Catalan Has Always Meant Spaniard

Two excellent articles from RORATE CAELI (one actual, the other from 2006) that draw on both the historic and recent past of Catalonia, Spain. They throw a much clearer light on the determining factors that brought about the illegitimate Declaration of Independence in the Catalan “Parlament” yesterday.

Vestments, Images, Pious Objects: the “Republican Left of Catalonia” (ERC), then as
now a hardline anti-Catholic party and current backbone of Catalan secessionism, was behind thousands of deaths of Catholic martyrs in Catalonia, and scenes such as the one above — piles of objects ready to be burned in a bonfire in the main square of Vich, Barcelona Province, Spain (1936)

It was 2006, our first full year. And, as we commemorated the grievous massacres of Catholics in 1936-1939 in our first special series, “The Passion of Spain”, the then-Socialist central Spanish government negotiated with the Catalan regional government a new Charter of Autonomy, the “Statut”.

The seeds of the problem that ecloded this Friday, the pseudo-independence of the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, were all present in that Statut, whose most radical ideas would end up being declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. What is interesting to recall is that the Leftism already present in that text is the central axis of the Catalonian secessionist movement today, whose backbone is formed by the extreme-left ERC (that martyred thousands of Catholics in 1936-38) and the ever more extreme and Anarchist CUP.

Is Catalonia a “nation”? Not exactly. It is a part of a regional nationality, in a sense, but if it’s defined by a language, then many people in other Spanish regions and in the French Roussillon also speak it. What is most important, though, is that what we now call Catalonia was never an independent nation. Its earliest version, after the first waves of the Reconquista, was the County of Barcelona, which very soon merged with the domains of the Kingdom of Aragon, the lord of Northeastern Iberia, to form the larger Kingdom of Aragon. As the same dynasty, the Trastámaras, reigned over both Aragon and the Western Iberian kingdom of Castile, the stage was set for one of the most succesful political matches in History, the founding moment of Spain: the wedding of Ferdinand of Aragon and his second cousin Isabella of Castile in 1469.

The territories of northeastern Spain were, therefore, since the very beginning, constituent and leading regions of Spain. And Catholicism was, long before any language, the cement that kept it together.

We pray for a united Spain, all languages and peoples around the Immaculate Virgin. Only the faith in the Immaculata will preserve the Unity of Spain. It seems impossible now, as disintegration seems sure, as we foresaw in 2006 (“ready to be partitioned”), if not now then not far into the future. But how much more impossible did the Spanish epic that transformed the world after 1492 seem before Covadonga?

As it happened after Luther’s revolt, and in the Kingdom’s firm promotion of Trent, we pray that Spain will once again be a bulwark of Catholicism. “For with God nothing will be impossible.”


Our editorial from 2006

Who would guess that the year of the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War (see our previous topics, The Passion of Spain and New Martyrs Recognized) would bring more than symbolic reminders of the great Spanish political drama? Probably, few would have thought that Spaniards would once again choose inept leaders, moved by fear, and pride, and hatred, as they did in the infamous days of the Second Republic, but that is what they did when they chose José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as their prime-minister.

First, he surrendered to the Muslim terrorists; then he pandered to the “gay” lobby; then, he pledged to persecute the Church’s school system and finances; now, after compromising with the Basque terrorist nationalists, he surrenders to the Catalan anticlerical extreme-left nationalists. Not all nationalisms are good; or rather, one would not go too far to say that all nationalisms are bad and idolatrous, and are essentially different from the virtue of patriotism.

Among the factors which led to the Civil War of 1936-39, one of the most important was the rabid nationalism of Catalonia. Now, Catalonia had not considered itself as a nation before the 19th century; there had never been a “nation” called Catalonia, though Catalan had been spoken in the Iberian Peninsula since the 10th century, the period in which the Romance languages became more clearly distinguishable. Catalan had been the main language in the kingdom of Aragon, which stretched from the Ebro to Calabria, but Catalans had always considered themselves as part of those glorious Hispanienses who had expelled the brutal Caliphs.

