Rafael Casanova

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Rafael Casanova i Comes
Rafael Casanova (Rossend Nobas - copia reducida).jpg
Head Councillor of Barcelona
In office
November 30, 1713 – September 11, 1714
Monarch Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
Preceded by Manuel Flix i Ferreró
Personal details
Born circa 1660
Died May 2, 1743(1743-05-02) (aged 83)
Sant Boi de Llobregat
Nationality Spanish
Political party Austriacist
Spouse(s) Maria Bosch i Barba
Occupation Lawyer
Religion Catholicism

Rafael Casanova i Comes (Catalan pronunciation: [rəˈfɛɫ ˌkazəˈnɔβə]) (Moià, 1660 - Sant Boi de Llobregat, May 2nd, 1743) was a Spanish jurist, and supporter of Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor as a pretender to the Crown of Spain during the War of the Spanish succession. He became mayor of Barcelona and commander in chief of Catalonia during the Siege of Barcelona until he was wounded in combat while commanding La Coronela during counterattack on the Saint Peter front on the last day of the siege, September 11, 1714. He recovered from his wounds, and after the war he continued his fight against absolutism as a lawyer and it has been claimed that he is the author of the book Record de l'Aliança fet el Sereníssim Jordi Augusto Rey de la Gran Bretanya (Remembrance of the Alliance to George I of Great Britain) in which Catalonia reminds England of the Treaty of Genoa and their obligation to Catalonia.


Rafael was born in Moià around 1660 and lived there until he turned 14 years old, his birth home now houses two museums, one which is dedicated to Rafael himself and the other being the Archaeology and Paleontology Museum - Caves of the Toll of Moià.

He was one of eleven children of Rafael Casanova i Solà (1625 - 1682), a landowner of a rural estate in Moià, and Maria Comes i Sors († 1684), from Lliçà d'Amunt. At the time of his birth, the Casanova family enjoyed a solid financial position based on the usage of their land and the trade of grain and wool to supply the powerful textile industry in the subvegueria of Moianès. The Casanovas had a long tradition of participating in public affairs: his father was the head of a Catalan paramilitary organization called Sometent (dissolved 1978) in 1650, Councillor of the People (1652) and the head of the Moianès subvegueria (1659).

The inheritance of the family lands was reserved to his brother, Francisco Casanova, as was the lineage itself. Thus, the young Rafael moved to Barcelona to study law, in 1678, at the age of 18 he had achieved a Doctor of Law degree. His father had died in 1682 and his mother two years later, in 1684. Three years later, in 1687, his older brother Francis was named as an honorable citizen of Barcelona, as Moiá had the dignity to be the "street and arm of Barcelona", that is, the people of Moià enjoyed the same exemptions, rights and privileges as the people of Barcelona, and, were under the jurisdiction of the Councillors of Barcelona.

In 1696, with his career established, he married the heiress Maria Bosch i Barba, daughter of Pau Bosch and Maria Barba. The Bosch family were a lineage of apothecaries from Barcelona that had important properties in Sant Boi de Llobregat. Maria Bosch had become the widow of a medical doctor, Josep Campllonch i Puig, with whom she had a son named Josep.

In the "marriage agreement", it stated that Rafael Casanova would not obtain possession of the assets of the Bosch family, but would only temporarily administrate them while their children remain underage. This way, Rafael Casanova, the young man who came from Moià, economically consolidated his ascending position in Barcelona, while the Bosch family got a son in law to manage their assets.

Pau Bosch set a 2,750 pounds dowry for his daughter, adding 2,500 pounds for children born from the marriage, an amount which the Campllonch family possessed and had to return, but failed to do so in full, returning only 759 pounds. The newly wed couple went to live in an apartment rented by Rafael, on the street of Banys Nous 16, as discovered by the historian, Albert Garcia Espuche, in the lost house; where a newly constructed building stands, in which in 2014, during the events of the "Tricentenari" (tercentenary) of 1714, they erected a commemorative plaque.

They had four children:

  • Francesc (? - 1710)
  • Rafael Casanova i Bosch (March 7th, 1701, Barcelona - 1768, Sant Boi de Llobregat)
  • Pau (1704 - 1704)
  • Teresa (1704 - 1704)

In 1697, Maria Bosch empowered her husband in favor of Rafael Casanova, which were augmented in 1700 by Pau Bosch, her father, giving new powers to manage the assets of Bosch family.

On December 29th, 1704, Maria Bosch died during childbirth, the newborn twins, Pau and Teresa, died a few days later.

