GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF MAJORCA PREHISTORIC MAJORCA. The chief prehistoric period of Majorca reached its height about a thousand years before Christ; it is called by archaelogists the Talaiot Period from its most common and characteristic monument, the talaiot.
The talaiot is either coneshaped with a circular base, or of a foursided pyramid construction. The talaiot is a very complex structure, but these are the most common forms. They usually have one chamber, or sometimes two supported by single or double columns. The talaiot was, in most cases, a burial monument, as were the naveta and many of the prehistoric man-made caves which are so common on the island. As well as these two monuments, there exist also walled settlements, dolmens, fortified hills, etc., all belonging to the same period.
For their size and ease of access the following monuments are worthy of a visit: the village of Capucorb Veil (Lluchma-yor), the village of Ses Pahisses (Arta), the village of S’Illot (San Lorenzo), the burial ground of Son Real (Ca’n Picafort), the talaiot of Binifat (Sancelles), the caves of Cala San Vicente (Pollensa), the caves of Son Sunyer Veil (El Arenal), and the talaiot of Son Danus (Santanyi). (J. MASCARO PASARUIS.)
Primitive Settlers. In the transition period and approaching historical time the Majorcan Slingers became very famous for their skill. It was said, that fathers trained their sons by hanging up food in a tree and having them knock it down. This is how they had to eat. So skillful they all became that when Admiral Magon wanted to land and conquer the island he was tenaciously prevented by the Slingers in the year 205 B. C.
Roman Domination. The island was captured first by the Phoenicians and then by the Greeks. Then in the year 123 B.C., Quinthus Cecilius Metellus, leading a powerful fleet whose ships came ready covered with hides, defeated the Majorcan Slingers, landed and put the island under Roman authority. He founded the first important cities Pollentia (now Alcudia), and Palmaria (now Palma); there is some doubt, however, whether the Roman city was situated in what today is Puerto de Campos, or in Colonia de Sant Jordi, where the sunken wrecks of Roman vessels and a large number of Roman amphora have been found in the water. The Roman theatre and the remains found in excavations in Alcudia are traces of this domination. At that time the population of the island numbered 30.000.
Arab Domination. The island was conquered by the Arabs in 902, and its reconstruction began. In 1015 it fell into the hands of Denia, recovering its independence later under the Wali of Mortadha, who turned the island into a centre for pirates who spread terror on the coasts of Cataluna, France and Italy. In 1113 an expedition to conquer the island was organized by the Catalans and the people of Pisa. This expedition, sent by Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona, consisted of 500 ships and 70.000 men. The city, Medina Mayurca (now Palma), was protected by four formidable walls, and the Arabs tenaciously resisted the attack. From the Arabs the island passed to an African Almoravide dynasty, who made it an independent sovereignty in 1127. After many battles, Majorca dominated North Africa, from Mogreb and Tripoli to the Sahara, for more than 50 years. The Arab domination of Majorca lasted for four centuries; its remains are the Arab Baths and the Archway of Almudaina, in Palma. Its profound effects are to be seen too, in the way of life of the people, and in their customs and folklore.
Before the Christian conquest of the island. The political situation between Cataluna and the Republics of Pisa and Florence was very delicate. The Catalans wanted to conquer the island and at the same time clear their coasts of pirates. The power of Arab Majorca was growing daily. Pisa, however, supported by Count Berenguer IV, was opposed to the domination of the Balearics by Genova. The Italian states, in spite tf their opposed interests, established commercial links with Arab Majorca. Cataluna continued to grow in commercial and political importance, and, in spite of so many difficulties, dreamt of seizing Majorca. The rivalry between the Wali, supported by Genova, and Jaime I, the count-king of Cataluna grew stronger every day, reaching its peak in 1227.
The Feast of Tarragona. Where the seed of the conquest was sown. The great seafarer Pere Martell, on the 16th of November 1228, invited the King and the great nobles to a magnificent feast. After serving them with rich delicacies, the host gave a superb description of Majorca, which he knew from his frequent visits, and to interest them in its products, he gave them Majorcan olives with the dessert. In this manner he enraptured and inflamed all those who were present.
Consequences of the Feast. A short time after, the King who was only twenty years old, summoned a gathering in Barcelona of all his noblemen-at-arms, and to give it a democratic character, he invited the commoners of Cataluna. The gathering was held in the Sala del Tinell in the old royal palace. Gathering afterwards in the Cortes, the young King had overcome the arguments of the Aragonese that they should first march against
Murcia. They all volunteered their share in the venture, each suplying both military necessities (men, arms and horses), and money. The Cortes disbanded on Christmas Eve 1228, taking the oath with cries of “To Majorca! To Majorca!” The volunteers enlisted and all Cataluna burned with enthusiasm.
The Military Expedition. On the 5th of September 1229, all difficulties solved, the expedition was put to sea. The landing-force consisted of four corps, 16.000 men, and 1.500 horses, carried in 150 large ships and other smaller ones. The Wali of Majorca, forewarned of the attack, had ready an army of 18.000 men and 1.000 horses. The King Jaime I was in the first ship, commanding the formidable fleet. On the following day they came in sight of the island. On the 7th the first soldiers landed on the islet of Pantalaleu, near La Dragonera, and established a bridgehead. The main body of the army landed in Santa Ponsa on the 10th. Faced with such a dangerous situation the Wali came to meet them with 5.000 men, but another contingent had landed at La Porrassa in order to surround them.
Fall of the City. The first encounters favoured the Catalans, due to numerous defections among the Arabs. Continuing the struggle, the royal army achieve the position, 5 kms. to the North of the city, which has since been called El Secar de La Real. It was here where the assault on the city was planned, culminating with the breaking of the wall and the victorious entry of King Jaime I at the head of his army, on the 31st of December 1229.
Foundation of the Kingdom of Majorca. Immediately after the Conquest (in March 1230), Jaime I founded the new State of Majorca, publishing the Carta de Poblacio which laid down the democratic base of equality, liberty and autonomy. In its 37 chapters it gives details of Justice with independent tribunals, political-administrative standards, both civil and criminal, and for new settlers, free property, commercial expansion inviolability of homes, ovens, mills and ships. It laid down the Powers of the Government, and the foundation, by a system of representation, of the Gran i General Consell. The “Baile was responsible for order and for the fulfilment of Royal commands, and the Verguer for everything connected with civil and criminal justice. Together they provided the most advanced constitution of those times.
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