Monday, April 23, 2007

"The Spirit of Catalonia", 1.

"The Spirit of Catalonia", editat el 1946, que divulguem pels nostres lectors gràcies a la col·laboració de la família Trueta.

• 1 •
Astride the Pyrenees
book were Pyreneans, Iberians, Celts, Greeks, Romans and
Visigoths. They lived in the southern part of Gaul and northern
part of the Iberian peninsula: that is, the large area between the
Loire in the North, the Ebro in the South, the Alps in the East, and
the Cantabric Sea in the West. Its geographical nucleus was the
town of Narbonne, centre of the Roman administration for more
than five centuries; in the extreme South was the town of Tarraco,
the capital of the Roman province of Tarraconensis. Later, when
the barbarians of the North invaded the decrepit Roman Empire,
they made Toulouse—farther West—their capital.
As for the more remote ancestors of this people, we know that the
races which migrated from Africa, Europe, or Asia always spread
very evenly over the South of Gaul and the North of the Iberian
peninsula. In fact there was no geographical obstacle to their great
invasions; this calls for an explanation, since the reader may think
of the Pyrenees as a barrier between the middle and the southern
parts of the area with which we are concerned. The Pyrenees may
be divided into three sections: the centre of the range which is very
difficult of access, and the two sections at the ends with passes
open even in the coldest winter. Towards the Mediterranean end of
the mountains, there are four routes linking the plains on either
side. Iberians, Greeks, Celts, Carthaginians, Romans and Goths—
none of them were ever checked by the Mediterranean Section of
the Pyrenees; rather is it probable that the passes lured them on to
the plains
The Spirit of Catalonia
beyond. But the middle and most of the western section are
different: throughout history they have acted as a confining wall,
partly because the passes through them are few and difficult, but
principally because of the warlike nature of the Basques, who have
lived there from prehistoric times. The Basques, with the
mountains to aid them, stopped the Romans with that same spirit
with which, many centuries later, they fought Charlemagne's
army—a struggle which inspired the Chanson de Roland and other
poems. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the unique
topography of the Central Pyrenees has preserved to our own day
one of the few prehistoric human stocks in Europe; and it is to the
mountains that the Basques are indebted for the preservation of
many of their ancient characteristics, physical, mental, and moral.
The existence of the Basques all along the high ranges of the
Central-Western Pyrenees is mainly responsible for the clear-cut
difference between Frenchmen and Spaniards of today; as time
passed the Basques of the plains have been strongly influenced by
both, but most of the mountaineers have remained purely Basque.
This varying accessibility of the mountains has conditioned the
history of the Iberian peninsula and has made its inhabitants what
they are today. The simple view—which, like every simple
impression, tends to stick in our minds—that the areas represented
by modern France and Spain are well defined by nature, is
incorrect if applied to the inhabitants. And it is equally misleading
if applied to the climate and other factors of their environment; in
fact, climate and natural surroundings are very similar throughout
both areas north and south of the Pyrenees. Thus, it is only natural
that the older inhabitants of the zone between the rivers Ebro and
Loire and the Alps and the Cantabric Sea had very similar
characteristics. If anything, in ancient times the Ebro was
considered a better boundary than the Pyrenees;
Astride the Pyrenees
it was the frontier between the Carthaginians and the Romans,
and later between Christians and Mohammedans. In later days,
the southern limit of the zone occupied by this people was
displaced to the south of the Moorish kingdoms of Valencia and
Much study has been devoted to the question of Greek influence
in the Western Mediterranean after the foundation of the
Phocaean colonies of Massalia—Marseille (seventh century
B.C.), Rhoda—Roses, Emporion— Empuries, and
Hemeroskopeion—Denia: Greek influence on the later
characteristics of the people was important even if it cannot be
compared to that of the Romans. The term “influence” means not
only the grafting of ideas and habits; it is used here rather in a
biological sense. The Greeks and particularly the Romans
moulded the people of this zone and imparted to them their own
characteristics to such an extent that the latter called a very large
part of that area 'Provincia', as it were par excellence.1 Later it
was named Septimania because the Seventh Legion was stationed
at Béziers, another of the great towns of Roman Gaul.
