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The Conquistador

December 31st is Jaume I’s big day, or so we are told.

Mallorca had been governed by Moorish Walís since the year 902. Already in 1205, King Pedro II of Aragón (the Catholic King) had been planning to recapture the island and subsequently conquer the territory. He had asked Pope Innocent III for support for such a crusade but, in vain.

In December of 1228, Jaume I, the son of Pedro II and now the King of Aragón, assembled the Cortes (nobility, clergy and merchants) of Barcelona to convince them to join him in a crusade against Abu Yahya, the Walí of Mayurka (Mallorca) and the governor of the Taifa of the Baleares, in order to recapture the largest Balearic island for his crown. Young Jaume was but 21 years old at that time. The assembly approved of the young King’s plans and agreed to join him in his campaign and in its financing against the promise of a share in the booty. On September 5th, 1229, sails were set from Salou and Tarragona with a fleet of 150 vessels, including 55 large ships. The Christian fleet landed on the morning of September 10th near Santa Ponça. The Moors resisted initially but, after a few days of bloodshed withdrew to the island capital. A peaceful capitulation and withdrawal of the Muslims was under negotiation but, ultimately rejected. Madina Mayurka (Palma) was finally captured for good on December 31st, 1229.

Other Moorish parts of the island, especially near Artà, Capdepera and Felanitx as well as parts of the Serra de Tramuntana held out for up to two years longer. Finally, in 1232 all Moorish strongholds were completely defeated, across the island.

Jaume I left the island in October, 1230. The victorious Conquerador (conqueror in Catalan) remained Rey de Aragón, Mallorca y Valencia, as well as Conde de Barcelona and Señor de Montpellier until his death in 1276. There was trouble with his succession amongst his sons and heirs but, that will have to wait for another blog entry, some other time.

As an aside, December 31st at that time was not the last day of the year. The Julian calendar used at the time stipulated March 25th as the first day of the year and March 24th as the last. I took that information from Historia de las Islas Baleares (volume 6, 2006).

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 29th, 2010. The time was 13:29:52.

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