Saturday, May 05, 2007

Scotland the next state in Europe ! ! !

The Spirit of Catalonia

• 2 •
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social, political and military achievements of the Languedoc
people between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. I wish rather to
show the contribution made by that people to the development of
European cultural life, and the part it thus played in building up the
inner structure of our modern civilization.
As in all other European countries up to the twelfth century,
learning was confined to monastic centres, the most eminent being
the Benedictine monastery of Ripoll on the southern slopes of the
Pyrenees, consecrated in 888 at the suggestion of the count of
Barcelona, Jofre. There a group of learned monks were devoting
their time to the translation of Arabic manuscripts, with a special
interest in mathematical works. It was there that the monk
Gerbert—later Pope Sylvester II—spent three years, preparing his
great work on mathematics, and it is thought that it was the bishop
of Barcelona, Llobet, who translated for him the work of
Massahalla on the Astrolabe.1
The Benedictines of Ripoll had one of the first libraries of the Dark
Ages of which we know. This was a small number of books if we
compare it to the library which the Arabs had in Cordova, but
nevertheless one of the earliest Christian collections of scientific
works before the beginning of the renaissance of learning. The
titles are known to us because the catalogue has been preserved.2
At the close of the tenth century 240 volumes meant a very rich
scientific library, considering the depths of barbarism into which
Europe had relapsed. Through
The Spirit of Catalonia
Ripoll some part of the ancient Greek scientific tradition, preserved
by the Spanish Mohammedans, was reintroduced into Europe.
Shortly before the consecration of Santa Maria de Ripoll, medical
teaching was started in the town of Montpellier. There, the
progressive medical knowledge of the Arabs and Jews of the
neighbouring Spanish State had given rise to a cultural centre of
Christians wishing to acquire the knowledge of the nearby
physicians.3 The great medical men of Mohammedan religion,
Averroes, Avicenna, Rhases, Avenpace, were made known to the
students of Montpellier, and thence their influence spread to the
heart of Occidental Europe. The fame of its medical men made this
town a great centre for medical treatment. Jaffé has published a
medical document signed in Montpellier in 11374 when Bishop
Adelbert of Mainz visited the school of Montpellier to listen to its
medical lectures. St. Bernard, in a well-known letter, tells of the
archbishop of Lyons who, on his way to Rome in 1153, fell ill and
requested to be transported to Montpellier, 'where he spent on the
physicians the money he had and that which he had not'.5 In
January 1181, William VIII, count of Montpellier, gave
authorization for any local or foreign doctor to teach medicine. In
1220 Cardinal Conrad granted a university charter to the Medical
Schools of Montpellier, saying in the preface to this document that
'for a very long time the profession of medical science has been
flourishing with great glory in Montpellier, from which it has
expanded its fruits over the world'.6 This is the text of the original
foundation charter of the University of Montpellier; it was
confirmed in 1239 by Pope Gregory IX. Among the great men of
this school, Ramon Lull and Arnau de Vilanova were the
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greatest in the thirteenth century, and Henry de Mondeville and
Guy de Chauliac in the fourteenth. Early in the fourteenth century,
Mondeville, a Norman by origin, taught in Montpellier the
Hippocratic belief in the healing power of Nature, but
unfortunately his influence was impeded by his own pupil Guy de
Chauliac, who in some respects made surgery overstep its right
path. During Chauliac's lifetime, Montpellier was still the
university town of the Catalans, and this explains why French
historians, such as Desbarreaux Bernard,7 believe that Guy wrote
his 'Grand Surgery' in Provençal or Catalan, and not in Latin as is
commonly assumed. Desbarreaux's conviction is founded on the
Vatican Manuscript,8 contemporary with Chauliac and written in
Catalan, which is probably the most ancient existing manuscript of
Guy de Chauliac's great book.
In 1349 the town of Montpellier was annexed to the crown of
France by King Philip VI. This had been expected to happen for
many years, and already in 1300 a new Catalan university had been
organized in Lleida, better known to modern foreign scholars by its
Castilian name of Lérida. Thus, Guy de Chauliac may be
considered the last great man to have been produced by that onetime
famous medical centre. He was a pupil of the 'medicus' of
Toulouse, Nicolau Català, as he himself tells us in his Inventari o
Collectori en la part Cirurgical de Medicina, and later he learned
medicine and astrology, if not directly from Arnau de Vilanova as
Nicaise thinks,9 at least from what remained of Vilanova's school.
