Journal of Catalan Studies/Revista Internacional de Catalanisme

[Index / ndex]

In Search of 1640

Sir John Elliott
Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History,
University of Oxford



It is a great pleasure and privilege to be invited to give the opening talk at this very special 46th meeting of the Anglo-Catalan Society, and I am most grateful to the Rector of the Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona and to the officers of the Society for their generous invitation. If this is the 46th meeting of the Society, the first meeting I ever attended must have been the second or third, probably in 1955 after I had returned from my researches in Catalunya and was just embarking at Cambridge on my teaching and writing career as a professional historian. I had, of course, been signed up as a member of the Society by Dr. Batista i Roca, whose enormous contribution to Anglo-Catalan friendship and understanding we especially celebrate this week, and I should like to begin this talk with a few words about Batista, since he played an important - if characteristically self-effacing - part in shaping the course of my researches.

On graduating in history at Cambridge in 1952 I decided that I wanted to do my historical research on the history of seventeenth-century Spain, and chose as my research topic the reforming policies of Conde-Duque de Olivares, whose portrait by Velzquez in the Prado had enormously impressed me when I first visited Spain as an undergraduate in the summer vacation of 1950. There was nobody in the Cambridge History Faculty with a specialist knowledge of Spanish history in this period. On the whole I saw this as an advantage, since I liked the idea of being my own master, and had no wish for close direction of my research, which I regarded as an exciting and very personal journey of exploration into the unknown. I therefore chose as my research supervisor Professor Herbert Butterfield, perhaps the most interesting modern historian in Cambridge at the time, but one whose knowledge of Spanish history was confessedly minimal. Partly by way of compensation, I felt that I ought to make contact with anyone in the country who might be able to give me some general advice on matters Hispanic, if only to set me off in the right direction. It was in this way that I first met Batista i Roca.

I had come across his name as a result of reading, by way of preparation for my own research, Helmut Koenigsberger's book, The Government of Sicily under Philip II of Spain, published in 1951. This contains an informative and perceptive foreword by Batista - much longer, I think, than Koenisgberger had expected when he first approached him for a few preliminary words - on the conciliar structure of the monarqua espaola. The foreword begins with a sentence which has always remained with me: '"The Book" on the Hapsburg Monarchy, or Spanish Empire, has still to be written' -a sentence as true today as it was when Batista wrote it in 1950. He went on to explain that, 'before any complete work on this association of states and countries as a whole is practicable much spade work must be done.'(1) I liked the sound of this, and decided to make contact with Batista, of whom I knew nothing up to that moment.

So it was that I went round to Lyndwode Road in Cambridge, in the autumn of 1952, not knowing quite what to expect. What I remember best of that first encounter is the exquisite courtesy with which I was greeted, and the first, somewhat melancholic impression of a man with large, sad, watering eyes, and a droopy moustache, still black but heavily speckled with white. He ushered me into a small study, a chaos of books and papers, and there we talked about the Conde-Duque de Olivares and my plans for research. I can't remember anything much about our conversation, except that from time to time say he would reveal that he had written a paper on one or other of the various topics that came under discussion, and would then fish for a copy of it in the drawers of his desk, only to give up with a look of resignation on being unable to find it. I had the overwhelming impression of a man who knew everything and published nothing, and who lived in a world of his own. In spite of the twinkle in his eyes when he made some humorous comment, I got, too, an enormous sense of the sadness of exile, and of the loneliness that exile brings.

Batista was very encouraging about my research proposal, and made various good suggestions for preliminary reading. He never tried to push me in a particular direction, but made it clear that, if I were to concentrate on Olivares' plans for the reorganization of the monarqua, I would have to pay some attention to how he attempted to introduce those plans in Catalunya. He told me something of the sufferings of his homeland under Franco, about which I was totally ignorant, and when I set off for a year's research in Spain in the autumn of 1953 I carried with me a letter of introduction - I cannot remember whether to Aramon i Serra or to Jordi Carbonell - which would enable me to get in contact with the Institut d'Estudis Catalans.