During the fifth century A.D. these lands were occupied by the
Visigoths, after being ravaged by the Vandals, Cimbris, Teutons,
and Ambrones. Of all the barbarian tribes the Goths—Visigoths
and Ostrogoths—were the most highly civilized, and the only ones
to be Christianized at that early date (though they adhered to the
Arian heresy), and to possess an alphabet adapted to their own
language.2 They were easily absorbed by the more highly
developed indigenous civilization, and after a relatively short
time, in spite of being the ruling aristocracy, they mixed with the
native population; the southern part of the country then changed
its name to 'Gothia', or land of the Goths. The Roman traditions,
laws and administration were so deeply rooted that for a time two
parallel ways of living developed side by side;
The Spirit of Catalonia
on the one hand we find the newly-imported aristocratic manners
of the leading families holding a personal power purely Teutonic
in nature; on the other, a persistency of the old Roman
Communes with their civilian intercourse. But both the new and
the old social systems were rapidly changing with the changing
At the beginning of the eighth century, the stabilization of this
society was interrupted by the sudden arrival of more barbarians,
this time from North Africa. At the first blow they defeated the
Christian army in the south of the Peninsula, and the Saracens
spread, in the course of a year or two, almost to the northern
confines of the Peninsula without meeting any serious opposition
except for the courageous resistance of the people of Mérida. The
feature common to all the previous invasions was then repeated,
but this time there was something more, which had a telling
effect on the making of modern Spain. The population of the
Peninsula behaved in the following ways.
I. The Mediterranean people of the Tarraconensis emigrated en
masse to the north of Septimania as far as the region of central
France called Limousin. The easy crossing of the mountains now
became a source of deep terror. After the Mohammedans had
swamped without a fight almost the whole of the Iberian
peninsula, the old imperial town of Tarraco, proud of her ancient
prestige, tried to resist the invaders. After a bloody struggle it was
taken, levelled to the ground, and its inhabitants massacred. The
same fate befell Manresa, Casserres, Cardona, Ausona and
probably the Greek Empuries further north. This seems to have
been more than the rest of that part of the Peninsula could stand.
Barcelona and Girona were occupied without a blow, and the
towns and villages were abandoned by a great proportion of the
Christian population, who fled to Gaul.3 Only a few people,
probably almost all of them Jews, remained in
Astride the Pyrenees
Barcelona; they were the population which the Christians found
when they recovered the city ninety years later. We have some
knowledge of what these people felt when their city was
reconquered by the Christians: it seems they received the
newcomers as enemies rather than as brothers, which suggest that
very few if any Christians were among them.4
2. The Basque people behaved as they had always done: they
retired to their closed valleys in the mountains and continued the
fight, supported from behind the protecting barrier by the Basques
living on the northern slopes of the Pyrenees. They were never
conquered, and thus they viewed the Moors from a distance, but
with the same vigilance with which, in centuries gone by, they had
viewed the Celts and the Romans.
3. Near the Cantabric coast there runs a long range of high
mountains which orographically are a continuation of the
Pyrenees; and there, people from the south and centre of Spain,
especially aristocratic families, found refuge from the Moors.
With their backs to the sea—an impassable barrier to a people
who were not sailors— they continued the struggle in the
mountains, and at length they began to recover their lost lands in
a slow, southward movement known in Spanish history as the
'Reconquista'. This was completed almost eight centuries later,
when the Moorish kingdom of Granada fell in 1492.
4. The people of the Atlantic coast, it seems, either stayed where
they were or retreated to the north-west corner of the Peninsula.
They were mostly of Celtic origin and at the time of the Teutonic
invasions of the Peninsula they had been conquered by the Sueve
tribes. This region was called Galicia, and from its people on their
southward march there arose, well within the twelfth century, the
Portuguese nation. Even nowadays, Galicians and Portuguese
speak two derivative forms of
The Spirit of Catalonia
the old Gallego language. The affinity of the Portuguese and the
Spaniards has been recognized from early5 times. The diverse
behaviour of these Peninsular peoples at the time of the Moorish
invasion lies at the root of their ensuing diversity, which has
persisted almost unchanged throughout the vicissitudes of history.
The people sheltering in the Cantabric mountains—Castilians or
Spaniards —and those compressed by the Saracens into the northwest
corner of the Peninsula—Galicians and Portuguese —moved
in two parallel lines until they reached the southern limits of the
Peninsula. Thus the central and western parts were recovered by
their original populations or at least by people of the same stock
as the pre-Mohammedan inhabitants. The central people spoke
the rapidly evolving variety of Romance now known as Castilian
or Spanish; the people of the Atlantic lands spoke their Galico-
Portuguese language, as they do now. The Basques descended to
the plains where they had previously lived since prehistoric times,
and stayed there. They had recovered the country where their
ancestors lay buried, and there they have remained, in almost
exactly the same places, to the present day.
