|The Catalan / Valencian cultural domain|
Northern Catalonia with respect to Catalonia, Spain (left); Northern Catalonia within France (right)
Northern Catalonia (Catalan : Catalunya (del) Nord [kətəˈluɲə (ðəl) ˈnɔɾt] ; French : Catalogne (du) Nord [katalɔɲ nɔʁ] ; Occitan : Catalonha (del) Nòrd), French Catalonia or Roussillon refers to the Catalan-speaking and Catalan-culture territory ceded to France by Spain through the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 in exchange of France's effective renunciation on the formal protection given to the recently founded Catalan Republic. The area corresponds exactly to the modern French département of the Pyrénées-Orientales which were historically part of Catalonia since the old County of Barcelona, and lasted during the times of the Crown of Aragon and the Principality of Catalonia until they were given to France by Spain.
The equivalent term in French, Catalogne Nord, is used nowadays, although less often than the more politically neutral Roussillon (Catalan: Rosselló), notwithstanding the fact that this term is geographically and historically inaccurate because it ignores Vallespir, Conflent and Cerdagne (Catalan: Cerdanya). The term used nowadays is Pays Catalan (Catalan: Pais Català).
Northern Catalonia forms a triangle between the Pyrenees to the south, the Corbières Massif to the north-west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. The Roussillon plain in the east, by far the most populated area, is formed by the flood plains of the Tech, Têt, and Agly rivers (Catalan : Tec, Tet, Aglí). The districts of Vallespir and Conflent cover the upper valleys of the Tech and the Têt respectively. The massif of the Canigou (Catalan : Canigó), 2785 m, dominates much of the territory.
The climate is of the Mediterranean type, with hot, dry summers and winters which are relatively mild, at least on the Roussillon plain where snow is rare.
The city of Perpignan (Catalan : Perpinyà) accounts for over a quarter of the population, over one-third of its urban area is taken into account, and is the only major administrative and service center. Major road and rail links run north–south through Northern Catalonia between France and Spain, while a railway line also links Perpignan to Latour-de-Carol (Catalan: La Tor de Querol) via Prades (Catalan: Prada de Conflent or Prada).
Haute-Cerdagne (Catalan : Alta Cerdanya) is geographically distinct from the rest of Northern Catalonia, lying to the south of the Pyrenean watershed in the upper valley of the Segre. It is a mountainous and sparsely-populated district, and includes the town of Llívia (pop. 1252 (2005)) which is an enclave which is a part of Spain.
The district lies on the most direct route between Toulouse (Occitan : Tolosa de Lengadoc) and Barcelona (via Foix and Ripoll), and a railway line still links the two cities via Latour-de-Carol (Catalan : La Tor de Querol).
Northern Catalonia formed part of the Spanish Marches, established by Charlemagne as a buffer territory against the Moorish forces. As such, it was divided into feudal counties, Rosselló, Vallespir, Conflent north of the Pyrenees and Cerdanya to the south. By the end of the ninth century, these counties had gained de facto independence from the Carolingian kings and operated as princely states (whose rulers nevertheless retained the title of count).
As the seigneury of the counties became hereditary, the total number of Catalan counts fell steadily. One individual often had the charge of several counties, but these were not always transmitted based on primogeniture. Hence Count Miró II the Young, third son of Wilfred I the Hairy, inherited the counties of Cerdanya and Conflent from his father in 897, and the counties of Besalú and Vallespir from his elder brother Sunyer I when the latter became Count of Barcelona in 911.
The Counts of Rosselló, in alliance with their cousins the Counts of Empuriés, tried to resist this dilution of their power. However, the Counts of Barcelona steadily gained suzerainty over the other Catalan counts, a process that was virtually complete by the twelfth century. The last Count of Rosselló, Girard II, left his title to the Crown of Aragon on his death in 1172 to prevent the territory passing to his illegitimate half-brothers.
Royal administration in the Principality of Catalonia under the Crown of Aragon was organized based on vegueries , under the charge of a veguer appointed by the King of Aragon as Count of Barcelona. In Northern Catalonia, the vegueries followed closely the boundaries of the old counties. The district of Capcir was a sotsvegueria, based around the castle of Puigbalador (French: Puyvalador) but subordinate to the vegueria of Conflent.
The Treaty of Corbeil of 1258 confirmed the frontier between France and Aragon as the Cerbères, leaving the Occitan district of Fenolheda to France.
On the death of King James I the Conqueror in 1276, Northern Catalonia was combined with the Balearic Isles to form a new Kingdom of Majorca, which passed to James II while the rest of the territory of the Crown of Aragon passed to his brother Peter III. This division satisfied neither branch of the family, and the Kingdom of Majorca was retaken militarily by the Crown of Aragon in 1344, reintegrating the Roussillon and Cerdanya into the Principality.
The Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659 ceded Northern Catalonia to France, where it became the province of Roussillon. The French provinces were abolished at the Revolution (Law of 1789-12-22), and Roussillon was joined with the district of Fenouillèdes (Occitan: Fenolheda) to form the département of the Pyrénées-Orientales, with Perpignan ( Perpinyà ) as its administrative centre.
The département of the Pyrénées-Orientales is divided into the arrondissements of Céret (Catalan: Ceret ), Perpignan ( Perpinyà ) and Prades ( Prada de Conflent ), which are further divided into cantons and communes. Perpignan and sixteen surrounding communes are also associated in the Communauté d'agglomération Têt Méditerranée, created in 2001. Enclaved in the southwest of the département there is the Spanish (Catalonia) exclave of Llívia.
|Arrondissement||Cantons||Communes||Population (1999)||Area|| Population|
|Céret (Ceret)||5||40||66,624||954 km²||69.8 /km²|
|Perpignan (Perpinyà)||20||86||287,272||1317 km²||218 /km²|
|Prades (Prada)||6||100||38,907||1845 km²||21.1 /km²|
|TOTAL||31||226||392,803||4116 km²||95.4 /km²|
|All figures include the district of Fenouillèdes.|
As is common, the present-day arrondissements do not correspond to pre-Revolutionary boundaries. The arrondissement of Prades (Prada) covers the whole of Haute-Cerdagne (Alta Cerdanya) and Conflent (including Capcir), as well as about a third of Fenolheda (not part of the province of Roussillon). The arrondissement of Céret covers the whole of Vallespir but also the Côte Vermeille (Costa Vermella), which was historically under the control of the counts and veguers of Rosselló at Perpinyà (Perpignan).
Catalan writers sometimes speak of the "comarques of Northern Catalonia". Unlike the autonomous community of Catalonia, these comarques have no administrative significance, although they usually correspond to a certain historical and geographical unity. A commonly used division is that of Joan Becat in his 1977 work Atles de Catalunya Nord, which follows closely the boundaries of the former vegueries except insofar as it promotes the former sotsvegueria of Capcir (177 km², pop. 1532 (1990)) to a full comarca.
The region is divided among those who support a union with France and those who support reuniting with Catalonia. A big majority of Northern Catalans oppose reuniting with Catalonia, however, the Catalan Unity political party promotes the idea. The party has had some success since 1993, winning seats in the municipal elections. It is now the biggest Catalan nationalist party in the region.
Northern Catalans are proud of their Catalan heritage and have developed a "Northern Catalan" identity. However, unlike their Southern neighbors, the Catalan identity is not a nationalist movement in French Catalonia. According to a 2020 study, French Catalans experienced mass education in the second half of the 19th century, leading them to adopt French patriotism. Catalans in Spain were mass educated in the early 20th century locally by Catalans and not by a strong Spanish state, thus allowing for the formation of a salient Catalan national identity.
In 2016 Northern Catalonia was merged with other areas of Occitania to form a new French region. This has led to fears that the Occitan language and culture will be given precedence over the Catalan language and culture.
In December 2017 Express.co.uk reported that 2000 people took part in a protest in Perpignan, in order to get the French government to hold a referendum on Northern Catalonia reuniting with Southern Catalonia.Northern Catalans helped print ballot slips for the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.
Catalan is spoken in all regions of Northern Catalonia except for Fenolleda which speaks the Occitan language.
In Perpignan, where a quarter of the population lives, 44% know the Catalan language.
The Catalan folk dance Sardana is a dance in the region. Northern Catalans support the USAP rugby union team and the Catalans Dragons rugby league team.There are four castells (Catalan human towers) teams in Northern Catalonia.
French is the only official language in France as a whole and these municipalities. Catalan, in its Northern Catalan variety, is recognized as a regional language only by the region of Languedoc-Roussillon; it then benefits from cultural support in education and public media, with some more regional power since the laws of regionalization of France during the 1980s. It is estimated to be spoken by a 33% of the population,but understood by 49%.
On December 10, 2007, the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales proclaimed Catalan as one of the languages of the department, alongside French and Occitan (in Fenouillèdes),The 'Charter in Support of Catalan' was adopted which called for the inclusion of the Catalan language on signs and its use in material produced by the administrative department.
In 1700, the government of Louis XIV prohibited the use of the Catalan language in official documents,although the government only irregularly enforced the edict throughout the eighteenth century.
In Perpignan Catalan was also prohibited from being used by priests during mass.
From 1700 all public acts had to be written in French, from 1738 this was extended to include registers of births, marriages and deaths.
In the 1950s, after centuries of being forbidden in education, the Catalan language was permitted to be studied for one hour per week in secondary school. In the 1970s, the Arrels Association and la Bressola network of private schools started to offer complete bilingual French/Catalan classes from nursery up to secondary education.
Perpignan is the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in Southwest France, nestled in the heart of the plain of Roussillon, at the foot of the Pyrenees a few kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea and the scrublands of the Corbières massif. It is the centre of the metropolitan area Perpignan Mediterranée Métropole. In 2016 Perpignan had 121,875 inhabitants in the commune proper, and the metropolitan area had a total population of 268,577 making it the last major French city before Spain.
