Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has made another mistake with regard to his own country’s history. But this time, instead of claiming that Spain is the oldest nation in Europe – historians say that France and England were created earlier – he erroneously gave someone else credit for a practice that actually began in Spain.
As part of a visit to Britain on Tuesday, when he met with Prime Minister Theresa May, Rajoy published an opinion piece in The Guardian in which he stated that “Britain’s stance [on the issue of Catalonia] is particularly important, as it is the cradle of parliamentarism and the rule of law.”
Rajoy felt like showing off his complete ignorance about the Kingdom of León
Rajoy received support from May over the independence threat from the Spanish region, with the UK prime minister saying that respecting the Constitution is fundamental.
But residents of the Spanish province of León were furious: the cradle of parliamentarism is there, not in the UK, as UNESCO has recognized.
An independent Kingdom of León existed at various times in history. In 2013, UNESCO declared The Decrees of León of 1188 to be “the oldest documentary manifestation of the European parliamentary system.”
The candidacy had been submitted in 2012, during Rajoy’s first term in office.
According to UNESCO, the Decrees of León are “a group of documents that contain the oldest known written information regarding the European parliamentary system. It originated in medieval Spain and was based on the celebration of a Curia Regia (Royal council) during the reign of Alfonso IX of León (1188-1230).”
Britain’s stance is particularly important, as it is the cradle of parliamentarism and the rule of law
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy
These documents “reflect an original model of government and administration within the framework of Spanish medieval institutions, where the institutional presence of the common people in higher-level decision making, together with the king, the Church and the nobility, occurs for the first time through the elected representatives of the towns and cities.”
A group called Citizen Collective of the Kingdom of León (CCRL) was quick to protest.
“Rajoy felt like showing off his complete ignorance about the Kingdom of León,” said the group in a statement on its website. Calling it “a serious historical mistake,” the CCRL calls on Rajoy to “rectify and stop robbing the Leonese people of our historical milestones.”
The head of the León branch of the Socialist Party, Javier Alfonso Cendón, said it is “unacceptable” for Rajoy to not be aware about “key facts about the political history of his own country, and to additionally attribute them to others.”
And the Union of the Leonese People (UPL) has also expressed “our most absolute indignation” over Rajoy’s statements.
English version by Susana Urra.