El catalán is a romance language with a rich literary heritage dating back to the 12th century. Related both to Spanish and to the Occitan language of southern France, during the middle ages Catalan was spoken outside modern Catalonia, as a result of Catalonia’s military expansion. However, it lost ground to Castilian after Castille and Aragon were united. Despite being banned in the media and public life under Franco, and despite the influx of migrants from other parts of Spain who did not speak the language, Catalan is now flourishing. Many writers, including some of the most prestigious in Spain, publish their work first in Catalan and only later in Castilian. Outside Catalonia, the language is nowadays spoken in the Balearic Islands, in Andorra, in the Roussillon area of southern France, and in Alghero in Sardinia.