Enric Prat de la Riba was a lawyer and Catalanist poltician, who became the first President of the Mancomunitat or Commonwealth of Catalonia and one of the men behind the resurgence of Catalan sentiment in the late 19th century.
He was born on November 29th 1870 in Castellterçol in what was then El Vallès Oriental and is now part of El Moianès.
Prat de la Riba was involved in drawing up the key Catalanist document Bases de Manresa and he was of the founders of the Lliga Regionalista, which was the main conservative Catalanist political party in the early 20th century.
Prat de la Riba's main achievement was the creation of the Mancomunitat or Commonwealth of Catalonia and he became its first president in 1914.
He died on August 1st 1917 without having been able to complete the reform project that the Mancomunitat supposed.
"Vinc a parlar-vos de la pàtria catalana, que, petita o gran, és l'única pàtria nostra [...]"
"I come to talk about the Catalan homeland, which, large or small, is the only homeland we've got [...]"
Enric Prat de la Riba 1880
Enric Prat de la Riba i Sarrà was the son of Esteve Prat de la Riba i Magarins and Maria Sarrà i Rosàs, who were the owners of Can Prat de la Riba in Bigues.
He did his secondary education in Barcelona, where he graduated in Law in 1893 and in 1894 gained his doctorate in Madrid with the thesis La ley jurídica de la industria (The Juridical Law of Industry), which was published in 1898.
In 1887, he joined the Centre Escolar Catalanista and was president of the organisation between 1890 and 1891.
Prat de la Riba became secretary of the board of the political pressure group, the Unió Catalanista and in 1892 was involved in the debates that led to the drawing up of the Bases de Manresa, which laid the foundations for the recovery of the Catalan Constitutions.
He was member of the Lliga de Catalunya until 1899, was behind the creation of Centre Nacional Català and was one of the founders of the Lliga Regionalista in 1901.
He wrote for and edited La Veu de Catalunya and synthesised his Catalanist ideas in his book La nacionalitat catalana in 1906.
In 1905, Prat de la Riba was elected to the Diputació de Barcelona becoming its president in 1907 and founding the Institut d'Estudis Catalans the same year.
His main achievement though was managing to get the Spanish Parliament to pass the decree that would permit the unification of the four Catalan provinces of Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona and Lleida into a Mancomunitat or Commonwealth.
He was elected first president of the Mancomunitat of Catalonia on April 6th 1914 and in his acceptance speech famously said "La Mancomunitat closes a period that began with the fall of Barcelona, with the Decree of the Nueva Planta [...] and begans another, which is the future [...]".
During the early years of the Mancomunitat, Catalonia made important advances but before the process of modernisation was complete, Enric Prat de la Riba unfortunately died on August 1st 1917 and his successor, Josep Puig i Cadafalch was significantly less successful.
Prat de la Riba's personal files are Arxiu Nacional de Catalunya and, as the Mancomunitat was in many respects the precursor to the modern Generalitat, he is increasingly considered the key figure behind modern Catalanism.
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