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Catalan First, Spanish Second
Throughout a history of political ups and downs, prosperity rarely abandoned Barcelona, as the city continued to generate energy and creativity no matter who imposed authority from afar: Romans, Visigoths, Franks, Moors, Aragonese, French, or Castilians. Catalonia's early history hinges on five key dates: the 801 Frankish conquest by Charlemagne that wrested Catalonia away from the encroaching Moors; the 988 independence from the Franks; the 1137 alliance through marriage with Aragón; the 1474 unification (through the marriage of Fernando of Aragón and Isabella of Castile) of Aragón with the Castilian realms of León and Castile; and the 1714 defeat by Felipe V, who abolished Catalan rights and privileges.
The Roman Empire annexed the city built by the Iberian tribe known as the Laietans and established, in 133 BC, a colony called Colonia Favencia Julia Augusta Paterna Barcino (Favored Colony Barcino of Father Julius Augustus). After Rome's 4th-century decline, Barcelona enjoyed an early golden age as the Visigothic capital under the rule of Ataulf and the Roman empress of the West, Galla Placidia (388-450), daughter of Theodosius I and one of the most influential and fascinating women of early European history. Ataulf, assassinated in Barcelona in 415, was succeeded by Visigothic rulers who moved their capital to Toledo, leaving Barcelona to a secondary role through the 6th and 7th centuries. The Moors invaded in the 8th century; and in 801, in what was to be a decisive moment in Catalonia's history, the Franks under Charlemagne captured the city and made it a buffer zone at the edge of Al-Andalus, the Moors' empire on the Iberian Peninsula. Moorish rule extended to the Garraf Massif just south of Barcelona, while Catalonia became the Marca Hispánica (Spanish March or, really, "edge") of the Frankish empire.
Over the next two centuries the Catalonian counties, ruled by counts appointed by the Franks, gained increasing autonomy. In 985 the Franks failed to reinforce their allies against a Moorish attack, and as of 988 Catalonia declared itself an independent federation of counties with Barcelona as its capital. The marriage in 1137 of Sovereign Count Ramon Berenguer IV to Petronella, daughter of King Ramiro II of Aragón, united Catalonia with Aragón. The crown of Aragón, with Barcelona as its commercial and naval center, controlled the Mediterranean until the 15th century. The 1474 marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragón and Isabella of Castile and León brought Aragón and Catalonia into a united Spain. As the main city of Aragón's Mediterranean empire, Barcelona had grown in importance between the 12th and the 14th centuries, and only began to falter when maritime emphasis shifted to the Atlantic after 1492.
Despite the establishment of Madrid as the seat of Spain's royal court in 1562, Catalonia continued to enjoy autonomous rights and privileges until 1714, when, in reprisal for having backed the Austrian Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne during the War of the Spanish Succession (1700-14), all institutions and expressions of Catalan identity were suppressed by the triumphant Felipe V of the French Bourbon dynasty. Not until the mid-19th century would Barcelona's industrial growth bring
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