Punishment for a dead King

Now that a Felipe, the VI one, is the new head of state in Spain, due to the undeniable merit of being son of his daddy, it’s good to recall the last Felipe, the V one, who was King of Spain by the grace of God from 1700 to 1746. Here he is, in a famous portrait. Please, look carefully the pic, you should notice something odd.

Portrait of Philip V, in the Almudín of Xativa.

Portrait of Philip V – photo: Enrique Íñiguez Rodríguez – Wikimedia Commons

The portrait is upside down. I haven’t done that with PhotoShop, really the portrait, located in the museum Almudín of Xàtiva, Spain, is upside down since 1940. Continue reading to know why.


The arsehole Felipe V

In his first years as King at the beginning of 18th century, a war of succession began between Felipe, of the Borbon dynasty, supported by the Crown of Castille, and other King, Carlos of the Austria dynasty, supported by the Crown of Aragon.

In 1707, 25 April, a decisive battle happened in Almansa, and Felipe army won. The troops of Carlos fled, and many of them went to Xàtiva, where they tried to defend the city. After a siege, they were defeated and the city was taken on 2 June.

The city was plundered, but that wasn’t enough. The King Felipe V wrote a decree announcing that the city of Xàtiva should be severely punished because of their stubborn resistance, to extinguish its memory and as warning to those who were to commit the same mistake. Felipe V ordered to burn the city and pour salt over the land around (three times), and also changed the name of the city, then named as Nueva Colonia de San Felipe (New Colony of Saint Philip). The number of inhabitants was 12.000 before the punishment, 400 later.

The defeat was a disaster not just for Xàtiva, but for all the territories of the Crown of Aragon, because we were conquered by Castille and annexed, but that is another story. Now Catalonia (the last territory being defeated) is struggling to become independent again.

Xativa, drawing of Anthonis van den Wijngaerde

Xativa, drawing of Anthonis van den Wijngaerde, 1563 – Public Domain

The portrait upside down

Years and centuries passed, Xàtiva grew, the old name was recovered instead of the ridiculous Nueva Colonia and so on. And a day on 1940, the director of the Museum Almudín of Xàtiva, where this portrait was exhibited, decided to put it upside down as sign of the scorn and reject that the citizens felt towards this royal arsehole. Also he announced that the portrait should continue in this way unless a sucessor of Felipe V publicly apologises -for three times- in front of the portrait. The idea was received with enthusiasm in Xàtiva and, in a short time, the upside down Felipe V became an emblematic image of this city.

The only attempt to put the King upside up since 1940 was done by a mayor of Xàtiva on 1995, when he sent a petition to the Royal House requesting that the current Felipe (then the Crown Prince) went to the Museum Almudín to apologise the required three times. The offer infuriated the city, and more than one claimed that, if the portrait was put upside up, the mayor would be put upside down. Luckily for the mayor, nobody from the Royal House answered, not even a ‘no’. Surely they were too busy with other more important matters than answering a petition from a plebeian, like skiing at Switzerland or killing elephants at Bostwana.


Now Felipe VI

And so, the infamous Felipe V remains upside down, as it must be. Curiously, the resignation of the King Juan Carlos I happened this year on 2 June, the same day that Xàtiva was taken by Felipe V. And Felipe VI was proclaimed as new King of Spain by the grace of his daddy on 19 June, the same day that Xàtiva was burnt.

Another curiosity is that Felipe V was the first King of the Borbon dynasty in Spain, and hopefully Felipe VI will be the last one. A lot of people here think that we’ve had enough Kings.

Jaque mate en tablero de ajedrez

photo by dtiriba




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