When Arnau de Vilanova died in 1311, Chauliac was a mere boy
of twelve or fourteen years.
Toulouse may be regarded as another cultural centre of the
Provençal people, although in this case the whole
The Spirit of Catalonia
country had contributed, in varying degrees, to its development. In
the poetry of the troubadours human language proved once again
capable of expressing higher feelings, emotions and passions, as in
forgotten times. The idiom employed was no other than was used
in ordinary everyday life, but it was polished and amplified by the
poets. We still have evidence of the noble use of the common
language in the middle of the barbarous tenth century, for instance
the Provençal translation of the Latin poem of Boethius. This poem
has served as a basis for the studies of Older Provençal, together
with the religious poems of the Valdenses or Vaudois of the
eleventh century, and among many others from the twelfth century
the epitaph on the tomb of Count Bernard, which is believed to
date from the early part of it.10 Examining the most ancient of these
writings, one is surprised that, thoughout the thousand years which
have since elapsed, the forms of the Catalan language should have
undergone such small changes. The following few lines, taken
from the Boethius poem, from the Valdense poems, and from the
epitaph on Count Bernard may serve as examples of the surviving
power of the language:
Molt fort blasmava Boecis sos amigs
No credet Deu le nostre creador
Las mias musas qui an perdut lo cant ....
Breoment es reconta en aquesta Lyczon
De las tres leys que Dio donec al mon.
La premiera ley demostra a qui a sen ni raczon ....
(La Nobla Llyczon)
Assi jai lo Coms En Bernat
Fiel credeire al sang sacrat
Que semper pros hom es estat
Preguem la divina bondat
Qu'aquela fi que lo tuat
Posqua son aima aver salvat.
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Of the latter lines, only two words—tuat, 'killed' and credeire,
'believer'—are not current in modern Catalan; all the rest are in
common use, a few of them changed by one or two letters.
In the twelfth century, the Provençal tongue was so well developed
that, as early as the close of that century or the beginning of the
next, two grammars of Provençal had been written, the Donat
Provençal, probably a work of the troubadour Huguet Faidit, and
the Dreita manera de trobar of the Catalan Ramon Vidal de
Besalú, of whom Milà i Fontanals says that he was not only a good
grammarian but also a great man of letters and a critic in the
modern sense of the word.11 Thus we have, at the beginning of the
thirteenth century, defined and specified forms of expression, long
before French, Italian, Spanish, or English had any similar rules.
Ramon Vidal says that 'in all the countries of our tongue, the songs
in Lemousin enjoy a greater authority than those of any other
language', and thus introduced for the first time the name of that
region where Provençal was spoken, as a synonym of Provençal or
Catalan; in Spain, the inaccurate use of the term Lemosín for the
Catalan tongue is common even nowadays.
Whatever name we may give it, the fact remains that this language
in its early maturity was the first of the new Romance tongues to
give form and means of expression to the moods, fancies, feelings
and passions of the human mind of the Dark Ages. Bernard de
Ventadour, Raimon de Miravel, Bertrand de Born, Gaucem Faidit,
Folquet de Marseille, Alfons King of Aragon, Guillem de Bergadà
and Cerverí de Girona were among the most famous troubadours
of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; their birthplaces are spread
over the whole of the area where Provençal was spoken. In later
days, Dante and Petrarch were followers of the troubadours; it
would be difficult to understand the whole value of their poetry
The Spirit of Catalonia
without knowing how much they were influenced by the poetry of
Provence. The popularity of Provençal in the days before Dante
was born was so great that St. Francis of Assisi sang his songs not
in his native Italian tongue but in pure Provençal, when singing
together with his companions the birds he began his new
evangelization through the power of love.12
It would be out of place to write here at length of the poems of the
troubadours; but an exception may be made of Bernard de
Ventadour, not only because of the high merits of his verse, but
chiefly because of his stay in England, when he accompanied
thither Queen Eleanor, the wife of Henry II. In 1152, Ventadour
went to Poitiers where Countess Eleanor of Aquitaine, recently
become Queen of England, was waiting to start on her royal
journey to her new home. Ventadour joined her court and was
present at the coronation of Henry in Westminster. He remained in
England for four years, living most of the time at the Royal Palace
of Bermondsey on the south bank of the Thames. During the first
two years of this period, he did not write a single poem; both in the
climate and in the society surrounding him he seems to have found
the change too great to keep his inspiration untouched. But during
the latter two years of his stay he wrote on the life of the England
of his time, an England seen through the eyes of a refined writer
and poet come from a country which was already moving towards
a superior conception of life.
