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Another Spanish saying and proverb 84
26 October 2019

      Today I would like to talk to you about a popular and curious Spanish expression: “Las Cuentas del Gran Capitán” = "The Accounts of the Grand Captain".

      The Accounts of the Grand Captain are a Spanish cultural topic, that is based on an anecdote attributed to Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, the Grand Captain, who ridiculed Fernando the Catholic when he asked for accounts of the expenses that he (Gonzalo) had incurred during the Naples campaign, at the end of the year 1506. His response was to challenge the king (Fernando El Católico) with an enumeration of exorbitant expenses, in absurd concepts (the most famous phrase of the answer, which is usually also used as a topic, is in spikes, shovels and hoes, one hundred million ...) but which alluded directly to the heroism of his soldiers and the victories achieved, which had led to the French defeat and provided practical access to the rest of Italy from the base of the kingdom of Naples. As a phrase, it is used to qualify as an exaggeration of a relationship of expenses, or even a list of any kind, to ridicule a little detailed relationship or to deny an explanation requested for something to which you are not entitled. For example, you could say: “What a crude statement or what eight quarters!. This one, that you present to me here, my friend, are the very same accounts of the Grand Captain”.

The Grand Captain

Fernando El Católico

      An interpretation of the fact supposes that, after the death of Isabel the Catholic, in 1504, seeing her widower Fernando the Catholic that the Italian War was being enormously expensive, she asked Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba to present justified accounts of such expenses. It seems that the political enemies of the Grand Captain wanted to take advantage of the death of the Queen, hitherto brave of the Castilian military.

The Queen Isabel La Católica​​​​​​​

      A classic narrative, which is not deprived of applauding the traditional movement of the Great Captain, is found in the biography of the Great Captain by Luis María de Lojendio:

Luis Maria de Lojendio e Irure​​​​​​​

      In the task of administrative review to which Don Fernando applied, it was his turn to the forced discharge of economic management. The King, who lived in constant struggle with the shortage of means that drowned him, attached great importance to this chapter. Among his storytellers was Juan Bautista Spinelli, who had cultivated in the mood of the Monarch the great misgivings about the waste of the Grand Captain, "as well as the one who sagacísimamente looked for the accounts of the spent and everything received, and showed how he had not left Something in the treasury, so that giving messily it came to win the name of the most liberal.»

      Lojendio puts the episode in the context of Fernando's landing in Naples on November 1- 1506, shortly after learning of the death of Felipe El Hermoso, in Burgos (September 25). The king's position, at that moment, is delicate: he must try to restore, in his possessions, all the Neapolitan nobles that he can (except for the two most significant supporters of Charles VIII of France: the Prince of Rossano and the Count of Campobasso), to the detriment of the companions to whom the Captain has distributed a generous loot (Lojendio quotes Pedro de Paz, Antonio de Leiva, Benavides, Gómez de Solís, the Prior of Messina, Luis Herrera, the Commander of Trebejo, Diego García de Paredes, Captain Cuello, Mosén Mudarra and Micer Teodoro, Albanian captain).

Felipe El Hermoso

      The great bitterness, the great disappointment of those victorious soldiers wounded the most sensitive fiber in their soul: that of their extreme generosity. At this time of his life, under the influence of this state of mind, the episode of the famous accounts of the Grand Captain is raised.

      Gonzalo de Córdoba's position did not exclude the possibility of becoming himself king of Naples (as suggested by a fellow soldier or some Neapolitans), or changing sides like any other condotiero of the Italy of the time, and putting himself at the service of the Pope or of who better did the accounts. Fernando managed to return with him to Spain, conjuring the danger. Recruited in his Andalusian fiefdoms, he will see how the towers of his castle in Montilla will be topped, like those of many other Levantine nobles. The authoritarian monarchy, still in its infancy, was struggling to impose itself, and times were in its favor. It is well known that Fernando was being observed by Machiavelli, who took him as one of the models of his perfect Prince. It is also well known that, in the stereotype of the traditional Spanish, that calculating and pragmatic dimension of Fernando was worse seen than that of other more idealistic kings (and no less prudent, such as Felipe II).

