Barcelona and the decline of the city-state

Here from Braudel (The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II/El Mediterráneo y el mundo mediterráneo en la época de Felipe II) is some context for today’s Libro verde item on the fall of Barcelona to Juan II’s great beasts:

At the end of the fourteenth century, the Mediterranean belonged to its towns, to the city-states scattered around its shores. There were of course … a few territorial states … [, but] in many cases these states were merely the extensions of powerful cities: Aragon in the broad sense was a by-product of the dynamic rise of Barcelona…

By the fifteenth century, the city-state was already losing ground… Everywhere [it], precarious and narrow-based, stood revealed inadequate to perform the political and financial tasks now facing it. It represented a fragile form of government, doomed to extinction, as was strikingly demonstrated by the capture of Constantinople in 1453, the fall of Barcelona in 1472 and the collapse of Granada in 1492.

It was becoming clear that only the rival of the city-state, the territorial state, rich in land and manpower, would in future be able to meet the expense of modern warfare; it could maintain paid armies and afford costly artillery; it was soon to indulge in the added extravagance of full-scale naval wars. And its advance was long to be irreversible. Examples of the new pattern emerging at the end of the fifteenth century are Aragon under John II; Louis XI’s expansion beyond the Pyrenees; Turkey under Muhammad II… ; later France under Charles VIII with his Italian ambitions and Spain in the age of the Catholic Kings. Without exception, these states all had their beginnings far inland, many miles from the Mediterranean coast, usually in poor regions where there were fewer cities to pose obstacles

While Braudel’s argument is perhaps more time- and location-bound than he would like, its exclusion from The Glorious History of Catalonia as drummed into kids here is ridiculous.

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