Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective

by Simon Harris

If you want to understand why Catalans want independence Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective by Simon Harris gives the background to nearly 1,000 years of tension between Catalonia and Castile.

This book is essential reading because it recounts the history of Spain from a Catalan point of view and challenges many Spanish nationalist clichés, such as La Reconquista and that Catalonia never existed as an independent state.

Author Simon Harris describes the political, economic and social reasons why two different systems of government developed in Castile and Catalonia and the tensions this created as Castile began to gain dominance over the different peoples of the Iberian peninsula.

It is often said that history is written by the victors so it is not surprising that the Catalans were virtually written out of Spanish history after they were defeated by Felipe V's troops in 1714 and subjected to military occupation by Castile for the next century and a half.

The two nations continued developing along different lines throughout the 19th century as Catalonia went through the industrial revolution whilst the rest of Spain remained mainly agricultural and modern calls for Catalan independence go back to this period when political Catalanism recognised the need for more modern systems of government to support its economy.

The Spanish dictatorships of the 20th century under Primo de Rivera and Franco led to further repression of Catalan language and culture and given the censorship Catalan historians once again were forced underground.

In this insightful and balanced book, Simon Harris not only sets the historical record straight but also makes it clear that, unless centralising Castile is prepared to accept that it doesn't have the monopoly on Spanishness, the Catalan question is definitely not going to go away.

Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective by Simon Harris is available on Kindle and as a paperback on,, and the rest of the Amazon network,


Now Read the Book Chapter by Chapter

  1. An Adopted Catalan
  2. A Nationalist View of Spanish History
  3. The Medieval Origins of Catalonia
  4. Confusing the Kingdom with the Crown of Aragon
  5. Early Expansion of the Catalano-Aragonese Confederation
  6. Catalan Democratic Traditions
  7. Barcelona - Capital of an Empire
  8. The First Castilian Kings of the Trastámara Dynasty
  9. The Catholic Kings
  10. Was Christopher Columbus Catalan?
  11. Carlos V - The First King of the Habsburgs
  12. Golden Age or Black Legend?
  13. The Reapers' War
  14. The War of the Spanish Succession
  15. The Siege of Barcelona
  16. The Nueva Planta Decree
  17. Industrial Revolution and Cultural Renaixença
  18. The Rise of Political Catalanism
  19. Mancomunitat - The Catalan Commonwealth
  20. The Catalan Republic under Macià and Companys
  21. Francoism and the Falange
  22. The Revival of Catalan Culture under Franco
  23. The Transition to Democracy
  24. Catalan Politics and Language in the 1980s and 90s
  25. The Estatut and the Independence Movement
  26. The Right to Decide

What Readers Say About Catalonia Is Not Spain

Something for everyone

"From the casual reader with little pre-existing knowledge of Catalonia to long-time observers of this Mediterranean nation, everyone is certain to learn something new from this book. Indeed, Simon Harris pulls off a double whammy, explaining the key points of Catalan history with gripping prose while at the same time going into greater detail to look beyond the mere historical facts and analyse the political, social and cultural factors that have shaped the Catalonia of today."

Alistair Ian Spearing Ortiz, 5 Stars,


Highly recommended !! Excellent

"This is an excellent book if you want to know the history of Catalonia told from an objective point of view. There are a lot of books about Catalan and Spanish history but when they are written by a neutral person, this history becomes real.

The story of Roman Hispania, the Reconquista and the creation of Spain is a Spanish cliché. All the Iberian nations have a rich history but it is necessay to look beyond the Spanish nationalist version and take an outsider's view. Don't doubt that Catalonia is an ancient nation with a vibrant history that brings us to modern times.

This book is highly recommended especially considering the times we are living in Europe at the moment. Of course, if you want information about what's going on in the Catalan Independence Process and the historical reasons behind why the Catalans want to separate from Spain, this book will tell you everything you need to know."

Josep Maria, 5 Stars,


Such a great book about Catalan history

"For anybody who wants to have a real insight into Catalan history, this is an absolute must. It's a great source of information based on many years of research. And the book itself is a great read - educational and incisive. Highly recommended!"

Yovko Lambrev, 5 Stars,


Five Stars

"Excelente vision de Catalunya a traves de la perspectiva històrica. Muy recomendable."

Juan Maria XIOL QUINGLES, 5 Stars,


Interesting and informative

"About time that more balanced and incisive information was available about this thorny subject. A great read for those interested in finding out more about the history of this region from a non-Spanish perspective."

