15 February 2023

Awake, for morning in the bowl of night has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight.

And, lo, has caught the sultan’s turret In a noose of light!

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable

 Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galicia

Can anyone makes sense of this article on energy price structuring in the EU? What is clear is that Northern European states oppose Spain’s ‘statist’ proposals.

This is a report about a place in Galicia which is probably really called Ortigueira. And where the relevant phrase should be ‘a quarter of’ or ‘25% of’ . . . Not ‘four times less than’.

Reading last night about heresies in Southern France in the 12th century, I was struck how this comment could possibly – because of minifundios – be applied to modern Galicia: This was a society whose social climate and the rhythms of daily life were shaped by the extreme fragmentation of every kind of property and of the rights it conferred. Every strip of land, every vineyard, every mill, every olive or walnut grove, every wood and marsh, every pasture and fish-pond, was parcelled and re-parcelled into tiny shares, each the subject of competing claims and counter-claims, long-nourished grievances, and secretly harboured ambitions.


I mentioned the possibility of the country dying because of an ageing population born of a low birth-rate, And now . . A Yale economics professor has suggested that elderly people in Japan should do the decent thing and kill themselves, Yuseke Narita, who is 37, has said his call for mass seppuku (disembowelment) of the elderly was “taken out of context”. However, he has said euthanasia could become mandatory in future. Can’t see his parents being willing to look after his kids.

The Way of the World

Over the years, I’ve read of horrific atrocities perpetrated in Europe by hordes from the East and, more recently, by Islamists from the Middle East but it was more than a tad shocking to read of Christian v Christian atrocities of the late 12th and early 13th century. These were carried out under the aegis of the Pope, Innocent III, in the context of a murderous ‘crusade’ against ‘heretics’ in the Languedoc area of France. In modern times these are called Cathars, though they weren’t back then:-

– When Simon de Montfort took Bram, he allowed the garrison to retreat to Cabaret with all their noses cut off and all their eyes put out, except for one left to a leader, to guide them.

– The resisters[the heretics] replied in kind. Two captured knights were taken to Minerve, where their ears, noses and upper lips were cut off, and they were left naked, in bitter weather, to find their way back to Carcassonne.

– When de Montfort took Lavaur, the entire garrison was put to the sword to revenge the massacre of a party of [anti-heretic]crusaders from Germany ambushed on their way to reinforce Montgey. On de Montfort’s orders, the lady of Lavaur was thrown into a well and crushed by the rocks piled on her.

– Three or four hundred heretics were taken outside the city walls where ‘our crusaders burned them alive with great joy’.

– The same rejoicing attended the burning of 60 more at Cassès a few days later.

You can read more about the Albigensian crusade here. The chap who coined the word “genocide” in the 20th century, referred to it as “One of the most conclusive cases of genocide in religious history”. A British historian has argued that it formed an important historical precedent for later genocides, including the Holocaust. Others think this is going too far. While some say it was “the first ideological genocide”. Whatever, pretty damn nasty.

En passant, in today’s Languedoc, there’s a flourishing tourism business centred on the fate of the ‘Cathars’. Particularly around Carcassonne, I believe. So, not all bad. It’s an ill wind . . .

Social Media

Will FB’s algorithm ever contain a line: Stop sending friend suggestions to this guy; he hasn’t accepted one in years and very rarely says Yes to Friend requests. Somehow, I doubt it-


Holibobs: Holidays. Allegedly the most hated office buzzword, ‘said by the sort of “character” who thinks it hilarious to wear Muppets novelty socks while asking “Is it beer o’clock?”’


Why the subjunctive after después? Anyone know?.

Finally . . .

For new readers:-

1. If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

2. Should you want to, the easiest way to to get my post routinely is to sign up for email subscription. As opposed to using a Bookmark or entering the URL in your browser.


  1. It really is Olgueira! Near Trabada on the border with Asturias. The article looks like a ‘filler’, maybe the four times less headline came from an AI program. 🙂 hHaving looked at the listing, seems well overpriced, but being on the Camino is likely the excuse for that.

    Minifundios. I watched As Bestas Sunday evening. Maybe half an hour too long for my liking. It was okay, I wouldn’t pay to see it in a cinema for example. A good TV movie I suppose. My partner who is Gallega thought some of the Galician accents were slightly off.


  2. When we visited France in 2014 we stopped at Montségur. Where its inhabitants had been gathered and burned, there’s a monument that must date from at least the 19th century, honoring those who died there. It was the end of the day, and some people had left flowers. I left a few wildflowers, as well. It was a sobering visit.

    The only subjunctive example I can think of is something like “después que viera…(hiciera, pensara, etc).”


  3. In 1976, I went on holiday near to Le Vigan. There, I learned about Arnaud Amalric, the commander of the Albigensian Crusade, who prior to the massacre at Béziers on 22 July 1209 , by tradition, uttered “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius”. A direct translation of the Medieval Latin phrase is “Kill them. The Lord knows those that are his own”.


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