The Catalonians are the people who live in Catalonia (Catalunya) on the eastern coast of Spain. Barcelona is their primary city, and the capital of Catalunya, a semi-autonomous province in current Spain. They are Roman Catholic in tradition and culture.
The Catalonians speak a language called Catalán (Catalá in their language), which is between Spanish and Italian. Most are also bilingual in Castilian (the standard form of Spanish language in Spain). They are kin linguistically and culturally to the Provencal people in southeastern France (Provence), and the language is quite similar to Provençal. (The ç is pronounced like a s.) Provençal was the language of the medieval troubadours.
(Provençal is commonly referred to as French, but "French" -- the language of Paris and environs -- had not spread far or gained much prestige until the Normans consolidated their hold on the British isles and began spreading out and led in the Crusades, while intermarrying with virtually every royal house of Europe and establishing the Norman kingdoms in Asia and Palestine.)
The Catalonians are descendants of Roman settlers and earlier inhabitants of eastern Iberia. They were conquered along with the other peoples of Iberia, first by the Visigoths who invaded the Roman province of Hispania, then by the Moors, Berbers with some Arabs amopng them.
They were included in the Moorish renaissance Muslim culture until finally their area was liberated by Castile and Aragon in the 13th century. They remained vassal to those kingdoms, which later consolidated all of Iberia except Portugal (which had separately thrown off the Moorish rulers earlier) into what was called Espanya ("Spain," after the old Roman Province name, from Iberian Latin "Hispania", which became Ispaña then España).
The Catalans (Catalonians) have always maintained their cultural and linguistic separateness, though ruled since the 1400s by Castile and Aragon (the joint Spanish crown, united in 1469 in Ferdinand and Isabella). After Franco's period, they were recently given self-government in a sort of Federation under the new current monarchy of Spain.
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Orville Boyd Jenkins
First written December 2000 on an Internet discussion group
Posted 30 November 2004
Last edited 28 October 2011
Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2004 Orville Boyd Jenkins
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