Stephen Joseph Evans, 5 Stars,



"1000 years of history?. A medieval Empire? This book is a fake history book. Catalonia, first of all was a little County included into a territory called centuries before Marca Hispánica (Hispanic Mark) by Charlemagne. Indeed there wasn't any Catalonia when Leovigildo founded the former Visigothic Hispania over the old Roman province. First was Hispania centuries after the name of Cataluña arised."

josemfc, 1 Star,


Wanna know why Catalans are protesting?

"A good read to understand the history behind the Catalan struggle for independence. I learned a lot about the history of Catalonia and gained a better understanding why the Catalan independence is gaining force again.
The writer is very clear on his own position which is very pro Catalonia. This shows a bit too much in the interpretations of the historical events. It is hard to find a Catalan nationalist with bad intents while the Madrilenos almost always are wrong. Besides that minor detail (which makes me move from 5 to 4 stars) the book is very good!"

Bengt Sjöberg, 4 Stars,


Five Stars

"A must read."

Laura Palmer, 5 Stars,


Five Stars

"Well documented and provides a good insight into the topic"

Juan Manuel ARTÉS, 5 Stars,


Injustice and very bad luck

"A very well researched and comprehensive history of Catalunia which has left me breathless with indignation and sorrowful at the injustices done through the centuries to the Catalans and their fascinating country - my home for more than a decade. As an Englishman I am also ashamed of the betrayals of Catalunya by Britain at critical moments which Simon Harris documents."

Ivorra, 5 Stars,


Easy to read history of the current Catalan independence debate

"Easy to read history of the current Catalan independence debate. Long enough to have more than scanty information but not too long for bedtime reading.Especially useful to read this book now, for anyone who wants to make sense of why Catalans are seeking independence from Spain."

Manxmouse, 5 Stars,


Clear and readable with a well documented (if somewhat one sided) historical basis

"History is always subjective, and given the current friction in Spain, I suspect that this book will be hated by more than on bigoted "anti-catalan". I however found it most readable with well researched historical references. The perspective certainly leaves clear the writer's allegiences, (hardly surprising if he's just written this!) but his arguments were well put forward, even if I would call a few into doubt.
Recommended read to give you one perspective of history. I am yet to find anything with a reasonable counter arguement with anything like as amiable a tone!"

David Cook, 4 Stars,


Fine book

"Fine research and easy to read. I found the book interesting and fully documented. Recommended to anyone who wants to know more about Catalonia and the why of the situation they are now."

roger vicens margenet, 5 Stars,


When a historian is as passionate about his topic as Simon obviously is, you know you are in for a good read

"I first got interested in what has become known as the Catalan Question around 20 years ago, when we used to talk to a guy who owned a bar in Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava. I got more involved when I moved to Spain and wanted to learn more about Spanish and Catalan history. Due to the bar owner - Luis - explaining a lot of stuff to me, I knew that many Catalans saw themselves as not being part of Spain, and I knew some of the reasons why, but there seemed to be a dearth of balanced history around.

So I was really glad to find this book. I was hooked from the first chapter, 'An Adopted Catalan,' and I love the way Simon explains his integration into Catalan society and the Catalan psyche. It makes it personal, and about the people, which makes it easier to identify with and empathise with. Yet when he's reporting the facts, it's crisp, clear and easy to understand. In other words, it's that unusual specimen, a history book you just can't put down. I love Simon's writing style, and I wish to goodness he'd been around to teach me history, because he makes it exciting.

Yes, it's one-sided in some respects, but then he makes it clear from the outset where his sympathies lie, so what else do you expect? However, the facts are reported in a balanced fashion, which is more than can be said of much of the conventional Spanish histories, which have virtually airbrushed Catalonia and its people out of major events such as the Reconquista.

I love this book, and I know I will read it again. I only wish I could give it more than 5 stars, because this is one of the best non-fiction books I've read in years - and I've read a lot! When a historian is as passionate about his topic as Simon obviously is, you know you are in for a good read. You will certainly not be disappointed with this, whichever side of the Catalan Question your sympathies lie."

Sandra Piddock, 5 Stars,


A fine and researched read

"A fine read. The history of Catalonia is not very well-known around the world, probably due to that old saying "The winners write the history." And Catalonia lost out to the Spanish State many years ago. This book, based on sound research, beats many of the biased versions of Spanish/Catalan history that politicians often spout, especially at present."

Brian Cutts, 5 Stars,


Five Stars

"written really well and so interesting!"

siggy123, 5 Stars,

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