Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rebellion on La Gomera

Tomorrow, 21st of November, is the 524th anniversary of the the last great rebellion of the original inhabitants of La Gomera, the Guanches, against the Castilian conquerors of the island and their governor Hernan Peraza the Younger in 1488. Perazas grandfather, Hernan the Elder, had previously sealed a pact of peace with with the original inhabitants and their chieftains in a ceremony of brotherhood that involved the drinking of milk from a traditional earthenware pot. This pact set down rules and laws for both parties and later was repeatedly broken by Hernan the Younger, who despite having ratified the agreement began treating the population with great brutality and selling many as slaves abroad. The local chieftains subsequently held court and condemned Peraza to die, and to symbolise the end of the pact the earthenware pot was broken. His assassination by a local warrior, Hautacuperche, took place as he was caught in the act of breaking the pact yet again, and this was the start of a full-scale uprising of the local population who besieged the stronghold of the ruling Spaniards, the 'Torre del Conde' (which still stands in San Sebastian de La Gomera and is open to the public) and Peraza's wife, Beatriz de Bobadilla (who is said to have had an affair with Christopher Columbus later), had great difficulties in defending it. She called for reinforcements from the governor of Gran Canaria, who sent 400 veteran solders to La Gomera. The rebellion was put down with awesome brutality and in the end local males over the age of 15 were cruelly executed and the remaining youngsters were sold into slavery. Part of this barbarity was blamed on the vindictiveness of Peraza's widowed wife, whose excessive brutality even came to the attention of the rulers of Spain, and a committee of enquiry was established that held lengthy deliberations centred on the question whether Guanches had souls. Finally the governor of Gran Canaria as well as Beatriz de Bobadilla were admonished and most of the enslaved Gomeros were released - in Spain - from where they had to find their own way home without any means, to arrive on their now totally subdued native island.
Last Saturday a commemoration ceremony was held at a place called today 'Degollada de Peraza' (Execution of Peraza), and as a symbolic act an earthenware pot was broken again.
Monument in Valle Gran Rey: Hautacuperche holding the
 broken bowl and carrying the weapon to kill  Hernan Peraza
To see a video of a re-enactment of the historic events click here:

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