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3.11.2005

The Treaty of Genoa (1705)


In 2005 Catalans commemorate the Treaty of Genoa, between England and Catalonia. Had it been honoured by England, the fate of Catalonia would have been very different...

I quote from a text by Josep Vergés, secretary of the Societat Catalana d'Economia. He writes for the Diari de Girona and is "Last in the Queue" for SpainMedia.com: http://www.spainmedia.com/index.php?p=114

The absolutist Louis XIV warred with all his neighbours to increase French dominion. He invaded Catalonia too, in 1697. Prince George, a general with Charles II of Spain, defended Catalonia so bravely that he won the love of Catalans: "Nobody in Catalonia is so well loved by Catalans as the prince. What they would not do for him, they would not do for the king either." He was received in Madrid as a hero and made a grandee with the Golden Fleece and orders by the king that he be treated as a prince of royal blood. He came back to Catalonia as viceroy, as the Catalans wanted. The English ambassador Alexander Stanhope wrote to London: "The prince of Hessen is the idol of the Catalans." Prince George was so well integrated he participated in the third meeting of the Academy of the Doubters at their seat in Dalmases Palace in 1700, from where the leaders of the 1705 revolt against Franco-Spanish absolutism arose.

The Treaty of Genoa of 20th June 1705 between England and Catalonia committed the English to lift "the very heavy yoke of the French" by force from the "most noble Catalan nation" and "facilitate freedom to Catalans." It was a permanent commitment of "guarantee and protection by the Kingdom of England so that they will not suffer the least disturbance or harm to their persons, property, laws, privileges or customs." England broke the alliance in the Treaty of Utrecht of 11th April 1713 and during 17 months Catalonia resisted alone the invasion by Franco-Spanish troops.

During the War of Spanish Succession Prince George landed at Cadiz saying: "I promised to free Madrid through Catalonia but now I promise to free Catalonia through Madrid." The landing failed but Archduke Charles III named him supreme commander of the Kingdom of Aragon and with this title he led a force of 3,500 men, including more than 300 Catalans and an Anglo-Dutch fleet, to free Gibraltar in 1704.

After this success, Prince George convinced the allies to liberate Barcelona because Catalans would give them support. He landed with Lord Peterborough in 1705 and decided first to attack Montjuic. There he died on the 14th September. Spanish viceroy Velasco had sent 400 grenadiers on horse to succour the French commander Marquis de Risbourg. Opening the gates of the castle to let them in he had them cry out "Long live Charles III." Prince George, believing the French and Spaniards had surrendered, followed and in their midst was mortally wounded. Lord Peterborough finished the conquest and three days later the Franco-Spaniards surrender Barcelona. Prince George is buried in Josepets in Gracia, because Catalans considered him a national hero.
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