Catalonia and the House of Bourbon

The House of Bourbon, personified by Philip V, took control of Catalonia and the Kingdom of Spain thanks to a tricky scheme devised by France’s Louis XIV agents concerning Charles II’s will. It was really a veiled coup d’état, although perhaps it was unavoidable given the historical circumstances. However, the House of the Austrias did not resign themselves to losing the Spanish throne so easily, and they presented their own candidate, Archduke Charles.

We all know what happened next: the War of the Spanish Succession (the first international conflict between European powers) and the end of the empire created by the Catalan kings during the middle ages—Spain would lose Naples, Menorca, and Gibraltar. The destruction from the inside of the Crown of Aragon with the annulment of each state’s constitution, and the enforcement of the Nueva Planta decree disassembled a 700 year old state. The new dynasty carried on a bloody suppression of all liberties. Even though some Spanish historians have tried to present Philip V as modernizing, Castel Rodrigo’s words in 1715 speak for themselves:

“One must put down everywhere any ill-intentioned hopes the natives might harbor by publicly and solemnly abolishing the rights of the city and of the Principate [i.e. Catalonia], so that they are effectively annulled, eradicated, and burned, and so that no memory remains of them whatsoever.”

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