It has been stated that society in the twelfth century was still in the
crude stage characteristic of the beginning of civilization; it was
due to Bernard de Ventadour and his Provençal fellow poets that
the world realized the distinction between love and lust, 'a
distinction which remained largely theoretical until some time
later, when nature made it a reality'.13 The troubadours were more
concerned with man than with mankind. Their unsen25
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suous love of flowers, birds and ladies contrasts very deeply with
that of preceding generations of our western ancestors. The
troubadours of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries laid the
foundation stone on which every newly-rising national community
of Western Europe was to build the structure both of its poetical
idiom and of its poetic inspiration. It would be an exaggeration to
say with Raynouard14 that Provençal—or as he calls it, Romane—
was for a time universally spoken in the Romanized lands; but it
seems certain that from Dante15 and Petrarch18 to Chaucer, as from
Joinville to Alfonso X of Castile, all the great writers and poets of
Western Europe were profoundly influenced by the words of the
Provençal poets. The kings of England also used this language; of
Richard the Lion-Heart, the following famous lines have been
handed down to us:
Ja nuls hom pres non dira sa razon,
Adrechament, si com hom dolens non;
Mas per conort deu hom farie canson,
Pro n'ai d'amics mas paure son lur don,
Ancta lur es si per ma rezenson,
Soi sai dos yvers pres ....
In 1060 the Count of Barcelona, Ramon Berenguer I, called
together his most notable subjects that they might provide his
country with a written law. This decision, unprecedented at that
time, must be considered the first determined effort to settle the
unstable society of the eleventh century under reasonable juridical
and moral principles. The work was so well done that the
codification known by the name of Usatges (Usualia) has since
been the basic law of the Catalan people, adapted, in successive
times, to new conditions. The first article of the old Usatges gives
information on the type of assembly
The Spirit of Catalonia
which promulgated the law. Nineteen men met under the
chairmanship of the Count: three viscounts, thirteen lords, and
three jurists. They worked together until the first compilation was
promulgated by the Count; though we know that this assembly in
itself was not a parliament, yet the basis and spirit of the future
Catalan Corts—or Parliament—were present in the law as it has
been in the assembly. The word Usatges makes it clear that the
code was a selection of rules established by custom, which those
leading persons considered worthy of preservation and
enforcement by written law. Among the most remarkable points
were the recognition of equality in the civilian rights of burgesses
and knights and the introduction of the humanitarian
Constitutiones Pacis et Treugae (Constitutions of Peace and Truce)
against the permanent state of violence that characterized the Dark
Ages. This 'Peace and Truce' was for the first time established by
the Church in Catalonia at the Council of Tologes (Rosselló) in
1041 and was afterwards also accepted by the majority of other
western nations;17 and as it had been promulgated first of all by the
Church of Catalonia, so the Catalan civil law was also the first to
enforce the Pax Dei and the Treuga Dei, whose moderating
influence on the customs of the times was one of the main causes
of the end of the Dark Ages.
It has been said of the Usatges that it is difficult to find another
juridical document of the Middle Ages which combines such high
dignity and such great sense of responsibility.18 Here in the middle
of the eleventh century, the legislative potestas, the juridical source
of power, the executive authority, the military power and the duties
of the Prince (referring particularly to the protection of, and fidelity
towards, his people of all ranks, from the nobleman to the most
humble citizen), had already been established in written law. The
Usatges laid down, one hundred and fifty years before the Magna
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Charta of King John, the foundation stone of an edifice which,
when completed in the thirteenth century, was to be the first
democratic structure of Europe. It seems an act of justice to
mention, together with the name of the Count of Barcelona who
promulgated the law, two other names, Count Ermengol of Urgell,
of the house so intimately linked with the past of Catalonia, and
Ponç Bonfill March the jurist, who between them gave the Usatges
their form. At that time Castile had also granted her burgesses
great freedom.
The grandson of Count Ramon Berenguer I gave a great impulse to
the development of the growing Catalan nationality. Ramon
Berenguer III was a good soldier and statesman in the modern
sense of the word. He expanded the boundaries of Catalonia to the
west by conquering from the Moors the town of Balaguer, and he
obtained the vassalage of the Balearic islands from the Saracens.
