Córdoba will fulfill the last wishes of a member of the Invincible Armada 436 years later | Culture

Between 35 and 40 ships of the popularly known as the Invincible Armada, most of them transport ships or ships prepared for navigation in the Mediterranean or calm waters, tried to surround the coasts of Ireland in July 1588 to return to Spain after the failed attack on England. . But the weather conditions caused a large part of it to run aground. The English cavalry then set out in search of him. Hundreds of men, unarmed and half drowned, were captured on the beaches and cliffs and taken to Drogheda prison (Ireland) to be mercilessly executed.

Among them was the shipwrecked Antonio de Ulloa y Sandoval, born, as was believed until now, in Toro (Zamora). Shortly before being executed, Ulloa hurriedly wrote a moving testament with his last wishes. “The executioner doesn’t give me any more room,” he indicated in his last, laconic sentence. However, these wishes would never be fulfilled due to an error in interpreting them at the time. Now, researcher Pedro Luis Chinchilla, responsible for the platform armadainvencible.org, has rediscovered the handwritten document and clarified the truth. Ulloa lived in Córdoba, not in Toro, so neither his relatives nor the supposed Zamoran churches that he mentioned in the will could be found. Between the next March 3 and 10, the Pontifical, Royal and Centennial Brotherhood and Brotherhood of Our Lady of Angustias Coronada, of Córdoba, will make his last wishes come true: three masses for his soul at the altar of a chapel in the Church of San Agustín.

In the summer of 1589, Hernando Hurtado de Mendoza, general of Fuenterrabía (Guipúzcoa), received a letter signed by Baltasar López del Arbol, ensign of the Tercios and prisoner in Drogheda. It was sent to him by two Catholics, the Irishman Jhoannes Stanlie and the Englishman Richard Halton, who had just arrived in Spain fleeing Protestant repression on the islands. The letter also carried an unexpected document. It was the will of Antonio de Ulloa.

An English captain from the Irish prison, in a humanitarian gesture, had saved the Spaniard’s last wishes before being beheaded and had given them to López del Arbol. He added them to the letter he sent to Hurtado de Mendoza. During the time in which the castaways of the Invincible Armada were imprisoned in Ireland, Scotland and England, acts of ruthlessness, but also of touching humanity, were carried out. “If the Spanish fell into Irish or Scottish territory they were fed, healed and clothed. In Scotland, for example, a kind of refugee camp was set up for those fleeing England. There were also Irish clans who helped them, supported them and did everything they could to get them home. Catholic Ireland and Scotland were his lifeline. But, furthermore, some English Protestants acted the same. Captain Christopher Carleill (1551-1593) took Spanish prisoners, but then, risking his life, he put a ship at their disposal so that they could return,” indicates Chinchilla.

Nine months before the letter reached Spain, the massacre of those arrested had begun. The order to kill them was given by Richard Bingham, English governor of the county of Connaught. He beheaded or killed by throwing or shooting between 300 and 400 unarmed people of the various nationalities that made up the sailors and the Tercios.

'The Adoration of the Three Wise Men', fresco from the church of San Agustín, by Cristóbal Vela (1588-1654).
‘The Adoration of the Three Wise Men’, fresco from the church of San Agustín, by Cristóbal Vela (1588-1654). sedmak (Getty Images)

Chinchilla found Ulloa’s last wishes by reviewing the book The Battle of the Ocean Sea ―a compilation of 7,000 original texts about the military and political confrontation between Philip II and Elizabeth of England―. “I was overwhelmed when I found it. He moved me. The messengers who carried the letter claimed that Ulloa was from Toro, but they were surely wrong. For this reason, he looked for his relatives in Zamora, but they were evidently not there. Upon reviewing the original document, I was able to verify that all the invocations indicated churches in Cordoba. I then contacted the brotherhood of the church of Nuestra Señora Coronada and, indeed, all the temples that Ulloa mentioned corresponded to a specific neighborhood of Córdoba, that of San Agustín. Ulloa could have been born in Toro, but he lived in Córdoba without a doubt.

Chinchilla believes that it is most likely that the letter, which is kept in the General Archive of Simancas, was written on October 5, 1588, the day of his execution. In it, the prisoner asks for masses in the churches of Santa Marina, the Mártires de la Puerta, the Colodro convent or the Blessed Martyrs, among other temples, “so that they [los santos y mártires] Be my intercessors before my Lord Jesus Christ.” He also demanded another “three masses of light at the altar of Our Lady of Angustias, for which he had [la Virgen] when she saw her precious Son on the tree of the Cross, be my intercessor so that [Jesucristo] He grieves for my soul and receives me in his holy glory.”

Ulloa also asks his brothers Juan and Jerónimo to enforce his will “without fail” and to give 100 ducats to his cousin Andrés Ortíes, “son of my lord uncle Andrés Ortíes del Romo, to whom I ask forgiveness for all the wrongs I have done.” made”. The letter ends abruptly because the executioner no longer gives him any more time.

The researcher has not found more data about Ulloa in the national archives. “It is very complicated by the chaotic system of assigning surnames of the 16th century. People interchangeably put the last name of their father, mother, uncle or grandfather first. It was something very common. For example, one of the soldiers of the Invincible declares that his name is Diego Román, son of Juan Pacheco.”

Chinchilla contacted the Pontifical, Royal and Centennial Brotherhood and Brotherhood of Our Lady of Coronated Angustias and told them about the case. The brotherhood, according to the researcher, also had no doubt when reviewing the names of churches and convents mentioned in the will: all the temples are located in the Cordoba neighborhood of San Agustín. “They told me that it was very clear that he was a resident of the area, so between March 3 and 10, the week they dedicate to the souls of the deceased brothers, they will fulfill Ulloa’s wishes. They think there’s a good chance he was one of them. Because those requests are typical of a brother. And they will search his files to check if they are right,” says Chinchilla. Thus, 436 years later, the last wishes of an unfortunate member of the Great Armada, Invincible Armada or Felicísima Armada, about which there are still many things to be clarified, will be fulfilled.

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