Languedoc-Roussillon is a former administrative region of France. On 1 January 2016, it joined with the region of Midi-Pyrénées to become Occitanie. It comprised five departments, and borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side. It was the southernmost region of mainland France.
Cerdanya or often La Cerdanya, is a natural comarca and historical region of the eastern Pyrenees divided between France and Spain. Historically it was one of the counties of Catalonia.
Roussillon is one of the historical counties of the former Principality of Catalonia. It may also refer to Northern Catalonia or French Catalonia, the first used by Catalan-speakers and the second used by French-speakers, corresponding roughly to the present-day southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales save Fenouillèdes. A 1998 survey found that 34% of respondents stated they speak Catalan, and a further 21% understand it.
The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed on 7 November 1659, and ended the 1635 to 1659 Franco-Spanish war.
Cerdanya is a comarca in northern Catalonia, in the Pyrenees, on the border of Catalonia with France and Andorra. Within Catalonia, Cerdanya is divided between Catalan provinces of Girona and Lleida. Cerdanya's neighbouring comarques are Alt Urgell, Berguedà, and Ripollès.
The Pyrénées-Orientales department is composed of 226 communes.
Capcir is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, now part of the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca was Formiguera, and it borders the historical comarques of Conflent and Alta Cerdanya. Capcir is on a plateau, averaging 1500 metres above sea level, and allows passage between the high valleys of Aude and both the Spanish Cerdanya and French Cerdagne. It has traditionally been rural, but has developed considerably in last the forty years thanks to its tourist attractions. Capcir has two nicknames: little Siberia or little Canada. This gives an idea of the climate which can prevail during the winter. It is one the last places in Western Europe where the arctic plant Ligularia sibirica can be found.
Conflent is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, now part of the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales. In the Middle Ages it comprised the County of Conflent.
Vallespir is a historical Catalan comarca of Northern Catalonia, part of the French department of Pyrénées-Orientales. The capital of the comarca is Ceret, and it borders Conflent, Rosselló, Alt Empordà, Garrotxa and Ripollès. It is in the Tech River valley. The main towns in the Vallespir are Ceret, Amelie Les Bains, Arles Sur Tech and Prats De Mollo La Preste
The Principality of Catalonia was a medieval and early modern state in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. During most of its history it was in dynastic union with the Kingdom of Aragon, constituting together the Crown of Aragon. Between the 13th and the 18th centuries, it was bordered by the Kingdom of Aragon to the west, the Kingdom of Valencia to the south, the Kingdom of France and the feudal lordship of Andorra to the north and by the Mediterranean sea to the east. The term Principality of Catalonia remained in use until the Second Spanish Republic, when its use declined because of its historical relation to the monarchy. Today, the term Principat (Principality) is used primarily to refer to the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, as distinct from the other Catalan Countries, and usually including the historical region of Roussillon in southern France.
The County of Roussillon was one of the Catalan counties in the Marca Hispanica during the Middle Ages. The rulers of the county were the counts of Roussillon, whose interests lay both north and south of the Pyrenees.
Le Perthus is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. Natives of Le Pertus are called Perthusiens and, in 2016, there were 586 inhabitants.
Miro, called the Old or the Elder was the count of Conflent from 870 and Rosselló (Roussillon) from 878 until his death in 896. He was the son of Sunifred I, count of Barcelona, Urgell, Cerdanya, and Besalú, and Ermesende, and thus the brother of Wilfred the Hairy and Radulf of Besalú.
The Catalan counties were the administrative Christian divisions of the eastern Carolingian Hispanic Marches and southernmost part of the March of Gothia in the Pyrenees created after its Frankish quick counter conquest.
The County of Cerdanya was one of the Catalan counties formed in the last decades of the 8th century by the Franks in the Marca Hispanica. The original Cerdanya consisted of the valley of the upper Segre. Today Cerdanya is a Catalan comarca.
L'Albère is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France.
Pyrénées-Orientales, also known as Northern Catalonia, is a department of the Occitanie region of Southern France, adjacent to the northern Spanish frontier and the Mediterranean Sea. It also surrounds the tiny Spanish exclave of Llívia, and thus has two distinct borders with Spain. In 2016, it had a population of 474,369.
Occitanie, Occitany or Occitania is the southernmost administrative region of metropolitan France excluding Corsica, created on 1 January 2016 from the former regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. The Conseil d'État approved Occitanie as the new name of the region on 28 September 2016, coming into effect on 30 September 2016.
The Angelets, or “the Angelets of the Earth”, were peasants who rose up from 1667 to 1675 against the French authorities of the Roussillon province. The group of conflicts of the period is subsumed under the name of “the Revolt of the Angelets”. The cause was the instituting of the gabelle in 1661 — a measure contrary to traditional constitutions of the earldom.