Sunday, December 08, 2019

Pirates off Macenas

A 'londro' - the kind of merchantman that appears in this story
In the middle of the 18th century, the Catalonian merchantman “San Raimundo”, was heading for Cádiz loaded with wine. She had been anchored off Águilas (Murcia), waiting for better weather. On January 22, 1741 she set sail and soon after, a Moorish vessel was seen to be in pursuit. Trying to flee from her pursuers, she headed for land, running aground on the beach near Mojácar's Macenas tower. The patron Domingo Benapres and the crew jumped to the sand: "without time to save anything other than myself and those of the six men and the cabin-boy, three rifles, a life-boat, five oars, the two anchors and some bedding".
The Moorish pirates managed to re-float the ship and took it with the cargo of wine included; but for some reason, they left one of their fellow-pirates behind on the beach.
The following morning, the Mojácar troop, which had come out after being informed of the presence of pirates, found the Moor, seizing him, and shortly afterwards, they also located the eight Catalonian sailors.
Following the strict orders of the time to avoid the costs of contagion of plague and other contagious diseases, they began a curious caravan towards Vera, which Diego Soler, one of the soldiers of the cavalry troop, recounted: “From the Rambla de Macenas, the Company of Mojácar escorted the Moor to Vera by foot in this way: at the distance of a rifle shot, while a single soldier went before to show him the way. Following the Moor at a similar distance went the eight sailors, and finally the troop with their weapons, without allowing any mixing the one with the other, as had been ordered by their captain despite knowing that none of the sailors or the troop had been at any time close to the Moor”.
The military commander in Vera threw his hands to his head when he saw the caravan arrive and ordered them to return at once to the place of the encounter, to pass quarantine there.
Luckily, the patron of the merchantman was able to justify the evident state of health of his sailors, and, sending word to the warden of the fortress in Águilas, the quarantine order was lifted and the crew were given permission to return on the first ship that could take them back towards Catalonia. As for the Moor, he would have to suffer his quarantine and, following that, be judged for piracy.

From an article in Almería Hoy by Mario Sanz Cruz.

No comments: