Lecrín Valley Traditions, Granada – The Musketeers of Beznar
Lecrín Valley Fiestas
You, too, can enjoy the Lecrín Valley traditions. Who would have thought such a small village as Beznar would celebrate a remarkable historical event? Every year in September and again in January, for the feast of San Antón, the Musketeers of Beznar don their unusual uniforms to commemorate their victory over the Monfies in 1556.
The Monfies (meaning outlawed in Arabic) were the former Muslims (converted voluntarily or forcibly to Christianity at the end of the Arab domination of Spain). Many of whom had taken refuge in the mountains of Granada in 16th and 17th. Centuries.
A group of the Monfies, under the command of Ibraín Agad from La Zubia, attacked the priest and his entourage in Beznar, on their way to give communion to the sick. They killed the sacristan and a labourer, kidnapped the labourer’s daughter and stole the pyx with the Holy Sacrament. In their fury, the villagers were all set to follow the monfies, but the authorities halted the plan. To confront the problem, an ensign of the Army of Flanders, Martín Alonso de Frías, formed a brotherhood of the Holy Sacrament to retrieve the stolen pyx. The brotherhood turned to the Marquis of Mondejar, Luis Hurtado de Mendoza, for aid. He provided them with 25 muskets and arquebuses. Some of which still exist today.
Having discovered the Monfí camp, close by in the gorge of Tablate, the musketeers defeated their enemy in a virulent attack, liberating nine hostages and saving the Holy Sacrament. On their triumphant return to the village, the damsels of the village received the brave musketeers with crowns of flowers and coloured ribbons made to celebrate the victory. Hence the vibrant, colourful uniform the brothers still wear to this very day.
When Don Juan de Austria, of Lepanto fame and Captain General of the Christian forces fighting the rebellious Moors, heard of the musketeers achievement he officially constituted the Brotherhood of the Holy Sacrament of Beznar in 1571. What’s more, he granted them a lifelong pension and the right to escort the Sacrament in the yearly processions.
I have not yet seen this extraordinary fiesta but I believe that the noise of the muskets being fired is most impressive. Judging from the photos, the whole proceedings appear to be well worth witnessing.
The Musketeers will march again this month to honour and remember their brave ancestors. Make a note of the dates: 6th, 7th, and 8th September. Beznar is just 10 minutes from Restábal.
Our thanks to Pepe Maldonado Gijon for sharing these colourful photos of the fiesta on Facebook