An even greater achievement was the extension of the sovereignty
of his house over Provence. As with all good princes of the preparliamentary
epoch, the best evidence of his statesmanship was
the selection of his private counsellor; the man Berenguer chose
was without doubt the best in the country. He was Olaguer, later
Archbishop of Tarragona, a model of Christianity (he has been
canonized by the Catholic Church); he was, besides, a man of
remarkable good sense, most suited to advise his Prince on
political and diplomatic matters. To Olaguer is due the restoration
of the old Metropolitan See of Tarragona; it was made equal to the
See of Narbonne, which had been for more than three centuries the
religious centre of the Provençal people.
Olaguer combined high moral virtues and deep religious faith with
a clear understanding of practical matters.
The Spirit of Catalonia
During his lifetime—in 1115—Catalans contributed to the first
great naval expedition organized against the Moorish kingdom of
Majorca in the Balearic Isles. Pope Pascal II preached a crusade,
and Pisans and Catalans joined to raise a navy of five hundred
ships under the leadership of Count Ramon Berenguer III. The
contemporary poem written by the 'Diacon of Pisa'19 calls Ramon
Berenguer III Dux Cataloniae, and nation Pyreneae his country.
As three centuries before, Provençals came in great numbers: the
Lord of Montpellier, the Viscount of Narbonne, the Lord of
Arles, the Barons of Rosselló, Béziers, Nimes and so on, led their
men under Ramon Berenguer III. From then up to the fourteenth
century, there were always men of Southern Gaul fighting side by
side with the Catalans in their conquest of new lands.
In 1127, Olaguer was charged by the Count of Barcelona to
negotiate the first commercial treaty between Genoa and
Catalonia. By this treaty, Count Ramon Berenguer III took under
his protection all Genoese ships, property and persons sailing into
the ports from Nice to Tortosa; the Genoese granted similar
advantages to the Provençal-Catalan people. For every ship
entering a Catalan harbour Genoa paid ten moravetins. We may
repeat that this aspect of the great Catalan Churchman St.
Olaguer deserves to be stressed, for from Olaguer to Lluis Vives
and down to the modern Balmes, we shall find in all outstanding
Catalans the same combination of lofty human ideals with
practical common-sense. It may, in fact, be said to be the most
striking characteristic of the Catalan people as a whole. By their
over-great fidelity to idealistic convictions, the Catalans have
continued through the centuries as an explosive and sentimental
people whose sudden and violent reactions have on occasion
caused surprise elsewhere; on the other hand, it must be ascribed
to the common-sense of the Catalans
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that they have survived the most adverse historical conditions so
that to-day, after having lost for more than two centuries the last
remains of their national existence, they nevertheless show in no
lesser degree than before the same twofold national qualities.
This may also explain why modern Catalonia has produced so
many great artists simultaneously with an advanced industrial
In Provence, the manifestations of that same mentality persisted
for several centuries in spite of the initial harsh domination of the
French; thus, when the French Minister Colbert established
industrial centres in the north of France in the seventeenth
century, he was merely introducing in the north an old tradition of
the south; as early as the beginning of the fifteenth century no
fewer than twenty various factory centres were flourishing in
Provence.20 After the reign of Louis XIV, and even more after the
French Revolution, the concentration of economic power in the
north reduced Provence to an almost exclusively agricultural
country, with the exception of Marseilles and a few other places.
The other aspect of the Provençal character is eloquently
demonstrated by the many architectural and sculptural monuments
which still exist, especially by old monasteries and churches of
Romanesque style. It was in the area occupied by the peoples of
Provençal tongue that this Romanesque art flourished; and the
persistence of artistic creative power may be proved by the fact
that Cézanne and Mistral were Provençals. Centuries later, when
the Catalan counties of Rosselló and Cerdanya had been
incorporated into France, the Catalan genius gave, as an example
of the perpetuation of its ancestral characteristics, two great men
to France, Joffre, the Marshal, and Maillol, the sculptor.
