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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The Catalans had objected for centuries


[Sidenote:

Catalan discontent.]

Intimately related to the wars just referred to was the Catalan revolt. The Catalans had long been a nation so far as separate language and institutions go, and their traditions compared well with those of Castile, which had now come to dominate in the Spanish state. The whole course of the revolt is illustrative of the difficulties under which Spain labored in this era of European wars. The Catalans had objected for centuries, even before the union with Castile, to the policy of centralization and absolutism of the kings, alleging their charter rights which were thus contravened. Such acts as the failure of the kings to call the Catalan _Cortes_, the increases in taxation, or the levying of taxes like those paid in Castile, and the introduction of the Castilian Inquisition had been unfavorably received in the past. Now came the monarchical designs of Olivares, coupled with the unavoidable exigencies of the wars, to heighten the discontent. Aside from the increased taxation there were two matters to which the Catalans were strenuously opposed on the ground that they were against their legal rights,--the maintenance of foreign troops (even Castilians and Aragonese being so regarded) in Catalonia and the enjoyment of public office by persons who were not Catalans. Furthermore they objected to the employment of Catalan troops in foreign countries, holding that their obligations were limited to defending Catalonia, and similarly

they maintained that funds raised in Catalonia should not be used for wars outside that province. Philip IV tried to procure a subsidy from the Catalan _Cortes_ in 1626, but the grant was denied. Another attempt was made in 1632, on which occasion Olivares imprudently followed the methods of Charles I at the time of the _Cortes_ of Santiago-Coru?a. He got the funds, but his action caused great dissatisfaction in the province. Meanwhile the danger of an invasion from France had led to the sending of troops to Catalonia, and constant friction followed their arrival. The imperfect military discipline of that age, together with the annoyances usually inseparable from the presence of armies, resulted in many abuses, which were resented even to the point of armed conflict; as early as 1629, eleven years before the outbreak, there was a bloody encounter between the citizens and the soldiery at Barcelona. The irksome requirement calling upon the towns to lodge the troops was also productive of ill feeling. By law the most that could be demanded was the use of a room, a bed, a table, fire, salt, vinegar, and service, while all else must be paid for. Lack of funds was such, however, that more than this was exacted. In addition to this there came an order from Madrid calling for the imposition of the _quinto_, or fifth, of the revenues of the municipalities. France took advantage of the situation to fan the flame of discontent and to win certain Catalan nobles of the frontier to her side. Nevertheless, when the French invaded the Roussillon in 1639 the Catalans rushed to arms and helped to expel them early in 1640.


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