BRAVHEART The Battle of Teba

Picturesque village of Teba sits high on a rocky outcrop in the mountainswhere Scotlands Sir James Douglas BRAVHEART in The Battle of Teba took place.

BRAVHEART The Battle of Teba

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If you are intested in staying locally try here. TEBA

Sir-James-Douglas

 

 

The picturesque village of Teba sits high on a rocky outcrop in the mountains east of Ronda, some 35 kilometers inland from Malaga in the southern part of Andalucía, and has one of the most interesting historical connections of any of Andalucía’s pueblos.

With its white-walled houses and red-tiled roofs and church tower it is a typical andalucían village, that is until you reach the centre of the village ,and wander into the Plaza de Espana. There, dominating the plaza, is a large granite monument dedicated to the memory of Robert the Bruce King of Scots and his trusty companion Sir James Douglas, also known as Guid Si James or Black Douglas. The story of why this monument,is in a quiet and hidden corner of rural Spain has been erected is worth recalling as it played a significant part in Spanish history but a somewhat forgotten part of Scottish history.

It was here in August 1330 that a battle took place which had no direct effect on Scottish affairs but contributed in a small way to the demise of Muslim rule in Spain.

The events which led to that fateful day in August 1330 started on the death bed of the King of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, in 1329.

Bruce, in atonement for his excommunication from the church (he had slain John Comyn, his rival for the crown of Scotland in Greyfriars Church, Dumfries in 1306), had always dreamed of leading a crusade to the Holy Land. As he lay dying from leprosy he instructed his beloved friend and second in command Sir James Douglas to remove his heart after death, place it in a casket, and take them on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and bury his heart in the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem.

Sir James Douglas was the son of William Lord of Douglas, who had been murdered in the Tower of London on the orders of King Edward I. He had been born into a family whose loyalty to the Scottish crown was paramount.

He had been educated in Paris and returned to Scotland when he was 18. He met Robert the Bruce shortly after his coronation and was the first Scottish nobleman to pledge loyalty to the king.

He fought with Bruce throughout his life and at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 he was second in command. His reputation amongst the English troops gained notoriety after he chased the English all the way to Berwick, without stopping. Although he was known in Scotland as Sir James the Good, in England he was referred to as The Black Douglas.

Douglas’s many forays deep into English territory his many victories and his terrorizing of the counties bordering Scotland were such that in Cumbria and Northumberland a lullaby with the words

Hush Ye, Hush Ye

Do not fret you,

The Black Douglas,

Will not get you

was enough to put fearful

children to sleep.

Sir James took Bruce’s heart, embalmed it then put it in a casket which he wore round his neck, and set off on the crusade to the Holy Land with a party of 25, made up of knights and noblemen, among them Sir William de Keith of Galston, Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig and his brother Sir John, Sir William de St Clair and his brother John de St Clair of Rosslyn ,Sir Alan Cathcart and Sir Symon Loccard of Lee.

Having been granted a promise of safe conduct from Edward III of England, the party sailed from North Berwick and made for Luys in Flanders in the spring of 1330 remaining there for 12 days and attracting more followers from all over Europe. Their intention was to then sail to Cape Finnestere in the North West of Spain to visit Santiago de Campostella which had been ordained as a holy town by Pope Alexander lll following the discovery of the remains of the Apostle James.

A pilgrimage to Santiago captured the imagination of Christian Europe on an unprecedented scale as it was the 3rd holiest site in Christendom and at the height of its popularity in the 11th and 12th century attracted over half a million pilgrims each year.

However, before they could set off for Santiago word reached them that the King of Castile and Leon, Alphonso Xl , in his efforts to drive the Moors out of Granada had laid siege to the Castillo de las Estrellas(Castle of the Stars)at Teba which was occupied by the Saracen Army of Mohammed lV,Sultan of Granada. Douglas sent word that they were prepared to join forces with Alphonso and sailed immediately to help, making landfall at Seville and marching the short distance to Teba.

Alphonso having heard tales of Douglas’s bravery and leadership skills gave him the right flank of the Castilian Army.

