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Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds What were the effects of the industrial revolution in Catalonia? Right in the middle of Tetuan Square there is a stunning monument like a mountain, at the top of which is the effigy of Doctor Robert, who was mayor of Barcelona in 1899, and who can be considered the first Catalanist mayor who took an important decision of political rejection of the legal guidelines that came from Madrid imposing taxes considered unfair. Well, as we have said before, Catalonia entered the nineteenth century in good standing to meet this challenge of the industrial revolution, which had begun in other European countries such as England.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds In period spanning 1830 to1840, at the height of the Carlist civil war, here, in Barcelona, dozens of steam were created, textile factories that worked with coal. And this led to the accumulation of capital thanks to the savings involved and the profit margin that remained for the capitalists and their owners, being very large, and great fortunes emerged emerged that resulted in families such as the Güell, the Arnús, the Montcada, etc who were the origin of a wealthy, rich middle-class who had means to make their opinions heard.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 seconds Now, this took place when in Spain the political regime was based on the liberal constitutional state that, from Cadiz, had been built in a centralized, uniform manner and on the basis of the matrix of the Spanish nation; that is, a nationalism based on the Spanish language, on the Spanish nation and on a project of metamorphosis to transform Castile into Spain. That left this bourgeoisie without any political resources, which is why it had to negotiate with Madrid, with the agrarian and financial and bourgeoisie in the capital, above all with regard to protecting their industries, so that cotton and manufactured products could attain the right conditions to enable them to have these great surpluses.

Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds We can see that with this pact with the Spanish constitutional system, which was a pseudodemocracy based on despotism and the systematic distortion of elections; and as of the Restoration of 1876, based on the alternation of two parties that agreed on the essential and that only had slight minor discrepancies; but they were not sensitive to the needs of Catalonia, finally it could be seen that Catalonia could also lay claim to its own political power.

Skip to 3 minutes and 56 seconds And this process of laying claim is what began as the renaissance (Renaixença), the cultural renaissance, purely cultural, which together with romanticisn, therefore, was based on the memory of what Catalonia had been in the medieval period and on the appearance of the first political concepts such as the Catalanist Union or the Catalan League. All of this, we could say, imposed by the bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie that, it has to be said, also left aside the new social class that arose, protected by these industries, which was the proletariat, that was also excluded from the mechanisms of the Spanish constitutional state, and that had to be organized, from bottom to top, let’s say.

Skip to 4 minutes and 49 seconds Well, at the end of the 19th century, after the defeat of the Spanish state in 1898, with the loss of the colonies of Cuba and the Philippines, it was a huge disaster. The Spanish army abroad lost battle after battle, and to be able to pay the costs of this war very high taxation was imposed on all industrial traders in Catalonia. It was then that the Mayor refused with the closure of the cashboxes. Well, this closure could not be upheld, and finally he himself had to sign the first order of implementation, but the bourgeoisie did not want to pay, and he resigned.

Skip to 5 minutes and 43 seconds Then, after he had died, in 1902, the bourgeoisie dedicated this monument to Doctor Robert, sculpted by Llimona, one of the most important sculptors of Catalan modernism and of the Barcelona public statuary. It depicts the mountain that represents Catalonia, a mountain is breastfeeding its children with fountains coming out from the base base that the Catalan genius wanted to inspire in Doctor Robert what he has to do, from a spiritualist vision, a catholic vision in which there is the statue of the truth -there is a truth- and also a jurist or a person who is showing the book of the Catalan constitutions to a pagès (farmer) It is the idea that Catalonia is being reborn, at the same time linked to the past and claiming its own political power

Industrial revolution in Catalonia

The industrial revolution gave rise to great Catalan family fortunes.

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This video is from the free online course:

Getting to Know Catalonia: An Introduction to the Catalan Language, Culture and Society

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona