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Historical Context: The Tragic Week of 1909, Catalonia, Spain

In World War 1, Spain was one of the few countries that remained
officially neutral for the entirety of the war. This being said, they did aid the
Allied side throughout the war by supplying them with food, supplies, and raw
materials. So, in fact, they Spanish were unofficially on the side of the Allied.
While a large part of the continent was preparing and going to war, Spain
was busy dealing with their own internal conflicts and struggles. Spain has many
different provinces that have specific cultures, customs and sometimes even
languages. Catalonia is one of these provinces. It is located in the north eastern
corner of Spain and has historically been an exceptionally proud, independent
and politically active province. Because Spain and Catalonia specifically played
a more insignificant role in the war, I decided to step back in their history and
research The Tragic Week of 1909.
The Tragic Week was actually caused by the shifting of countries in
preparation for the war that was felt across the continent. Between 1902 and
19121 Spain was assigned a small piece of Morocco known as the Rif. Spain took
pride in this because it owned very little overseas territory so it directed much of
its attention, and military, towards the Rif. Britain was also very happy with
Spains ownership because it prohibited France from owning and controlling all
of Morocco and the far sides of the Straits of Gibraltar.
In 1909, a group of Spanish soldiers guarding a mine were attacked by
Rif rebels. Because they had so few overseas territories, when the military heard
about this attack, they were enraged. In response, they decided to send in reserves
held in Catalonia. The working class was furious because they took it as a
provocation and complete disregard for the lower classes. The military called up
40,000 troops2, many of which had already served and did not expect to have to
go into combat.This was the tipping point that set the Tragic Week into full force.
The Working class took to the streets in anger. They organized a Strike
on July 26th in order to convey their frustration in a more passive yet effective
way. But, it began to turn in a more violent direction. The working class was
frustrated but few were willing to step up and lead their cause with the
heightening violence. The streets turned into a battlefield, getting filled with
barricades and gunshots between the military and the working class.
The working class, although unorganized, was ready to inflict damage.
They targeted the Church because it represented the upper classes. They burned
churches and religious schools. They were crazed with frustration towards both
the military and the Church. They felt exceedingly stepped upon, controlled and
limited in their freedom and power as a province.
As the Week went on, the working classs unclear leadership and lack of
order was what ruined their chances. The military was able to step in with brutal

force and shut it down. Many were left dead and injured, but most importantly,
the relationship between Catalonia and Spain was even more divided.
A word from the author:
I chose to write a Sestina poem. In a Sestina, there are 7 stanzas. The
first 6 have 6 lines each. The special thing about this poem is that in the 6 end
words from the first stanza must be repeated in a specific order for the end words
of all the stanzas. The final stanza is only 3 lines, and must have 2 of the end
words in each line in a specific order as well. I chose to write this poem with a
trochaic meter, stressed, unstressed and lines of 8 syllables with 4 feet. My
narrator was a barricade. I decided to go with this because I wanted to write from
an unbiased yet relevant perspective. I really like the idea of writing from the
point of view of something so central in the scene. Creating a poem with a
specific form and meter has been one of the most difficult yet rewarding
experiences.

[1] "Restoration 1900-1923: The Military." Restoration 1900-23.

Spain's Military. Spainthenandnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.


[2] "The Tragic Week. Culturcat. Generalitat De Catalunya." The
Tragic Week. Culturcat. Generalitat De Catalunya. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan.
2016.