Thursday, February 20, 2014

War, Repression, and Exile








The Spanish War of Succession was an international conflict. The uprising of the Catalans in 1705 against Philip V was due to a combination of factors. On the one hand, there were serious disputes concerning the quartering of soldiers in private homes, the taxes raised to support the army, and control of the draft. To this, it is necessary to add the authoritarian behavior of Viceroy Velasco, the Treaty of Genoa of 1705, the people’s dislike to all things French, and the will to preserve the Catalan constitution.

The september 11th,1714 defeat was followed by severe repression on Catalan citizens in the political, economic, and cultural realms. The repression on individuals took place against the military that fought against Philip V, but also against civilians in positions of power, as well as the commoners. This repression materialized in executions and on imprisonments. This repression meant the building of a military fortress right in the place where some 900 houses in the Ribera neighborhood would be destroyed in 1715.

The repression against the military and civilians began in mid-September 1714, with the imprisonment of 20 officers who had fought to defend Barcelona. It went on in mid-October with another contingent of prisoners who were destined to prisons in Alicante, La Coruña, Hondarribia, Pamplona, and others. Thus the first promises made to Catalans were not kept.

Political repression consisted in the abolition of the Consell de Cent, the Coronela of Barcelona (a militia organized by the guilds), the Generalitat of Catalonia, the Catalan Courts, and the abolition of the figure of the Viceroy. In their place, the Superior Council of Justice and Government was created and a new political order with the Decret de Nova Planta was introduced. Among other measures it was compulsory to hand over fire arms to the authorities.

The economic repression translated into new taxes. The cultural repression tried to banish Catalonia’s own language, Catalan, by means of replacing of Catalan clergymen for Spanish ones, using Latin and Spanish in the judicial acts, and bringing in Spanish civil servants with the structures of government such as the corregidores (royal judges, in effect political agents).

The exile affected some 6,000 people.

Next, we are giving a brief biography of three men who suffered different kinds of repression.

1. Josep Moragues i Mas (1669-1715). He was a farmer who starting in 1694 became a guerrilla fighter. A defender of the Austricist cause, he was a co-signer of the covenant of Vic in the Chapel of St. Sebastian; in 1705 he was promoted to Colonel and became a member of the Regiment of the Royal Catalan Guards. Two years later he became the Governor of Castellciutat. In 1709 he became field general. In 1713, Moragues surrendered Castellciutat to the House of Bourbon, but he continued fighting in the interior of Catalonia. After the surrender of Barcelona he returned to Sort, but he received the order from the House of Bourbon to go to Barcelona. Due to the treatment that he received he tried to escape to Minorca, but he failed; his possessions were seized and he was judged and condemned to death. He was executed by garrote, his body was cut into pieces, and his head was put in an iron cage and hung in the Portal del Mar for twelve years after the execution in spite of his wife’s requests. Moragues was executed together with captains Jaume Roca and Pau Macip. His crime was repeated rebellion, as he had been granted royal clemency twice.

2. Antoni de Villaroel i Peláez (1656-1742). Military. He fought against the French during the siege of Barcelona in 1697. In the War of the Spanish Succession he was in the ranks of the army of Philip V, but in 1710 he switched ranks to join the Austrians, and Charles III appointed him lieutenant general. He fought in Villaviciosa and Aragon where he was imprisoned for a year until he was exchanged in 1711. He took charge of the defense of Barcelona; during August of 1714 he organized a sortie to repel the attackers. At the beginning of September he tried to resign as he thought he should lay down his arms in view of the circumstances, but when the final assault happened he fought until he was wounded. Once Casanova (the commander in chief) was also wounded, he was in favor of surrendering. In spite of the conditions promised on surrendering, he was imprisoned and taken to the castle of Alicante, later to the one in La Coruña from where he attempted to escape and, finally to the one in Segovia. In 1725 he was released.

3. Ermengol Amill i Moliner (1665-1732). Teacher in Agullana from a wealthy farmer’s family. In the War of the Spanish Succession he became the colonel in the mountain fusilier’s regiment. In 1713 he arrived in Barcelona with St. Raimon de Penyafort’s regiment. In January 1714 he left Barcelona and saw action especially in the areas of the Vallès, Maresme, and Llobregat. In September 1714, on the capitulation of Cardona, he was granted an amnesty, but later was imprisoned and finally he was taken to Girona, from where he escaped in 1715. He went into exile in Vienna, where he joined the army and fought in Greece against the Turks. Finally, they made him governor of the Castle of Cotrone in the kingdom of Naples until his death.

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