Revisionist version of September 11 1714

Here‘s what Ciudadanos thinks you should know about the fall of Barcelona in 1714, mourned tomorrow by nationalists with silly flags, bad music and vandalism of ATM machines:

  1. On September 11 a commemoration takes place of the surrender of the city of Barcelona in 1714, following the declaration of war made by the Catalan Parliament on July 10 of that year following its refusal to recognise the Treaty of Utrecht that ended the War of the Spanish Succession. The war was not about secession, as the nationalists would have you believe, but about succession. In the Treaty, the pretender to the Spanish Crown, the Habsburg Archduke Charles, renounced his claim to the throne, recognising the sovereignty of Philip of Anjou, with whom he had disputed it during the so-called War of the Spanish Succession, which followed the death without offspring of King Charles II of Spain. In other words, it was a civil war between the supporters of two pretenders to succeed to the Spanish throne a king who died without offspring.
  2. Madrid, Alcala and Toledo fought on the same side as Barcelona. The War of the Spanish Succession, contrary to what the nationalists argue, was not a clash between Catalonia and Austria on the one side and Spain (or Castile) and France on the other. Cities and counties belonging to the old kingdom of Aragon, such as Castellón, Alicante, Calatayud and Tarazona, as well as the Aran Valley, and cities in the interior of Catalonia like Vic and Cervera, were supporters of Philip V, the Bourbon king. And places like Madrid, Alcalá and Toledo declared for the Austrian pretender, the Archduke Charles. The clash between Spanish territories in 1714 is another falsehood put forward by nationalism in order to deny that the succession to the throne took the form of a civil war. In fact this was an international conflict in which hegemony was to be settled between the various European powers.
  3. The Catalans did not lose their civil liberties, but the powerful did, however, lose their exclusive privileges. The Catalan Cortes, far from having the characteristics of a democracy as we understand it now, represented the three estates (the clergy, the nobility and the urban bourgeoisie) which, under Ancien Régime feudalism, had been granted such privileges by the king, relegating entirely the vast majority of the population [to something or other]. All institutions emanated from the king.
  4. The faction in Catalonia which favoured the pretender Charles did not derive from a spontaneous or popular rebellion. It actually expressed the political interests of Barcelona’s ruling class which wanted to boost its commercial presence in the Americas in such a way that its provincial privileges would not be put at stake, because the Bourbon pretender at no time questioned them.
  5. The Bourbon king reigned without internal opposition from 1700 to 1705, and to the point that in 1701 he held Cortes in Barcelona, where he not only reaffirmed the above provincial privileges, but also received numerous donations.
  6. The followers of Charles of Hapsburg in Catalonia defended the unity of Spain. They wanted to impose their candidate on the entire country, calling for freedom throughout Spain, and wary of French influence; far, thus, from any aspiration to secession or dismemberment. The soldiers who were defeated on September 11 1714 by the troops of Philip V troops were led by General Antonio de Villarroel, who in his final harangue reminded them, “You are fighting for us and for the entire Spanish nation.”
  7. The so-called Nueva Planta decrees, actually called the Royal Warrant for the Reorganisation of the Royal Audience of the Principality of Catalonia, reorganised judicial institutions in Catalonia, respecting previous constitutions and practices, and establishing that lawyers should be experts in law and the Catalan language. It merely defines Spanish as a legal language and eliminate privileges relating to having been born in a particular territory.
  8. The end of the war marked the end of three centuries of decadence in Catalonia and the start of its economic resurgence. The eighteenth century, far from being a period of decline in Catalonia, proved to be an epoch of especial splendour, with a boom in population, agriculture, commerce and industry, which, apart from being based on international trade, focusing on agricultural products, benefited from royal protectionism.
  9. Rafael Casanova was not a martyr. On the day of the final assault by Bourbon troops, Casanova was was asleep. Warned, he came to the wall with the banner of St Eulalia to encourage the defenders. Lightly wounded by a bullet in his thigh, Casanova was transferred to the College of La Merced, where he received first aid. After the city fell into the hands of the Bourbons, he burned the archives and feigned death, delegating the surrender to another councillor. He fled the city disguised as a friar and hid in a farm of his son in Sant Boi de Llobregat. In 1719 he was amnestied and returned to his legal practice without problems of any nature until retiring in 1737. He died in Sant Boi de Llobregat in 1743. A true “hero”.

