Thursday 11 July 2013

The Peasants are Revolting: Asalto a O Castelo 2013

The year is 1467. The economic pressures on the peasants exceeds their ability to provide. The abuses of such feudal lords as the Moscosos, the Counts of Altamira become unbearable. The king, Henry IV is blind to the pleas of his subjects. There isn´t even cake to eat! It is no surprise that finally, the Irmandiños form a band and plot to overthrow their masters. Supported by some of the clergy and even some minor squires (the hidalgos, which means literally sons of some substance), it is estimated that perhaps 80,000 rose in Galicia against the establishment between 1467 and 1469. They succesfully attacked 130 forts, amongst them the castle in Vimianzo.

However, despite the rapid success of the Irmandiños, their victory was short lived. As is so often the case, competing interests and lack of control within the brotherhoods led to their downfall. When the situation came to the notice of the king, he sent his support to the nobles. The strength of the rebels at that time simply wasn´t enough. Vimianzo was now not in the hands of the Moscosos, but Alonso II, the archbishop of Santiago. The leaders of the rebellion were hanged; others were forced to rebuild what they had destroyed. The end result is the castle we see today, which, by the way, is on The Little Fox House History and Mystery Tour if you are a pilgrim at the end of your Camino and lucky enough to be able to pay Foxy a visit for a couple of nights or three. (see )

Fast forward to 2013.  Irmandiños and nobles eat and drink side by side, that is until Luar na Lubre stops playing and the cry goes up: “Lume!”

Three slaves walk onto the stage, their plight quite clear. The queen shows no mercy (the countess actually but the facts here ruin the story!). The peasants begin to hurl abuse as the baddies demonstrate their power. “The queen is a dipshit!” catcalls the normally restrained (so he says) Reverand Stewart of Saskatoon, one of the three pilgrims who stormed the castle with me this year. These words will stay with me, Tracy Saunders, for the rest of my life!

“LUME!” The torches are lit, the drums begin as we follow the Irmandiños toward the object of their discontent. Someone takes up the cry:  “Asalto a O Castelo! Asalto a O Castelo!!". The castle hoves into site.

The story continues on the battlements and we Irmandiños are repulsed by water balloons, but only for a while.  The slaves reappear, a hand-to-hand battle is fought and the Viscount gets the worse of it. “LIBERTAD!!!”

Down go the gates under the merciless thrust of those manning (and womaning) the battering ram.


And so the castle is ours once again, for a whole year.

I am not usually one for festivals, but I have my little school in Vimianzo, and The Little Fox house is within its “Concello”. I hung a banner out of the school window (OK so it's St Mark from Venice. I am a foreigner!) and we all dressed up very Medievally and danced til 3 in the morning.
And I can´t wait for next year.