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Alaró - The History of Cabrit and Bassa

On the death of Jaume I the Conqueror in 1276, the kingdom of Mallorca was inherited by his son Jaume II. Unfortunately war between Catalonia and France led to Mallorca being occupied by Alfons, nephew of Jaume II. Eventually, his troops occupied the whole of Mallorca, with the exception of Alaro Castle where the standard of Jaume II still flew. Supporters of the rightful king had gathered there.

They were led by two local Alaró men, Cabrit and Bassa. Their defence of the Castle was so impregnable that Alfons himself rode up to call on them to surrender. Insults were traded by all three. Cabrit, which means “kid or baby goat in Mallorcan, punned the King’s name (which means fish in Catalan), commenting on it being commonplace to find it eaten everywhere with garlic. On learning the name of the speaker, the enraged king said he would grill him like a kid goat. When the Castle eventually fell, both men were roasted in the Plaça del Lledoner in Alaró. As a result, Alfons was excommunicated by Pope Gregory XII..

Over the centuries, this became the stuff of legends and historians gave little heed to it. Chroniclers had made no mention of these deeds and the only reference to it was in the Breviari Maioricensis which was a copy of an earlier one and was suppressed in the middle of the of the sixteenth century when the Council of Trent decreed the Roman version was the only authentic breviary.

At the end of the nineteenth century, however, a number of documents were discovered indicating their existence. A lawsuit, dating from 1300, mentioned that Guillem and Berenguer Bassa were the sons of Guillem Bassa, condemned to death with confiscation of his goods fourteen years earlier (1286). The same document also mentioned an N. Cabrit. A second document a capbreu or land usage document, dated 1395, recalled the foundation of a benefice in 1312 by King Sanç. Interestingly, the benefice was the Capella de la Pietat in Palma Cathedral, which holds the remains of Cabrit and Bassa. Historians interpret it to mean that Sanç was fulfilling the Papal penance imposed on Alfons on his excommunication, and that this was nothing less than the raising and founding of a benefice for the souls of Cabrit and Bassa.