The reconquest of the lands deserted by the Christians of the
Mediterranean coast was undertaken by the people of Southern
Gaul. Once across the Pyrenees, the Moors had continued
northwards and taken Narbonne; their advance was at last arrested
when the Frankish Charles Martel, duke of Austrasia, defeated
them. The decisive battle was fought between Poitiers and Tours
in 732. From that day two simultaneous successions of attacks
compelled the Saracens to go back whence they came. One of
these was a movement of the Peninsular peoples only (Portuguese
and Castilian); the other had a Continental origin: Gallic,
Frankish, Gascon (see map on p. 7). This movement liberated
Narbonne in 759, and then, under the supreme command of Louis
'le Debonnaire',
Astride the Pyrenees
King of Aquitaine, and with soldiers from Aquitaine, Gascony,
Septimania, Burgundy and Provence,6 the Christian army crossed
the Pyrenees, and liberated Girona in 785—or shortly before—and
Barcelona in 801. Louis 'le Debonnaire' brought with him to the
newly liberated regions soldiers of the same origin and language,
customs and feelings, being united by a common purpose of a
religious and—if this may be said referring to people of the eighth
century—a patriotic nature. The newly-recovered parts were
placed under a common administration, and lands were given to
the soldiers, at first in a fief for life—benefici, and later in
The Spirit of Catalonia
Families from the northern side of the Pyrenees settled on the
southern slopes and in the valleys, and with them they brought the
ties which connected these lands more than ever before, this
linking again the populations from Nice and Limoges to Barcelona.
The newly-regained country was more than an expansion of
Southern Gaul; it was the melting-pot in which the regional
differences between the peoples of Southern Gaul were fused into
a national type. The language they spoke was closely akin to the
various dialects of Southern Gaul—all of them of a common
origin, and known as Languedoc, Provençal, or Limousin (see map
above); it had the advantage of preserving the most vivid
expressions from the various dialectal forms.7
Astride the Pyrenees
The people of Southern Gaul had, under the Romans and probably
also under the Goths, succeeded in preserving self-government,
their own laws and their own magistrature; Northern Gaul—the
parts later to be occupied by the Franks—did not obtain these
rights before the twelfth century.8 In the eleventh century the
citizens of the towns in which Langue d'Oc was spoken— in the
area commonly called Provence, although it is very much larger
than the Provence of today—constituted a separate social class
distinct from the nobility, from the clergy, and from the serfs. They
were called bourgeois, a term which occurs in the Catalan law
Usatges in 1060, in Carcassonne in 1107, in Montpellier in 1113,
and in Béziers in 1121; the towns nominated consuls for their own
government.9 Soon the bourgeois of the villages formed militias to
assist the armies of the nobility in their wars; this institution,
although modified by centuries, still exists in Catalonia under the
name of sometent. Narbonne was made the religious centre, and
Barcelona became the political pole around which the national
consciousness was forming. Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier and
Toulouse were the complementary focus from which light was
shed over science, art, and politics. Thus it may be said without
exaggeration that by the twelfth century a new civilization had
emerged in Europe, for the first time after the collapse of Roman
society. It had taken more than six hundred years, but this
laborious process of gestation was now completed, and humanity
began to move upwards again. All conditions for a prosperous life
were at hand: among them a fertile land favoured by one of the
mildest and most equable climates in Europe; a geographical
situation which made the country between the Ebro and the Loire
the link joining the North with the South and the Mediterranean
with the Atlantic; numerous wealthy cities, in which society
increasingly resembled the ancient Roman pattern; good
The Spirit of Catalonia
Mohammedan civilization developing in the neighbouring Spanish
State;10 a refined aristocracy which protected the Arts, and a rich
and energetic middle class composed of merchants and sailors,
which provided the sources of the nation's wealth. Commemorating
the Gothic domination on both sides of the Pyrenees, a large part of
that region in which the Langue d'Oc was later spoken was called
Gothia or land of the Goths, and according to some authorities it
was from this that the word Gothalaunia originated. An alternative
view is that it was derived from a settlement of people from the
Gallic Champs Cathalaunis. As early as the beginning of the
twelfth century, the name was used in its modern form, Catalonia,
though then applied almost exclusively to the southern side of the
Pyrenees. Thus Catalonia may be said to be the region where all
the various characteristics of the Provençals became concentrated
and, in many spheres, intensified.11
Unfortunately, the seeds of disintegration were also to be found in
this early Provençal society. Among them was corruption in the
monastic orders and religious hierarchies, which many were
allowed to join not for their conduct, piety or wisdom, but merely
as followers of a profession in which the poor could find
subsistence and the rich a source of power. Another danger for this
young society was the fact that many of the aristocrats soon
neglected the arts of war, preferring patronage of poets and singers
to the exercise of their military prowess against the
Mohammedans. This criticism however does not apply to the
people who were more directly under the rule of the counts of
Barcelona—the Catalans; they had to fight continually in order to
drive back the Saracens from the lands they had conquered at the
beginning of the eighth century. The preponderance of Troubadour
poetry in the northern part of the country over its southern part,
that is, of Provence over
Astride the Pyrenees
Catalonia, is probably due to the fighting kept up by the Catalans.
