Catalan-Aragonese Oath of Allegiance
A dictionary of Spanish history and culture
Barcelona was governed in the Middle Ages by an oligarchy of nobles, merchants, shopkeepers and, unusually, artisans who formed into the Consell de Cent, or Council of One Hundred, in the 13th century. The city’s charter of citizens’ rights, the Usatges, or Usages, predates the Magna Carta by a century. The council had to answer to the count king of Catalonia and Aragon, but he did not rule his realms absolutely. He was seen to rule by contract and not by divine right. The leaders of the council swore the remarkable and unique oath of allegiance to the monarch of Catalonia and Aragon, ending with the succinct But if not, not:
We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign, provided you observe all our liberties and laws, but if not, not.
“Nós, que valem tant com vós per separat, i junts més que vós, us investim sobirà i us jurem lleialtat per tal que ens protegiu, defenseu i treballeu pel nostre progrés, i si no, no”.
Robert Hughes whose Barcelona is the best book written as yet in English on the Catalan capital comments on the oath in this article in Time Magazine.
“the Catalans’ sense of otherness — the separation, cultural and institutional, from the rest of Spain — comes through loud and clear in the oath of allegiance their leaders swore to the Aragonese kings in the 15th century….Catalans have always waxed lyrical over their medieval defiance of kingship and railed against “centralism” — rule by Madrid. Their political history is one long rebuke to the dominant ideology of Europe: that of the nation-state that subsumes and represses cultural differences within it.“