Yesterday we ventured into Xativa to “almorzar”(the consuming of a mid morning sandwich snack accompanied by beer or wine,olives etc,this is very typical in the Valencia area) and to see some traditional dancing.
Why was there music and dancing on this day?
Well……….there’s a short explanation to that:
Xativa has had its ups and downs in history as I have mentioned in previous blogs but the sacking and burning of the town by pro Felipe V(Bourbon) troops in 1707 was one of the low points in its long and varied history.
|18th century troops,Valencian dancers filling Moncada street with colour and music.|
After the hard fought battle of Almansa, bewtween the armies of the pretenders to the Spanish throne, Felipe de Anjou,a Bourbon, and Carlos of Austria, the victorious Bourbon troops(mainly mercenaries) led by a British general,James Fitz James,the Duke of Berwick. went from Almansa down the road to Xativa where the remnants of the defeated army had taken refuge.
|Traditional Valencian espardeñas|
There followed a herioc defense of the walled town by the “Maulets” (the Valenciano working class lads) and the troops of Carlos of Austria but the town fell after a short siege.The troops of Felipe V sacked and burnt the town.. It is said the fires lasted eight days.And since then the people of Xativa besides being called Setabenses are also known as “Socarrats” which in Valenciano means ·the scorched ones”.
|The boys in blue: “the Maulets”|
Felipe V ordered that the town change its name to San Felipe.The name did not stick for long and the town regained its original name. And Felipe V ( a direct Bourbon ancestor of the current Spanish King Juan Carlos I) remains to this day, unforgiven by the Setabenses .
This unpopularity can be seen in the town’s museum where a painting of Felipe V has been hung upside down for many years.and remains upside down even after King Juan Carlos’s request a few years ago that it be righted. A curious testament to his ancestor’s ill famed exploits at Xativa’s expense.
This historical event of the herioc defense of Xativa by the “Maulets” is paid homage to every year with an celebration of traditional music,dancing and speeches in the town centre in front of a monument dedicated to the said defenders.Although hijacked by certain independentist political parties the celebrations are still fun to watch. The music and the dancing are traditional and lend a real atmosphere to the long street of Moncada which is full of old palaces and buildings.
A fun Saturday morning.