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Ricardo Fernández Gracia, Director of the Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art.

Heritage and identity (20). Media of yesteryear: the flags

Fri, 15 Nov 2019 12:42:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

A bando is a superior order made known, in order to comply with its dictation, with more or less label, by the nuncios and town and village criers. The Diccionario de Autoridades defines it as "edict, law or mandate solemnly published by superior order and the solemnity and act of publishing it is also called that way". It is one of the traditional means of communication rooted in the evolution of our culture that, together with the bells, constituted the mechanisms of information in a society so alien to the current one, where the media and even less the social networks had not made their appearance.

Often, it was the mayors who were empowered to use this means of expression and authority, although, on other occasions, it was the municipal corporations themselves who were responsible for them. Its study, as source documentary, constitutes an excellent means to recompose many plots of the past, as much of the ordinary life as of the extraordinary one, given the great issue of subjects that they include: supplies, public morality, celebrations, customs, hunting, fairs, teaching, schedules, diseases, roads, sanitation, cleaning and ornament, mendicity, droughts, wars, charity, carnivals...etc. In addition to the historical and anthropological interest, they provide numerous data about local speech, since they use words from a rich lexicon, today lost.

Ordinarily, it was the nuncio who, armed with his drum, bugle or, more extraordinarily, with a bugle, proceeded to shout loudly, in the usual places, the written content of the proclamation. In Tudela a trumpeter is documented at the beginning of the 16th century, in charge of the police and good government announcements, as well as the orders and dispositions of the Kingdom. At the beginning of the 17th century, the trumpet was still in use. In Olite the box was used for special occasions. In Cascante, the usual practice was to call out the proclamations, after a drum roll or bugle call, although on some extraordinary occasions it was done with the bugle, as in the visit of the king consort, in 1863, together with the bailiffs "dressed in gala".

The headings were different depending on whether they were issued by the mayor or the municipal corporations. In the latter case, the cities would show their status and privileges. Thus, Pamplona did not fail to note its status as "head of the Kingdom of Navarre". In Olite, they began as follows: "La Muy Noble y Muy Leal ciudad de Olite, Cabeza de su merindad y en nombre de ..." (The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Olite, Head of its merindad and in the name of ...). Viana, for its part, headed its banns as follows: "The Very Noble and Very Loyal City of Viana, Head of the Principality of the Kingdom of Navarre". Los Arcos also stated its condition of Very Noble and Very Loyal, head of its party and in some cases it was added "exenta de merindad". In localities of lordship, whoever held it took care that in something as audible and of image as were the announcements, it was very clear to whom the jurisdiction belonged. An example of this is the case of Fitero, where they always had to begin with the mandatory formula sanctioned by the Royal Courts: "By mandate of the abbot, mayor and jurors". After the mandatory "Let the neighbors, inhabitants and dwellers know" , came the content of the order, to end with a more or less repeated formula insisting on the public knowledge and the obligation to comply with what was promulgated, with the warning that no one could plead ignorance. 

The proclamations were written and initialed by the competent authority and once they were announced, they were sent to file. On some occasions, handwritten or printed copies were posted in different public places so that their contents would be within the reach of those who could read, who were scarce in traditional society, which is why they were always made known through the powerful and clear voice of the town crier. 


In Pamplona and Tudela 

J. F. Garralda studied the issue of nuncios and town criers in eighteenth-century Pamplona. In his work he notes how, until 1783, the municipal corporation entrusted the publication of the proclamations to two or even three town criers. From that year on, and due to the numerous occupations of the nuncios, the announcements were entrusted to the town criers who, socially, together with the cutters, were considered "vile and low" degrading trades , making their social promotion very difficult. However, their services were not badly paid, and they even received extraordinary bonuses. The town criers, from the balcony of the Town Hall, made public the names of the aldermen, after their election in September. 

The municipal bugle, with its brilliant clarion call, announced in the usual places. Its echoes were so popular that some towns in Baztanes or in the Cuenca requested clarinet players from Pamplona.

At nightfall, until the end of the XVIII century, two or three nuncios rang the bells of animas in the streets of the capital of Navarre to remind the neighbors to pray for the deceased. It is possible that two 17th century burlesque prints, preserved in the Carnavalet Museum in Paris and engraved by Jean Humbelot and Jacques Languet, depicting a town crier of Pamplona with the bell, evoke the nuncios of the Navarrese capital when they walked the streets at dusk.

In the capital of La Ribera, Yanguas y Miranda points out that the town criers were appointed in the last third of the 15th century by the Christians, the Aljama of the Moors and the synagogue of the Jews for their respective businesses. The route of the places in 1818 was as follows: place de Santa María, bocacalle del Pontarrón, calle del Portal, plazuela de la Magdalena, San Nicolás, Puerta de Calahorra, plazuela de San Salvador, San Juan, Mercadal, Carnicerías, plazuela de San Jaime, la Rúa, los Descalzos, Zurradores, Herrerías, Trinquete, degree program de las Monjas, San Julián and San Francisco. Those points were updated with other provisions in new agreements, being fixed in 1896 in thirty-three sites.


Subject bouquet

The reading of the banns informs of numerous curiosities and facts that, in past times, were daily and that, having disappeared, call the attention for their content. If the topic of the ordinary banners offers interesting data for the evolution of the daily life, the extraordinary ones linked to the celebration and the royal visits, changes of political regime, plagues and wars, contribute very important information on those circumstances. Good example we have with the 282 olitenses flags dated in the War of the Independence, between 1808 and 1814, edited by Javier Corcín.

The city of Viana annually announced its July fair, warning "all its neighbors, inhabitants and dwellers that the fair, which the said city has by privilege ..., will begin to run and be counted on the 19th day of the current month of July, from twelve o'clock at night onwards, for eleven days that will end on the 30th day of July at the same time inclusive. In which time, natives and non-natural and foreigners will be able to enter, to contract, to exchange, to barter and to sell freely, without paying any right of entrance exit, of any kind of merchandise, nor of any other thing"

The feast of San Antón enjoyed numerous popular expressions in many towns. The mayor of Fitero, in 1818, made known "to all the neighbors, inhabitants and residents of this town orders and commands that no one dares to take the horses running through the streets on the occasion of the turns they usually give for the San Antonios, in order to avoid the misfortunes that may occur and whoever wants to go out is ordered to take them to the natural pace, under the penalty that contravenes three days in jail and the costs of imprisonment and jail".

The rogations were the object of banns in all the towns. In 1834, in a context of plague and war in Arguedas, it was ordered "that all the neighbors go at nine o'clock and average attend to the mass of rogation that will be celebrated in this church in front of Our Lady, and that no neighbor goes to work until after noon". In Los Arcos, in 1827, a call was made to go up to San Gregorio Ostiense, insisting that "all those present should attend with the devotion and composure that all religious acts require, without carrying sticks or other offensive or defensive weapons, or mixing in disputes with any person, under penalty of being punished with the rigor to which they are entitled, according to their crime". A few years earlier, in 1822, in the same town, the City Council called for a rogation with the Virgin of Nieva, with a form repeated in numerous cases.

A topic of banns was that of the Education of the children. In Cascante in 1784, at the same time that the girls' teacher was nominated for the first time, a bando ordered "that all parents make their children attend said schools, under the penalties established in said law, and that the Father of Orphans, as superintendent of said schools, also be informed". In Los Arcos, in 1798, the obligatory nature of attendance for boys and girls to attend school from the age of five was announced.

The carnivals have left many illustrative announcements to redo the celebration of those festivities at different times. In general, women were forbidden to dress up as men, insisting that the costumes should be decent and the faces should be uncovered, and if any man dressed up as a woman, he should do it "honestly".


A pair of banners of 1790 in Peralta, at the time of the enlightened reforms.

Some banns, either because of their importance or their origin, were not only kept in the municipal archives, but were also recorded in the notarial protocols. The notary of Peralta, José Falces, collected a couple from 1790, promulgated by Don Juan Antonio Lizaur, governor of the summary criminal jurisdiction of the town of Peralta, appointed by the Royal committee of Navarra, in a context of enlightened reforms that socially tried to tackle customs that in the heights of government were seen as outdated.

The first of them, dated in May of the mentioned year of 1790, was made to finish with a custom rooted in the locality and that consisted in the exit of gangs by houses, streets, squares and bridge on the occasion of the elections for beneficiaries. The riots and quarrels of the different factions, to one with the expenses in bread, cheese, wine, mistela, refreshments and other foodstuffs to flatter the supporters, made to take coercive measures against that custom.

The second is dated November 1 of the same year and contains eight provisions. The first prohibits any person of any state and condition, both during the day and at night, to walk with music in the streets and to use swords, bucklers, daggers, sticks, pistols and all subject weapons. The second prohibits the use of rattles at night in the streets, as well as "to "make jokes and use the whinnying that the young men say". Iribarren picks up the meaning of neighing as the shouts given by the young men to demonstrate their joy in San Martín de Unx. The third orders to sanctify the festivities, leaving any subject of work. In the fourth one, it is attacked against the gatherings and groups that met in the houses under the pretext of snacks and other entertainments, setting hours to culminate them, eight o'clock in winter and nine o'clock in summer. The fifth insists on schedules in this case for the people who gathered in the "corralitos". The sixth determines that, at the sound of the Hail Marys at night, everyone would retire, without allowing anyone to stop and drink in the taverns. The seventh tells how the day laborers returning from their work, at nightfall, drank wine and when they entered the town, they did so "with their heads held high and heated from excessive drinking, they neighed and spoke indecently and with excessive ease, not only among themselves, but also to the married and single women who went out to the town for water and other chores". To stop all this, the prohibition of drinking is imposed in group, warning that the mayoral should notify the governor if any chimera arose. It ends with this warning: "And since these defects can be incurred by unmarried young men and young boys who live in the company of their parents, the latter will be responsible for the fines imposed on them so that they take care of the best upbringing of their children and relatives"


Printed copies with delicate lithographs

If the copies of printed banners up to the 19th century were simple and referred to the mere text, with a heading highlighted by the size of its typography, throughout the 19th century, with the incorporation of lithographic procedures for the reproduction of ornaments and images, we find beautifully decorated banners, some of them in color and with iconographic content.

Among them, we will stop in those published in 1851 on the occasion of the arrival in the Navarrese capital of two portraits of the kings Isabel II and Francisco de Asís, in court dress, sent by the king consort in memory of his previous stay in Pamplona as colonel of lancers in 1844.

They bear the imprint of the printing house of Ignacio García, with the signature on one of them -the best decorated with female figures in typical costumes- by Darío Aguirre, who years later between 1856 and 1863 had his own establishment at place del Castillo. In its content is copied the letter received with the news of the arrival of the paintings, warning that an act was going to be organized according to the importance and honor of the royal detail. A printed certification signed by Pablo Ilarregui, municipal secretary, gives an account of how the ceremonial of that celebration took place, with the exit of the corporation to the main balcony of the City Hall, interpretation of the Royal March by the military music, and the reading of the mayor with "clear and expressive voice" of the letter of the monarch, previous touch of the clarinets and timpani "as it is customary in the acts of great ceremony". The corporation went, with the royal letter deposited on a silver tray, to the front of the Theater of the place del Castillo, in whose balcony the same proclamation was made, repeated in a house next to the Government of the Province.