The National Anthem of Catalonia
Els Segadors or The Reapers is the official National Anthem of Catalonia and its lyric refers to the events of 1640 known as Corpus de Sang during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) between Spain, England, France and Austria.
The Corpus de Sang or Corpus of Blood took place on Corpus Christi Day on June 7th 1640 and was an uprising of farmworkers against the occupying Castilian army.
The day labourers had arrived in Barcelona for the harvest and were carrying sickles – hence the name reapers – and the uprising led to the Catalan Revolt or Guerra dels Segadors or Reapers’ War, which lasted from 1640 to 1652.
During the Reapers’ War, Catalonia declared independence from the Spanish monarchy for the first time, became a protectorate of France and ended up losing Northern Catalonia to France in the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which was signed between France and Spain in 1859.
You can read all about The Reapers War in my book Catalonia Is Not Spain: A Historical Perspective.
About the Song
Although the original song was based on the the oral tradition, its modern lyrics were written by Emili Guanyavents, who won a controversial competition in 1899 and the music was standardised by Francesc Alió in 1892.
The Catalan government adopted “Els Segadors” as the national anthem of Catalonia in 1993 and its interesting to note that both the Catalan National Anthem and the Catalan National Day on September 11th commemorate defeats.
Els Segadors (Catalan)
Ara és hora, segadors.
Que tremoli l’enemic,
The Reapers (English translation)
Now is the time, reapers.
May the enemy tremble,