My intention in fact was not to work on Catalunya, but to try and reconstruct the reforming policies of the Conde-Duque through state papers which I expected to find in Simancas and Madrid. I did, though, pay a preliminary visit to Barcelona, primarily to make contact with Jaume Vicens Vives, who had acquired an international reputation as being the liveliest of the younger generation of historians working in Spain. I then went on to Simancas, where I spent some extremely frustrating weeks searching for, and failing to find, papers by the Conde-Duque that would give me the material that I needed for my thesis. As I have described on other occasions, I eventually discovered to my dismay that the Conde-Duque's personal archive had been destroyed in a fire in the Duque de Alba's palace at the end of the eighteenth century, and my chosen research topic was gone.

Thinking in desperation how I might salvage something from the wreckage of my initial hopes, I realized that it might be possible to approach the Conde-Duque's policies from the other end, by examining the various reactions to them. The year 1640 saw two revolts against the government in Madrid - the revolt of Catalunya, followed six months later by the revolt of Portugal, and its recovery of independence. Given what I had picked up from Batista, and the fact that I had already made some useful contacts in Barcelona, it seemed logical to turn East rather than West, and place Catalunya and the origins of the Guerra dels Segadors at the centre of my researches.

So it was that I embarked on the project which, after the best part of two years in Catalunya, 1953-4 and 1955-6, and a great deal of writing and rewriting, would culminate in the publication in 1963 of my book, The Revolt of the Catalans.(2)

Other people's research experiences are no doubt of very limited interest, but I hope that, for the purposes of this occasion, you will forgive some personal reminiscences, since I think they help to shed some light on the Catalunya both of the seventeenth and the twentieth century. When I moved from Valladolid to Barcelona in September 1953, I had no Catalan, and a still very deficient Castilian. I realized very quickly that, while the official documentation of the Consejo de Aragn, housed in the Arxiu de la Corona d'Arag, was all in Castilian, I would also need Catalan if I were to supplement it with the evidence of private correspondence and of municipal and notarial records. I realized, too, that if I really wanted to make contact with Catalan historians, and understand something of the society in which I now found myself, a knowledge of Catalan was indispensable. There were, of course, stringent prohibitions at this time on its public use, but I had no problem about placing an advertisement in the Diario de Barcelona stating that a young Englishman wanted to live with a Catalan family in order to learn Catalan. I was overwhelmed by the number of replies. From these I selected the family of a young advocat, and I asked them to start speaking to me in Catalan from the very beginning. From daily life in this friendly household, from contacts with young Catalan historians, mostly pupils of Vicens, working in the archives, and from reading nineteenth and early-twentieth century Catalan historical works, I soon picked up enough of the language to feel more at home in it than I was at that time in Castilian.

From both the professional and the personal point of view, this was the best thing I could have done. I found that, as a foreigner who was making an effort to speak Catalan, especially in the repressive climate of the 1950's, every door was open to me. I began to make friendships, and gravitated into the circle of Vicens Vives, who was extremely cordial and welcoming. I was also made welcome by Ferran Soldevila, who, as a historian of an older generation, made me very conscious of the long tradition of nationalist Catalan historical writing, of which he proved to be the last great representative. In the contrast between Soldevila, who seemed to me to belong to the past, and Vicens Vives, who looked so optimistically to the future, I saw for myself, and to some extent lived through, the tensions that characterized the Catalunya of the early Franco period.

Those tensions were often acute, and they impinged at numerous points on my own researches. Every morning I would take the impossibly crowded tram to the Arxiu de la Corona d'Arag, where I began to read systematically through the consultas of the Consejo de Aragn and the accompanying documentation. My object was to was to work out the nature of the relationship between the Principality and the royal government in Madrid, as it appeared at the beginning of the reign of Philip IV in 1621, and then seek to reconstruct the impact on that relationship of the new reforming regime of Olivares, following the story until it culminated in the revolutionary movement of the spring and summer of 1640. Then in the afternoon and evening I would move to the municipal archive to look at the records of the Barcelona city government over the same period, or would work in the Biblioteca de Catalunya or the Ateneu. Here I tried to read my way through the major Catalan historians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - Balaguer, Bofarull, Rovira i Virgili and others - in order to find out how they had treated the period of their national history which I was now trying to master .

