A Catalan oath


Robert Hughes died last week. I am reading his paean to his favourite city, Barcelona. I had forgotten what a wonderful writer he was - and his talents as an historian. His 'Fatal Shore', the terrible story of the early penal history of Australia is a classic and his 'Shock of the New' one of the landmarks of television. Anyone who consistently, elegantly - and with such erudition - skewers  so many of the idiocies of the modern art market, especially Damian Hirst, gets my vote: his look of distain as he observed the assemblage of the New York collector Mugrabi, one of the duo that drives the prices of Warhol to their absurd levels, was one to treasure.

But back to Catalonia, and Hughes's 'Barcelona'. There is a striking oath of allegience sworn by Catalans and Aragonese to the Spanish monarch back in the 14th century which exposites as modern a concept of governance as can be imagined.

"We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws - but if not, not."

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