The Castle of Montilla in Cordoba

      Do not forget that at the death of Isabel, Fernando is only king in the Crown of Aragon, to which the Italian kingdoms have been linked since the thirteenth century (Sicilian vespers –this is the name for the historical event of the massacre of French people, in Sicily in 1282, which ended up causing the end of the reign of Carlos de Anjou, on the island, replaced by the influence of the Crown of Aragon--.), while in the Crown of Castile the Queen is her daughter Juana (Juana la Loca). The fact that the two crowns rejoined was partly a chance, since Fernando remarried (with Germana de Foix) and could have had offspring. However, he never ceased to gravitate on Castilian politics, protecting both the activity of his daughter and that of his son-in-law (Felipe El Hermoso, whose early death made the balance even more complicated), and Joan's declaration of madness that made him resume the control, as regent in the name of the incapable Queen and pending the coming of age of her grandson Carlos (future Carlos I of Spain).

Carlos de Anjou

Juana La Loca

Carlos I of Spain

      The union of the two crowns was only personal in the figure of their kings, and had dissolved --no one knew whether temporarily or definitely-- with the death of the Queen. The expansion projects of each one were geographically opposed: Atlantic the one of Castile and Mediterranean the one of Aragon. The secular alliance of the high Castilian nobility (the wool) with Flanders (the cloths), at that time controlled by Maximilian I of Habsburg, father in law of daughter of Fernando the Catholic for being the father of Felipe El Hermoso, was compatible only to a certain extent with the expansion through Italy and North Africa, on a temporary basis and more than anything else for the common enemy: the kingdom of France.

Maximiliano I de Habsburgo​​​​​​​

      The non-integration between Castilla and Aragón is clearly seen in the exclusion of the latter from the newly begun American adventure: it will be Seville that organises the monopoly of this trade, reserved for merchants of Castilian nationality, and Catalan, Valencian, Majorcan neither Aragonese will be able to intervene. Explicitly indicated by the motto that Fernando himself had recorded as an epitaph in the Admiral's tomb, who died that same year in 1506:

               To Castilla and León

               new world gave Columbus.

which became (the mutation of the famous phrases is not exclusive to the Accounts) into a popular flirt ironically finished with another verse:

               With the cash of Aragon.

      Gonzalo, in Italy, reorganised the Infantry creating the Coronelías, military units that would be the base of the future Tercios(Regiments), troops experienced in the War of Granada and of Castilian national base, although mercenaries and therefore open to any soldier of fortune of Europe, as the aforementioned Albanians, and that not long would include the famous German lansquenetes, who stood out twenty years later, already in reign of Carlos V, in the battle of Pavia (which meant the capture of Francisco I of France and Spanish control over northern Italy through the Duchy of Milan) and the subsequent sack of Rome.

Francisco I of France

       Well, I hope that you will like this article.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Spanish researchers show that an oral anticoagulant delays Alzheimer's
14 October 2019

      Researchers at the National Cardiovascular Research Center (CNIC), in collaboration with a team of scientists from the Rockefeller University of New York (USA), have shown that treatment with the drug dabigatran, a direct-acting oral anticoagulant, It is capable of delaying the appearance of Alzheimer's in mice.

Researchers  at the CNIC

CNIC

Rockefeller University​​​​​​​

      Specifically, according to the results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, after one year of treatment with dabigatran, the animals did not experience memory loss or decrease in cerebral circulation. This therapy also reduced brain inflammation, vascular damage and reduced amyloid peptide deposits, typical signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The news of the study in the Journal​​​​​​​

Dabigatran​​​​​​​

Brain inflammation​​​​​​​

Brain vascular damage​​​​​​​

The peptide Beta-Amyloid​​​​​​​

      In recent years, it has been discovered that this type of dementia, which affects tens of millions of people in the world, is associated with a decrease in cerebral circulation, so that the brain cells do not receive all the necessary nutrients and oxygen and they die.

