The last Catalan leader to try to proclaim the existence of a Catalan state, Lluis Companys, did so in October 1934, 80 years ago this year, against: “monarchist and fascist forces who mean to betray the Republic”. It was, he said: “a grave and glorious hour” for Catalans.

The Spanish prime minister at the time, Lerroux, ordered the Captain General of Catalonia, Batet, to declare a state of war in the region and quash the rebellion, which he did with his edict. His forces surrounded the Catalan government building, the Generalitat, and stormed it. Artillery pieces and machine guns were b...