Out of Catalonia, the september 11th is the day that Al-Qaeda hit the Twin Towers at New York. Others may recall the rise to the power of the tyrant Augusto Pinochet at Chile. But no one will understand why we catalans celebrate our most important holiday.
Today, nearly 300 years ago (1714), the troops of Philip V of Bourbon (direct ancestor of Spain’s current king) conquered the city of Barcelona after months of siege, after years of war. This day ended 7 centuries of Catalonia as an independent country or, at least, as a country with its own laws.
This day it also started or long way to our people’s victory: the survival of Catalonia as a culture, as a nation.
Yes, I said nation. Just take a look at our history.
I’m pretty sure that the spanish history you may studied at school (if any) told you about some kind of uniform country born with the marriage between Elisabeth of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon the year 1492. There are even who moves Spain’s birth even further in the past. The year 722, at the Battle of Covadonga, all cristian kingnoms of the Iberic Peninsula allied against the muslims showing, they say, a “unity of universal destiny”. Just a way to say that all these independent kingdoms knew that some day in the future they will build something called Spain.
But there’s another version of the history.
After the romanitation of the Iberic’s Peninsula, when the name was born (Hispania), and centuries of muslim domination, some cristian kingdoms and counties appeared. They didn’t make war only against muslims, but also between them.
These kingdoms, by territorial conquer and dinastic marriages, arrived to the Renaissance in three blocks:
– Kigndom of Portugal
– Kigndom of Castile
– Crown of Aragon (also known as catalonian-aragonese)
This third country was sort of confederation where each territory had its own laws:
– Kingdom of Aragon
– Princedom of Catalonia
– Kingdom of Valencia
– Kingdom of Mallorca
So this famous royal marriage of year 1492 unified both the Kingdom of Catalonia and the Catalano-aragonese Crown. But during centuries each territory kept their own laws.
During centuries, until year 1701 when the War of the Spanish Succession. It was a conflict all around Europe and America to get who had to the heir of Spain’s throne (and all its territories all around the world): Philip V of Bourbon or Charles III of Austria. The Catalano-aragonese Crown joined Charles’ side and just check who is the current king of Spain (John Charles I of Bourbon) to know who won the war.
So, this September 11th of 1714 Philip V of Bourbon was free to charge us all “conquer right” and repression with its main example in Nova Planta’s decree.
– He imposed us all laws of Castile ignoring all laws and traditions of the territory.
– He imposed us the castillian (AKA spanish) as the only valid language, letting catalan to a dangerous situation that even today, centuries after that, we’re trying to mend.
– They created new taxes just to punish our people.
– Generalitat (Government of Catalonia), Consell de Cent (council of the hundred), Junta de Braços, all our institutions were banished.
But here’s where our victory starts. Because today, even all spanish efforts to assimilate us, we still are catalonians, we still feel like a nation. We still fight for our stolen rights.
This is what we celebrate today: the will of our people to recover our liberty.
Visca Catalunya Lliure!