It very quickly became obvious to me that there was a considerable discrepancy between what I was finding in the archives in the mornings, and what I was reading in the library in the evenings. The amount of first-hand documentation used by Catalan historians of the period was limited, and their interpretation of the events I was studying was, not surprisingly, heavily nationalist. The Catalans appeared consistently in the role of victims, and Olivares was presented as an almost diabolical figure, who was motivated by a typically Castilian hatred of Catalan liberties which he was determined to suppress. In 1640, however, he met his match, when the Principality rose up as one man in defence of its laws and constitutions. In the words of a lecture delivered by Ferran de Sagarra in the Ateneu in 1931, and which I quote to give you some flavour of the traditional historiography: 'Fou tot el poble, sense distinci d'estaments ni classes socials, qui esdevingu unit en la defensa comuna dels drets i llibertats de la terra. Nobles i plebeus, rics i pobres, lacs i eclesiastics, tots rivalitzaren en aquella defensa, constituint una vertadera uni sagrada per a lluitar i sacrificar-se per la ptria oprimida i anorreada.'(3)

I had by now read enough documentation to feel that this was a somewhat simplistic interpretation of what was already beginning to emerge in my eyes as a highly complex event. It was not clear to me why Olivares should have risked provoking a revolt in Catalunya when he was engaged in a full-scale war with France; and I had already seen sufficient evidence to suggest that the uprising of the spring and summer of 1640 was by no means as unanimous or whole-hearted as Sagarra suggested. I felt that Olivares' Catalan policies had to be set into the general context of Spain's military and economic problems, rather than simply being restricted to the context of an allegedly permanent Castilian antipathy to Catalunya. I also felt that I needed a much deeper knowledge of the character of seventeenth-century Catalan society than was available in the existing literature, if I were to understand the nature of the Principality's response.

My growing scepticism about the adequacy of the traditional interpretation of the origins of the Guerra dels Segadors was accompanied by an increasing involvement in Catalan life and culture. The more I got to know the country and its culture, and the more friendships I made, the more I came to appreciate the sufferings of Catalunya under the Franco regime, and to sympathize with its struggle to maintain its own sense of collective identity. But while my heart told me one thing, my head was telling me another. Here was I identifying myself with Catalunya' s struggle for survival, and yet at the same time I was finding it increasingly difficult to accept the interpretation of Catalunya's past as purveyed by its own leading historians. I felt the dilemma with particular acuteness when I was in the company of Ferran Soldevila, who made me intensely aware of the burden of the past on the present, and gave me a vivid emotional sense of what it was like to be the citizen of a defeated nation. I tried to tell him something of the conclusions that were beginning to emerge from my work, but could sense his disappointment.

Yet at the same time I knew, of course, that as a historian I had to get as close as possible to a plausible reconstruction of the events I was studying, however much this might upset the susceptibilities of some of those who, like Soldevila, had befriended me and had been eagerly awaiting the results of my researches. But the task was made much easier for me by the fact that, as I soon discovered, I was not alone. Vicens Vives, who would come into the archive periodically to see what his pupils were doing, took a growing interest in my work. In Vicens and his students - Joan Regl, Jordi Nadal, Emili Giralt, Ramon Gubern and others - I found a highly congenial group of historians who, under Vicens's inspiration, were attempting to demythologize the Catalan past.

Vicens' own research on Ferran II and the city of Barcelona had persuaded him that, just as I was finding with the seventeenth century, the traditional interpretation of Catalunya' s fifteenth century could not be sustained. With his group of pupils around him, working on different problems and periods of Catalan history he had set out on his great personal crusade to rewrite the history both of Catalunya and of Spain, in the light of modern historical scholarship, as exemplified in particular by Braudel and the French School of the Annales.