       It is also known that Alzheimer's is a multifactorial disorder with a chronic prothrombotic component. Given this situation, the new study has combined physiological and molecular techniques, to demonstrate that long-term anticoagulation, with this medicine, improves the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's, in a transgenic mouse model.

      Specifically, the mice in the study were shown several closed doors and only one open; after one year, the mice treated with Dabigatran remembered the open door, to hide themselves and, however, the mice not treated with this medicine did not remember where the open door was.

      Due to the progressive aging of the population, it is estimated that the number of people who will suffer Alzheimer's will triple in 2050, since every three seconds a new case occurs in the world and, unfortunately, the treatments approved to date only temporarily help with memory problems, but they fail to stop or reverse the symptoms.

      Dabigatran, thanks to its "high efficacy and fewer side effects" than other classic anticoagulants, is approved for use in different human diseases. "This discovery is an important step forward to transfer our results to clinical practise and thus achieve an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease", said researcher, Marta Cortés Canteli, from the CNIC and responsible for the study.

Marta Cortés Canteli​​​​​​​

      Likewise, the general director of the CNIC and one of the main authors of the work, Valentín Fuster, recalled that neurodegenerative diseases are deeply linked to the pathology of the cerebral vessels, so he has stated that the study of the brain-heart nexus, in Neurodegenerative diseases, is the "challenge of the next decade".

Valentín Fuster​​​​​​​

      Pending future analysis in humans, the researchers believe that this study suggests that dabigatran could be a possible future treatment to normalise cerebral circulation in Alzheimer's patients.

       "To carry out this individualised treatment, it will be necessary to develop a diagnostic tool that identifies those Alzheimer's patients, who have a tendency to coagulate. That is one of the lines of research that we will focus on, in the coming years", Cortés Canteli has settled.

      This study began in the US, six years ago, with US funding and has been completed, in Spain, thanks to various national and European grants, that allowed Cortés Canteli to move her research line back to Spain, in 2015.

      Well, I hope that Spanish scientists can continue investigating, to finally end Alzheimer's disease and other diseases such as stroke and cancer.

      And I also hope that you will like this article.

      Until  my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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A sauce with a lot of history in southern Spain
02 October 2019

      Last June, the University of Cadiz resumed its studies on the Garum (a sauce much appreciated in the Roman Empire) in Bolonia (Cádiz,Costa de la Luz, Southwest of Andalusia).

Cadiz University

Roman people

The area of Bolonia on the right side

      In that area of Bolonia are the ruins of the Roman city of Baelo Claudia, built in the 2nd century BC.

Mockup of Baelo Claudia

Another mockup

Aerial view of Baelo Claudia currently

The cove of Bolonia from its dunes

Ruins of Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

      Researchers of the research group HUM-440 of the University of Cádiz and the Archaeological Ensemble of Baelo Claudia of the Junta de Andalucía have discovered two complete Roman salazone factories (named “Cetaria”), in an excellent state of conservation, in Baelo Claudia. It is the first time that organic remnants of salted tuna have been documented throughout the Ancient World (called “salsamentum” by the Romans), thanks to the discovery of skins inside some pools.

The two factories close to the sand of the beach​​​​​​​

The two factories up close

      In August-2017, the archaeological campaign of the general project of maritime economics and fishery activities, in Baelo Claudia, was finished, directed by Professor Darío Bernal Casasola, from the Archeology area of the University of Cádiz. After more than a month of excavations, the study has been completed, in the fishing-canning district of the Hispano-Roman city of Baelo Claudia, one of the most important archaeological sites, in the western Mediterranean.

