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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rafael Casanova was a traitor
Sez Miquel Porta Perales.
- The official contemporary British take on 1714
A summary of the statement made to the Commons in April 1714 (History and Proceedings of the House of Commons :
- Translation of “The political economy of Catalan independence”
Clemente Polo has blogged a short book containing what feel like author-translated essays by him and four other anti-secessionists, José Luis
- Franco’s Catalans
There’s so much dreadful journalism in Catalonia that it’s a great relief to read Xavier Rius, head hontxo over at e-noticies.com.
- Final date, War of the Spanish Succession
Today’s Libro verde item (13/7/1714 The troops of Felipe V enter by assault, with which ends the War of the Spanish