I found the company of Vicens and his pupils immensely stimulating. We had great discussions, many of them in his house, about the interpretation of the Catalan past, and I felt that my own researches were beginning to fit into a wider pattern, which would one day give Catalans a more balanced and dispassionate sense of the course of their history. Vicens himself saw this as a vital contribution to the construction of the Catalunya of the post-Franco era, because he believed that myths were an unstable foundation for national identity. It was not enough simply to blame Castile for the historical misfortunes of Catalunya. One must also look deep into Catalan society itself, and into the whole historical conjuncture at any given moment.

This approach, which did not endear Vicens to some of his colleagues of an older generation, seemed to me eminently sensible, although, seen in retrospect, it may have made us rather too iconoclastic in our treatment of the epic events and the traditional heroes of Catalan history. But, as far as I was concerned, Vicens brought a breath of fresh air to an enclosed historical world. His enthusiasm and engagement gave additional excitement and meaning to my work on the seventeenth century, and confirmed me in my conviction of the importance of relating the history of seventeenth-century Spain and Catalunya to the broad sweep of European history, in an attempt to break free from the isolationist approach of so much Spanish historiography.

The deeper I plunged into the documentation, the more necessary I felt this to be. The mid-1950's in western Europe were a period of lively historical debate, much of it Marxist-inspired, about what came to be known as 'the general crisis of the seventeenth century'. There was much discussion in particular about the origins and character of the English civil war, and about the contemporaneous revolutions -England, Scotland, Ireland, the France of the Fronde, Naples, and Sicily - of the 1640's, and the extent to which they were, or were not, 'bourgeois revolutions.'(4)

Obviously my own work on the Catalan revolt of 1640 fitted well into this broader framework, and prompted me to look for the similarities and differences between the movement of protest in Catalunya and the revolutionary upheavals occurring in other parts of the continent. In a sense, then, I was trying to Europeanize the Catalan revolt, at a time when Catalunya, along with all of Spain, was living in isolation from Europe.

The challenge was to reach as dispassionate a judgement as possible both on the motivation for the Conde-Duque's policies, and on the motivation of the Catalan response or responses to them. One of the problems, of which I became increasingly aware, was that much of the documentation I was using was official government documentation, emanating from the Council of Aragon in Madrid. However carefully I read it, this was bound to give me an 'official' slant on the disagreements between royal ministers and the Catalan authorities -the Generalitat and Barcelona' s Consell de Cent - and to reinforce the picture held by the ministers of Catalunya as a virtually ungovernable Principality.

As I realized this it became increasingly clear to me that, to redress the balance, I had to achieve a closer understanding of the structure of seventeenth-century Catalan society, and of the mental and cultural world from which the rebels of 1640 emerged.

Nobody really seemed to be doing this, although the brilliant French Marxist historian, Pierre Vilar, had been working on the background to the eighteenth-century industrialization of Catalunya, and with great generosity allowed me to read what he had written on Catalan economic and social development in the preceding period. But in general I felt very much on my own, as I set out to explore Catalan society in the first half of the seventeenth century.

But it proved to be a very stimulating experience. I plunged, for instance, into Barcelona's rich notarial archives, in order to reconstruct, through marriage contracts and wills, the family relationships of some of the leading figures in the Principality. Sometimes their inventories allowed me to wander mentally through their houses, like the house of Francesc Maur, a Barcelona merchant, in the Carrer dels Vigatans, where I passed from room to room: the studi with its coffre gran, its taula and cadira; the sala al cap de la escala, with its 4 cadires de repos, 7 cadires comunas and 1 boffet, and the cambra with 1 llit de noguer de camp, 4 matalassos de llana, and 1 armari de noguer per tenir les joyas de la senyora Angela Maur.(5) I spent a lot of time, too, in the Biblioteca de Catalunya, at that time known as the Biblioteca Central, reading contemporary tracts and treatises in the wonderful collection of Pullets Bonsoms.

