Recovery

On September 11th, 1714, the Bourbon troops entered Barcelona, and two years later the Decree of “Nueva Planta” deprived the Sea Consulate of the right to levy the pierage tax and abolished the Council of Twenty, the body in charge of running the Llotja. The building was turned into a barracks and in 1727 the Sea Consulate reluctantly moved to the building known as the “General,” located in the Pla del Palau opposite the Llotja.

But the institution was eager to recover its emblematic original home. In 1755, Barcelona’s leading merchants requested from King Ferdinand VI the return of the Llotja and the direct management of the pierage tax. As a first step towards satisfying their demands, in 1758 the king created three new institutions whose mission was to perform, among others, the task carried out until then by the Sea Consulate: the Three Bodies of Commerce of the Principality of Catalonia.

In 1764, one of these three bodies, the Royal Board of Trade of Barcelona, was able to establish itself in the Llotja, in a small chamber of the Contracting Hall, in meagre conditions. It had to share the building with the City Council, the grain stores that occupied the ground floor of the collateral nave, and the troops.

The first attempts by the Board of Trade to convince the captain-general to transfer the building ended in disappointment. The Marquis de la Mina turned down the request on the grounds of lack of spaces in the city to accommodate his troops. But in 1767, with the death of the Marquis, the situation took a positive turn. His successor in the position, the Count of Ricla, was more inclined to negotiate. Taking advantage of the income provided by the recently recovered pierage tax, the Board of Trade offered him 30,000 pounds to carry out alteration works in the Royal Palace or to build a new barracks in exchange for the exclusive transfer of the Llotja. The Count accepted, and in 1771 he presented the keys of the establishment to the traders. The troops moved to the Sant Agustí barracks, and in that same year the Three Bodies of Commerce took possession of the Llotja building and commenced the process of remodelling it.