From the time of the reoccupation by the Christians of the country
from Narbonne to Barcelona, the feudal authority was held by the
kings of the Carolingian dynasty. But in the course of time their
authority dwindled to hardly more than a nominal fief, from which
the earls of Barcelona were freed at the end of the ninth century,
'from Narbonne to Spain', as the Gesta Comitum put it. Some
stigmata of the former dependency still remained in the names of
the coins and the dates of the official documents, which were
inscribed and dated
The Spirit of Catalonia
according to the reign of the kings of France. In 1112, the Count of
Barcelona became Duke of Provence by his marriage with Dolça
the heiress of that dukedom. This new authority of the House of
Barcelona, extending from Nice almost to the Ebro, marked a
further step in the growth of national consciousness among the
people of the Langue d'Oc (see map on p. 11). In books by
Provençal writers on this period, we find definite expressions of
gratitude to the House of Barcelona for the high development of
Provence under its rule.12
The authority of the House of Barcelona over Southern Gaul took a
more definite shape when, in 1137, the Catalan counts became
kings of Aragon by the marriage of Count Ramon Berenguer IV
with Petronella, heiress to the throne of Aragon.13 From that time
onwards, Provençal was a language not only suited for poetry but
generally spoken at a king's court as well. Toulouse, the great city
of the river Garonne and the only centre resisting the hegemony of
Barcelona, more and more came under its influence; at the
beginning of the thirteenth century its dependency was complete,
when the country was ruthlessly attacked by the Northern
Frenchmen, the descendants of the Franks who had conquered
Northern Gaul in the sixth century.14 The terrible struggle between
the people of Northern and of Southern Gaul marked the end of
Provençal nationality and cut asunder for ever the destiny of a
people hitherto joined as one unit: from that time on, the Pyrenees
have remained a frontier.
The superiority in wealth, culture and refinement of the people of
Southern Gaul roused the envy of the warlike and primitive French
of that time;15 but this alone would hardly have sufficed to disrupt
so large a country, without the causes of disintegration already
mentioned. I have stressed that the most powerful of all was the
state of the Church; but the type of remedy the people tried to
apply to it was even worse. Among an intelligent and
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hard-working people of deep religious feeling, the spectacle of
degenerate priests who practised simony and other irregularities
produced a demand for reformation of these abuses. Rome was
unable or unwilling to meet this claim, with the result that heresy
sprang from the criticism and depreciation of the monks and
priests, and also from the economic development of the
communities.16 It was a merchant from Lyons named Valdo who
principally carried the propagation of the heretical doctrine. His
preaching was not in many points in conflict with the Catholic
dogma; but among other striking doctrines he preached that
poverty was essential in order to carry the Christian Apostolate in
accordance with the will of our Saviour; he and his followers also
spread the belief that taking an oath was forbidden by God and
that, in consequence, no man was entitled to swear an oath to
another man. It will easily be realized that the acceptance of this
doctrine would have brought about a collapse of feudal society,
which was founded on the fief of obligation; and that it would
probably have caused very real harm to a society not as yet
sufficiently developed to be supported by the communities only.