But perhaps my most exciting discovery was made among the manuscripts of the library of Barcelona University in February 1956, when I came across a diary in crabbed handwriting covering the years 1627-1630, which turned out on inspection to have been written by the lawyer and chronicler, Jeroni Pujades, from Castel1 d'Empries. Looking him up in the reference books, I found that one of them mentioned a manuscript work by him in the Acadmia de Bones Lletres. In great excitement I made my way there and asked the librarian if she had anything by Pujades. She returned with no less than three volumes of the same diary, beginning in 1601. 'Sensacional, Elliott, sensacional', cried Vicens when I told him of my find. Some twenty years later, in 1975, the Dietari of Pujades was published in four volumes by Josep Maria Casas Homs.(6) Crammed with items of local, and wider, news, and interlaced with mordant comments on people and events, it is a work that gives an extraordinarily vivid impression of how a well-informed and observant lawyer saw the world in which he lived.

It was a world of banditry and feuding, of religious festivals and pirate raids, of thunderstorms and droughts. But perhaps what most impressed me about Pujades' reactions, and to some extent counteracted the revisionist and iconoclastic approach I had been adopting when confronted with over-romanticized interpretations of the 1640 revolt, was the love of the ptria that runs through the diary, and the author's passionate feeling for Catalan liberties. To take one item selected at random, an entry for November 1621 reports the death of 'lo inquisidor Valds, bon doctor, per gran contrari de las libertats de Catalunya y per ass fams conseller del virey.'(7) Pujades was a man who judged public figures by their willingness, or refusal, to fight for Catalunya's laws and liberties, which he saw as being under continuous threat from officials of the viceregal administration. He had a powerful sense of the ptria, which in the first instance was his home town of Castel1 d'Empries, but which also embraced the Principality as a whole, as a community held together by a common faith, and by shared history , laws and traditions. This was his Catalunya, and in a revealing comment in 1626, the year in which Philip IV and Olivares visited the Principality for a disastrous session of the Corts, he writes: 'Yo crec ser ax, que ni sa Mt. sap lo que s Catalunya, ni los qui lo aconsellan, ho entenen, o per respectes humans, no le y gosan dir.'(8)

This kind of comment helped me to appreciate that the conflict I was exploring was the result, not of a Machiavellian conspiracy by Olivares to destroy Catalan liberties, as traditional Catalan historiography tended to represent it, but rather of a mutual failure of understanding by two parties living in very different worlds of their own. The Catalans, had - quite understandably - little comprehension of the global problems of a monarqua espaola, to which they felt only very marginally attached. Their loyalty was to a prince who lived in Madrid and whom they rarely saw, and to an idealized image of their own community, which seemed to them to be under constant threat.

Olivares, for his part, saw the Catalans as awkward and potentially disloyal subjects, who were for ever obstructing his plans for raising the men and money urgently needed to save the monarqua from being overwhelmed by its enemies, the Protestants and the French. In this climate of mutual incomprehension, minor disputes escalated, and attitudes on both sides hardened, until the situation spun out of control when the countryside rose against the billeted troops of the royal army in the spring and summer of 1640. In his exasperation at what he saw as Catalan intransigence, Olivares wrote: 'Verdaderamente los catalanes han menester ver ms mundo que Catalua.'(9)

In many respects, of course, he was right. The Principality's horizons were limited, and the idealized ptria bore little relation to the realities of seventeenth-century life. Pujades himself was in many ways aware of this, at least at a sub-conscious level, as he chronicled the corruption of officials of the Generalitat, or the feuds of a rural society divided between the rival bands of the nyerros and cadells. I found ample confirmation of his bitter comments when I decided that it was time to move out of Barcelona and explore the contents of municipal and diocesan archives across the Principality. This was not easy. There was, as far as I could discover, no available listing of local archives and their contents, so all I could do was to move by bus from one town to the next, trying to discover whether its archive had survived the civil war, and, if so, whether it would be possible for me to work in it.

This was not always straightforward. Where archives did exist, there was usually no more than a solitary municipal archivist, who was only able to keep it open for a short period of the day because of other duties. While the archivists were friendly and welcoming, the archives themselves were often extremely cold, and there was little in the way of ficheros to assist the researcher. My strangest experience was at the Seu d'Urgell, where I was extremely anxious to work in the cathedral archive because Pau Claris, the leader of the 1640 revolt, was a canon of Urgell. The archivist, Mossn Pere Pujol, was very willing to give me access, but only if knowledge of my activities could be kept from his fellow canons.

