Welcome to history . . . and to springtime, now that we've officially
crossed the vernal equinox. The patron saint day of Sant Josep ( which we discussed
last week) is, in fact, a celebration of spring's arrival. The roots of the
fiesta go deeply into pre-Christian soil, although for many centuries it has
been celebrated, under different auspices, as part of the Christian calendar.
Technicalities notwithstanding, the passage into spring is certainly cause for
jubilation, no matter what your faith.
Here in Ibiza we are experiencing a primetime of the most intoxicating
variety: balmy air, golden sunshine, and symphonies of birdsong. Most of us
are ready to float away on the next passing cloud, and I dare say a few of us
have. But not all. We, for example, at LiveIbiza have stayed grounded just long
enough to bring you our weekly web page.
Our topic this week is the Archduke Luis Salvador, one of the
first tourists to ever visit Ibiza. We owe much to this fascinating foreigner
who so proficiently recorded, in word and image, the tenor of 19th century island
life. The first question that springs to mind for many people is very basic:
who exactly was the Archduke? Secondly, why did he come to the Balearic Islands?
and last of all, what made him stay? Let us answer these queries by starting
at the very beginning.
True Blue Royalty
Luis Salvador (1847 - 1915) was born in Florence into the Tuscan
line of the Austrian Empire. In the Austrian royal family, the title of 'archduke'
was synonymous with 'prince' because, as nephews to the Emperor, all archdukes
were potential successors to the throne.
As a child, the Archduke was a gifted student and his parents
gave him the finest education money could buy: he was versed in sciences, humanities,
geography, languages and all other subjects deemed worthy of pincely study.
He was also an excellent draughtsman - a talent he would make great use of in
As a young adult, the Archduke was gregarious, active, inquisitive
and adventurous. These traits, added to the financial ease of the station, resulted
in a life-long love of travel. Luis Salvador, however, did not seek mere leisure
on his journeys. He wanted to know everything about each of his destinations,
and his excursions were always chronicled. Copious note and sketches gave standing
testimony to everything that met his ears and eyes. Rumour has it, though, that
the Archduke's mother did not approve of her son's globetrotting and always
kept him on a tight budget. Such a stance is understandable from a parent's
point of view, but it is clear in retrospect that the young prince's urge to
roam was prompted as much by genuine mental questing as by physical restlessness.
The year is 1867. Luis Salvador is now 21 years old. He has been
planning to spend the summer in Dalmatia, a region of Croatia; but, the political
climate is fraught with dark clouds threatening to rain down death or exile
on the heads of several European monarchs. Austria is at war with Prussia to
the north. Still, a foray south onto the Adriatic shores could bring no harm
. . . that is until the lightening bolt struck on June 19th and Maximilian of
Mexico (pawn of the House of Austria and the Emperor's brother) was executed
by popular forces. Simultaneously, in Central Europe the political fusion of
Austria, Hungary and surrounding crown lands to the south caused the Archduke
to rethink his travel plans. With the consent and counsel of his uncle, the
Emperor Franz Joseph, he re-routed his tour to the west. Instead of Dalmatia,
the Archduke would spend August on the Balearic Islands, a tiny archipelago
located in the sea of political oblivion.
When he set off from Prague that summer, he "felt the need to
enjoy the beautiful nature of that quasi-African place where his spirit could
reclaim its lost calm." (from Joan March's book 'S'Arxiduc', pub.1983). He travelled
through France, down into Spain, and at Valencia boarded the steam-boat 'Rey
Don Jaime'. At that time there was only one run a week between the Spanish mainland
and Ibiza - always with a stopover in Majorca. The Archduke did not, however,
stop on the major isle, but continued straight on to Ibiza.
Although he never specifically states it, it is assumed that he
lodged at the only inn that existed on the island, 'Fonda d'en Guevara' in Ibiza
Town. Support for this assumption lies in the fact that the Archduke used the
innkeeper's daughter as a model for one of his most famous paintings, 'The Typical
Female Dress'. In one of the most comprehensive works on the Archduke, 'Els
Camins i les Imatges de l'Arxiduc Ahir i Avui', island historian Joan MarÝ Cardona
recounts that when the mysterious, young foreigner set up his easel in Guevara's
dining room, the establishment would fill up with curious onlookers. "The locals
asked him about all manner of things and their mouths would drop open when he
described what life was like in Austria and other places. They were also superstitious
and the Archduke attributed this superstition to certain words which could only
show that, from experience, they feared the notes he was taking would soon turn
into new taxes and contributions."
