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On September 11th, 1714, after a thirteen-month siege, the city of Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, fell into the hands of French and Spanish (Castilian) troops in what would be the final episode in the Spanish War of Succession.

Following this defeat, Catalonia lost its national governing bodies —the Generalitat and the Corts— and a new government model was imposed on the country by the Spanish King Philip V from the Bourbon dinasty. The new model was characterised by harsh repression and the centralisation of power in the hands of the monarchy and its representatives located outside Catalonia, in Madrid.

The city of Barcelona also lost its long-standing system of government —the Council of One Hundred— and suffered considerable destruction, a state of affairs that was further worsened when the new authorities decided to demolish part of La Ribera neighbourhood in order to build an imposing military citadel whose mission would be to prevent fresh acts of rebellion breaking out against Bourbon power.

The Battle of Barcelona was a very bloody affair and involved all sectors of the city. Due to the sacrifice of the city people and their subsequent spirit of recovery, September 11, although marking a defeat, became a symbol of the Catalan will to continue existing as a national entity.

During 2014, the City Council of Barcelona commemorates the 300th anniversary of the events that occurred on September 11th, 1714, with a grand civic celebration. The Tricentenari celebrations aim to rediscover the Barcelona of the 18th century, helping people understand the magnitude of the events and their relation to our present reality, and the expectations for the future of our country.

Catalan celebrities such as Aina Clotet, Albert Om, Benedetta Tagliabue, Josep Maria Mainat and Leonardo Anselmi tell us what celebrating a “defeat” means to them.

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Video: © Barcelona Cultura

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