12 Clues of Barcelona’s Commemoration of 1714

img_92206113_1What were the Catalans fighting for in 1714?

Pau Ignasi de Dalmases was the ambassador of the Three Commons to England. Finally received by Queen Anne on 28 June 1713, he informed the monarch that the Catalans were fighting for their freedom, and requested English protection for a country whose laws, privileges and freedoms were in all things similar and almost equal to those enjoyed in England. Although this comparison was somewhat exaggerated, it did indicate the political model towards which the Catalan parliamentary system was heading.

The Catalans held out against the long Bourbon siege of Barcelona because they were certain that the ascent of Philip V to the throne would mean the abolition of their constitutions, which guaranteed a political system based on the participation and interests of a large, well-off minority. When Marshal the Duke of Berwick entered Barcelona in victory after accepting the capitulations of the city’s defeated defenders, he ordered the city authorities to be brought out and publicly stripped them of their robes, insignia and standards, piling these up in the middle of the square.

The hangman then symbolically executed Catalonia’s institutions and constitutions by setting fire to this “pyre” and, in doing so, the Duke of Berwick showed the Catalans that there remained to them “no other privilege than that which the king in his mercy might grant them”. Defeat left the Catalans at the mercy of the royal whim, and laws ceased to be the expression of the economic, political and social interests of the better-off classes in the Principality, both old and new. Rather, these laws now embodied the will of the monarchy.

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