The Catalan secession through the prism of the fragmentation of empires

The article below was written by IWP Research Professor Thomas Flichy de La Neuville.

The recent events in Catalonia, as well as the desire of several Central European countries to regain control of their borders, remind us of a similar historical episode: that of the great crisis of the third century which shook the Roman Empire between 235 and 284 AD.

In a time of great political instability (the emperors’ reign lasted two and a half years on average and the Senate was reduced to a chamber of registration), the financial crisis combined with massive migrations to shake the Empire. The provinces, which were the most militarily exposed, seceded.

Syria — under the pressure of the Persians — emancipated under the leadership of Queen Zenobia. The latter founded the Empire of Palmyra in the East. At the other end of the Empire, Gaul, subject to the Germanic invasions, also separated from Rome, under the leadership of General Postumus, who created the Imperium Galliarum (260-274 AD).

These centrifugal tendencies can be explained by the inability of the Roman bureaucracy to respond to the new cultural and political challenges. The third Roman century could thus enable us to anticipate the position of the future fault lines within Europe.

In any case, one thing seems certain: if Catalonia’s desire for secession had been combined with a deviation of the migratory flows towards Spain, the Spanish Crown would have already lost a province at the present time.