The Spanish Succession[edit]

Months later, in November 1700, Charles II died, the last Habsburg Spanish monarch. The Duke of Anjou, the Bourbon dynasty, was appointed as his successor, and who was enthroned by the name of Philip V of Spain. In 1702, the War of Spanish Succession started when the House of Austria, at odds with the will, invaded the Spanish territories in Italy. In 1703, maritime powers, England and Holland joined the House of Austria and declared war against the Two Crowns, Bourbon France and Spain, while in Vienna was called for an alternative candidate to govern Spain, the young archduke Charles of Austria. In 1704, will be moved to Portugal where he sought to recover from the Spanish throne by the dynasty of Austria, while on the other side of the peninsula allies launched an attempted landing in Barcelona with the complicity of a small number of Austrian locals. Being discovered the plot failed and the allied landings, but the exiled leaders Austrian viceroy of Catalonia Francisco Velasco, shocked and wanting to avoid any other Austrian conspiracy, began an indiscriminate repression in Barcelona repeatedly violate the constitution of Catalonia, a policy that unleashed hatred against Philip V.

Barcelona was governed by its own citizens chosen among which six judges, directors of Barcelona. These six judges were renewed annually during the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, being chosen by lot by balloting system consisting of a bag placed in the names of people written on paper, this hand bag a child drew the annual draw citizens elected to govern the city. The selected could resign if the judiciary were not considered suitable, but once appointed they were advised and supervised by the Consell de Cent, the general assembly of citizens.

The ministries assigned based on social classes, so by the chief minister in the bag only contained corresponding names of those who had the title of "Honored Citizen", a distinction given to only those locals that were significantly distinguished public service in Barcelona, otherwise the position of Chief fourth was reserved for merchants as well as the position of Chief Sixth it was by artisans and farmers. Achieved so totally anonymous people like the tailor Bartomeu Oliver, sailor Macià Ros, or barber Pere Torner governed Barcelona, then noble Ramon de Codina o Antoni de Valencia, or wealthy citizens such as lawyer Gabriel Bòria, doctor Francesc Orriols or merchant Jeroni Mascaró. They all felt privileged to govern their own city, and once his term annual returned to the anonymity, resuming the exercise of their professions. But the repressive policy of the Viceroy Velasco, raised protests from 1703-1704 advisers who disagreed with his methods and the violation of the laws, fearing that the new Bourbon king of Spain would try to impose the same absolutist politics that his grandfather had applied in France.

War of the Spanish Succession[edit]

Finally, the Barcelona Board resolved to send Pau Ignasi Dalmases the court of Madrid to protest against Philip V himself, the violations of the Catalan laws that were committed by his viceroy, but he only reached the court the emissary was arrested and jailed, which again violated the constitutional Catalan . Three months later, during the feast of the Holy Cross of Christ, 3 May 1705, a military uprising broke out in Vic Habsburg. Alongside the Austrian exiled leaders, he signed the Pact of Genoa, a treaty established a military alliance between England and Catalonia. Catalonia pledged to fight for the cause of the pretender to the Spanish throne Charles of Austria, with military aid from England, and pledged to defend the Constitution of Catalonia whatever the outcome of the war. Allied troops landed, turning back to Barcelona and then surrounding the city in October 1705. Viceroy Velasco and all the Bourbon garrison that was in Barcelona capitulated. The Government of Catalonia and Barcelona councilors received Charles of Austria hailing him as a liberator. Within days, Archduke Charles swore allegiance to the Constitution of Catalonia.

Siege of Barcelona[edit]

In November 1705, new citizens were chosen to act as advisers, but Jacint Lloredà died on January 18, 1706 and to appoint his replacement on January 25 there was a new drawing. Luckily it was ruled that the lawyer Rafael Casanova, who was then a widower and was about 46 years old; afternoon two emissaries of the city he announced the appointment. Two days later, having closed its professional affairs, the city council sent Baltasar de Luna and Antonio Valencia to take the oath. On January 28, Dr. Rafael Casanova went to the City Hall where he was received by the clerk and other officials of the Hundred. From there they accompanied him to the chapel where he prayed, then entered the hall where he was received by all other directors and entered the chapel where they heard mass. Finally they returned to the room where the council oath as Chief Casanova third in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Philip V was preparing an offensive to retake the city. The ministers of Charles of Austria instantly leaving Barcelona to the risk be taken if the city surrendered, but the pressure to Barcelona councilors remained. On 30 March 1706, the Minister Rafael Casanova third addressed to Charles of Austria on behalf of the city offering the sacrifice of the lives of the locals in their defense, and finally on April 2 statement that the king is stay in Barcelona to resist the attack. The next day the troops of Philip V, surrounded the city starting Bourbon siege. On April 15, they began bombing the inner city with firebombs and then undertaking operations aimed at the conquest of the fortress of Montjuic from which, once taken, they could force the surrender of the capital. On April 21, the troops of Philip V had taken positions near the fort and began to harass her. Then the rumor spread among the locals that the British troops had agreed to surrender Montjuic. The rumor caused the outbreak of a general mutiny and a group of extremists began to touch the alarm bells summoning the locals fight to prevent the surrender, the Minister-in-Chief Francis tried to stop the alarm but fell during the riots and was killed.

