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Just when Catalonia’s Golden Age was at its height, disaster struck the House of Barcelona.In 1410, Martí the Humane died without heir and Fernando de Antequera, second son of Juan I of Castile, was elected king of the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation.Things got even worse when Fernando II, who had married Isabel of Castile in 1469, acceded to the Catalan-Aragonese throne.He immediately introduced the Inquisition, expelled the Jews causing an economic crisis, insisted that his subjects proved they had no Arab blood, and even though, after discovering America, Columbus had sailed into the port of Barcelona, Fernando and Isabel prohibited Catalonia from trading with the Americas.There were two pretenders; the Bourbon, Philippe de Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, and the Habsburg Archduke Charles of Austria.Castile favoured the former while Catalonia the latter and, after allying with England and Holland, who feared a French-Spanish axis, welcomed him to Barcelona as Carles III of Catalonia-Aragon in 1705.As Castilians, he and his successors had little knowledge of Catalonia’s rule by consensus.

Girona was retaken in 785 and Barcelona in 801, and the province of the Spanish March, a buffer zone between Christian France and Muslim Hispania, was born.So, determined to bring his rebellious subjects into line, Olivares launched a campaign into France across the Pyrenees from Catalan territory in which 10,000 men who had been recruited against their will were slaughtered.Not satisfied with this sacrifice, he then billeted Castilian troops in Catalonia, who, in the true spirit of friendship, raped and robbed the locals.During the reign of Felipe IV, the monarch came under the influence of the autocratic Count-Duke Olivares, who when war broke out with France in 1635 demanded a disproportionate contribution of money and men.Since, according to her constitution, Catalonia should only pay those taxes which had been approved by her own government, the answer was a firm no.Introduction Though Catalonia has formed part of Spain for nearly 300 years, Catalans only grudgingly admit the fact.

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