Catalans (Països Catalans) - History and Cultural Relations

Settlement in Catalonia antedates historical records, with Paleolithic and Neolithic remains. Successive immigrations have included Celts, Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans (who established a capital in Tarragona in the first century B.C.E. ), Jews, Visigoths, Arabs, and Gypsies. Barcelona was reconquered from the Arabs in 801 and became capital of the Frankish county of Catalonia. Catalonia became independent about 988, uniting with the Kingdom of Aragon in the twelfth century. Balears and Valencia were reconquered from Arab domination in the thirteenth century. The Catalan-Aragonese empire also extended into Sardinia, Naples, Sicily, and Greece as its mercantile society and culture flourished. At the end of the fifteenth century, its population neared 700,000. In 1469, King Ferdinand of Aragon and Catalonia wed queen Isabella of Castile and Leon, uniting the two kingdoms that became the foundation of Spain. For centuries thereafter, Catalans struggled to preserve political and cultural autonomy as the Mediterranean region lost power to Atlantic states. Bids for independence were defeated by the central state in 1640-1659 (at which time Roselló was incorporated into France) and in the early eighteenth century. Nonetheless, the subsequent growth of trade with Spain's New World colonies and of industry, especially textiles, gave Catalonia new economic power in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, a rich Catalonia has attracted immigrants from the rest of Spain while seeking to redefine its relationship to the centralized state. Under the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), especially during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, Catalans sought new forms of autonomous government; Franco's victory brought an intense repression of the polity, its culture, and its language. Under the Spanish democratic regime (1977—), the Països Catalans have regained autonomy within the reorganized state, and a revitalization of Catalan language and culture has been evident in Spain, with repercussions as well in France.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: