The road of the Remensas
This route takes us to more than 500 years ago, when many Catalan farmers subjected to conditions of slavery and certain feudal customs, known as misuses, rebelled against this situation by founding a union and taking arms against the feudal lords.
Next, we will know its history and visit the places that are most linked with the leader remença, Francesc de Verntallat.
Francesc de Verntallat (1428 - 1499) was born in a farmhouse in the Vall d'en Bas, where this route begins. Near his farm we can find elements that are related to the origins of Verntallat, descendant of the lineage of the Puigpardines. That is why near the Mallol, and continuing in the municipality of the Vall d'en Bas, we find the church and the castle of Puigpardines and the Mas Toralles, old House of the lords of Puigpardines.
Verntallat was the most radical leader of the peasants in the struggle to end the conditions of slavery and certain feudal customs. The feudal lords exerted excessive control over the farmers and their families. Apart from the physical abuse they received, farmers also had to pay abusive taxes to be able to work the land of the Lord. In this climate, Verntallat was able to establish himself as the figure whom the peasants followed to achieve justice and freedom. He had the will and ability to build a small army that allowed him to control much of the Garrotxa and the Guilleries.
The Verntallat guerrilla grew rapidly. The peasants who joined their cause had the help of other peasants who remained working the land, with the promise of keeping their crops for the duration of the war. This system of solidarity allowed Verntallat and the remensas to hold the pulse for many years, to become strong and end up winning the war.
Another of the fundamental factors in the victory of the remensas was the alliance with King Juan II. Juan II was forced into exile in Aragon, and in his absence left the mandate to his wife, the regent queen Juana Enríquez, who maintained the suspension of misuses during his regency, which served to win the sympathy of farmers. When the queen suffered a siege in Girona and Verntallat and his men went down to the city to help her, an alliance was strengthened that would be key to the life of Verntallat and the future of the war. The queen, grateful, named him royal captain. This fact formally meant the leadership of Verntallat. From that moment, his followers were called verntallats.
When we climb the Garrotxa through the interior jungle, we see the Castillo de Hostoles. The castle was the center of power remença throughout the war period. After the fortification it became an impregnable point for the enemy troops, and it was always used as a place of safe withdrawal. So were the castles of Puig-Alder and Colltort, which formerly marked the border between the counted of Besalú and Girona. It is located between the municipalities of Les Planes d'Hostoles and Sant Feliu de Pallerols.
In the Plans d'Hostoles we find the Hermitage of San Salvador, where years later the Castle of Puig-Alder would be built. On the other side of the road that connects Girona, Les Planes d'Hostoles and Sant Feliu de Pallerols, we find the church of San Pedro Sacosta. It is known that, already in the thirteenth century, all the farmhouses of the parish were subject to misuse. In the Plains we also find the Casa Jonquer, cradle of an important garrotxina saga of the time. In Sant Feliu de Pallerols we can visit the mill of La Conqueta, a flour mill mentioned for the first time in the 12th century. During the war it did not stop working to feed all the farmers. Currently the mill is municipal property and can be visited.
Near Santa Pau we find Colltort Castle, from where you can see the volcanic area of La Garrotxa. In this route we can also discover a couple of elements that, despite not being linked to the conflict, are worth a visit. The first is the laundry of the Piña, in the Vall d'en Bas, exponents of a time where washing clothes became a very hard exercise, but socially conciliatory. And the second, the Ferial de Sant Feliu de Pallerols, where we can stop and enjoy a good time in the middle of the tranquility of the town square.
Verntallat retreats in the mountains around the castle of Hostoles as the remensas lose control of Besalú and Olot. The year 1471 Girona surrenders before the pressure of Verntallat, that received a vital support of the zone of Finestres, to the west of the castle of Hostoles. The territory that today comprises the municipality of Sant Aniol de Finestres had a strategic strategic importance in many armed conflicts in the history of Catalonia. The fact of being a mountainous area of difficult access, near Olot, Banyoles and Girona, has made it a refuge for bandits. A good example is the hermitage of Finestres. Closer to the inhabited areas, we now find the church of Sant Esteve de Llémena and Sant Aniol de Finestres
On October 28, 1472, the Catalan civil war ended with the victory of the monarchy with the help of the Remenas. They hoped that the king would suppress the bad uses after the contribution of the peasantry in the victory, but it did not happen, and a period of bewilderment was entered.
Years later the conflict will reopen, but this time it will be a colleague of Francesc de Verntallat, Pere Joan Sala who will start the second war remença and who after some victories near Barcelona will be imprisoned and executed publicly in Barcelona. Verntallat this time did not go to war but tried to negotiate, and ended up getting almost everything he wanted.
He presided over the remença delegation that signed the arbitration ruling of Guadeloupe, in Extremadura, which puts an end to bad practices, the right to abuse and other abuses hitherto legal. After the sentence, Verntallat resided in the court and was in contact with relevant personages like Cristóbal Columbus. Later he retired to Sant Feliu de Pallerols where he lived the most Claperols. Today we can find a statue that remembers him. In the region we also find many other elements that make memory: schools, streets and establishments show that Verntallat is a loved and remembered character.
The legend of Francesc de Verntallat
Legend has it that Francesc de Verntallat was a fierce warrior, a great strategist and possessed an indomitable character. One day he was with his men on the mountain, something angered him. He took his sword and in one fell swoop cut an alder (see in Catalan). Since then he was known as Francesc de Verntallat.