By Angel Smith (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Origins of Catalan Nationalism, 1770–1898
As noted earlier in the chapter, from the late eighteenth century Spanish cultural elites had begun to argue that one could discern a Spanish national character. Catalonia from the Ancien Régime to Liberalism 31 And it was logical for them to believe that Catalonia formed part of this larger Spanish whole. Capmany was adding his weight to such arguments. And there were reasons to think it would be possible to culturally integrate Catalonia. Quite apart from the assumption of a Spanish national identity by Catalan elites, the Castilian language and Castilian culture had also had a signiﬁcant impact.
In this respect rapid economic development had a rather Janus-faced impact. While it may have served to lessen hostility towards the Bourbon monarchy, it also led to the rise of Barcelona as a signiﬁcant economic and cultural centre, and heightened the Catalans’ pride in their achievements. Newfound wealth led to a boom in construction. A number of major neoclassical buildings went Catalonia from the Ancien Régime to Liberalism 25 up, including a new merchant exchange (the Llotja) and customs house on opposite corners of the Palacio Square, near the port.
For example, the 1780 Discurso sobre la agricultura, comercio y industria de Cataluña, a collective work in which Caresmar was involved, stated that ‘each province has its size, character and Catalonia from the Ancien Régime to Liberalism 23 customs’. At the Cortes of Cadiz in 1811 the Catalan deputy, Felip Aner d’Esteve afﬁrmed that within Spain provinces like Catalonia had ‘the same customs and the same language’. 61 The examples could be multiplied. Furthermore, Catalonia was geographically rather isolated.