‘Visca Catalunya Lliure!’ – Battles for Catalan Autonomy in the Ramblas in the Immediate Aftermath of World War One


  • Florian Grafl


Urban Violence, Catalonia, World War One, Nationalism, Street Violence


The short period from November 1918 to January 1919 marked a very distinct episode in the history of Catalan nationalism and in the history of Barcelona. The after-war years in the Catalan metropolis became known as Pistolerismo due to the bloody struggles between workers and entrepreneurs. The first months after the armistice, however, were dominated by the confrontations of Catalan nationalists and the police as well as radical proponents of the Spanish central state in Barcelona’s main avenue, Las Ramblas. This article analyses these violent street protests for Catalan autonomy in a microhistorical perspective aiming for a better understanding of how these struggles emerged, why they reached such a radical dimension, and under which conditions they came to a sudden end in February 1919. Firstly, the socio-political developments are examined, arguing that Catalanism underwent a transformation from a cultural to a political movement at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century and that despite Spain’s neutrality, the raise of nationalisms caused by the First World War also affected Catalonia. Secondly, the importance of the Ramblas as a stage of street protest in Barcelona is highlighted. Thirdly, the logics and the routines of these violent confrontations are analysed. Finally, it is demonstrated how the Canadiese strike in February 1919 immediately pushed the quest for Catalan autonomy completely into the background for several years. In general, this article contributes to both the history of Catalan nationalism as well as to the history of urban violence in contemporary Barcelona.



How to Cite

Grafl, F. (2021). ‘Visca Catalunya Lliure!’ – Battles for Catalan Autonomy in the Ramblas in the Immediate Aftermath of World War One. Studies on National Movements (SNM), 7, 22. Retrieved from https://test.snm.nise.eu/index.php/studies/article/view/82