Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview with the Coronela (Barcelona's militia) taylor

As Catalonia moves to recover her freedom, lost by force of arms in 1714, she is also working hard to recover her military traditions and values. Liberty and responsibility are but two sides of the same coin, one cannot exist without the other, and any nation seeking to rejoin the international community as a free and equal member must be ready to do her duty when it comes to contributing to peace and security. One of the aspects of Catalonia's normalization is the return of the Coronela, her capital's militia, currently in the shape of a military re-enactment group, with the support of Barcelona City Council.

The "Coronela": Barcelona City's Militia. Made up of reservists, civilians under military discipline when called up to serve. Manning was in the hands of the city's guilds, while responsibility for equipment was shared with the Crown. Each guild provided the personnel for a company. The Coronela expanded to five battalions during the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), in which it played a key role in the defence of Barcelona. Other Catalan towns had similar units.

One of the key aspects of military re-enactment is the provision of accurate, historically faithful, uniforms. The following is a brief interview with Maria Victòria Verderes i Blach, who serves as taylor for the Coronela.



What is the main difficulty involved in tailoring historical uniforms?

The main one is being faithful to their design and function. The reason is that they were not just a dress to cover one's body. Instead, many also served to protect weapons, for example.
Another problem is the difficulty in finding certain items. For example, it is nowadays difficult to find stripes of a colour resembling copper, or rusty metal, which were in widespread use at the time. What we then do, in order to get this tone, is to dye them with copper-colour shoe cream. We also try not to make the excellent sewing machines we currently enjoy conspicuous. We rather try to hand-sew as much as we can. Whenever possible, we follow the patterns that we are lucky to still find, half lost and half buried, in for example some Italian museums, translating their contents to a comprehensible language.

Are you happy about your work with La Coronela?

I have only spent a short time cooperating with this institution, but I am very proud of being able to contribute with my work to help a group of people passionate about history, to make known to the public a series of deeds that until now had been buried and forgotten. Above all, we are motivated by a Patriotic feeling, a duty towards our country, so many times treated unjustly. La Coronela's goal is to reach 3,000 members, as the city guilds used to bring together united by the same wish: to fight to defend our liberties!










Are you sensing a growing interest in Catalonia's military heritage, uniforms included?

I can feel a growing interest in our historical heritage, indeed, and not just our military heritage. More widely, in our traditions, be they dances, cuisine, customs, festivals... However, what the Coronela wants to avoid is to be considered part of Catalan folklore, since we are trying it to be what it used to be: an organization under military discipline, with military ranks and rules. We want the Coronela to become, in the future, the city's honorary guard. This would amount to paying homage, 300 years later, to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend Catalonia from the overwhelming attack by absolutist forces.

 

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