The effects on the Catalan economy after the Referendum vote for the Independence, 1

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Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia D

ipartimento Di stuDi linguistici e culturali

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LANGUAGES FOR COMMUNICATION IN INTERNATIONAL ENTERPRISES AND

ORGANIZATIONS

The effects on the Catalan economy after the Referendum vote for the Independence,

1

st

October 2017

Prova finale di:

Flavia Sabbadin Relatore:

Barbara Luppi

Correlatore Marco Cipolloni

Anno Accademico 2017-2018

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A me stessa, ai miei genitori e alle persone a me più care.

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Il 1 Ottobre 2017 si è svolto il Referendum per l’indipendenza della Catalogna. Circa il 90% degli oltre 2 milioni di votanti si è espresso a favore dell’indipendenza. Tale risultato ha peggiorato il già esistente conflitto tra il governo catalano e il governo centrale spagnolo, generando così un’incertezza politica che ha superato i confini spagnoli riverberandosi sugli altri stati membri dell’Unione Europea.

Oggetto della mia tesi è l’analisi degli effetti economici nel settore finanziario e turistico in Catalogna verificatisi a seguito della conseguente incertezza politica e conflittualità istituzionale.

In particolare, l’obiettivo di questo studio è quello di esaminare i dati forniti da report trimestrali e annuali di fonti statistiche confrontandoli con la personale visione di importanti figure del commercio italo – catalano circa lo scenario economico post Referendum.

Partendo da un excursus storico, ho quindi esaminato l’evoluzione del rapporto intercorso fra la regione catalana ed il resto della Spagna. Indubbiamente, questa relazione politica si è rivelata controversa e difficile durante i secoli passati, tanto da far nascere e diffondere nella popolazione catalana, un sempre più forte sentimento d’indipendenza dallo stato centrale. L’apice di tale forza indipendentista è stato raggiunto con l’illegale proclamazione della Repubblica Catalana Indipendente il 27 Ottobre 2017.

Nel secondo capitolo, ho rivolto particolare attenzione agli scenari economici prospettati dagli esperti del settore, qualora la Catalogna si proclamasse uno stato indipendente. Nell’analisi ho quindi esaminato le possibili conseguenze per le multinazionali presenti nel territorio e la discutibile permanenza del nuovo stato nell’Unione Europea e nell’Euro zona.

Gli effetti economici causati dall’instabilità politica sono stati dimostrati dal report annuale della BBVA, ma specialmente dalle oltre 3,000 aziende che hanno trasferito la loro sede legale al di fuori della Catalogna. Le conseguenze nel settore finanziario e turistico sono state confermate dalle interviste e dai dati raccolti con un questionario rivolto ai ristoratori italiani presenti nella capitale catalana. Nel terzo capitolo, quindi, ho riscontrato che, malgrado la dislocazione di banche e aziende e la riduzione del flusso turistico, la Catalogna e, in particolare Barcellona, si confermano essere un polo economico di attrazione mondiale per la forte presenza di investimenti e start-up. Infine, nel quarto capitolo ho ritenuto interessante studiare il ruolo assunto dalla lingua catalana nella Catalogna. Negli ultimi decenni, le leggi promosse dal governo catalano, in favore di un processo di “immersione” linguistica nella società, hanno creato uno squilibrio tra le due lingue ufficiali.

ABSTRACT

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La decisione da parte di multinazionali spagnole e straniere di utilizzare o meno il catalano nei loro siti web è forte oggetto di discussione, data l’assenza di una normativa che ne obblighi il suo utilizzo. La lingua catalana è compresa e parlata dalla maggior parte della popolazione, ma secondo i dati raccolti da un questionario rivolto ai catalani, il desiderio dei partiti pro- indipendentisti di renderla la prima lingua ufficiale di uno Stato Catalano Indipendente, avrà forti ripercussioni nell’economia, nell’educazione, nella politica.

On the 1st October 2017, the Referendum for the Independence of Catalonia was carried out.

Around 90% of the over two million voters spoke out in favour of independence. Such result worsened the already existing conflict among the Catalan and the Spanish central government, thus producing a political uncertainty that has overcome the Spanish borders, affecting also other member States of the European Union.

The subject of my thesis is the analysis of the economic effects in the financial and tourist sector in Catalonia, occurred as a result of the political uncertainty and institutional conflict.

In particular, the object of this study is to examine the data provided by quarterly and annual report of statistical sources and to compare them with the personal vision of relevant figures of the Italian-Catalan commerce about the post-Referendum scenario.

Starting from an historical digression, I examine, therefore, the evolution of the relationship between the Catalan region and the rest of Spain. Undoubtedly, during the past centuries, this political relationship has been revealed so much controversial and difficult to arise and spread, in the Catalan population, an ever-increasing sentiment of independence from the central State.

The apex of such independence feeling was reached with the illegal proclamation of the Independent Catalan Republic on 27th October 2017.

In the second chapter, I focus the attention on the economic scenarios predicted by the experts of the sector if Catalonia was proclaimed an independent state. In the analysis, I examine therefore the possible implications for the multinationals located in the territory and the debatable permanence of the new State in the European Union and in the Euro zone.

The political instability caused economic effects that have been shown in the annual BBVA report. But , especially, the over 3,000 firms that have transferred their headquarters out of Catalonia is a further demonstration of these consequences.

In addition to this, the interviews and provided data from a survey directed to Italian restaurant owners, located in the Catalan capital, confirm the consequences experienced in the financial and tourist sectors.

In the third chapter, I find that, despite the relocation of banks and firms and the reduction of tourism flow, Catalonia and Barcelona are confirmed to be an economic pole of world attraction, thanks to the strong presence of investments and start-ups.

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Finally, in the fourth chapter I consider interesting to study the role assumed by the Catalan language in Catalonia. In the last decades, the laws promoted by Catalan government for a

“immersion linguistic” process in the society, have created an imbalance among the two official languages. The decision of Spanish and foreign multinational whether or not to use Catalan in their web sites, is a strong subject of discussion in the absence of a regulation that forces them to use it.

The greatest part of the population understands and speaks Catalan language, but according to the data provided by a survey directed to the Catalan citizens, the desire of pro-independence parties to make it the first official language of an independent Catalan State will have strong implications on the economy, education and policy.

El 1 de octubre de 2017 se celebró el Referéndum por la independencia de Cataluña. Alrededor del 90% de los más de 2 millones de votantes expresaron su apoyo a la independencia. Este resultado empeoró el ya existente conflicto entre el gobierno catalán y el gobierno central español, generando así una incertidumbre política que ha superado las fronteras españolas resonando en los otros estados miembros de la Unión Europea.

El tema de mi tesis es el análisis de los efectos económicos en el sector financiero y turístico en Cataluña y que se produjeron como resultado de la consiguiente incertidumbre política y del conflicto institucional. En particular, el objetivo de este estudio consiste en examinar los datos proporcionados por informes trimestrales y anuales de fuentes estadísticas, comparándolos con la visión personal de importantes figuras del comercio ítalo-catalán sobre el escenario económico post-referéndum. Partiendo de un excursión histórica, examino la evolución de la relación entre la región catalana y el resto de España. Sin duda, esta relación política resultó ser tanto controvertida y difícil durante los siglos pasados, como para dar a luz y difundir en la población catalana, un sentimiento de independencia del estado central cada vez más fuerte. El vértice de esta fuerza de independencia se alcanzó con la proclamación ilegal de la República Catalana Independiente el 27 de octubre de 2017.

