionalis). This figure was institutionalised in 1283 by Peter the Great, though the office of Mestre Racional really became consolidated under the governmental financial reforms initiated by James II, at the instigation of the Catalan burghers, with the appointment of one of the King’s main creditors, the citizen of Barcelona Arnau ça Bastida, as Mestre Racional to the Court in 1293.
Subsequent divisions of this post led to the coexistence of the Master Rational to the Court (with his headquarters and archives in Barcelona) and the Masters Rational to the Court of the kingdoms of Sardinia, Majorca, Valencia and Aragon, all officials with an independent remit for their areas, but represented by an emblem and common seal of authority with a very similar design.
This can still be seen today in the logos used by the external audit institutions of Catalonia, the Valencian Region and the Balearic Islands; all three emblems share the same almond-shaped seal with the inscription “magister racionalis”:
In the mid-14th century, the setting up of the political institution know as the Diputació del General (General Deputation) –a forerunner of the Generalitat– led, in 1359, to the the existence of the post of Hearer of the Accounts (Oïdor de Comptes), with the task of auditing and monitoring public finances. The Court of Barcelona abolished the Hearers of the Accounts in 1379, but they were re-established in 1413, when they became confirmed as the auditors of the financial management and administration of the Government (Generalitat).
Both institutions were abolished in 1716 by the Decret de Nova Planta, the centralising decree which ended Catalonia’s autonomy and institutions. This interruption in their existence continued until the restoration of democracy at the end of Franco’s dictatorship, when the institution for the external audit of public accounts was finally and definitively re-established by the Catalan Statute of Autonomy of 1979, under the name of Sindicatura de Comptes de Catalunya. In the subsequent Catalan Statute of Autonomy of 2006 its existence was included in articles 80 and 81.