We would therefore meet every day by arrangement in the cloister, and, once the coast was clear, he would unlock the door and I would slip into the archive where I was left entirely to my own devices in a room lined with shelves stacked with registers and correspondence of the cathedral chapter. I would then be let out at the end of the morning, except on one occasion, when Mossn Pujol forgot that I was there, and only turned up considerably later in the afternoon, when he finally remembered me.

These local explorations gave me some vivid insights into the Catalunya of both the seventeenth century and my own. As far as the archive of the Seu d'Urgell was concerned, I found, for the seventeenth century, a cathedral chapter in a state of continuous turmoil, feuding with its bishop and colluding with the bandit gangs that operated in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Although much of his own correspondence had mysteriously disappeared from the archive, it was clear that the Pau Claris who emerged from this environment to lead the Principality into alliance with France was a much more complex figure than the one-dimensional national hero depicted in nineteenth-century Catalan historiography. But the guiding principle of this turbulent priest was a passionate determination to defend historical rights, whether they were threatened by the bishop of Urgell or the government in Madrid. This determination was well expressed in a letter he wrote about the privileges of his cathedral chapter: 'No perdem en nostres dies all que els nostres avantpassat amb tant de coratge guanyaren.'(10) Pau Claris was the ideal representative of a society which instinctively judged the present by reference to an idealized past.

In saying this I touch on a somewhat sensitive point which has led to a certain amount of misunderstanding. In the nearly forty years since I published The Revolt of the Catalans, I think that the charge most commonly levelled against the book, at least here in Catalunya, is that I depict Olivares and the government in Madrid as being on the side of modernity, and the Catalans as backward-looking and anachronistic. This was certainly not the impression that I wanted to convey, although I think in retrospect that I may not have made my position sufficiently clear. I could feel, and to some extent sympathize with, the impatience of an Olivares, confronted with what must have appeared to him the numbingly legalistic responses of a people who seemed unwilling to assist their prince in time of war.The Conde-Duque's programme was typical of that of seventeenth-century European statesmen and rulers who were anxious to secure a greater degree of control over the resources of privileged groups in society and over the outlying provinces of their kingdoms. In that sense it looked forward to the centralizing modern state of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and might thus be depicted as 'modern'.(11)

Societies that felt themselves under pressure from authoritarian monarchs, whether in the Great Britain of Charles I or the Spain of Philip IV, instinctively looked to the past - to their historic rights and privileges - to justify their resistance to new demands, and they based their resistance on a long-standing contractual relationship between themselves and their ruler. In this sense they are bound to appear backward-looking. But, as I tried to suggest in my book by means of reference to the revolt of the Netherlands, 'the medieval garb in which the rebels chose to attire themselves could sometimes be misleading.'(12) There is no doubt that in Catalunya, as elsewhere, the traditional orders of society were fighting to retain their traditional privileges; and those privileges, as in the Catalunya of the opening decades of the seventeenth century, were all too often exploited for purely selfish ends. Some of the local correspondence that I read, for instance, contained bitter denunciations of the Generalitat for its corruption, and of the city of Barcelona for seeking to impose its own will on the Principality. But the defence of liberties, in the sectional sense of the word, is capable of broadening into a general defence of liberty, and one could well argue, for instance, that the Dutch rebels against Philip II, in looking backwards to medieval provincial rights, positioned themselves to move forward into a greater modernity than any to which Olivares aspired or could imagine.

Whether Catalunya would have done the same if it had succeeded in 1640 in breaking permanently free from Madrid we shall never know. Both geography and international politics militated against its survival as an independent state, in striking contrast to Portugal, where they worked in its favour. My own feeling is that the generation of 1640 was not of the calibre required for the launching in such difficult circumstances of a viable independent state. But, if this judgment is correct, we then have to ask ourselves why this should have been so. When Batista kindly read for me the typescript of my book, I think he accepted, if with a characteristically sad resignation, my rather negative assessment of the Principality's ruling elite.