En el segundo capítulo, presto especial atención a los escenarios económicos planteados por expertos en el sector, siempre que Cataluña se proclamara un estado independiente. Entonces, en el análisis examino las posibles consecuencias para las multinacionales, situadas en el territorio, y la discutible permanencia del nuevo estado en la Unión Europea y en la zona euro.

Los efectos económicos causados por la inestabilidad política se han demostrado en el informe anual de BBVA, pero especialmente en las más de 3.000 empresas que han trasladado su oficina central fuera de Cataluña. Las entrevistas y los datos recogidos con un cuestionario dirigido a los restauradores italianos, presentes en la capital catalana, han confirmado las consecuencias comprobadas en el sector financiero y turístico.

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En el tercer capítulo, por lo tanto, afirmo que, a pesar de la dislocación de bancos y empresas y la reducción del flujo turístico, Cataluña y, en particular, Barcelona, se han confirmado ser un polo económico de atracción mundial gracias a la fuerte presencia de inversiones y start-ups.

Finalmente, en el cuarto capítulo he considerado interesante estudiar el papel que asumió la lengua catalana en Cataluña. En las últimas décadas, las leyes promovidas por el gobierno catalán, en favor de un proceso de “inmersión” lingüística en la sociedad, han creado un desequilibrio entre las dos lenguas oficiales.

La decisión de las multinacionales españolas y extranjeras de utilizar el catalán o no en sus sitios web es un tema de debate, dada la ausencia de legislación que obligue a su uso. La mayoría de la población entiende y habla la lengua catalana, pero de acuerdo con los datos recogidos en un cuestionario dirigido a los catalanes, el deseo de los partidos independentistas de convertirlo en la primera lengua oficial de un estado catalán independiente tendrá fuertes repercusiones en la economía , en la educación, en la política.

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INDEX

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1 - THE BIRTH OF THE CATALAN NATIONALISM 1.1. From the antiquity to the union of the two crowns

of Aragon and Castile

1.1.1. Catalonia in the Middle Age

1.1.2. The union of the two crowns of Aragon and Castile 1.2. The Modern period

1.2.1. The War of the Reapers, the First Catalan Rebellion 1.2.2. The War of Succession, Catalonia Second Rebellion 1.3. The Contemporary period

1.3.1. The Peninsular War: birth of a nation 1.3.2. Economic stagnation and political paralysis 1.3.3. Catalonia’s political weight

1.4. The Twentieth Century

1.4.1. The Primo de Rivera Dictatorship 1.4.2. The Second Republic

1.4.3. The Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco’s Dictatorship 1.4.4. Excursus of Catalan nationalism

1.5. Towards the Referendum 1-O 1.5.1. Transition period

1.5.2. Referendum 4th November 2014 1.5.3. Referendum 1st October 2017

1 7 7 8 10 12 12 13 15 15 16 18 21 21 22 23 25 26 26 32 33

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37 41 42 44 44 47 50 51 52 57 60 62 62 67

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73 74 76 77 79 83 95 98 CHAPTER 2 - THE QUEST FOR INDEPENDENCE FROM SPAIN

2.1. Current events

2.1.1. The social support for independence 2.1.2. Economic factors

2.2. “Is Spain robbing us?”

2.2.1 Fiscal consequences of the boom and economic crisis 2.2.2. Is Catalonia being fiscally mistreated?

2.3. In or out the European Union

2.3.1. Arguments in favour of a Catalonia forming part of the EU 2.3.2. The independent Catalonia out of EU

2.4. The point of view of the economists

2.4.1. The possible scenarios of an independent Catalonia 2.5. The impact of an independent Catalonia

2.5.1. Impact on the number of companies and multinationals 2.5.2. The survey of the Catalan association of economist

CHAPTER 3 - THE IMPACT OF THE REFERENDUM ON THE CATALAN ECONOMY

3.1. The reaction of EU

3.2. Catalonia economic outlook 3.2.1. Catalan exports and imports 3.2.2. A focus on tourism

3.3. The great escape

3.4. Analysis of the interviews and of the data collected from the survey 3.5. “Is Catalonia a region to invest in?”

3.5.1. Start-ups

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103 105 107 107 110 115 119 120 123 126 128

131 134 136 142 CHAPTER 4 - THE CATALAN LANGUAGE AND ITS INFLUENCE

4.1. An overview of the Catalan language

4.1.1. The Catalan language after Franco’s dictatorship 4.2. A linguistic fundamentalism?

4.2.1. The language norms 4.2.2. The language policy report 4.2.3. Complaints against the language 4.2.4. The latest news

4.3. Analysis of the survey data

4.4. The Catalan in the commerce sector 4.4.1. “In Barcelona do it in Catalan”

4.4.2. Analysis of well-known companies web sites

CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY WEBLIOGRAPHY APPENDIX

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Over the past few decades the political scene of the European Union has considerably changed.

Alongside the process of political unification and globalization, there are also movements and centrifugal thrusts linked on one side, to the proliferation of new and old nationalisms and, on the other, to the implementation of greater regional independence.

The current historical moment suggests signs of failure of the European dream of unification, while nationalist movements are the mouthpiece of the widespread popular dissatisfaction.

The Catalan pro-independence movement, indeed, is the principal political problem that Spain has been facing nowadays. This regional push for independence confirmed its rising power with the Referendum vote on 1st October 2017.

From this memorable event of the Referendum vote, my thesis starts with the historical digression that leads to reach the main points of the history of Catalonia in order to better understand the context and the temporal references up to the 1st October 2017. From this historical digression of the so-called “Catalan question”, the study focuses on the possible future scenarios and on the economic consequences that occurred as a result of the illegal Referendum for independence.

In the first chapter I investigate the origins of Catalonia and the independence sentiment’s claims.

During the past centuries the culture of the Catalan identity: its language, its institutions and the administrative management of the region, was constantly targeted by the Spanish government, in an attempt to unify the Spanish territories through a cultural and identity unification.

The Catalan history during the Franco’s dictatorship is the darkest moment of the Hispanic- Catalan debate which, undoubtedly, with the strong repression of the Catalan identity, radicalized the nationalist will and desire to safeguard the Catalan tradition and culture.

INTRODUCTION

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The increasing support towards the political parties, aimed to obtain the recognition of the status of independence, results in the illegal proclamation of the Catalan Independent Republic on 27th October 2017. Decision made according to the 90% voters who expressed their desire to live in a independent Catalonia.

Not only historical and emotional factors contributed to the increase of the independence sentiment, but also the economic ones played a decisive role in accentuating the pro-independence movement.

In this regard, in the second chapter the analysis brings into focus the reasons that led the Catalan citizens to demand the Independence.

In order to look into further the “Catalan question”, I analyse the economists’ point of view to provide an idea of what economic repercussions Catalan and Spanish citizens would face in an Independent Catalonia scenario.

According to those who voted “yes” in the referendum, the Spanish Central government has brought Catalonia to a level of fiscal abuse that has no precedent. But the conviction of being fiscally abused is to contextualized to the economic crisis of 2008 which affects Spain as a whole, beyond the other European States.

