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The history of Catalonia

The history of Catalonia
Highlights

On Sunday, the Spanish government said the deposed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, could be jailed within the next two months over his part in...

On Sunday, the Spanish government said the deposed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, could be jailed within the next two months over his part in the regional parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence.

Catalonia was an independent region of the Iberian Peninsula – modern day Spain and Portugal – with its own language, laws and customs. In 1150, the marriage of Petronilia, Queen of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona formed a dynasty leaving their son to inherit all territories concerning the region of Aragon and Catalonia.

This lasted until the reign of King Philip V. The War of the Spanish Succession ended with the defeat of Valencia in 1707, of Catalonia in 1714, and finally with the last of the islands in 1715 – resulting in the birth of modern-day Spain.

Subsequent kings tried to impose the Spanish language and laws on the region, but they abandoned their attempts in 1931 and restored the Generalitat (the national Catalan government). General Francisco Franco, however, set out to destroy Catalan separatism and with his victory at the Battle of Ebro in 1938 he took control of the region, killing 3,500 people and forcing many more into exile.

The region was granted a degree of autonomy once more in 1977, when democracy returned to the country. Calls for complete independence grew steadily until July 2010, when the Constitutional Court in Madrid overruled part of the 2006 autonomy statute, stating that there is no legal basis for recognising Catalonia as a nation within Spain.

The economic crisis in Spain has only served to magnify calls for Catalan independence – as the wealthy Barcelona region is seen as propping up the poorer rest of Spain. The president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, is backed by a coalition of Catalan nationalist forces from the conservative CDC and the leftist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) parties, which, together with the radical Left-wing CUP party, command a majority in the region’s parliament.

In September 2017, this majority approved the holding of a binding referendum on independence for Catalonia, but Spain’s constitutional court suspended the process. The Catalan authorities went through with the vote, leading to violence inside and around polling stations as Spanish security forces seized ballot boxes and attempted to close down the vote.

They said that 2.26 million votes had been counted, with 90 per cent in favour of independence. (Courtesy: www.telegraph.co.uk; for more details visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/does-catalonia-want-independence-spain/)

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