On the morning of the August 25th the Saracen army had assembled below the Castillo de las Estrellas under the command of Osmyn. The Castilian trumpets sounded and Douglas, thinking it was a general advance, led his troops forward. The Scottish contingent charged the Saracens and, although not fully supported by the rest of the army, managed to hold them, finally the Moors, unable to withstand the furious onslaught,fl ed.Douglas, as was his custom, followed them until fi nding himself deserted, turned his horse with the intention of joining the main body. Just then he observed Sir William St Clair surrounded by a body of Moors who had suddenly rallied. With the few knights who attended him Douglas turned hastily to attempt a rescue.

He soon found himself surrounded and, making one last charge shouting the words “A Bruce A Bruce”, took the casket containing the heart from around his neck and hurled into the enemies’ path shouting “Now go in front, as you desired and Ill follow you or die”. Douglas and a party of his followers were all slain but they had diverted enough of the enemy forces away from the main thrust to enable the Castilian army to overrun the remainder and capture the Castle.

It has been speculated that the Moors lack of knowledge of European heraldry had a part to play in the death of Douglas. Noblemen on both sides were valued as hostages, but because Douglas did not display the red cross on his tabard that distinguished English knights, but instead had the 3 stars of the Douglas family on his harness and shield, the Moors did not recognize his status or they would probably have spared his life.

Douglas’s body was recovered from the battlefield along with the casket.

BRAVHEART

The Battle of Teba

 

 

The Battle of TebaThe only 2 remaining knights from the Scottish contingent, Sir William de Keith and Sir Symon Loccard, decided that as his body would not survive the long sea journey home in the heat of the summer, they would revert to the normal practice at that time which was to boil the body in a cauldron of vinegar until the flesh fell from the bones. The flesh was buried in Teba at an unknown and unmarked spot and his bones returned to Scotland, where they were buried in St Bride’s Kirk in Douglas South Lanarkshire, and the casket was returned to the new king of Scotland, David ll, son of Robert the Bruce, who wished it buried in Melrose Abbey.

During archaeological diggings in 1996 a small container was found at the burial site in Melrose Abbey. Although worn with age the casket was still in a good condition and had been inscribed with the following;” The enclosed leaden casket containing a heart was found beneath the Chapter House floor, March 1921.by his Majesty’s Office of Works.” The casket was reburied in a private ceremony at Melrose Abbey on 22nd June 1998.

An interesting fact with regard to Sir Symon Loccard on his return to Scotland, for the part that he played in this adventure, he was granted permission to change the family name to Lockheart, eventually shortened to Lockhart.

Although Teba was a victory for Alphonso, it would take another 60 years to finally drive the Moors from this area, but The Battle of Teba was the decisive action when the Saracen leader realized he could no longer defend his territory, and would have to rely on help from Morocco in future battles to retain Granada. Christian rule was not fully established in Spain until 1492.

Each year on the 25th of August the village organizes what they refer to as El Douglas Dia, when a pipe band from Scotland and Scots from all over the world, join together with the villagers and invited dignitaries to commemorate the Battle of Teba. The day starts with a procession from the Town Hall, led by a Scottish pipe band, up through the village to the Plaza which, incidentally, has been renamed Plaza Douglas. Where wreaths are laid and speeches made before marching back to the Town Hall for more speeches and refreshments and a banquet provided by the mayor, followed by a Celtic music festival at night with the dancing and festivities going on until the next day.

Sir James Douglas was only 44 years old when he was cut down, yet in the 26 years he lived in Scotland he had gained a reputation as a fighter for Scottish Independence only bettered by Wallace and Bruce. Somehow the history books overlooked the part he played in Scottish history, but thanks to the villagers of Teba this monument to his final courageous stand is lasting memorial to one of Scotland’s bravest Knights.

 

The monument to Robert the BruceThe monument to Robert the Bruce, with Stirling Castle in the background.

 

With Thanks to the source which was The Inland Magazine : www.timspain.com   

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