Catalonia History

The territory that makes up present-day Catalonia has been populated for at least half a million years. The fact of the situation, a society that lives facing the sea means that since the Neolithic revolution, discovery of agriculture, several civilizations have passed through our country that have left their footprints, Greeks, Carthaginians and especially Romans who , unlike the others, were established for about 7 centuries and left us two very important things: the Catalan language and Roman Law. The Visigoths, who replaced the Romans, bequeathed us many things, aside from the officialization of the Catholic religion, which was already the religion of the town. The arrival of the Arabs at the beginning of the 8th century formed 2 Catalonias, Northern Catalonia, which was only under Arab rule for a century, and Catalonia that goes from the Llobregat river below, which was under Arab rule for more than four centuries . The one who makes up Catalonia today is the Christian Catalonia of the North, which from around the year 900, began to become independent from its lord, the king of the Franks. From the year 1000 Catalonia is totally independent. This territory governed by several counts who eventually became feudatories of the count of Barcelona, began to be known as Catalonia. Approximately in the year 1100, shortly before the Count of Barcelona formed a Confederation with the King of Aragon and formed the Crown of Aragon, in Catalonia, however, the highest authority will always be the Count of Barcelona, who was king in his personal capacity . Catalonia will never have a king. They were completely independent towns with the same head of state. Starting, more or less, from the beginning of the 13th century, Catalonia will live an era of great splendor with the conquest of the current Balearic Islands and the current territory of Valencia and especially thanks to trade in the Mediterranean, Catalonia, as well as the republics Italians will become one of the axes of the business derived from the silk route, which includes trade with the Hanseatic League, especially the port of Bergen. The 15th century is a century of continuous internal struggles and crises that affect even the population. It is at the end of this century that the Crown of Aragon unites with Castile with conditions of inferiority. Despite everything, they are two crowns with the same king, but with different laws. The Crown of Aragon continues with its federal structure, not exactly confederal, and the Crown of Castile is governed by more authoritarian systems. In Catalonia, an organization established in the 14th century, becomes, in these years, together with the municipal councils, the true government of Catalonia. When, from the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish Crown tried to break with the federal system, there was a revolt in favor of independence that failed and sought the support of the French crown, which proved to be as absorbing as the Spanish crown. The end of the War is a bit of a draw, with the loss of Roussillon and other Catalan territories that become dependent on the French crown. The 15th century was a period of crisis, but it had a very positive event. Catalan farmers cease to be serfs, that is to say, cease to be subject to feudal lords, thus becoming semi-proprietors. This condition meant that at the end of the 17th century, Catalonia began to become a prosperous territory, a prosperity that would be cut short by the War of Succession. The King of Spain Charles II dies without offspring and this problem causes a War in Europe. France and the Crown of Castile in favor of Philip V, grandson of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and Charles of Austria, son of Emperor Maximiliano, who has the support of England, Austria and Holland. The end of the War was catastrophic for Catalonia, abandoned by the English with whom it had signed an agreement to protect its freedoms. King Philip V adopts the French system, based on the laws of Castile, which already had a uniformitarian character. The country is fully subject to Spanish laws and administrative organization. We had already pointed out that at the end of the 17th century an economic renaissance began based on the formation of capital from agriculture. Thanks to the work, the serious moments of the end of the War of Succession were overcome when the Spanish government established a harsh political, economic and human repression against those who stood out as supporters of Charles of Austria who had stayed in the country Many emigrated to Vienna. More or less from 1735, a period of prosperity begins, thanks to legal trade with the Mediterranean and above all illegal trade with America, trade reserved solely for the Crown of Castile. Until well into the 18th century, the towns of the Crown of Aragon could not legally trade with America. Despite the ban, trade with America based on textiles and brandy helped to form more capital and was the basis of the pre-industrial stage, first, and the true industrial revolution in the 19th century, the only in accordance with the European models that occurs in Spain, with a handicap and that is that Catalonia has neither iron nor coal, the basis of the first industrialization. When the steam turbine appears things change. The industry of the Basque Country is another story. These economic changes generate a bourgeoisie that finds it very difficult to conquer political power, with which it becomes economically very entrepreneurial and politically very conservative, because it depends, to a large extent, on the Spanish market, especially after its intervention in the fall of the Spanish Old Regime and the triumph, at least economically, of liberalism. The triumph of romanticism in Europe has a great impact on Catalonia, which dreams of a return to the prosperity of the Middle Ages. This first literary and artistic movement will look for formulas at the end of the 19th century, firstly federalism that fails because it has no support in Castile and because of the failure, the birth of autonomy that after a dictatorial period (1923-1930), finds an understanding in the republican period 1931-1936. 1936-1939 War, the republic, although with cuts, grants autonomy to Catalonia and later to the Basque Country and Galicia. Precisely the autonomist policy of the Republic is one of the determinants of the Civil War. The triumph of General Franco is one of the periods of maximum repression against the political personality of Catalonia which also lived through times of economic misery, especially between 1940-1960. Economic liberalization and the beginning of the tourist phenomenon revived the Catalan economy. With the death of General Franco, political liberties were restored and the autonomy that was achieved in 1980 began to be discussed again, always, however, with many misgivings on the part of the Government of Madrid. The orographic composition of Catalonia gives it a characteristic climate and vegetation, although it is, in general, a Mediterranean climate and vegetation, in Catalonia we find in greater or lesser proportion all the climates of Western Europe. We think that in some places they separate the sea from the mountains between 2500 and 3000 meters high, only about 100 km on the other side, the coastal range next to the sea and the pre-coastal range about 30 or 40 km from the coast with peaks of more than 1000 m, sometimes 1700 m, means that the territory behind the pre-coastal range originates that the interior of Catalonia has a continental climate. This variety of climates is a guarantee for the development of tourism, one of the important sources of wealth for a good number of years and which allows the development of other types of tourism, aside from those who seek only the sun, otherwise. Catalonia has an important artistic wealth, the Iberian world, the Roman world, the Romanesque and Gothic arts of the Middle Ages, modernism with Gaudí as a leader, as well as some internationally renowned painters such as Picasso who started his activity artistic in Barcelona, Miró, Dalí and Tàpies. All these arts and characters mentioned generally have specific museums dedicated to these arts and this work. The fact that Barcelona brings together an important part of the Catalan artistic legacy does not mean that there are not other places worth visiting, such as the museums of Montserrat, Tarragona, Vic, Girona, Lleida, Badalona, Mataró, etc., and above all a large number of local museums, the total number is close to five hundred.

Jordi Monés

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