La Garduña, Spanish secret society, did it really exist? –

There are many series and movies that are based on real historical events. One of the latest Spanish series, which deals with a part of history, is “La Peste”, a series based on the events that occurred in Spain in the fifteenth and sixteenth centurieswhere the plague was one of the biggest problems for society and where a new secret society emerged, known as marten.

What is La Garduna?

The Garduña was, supposedly, a secret society emerged in Spain during the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries and which was criminal actsespecially murdering heretics with some rites of bonding with the Bible. La Garduña was started to unite all those gangs that they fought, attacked and robbed Muslims and Jewsand in which there were people from all social classes.

Origin of the marten

The origin of the name of this secret society comes from an animal called in the same way, the marten is an animal that is quite similar to the ferret, some of the characteristics of this animal that helped to choose its name are its great sense of smell, sight and hearing ; In addition to the fact that it was a rather elusive animal and that hunted at night.

marten emerged during the Germaniesreaching great power and even becoming very well organizedin fact it is said that most of today’s mafias, such as the Camorra, are based on it, since at that time when the Garduña appeared, Naples was a territory belonging to the Spanish kingdom.

According to the few data that have been obtained, the Garduña is said to have been founded in Toledo approximately in the year 1412, with the union of bands that confronted the Jews and the Muslims, in such a way that they said that they acted in the name of the Inquisition, although it was not true, since this society was based on secrecy and rites, to the point of making them for initiation and inclusion in their group. Legend has it that a man named Apolinario received a visit from the Virgin, who explained to him that the appearance of Muslims and Jews in Spain was due to not following their obligations as Christians and for that very reason, the Virgin asked him to bring people together for the purpose of fight the enemies of religion. One of the areas where this organization became stronger was in Seville, since it was the area that received all the gold and jewels from the conquest of Americawhich caused a increase in crimecaused in turn by greater wealth in the city.

After the reconquest, the Garduña was still active with the purpose of achieving all its objectives.

Structure and characteristics of La Garduña

The structure of the Garduña is based on a religious brotherhood, for the same reason they were considered a brotherhood. The dome of the society had a visible head above all called Older brotherwho was elected by all, and the Senior Lieutenant, who was in charge of replacing him when his superior was not there. The Big Brother was in charge of several foremenwhich were distributed one by each city and these, in turn, were in charge of the pointerswho were murderers, and of the flower potswho were thieves. Below both were the applicants, who helped with the collection. In the last step of its structure were: snitches, informers, coverts and sirens.

  • snitches: they were about beggars and in some cases older people or people with illnesses, who reported the possibilities and options for stealing.
  • sneaks: people from the same society who were infiltrated in various classes with the aim of get information that could be usable.
  • coverts: they were dedicated to buying and selling stolen goods.
  • mermaids: the sirens were prostitutesgirls from the organization that served them to get money and a lot of information.

It is said that all members of this society they had 3 points tattooed on the palm of their hand.

Among the friends of the Garduña there would be people of power: from governors to judges, including people who govern in prison, which allowed him to act with almost total impunity before the law. In addition, as we have mentioned before, they protected themselves by helping the Inquisition, so They justified their murders and their robberies at the will of God. Being a secret society, they did not have or use documents, and betraying those rules was paid with one’s life.

Did La Garduña really exist?

It is not easy to be able to assure the veracity or not of this brotherhood, in fact a few years ago he wondered how important it was at the time when the Austrians were in charge of Spainsince it was said that they looked favorably on them in certain conflictive points throughout their territory, such as Naples, Sicily, the Duchy of Milan or Sardiniaand helped the viceroys of Spain under Italian territory with the most unpleasant and worst seen aspects.

People say that Cervantes was inspired by a real personwhom he met in prison, to create his character Monipodio from his novel “Rinconcete and Cortadillo”which seems to have been within that brotherhood.

At present, there is not much truthful information about the marten and if it really came to exist, it is thought that a society that covered so much time and was so important in its time should have left some data, even if they were not desired, since there are quite similar societies, such as the freemasons or the camorra, which have left quite a trace over time. Also, in the archives of Toledo there are no mentions or references that prove its existenceonly in certain picaresa novels of the Golden Age there is talk of some thieves who acted together, but they never referred to national actions or of great historical-social importance.

Documents preserved from La Garduña

There are no documents that can ensure the real existence de La Garduña, this story is more credible in the south of Italy than in Spain, because everything about them is speculation. The closest thing are certain books and pamphlets that talk about the customs of the time and how the picaresque was more common than we think and that some gangs were formed that were dedicated to criminal acts. In fact, it is said that the Garduña and many of the things that surround it are due to a work called “The mysteries of the Spanish Inquisition” by the writer Manuel de Cuendias, a novel based on everything that is known about the Garduña, the Inquisition and the society of that time.