During these five centuries the vernacular language had taken
shape and been progressively polished. The boundaries of the
region occupied by the Provençal people were well defined and
their social, political, juridical and artistic development had
surpassed anything produced by the other Western people of
Europe in the early Middle Ages. Shortly before the end of this
period, the sovereignty of the House of Barcelona was recognized
by the feudal nobles of Provence. From Nice to Tortosa the same
flag was flying: four red bars on a golden field. This was originally
the ensign of the counts of Barcelona; later, it became the flag of
Catalonia, Provence, Aragon, and of all the peoples of Catalan
origin.21 From those times, too, dates the adoption of St. George as
the patron saint of the Catalans. In 985, Barcelona was raided and
taken by the Moors, who in their turn defended the town against
the Catalan army of Count Borrell. During this siege of Barcelona,
Count Borrell prayed for divine aid and invoked the chivalrous
figure of St. George of Cappadocia, who—so tradition maintains—
appeared to the Christian army and led it to victory. After
recovering the town, Count Borrell adopted St. George's Cross as
the emblem of Barcelona, and ever since, for close on a thousand
years, St. George has been the symbolic guide of the national spirit
of Catalonia.
In 1148 a Genoese army helped the Catalans of Ramon
Berenguer IV to expel the Saracens from the town of Tortosa; the
Genoese fought under the flag of Barcelona, and after the conquest
of Tortosa Ramon Berenguer IV is said to have bequeathed to the
Genoese the St. George's Cross of Barcelona.22 In 1198, the
Genoese are believed to have followed the new flag for the first
time.23 In the year 1200, King Pere II founded the military order of
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George of Alfama—an advanced post situated in the no-man'sland
between Christians and Moslems in Southern Catalonia.2*
During the conquest of Valencia in 1238 Jaume I the Conqueror,
with two of the greatest noblemen of the Christian army, En
Guillem d'Aguiló and En Guillem d'Entença, defeated the Moors
by the guidance of the sainted hero.26 After the fall of the town of
Valencia, King Jaume, having dedicated the cathedral to the
Virgin Mary, ordered the first church of the town to be offered to
the veneration of St. George. The chapel of the Generalitat
(Government House) in Barcelona is also dedicated to the spiritual
protector of the Catalans. In 1348 Valencia declared St. George's
day a national feast; Majorca followed that example in 1407 and
Barcelona in 1456.
At a time when devotion to St. George was particularly strong in
Catalonia—for he had been chosen as protector of the Catalan
armies in their fight against the Moors— St. Iago (St. James) was
entrusted with a similar mission on the other side of the Iberian
peninsula. From the ninth century (the time of Alfonso III of
Asturias) the belief that the body of St. Iago had been found in
Galicia gave great spiritual authority to this saint, who for the
Portuguese-Castilian soldiers was what St. George was for the
During the centuries in which the destinies of Provence and
Catalonia were united under the rule of the Catalan princes, a pact
was signed in Cazorla—in 1179—between Alfonso VIII of Castile
and Alfons II of Aragon, by which spheres of expansion into
regions of the Peninsula still held by the Moslems were
determined. The Moorish kingdoms of Valencia and Denia,
immediately south of the area already occupied by the Catalans,
was to be a zone of Catalan dominion, whereas the Saracen
kingdom of Murcia, immediately south of the port of Biar, was to
be an area of Castilian conquest. This pact was a rectifi32
The Spirit of Catalonia
cation of a former one signed by Ramon Berenguer IV and Alfonso
VII of Castile—in Tudilén, in 1151—by which Murcia was
hypothetically awarded to Catalonia. We do not know the reason
which made Alfons II of Aragon agree to the alteration of the
Tudilén agreement, an alteration by which he renounced the
kingdom of Murcia and therefore lost a substantial territory, which
in the course of time might have become Catalan. The most
probable explanation is that Alfons was, in a way, a King of the
Pyrenees—he has been called Emperor of those mountains28—with
vast lands extending from the plains of Piedmont in Italy where the
Marquis of Busca recognized the sovereignty of the Catalan
dynasty in the time of Alfons II27 to not far from the coast of the
Cantabric Sea. He may therefore have considered sufficient an
expansion to the south of the Pyrenees which already extended as
far as the whole length of England. Another contributory factor
may have been the personal influence of Alfons' wife, Sancha of
Castile, an aunt of King Alfonso VIII of Castile. This treaty of
Cazorla and its loyal fulfilment by the immediate successors of
King Alfons II explain the relatively reduced Peninsular area
which has Catalan as its native tongue. Taken in conjunction with
the recognition in 1143, by Alfonso VII of Castile, of the
independent kingdom of Portugal in the west, the treaty decided
the permanent settlement of the various Peninsular peoples as it
has remained up to the present.
Another outstanding development of this period has already been
mentioned—the enthronement, as Kings of Aragon of the Counts
of Barcelona. From then on to the sixteenth century, all enterprises
abroad of the Catalans were to bear the highest title their prince
possessed, that is, King of Aragon. But the flag, the men, the
language and the spirit were the same as before— Catalan.
