In Toledo’s Plaza de Zocodover, Panama hat in hand, Lorenzo Silva started the tour this Thursday with a score of journalists through some of the scenes of the revolt of the Communards, the central historical episode in his new novel, Castilian (Destination). The uprising, which made the throne of the young emperor Carlos V shake five centuries ago, the execution of Juan Bravo, Juan de Padilla and Francisco Maldonado in 1521 and the fierce resistance of María Pacheco until the following year are the central knot of a book in the one that Silva mixes past and present.
The narrator of the new novel travels the Castilian lands during the current pandemic and looks back to try to reflect on the Castilian identity and the legacy of history. A more limited version of this was the walk with the author through the historic center of Toledo, where only half a dozen tourists were visible. “The commoners was a revolt against taxes, but also a demand for freedom,” defended the writer, who follows the line of José María Maravall, Joseph Pérez or Manuel Azaña, who saw in this fact the first modern revolution. “Freedom was the cry of Padilla, contrary to the abusive taxes with which Carlos V wanted to finance his military campaigns as the great emperor of Europe. It is a revolution that invokes laws and that defends that the kingdom must be governed.
Among the contemporary lessons of this Castilian history, Silva – who points out that the problem with the term freedom today is that “it is too broad a word that is used to defend one’s own idiosyncrasy” – refers to “the opposition between power and population, and how it causes seismic movements ”. He defends that the laws passed by the community members 500 years ago demonstrate that “there is no freedom outside the laws; there is not it in caudillos, nor in movements that request it emotionally ”. He did not evade a balance of the electoral results in Madrid, where “Freedom” was the campaign slogan of Isabel Díaz Ayuso. “It is 10 years since 15M, an explosion of discontent, and now the collapse is taking place with the disappearance of Ciudadanos and the leader of Podemos defeated and defeated. The new turn is also against power ”.
With this book, the creator of the saga of crime novels starring Rubén Bevilacqua and Virginia Chamorro, has taken a break from the crime genre and claims a forgotten heritage. “The transversal character of the revolt moves this episode away from a simple medieval riot. The whole kingdom is stirred up and there is a solidarity assembly of all the cities among themselves, and laws to regulate ”, explained the novelist, who has relied on the original documents gathered in the volumes of Documented critical history of the communities of Castillaby Manuel Danvila. “This book is not against anyone, I only vindicate a Castile that I have seen has been despised, but that has left us the language and a history of resistance to being vassals.
The bishop of Zamora, Acuña, then appeared in Zocodover after the execution of Captain Padilla, but his widow, María Pacheco, resisted the city as a rebel governor. Silva’s journey advanced uphill between construction scaffolding, passing in front of the Tax Agency offices and with some obituaries on the doors of the bars that made reference to the critical situation due to the absence of tourism and the closure of the hotel business in times of pandemic.
The author stopped at the monument to Garcilaso de la Vega, who despite being loyal to the emperor suffered royal punishment for attending the wedding of a niece, the daughter of a commoner, and spoke of the harsh repression of the king. In the square where Padilla’s house stood and where since 2015 there is finally a statue dedicated to the rebel hero, the writer spoke with admiration of María Pacheco and the cannon he took out when they asked him to hand over his weapons. She has no monument or street in the city, the writer denounces. Cultured and brave, she ended up escaping from the city and exiled in Porto, a city that Silva reaches in his book and that is bathed by the Duero, like Tordesillas, where Queen Juana was also secluded.
Passionate about history, the writer moves in Castilian from the 16th to the 21st century, with mentions of the Cid, Fernán González, the Quixote. “It is a story about the Castilian identity of the narrator who tells it and of the community members and that is very different from the one I see invoked around me. Identity is presented as a collective parameter, but I believe that it is an individual adventure, a personal and free journey ”, he added. “Sobriety and honest style can also be rigidity, because all virtues have a reverse.” The identity that he set out to explore in this book led him to unpopulated towns and to see how Castile was declining. “There is a lack of connection with cultural heritage,” concluded the author.