But, equally characteristically, he made a perceptive comment. He wanted me to put in more about the education of the elite - something I was unable to do for lack of knowledge. Thirty or forty years after the publication of my book, this still remains a serious gap. Thanks to the work of James Amelang on the ciutadans honrats of Barcelona, we know rather more than we did, both about the formation of the urban patriciate and the evolution of its culture.(13) But we still need much more information about the nature of the education that was available, the kind of books that were being read, and the degree to which, at a number of given points, Castilian language and literature were making inroads into the world of Catalan culture.(14)

It was obvious from the correspondence I was reading that Castilian words and expressions were infiltrating the language, and that many members of the nobility and patriciate were gravitating towards the Castilian cultural orbit. A few years ago, Frances Amors i Gonell analysed the fascinating correspondence of a Barcelona physician, Joan Francesc Rossell, who was sent by the Consell de Cent to Madrid in 1616 to negotiate on currency problems. The editor's conclusion from a philological study of his forty-two letters written from Madrid was that Rossell 'no es deixa influir gaire per la pressi estilstica del castell.'(15) But, by my calculations, Rossell was already sixty-three when he set out on his mission, which would mean that his mental and linguistic patterns were shaped as long ago as the 1560's. I suspect that a younger Catalan of his social standing would have incorporated many more Castilian words and expressions into his writing, but this is a subject that, to the best of my knowledge, still awaits close investigation.

What is not in doubt, and can be seen everywhere, from Pujades' Dietari to the everyday correspondence to be found in municipal archives, is the continuing vitality of Catalan as a language. There are also indications, particularly in a number of clashes over the preaching of sermons in Castilian, that the incursion of Castilian was a cause, at least in some quarters, for mistrust and suspicion. By one of those curious confrontations of past and present which did so much to give excitement to my years of research, I happened to ask a policeman in Barcelona the way, shortly after I had been reading a pamphlet debate of the 1630's in the Fullets Bonsoms on the use of Catalan in sermons. I asked my question in Catalan, and got as my response: 'Habla la lengua del imperio' - a phrase almost identical to one I had just been reading, in which the pamphleteer criticized the Catalans for failing to speak the 'lengua del imperio'. But, in spite of occasional clashes, I do not believe that language in the seventeenth century was as integral a component of national identity as it was to become in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, following the advent of the Romantic Movement. The debate on language, such as it was, turned primarily on the impropriety of preaching in a language which many in the congregation were unable to understand.

The ptria was first and foremost a historic, not a linguistic, community - and it was, of course, a community of which the prince was an integral member. What we see in the Catalunya of 1640, as in the England of 1641, is the irreparable breakdown of trust between the prince and a substantial section of the political nation. This posed acute problems of loyalty , which individuals sought to resolve as best they could, in the light of their own judgement of the situation and the perceived balance of interests. The historic existence of a contractual relationship between the prince and the community - a contractual relationship which the prince had violated - provided a cast-iron legitimation for revolt, but it did not resolve the underlying emotional dilemma of the ultimate focus of loyalty. By the summer of 1640 the government of Olivares had managed to alienate almost the entire Catalan elite, with the result that the royal cause was effectively without supporters. But the personal and social antagonisms that came to the surface in the revolt of the countryside and spread to the towns in the summer and autumn of 1640 - peasants against townsmen, vassals against their lords, artisans against oligarchs, the poor against the rich - made a mockery of the idealized ptria of Claris and his friends. Shaken by the social upheaval, many of the elite held back from giving their support to a Generalitat which first broke Catalunya' s links with Philip IV and then steered the Principality into dependence on France. When Olivares fell from power in 1643, the principal internal obstacle to an accommodation was removed, and gradually the elite's loyalty to a prince who promised to observe the terms of the old contractual relationship began to reassert itself. The status quo ante was largely, if not entirely, restored after the surrender of Barcelona to the forces of Don Juan de Austria in October 1652, and would be sustained for the rest of the seventeenth century .

