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In desperation the inhabitants of what was to become Catalonia turned to Charlemagne, the powerful Frankish leader for help in return for pledging allegiance to the Carolingian Empire.
Girona was retaken in 785 and Barcelona in 801, and the province of the Spanish March, a buffer zone between Christian France and Muslim Hispania, was born.
However, Jose Maria Aznar, who was Spanish President until 2004, was a different matter altogether.
During his presidency, continual snipes at the Catalans including a proposal to impose the Spanish humanities and languages syllabus in Catalan schools and a ludicrous plan to divert the River Ebro south before it reached Catalonia brought back the ghost of Franco in many people’s minds.
Things got even worse when Fernando II, who had married Isabel of Castile in 1469, acceded to the Catalan-Aragonese throne.
Castile favoured the former while Catalonia the latter and, after allying with England and Holland, who feared a French-Spanish axis, welcomed him to Barcelona as Carles III of Catalonia-Aragon in 1705.His son, Alfons I, became the ruler of the most powerful state in Southern Europe, the Catalan-Aragonese Confederation, which consisted of Catalonia, Aragon and the whole of the south of France.