So, after more than 10 years of economic growth, Catalonia finds itself involved in a critical economic period in which any public administration, central or regional, has less public revenue to keep its welfare state undamaged.

Not content of its status of region with a special statute, Catalonia demands more. Thus, the struggle for independence has further damaged the already precarious political relationship between Spanish and Catalan governments and, moreover, it has found the general disaccord of the European Union.

The lack of support from the member states of the EU on the “Catalan question” leaves the question “would it be possible for Catalonia to remain in the EU even if it separates from Spain or to join again the EU after abandoning it?” without a specific answer.

According to historical reasons and to the sentiment of “Europeanism” felt by Catalan citizens, the new State of Catalonia should be part of the Union. In addition to this, the economy of this region based especially on the exports made in Spain and outside of the Spanish territory, suggests the Catalan integration as the best-case scenario. As the economist Oriol Amat believes “the expulsion of Catalonia by the EU is not a realistic scenario if we bear in mind that Catalonia is a net contributor and one of the most pro-European nations”.

On the contrary, if Catalonia separates from Spain and so from the EU, it may have to face consequent negative effects, especially in the economic sphere. Consequently, with the exclusion from the Euro zone, there would be the matter about which companies located in Catalonia would decide to leave or remain.

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Due to the fact that Catalonia is an attractive country for foreign investors, the possible scenario may cause the decrease of the Catalan GDP from 3 to 6 percentage point, while the exports to Spain would lose between the 40 and 60%.

Until now, the forecast about the future scenarios for an independent Catalonia is not verified as Catalonia is still a region of the Spanish nation. However, the political crisis deriving from the Referendum of October has undoubtedly affected the economy of Catalonia.

In this regard, the analysis of the third chapter is aimed to present and demonstrate the economic repercussions found in the months following the political decisions made by the Catalan government. According to BBVA Research of the 1st Semester 2018, the year 2017 has deeply marked the economy of Catalonia.

Firstly, on the 17th August 2017, Barcelona was hit by the terrorist attacks on the “Ramblas”, secondly, the political uncertainty, due to the tensions following the referendum vote, influenced negatively the economic context.

The BBVA report shows, in fact, a different evolution of the touristic flow between the first and second semester. The fluctuation of the tourism, deriving from the tourists’ behaviour, has caused a decrease of 1% starting from the month of July 2017.

The areas with the highest influx of tourism have been the most damaged by the events of the second semester 2017. Actually, the overnight booking in the city of Barcelona decreased by 3.7 percentage points. From the tourism to the other sectors of economy, the political instability in Catalonia and Spain increased companies and citizens’ worries.

As forecast had predicted, businesses wanted to reduce spending and begin precautionary saving in order to avoid further risks.

Despite the news that made to seem Catalan citizens were excited for the Referendum of Independence, 62% of them showed their apprehension for the future. Immediately after the 1st October 2017, those companies who felt nervous for the political instability decided to move their headquarters from Barcelona to other cities of Spain. More than 2.700 firms opted for this decision, among them there were major IBEX companies, such as Banco Sabadell, Caixa bank and Cellnex.

Considering the alarming data provided, I confirm the veracity of what presented in the chapter through the analysis of the interviews and survey’s results collected.

Particular attention has been directed to the economic relationship between Italy and Spain as Italians constitutes the largest foreign community in Catalonia.

Actually, in last decades, some Italian companies, as Ferrero, Grimaldi Lines, Luxottica, MaxMara, have set up a branch in the region, driven by the multicultural, captivating and innovative characteristics of the Catalan capital.

The point of view of two experts of the financial and tourism sectors has highlights, once again, how much political instability has disfavoured the Catalan economy.

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In order to limit the damages for the same companies and clients, they have taken relevant measure: the movement of the headquarters, the application of discounts and advertising campaigns.

In addition, the data collected from the survey addressed to the Italian restaurants’ owners, located in Barcelona, have further confirmed of the turnover’s decrease in 2017-2018.

About 90% of them affirms that after the Referendum vote they spotted a negative variation in the client flow.

The main reason for this decrease has to be pointed out to the political events occurred in October 2017, according the 70% of Italian owners.

Furthermore, the percentage of revenue’s decrease has been around 5-10% for 15% of them, 10-15% for 30% and more than 20% of loss for 15%.

As can be deducted from this study, the outstanding “Catalan question” has influenced people, business activity and companies. However, the issue is not exclusively limited to the political and economic spheres, actually it affects multiple aspects of the social one.

In this respect, the fourth chapter is dedicated to the analysis of the role of the Catalan language in the society, with a particular attention directed to its use in the commerce sector.

Catalan language is a co-official language in Catalonia, but its coexistence with the Castilian has always caused clashes in the education and in the social community.

Most of the political parties exploited the linguistic problem for their interests. Actually, pro- independence movements accuse the central government of having discriminated the Catalan language through centuries and proclaim the right of converting it as the first official language for an Independent Catalonia.

This nationalist ideology is hegemonic, assume and defend the use of Catalan is a conditio sine qua non to reach high position of power and to have certain status in public institutions.

On the contrary, many complaints towards the excessive use of Catalan school and consequent discrimination of Castilian have been reported in well-known Spanish newspapers. The accuse is for Spain, whose failure was to recognise the multilingual reality of the country which has contributed to deteriorate the political crisis in Catalonia.

The debate of the use of Catalan at schools has spread also in the commerce sector.

Even though, the Generalitat asserts the consumer’s rights to receive information in Catalan in order to buy and use properly a sold item, most of the restaurants and companies do not comply with the regulation.

The linguistic rights of the consumer, established in the Consumer Code ( Law 22/2010) and in the Law 1/1998, says that companies, shops and other business activities must provide their services or products in Catalan.

According to the most recent news, the Language Platform has launched an app, the CatalApp, in order to assess the level of Catalan presence in the commercial establishments.

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After a brief search on the most famous brand’s web sites, I noticed that the numbers of businesses in Barcelona which continue to use Castilian to attract tourists is still high. Moreover, the official web sites of worldwide famous brand, Spanish and no-Spanish, offer users the possibility to visit and buy in the platform only through the Castilian language.

Data that alarm the Language Platform and especially the political parties whose aim is to raise the Catalan to be the official language of a Catalan Independent State.

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Chapter 1

THE BIRTH OF THE CATALAN NATIONALISM

Catalan pro-independent movement is the principal political problem that Spain has been facing nowadays. However, this political issue not only affect Spain, but it also involves the European Union. The EU was created after long years of political negotiations.

The process of unification turned out to be more complicated than expected and the exit of a region of one of the Member State would reopen the process and cause serious political and economic problems within EU.

One of the principle at the basis of EU Constitution is the respect of the territorial integrity of its Member States.

The history of Catalonia is strictly interrelated with the rest of Spain. For these reasons the Catalan pro-independence movement raises an important political issue not only for Spanish citizens, but for all the citizens of EU.

Moreover, the Catalan separatists have a strong component in which they reflect their beliefs:

they speak Catalan and are convinced of the fact Catalonia has always been oppressed by the Spanish central government.