The Roman Church fought the heresy with all her might, and
Valdo and his followers were excommunicated. One of the
excommunicated Valdenses called Duran—H. C. Lea, an authority
on that period, calls him the Catalan Duran of Huesca17 —having
repented of his heresy and returned to the fold of the Roman
Church, asked Pope Innocent III for authorization to organize a
new monastic order whose exemplary poverty, morality, and piety
would serve as a model of Catholic life. Duran's idea was not
brought to a practical realization when, in 1207 he first approached
the Roman authorities, but it was accepted and fully developed
some years later when the Order of St. Francis was founded. It was
probably considered out of place at a moment when religious war
was ravaging the lands of
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Southern Gaul; the reformation of monastic abuses may have been
considered more proper when complete victory had been won by
the army of the French Crusaders. In fact the Crusade was
preached against another heresy known by the name of an Occitan
town, Albi, where the new sect had made many proselytes, and
from which the terms of Albigensian and Albigenses were derived
and applied to the new heresy and heretics. This heresy was not
very different from that of the Valdenses, but it seems to have been
more popular in character, deriving some influence from ancient
Oriental Manicheism. Unfortunately, most of the contemporary
documents have been lost, and very little reliable information has
been transmitted to modern times, among it the Cansó de Crozada
of Guillem de Tudela.18 However, we know that the common
people of Provence called the priests of the new religion the 'poor
brethren' and the 'bons homens' —an evidence of the exemplary
role claimed by the heretics.
One of the first steps taken against the ensuing religious anarchy,
which threatened the collapse of Catholic authority, was the
Council of Lombers in 1165, where the nature of the heresy and
the dangers of its propagation were defined.19 The followers of the
new religion seem to have been, in general, illiterate persons who
had no established system of faith; the word Albigenses was
applied to them for the first time during the crusade in 1208; a
contemporary description,20 says that 'the false prophets claim to
follow the life of the Apostles, praying without end, walking
barefoot, and praying on their knees seven times, night and day;
they do not allow the use of money and do not eat meat or drink
wine and are satisfied with simple food; they say that alms have no
moral value because nobody should be allowed to possess material
wealth; they refuse the practice of Holy Communion saying that
Mass is useless, and they declare
Astride the Pyrenees
that they are ready to die and to suffer the most severe punishment
for their beliefs. They claim that they can perform miracles. There
are twelve principals among them under the direction of one whose
name is Pons.' Only when the admonitions of Rome were
neglected, the great Pope and able politician, Innocent III—
Lothario Conti, a native of Rome—decided to intervene in a more
vigorous way by changing the highly placed hierarchies of the
Provençal Catholic Church, as they were suspected of weakness
towards their heretical fellow-countrymen. The Troubadour from
Marseilles, Folquet—the son of a Genoese family and great friend
of St. Dominic and of King Alfonso VIII of Castille—was made
archbishop of Toulouse, and most of the other Church posts were
given to clergy from France. The bishops of Narbonne (Berenguer)
and of Béziers were dismissed and their successors were 'newlyimported'
men.21 St. Dominic then played the decisive part. He was
a Castilian by birth, born in the village of Calaroga in 1170, near
the town of Palencia. His name was Domingo de Guzmán, and he
belonged to a noble family. In 1203, when accompanying the
bishop of Osma, Diego, to France he became convinced that an
urgent remedy had to be applied to the heresy of Southern Gaul; he
went to Rome and was delegated by Pope Innocent III to preach
against the heretics in Provence, where he remained from 1205 to
1215. This preaching is considered to have been the mission of
Dominic's life; he did his best to restrain the heretics from their
errors, but believing he had failed he suggested to the Pope that,
where preaching had been inefficient, repression and blows might
be more effective. The following words are taken from his last
sermon in Provence: 'For many years have I exhorted you in vain
with gentleness, preaching, praying and weeping. But according to
a proverb of my country, "where blessing can accomplish nothing,
blows may avail". We shall
The Spirit of Catalonia
rouse against you princes and prelates, who, alas, will arm nations
and kingdoms against this land . . . and blows will avail where
blessing and gentleness have failed.' St. Dominic's prediction was
to be fulfilled, to the misfortune of the Provençal people.22 From
that time the Order of Dominicans grew out of the little band of
volunteers who had joined Dominic of Guzmán. In 1214 the
nucleus of this institution was formed around Dominic and was
known as the 'Holy Preaching'. In 1215 the archbishop of
Toulouse, Folquet, established Dominic and his followers in a
house and church in Toulouse. Innocent III made the first
arrangements for the foundation of the 'Order of Preachers', but it
was not before Honorius III had succeeded him that the new Order
had full Papal recognition, in 1218. By 1222, the year after
Dominic's death, there were more than five hundred friars and
sixty friaries, divided into eight provinces spread all over Europe.