It is easy to verify that Catalan has always also meant Spaniard: read the names of the defenders of Spanish integrity and its Catholic spirit, and you will find many Catalan, and Basque, and Galician surnames — proportionately many more than from the Castilian-speaking peoples.

The insurrection which started the Crusade for the defense of Catholic Spain in July 1936 was driven by a Catalan (Goded Llopis, born in the colony of Puerto Rico from Catalan parents) and a Galician (Francisco Franco Bahamonde…). The great leaders of the Spanish Church during those terrible years were Catalans: Cardinal Gomá y Tomás, born in the province of Tarragona; Cardinal Plá y Deniel, born in Barcelona…

On the other hand, while Basque nationalism had been mostly linked to the Catholic Church in the Basque regions, Catalan nationalism had always been intensely anticlerical*. And this hatred for Christianity and Christian values is clear in the recent “Statute” (Estatut) for the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, which breaks the delicate balance achieved by the regions, the central government, and the different social currents in Spanish society (particularly the Catholic Church) in the negotiations which led to the Constitution of 1978. The center-right Spanish parties have been concerned with the use of the name of “nation”, for the first time, in the legal text. But that is not the main problem.

The main problem is that, in the new “Statute”, anticlericalism rises again its ugly head and declares what a “politically correct” Constitutional text (for that is what the “Statute” is) must look like. A few excerpts:

“All persons have the right to live with dignity the process of their death”

The public powers must promote the equality of different partnership stable unions, regardless of the sexual orientation of its members.”

“The public powers must promote the equality of all persons, regardless of their origin, nationality, sex, race, religion, social condition, or sexual orientation, as well as promote the eradication of racism, antisemitism, sexophobia, homophobia, and any other expression which attempts on equality and dignity.”

“The public powers must see that the free decision of the woman is foremost in all cases which may affect her dignity, integrity, and physical and mental welfare, especially regarding her own body and her sexual and reproductive health.”

“The public powers must protect social, cultural, and religious sociability among all persons in Catalonia, and the respect of the diversity of beliefs and ethical and philosophical convictions of all persons, and must promote intercultural relations through incentives, and the creation of environments of reciprocal knowledge, dialogue, and mediation.”

Let there be no doubt: what is in stake is not the unity of Spain but the survival of Catholicism in the Iberian peninsula. The Spanish spirit has always been multiethnic — but Catholic, always Catholic, always a Crusader spirit, as the Reconquista itself was a Crusade, as the Civil War itself became a Crusade after the Republican hosts massacred priests and nuns, and burned chapels and convents. But this Spain of many Spains has surrendered its soul and approaches death, under pressure, betrayed by its leaders, abandoned by a mostly “progressive” clergy, deceived by newfound wealth. Its dead body will soon be ready to be partitioned.

* This was true in the early decades of both movements, but, while the clergy in the Basque lands still largely supports the Basque nationalist movement, the latter has become not only extremely violent, but secular and anticlerical. This historical background, nonetheless, explains several interesting aspects of the development of the Civil War in (the Basque Country).

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15 Responses to Catalan Has Always Meant Spaniard

  1. SteveD says:

    The only good thing to come out of this is that Orwell’s book ‘Homage to Catalonia’ will be sold more widely among the young in English speaking countries. Orwell was totally unworried about the terrible fate of many Catholic priests and nuns but was appalled by the attack by Soviet supporting leftists against other leftists of a different stripe that left his own life hanging in the balance for a while. At least this naïve amateur soldier came to know that the Communists will enthusiastically kill ‘its own’ whose brand is slightly different and on the slightest pretext and had the honesty to say so. Had Stalin not been so enthusiastic in seeking to destroy his Spanish leftist allies so prematurely, the left might well have won the war. Deo Gracias.