1.1. From the antiquity to the union of the two crowns of Aragon and Castile 1

Catalonia forms an autonomous community, with Barcelona as its main town. It includes, geographically, the Oriental Pyrenees, the lower river basin of Ebro and a small mountainous

1 Tortella G., Catalonia in Spain. History and Myth, Madrid, 2017, pp. 1-28

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area crossed by the Ter, Ebro and Lobregat’s rivers. Four cities belong to the autonomous region:

Barcelona, Gerona, Lerida and Tarragona. The Iberian peninsula has been inhabited since prehistoric era by a great variety of population: Iberians, Celts, Greek, Phoenicians. Romans conquered the Iberian peninsula almost entirely and divided it into five provinces.

So the land which identifies the Catalan region nowadays was a portion of the five Roman province (Tarraconensis) which formed the so-called Roman Hispania. Later on, it became part of the Visigoth kingdom and, subsequently, a part of the Caliphate during the Muslim invasion.

1.1.1. Catalonia in the Middle Age

The history of Catalonia during the Middle Ages focuses mainly on the Reconquista and the union of the two crowns of Aragon and Castille.

Due to its position, Phoenicians and Carthaginians founded colonies in the Catalan area, whose borders were always exposed to the invasions and incursions of the Barbarian peoples. Even before the fall of the Roman Empire, Vandals, Suevi Alans and Visigoths had already crossed the Pyrenees and established themselves in the peninsula.

Among the barbarians, the Visigoths left a deeper imprint in Spain. They invaded Spain through Catalonia, occupied Barcino and Tarraco where they established their royal court. Afterwards they conquered most of Hispania and made Toledo the capital of the Hispano-Visigoth kingdom. With the adoption of Christianity, the Visigoth kingdom suffered an internal split which contributed to the downfall of their dominion and so favoured the occupation of their territories by the Muslims in 711.

Most of Hispania fell under the Muslims, who named it Al-Andalus and incorporated it as a province of great Umayyad Caliphate of Damascus. Successively, when the Umayyad dynasty was overthrown, its successors moved to Spain establishing an independent emirate in 750 and Cordoba its capital. Under the Caliphate of the emir Abdel-Rahman II Cordoba became one the richest medieval kingdoms until its division into taifa kingdoms in 1002.

The last leader of the Caliphate, Almanzor, spent almost twenty years fighting and terrorizing the Christian kingdoms from Compostela to Barcelona. After his death, the Caliphate broke down giving green light to the beginning of the Reconquista .

Due to the fact that Muslims never conquered the northern part of the Peninsula, Pyrenean counties became attached to the Frankish empire, which gain the control of the territories under the power of Visigoth. In the meantime, the western kingdoms ( Asturia the most important) were independent and converted to Christianity, Latin cultured. These kingdoms started a slow southwards expansion after the fall of Caliphate with two symbolic conquests, the first made by Alfonso VI who conquered Toledo in 1085, the second made by the Cid , Rodrigo Dìaz de Vivar, who gained the control over Valencia.

Even though in the eastern part of Spain the Reconquista proceeded more slowly due to rivalries,

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Barcelona became soon predominant that the term “Principado” was used to designate Catalonia.

In fact, the county of Barcelona was considered as the principal among the Catalan counties.

The legendary founder of this designation was Guifre el Pilòs (Wilfred the Hairy) who wanted his son as heir without the endorsement of the Frankish authorities.

Beyond the legend, what is true about the foundation of Barcelona dynasty is the key role played by Guifre, who made sure that since the beginning of the dynasty, his descendants took advantage of the weakness of the Frankish kingdom. Thus, he made his title hereditary and founded the dynasty of the House of Barcelona, which governed Catalonia until the death of Martin I in 1410.

Ramon Berenguer I (1035-1076), one of the early count of Barcelona, wrote the first legislative text in Catalan, the Usatges de Barcelona (Customs of Barcelona) in order to improve the Gothic law. In a sense Barcelona, in the medieval times, was different from the other regions of Spain cause feudalism was stronger than in the rest of the country. This characteristic was called “fet diferencial” (Catalan for “differential fact or trait”), meaning that Catalonia was and remains different from the rest of Spain.

During the Reconquista, cooperation and rivalry arose between the Christian kingdoms. This occurred also in the Catalan territory, where the count Berenguer Ramon II tried to ban the Cid, the Castilian noble man who was conquering the Spanish territories under the Muslim kingdom and defeated him. Nonetheless, count Berenguer Ramon II and Cid became allies. This political decision pushed the next count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer IV to foresee an opportunity to unify Barcelona with the Aragon’s kingdom by marrying the heiress to the Aragon throne, Petronila. By the means of the marriage, the County of Barcelona and the Kingdom of Aragon were unified under a single dynasty “the Crown of Aragon”. However both territories kept being ruled separately, with their own separate administrations and language: Castilian in the Aragon region and Catalan in Catalonia.

It was under Alfons I (1164-1196) that Catalonia was considered as a legal entity for the first time, but it is obvious that it has never been a “nation” in a political sense. This can be explained by the fact that, before the unification with Aragon, Catalonia was a complex of counties under the guide of Barcelona and heavily dependent of the French kingdom.

The long road towards union was characterized by several pacts between Aragon and Castile with the purpose of coordinate the reconquest of the southern part of Spain still under the Muslim control.

As a consequence of these pacts, by the end of the thirteenth century there were only Huelva and Granada to conquer. One of the main protagonist of the territorial expansion of the Aragon Crown was Jaime I, the Conqueror, who succeeded to annex Mallorca, Valencia and Murcia to the reign of Aragon.

The campaign of expansion of Jaime I reached the Mediterranean: Menorca and Ibiza were taken and successively Sicily and Sardinia

The reconquest of these territories required an effort towards repopulation in these areasm

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newly added especially in the Balearic Islands and thereby spreading Catalan as a language.

Jaime I convoked the first Catalan Courts in 1213, which had been constituted remarkably early. Later on other assemblies were created in Castile, Catalonia, Aragon etc. They used to be summoned regularly until the promulgation of Nueva Planta by Felipe V ( XVIII century).

In the transition from a feudal system to a monarchic state, the political system was formed on the basis of pacts, that constituted a limitation of the royal power made by the courts. The political pacts gave rise in the thirteenth century to political institutions, the Disputacion General (known as the Generalitat of Catalonia) in 1359. Government was so made through the Cortes Generales (1214) and the local administrations. Moreover, the Cortes of Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia could separately meet to discuss about matters regarding each kingdom. In addition to this, the Cortes agreed and approved the Privilege of Union granting immunities to the social class of nobles and the intervention of the Cortes in the international affairs.

The role of these general Cortes was to solve financial issue but also to moderate problems of conflicting legislation. One the principal issue for the Aragon crown was the custom of dividing the kingdom among the heirs. However, this custom created complications as in many occasions the heirs allied with foreigners reigning against their brothers.

During the reign of the last great king of the Barcelona dynasty, Pedro IV, the Privilege of the Union was abolished after he defeated of the nobility’s army in the battle of Epila. Moreover, he was able to unify the territories of Aragon, fighting against his relatives for the possession of Mallorca and for the lost land of Athens and Neopatria.

The crown of Aragon faced a terrible period: it was hit by the Black plague which it left Catalonia and, especially Barcelona, depopulated and in hungry. This forced the crown to increase the fiscal pressure in order to face the costs to restore the treasury of the realm.

