Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Reapers´ War and the Catalan anthem


Corpus of Blood, 1640

As we studied last Friday, the Count-Duke of Olivares´ projects for all the territories of the Hispanic Monarchy provoked generalized revolts, which were more serious in Catalonia and Portugal. In Catalonia the revolt started in January 1640, when the population revolted against the royal order of accomodating 10,000 soldiers. The protests, headed by peasants, were strongly repressed by the royal army. Armed peasants occupied the city of Barcelona, killed the lieutenant of the royal army and the Generalitat broke up with the Monarchy. The Count -Duke of Olivares planned the invasion of Catalonia and the representatives of the Generalitat contacted Louis XIII, the king of France. Although France had always been Aragon´s enemy, Louis XIII decided to support the Catalans in order to take advantage  of political instability in the Hispanic Monarchy and open a new front against Philip IV (remember, "my enemy´s enemy is my friend")

The Reapers´ War  lasted for almost 19 years. It ended in 1659, with the signature of the Peace of the Pyrenees:  Catalonia lost the territories of Roussillon and Cerdanya and a marriage alliance was established: Louis XIV would marry María Teresa of Austria, Philip IV´s daughter and Charles II´s sister. This marriage would be decisive some years later, when Charles II died without direct successors. The French branch of his family got rights to the Hispanic Monarchy, but Charles II´s testament wadn´t accepted by the Habsburg branch and other European powers. 

The Reapers´ War belongs to the events Catalans consider part of their national history of fight for independence. In fact, the Catalan anthem takes its name and music from those events. Its´called  Els Segadors (The Reapers), because peasanst had an important role in the uprising against the royal troops and the beginnig of the Corpus of Blood , in June 1640, was related to an incident with a reaper. The music of the anthem was composed by Francesc Alió in 1892, drawing inspiration from a 17th century folk song. The lyrics were composed by Emili Guanyavents in 1899, for a song contest organized by Unió Catalanista, a political group which demanded self-government (not independence) for Catalonia. Guanyavents draw inspiration from a 17th century popular ballad collected by Manuel Milà i Fontanals on a book called Romancerillo Catalán. On the following video you can listen to the old version, with the lyrics of the old ballad compiled by Milà i Fontanals: 

The song was adopted by the Catalan Parliament as anthem in 1993. This is the modern version, with Emili Guanyavents´ lyrics:

If you want to read the translation in Spanish, click here.

And here you have the score:

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