Friday, December 22, 2006

Philip the Second’s mistake

One of many. Reading the history of Spain one can’t but deplore the shortsightedness of the rulers, particularly that of the most influential.

Just trying to understand today’s minor issues, for instance: the classical rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid soccer teams, I went back over some history books for enlightenment.

They have recently found some new remains of the original Iberian wall of the city of Barcino in the old part of town, “el Barrio Gótico”. Indeed, Barcelona was an original Iberian settlement, back in the 3rd century B.C., later colonized by the Carthaginians. The story goes that Barcelona got its name from Amilcar Barca, head of the Barca family and father of Hannibal. So Barcelona has been in existence for some 2200 years.

Madrid was just a Moorish castle erected sometime in the 11th century (“Madrid, castillo famoso/arde en fiestas su coso/ por ser el natal dichoso/de Alimenón de Toledo….”). It was just that until the XVI century, when Philip the Second of Spain decided to make it the capital of his realm. Tired of freezing his butt in the inhospitable winters of his native Valladolid, he moved south to the gentle hills of the Southern “meseta” past the Central Mountains of Guadarrama, following the advice of some geographical experts that told him that it was the “center” of his world.

That was the vision of a Castilian land-lubber, keener to “physical geography” than to political o social conditions.

By that time he was already the king of Portugal as well, right after the death of King Sebastian in Morocco. He had been married to a Portuguese princess and then became widower as she died of childbirth. (She had mothered the Crown Prince Carlos, the Don Carlos who was going to give so much trouble to his father later on). And he was the rightful heir to the Portuguese throne.

In a historical moment when the ruling of the seas was going to be the mainstay of power, he could have made Lisbon the capital of his vast empire. Lisbon was the “geographical” center of the world, the real new world; the hinge of the Old and the New worlds. That would have been a real “imperial” view, of a global empire.

Instead he got himself (and the country) into trouble for the sake of a religion I am sure he did not believe in, using the Inquisition as a controlling sectarian force and accusing the Catalans of heresy just because they did not want to pay so many taxes to cover the expenses of the war in Flanders.

… and then comes the FIFA and gives the 2006 Golden ball to a Real Madrid defense back Italian bastard instead of our fantastic Ronaldinho...!!! Damn!!!

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