|Stanley G. Payne in front of the Arco de la Victoria in Madrid.|
By the eleventh century Catalonia became in some respects the most organized peninsular kingdom and had the most fully developed legal structure (crowned by the Usatges), as well as the strongest institutional basis for the development of new law, with its territory fully defined by the beginning of the thirteenth century. Similarly, only in Catalan cities would one encounter civic development somewhat approximating cities in other parts of Europe.
At the same time, the Catalan elite shared in the common sense of the cultural, religious, and geographical community of the Spanish states. The Catalans had earlier categorically affirmed their own neo-Gothicism, and in the immediate aftermath of the Muslim conquest their ancestors may have had a stronger sense of identity and continuity with Visigothic institutions than did the Asturians. There are many references in the Catalan chronicles to the Catalans being “de Espanya” or “d’Espanya” and occasionally even declarations of Espanya as the “patria” of the Catalans. By comparision, neo-Gothicism was much later in entering Navarre and Aragon. This concept was not merely peninsular in scope, but for the Catalans for some time included the right of sovereignty over Visigothic Septimania northeast of the Pyrenees.
— Stanley G. Payne, in Spain: A Unique History (2011)