General Josep Moragues

Catalan Hero in the War of the Spanish Succession

General Josep Moragues is considered one of the great Catalan heroes of the War of the Spanish Succession both as a fighter and later because his head was hung from the Portal del Mar as an example to Catalans thinking of standing up against their Castilian oppressors..

Josep Moragues i Sobrevia, who would later sign as Josep Moragues i Mas, was born into a comfortably off farming family at Mas Moragues in Sant Hilari Sacalm sometime in 1669. His father died in 1685 and the young Josep inherited the family property.

During the Nine Years War (1688-1697), when the French invaded Catalonia, Moragues formed part of various local militia groups, particularly in the Osona area, as he was married to Cecília Regàs from Arbúcies.

Later he joined the Vigatans from the Plana de Vic, who fought against the French, so when Philippe of Anjou acceded to the Spanish throne as Felipe V in 1701, he and his companions were opposed to the new king and favoured the Austrian Habsburg pretender, Archduke Charles.

Josep Moragues, along with other patriots from Vic, was one of the signatories of the Pact of the Vigatans at the chapel of Sant Sebastià on May 17th 1705, which led to the Pact of Genoa, where the English promised to guarantee Catalonia's Laws, Rights and Institutions in return for the Vigatans promising to take 6,000 to attack Barcelona when the English attacked by sea later in the year.

Role in the War of the Spanish Succession

The War of the Spanish Succession began and Josep Moragues stood out as a military strategist leading a group of Miquelets in the Catalan countryside, most notably at the Combat of Congost.

Moragues was a colonel in the cavalry until 1707, when he was promoted to general, commander of the Pyrenees and governor of Castellciutat, a military fort in La Seu d'Urgell. 

After the Battle of Almansa in 1707, the tide began to turn against the Austriacists but this became definitive when Archduke Charles acceded to the Austrian throne in 1711, which ultimately led to Britain and Holland withdrawing from the war at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and Catalonia was effectively left to fight alone.

On September 28th 1713, General Moragues surrendered Castellciutat to the Borbóns but after briefly retiring to Sort, he returned to the fight and after failing to retake Castellciutat, his wife was taken hostage and imprisoned in Balaguer. 

Moragues rescued her on June 24th 1713, left her safely in Cardona and went to defend Pallars under the orders of Colonel Antoni Desvalls i de Vergós, who despite being of lower rank was the commander of the forces outside Barcelona.

The battle for central Catalonia was centred on Cardona Castle from where the Catalans attacked the Borbóns in order to divert their attention from the Siege of Barcelona and it was for this reason that General Moragues didn't fight in the defence of the city that came to a head on September 11th 1714.

On September 18th 1714, Moragues was part of the surrender of Cardona and afterwards returned to his home in Sort from where he was called to Barcelona by the Castilian Captain General.

Fearing arrest, Moragues tried to escape to Mallorca, which still hadn't fallen, but was arrested on March 22nd 1715. Following a court martial, General Moragues was executed on March 27th 2015 along with Captain Jaume Roca and Captain Pau Macip.

His military rank wasn't recognised and he was dragged through the streets of Barcelona behind a horse before being hung, drawn and quartered. His head was then placed in a cage and hung from the Portal del Mar, where despite protest from his widow, it remained for 12 years as a warning to potential troublemakers.

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