The Archduke's astute observations revealed Ibiza's country folk
to be wary and reticent at the start, but open and hospitable once their trust
was gained. Luis Salvador himself was very down-to-earth, and he was always
made welcome in private homes when his wanderings took him too far from the
city to return before nightfall. Frequently he would include members of such
households in his drawings, as the Ibicencos and Formenterencs took this as
a high form of flattery.
In Ibiza there were three social classes: 1) the conservatives
from D'Alt Vila, mostly landed gentry who resided within the walled city and
had tenant farmers and foremen to run their 'fincas'; 2) the liberals and fisherman
who occupied the marina below, and 3) the 'payeses' or peasants who lived scattered
across the countryside and engaged in agriculture and livestock.
The Archduke did not limit himself to contact with the higher
spheres of society but mixed freely with all walks of life. He spent many evening
walking through the marina, speaking to the seamen, probing them for their views
and listening intently when these were revealed.
To demonstrate the Archduke's egalitarian outlook, Cardona includes
this snippet in his book: "A humble man who accompanied the Archduke through
the countryside, after having eaten his meal one midday, stood before him and
said, 'I'm poor, but I'm just as good as you.' The Archduke reflected and saw
that this comment was motivated by the fact that he had eaten very well, while
the man had eaten very poorly. Upon returning to town he went to buy a chicken
so that the humble man could dine like a grand lord."
Tourist On The Go
Before Luis Salvador actually disembarked on Ibiza he was in possession
of maps of the island. With the vigour of youth, he had devised a plan to visit
both of the Pitiuses thoroughly in just three weeks. True to his intentions,
he managed to cover the whole of both islands on the back of a mule as well
as circumnavigate their coastlines in a fishing boat. (These modest modes of
transport were apparently the only ones available to the early tourist.)
The written and graphic commentaries he took during these outings
would later form the basis for his book 'Las Antiguas Pitiusas'. The work was
first published in German in 1869 and in Spanish in 1886. Local writer, Enrique
FajarnŔs, states that while other travel literature had made passing mention
of the island, "no other work on Ibiza has been able to compare, within its
genre, to the wealth of data and descriptive abundance" of 'Las Antiguas Pitiusas'.
The book displays with utter realism the hue and texture of 19th
century island life; for, the Archduke recorded virtually every scene, structure
and phenomena of yesteryear. He drew churches, lighthouses, windmills, water-mills,
wells, walls, trees, people, haystacks, towers, boats . . . all significant
icons of the Ibicenco way of life. For some reason, the only thing he never
drew was a fish!
Twist of Fate
On the day Luis Salvador was meant to leave Ibiza for Majorca,
he discovered that because he lacked a safe-conduct, he would have to delay
his departure by one week. When he finally did set sail, he stayed on deck to
observe the receding coastline of his newly discovered island paradise. Eventually,
all the other passengers retired to their cabins and only one remained above
board: a stately gentleman who walked back and forth from prow to stern smoking
a cigar. When at last the silhouette of Majorca began to emerge form the sea
mist, the Archduke, curious as ever, asked one of the crew a question about
the island. But because he spoke in a foreign tongue, the sailor was unable
to answer his query. At that point the stately gentleman stepped in to offer
From this fortuitous conversation sprang a lifelong friendship.
The older man was Francesc de los Herreros, director of the 'Institut Balear
de Palma de Majorca'. Due to his heightened cultural awareness and excellent
contacts, Herreros became one of the Archduke's principal aids, informants and
collaborators. It was probably due to their profound mental kinship that the
Archduke took up residence in Valdemossa in the north of Majorca. Despite this
fixed residence, he continued to travel for the rest of his life, and frequently
sailed his yacht in Ibicenco waters.
Sharp Mind, Kind Tongue
One of the traits that helped endear the Archduke to the Ibicenco
people was his tolerant viewpoint. Joan MarÝ Cardona, in a chat about his own
book affirms that, "Luis Salvador never had a word of disdain for the island
and at the same time he was honest. He did not criticise; he simply observed,
faithfully and without judgement. On the other hand, Gaston Vuillier, author
of 'The Forgotten Islands (1888) ridicules the Ibicenco people and mocks their
lack of sophistication."
In his introduction to 'Las Antiguas Pitiusas', Herreros also
notes that "the spirit of benevolence, with no lack of truth, shines through
in all of the author's observations."
Would that all those who visit Ibiza could appreciate it as the
Archduke did. Many of us do, but so many others never seem to open their eyes
to the beauty that is here. Well, to each his own. Next week we will speak at
length to a very important man in local history: the historian Joan MarÝ Cardona.
In a special Interview with LiveIbiza Don Joan will share his passion for history
and for his island. Hope you'll join us.