Thursday, November 16, 2017

Llubí: A Town Called She-Wolf

The Romans had a name for the place. It was Castro-Lupino. The castro part referred to a fortification. Lupino wasn't a lupin, it was a she-wolf. As such, it was a strange name. There were wolves in Mallorca? Perhaps it was someone's name. Whatever the reason, Castro-Lupino changed over time. It became Castell-Llubí. The Castell was eventually abandoned.

Llubí is one of the places in Mallorca that rarely attracts any attention to itself. It has its honey fair this coming Sunday. Otherwise, it can boast being the only place to celebrate Sant Feliu (Saint Felix). Like other villages in the plain area of the island, it homed in on a saint that no one else was too inclined to honour. Petra is another example. Who on Earth was Santa Praxedis?

It used to be part of Muro. Way back when, at the end of the Muslim occupation, there was a district called Muruh. It also included Maria de la Salut and, doubtless to its eternal displeasure, the highly singular village of Santa Margalida, which has typically prided itself on its difference. A distant recollection of having somehow been subordinate to Muro most certainly doesn't fit with a Santa Margalida self-image. The rivalry between the two continues to this day.

Llubí, on the other hand, has mostly just got on with its fate over the centuries, and this owed a great deal to someone called Ponç Hug. He was among the 1229 conquering force of King Jaume I and was also the Comte d'Empúries. The square in front of Muro town hall was named after this count, and he - generous fellow perhaps - gave some land to one Bernat Descoll, the abbott of Sant Feliu de Guíxols​, nowadays known for being a tourist resort on the Costa Brava. It was this abbott who secured Sant Feliu's patronage of the land - "terres llubineres" - he had been given by Ponç Hug. The first chapel for Sant Feliu appeared some time in the thirteenth century.

The terres llubineres were still referred to as Castell-Llubí into the nineteenth century, but there was a seemingly significant development which occurred prior to that century, and it was all because of a member of one of Mallorca's most important noble families, the Despuig.

Antoni Despuig i Dameto had originally wanted to join the military. The family thought otherwise. He was ordained and in 1803 became a cardinal. But before this, he had developed a reputation unusual for many of Mallorca's nobility in that he really seemed to care about the island. The Raixa finca in Bunyola had become part of the family's possessions in the mid-seventeenth century. Antoni was to establish a museum of classical sculpture at the finca.

Cardinal Despuig is known for having been one of the most important representatives of the Enlightenment in Mallorca. And there weren't that many, if truth be known. One of his various achievements was to appear in 1784. This was the Mapa de Mallorca, sometimes referred to as the Mapa Despuig. It wasn't the first map of the island but it was the first to be generally accurate, which was what he wanted it to be. Previous versions, even one of 1773, had inaccuracies, so Antoni set about rectifying them, and he did this by touring the island with another cleric, Julián Ballester. It is argued that Ballester was the cartographical brains behind the map. And he may well have been, but Despuig was the driving force and the sponsor. The map that was created was actually produced by the engraver Josep Muntaner in 1785, and included in the map was Llubí without the Castell.

It is said that Llubí on its own was in fact first referred to almost two hundred years before in 1609. But the official name always included the Castell. Once the Mapa Despuig appeared, the fortification was well on its way to being dropped, which is what happened. And in 1836 there was a separation from Muro; the municipality of Llubí was officially and definitively founded.

Municipalities in Mallorca have their shields. Llubí is no exception. But there is something curious about this shield. It is based on the original name, so there is therefore a castle and there is also a wolf. Which makes one wonder again - were there wolves in Mallorca? This isn't, however, the most curious aspect. Take a close look at this wolf and you will conclude that it isn't a she-wolf.

There again, it isn't so curious perhaps. Despite the she-wolf origin, it seems that the name had become masculine by the time that the Catalans turned up in the thirteenth century. Aben-Lubi, as it was known in the Mozarabic era, was son of a wolf.

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