Inici » The Catalan-French victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Montjuïc

The Catalan-French victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Montjuïc

un grupo de soldados corriendo con banderas y cascos en la cabeza y un hombre sosteniendo un arma en la otra mano, De Hirsh Margules, vfx, una pintura mate detallada, antípodas

A historical fact that changed the course of the war

383 years ago, on January 26, 1641, one of the most relevant episodes of the War of Separation of Catalonia (1640-1652/59) took place. On the edge of Montjuïc mountain, in Barcelona, ​​the army made up of Catalans and French managed to defeat the Spanish Tercios and put them to flight. This battle, known as the Battle of Montjuïc, was the first major Catalan-French military triumph in that struggle. Until then, the Spanish, who had invaded the Principality two months earlier, had won all the battles against the Catalan-French. But the Battle of Montjuïc was not only the first of a succession of Catalan-French victories, but also had an extraordinary impact on the development of that war.

The protagonists of the battle

The Catalan army was led by Francesc de Tamarit, councilor-protector of the Principality, and had nine infantry and artillery regiments of the Coronela de Barcelona (companies of armed citizens organized by guilds), three regiments of Fusillers de Catalonia (companies of musketeers, called Miquelets, recruited from the country’s towns) and two regiments of the Military Arm (cavalry companies of the country’s noble estate). In total there were 6,000 personnel. The French army was led by Henri Robert de Serinhan, and had an infantry regiment, seven cavalry battalions and a company of Musketeers of the King of France, which totaled 2,000 troops.

The Spanish, confident of their numerical superiority (more than 20,000 effective) and their high morale (they had not suffered a defeat since the beginning of the war), made several strategic mistakes that would end up costing them dearly. During the first hours of fighting, the Spanish lost more than 1,500 troops and a large part of their command. The next day, the Spanish commander—the cruel Los Vélez, who had murdered the Catalan civilian population on the way from Tortosa to Barcelona—ordered the retreat. In the shameful Spanish retreat to Tarragona they were besieged by the Catalan miquelets, who caused them more than 1,000 casualties. And upon arriving in Tarragona, around 8,000 Spanish soldiers deserted.

The consequences of the battle

Francisco Manuel de Melo, one of the surviving commanders of the Spanish defeat, would write: “The flags of Castile, shortly before unfurled in the wind as a sign of their victory, walked fallen and trampled at the feet of their enemies, where many not even for trophies and ornaments of triumph raised them; they were reduced to such disdain. The weapons lost throughout the campaign were already in such numbers that they could serve better as a defense than in the hands of their owners, due to the difficulty they caused on the way: only death and revenge praised in the Spanish tragedy seem to be they delighted in that horrible performance”. A few weeks later, the count-duke of Olivares, Spanish minister plenipotentiary, put an end to Los Vélez’s military career.

The Battle of Montjuïc was a turning point in the war, as it showed that the Catalan-French could face the Spanish and that their alliance was solid. In addition, he strengthened the morale of the Catalans and encouraged them to continue the fight for their freedom. The battle also had a major international impact, as it highlighted the weakness of Spanish power and opened the door to new alliances with other European countries that opposed its hegemony.

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