Popular Resistance in Catalonia: Somatens and Miquelets, 1808–14

  • Antonio Moliner Prada


A strongly independent-minded region with long traditions of political, judicial and cultural autonomy, Catalonia entered the nineteenth century with a proud record of self-defence that was above all founded on the idea of the ‘people-in-arms’. Thus, at the heart of Catalan military organization lay two forces which were in essence composed of armed civilians. Of these the first were the miquelets — volunteers contracted in time of war for a certain period of time for permanent service on a province-wide basis who drew their name from the followers of the sixteenth-century Catalan solider of fortune, Miquel de Prats. As for the second, it consisted of the somatens — men raised by ballot as a homeguard for service in their own localities alone who were expected always to be on the qui vive against danger (hence the name, somatén being a contraction of som atent — literally, ‘be alert’). The heart and soul of the war effort in the Catalan revolt of the 1640s and the later struggle against Phillip V, these forces had for obvious reasons disappeared for most of the eighteenth century. However, the special circumstances thrown up by the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars led to their revival. In the so-called guerra gran — the war against the Convention of 1793–95 — for example, the somatén reappeared, but we are here concerned only with the guerra del francés of 1808–14.


Irregular Force Parish Priest Guerrilla Band Imperial Troop Regular Army 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Antonio Moliner Prada

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