For this reason Pedro decided to create parliamentary committee, named the Generalitat, with the function of supervising the taxes.

1.1.2. The union of the two crowns of Aragon and Castile

When Martin I (the Humane) died in 1410, he left the Aragon throne vacant and brought to the end of the dynasty of Barcelona. From that point, it started a war for finding the successor among many pretenders which it ended with the coronation of Fernando I of Aragon. He reigned few years, leaving the throne to Juan II.

His second wife, Juana Enrìquez had a son who reigned Aragon under the name of Fernando II.

Fernando II, already, king of Aragon, married his cousin Isabel, heiress to the throne of Castile, in 1479. The union was purely dynastic, as the son that had been born from the marriage would have been the king of Castile and Aragon.

After the wedding of Fernando and Isabel, both kingdoms were ruled separately: the government institution, laws, the public administration, the coin, continued to be unrelated. Moreover, they always refused the suggestion of adopting the title of kings of Spain; so much so that Isabel

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named her daughter Juana the Mad as her heiress and only in case of inability of governing, Fernando would have been regent. The two kings tried to complete the peninsular unification through a series of matrimonial pacts of their children with Portuguese princes, but all of them failed for premature deaths.

During their reign, the two kings brought to a conclusion the campaign of Reconquista with the Granada War (1480-1492), which determined the integration of Granada territories in the crown of Castile. After the Reconquista’s success, they directed the expansionistic push toward other geographical areas: on the one hand they stimulated the penetration of the north Africa and establishing bases in Tripoli, Algiers, Oran. On the other hand, they supported and financed economically the Christopher Colon’s expedition, who discovered the America.

As soon as they established their throne, the Kings tried to strengthen the monarchic power by cutting the privileges of the nobility. Moreover they incorporated into the crown the military order, centralized the administration concerning the Royal Council and reduced the power of the Parliament. In addition to this, they created new means of control as the Santa Hermanidad and the Inquisition (1478) reformed the clergy in order to strengthen the integration of their kingdom around the Christian religion.

Regarding the internal politics, the kings established a clearly favourable policy to Castile to the detriment of Catalonia. Seville was the city that benefited from the discovery of America.

The successor of Fernando II was Carlos I (1500-1558), king of the two crowns Castile and Aragon and crowded emperor of the Holy Roman Empire under the name of Carlos V.

As his grandfather did, Carlos made Castile his dwell for many reasons: it was richer and more powerful in respect to Aragon. Moreover with the support of Castile to his feats it made his commercial politics prone to favour that region.

The two monarchs who reigned in Spain during the sixteenth century were Carlos I and his son Felipe II, whose reign privileged Castile in spite of Aragon. For this reason the process of homogenization between them was made through the government system of council: each region had its council which had semi-executive powers and combined with viceroys. These figures were only in Aragon, Naples and in the Indies but not in Castile, sign that demonstrates its centrality. It is also true that the commerce from the American colonies was supervised and controlled in Seville through the mercantile institution Casa de Contratación located on the harbour of a coastal city.

For this reason Catalonia did not play an important role during the sixteenth century: firstly because it was recuperating from a period of catastrophes. Secondly its Corts were particularly annoying towards the central government as they required new concessions so the kings felt obliged to leave Catalonia alone.

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1.2. The Modern period 2

1.2.1. The War of the Reapers, the First Catalan Rebellion

The annexation of the Low Countries to the Spanish crown revealed to be one of the principal causes of the decline of the Spanish empire. Under the reign of Felipe II, the Dutch protestant rebelled in 1566 giving beginning to the Eighty Years War, which ended with the independence of the northern part of the region, Protestant Holland.

This war cost to Spain a huge amount of silver from the Indies and its inclusion in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). It lined up alongside the Catholic part and it tried to maintain the corridor from Barcelona to the Low Countries open to supply the soldiers to the front. At a certain point, France feeling been threatened it declared war to Spain which was already facing internal issue in Catalonia. The Count-Duke of Olivares, minister of Felipe IV, had plans of centralization and unification of Spain. The basic idea of the so called Union of Arms was all regions should give their contribute to the war effort (money, manpower), but Catalonia opposed to his plan. The situation became serious when the French troops invaded the Pyrenees preparing to attack the Catalan counties; for this reason Spanish troops had to defend the Catalans, but they gave rise to hostilities and protests between royal officials and Catalan authorities.

The abused committed by the imperial soldiers provoked an uprising that started in the north of Catalonia and spread in all the region. In June 1640, on Corpus Christi Day , the rebellion initiated by peasant spread to Barcelona. It was a tradition that in June reapers, called Segadors , moved from the countryside to the city for a temporary-work from landowners. This time mixed with the segadors many rebels and bandits entered Barcelona with the purpose of plunder it.

All the region of Catalonia was in the chaos, while the king Felipe IV was gathering an army to fight the rebellion, the Disputación opened negotiations with France and proclaimed the Republic of Catalonia. At the end Spain found itself forced to fight two wars: one in Catalonia and the other in Portugal, as it asked the support of the English army to abandon Spain.

Only Catalonia was recovered, but not all, as France kept the control of the northern part.

This area became more subject to the French centralized power of the king Louis XIV while the southern part of Catalonia was under the control of Spanish government. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) put an end to the Thirty Years War with the acceptance by Spain of having lost the Dutch Low Countries and it determined the end of Spain’s hegemony in Europe. During years, Spanish royal army tried with all its effort to reconquer the other half of Catalonia under the French power, which was treated as colony and it was averse to fighting Castilians troops as well as the French ones. At the end the war lasted until 1659, when The Peace of the Pyrenees was signed and so Spain was obliged to give in the northern part of Catalonia to France.

2 Ibidem, pp. 29-72

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1.2.2. The War of Succession, Catalonia’s Second Rebellion

Carlos II, son of Felipe IV, was the last proponent of the Habsburg Dynasty governing Spain, left the throne with no heirs but a testament where it designated as his successor Felipe V of Bourbon, nephew of Louis XIV, king of France.

This decision was not approved by the great European authorities, as England and Holland and the Spanish succession became a diplomatic issue which ended with The War of Succession (1703-1714).

The French king Louis XIV performed a series of controversial movements to protect his affairs: he sent troops to occupy the Low Countries (under Spanish power) and he tried to dominate the panorama of the Spanish colonies. For this reason, this decision was not approved by the great European authorities as England and Holland and the Spanish succession became a diplomatic issue which ended with The War of Succession (1703-1714).

The French king Louis XIV performed a series of controversial movements to protect his affairs:

he sent troops to occupy the Low Countries (under Spanish power) and he tried to dominate the panorama of the Spanish colonies. For this reason, England, Austria, the Republic of the Seven United Provinces and the Sacred Roman Empire allied together to form the Great Alliance of the League of August (1701) to reduce the power of France.

The alliance relied on the crown of Aragon , which lined up beside the archduke Charles of Austria. English, Dutch and Austrians army declared war to France in May 1702, while the hostilities in Spain started one year later. The British naval army was superior and with the conquest of Gibraltar and Menorca it proclaimed its virtual domination of the Mediterranean area.

The next step was to invade and attack Barcelona.

The city was bombarded by the English army, and then the archduke Charles of Austria was nominated king as Carlos III in the Corts .If it seemed the archduke was going to win the war, in April 1707 a Spanish-French army destroyed the archduke’s army and Valencia and Aragon were freed from the Austrian authority; only Catalonia stayed faithful to the Hasburgs.

