Everywhere I go in Catalonia I see the regional flag, four red lines on a yellow background, a recently I read an interesting story about the origins of this flag, also known as the Senyera.
One of the oldest flags in Europe, it first appeared on the tomb of Ramon Berenger II, Count of Bracelona, who died in 1082. According to legend, the origin of the flag is even older, dating to the 9th century and the siege of Barcelona. During the siege in 897, Count Wilfred I (also known as Wilfred the Hairy) was mortally wounded and King Charles the Bald dipped his hand into the Count’s wound and drew his four bloody fingers across Wilfred’s golden shield as a mark of gratitude. This may be a nice tale, but the fact is that the King had actually died 20 years before the siege.
The Kingdom of Catalonia was united with the Kingdom of Aragon in the 15th century due to the marriage of Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. The combined nation was then taken over by the Spanish during the 1714 War of Succession. Catalonians have recently been attempting to regain Independence and unlike the Basques in the north, this has mostly been done in a peaceful way through demonstrations and political voting.
In 2013 the Catalan Way promoted independence through the creation of a human chain which was 240 km long. Then in November 2014 a referendum was held and the people overwhelmingly voted in favour of independence (well, those who actually voted did – it is estimated that 6 million of the people living in Catalonia are actually of immigrant or non-Catalan Spanish origin). On 27th September 2015 the 11th parliament of Catalonia was formed following elections but the Spanish government had other ideas and Prime Minister Mariano Rey threatened to suspend the political powers of the key Catalonian politicians if they proceeded with a legal battle for independence.
But in the hearts and minds of the Catalonian people, the fight continues.