Marching into battle, the Catalan soldiers—
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those rough combatants of Sicily, Greece, Sardinia and Naples—
shouted the two words which symbolized both their spiritual and
their patriotic faith: 'Per Sant Jordi i Aragó' (For St. George and
Aragon). Aragon to them was not the poor and thinly populated
accretion of territory ruled by the Catalan kings, it was their own
country and traditions. And they proclaimed it in Catalan. At the
close of that period, even men from the Castilian part of Aragon
called themselves Catalans.28
Provençal elements, both directly from Provence and from
Catalonia, had contributed to the making of the original kingdom
of Aragon; this made the progress of Catalanization feasible and
constant. Moreover, the Catalan authorities, eager to carry on
this process of unification, carefully avoided friction with the
Aragonese. King Jaume I the Conqueror was said to have broken
the fetters which oppressed aristocratic and tradition-bound
Aragon.29 It was mainly due to the personal intervention of Vidal
de Canyelles, Catalan bishop of Huesca, that Aragon became
accessible to the Continental ideas which the Catalans had brought
from Provence.30 In every place where the armies of the Kings of
Aragon settled, Catalan was spoken—in the Balearic islands,
Valencia, and later in the parts of Sicily and Sardinia given them
for colonization.31 At the beginning of the Aragonese-Catalan
union, the Aragonese contribution to the common expansion
beyond the sea was very small; in fact, they had refused to take any
part in the expedition to Majorca in 1229, just as, years later, they
again opposed the conquest of Sicily, in 1282. But once the latter
expedition was on its way the Aragonese joined the Catalans and
fought side by side with them as people of a single nation. The
Catalans introduced into Aragon the civic dignity called Ciutadà
honrat (Honourable Citizenship) which was first awarded in
Catalonia and later introduced in Aragon and in the parts where the
Catalans settled.
The Spirit of Catalonia
Ciutadà honrat was a nobiliary title qualifying its owners to take
seats with the men of noble rank.32
Thanks to the advanced state of their industries, the Catalans had
many advantages, military and other. The old Catalan wrought
iron-work had acquired worldwide fame and was still used in many
parts of Europe; the great monumental grilles of Notre Dame of
Paris were made in 1250 by two craftsmen from Barcelona, Sunyol
and Blay, and in armour we find new devices used by the Catalans
years before they were applied by any other people in Europe.33
Towards the end of these five centuries of a destiny shared with
Provence, the name Catalan is found referring to all peoples of
Provençal tongue. Thus, the Provençal troubadour, Albert de
Sisteron, says: "Tell me which are better, French or Catalans, and
place me among the Catalans, the Gascons, Provençals, Limousins,
Auvergnats and Viennois.'3* In Marseilles, a typical Provençal
song is called 'Catalan song'.35 And modern Provençal writers use
'Catalan' as a synonym for the Provençal tongue.36
The activities of the Catalans on the seas are as old as their history.
The ancient Barcelona of pre-Christian times had dedicated a
temple to Neptune. When the national history of Catalonia began,
we find Ermengol, Count of Empuries, defeating a Saracen
squadron on the sea near the Balearic Isles, sinking many ships;
this happened in the ninth century. Later, Count Ramon Berenguer
armed a powerful fleet in 1115, and together with the Pisans
attacked and subdued Majorca in the following year (see p. 28). In
1118, the same Count crossed the Mediterranean, paying a visit to
Genoa and Pisa. This appears to have been the first exhibition of
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growing Catalan power; the contemporary biographer of St.
Olaguer tells us that the armament of this fleet was magnificent
and the number of sailors great.
In 1147, Ramon Berenguer IV in alliance with the Genoese
assaulted the town of Almería held by the Moors of Southern
Spain; he surrounded the town and attacked it from the sea. In the
meantime, the Saracens recovered Majorca; but in the time of King
Jaume I, under the leadership of Admiral Ramon de Plegamans,
the island was again invaded and finally retaken in 1229. When the
Moorish kingdom of Valencia was conquered, the same king
charged the people of Barcelona with the naval expedition; they
went with a great number of ships, as is related in the Chronicle of
Desclot. Since then, the maritime power of the Catalans continued
to grow, until they became the leading sea-power of the Western
World, a position they held from the middle of the thirteenth
century to the end of the fifteenth.

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