With the city under fire and making chaos of the municipal government, Minister Francesc Gallart lawyer second, third and chief counsel Rafael Casanova gave Directives to restore order and government of the city, while reinforcing the defenses of Montjuïc. However, nothing seemed to stop the Bourbons making progress, and fear rose of the imminent collapse of Montjuic and Barcelona. Finally however, on May 8, glimpsed on the horizon the English fleet commanded by Admiral John Leake, causing the Bourbon troops to retreat, and who left the field abandoning their wounded, their supplies and artillery. Barcelona had been released and the Bourbon troops who in their advance had not protected their supply lines, had to flee to France. Months later, made inquiries about what happened during the siege, the Minister Francesc Gallart second, which before the war had shown sympathy Philip, was removed from the lists of candidates for public office; Gallart then be banished the city. Conversely, 6 February 6, 1707 Charles of Austria third reward Minister Rafael Casanova with the title "Honored Citizen of Barcelona" and honored his performance at the head of the city government during the siege.

After siege[edit]

With his new position as the Honoured Citizen, Rafael Casanova reached the political pinnacle of Barcelona. From that year he attend all meetings of the Hundred, and his name became part of the exclusive list of people who could be drawn to become chief minister of Barcelona, which took place the in 1713. Also in 1708, in recognition of his prestige and reputation, Rafael Casanova was one of the designated representative, with Manuel de Ferrer i Sitges and Cristòfor Lledó i Carreras, from Barcelona, that queen Elizabeth received during the wedding ceremony with King Charles of Austria.

Late in 1708 his in-law Paul Bosch died, having all predeceased her children and leaving three grandchildren: Francisco Casanova and Bosch, and Rafael Casanova Bosch, and Josep Campllonch Garza, son of the first marriage his dead daughter. Leave it as universal heir heritage Francisco Casanova Bosch, leaving as the second heir to his younger brother Rafael if the first died childless, and finally determined that the legacy by his grandson Joseph Garza was Campllonch 3000 Barcelona pounds. In the year 1709, Campllonch demanded full payment of £3,000, while Casanova defended the patrimony of his children recalling that Campllonch had received 2,750 pounds and 2,500 pounds of dowry increase, which had only 750 pounds back, when the second marriage of his mother Mary Bosch, reason 3,000 pounds of legacy claiming Campllonch were settled. The disagreement will would lead to a lengthy legal dispute that lasted until 1744 .

After the siege of Barcelona 1706, Austrian troops advanced without opposition to conquer Madrid, but withdrew soon after when the troops of Philip V, reinforced in France, crossed the border. They continue advancing until the Battle of Almansa. After a failed peace treaty in 1709, Austrian troops launched a new offensive which culminated in 1710 with the capture of Madrid again. Forced to leave the city before the arrival of French reinforcements, in 1711. In September 1711 that year Archduke Charles left the peninsula heading to Vienna to take the Holy Roman Empire. In 1712, Rafael Casanova and Manuel de Ferrer i Sitges, attended a conference where they negotiated political situation in Catalonia.

The year 1713, began formally in the Dutch city of Utrecht peace talks between major powers. Initially the ambassadors of Emperor Charles VI insisted that the Principality of Catalonia beibg elevated to the status of an independent republic. However, after Philip V renounced the throne of France (Article 2), the Gibraltar (Article 10) and Minorca (Article 11), and commercial advantages granted to the Indians (Article 12), the English yield to Philip V on 14 May 14, 1713, to recognized him as legitimate king of Spain, although the deal remained secret until 13 July 1713. For his part Philip V pledged in Article 13 of the Treaty of Utrecht, to grant the Catalans amnesty, but only the same rights and privileges that the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Castile. The Article was supposed de facto repeal of the Constitution of Catalonia, as he had done previously with Aragon and Valencia, and devoting the abolition of laws, rights and government of all states the Crown of Aragon, which thereafter would come under laws and government of the Council of Castile. British ships began shortly after the evacuation of the last remaining Allied troops in Catalonia, enabling the rapid advancement of the Bourbons toward Catalonia in Barcelona.