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    Well, I revere (figuratively speaking) George Orwell, but your comment is a very good one.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    As for Catalonian independence, we (non-Spaniards, including CP&S ex-pats) should mind our business and not take sides. My Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, says that he favours the Madrid regime. I agree, but it’s none of his business or mine. I recall the half-Irish, half-Catalan Stephen Maturin (née Esteban Maturin y Domanova) in Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubreynovels also opposed Spanish rule of Catalonia (The Raven, another O’Brian fan, can correct me if I’m wrong) as well as Anglo rule of Ireland. Maturin was a fictional creation, but he had a dog in both fights. God bless Franco.


  4. toadspittle says:

    “It is easy to verify that Catalan has always also meant Spaniard:”
    Nonsense. Catalan means just that – Catalan, and has done for centuries. They no more regard themselves as Spanish than the Scots, or the Welsh, or the Northern Irish, regard themselves as English. Does Scot, always also mean English?
    Whether the majority of Catalans desire to remain part of Spain or not – is another thing. I hope they don’t split – but, as JH points out, it’s none of my business.

    “..there had never been a “nation” called Catalonia, though Catalan had been spoken in the Iberian Peninsula since the 10th century.”
    So what? There’s never been a Basque “nation” either – but try telling a Basque he (or she) is “Spanish.”


  5. JabbaPapa says:

    Catalan means just that – Catalan, and has done for centuries

    I just looked up the History, including of the so-called “independence” of the County of Barcelona — the reality is that prior to the 1258 Treaty of Corbeil between the Kings of France and Aragon, the County of Barcelona then Catalonia was a vassal of the Carolingian Dynasty then the Kings of France, afterwards a vassal of the Kings of Aragon.

    The so-called mediaeval “independence” was in fact just the exact same sort of autonomy the region has today in the Kingdom of Spain. The degree of relative self-rule that the Catalans have had has been variable throughout History, but that self-rule has never constituted any genuine independence as such.

    The only genuinely independent Catalan States to have ever existed are the Principality of Andorra and — VERY briefly (1276-1279) — the independent Kingdom of Mallorca.


  6. toadspittle says:

    I hope you don’t think I’m disputing any of what you say, Jabba. Because I’m not
    What I’m saying is that Catalans regard themselves as Catalans – not as Spanish.
    At least I’ve never met one who didn’t. Maybe they exist.


  7. kathleen says:

    Twisted argument, Toad:

    “They [Catalans] no more regard themselves as Spanish than the Scots, or the Welsh, or the Northern Irish, regard themselves as English. Does Scot, always also mean English?”

    No, not “English”… but British, yes.

    And the majority of Catalans regard themselves as Spanish too, in my experience! Trouble is, the puffed up “independistas” are making a hell of a lot of noise at present, which is giving the impression that the whole region supports them. It does not! Catalonia is an integral part of Spain. Their “give-an-inch-and-take-a-mile” demand for autonomy rule over the years (and pandered to by weak leftist Spanish Government leaders) has culminated in this current fiasco.

    This sudden surge of many nationalisms in other parts of the world today, and certainly among the anti-clerical, independence-seekers in the region of Catalonia, feed off a sinister, tyrannical mindset that recalls past evil (fallen) regimes of the not-too-distant past.


  8. JabbaPapa says:

    There’s never been a Basque “nation” either

    There was in fact the early mediaeval Kingdom of Pamplona, which slowly shifted into becoming the non-Basque Navarra after immigration by Romance-speakers turned the Basques into a minority in their own country.

    Exactly opposite to the situation in later Centuries, Castille and Aragon were controlled by the Basque Kingdom in the early 11th Century.


  9. JabbaPapa says:

    after immigration by Romance-speakers turned the Basques into a minority in their own country

    And yes BTW, this was an indirect consequence of the Basque promotion of the Camino Francès, and the improvements by the Basque King of the road from Roncesvalles to Leon for the benefit of the Pilgrims of St James.