The Professor Bernal​​​​​​​

Archaelogical excavation in the fishing neighbourhood of Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

Aerial view of some basins for making Garum​​​​​​​

      The findings have been "spectacular", according to its promoters, and are part of the Industrial Complex XI and XII (the two canned fish industries), unknown until the beginning of this latest work, where the most accurate methods of excavation and study have been applied, in the face of reconstruction of the type of food produced there, between the 1st century and the 5th century AD. It is an interdisciplinary research, still rare in the Humanities field, through which archaeological (micro-spatial excavation), archaeozoological (studies of the fish bones appeared), palynological (analysis of the remains of pollen) and archaeometric (chemical analysis of organic waste, among others) analysis have been done.

      Likewise, the Garum (sauce derived from the fermentation of fish in saline medium) has been studied, through residues of its manufacture, still intact, at the base of some amphoras.

      The last month of June the archaeological excavation of the two canned fish industries (known as the XI and XII industrial complexes) was completed. This work has lasted four years and incorporates an interdisciplinary study of its structures, with the most modern techniques ranging from biomolecular archeology to the study of organic waste adhered to the walls of saltwater basins. In these, the tuna was salted and the famous sauce (Garum) was produced, that so much fame gave to these Andalusian lands, in Rome and in all the corners of the Empire.

Basins for Garum​​​​​​​

The same basins up close​​​​​​​

Another basins for Garum​​​​​​​

The basins up close​​​​​​​

Excavation of a basin​​​​​​​

      Researchers from the University of Cádiz, after years of study, have come up with the formula of garum and market it, under the name of Flor de Garum, since 2014.

Cooking Garum​​​​​​​

Sauce Flor de Garum​​​​​​​

      The research, carried out in Baelo Claudia, has allowed, for the first time in the world, to locate remains of salted tuna meat, from Roman times (called salsamenta by the Romans) or to determine the importance and uniqueness of local fish sauces, such as the garum of hedgehogs or the one made with aligotes.

One Aligote

      Likewise, they have made it possible to determine with precision the system of specialised quartering of the tunas, which today we call 'ronqueo', and which has its roots, at least, in Roman times. And to know, in detail, the exploitation of marine resources, in the waters of the strait, over time: from the exploitation of cetaceans to the use of mollusks for the production of fish sauces, such as the famous oyster garum;  from shark fishing to the elaboration of fishmeal and fish oils.

Ronqueo in the fish market of Barbate (Cadiz)​​​​​​​

      These studies place Baelo Claudia at the international forefront of the knowledge of the exploitation of marine resources, once again. In fact, in these field studies, more than twenty researchers have collaborated, in addition to doctoral students and students in training from Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Italy, France and Mexico. These studies are supported and funded by research projects of the Ministry of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía and the State Plan for R + D + i of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, with the collaboration of more than a dozen universities and research centers, from several countries.

      The study of the tuna bones of a pit has made it possible to reconstruct the system of selective cutting of these large animals, very similar to the "ronqueo" that is still being carried out, in a perfectionist way, in the tuna bed of the Strait of Gibraltar. And fishing gear and iron tools related to the cutting and filleting of these large migrators have also appeared.

Remains of tuna bones​​​​​​​

      These findings "are extremely relevant because, due to their organic nature, they are not usually kept in the archaeological record, since it is a unicum and Baelo Claudia is one of the most important places in the world for knowledge of fishery and canning industry from Roman times, base of the craft traditions that have been maintained, in the Strait of Gibraltar, until scarce generations ago", according to Professor Bernal.

A part of the excavations​​​​​​​

Another view of the excavations​​​​​​​

Salting factory​​​​​​​

The salting factories in the background​​​​​​​

      Strolling through its streets, we recognise, in the remains of Baelo Claudia, the best preserved Roman city, in Spain. All the representative elements that constitute the essence of a city of the Roman´s time are located: the forum, the temples, the basilica, the market, the theater, the thermal baths, the industrial district, the aqueducts, the complete wall ...

A map of the main monuments in Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

A street in Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

Another type of pavement​​​​​​​

Remains of the Forum or Public square​​​​​​​

The Forum up close​​​​​​​

The Basilica or Palace of Justice next to the Forum​​​​​​​

The Basilica up close

The Basilica from another angle​​​​​​​

The statue of Trajano from another angle

      Going down to the beach, you can find the two temples.

Some visitors looking at the ruins from one of the two temples​​​​​​​

The Temple dedicated to the Goddess Isis​​​​​​​

      Here below you can see first the remains of the two temples and, secondly, on the left, the Basilica; in the background and on the right side, the dunes of Bolonia.

The ruins of the two Temples​​​​​​​

The Temples up close​​​​​​​

      Now you can see the Market of Baelo Claudia:

Remains of the Market

The Cardo of the Market

Note: Cardo is a term used in urban planning in the Roman Empire. It denotes a north-south facing street.

Another view of the Market​​​​​​​

      Here below, you can see another representative element of Baelo Claudia: the Theater.

The Theater with the beach in the background

An aerial view of the Theater​​​​​​​

The Theater inside

The Theater from the stage​​​​​​​

The terraces of the Theater​​​​​​​
      

Performance of a play​​​​​​​

The actresses of the play​​​​​​​

      Just below, you can see the thermal baths:

The Thermal baths of Baelo Claudia  

 Another thermal baths

Other thermal baths up close

      Now you will see some images of another representative element of Baelo Claudia: the Industrial district.

Access to the industrial district

      Here you can see the residential area:

The residential area in the first place

Remains of some houses on the western edge of the city

A house of Baelo Claudia

Remains of domus

      Note: Domus is the Latin word with which a type of Roman house is known. The domus were the homes of families of a certain economic level, whose head of household bore the title of dominus.

      Another representative element of Baelo Claudia was the Aqueduct:

Aqueduct to transport drinking water

A general view of the aqueduct

      Another representative element of Baelo Claudia is The Wall:

A part of the Wall

      Outside the archaeological site of Baelo Claudia, you can see a very special tree, called Ombú, which is native to South America --and it is special, because it is unusual to see a tree like this in these latitudes--.

The Ombú

      This Ombú of Baelo Claudia has a spectacular size, with a height of 13 metres, a forked shaft a few metres from the ground and an exceptional thickness of 7.5 metres perimeter.

The Ombú from another angle

A restaurant with a parking on the left side of the picture

      You can see a picture of the remains of one of the doors to enter Baelo Claudia:

East gate of the wall​​​​​​​

      On the left side you can see the Ombú; in the right side you can see the Basilica and, in the background, you can see the dunes of Bolonia.

      To visit the ruins of Baelo Claudia, you can park your car in that parking lot and, next to it, you will see a square building, where you will see a small museum, with images of Baelo Claudia, and you can also purchase the tickets you need to visit the ruins. If you want to ask for tickets there, you can call to the telephone number:  956 106 797 –although I can tell you that tickets are free--. But if you want information and an appointment to go with a group, you have to call the phone: 956 106 793.

The entrance to the building museum​​​​​​​

Some amphoras in the Museum

In the right side of the building you start your visit

The building from the tour route to visit Baelo Claudia

The building from another angle

The Capitol area on the right side

The Basilica from the Capitol viewpoint​​​​​​​

The east gate

Another part of the tour route​​​​​​​

Another view of the tour route

The Theater  from the tour route

The Museum from another part of the tour route

The Isis Temple viewpoint

The Basilica in the left side

The Basilica in the right side​​​​​​​

Factories zone

Port zone​​​​​​​

The last ruins close to the dunes

Aerial view of the Bolonia area

      Well, I hope that you will like this article and hope that you can go to visit those interesting ruins of Baelo Claudia.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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