Els Segadors: The Reapers

April 21, 2021 Off By barcelonas

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)

Catalunya triomfant,
tornarà a ser rica i plena.
Endarrera aquesta gent
tan ufana i tan superba.

    Bon cop de falç!
    Bon cop de falç, defensors de la terra!
    Bon cop de falç!

Ara és hora, segadors.
Ara és hora d’estar alerta.
Per quan vingui un altre juny,
esmolem ben bé les eines.


Que tremoli l’enemic,
en veient la nostra ensenya.
Com fem caure espigues d’or,
quan convé seguem cadenes.


The Reapers (English translation)

Catalonia triumphant
shall again be rich and bountiful.
Drive away these people,[2]
Who are so conceited and so contemptful.

    Strike with your sickle!
    Strike with your sickle, defenders of the land!
    Strike with your sickle!

Now is the time, reapers.
Now is the time to stand alert.
For when another June comes,[3]
Let us sharpen our tools well.


May the enemy tremble,
upon seeing our symbol.
Just as we cut golden ears of wheat,
when the time calls we cut off chains.[4]