Catalonia’s national identity has its origins in the Middle Ages, when it emerged as a defined territory and jurisdiction with its own language and culture. Catalan developed in the tenth and eleventh centuries as a Latin-based vernacular differentiated from its neighbours, Castilian and Occitan. In 988 the Count of Barcelona renounced feudal ties to the French king and from the thirteenth century representative institutions developed. From 1137 Catalonia formed part of the Catalan-Aragonese confederacy (often misleadingly referred to as the Kingdom of Aragon). This flourished as a Mediterranean trading power, extending its possessions to the Balearic islands, Sardinia, Sicily and the kingdom of Naples. From 1469 Aragon was united in a dynastic confederation with Castile. In 1516 the crowns were merged to form the kingdom of Spain. Under Charles V (1519–56) this was further linked to the Holy Roman Empire. Within these complex confederal and imperial structures, Catalonia retained its own institutions, notably the Cortes (parliament) and its executive, the Generalitat. It voted its own laws and raised its own taxes and was not obliged to contribute to the monarch’s defence effort, except where Catalonia was directly threatened with attack.
KeywordsCivil Society Basque Country Spanish State Nationalist Movement Associative Life
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