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Weekly Edition 004: Saturday 24th March 2001

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History of Ibiza
by Emily Kaufman

The Archduke Luis Salvador

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 Ibiza.

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.

Foiled Plans

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.

Social Stratification

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 his assistance..

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.

Emily Kaufman

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