One peculiarity of the Dominican provinces was that they
followed the old geographic and administrative divisions of the
Roman Empire: that is, Italy, Hispania, Gaul, etc. Lyons, Limoges,
Reims, Metz, Poitiers, Orléans in France; Bologna, Milan,
Florence, Verona, Piacenza and Venice in Italy; Madrid, Palencia,
Seville and Barcelona in the Spanish peninsula; Oxford in
England; Friesach and Prague in the Holy Roman Empire, and
Cracow in Poland had Dominican friaries which as early as 1217
had sprung from the forty friars of Rome and the thirty of Paris.
The original idea of St. Dominic of combining blessings with
blows qualified his order in Spain in later days for the
administration of the Inquisition.23 But side by side with these
intolerant Dominicans, some of the most illuminating minds of the
Middle Ages emerged from this order, among them St. Thomas
Aquinas and Albertus Magnus.
From the national point of view of the Provençal people, the
intervention of St. Dominic and his Order was
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decisive; he gave to Rome, Paris and Toledo, the centres of the
Italian, French and Spanish States (Madrid has now taken the
place of her neighbour, Toledo), the means of coercion against the
intermediate Catalano-Provençal nation. Three centuries later, St.
Dominic's foresight was to be proved again when the complete
extirpation was attempted of the free remains of the Langue d'Oc
people, that is, of the Catalans.
Both the Soldiers of the Cross—the men of France—and the priests
appointed by the Pope or by the Pope's legates, acted with rude
expedition, not only against the heretics but indiscriminately
against all nationals of the civilized Provence, irrespective of age,
sex, or religion. The city of Béziers was defended by its
inhabitants; after being taken by the Crusaders, it was completely
demolished and the whole population, heretic and Catholic alike,
was massacred. Carcassonne, too, suffered terribly, and after it had
fallen into the hands of the French, the Catalan King Pere II
decided to intervene in order to stop the progress of the French
across his country. Pere II had shortly before helped to defeat the
terrible Almohades from Africa, who were a serious threat to the
Christian Kingdoms of Spain after the Moorish defeat of the
Castilian army of Alfonso VIII at Alarcos, in 1195. At the battle
of 'las Navas de Tolosa' in 1212, the combined armies of the
Basques under the command of their king, Sancho the Strong, the
Castilians under Alfonso VIII, and the Catalans and Aragonese
under Pere II, completely annihilated the large Moorish army; this
victory marked the beginning of the Mohammedans decline, from
which they never recovered.
King Pere, knowing that the invasion of his country bore only a
remote relation to the extirpation of an heresy but a very close
connexion with the imperialistic ambitions of the French,
summoned a large army and went to the help of Toulouse. In
Muret, a few miles from Toulouse,
The Spirit of Catalonia
King Pere's army was completely defeated by the small army of the
Crusaders under the command of Simon de Montfort (1213), and
in the middle of the fighting the King was killed. The disaster of
Muret marked the beginning of the partition of the Occitan lands
into two parts under two separate powers, French and Catalan for
some centuries and French and Spanish later. The Catalan
hegemony in Southern Gaul began to decline until, less than fifty
years later, the son of Pere II, King James I, signed the
renunciation of his rights to the lands of Southern Gaul, in favour
of the House of France. The treaty of Corbeil, signed in 1258, gave
France the shape it has preserved through history. It also made
Catalonia what it is. From those days, the common interests of the
now divided people have many times been opposed by the
conflicting ambitions of Catalonia and France; the Provençals, as
rivals of the Catalans, were encouraged by France to inhibit
Catalan expansion. But then, as now, Provençals and Catalans had
a similar outlook derived from their common origin and similar
environment. King Jaume I—called 'the Conqueror' because of his
military successes—was more than any of his predecessors a pure
type of the Provençal race. Son of the Catalan Pere II—known as
the Catholic, in spite of his support of the heretics—and of Maria,
Countess of Montpellier, King Jaume was born in his mother's city.
For that reason Montpellier was the only city which remained in
Catalan hands up to the middle of the next century. This also
explains why Montpellier was the university town of the Catalans
and why its incorporation into France in 1349 marked the end of
the great period of that model of a medieval university. The
superiority of Paris reduced Montpellier, in less than fifty years, to
the provincial condition in which it has since remained.

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