The Peace of Utrecht and the Case of the Catalans[edit]

In April 1714, the House of Lords devoted several of their plenary sessions to what came to be known as the Case of the Catalans. The topic was that Treaty of Genoa signed in 1705 between the Catalan delegates and the plenipotentiary agent of Queen Anne of England. In that treaty, Catalonia agreed to engage into the war helping England, with a special emphasis on England ensuring the defense of the Catalan Constitutional system, whatever the outcome of the war. But in the Peace of Utrecht the Catalans were betrayed by the English ministers in the peace negotiations. Against all expectations, and faced with a vastly superior army, the Catalan institutions decided to stand against King Philip, and defend their constitutional system and freedoms at the highest price.

It is not for the interest of England to preserve the Catalan Liberties.

— Henry St. John Bolingbroke, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; (Utrecht, 1713)

Catalonia declares the war: the siege of Barcelona[edit]

Barcelona being bombarded by the absolutist troops of Louis XIV of France and Philip V of Spain.
Deplorable History of the Catalans.
«a free and generous People, the faithful and useful Allies of this Kingdom, were betrayed, in the most unparalleled Manner, into irrevocable Slavery»

After the Peace of Utrecht (1713) he participated in the Parliament in which Catalonia proclaimed the continuation of the war in defense of their constitutions the on 6 July 1713. While Barcelona was besieged by Bourbon troops, he was proclaimed "Conseller en Cap" (mayor) of Barcelona on November 30, 1713, and by virtue of their functions he was also colonel of the regiment of the milícia citizen, governor of Barcelona and the fortress of Montjuïc, as well as member of the Veinticuatrena Board of Government.

On February 26, 1714, Rafael Casanova became the highest military and political authority in Catalonia, when the Generalitat of Catalonia gave him all the military powers and also was named President of the ninth Board of war. It ruled the city until he was wounded in combat when commanding a counterattack of the Barcelona milícia at the San Peter front on the last day of siege, September 11, 1714. Having capitulated the city, the institutions of self-government of Catalonia were abolished and Rafael Casanova was cleared of its political and military positions. After the defeat their assets were seized, being amnestied years later to return to practice as a lawyer in Barcelona until shortly before his death. He maintained contact with several that had been leaders of the city during the siege, as well as with the exiles in the Austrian Empire, and is credited with the authorship of a public manifesto addressed to king George II of Great Britain remembering the alliance between Catalonia and England which was published on 1736, the twenty-second year of our slavery. Rafel Casanova died on 1743 and two years after, the English historian Tindal wrote in 1745:

The Catalans, thus abandoned and given up to their enemies, contrary to faith and honour, were not however, wanting to their own defence; but appealing to Heaven, and hanging up at the High Altar the Queen’s solemn declaration to protect them, underwent the utmost miseries of a siege; during which multitudes perished by famine and the sword, many were afterward executed, and many persons of figure were dispersed about the Spanish Dominions and dungeons.

— Nicolas Tindal; History of England (1745)

Homage to Rafael Casanova[edit]

FC Barcelona tribute to Rafael Casanova on the National Day of Catalonia.
(left to right) Football captain Carles Puyol, club president Sandro Rosell, former FCB basketball player Roger Grimau and football manager Josep Guardiola deposit wreaths and floral decorations at the foot of the Rafael Casanova monument.

His figure has become an icon of catalanism, regarding him as one of their great Patriots. A hundred and fifty years after the end of the war (in 1863), the city of Barcelona dedicated a street to Rafael Casanova; In 1888 again the municipal consistory honored his memory by erecting a statue in his honor as the last 'Conceller in Cap', shot in this city brandishing the flag of Santa Eulalia in defense of the Catalan institutions.[1] From that year the monument to Rafael Casanova became a place to call for the return of Catalan freedom and institutions of self-governance, especially when these were abolished during the dictatorship of the general Miguel Primo de Rivera, who also prohibited paying tribute to Rafael Casanova, and again abolished during the dictatorship of the general Francisco Franco, when the statue was also withdrawn. Since the restitution in 1977 of the monument in honor of Rafael Casanova, it was placed near where he fell wounded in battle fighting against the absolutist troops. One of the traditional acts of the National Day of Catalonia is that carried out by the Catalan institutions, most of the Catalan political forces, and representatives of major cultural, social and sports associations from Catalonia like FC Barcelona, who present wreaths and floral decorations at the foot of the monument. It is also remembered what was said in 1715 in House of Lords.

"[..] and the Honour of the British Nation, always renowned for the Love of Liberty, and for giving Protection to the Assertors of it, was most basely prostituted and a free and generous People, the faithful and useful Allies of this Kingdom, were betrayed, in the most unparalleled Manner, into irrevocable Slavery.

— Journal of the House of Lords, vol 19, 20 (1715)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AA.VV. (2006: III, 185)


External links[edit]