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How Far Does the Disaster of 1898 Account for the Growth of Catalan and Basque Nationalism?

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How far does the disaster of 1898 account for the growth of Catalan and Basque nationalism?

The humiliating defeat of Spain to America during the Spanish-American War of 1898 dealt a catastrophic blow to the Spanish nation. In the subsequent Treaty of Paris signed on December 10th 1898, Spain relinquished its remaining colonial territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The disaster evoked heavy criticism of the Restoration government and its inherent corruption amongst many groups within Spanish society and served as a catalyst for the emergence of new political forces seeking to contest against the ruling oligarchy, most notably Catalan and Basque nationalism. This essay will argue that the disaster of 1898 was largely accountable for the growth of this nationalist sentiment in Catalonia and the Basque country. However, it will go on to assert that it was not wholly responsible: Catalanism had been built upon a steadily growing tide of Catalan particularism throughout the nineteenth century, and in the Basque Country its growth was ephemeral and would in fact enter a period of a more accelerated development during the years of the First World War. In Catalonia, friction had long existed between its regional demands and the centralising mission of the Spanish state. This tension had grown as a process of modernisation encouraged by industrial development in Catalonia had widened the cultural and economic gap between it and a stagnant central and southern Spain characterised by an agrarian subsistence economy. However, Catalan industry maintained great reliance on the Spanish state for the protection of its economic interests. It provided the framework with which Catalonian manufacturers could exploit the domestic market and provided access to lucrative colonial markets critical to Catalonian commerce. So long as Catalan economic interests remained…...

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