Skip to 0 minutes and 23 secondsHow did Catalonia participate in the Crown of Aragon and the Spanish universal empire?

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 secondsTo answer this question, we have to take into account a before and an after I, starting from the after, would pay great attention to a monument that we have here in Barcelona, namely the Sagrada Família. Why? Because the Catalan family was to play a very important role in this context Well, the dividing line in the history of Catalonia, which is part of this answer, is the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, which ended the War of Succession to the Hispanic Universal Monarchy, which was vacant after the death of Carlos II in 1700.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 secondsAnd also a line, in this context, a dividing line, is the military occupation by the Bourbon troops after the onslaught of Barcelona and of the whole Principality of Catalonia during decades. The Crown of Aragon, which began in the 12th century, was a union of the kingdoms and lands of Aragon and Catalonia at first, based on a matrimony, that of the count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer, to the daughter of the King of Aragon, Petronilla, in 1134, the betrothal, and the marriage a few years later. This matrimonial union was transformed into a personal union when the son of this marriage, Alfonso the Chaste, began to reign in the second half of the 12th century.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsThis personal alliance turned into territorial alliance when, in the late 13th century, king Alfonso the Liberal was forced to swear the indissoluble union, theoretically, of the territories that made up these kingdoms and lands which, at that time, were, in addition to Aragon and Catalonia, the territories of the kingdom of Valencia, and of the Kingdom of Majorca. These would be the territories of the Crown of Aragon; then there would be an expansion towards Sardinia, to Sicily, to Naples, which would also be incorporated. In this territorial alliance there would be a universal jurisdiction in which the monarch would have some powers and functions in certain matters, such as defence, foreign affairs and justice;

Skip to 3 minutes and 17 secondsbut for the rest, he was compatible: there was a symbiotic relationship with the general jurisdictio of each of the regions of Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia, Mallorca, that preserved their own legal system and their law and their institutions, so that they complemented each other.

Skip to 3 minutes and 38 secondsStrength through unity: this is the sense of this union of the Crown of Aragon, a territorial union. Now, at the end of the 15th century, with the marriage of the Catholic kings there would be a union —this time of a personal, not a territorial nature— between the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile. The Crown of Castile, at that time, was at the head of a Hispanic Universal Empire, but which, paradoxically, did not force the standardization of political power nor centralization; rather it respected the existing diversity and kept the Crown of Aragon with its valid political constitution it had throughout this period until, as I said, 1713.

Skip to 4 minutes and 37 secondsFrom then on, from the War of Succession, Utrecht saw the sharing out of the territories of the Spanish Universal Empire among the European powers. The Crown of Aragon and also Catalonia were adjudicated to Felipe V, the Bourbon monarch, and then, he did decide to do away with the general Catalan jurisdiction and incorporate and assimilate Catalonia into Castile, in such a way that through the Nueva Planta Decree (1715-1716) he abolished all public law and political institutions of Catalonia and of the Crown of Aragon, which disappeared in 1707, which was the body that represented the Crown before the King Well, from then on, with the Nueva Planta Decree. Catalonia preserved only its private, criminal and procedural laws.

Skip to 5 minutes and 46 secondsBut that’s quite something because, precisely through private law, we see how the social structures, such as the family structure or the family institution would prove crucial for economic recovery, for the reconstruction of society and for the endurance of private Catalan law. Through Catalan farms, families were able to perpetuate themselves through the inheritance law, with the figure of the heir and the system of premarital agreements It was the lineages that were linked to wealth that required preserving and increasing generation after generation. The collateral effect was that the children who were excluded from it, since there was a very small legitimate succession of a quarter of the property, and in addition the excluded

Skip to 6 minutes and 51 secondschildren could be given money in cash by the inheritor, had to look for a living elsewhere, either in the Church or in trade and industry, which helped— let’s say —to maintain a smooth flow between the regions, the capitals and the towns where this trade and industry were developing, producing an increase in population, an increase in wealth throughout the 18th century, which allowed during the 19th century being in very good stead to join the industrial revolution.

Catalonia in the Crown of Aragon

The marriages of two counts led to the union of the Kingdom of Aragon and Catalonia.

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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