In 1709 Louis XIV was almost defeated and Felipe V was suggested to leave Spain, but he resisted and in 1711 the situation changed in a unexpected way: for the increase of human and financial losses and after the victory of the Tories on the election, England was ready to start negotiations.

Moreover, the emperor Joseph I died with no heir as his successor, and so, his brother the archduke Charles of Austria took his place leaving his supporters in Barcelona while he moved to Vienna.

The treaties of Utrecht and Rastatt were stipulated in 1713-1714, establishing the Spanish empire would be divided among the European powers: Britain kept its conquest of Gibraltar and Menorca, Netherlands passed under the Austrian government and Phillip maintained the peninsular part of Spain and Spanish America where, after having abdicated his own rights on the French crown, he reigned with the name of Phillip V.

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The only matters left unsolved were in Catalonia, where many still sustained the candidacy of Charles III as Spanish king and supported by the presence of the imperial troops in that territory. They wanted to continue the fight against Phillip V, who was accused to not having respected the privileges, the traditional laws and their historical institutions of the crown of Aragon, Castile, and Valencia. As a consequence, Barcelona decided to resist, but it could not count on the help of the allies after the negotiations of the treaties of Utrecht. In order to resolve the situation, England intervened through diplomatic negotiations with the king Phillip V, as long as Barcelona surrendered in September 1714.

After the surrender of Barcelona, the king Philip promulgated a series of new measures applied in the territories that had allied with the archduke Charles of Hasburg and they would replace the old ones named “fueros”: “Decretos de Nueva Planta”.

They established the abolition of the Catalan political institution such as the Corts, the Generalitat and the Concell de Cent. Moreover, the role of the viceroy was replaced with the captain general assisted by a governmental body the Real Audiencia.

In addition to this, Catalan language lost its status of official language and was replaced by the Castilian. So University of Barcelona, which had supported the archduke, was closed and created that in Cervera, loyal to the king Philip V.

A new fiscal measure was introduced: the Catastro. In the time of the union of the two kingdoms Aragon and Castile, the contribution of the crown of Aragon was smaller in respect of Castile;

during the reign of Philip V his intention was to balance the tax load, and in a sense to punish the Catalan conduct during the war.

In Catalonia, they measured taxes and estimated the individual payable taxes according to the wages and salaries, tools of work registered in a cadastre; nobility included used to pay the real taxes. At the beginning Catalans needed to familiarize with the new system, but at the end it encourage the evolution of the economy thanks to investment in the sector of industry and commerce.

With the reform of Nueva Planta, Philip V interrupted the federalism government of the Hasburg dynasty and converted Spain in a centralized nation based on the use of Castilian language and administrated according to the already in force norms in the region of Castile.

Under the dynasty of the Bourbon Spain experienced a period of great economic prosperity until the end of the reign of Charles IV (1808).

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1.3. The Contemporary period 3

1.3.1. The Peninsular War: birth of a nation

Charles VI rose to power in 1788 with the intention to govern the Spanish kingdom with a reformist policy. At the beginning he took side against the French Revolution, but then the Bourbons King supported France and even allied with Napoleon to fight against Great Britain.

After the defeat of the French and Spanish army in the Battle of Trafalgar, a diffused feeling of malcontent started to rise in Spanish territories, causing an internal crisis.

As a consequence, the son of Charles VI, Ferdinando VII took advantage of this critical situation and tried to dethrone his dad with the help of some supporters.

In response to these events, king Charles ask help to Napoleon who took advantage of this internal issue and he invaded Spain. French troops occupied Pamplona, San Sebastian and Barcelona and finally, they arrived in Madrid.

A spontaneous uprising of the Spanish citizens against the French invasion gave beginning of the War of Independence (1808-1814).

In addition to this, Napoleon conscious of the rivalry between the king Charles and his son, forced them to leave the throne to his brother Joseph Bonaparte. The rebels who fought against French troops were executed, inspiring also a painting of Francisco Goya.

The news of the French conquest of Madrid made many cities organize local and provincial Juntas ( an organ with executive and legislative power) to replace the political institutions and get prepared for fighting against the enemies. Moreover, during those years a new vision of a united Spain arose and the movement of fighters against the invasion of French troops appealed to a concept of nation, idea that appeared in the years of French Revolution.

The 25th of May 1808 it reunited the First Junta in Asturias and it was declared war to France with Great Britain as allied, whose collaboration ended only at the end of the war.

Providential was the help of the English troops guided by the general Arthur Wellesley, who after having reached Lisbon and conquered the city, his army resisted against the French attacks.

Subsequently, French troops left Spain for starting the campaign in Russia. This occasion revealed to be a great opportunity for English army and Spanish guerrillas for pushing French soldiers back from Portugal and enter in Madrid to free it.

At the end, in December 1813 the Treaty of Valencay was signed and Fernando was recognized as king of Spain.

During those years the Spanish nation was conceived and the Constitutions of Cadiz (1812) defined Spanish citizens the inhabitants of Spanish Peninsula and the colonies both American and Asian ones.

3 Ibidem, pp. 75-136

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1.3.2. Economic stagnation and political paralysis

In the nineteenth century Catalonia was growing at substantial rate, while the rest of Spain experienced a slow economic development; this stagnation was correlated with a social one.

By the second half of the century the rate of urbanization and the rate of population growth increased, but in any case the increase in Catalonia was faster. The Catalan region was active in the commercial and industrial sector and such development brought Barcelona to play a prominent role in Spanish panorama.

After the defeat of the French troops, Fernando VII returned to Spain and declared illegal the Constitution of Cadiz (1812) and dismantled the Corts. As long as, in 1820, following the numerous revolts in the American colonies and the rebellion guided by the colonel Rafael del Riego asking for the reinstatement of the Constitution. At the end the king was forced to fulfil the request.

For three years 1820-23 it started the period defined as “Liberal Triennium” : after the restoration of the Constitution, the king formed a government with the more moderate rebellious general, but it caused a split among them. There were on one side some moderate who felt satisfied and on the other side the “exaltados” who wanted to bring the rebellion until the formation of a Republic.

After many clashes among them, in 1823 European monarchies assembled in the Congress of Verona (1822) and decided together to find a common solution to put an end to the liberal government constituted in Spain. France was designated to fulfil this duty: a French army crossed the Pyrenees without finding any popular resistance and restored the monarchy. The reign of Fernando was characterized by internal wars between moderate reforms and extreme absolutists which lasted until his death 1833. The crown passed in the hands of his daughter, Isabel I, had by the fourth marriage with Maria Cristina de Borbon, and not of his brother Charles. In fact, Fernando had signed The Pragmatic Sanction which established that his successor could be his daughter and no longer privileging the male line for hereditary rights.

This decision was not accepted and another civil war broke out “The Carlist War” which gave birth to the “carlismo” movement. The Carlist fought for the maintance of the tradition in the Spanish monarchy and supported Don Carlos who proclaimed himself with the title of Charles V, king of Spain. There were two factions: on one side the Carlist supporting don Carlos and on the other side the liberals, the freemasons, and the catholic constitutionalists who hoped to obtain some reforms in exchange of their support to the regent queen Maria Cristina.

European monarchies, Britain and France, with the alliance of Portugal stipulated the agreement of the Quadruple alliance (1834) in defence of the liberal Spain by sending military and logistic support to the queen. Even though the military imbalance of the two armies was evidence, the carlist’ fighters resisted for more than seven years of civil war. In 1837, the carlist forces organized a expedition to conquer the capital Madrid but the royal army, guided by the general Baldomero Espartero, stopped them after they reached the city gates.

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Espartero, the great winner of the war, was received with a great enthusiasm in Barcelona and soon elected regent by the Cortes, after the resignation of queen Maria Cristina. But in 1843, unable to govern the nation, he lost the elections and was forced to leave the country as the queen did three years before.

The coalition anti-Espartero declared Isabel, daughter of Maria Cristina, capable to govern;

during her reign, monarchy lost his power due to court scandals, and yet the Church obtained enormous power over Spanish politics for helping Isabel and Maria Cristina to have their sins forgiven. The unpopular behaviour of Isabel and the internal crisis brought to a revolution known as the Glorious Revolution (1868). A group of military men governed by generals Juan Prim, Francisco Serrano and Juan Francisco Topete mutinied against the monarchic government and a new democratic constitution, which kept the monarchy as form of government, was enacted.

Then the general Serrano was appointed for the position of regent and Prim for the one of president.

After many difficulties in finding a suitable king, Amedeo, the prince of the House of Savoy was elected in 1870; his reign did not last for a long time and it was signed by a deep political crisis. He wasn’t able to recover position in the clerical context, neither he was able to speak fluently Spanish; factors that contributed to worsen the earlier situation further complicated for the rebellion in Cuba.

Instability became deeper, especially after the division among monarchist and the one who favoured the constitution, and it caused many violent clashes; moreover, in Catalonia and in the Basque country the third Carlist war started (1872).

The 11th February 1873 Amedeo abdicated and the Cortes voted in favour of the Republic. The First Spanish Republic was fruit of the idea of liberty aroused in the Spanish middle class after the French Revolution, but the sequence of five different presidents in the brief period of its existence, brought to its end one year later in 1874.

The first president was Estanislao Figueras followed by Francisco Pi y Margall, whose principles were included in project of the Constitution of 1873; under the government of Nicolás Salmerón many populations declared themselves independent, as Valencia, Murcia, Andalucia; others declared war against the central power, insurrections which were shredded at their beginning.

The Cortes elected Emilio Castelar as president, who tried to resolve the serious political and military crisis that was affecting Spain in those years. The last president was Francisco Serrano, whose government was more a personal dictatorship with the limitation of the right of association, print and places of political reunions.

The main aim of his government was to reinforce the army to defeat the Carlists and even if the plan was completed, it followed another coup staged by the general Arsenio Martinez Campos who enshrined the end of the Republic and proclaimed Alfonso XII, son of Isabel II, king of Spain (1875). The prime minister Cánovas del Castillo was one the main protagonist of the restauration of the House of Bourbon, he personally took care of the education of Alfonso by sending him to England and reorganized the monarchists party.

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He performed his duties as prime minister since the nomination of Alfonso as king (1874): he was able to put an end to the Third Carlist War and he formalised the constitutional monarchy with the Spanish Constitution of 1876.

One of his major contribution to the political stability of the monarchy was “the peaceful turn of the parties”, that means that he collaborated with the exponents of the other political party, in particular with Práxedes Mateo Sagasta.

During that time Spain knew a period of economic growth and peace, but also the end of its colonial empire after the defeat in the Spanish-Americal War (1898) and the development of the nationalism in the regions of Catalonia and Basque.

1.3.3. Catalonia’s political weight

During the nineteenth century the role of Catalonia and its weight in the political context have always been in relative importance.

Catalonia showed an extreme conservatism and strong support of the absolutism: even though there happened many episodes in which it gave rise to riots and rebellion against the monarch.

One example of this attitude was when Maria Cristina felt obliged to resign in favour of the general Espartero, who, after having defeated the Carlist troops in Madrid, was received with enthusiasm in Barcelona.

This feeling of enthusiasm transmuted into episodes of violence, which were such aggressive that worried the queen and determined her to leave the throne. But neither with Espartero, Catalonia’s citizens were satisfied; in fact, they soon became disappointed for his idea to sign a commercial treaty with the British government, after having passed a new tariff in order to obtain the English’s stand. The truth was textile producers did not approve the idea of letting any concession to wine and fruit’s exporters who were subjected to the British relationship with Spain. Another trigger issue which increased the discontent was the construction of the Citadel, symbol of oppression of the city of Barcelona.

This feeling resulted in form of riots, which were stifled, and the city forced to pay all the damages caused by the gunfire. When Espartero lost the election, moderates and progressive allied against him and a series of rebellions took place in many city of Spain; in particular in Barcelona the precedent enthusiasm towards Espartero turned to two generals Juan Prim and Francisco Serrano.

In the middle of nineteenth century a series of changes brought Barcelona to be in an outstanding position: two important banks, the Banco de Isabel II and the Banco de Barcelona were established, and it was built a railroad line.

The Carlist wars took place mostly in Barcelona, in fact in that territory group of Carlist continued to operate through guerrilas since 1840 and they mobilised against the Spanish government in 1846; considered a difficult year from the political end economical point of view both for Spain and Catalonia.

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After the resignation of the Prime Minister Ramón María Narváez six governments followed which brought more difficulties in the north part of Spain, where local governments expected to receive more support and economical aids.

This internal crisis was considered as one of the main cause of the Glorious Revolution (1864- 1868); moreover a serious economic crisis burst in 1866, financial, agriculture and industrial, which deteriorated further the already critical political system.

One of the consequences that affected Catalonia was the collapse of the textile industry due to the rise of the prices of the cotton imported from the American colonies.

The American Civil War (1861-1865) caused the “cotton famine” in the international context and it ruined many bankers and businessmen. Due to this, Catalonia experienced a fluctuation in the market of cotton industry which it ended, with the continuous policy of tariff protection, in turning Catalonia into the “Factory of Spain”.

The tariff protection did not encourage businessmen to become competitive in the foreign market, indeed it linked Catalan textile commerce to the destiny of Spanish economy. Although in the second half of the nineteenth century the textile factories overcame the crisis and became technologically advanced, a commercial network and financial banking were missing to give it the chance to compete abroad.

There was a huge difference in the economic sector, between Catalonia and the rest of Spain:

Barcelona was a prosperous city and the in per capita income was higher than in other parts of the Spanish peninsula; in addition to this, Barcelona was the commercial centre of Catalonia which exported goods, foods and raw materials to the rest of Spain.

This fact caused the existence of a strict bond between Catalonia and Spain, which implemented state tariff to protect the Catalan industry, in order to protect it from the foreign competition.

The reign of the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty was characterized by a conservative policy and by a legislation which harmed the development of the democracy in Spain, besides the overseas colonies. During those years, the Hispanic War was fought (1898). The colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Marian islands Carolina in the Pacific were lost.

The loss of these colonies was a real disaster from the economic point of view. This was a clear turn in the history of Spain since the independence of Cuba caused severe damages in some sectors of commerce. At the same time, also from the political point of view it gave rise to the nationalistic movements in Catalonia and in the Basque provinces, whose economies felt the effects of the colonies’ loss.

The defeat in the Hispanic War enlightened the weakness of Spain in the international sphere, which provoked the becoming conscious of the need to place trust in Spain’s means for reforming the country.

A plan to stop the inflation, which was caused by the Cuban war, was designed by the Finance Minister Raimundo Fernández Villaverde (1899-1900): it put an end to the finance deficit and the recovery of peseta with a consequently creation of new banks.

In that period there were three main industrial centres: Catalonia, the Basque provinces and

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Madrid; Catalonia and its industry were no more the only developed region and pole of attraction.

In addition to this, Catalonia’ s loss of position provoked a feeling of disappointment towards Spain and a more attachment to political Catalanism; in fact, a new party was founded in 1901 headed by Prat de la Riba and Cambó: The Lliga Regionalista .

Soon the party started to obtain success and good results in the elections up to the hold collaboration between Cambó and Antonio Maura (leader of the conservative government); in 1901 Cambó was elected on the Lliga and leader of the party.

In the beginning of the twentieth century Barcelona was one of the most violent city in Europe:

factions of anarchist, antimonarchist and anticlerical gave rise to a protest movement against the Maura’s decision to send troops to fight in Morocco (1909). The situation deteriorated: the protest became violent, churches were burnt and other actions of vandalism were carried out.

The Barcelona’s troops refused to repress the rebellion with fire, so other troops from other Spanish cities were called to put an end to the “Tragic Week” of Barcelona. In the end, among the victims there was the instigator of the rebellion, Francesc Ferrer, whose death brought the resignation of Maura.

The party Lliga Regionalista supported the Maura government and this collaboration developed the creation of the “Mancomunitat”, a sort of autonomous government with the aim of fulfil the policies of the four Catalan Provinces (Barcelona, Tarragona, Lérida and Gerona).

Under the government of the president Prat de la Riba, the Mancomunitat was established in 1914 and it coordinated projects for improving the cultural and educational sectors in that region.

Analyzing the historical context in a wider framework, the twentieth century was for Europe a period of time marked by the two World Wars. When the first World War exploded, Spain remained neutral, but of course this did not save it from the social tensions and political disorders caused by the war. Among these, there was a worsening of the relation between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

A strike, remembered as the strike of la Canadiense (the Barcelona company of traction, light and power) happened in 1919, alarmed Cambó who opted for the maintenance of social peace and not to proceed with the autonomist program. This decision was made after the episode of the Tragic Week, which caused the death of many civilians. In addition to this, he accepted to become finance minister in 1921 and he tried to regulate the banking system.

The importance of this strike was that it constituted a great success for the Spanish workers, in fact it concluded with wage increases and the liberation of workers arrested during that strike.

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1.4. The Twentieth Century 4

1.4.1. The Primo de Rivera Dictatorship

The First World War brought many effects in Spain. There was an economic boom due to the rise of exportation caused by the involvement of European countries in the war. But, the conflict produced also negative effects, such as the increase of the inflation and strikes of the workers. In these circumstances, Spain had to face the Morocco’s issue: the control of Spanish army was losing effective control after the defeat by the rebellion army guided by the chieftain Abd-elKrim. In that delicate period of Spain, on the 13th September 1923, the general Primo de Rivera took advantage of the situation and he staged a coup which was favourably accepted by the Catalan middle class. With the charge of president of the military directory, he was accepted and nominated Prime Minister by the King Alfonso XIII himself.

At the beginning people showed their support for Primo de River: he was able to speak Catalan and he was considered as a cordial man, but then, the situation changed.

When the Morocco’s problem deteriorated he decide to intervene, he signed an alliance with the French troops and both armies attacked the chieftain’s one in September 1925.

The chieftain Abd-el-Krim resisted until May 1926 when he was forced to surrender to the French. After the victory, Primo de Rivera lost the support of those who had originally approved his ideas as he dismissed democratic institutions. Moreover, after having replaced the president of the Catalan institution with Alfonso Sala, he decided to abolish the Mancomunitat.

It was clear by now his intention to be implacable in tackling the Catalan issue. The government of Rivera was converted into a dictatorship with the prohibition of any flag that was not the Spanish one and it imposed the use of the Spanish language to the detriment of the other languages spoken in the territory.

During the dictatorship, José Calvo Sotero was nominated finance minister for several years and was one of the collaborators of Rivera.

The economical policy adopted during those years was focused on nationalistic ideas which brought good results at the beginning. Even though enterpreneurs had invested, the basic industry had grown mainly thanks to a program of investment in infrastructures and military modernization, which produced a budget deficit. Calvo Sotero managed to hide with some subterfuges the deficit in order to maintain the position in the international market, but with his decision to make petroleum subjected to a state monopoly, only one company could sell petroleum products in Spain. Thus, if it wanted to create a monopoly of petroleum, Spain had to send assets of the companies which had operated in that market; operation that caused the decline of the peseta which left Sotero in a difficulties.

4 Ibidem, pp. 139-187

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He tried to solve the matter until his decision to resign in January 1930 and hereafter Primo de Rivera did the same.

The king had to remedy and spare that the situation wouldn’t become unmanageable: he nominated the general Dàmaso Berenguer to restore the previous situation. Neither him was able to achieve success, so he resigned in February 1931; the king moved abroad and on the 14th of April 1931 it was proclaimed the Republic.

1.4.2. The Second Republic

In February 1931 Juan Bautista Aznar-Cabañas was designated to summon the first municipal elections after the end of the dictatorship of Rivera (1923-1930) in order to evaluate the popular support to the monarchy before the general political elections.

The elections produced an historical results: the republicans won in more than 40 cities and, above all, in the cities of Madrid and Barcelona; result that was considered as a plebiscite that pushed the king Alfonso XIII to leave the country as an exile and it was proclaimed the Republic (14th April 1931).

The king’s departure and the proclamation of the Republic created a climate of tensions among the parties, which hoisted the crowds against the Spanish Catholic church.

The provisional government announced the election of the Cortes in June 1931; in the meantime, it was adopted a reforming politics that fostered a series of reforms in the agricultural and military sectors with Manuel Azana as new Military Minister.

On the same day when the Republic was instituted, in Catalonia the proponents of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) Francesc Macià and Lluís Companys i Jover declared Catalonia as an autonomous republic within Spanish federal state and Francesc Macià as president of the Generalitat .

The Catalan government would be in charge of writing a statute of autonomy for Catalonia.

It was draft a text of the Estatut project which declared Spain as a federal republic and the Generalitat as institution operating in the Catalan countries included Valencia and the Balearic islands, and Catalan as official language.

The elections of the 28th of June were won by the left party whose major aim was against the religion, even though Spanish population was a strong believer.

The Cortes nominated a Constitutional Commission in charge of elaborating the Estatut.

It was soon clear that the Catalan project needed to be modified according to the criticism raised in the rest of Spain, but thanks to Manuel Azana the draft of Estatut obtained the approval.

In December 1931 the Constitutional Commission accepted and recognized Catalonia as an autonomous region, with Catalan as a co-official language, and the attribute of “nation”

eliminated. These modifications contributed to raise a series of issues among Catalonia and the central government; example of this, was the results of the local elections where the party ERC received more preferences rather than the one of Lliga.

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