We’re at War!?!? – The 100-Year Conflict Between France and a Village in Spain

King Alfonso XII of Spain was mocked by a Paris crowd while on a state visiting 1883, possibly because of his outlandish choice of headgear. Spain could cope with the insult, but the mayor of the remote town of Lijar couldn’t. He declared war on France.

When Spain’s King Alfonso XII travelled to France in 1883, a mob of rowdy Parisians insulated the visiting monarch.

While the incident did little to sour official relations between Madrid and the French government, for some reason the mayor of the tiny Spanish mountain village of Lijar considered the affair an unpardonable affront to the nation’s honour. And if his government wasn’t going to demand satisfaction, Mayor Miguel Garcia Saez sure as hell would.

Together with 300 of his fellow citizens, on October 14 Saez declared war on France.[1] In fact, the document formally declaring war is still on display in the town hall.

Nothing much came of the conflict. It’s unclear if the government of France knew or even cared that the people of the remote Andalusian town were up in arms over the slight to Alfonso’s dignity. After the all, the village was more than 800 kms from the border with France and even today the town barely shows up on Google Earth.

With no standing army of their own, few weapons and provisions and no means to get at hated French, The Lijarians soon lost interest in the war and went back farming barley and tending their olive groves. No shots were fired in the war, not a single casualty was sustained. About the only thing to come of the war was that it elevated the status of Mayor Saez throughout the region. He was soon dubbed “The Terror of the Sierras”.[2] Despite this, a state of war existed for the next hundred years between France and Lijar.

In the 1970, following a much more friendly reception for Spanish King Juan Carlos by Parisians, Lijar’s more level-headed mayor Diego Sanchez Cortes tried to formally mend fences with the French. His overtures were all but ignored by France’s government. But then in the early 80s, the French embassy sent a diplomat from Madrid to Lijar to formally negotiate a peace treaty. ”We are pleased that hostilities will come to a formal end soon,” the diplomat was quoted as saying. “We are all rather amused.” [3]

 

SOURCES

1. http://www.csmonitor.com/1983/1028/102845.html

2. Ibid

3. Ibid

7 comments for “We’re at War!?!? – The 100-Year Conflict Between France and a Village in Spain

  1. 30 July, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I love the strange bits of history more than typical text book history, so love your blog.
    My great grandparents came from a town in Berwickshire, which is still oficially at war with Russia!!
    Because the border was always changing, they were included in the war declaration for Crimean war – being in England – but left off of the peace treaty, being back in Scotland, by the end of the conflict… I find it fascinating, also, that towns were listed individually in the declaration and peace treaties!

    • 30 July, 2012 at 9:39 am

      Thanks for that… I think I have a new story for another week’s blog entry. Amazing!

    • Martin
      30 July, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      Unfortunately, it’s not true, according to Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwick-upon-Tweed Berwick has been English since the fifteenth century. Now if you want a REAL law, if a Scotsman wears a kilt within the mediaeval walls of York, it’s perfectly legal for Englishmen to shoot him… with bows and arrows!

      • convitornc
        5 March, 2017 at 10:38 am

        Serious? that is a law that actually exists?

  2. 30 July, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Fabulous story! Thanks for sharing!

  3. 30 July, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    If only things were as simple as Wikipedia, likes to think…. I love my family story, so did a bit more research on my own.
    Henry V11 and James1V signed a peace treaty after the Battle of Flodden, in which Berwick-upon-Tweed was given the status “of” the Kingdom of England, although not “in” .
    You can look it up in The Treaty of Perpetual Peace, and from then on Berwick -upon-Tweed needed special mention in royal proclamations.
    When Victoria signed the war declaration in 1853 – she signed as Queen of Britain, Ireland,Berwick-upon-Tweed and the British Dominions beyond the sea, but due to a clerical error B-O-Tweed was left off the Paris peace treaty!
    So still an awesome story, in my book.
    I think the confusion in my family, about the border, came because the border line for census purposes moved back and forth, sometimes they were in Northumberland and sometimes in Berwickshire… but always Scottish mentally and ancestrally!

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