  10. toadspittle says:

    We’d be better working at being Europeans first – and decent citizens of the world next.
    Some hope.


  11. GC says:

    A little birdy told me that Catalonia would have become re-united with the rest of Hispania (barring Portugal) when Ferdinand II of Aragon turned up his toes in 1516. Catalonians have very much been “Spanish” since then, which is not necessarily something to be sneezed at, Toad.

    Ferdi’s daughter with Isabella of Castille, Joanna the Mad (Juana la Loca, big sis of Katharine of Aragon the Sonless of England) then inherited the Crown of Aragon as well and all its territories, including Catalonia (never a kingdom), Navarre, Valencia, Sardinia, the Balearics, Malta and half of Italy. She had already inherited the Crown of Castille from mumsy, the Servant of God Isabella of Castille more than 10 years earlier. When popsy carked it later all of Spain was La Loca’s in a personal union of Crowns in her own very self. She was thus Queen of all of the bits of Spain. Catalonia then has been Spanish in a re-established Spain for 500 years at least, and they know it, just as much as Castilians and everybody else have been Spanish.

    One has long justifiably hoped that Toad by now would have at least made a small symbolic gesture indicating a minimal effort towards Toad doing Toad’s own homework Toadself. But it does seem, after all this while, that oh never shall sun that morrow see.


  12. toadspittle says:

    Thanks for the excellent links, JH.
    Especially the first one.
    Interesting comments, as well.

    “One has long justifiably hoped that Toad by now would have least made a small symbolic gesture indicating a minimal effort towards Toad doing Toad’s own homework Toadself. But it does seem, after all this while, that oh never shall sun that morrow see.”
    Well, one never know, do one, GC?
    One day one might . Butt then, one just might not.


  13. kathleen says:

    Interesting links from JH, although they were clearly written by authors with Republican sympathies, especially the second link. However the article from the “American Conservative” blog was indeed good, even if it was rather biased in places.

    “The Spanish Constitution unambiguously asserts the “indissoluble unity” of Spain, and Rajoy has made a strong case that his actions are actually protecting a majority of pro-unity Catalans from having their region hijacked by a separatist minority. Regardless of these arguments, however, his violently repressive responses have reopened old wounds and inflicted new ones.”

    The methods used by the riot police sent in by the PP during the illegal vote for independence might be judged as over-the-top and heavy handed, but most Spaniards, including pro-unity Catalans, feel that they were justified all the same. The rebels had been warned; they went ahead knowing they were breaking the law and the possible consequences.
    Yes, Rajoy is indeed doing exactly that: he is “protecting” and standing up for the large percentage of decent Catalans who have been growing increasingly indignant and angry at the hijacking of their region by the “separatist minority”.

    This reopens “old wounds”?? Really?
    Those who stood up to the violent anti-Catholic Republican Communists during the Spanish Civil War, had plenty of “old wounds” too. But they are all dead now. All but the most ancient have no recollection of those terrible days of civil strife… except what they have been told. Time to move on. Modern Spain is a very different country from those times, whatever these journalists (one American, the other Irish) might state.

    I expect yesterday’s massive pro-Spanish unity demonstration in Barcelona, with an amazing estimated 1.3 million participants, must have them scratching their heads in puzzlement. The outcome of Catalan leader Puigemont’s illegal Declaration of Independence, has backfired on him! Apparently the opinion polls are quoting a greater swing towards Catalonia remaining in Spain than ever before!!


  14. kathleen says:

    My daughter lives in north-western Madrid. From her terrace you can see, in the distance, “The Valley of the Fallen” with the massive cross standing high on the beautiful mountainous skyline, surrounded by dense trees. I have visited the isolated monument, a long way from the main road heading towards El Escorial.
    I agree with the description by the authors from JH’s links above… It has a strange chilling aura about it, despite the magnificent setting. Very odd!


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