This stuff has been floating around for ages, but I don’t think anyone has actually produced a substantiated version. Miquel Porta Perales’ book certainly didn’t, and the references given to me by someone else turned out to be bogus. I think that what they’re saying is substantially true (and that they’ve missed various points which would have served their cause), but I also think we’ve reached the point where they should put up (their evidence) or shut up.

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Comments

  1. This is all very nice, but these people fail to address the crucial point, which is that Philip V abolished the political institutions of the Crown of Aragon (in violation of the law) and established a centralised state, effectively usurping the sovereignty of those Kingdoms.

    We do not believe that the long usurpation of this right perpetrated by a foreign power extinguishes the right that we, and every other nation, have, the right to a sovereign state. I suppose it’s terribly difficult to understand.

  2. The unfortunate side effect of your implying that this might have even the slightest bit of relevance in the year 2008 is that it is tantamount to justifying Bin Laden’s historical claim to Al-Andalus. Or is that so terribly difficult to understand?

  3. Why? Are you suggesting that Catalans invaded a territory, lived there fir a while, just to be casted out by the previous inhabitants, and some 800 years later claim rights over said territory? If so, you’re an ignorant. Apart that good old Osama never said nowt of the like in regard to al-Andalus.

  4. Well, that revisionist history of 1714 is just that… “historical revisionism”, a nice euphemism for lies. As they say in the movies: “Cualquier parecido con la realidad es pura coincidencia”… just like the constant, blatant and tiresome manipulation in your blog whenever you touch the subject of Catalan politics and society.

  5. Culito…. Buy yourself a history book.

    The Visigoths and 8th century Hispano-Romance speakers of Al-Andalus largely, adopted Islam and lived (reasonably) happily in situ until they were conquered by the descendents of the Cantabrians, Vascones and Astures tribes. A similar process occurred in Catalonia, this time with the Franks as conquerers. El ciruco has a valid point.

    Rab: You don´t contradict any specific points. I´m no expert on this topic, but isn´t it true that Catalans fought on both sides (as did all varieties of Spaniard)?

    From what I can tell it would seem that 1714´s significance is retrospective, the de-nationalising of Aragon prevented the creation of an Aragonese (and therefore still bilingual) state, but that it was in no sense seen as a war of national self-determination by participants on either side.

  6. Squabbling over an event that took place 300 years ago. Unbelievable. Villa de Arriba y Villa de Enmedio. Iberia slouches into the future.

  7. A serious nation would find something rather older to fight about. The Cataloonies see Kosovo/slitting your neighbour’s throat as our shining example, and the big date in those parts is 1389.

  8. boynamedsue,

    So, basically you say that converts to islam lived happily in the 8th century. Excuse me, if I don’t understand what this has to do with anything that we are discussing here.

    1714’s significance is not (only) retrospective. Read Manuel Ferrer’s speech to the Junta de Braços, on July the 5th in 1713, after which they declared war to France and Castillie. No one’s saying that the “national cause” was the only reason they went to war, but it certainly was a major one. That doesn’t mean that outside of the Crown of Aragon the archduke didn’t have supporters, or that support for archduke in Catalonia was unanimous, etc.

  9. Culito,

    You wouldn’t be actually suggesting that a politician’s public pronouncements concerning the reasoning behind a war have anything to do with reality. Would you? Perhaps having sent your CV to Sr. Aznar might have been a good career move.

  10. Culito, I was answering your post which suggested the situation of Catalonia was different from that of Al Andalus

    Your phrase ´previous inhabitants´ is inaccurate. The Spanish muslims were cast out by foreign invaders, therefore, by the logic you apply to Catalonia, they should have their own state (possibly the Tagus por abajo?).

  11. Rab: The Nueva Planta decrees had the effect of surpressing Aragonese national institutions (as far as I know nobody called Catalonia a nation at that time). But the war of 1714 was not fought to protect/suppress these institutions, it was a war of succession.

  12. Decreto de Nueva Planta:
    “… que aviendo con la assistencia Divina y justicia de mi causa, pacificado enteramente mis Armas este Principado, toca a mi Soberania establecer govierno en el …”

    I appears to me that he refers to the Principality of Catalonia as a sovereign state prior to this moment.

  13. Ian, I would like to state (for the record) that at the present moment I can see conditions under which the territory of Catalonia could legitaimately exercise sovereignty (I hope to Marx it never happens though).

    However, I disagree that this historical usage implies sovereignty, given the fact that outside of the (newly) United Kingdom, sovereignty was vested in the person of the ruler, not in the 19th century notion of a ´people´ (or even the more paltable ´THE people´)

  14. “And having traiterously entered into Conspiracies for subjecting the whole Spanish Monarchy to the House of Bourbon, and designing most maliciously the utter Ruin and Destruction of the ancient Rights, Liberties, and Privileges of the Catalans, who had made a glorious Stand for the Preservation of them, did, together with other false and evil Counsellors, form a most dishonourable, wicked and cruel Contrivance, not only for abandoning the Catalans to the Fury and Revenge of the Duke of Anjou and his Adherents, but for the final Extirpation of all their Rights, Liberties, and Privileges. […] And the Persons, Estates, Dignities, Rights, Liberties and Privileges of the Catalans, were given up, as a sacrifice to the implacable Resentment of their enraged and powerful Enemy; and the Honour of the British Nation, always renowned for the Love of Liberty, and for giving Protection to the Assertors of it, was most basely prostituted; and a free and generous People, the faithful and useful Allies of this Kingdom, were betrayed, in the most unparalleled Manner, into irrevocable Slavery.”

    Journal of the House of Lords, volume 20; 2 August 1715

  15. Another account:

    “And having traiterously entered into Conspiracies for subjecting the whole Spanish Monarchy to the House of Bourbon, and designing most maliciously the utter Ruin and Destruction of the ancient Rights, Liberties, and Privileges of the Catalans, who had made a glorious Stand for the Preservation of them, did, together with other false and evil Counsellors, form a most dishonourable, wicked and cruel Contrivance, not only for abandoning the Catalans to the Fury and Revenge of the Duke of Anjou and his Adherents, but for the final Extirpation of all their Rights, Liberties, and Privileges. […] And the Persons, Estates, Dignities, Rights, Liberties and Privileges of the Catalans, were given up, as a sacrifice to the implacable Resentment of their enraged and powerful Enemy; and the Honour of the British Nation, always renowned for the Love of Liberty, and for giving Protection to the Assertors of it, was most basely prostituted; and a free and generous People, the faithful and useful Allies of this Kingdom, were betrayed, in the most unparalleled Manner, into irrevocable Slavery.”

    Journal of the House of Lords, volume 20; 2 August 1715

    Poor Ciruco, let me guess: the Lords are a bunch of liars too.

  16. Maybe the Muslim population was expelled from the peninsula by foreigners, and not by the previous inhabitants, as I said. I don’t know. It’s possible. However, it still doesn’t make sense to equate a hypothetical restoration of al-Andalus with the hypothetical formation of an independent Catalan republic. It’s obvious enough. The Muslims who lived in al-Andalus, or more exactly, their descendants, no longer live there. They can’t just come back to a place that they left hundreds of years ago and pretend that it’s still theirs. Catalans, on the other hand, never left the place. If we want to restore our sovereignty no one else is affected. We are not invading someone else’s territory. Thus, equating the two cases would only make sense, if you, for some reason, assume that the right to invade land is somehow included in the right to self-determination. But why would anyone make such an assumption, other than to try to deceive and confuse?

  17. Culito,

    Worked with Israel, didn’t it?

    …not to mention that, ‘If we want to restore our sovereignty no one else is affected’, belies a certain, ummm, attitude towards the demographic changes that have occurred in Catalonia in the last three centuries. The term ‘apartheid’is the first to come to mind.

  18. @Culito 17: The House of Lords was engaged in its own little civil war at the time, one faction seeking to discredit the other, which had signed up to Utrecht. It has nothing to do with reality.

    @Culito 18: There is no way by democratic means you’re going to be able to invent (not restore) sovereignty for Cataloonia. If you do it by undemocratic means, the first thing you’ll have to cope with will be the secession of Barcelona, which will make South Ossetia look like a tea party.

  19. Trevor,

    It doesn’t follow that because one faction wanted to discredit the other, their account of events has nothing to do with reality. Of course it has to do with reality. But even if it hadn’t, that’s not the point. The point is that some people, in fact many people, held such views at the time, and this is an undeniable truth. It shows that many Catalans were fully aware of what was at stake in this war (their liberties and rights as a nation) contrary to what fanatic Spanish nationalists claim.

    And, sorry to contradict you, but sovereignty could and can be restored by democratic and by non-democratic means. Whether we’ll achieve our goal or not is a different question. What is certain is that it can be done.

  20. “If we want to restore our sovereignty no one else is affected. ” – well… it would probably be utterly ruinous for Spain.

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