In looking back on my attempts to understand Catalan society in the first half of the seventeenth century and the origins of Guerra dels Segadors, I think that the idealized notion of the ptria, as it was perceived in the seventeenth century, gave me an important clue to understanding not only developments in Catalunya, but also the broader movement of Spanish and European history in the Early Modern period. In the monarqua espaola as a whole, and in what are now known as the 'composite monarchies' of Early Modern Europe, there is an inherent tension between loyalty to the prince and loyalty to an idealized historic community. For much of the time that tension is largely in abeyance because the prince and the representatives of the community - its political nation - achieve a reasonable working relationship, with accommodations on both sides. But where, as in Scotland in 1639 or Catalunya and Portugal in 1640, the relationship for one reason or another breaks down, the problem of loyalty becomes acute. Those who take a stance, either on behalf of the prince or the ptria, are branded as traidores. The ideal community has disintegrated into warring factions.

This tragic breakdown, and the reasons for it on both sides of the equation - Barcelona and Madrid - was the central theme of The Revolt of the Catalans, and it was a particularly delicate theme at the moment when I was writing it. So delicate, indeed, that when I produced an article for Vicens' historical journal, Estudios de Historia Moderna, putting forward some of my provisional conclusions, he decided to leave it in the decent obscurity of the English language. I think he felt that the article in Castilian would send the wrong message to Catalan readers, while the whole topic of Castilian-Catalan relations was so sensitive at that time that its airing, even in a specialist journal, might attract the unwelcome attention of the authorities.

I was, of course, painfully aware of the political sensitivities involved in my enterprise, and walked, I hope, with circumspection. It was an obvious advantage to be an outsider, with no obvious axe to grind. A foreign viewpoint also, I think, enables one to identify certain central themes and issues which are so taken for granted by natives of the society or societies concerned that they tend to escape attention. For instance, I could find very little on the family, the masia, or the inheritance system - all of which seemed to me of great importance for understanding the underlying stability and continuity of Catalan rural society, but which were so familiar to the Catalans themselves that they had never subjected them to close historical study.

But against these undoubted advantages of looking in on a society from the outside, I think any foreign researcher has to recognize that it also has inevitable limitations. However deeply I might penetrate Catalan society of the seventeenth century, and however intensely I might identify myself with Catalan society of the mid-twentieth century, I was painfully aware that there were some things that, simply because I was not a native, I would never know or fully understand. This, surely, is the experience of all of us, and it should induce a proper modesty about what one is doing, or has tried to do.

But, speaking for myself, the enjoyment of the research project I have tried to outline for you - a project now far in the past - easily outweighed the frustrations; and the experience of those years of immersion in the archives of Castile and Catalunya was crucial to my formation both as a person and as a scholar. Perhaps the most important thing I learnt came from my exposure, not to the Catalunya of the seventeenth century but to the Catalunya of the twentieth. I became aware, as I am sure Batista i Roca hoped that I would become aware, of what it was like to live in a society that was not allowed to express itself freely in its own language, and was subjected to all the constraints and oppression imposed by an authoritarian regime. At the same time I shared in the excitement of seeing how a younger generation was seeking to reconstruct civil society under exceptionally difficult conditions, after the trauma and breakdown brought by the Civil War and military defeat. And I believe that my appreciation and understanding of the events through which I was living was sharpened by my attempt to understand an earlier conflict, in which some at least of the same issues were at stake.

What emerged from my experiences of both the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries was a deep double conviction: first, of the resilience and historical staying- power of the ptria, as the embodiment of a collective sense of identity; and, secondly, of the vital importance to any historical community of ensuring that its horizons are not restricted by its own borders, but extend to the world outside. Without this broader vision it will remain locked in its own past, and prove unable to adjust to changing times. The founding of the Anglo-Catalan society by Batista i Roca and his friends in those dark days of the 1950's reflects that broader vision. And the fact that we are meeting here today, half a century later, in a free and open Catalunya, is a small but telling testimony of the extent to which that vision has been realized.