The Principality has suffered too many periods of repression at the hands of the Spanish for the Catalans to ever completely trust Madrid.Catalonia’s independent streak is also justified by more than 2,000 years of history.The situation came to a head in 1640 when the reapers, who gathered in Barcelona to work on the harvest, revolted, burned down government buildings and murdered Felipe IV’s Viceroy.The destructive 19-year Guerra dels Segadors, the three-way Reapers’ War involving Castilian, French and Catalan troops ensued, and in the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, Felipe IV ceded all Catalonia’s French territories to the French Crown. Things went from bad to worse when Felipe IV’s son, the half-wit Carlos II, died without heir in 1700.
They rarely visited their kingdom and imposed Castilian legislators who managed to incite the people so much that civil war broke out during the reign of the tellingly named Joan II Without Faith.
Furthermore, aware of the need for dialogue between the sovereign and his subjects, he instituted the Corts, a consultative body in which the three classes of the nobility, the clergy and the urban bourgeoisie were represented.
Over the next century Mediterranean expansion continued with the conquest of Sicily, Sardinia and Southern Greece, including Athens, and the democratic processes were increased with the founding of the Diputació del General, initially a tax collecting body which was later to become the Generalitat, the government of Catalonia.
Spaniards claim that the reign of the Catholic Kings marks the beginning of Spain as a nation.
However, although from the reign of Carlos I onwards the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation was ruled by the same monarch as Spain, technically it was still an independent state with its own laws, and when it traded with the rest of the peninsula customs taxes were levied.