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The armies of his grandson, the future Emperor Louis I, occupied Girona, Urgell and Cerdanya in 785 and besieged Barcelona in 802, establishing the so-called "March of Spain" which later evolved into the Catalonian counties.
The first counts in the March of Spain, appointed by the Carolingian Frankish rulers, are recorded in the early 9th century.
After the succession of the Capetian dynasty in France in 987, it is likely that the comtes de Barcelona failed to swear allegiance to the new Frankish rulers, marking the beginning of the countys true independence, although the dating clauses of many charters continue to refer to the French kings.
The rulers of Barcelona are titled "comes et marchio" in numerous primary source documents.
The county appears never to have been transformed into a "march" and the title presumably owes its origin to the original March of Spain.
The counts of Barcelona also ruled the county of Girona, to the north-east of Barcelona, from the latter part of the 9th century, as well as the county of Osona, directly north of the county of Barcelona.
Was the March of Spain then a march without a marquis?
All charters during the 9th and 10th centuries are dated by the reigns of the Frankish kings.Emperor Charlemagnes charter dated 2 Apr 812 addressed to eight counts in the Spanish March (without specifying the names of their counties) suggests that the March of Spain was governed separately, although no indication has been found of the identity of the "marquis" who was placed in overall charge during the early years of the 9th century.The Histoire Gnrale de Languedoc states that the duchy of Septimania was founded in  by Emperor Louis I, that it included both Septimania north of the Pyrenees and the March of Spain to the south, that Barcelona was its capital, and that Bero (who had been comte de Barcelona) was its first duke.After the Moors entered Spain in [710/11] and defeated the Visigoth regime based in Toledo, their influence quickly spread throughout the Iberian peninsula.