How far does the disaster of 1898 account for the growth of Catalan and Basque nationalism?
The humiliating defeat of Spain to America during the Spanish-American War of 1898 dealt a catastrophic blow to the Spanish nation. In the subsequent Treaty of Paris signed on December 10th 1898, Spain relinquished its remaining colonial territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The disaster evoked heavy criticism of the Restoration government and its inherent corruption amongst many groups within Spanish society and served as a catalyst for the emergence of new political forces seeking to contest against the ruling oligarchy, most notably Catalan and Basque nationalism. This essay will argue that the disaster of 1898 was largely accountable
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Alienated from the political establishment and unable to stimulate change from within, the Catalan industrial elite sought to regenerate the region through removing the existing parties in Catalonia and replacing them with a new political force led by the Catalan bourgeoisie. After the collapse of the self-styled ‘regenerationist’ government of Silvela in 1900 eroded any vestiges of hope that Spanish regeneration could be achieved within the system, representatives of big business in Catalonia detached themselves fully from the dynastic parties of the Restoration to form the Lliga Regionalista: a Catalan nationalist party dedicated to working towards achieving Catalan autonomy within the Spanish state. The Lliga would serve to contest the hegemony of the two parties of the establishment and found its first successes in dismantling the monopoly of the ruling parties in the national elections of 1901, winning six out of the forty-four Catalan seats in the Cortes. To this end, we see that from the disaster of 1898 emerged a growing feeling of resentment toward an incompetent central Spanish government that could only be resolved through an expression of Catalan nationalist sentiment on the political stage. Thus, the disaster was highly accountable for the growth of Catalan nationalism. Nonetheless, as Stanley Payne argues, to attribute the crisis of 1898 full