History of the Mondas

Aebura, in ancient Carpetania, settlement of diverse populations in a region enriched by the Tagus, teaches us the first traces of the religious of their lands, sentires and devotions that grew, changed and weaved in diverse cultural fabric over almost two millennia. Discover how in this brief historical summary of the quintessential party of our City.

Pre-Roman Origins

Aebura, that was the name of Talavera, before being Romanized, around the year 181 AD A region belonging to the Carpetania, which grouped several villages whose location was settled throughout the wide belt of the Alto Tajo and Alto Guadiana, south of the central system.

Aebura, settlement of various populations as we can see in the archaeological remains appeared in the Orbiga, the inheritances and apples, would be the place of exchange and trade of these tribes. These named sites coincide with the custom of the Carpetans to build their villages in high places, next to the rivers.

Within the epigraphy of pre-Roman divinities in Talavera have appeared two inscriptions, one dedicated to Aricona, and another to Togotes, although nothing is known about these deities, their record accounts for the existence of the religious in the primitive Talavera of the Carpetans.

The Roman origins of the Mondas

The origin of Mondas is related to the cult of Ceres. The region of Aebura or Libera from Carpetania becomes a city with the name of Caesarobriga.

The importance of Caesarobriga obeys to be a nexus city: A city through which the road that connected Toletum with Emerita Augusta. The inhabitants of these lands can be identified in three groups: The Romanized indigenous, the Roman population -either the one installed here or the one that held an official position-, and the passers-by. Being the livelihood agriculture and livestock, as a base.

The Legend of Ceres
and her daughter Proserpina

The origin of the goddess Ceres: Daughter of Saturn and Cybele, taught men to sow and cultivate the land, that is why she is considered the goddess of agriculture. Ceres Proserpina’s daughter was kidnapped by Hades when he took a daffodils. 

Her desperate mother searched for her daughter and upon learning that she had been kidnapped by Hades, she renounced her divine status until she recovered her. 

As they did not care for beings the lands began to become sterile and Jupiter asked Hades to return Proserpina but having eaten the grain of the pomegranate, the fruit of the kingdom of hades, could not return to the world of the gods.

It is for this reason that Jupiter placed as a condition that the young woman will spend half the year with Hades and the other half on Olympus with her mother.  The joy of the mother in receiving her daughter was reflected in the countryside with the beginning of spring. When Proserpina returns, spring and festivities are reborn.

The Cult of Ceres

The Ceres festivities are held from 2 to 19 April. On these dates, women dressed in white carry baskets full of cakes and pastries to the altar as offering, made with cereal of different kinds, and adorned with flowers and fruits.

They also offered the calathus, a large basket, wide and open at the top, narrow at the base, which was carried by rams, animals dedicated to this divinity. The people in these days received food and various celebrations cheered their eyes.

Ceres was the personification of the earth as an element of nutrition.

Ceres was a Sicilian goddess, protector of wine and olive tree. His cult passed to Campania, a rich agricultural region. And after a time of enormous drought, in 496 BC, through consultation of the Sibiline books, a temple was built in his honor on the Aventine. 

April 19 was the day of the feast of Ceres, called Cerialia. The celebrations that were celebrated in his honor from 2 to 19 were known as ludi ceriales, which were already established in Rome in the year 202. 

The cult of ceres in Talavera possibly appears during the third century after Christ when in the Roman Caesarobriga the rise of agriculture and livestock is appreciated. 

In them, chariot races predominated; fertilization rituals such as the fact of releasing foxes in the circus, with torches tied to the body. It also highlights the offering of bread, the celebration of a public meal and the one that will transport the offerings some maidens dressed in white for being a female goddess. 

The baskets where the offerings went to Ceres were known by the name Munda Cereris. From this term is where the name Mondas comes from. The Latin U is changed into O, although in the writings of the seventeenth century it appears with the name of Mundas.

The Visigoths and the Christianization of the Mondas

The Visigoths appear in Spain in 415. From this date until 507 they come and go through the Peninsula.

hey settled in southern Gaul as federates of the Roman Empire, where they established a kingdom with capital in Toulouse (Toulouse, France), which extended its authority to Hispania taking advantage of the power vacuum that had left the fall of the Roman Empire of the West.

The total Visigothic implantation on the peninsula will take place when, after the defeat at the hands of Clovis at the Battle of Vouille in 507, the so-called kingdom of Toulouse, capital of the Visigoths, disappears.

The Visigoths were a ruling minority over the Hispano-Roman population, separated mainly by their religious beliefs, since they were Arian Christians, while the local population was Roman Christian. The conversion of King Recaredo enabled the coexistence of both peoples, and the kingdom consolidated its power with the support of the church.

Recaredo I, son of Leovigildo, occupies the throne between April 21 and May 7, 586. In the tenth month of his reign he converted to Catholicism, being the III Council of Toledo, which held its first session on May 9, 589, where solemnly manifests the conversion of the king and bishops, as well as the conversion of the people.

When he died, in Toledo, Recaredo, in December 601, his son Liuva II succeeded him. This king set out to eliminate the last foci of paganism within the Visigothic kingdom by destroying images and demolishing temples, but he also resorted to impersonation in those cases in which it was impossible to suppress long-established festivals. In such cases they limited themselves to keeping them but changing the old gods for Christian figures.

It is precisely King Liuva II who donates to Talavera the image of the Virgin of the Prado for the help that Talavera gave him against the uprisings of the Arians. Thus the temple of Ceres became a Hermitage contributing to Christianize the feast of the Mondas. It was considered that the best weapon to fight Arianism was to promote devotion to Mary, Mother of God.

In the spring of 603 Count Witerico led a rebellion overthrowing and subsequently executing Liuva II. It has traditionally been believed that Witerico favored Arianism. There is no evidence of this, although it is likely that even being formally Catholic, he will retain his old beliefs.

The Mondas, at first glance, have been a vehicle to increase devotion to the Virgin of the Prado and a sign of subjugation of all the peoples belonging to the ancient land of Talavera, since the mayors of these towns participated in these festivities.

The celebration of the fiestas of the Mondas never got lost. As if it were an old tribute, every year Talavera and its lands approached the Hermitage of the Virgin of the Prado to celebrate, in his honor, the Fiestas de las Mondas.

Years of silence

We have few data that refer to the Mondas for several centuries but there are indications that we continue to see them seems to be according to what is believed that the Hermitage and its Virgin were worshipped inside, in the Islamic era.

In the 13th century Talavera was concerned with dignifying the place, transforming and expanding the existing Hermitage.  The first repair and extension of which is recorded dates back to 1210, being blessed by Archbishop Jiménez de Rada who comes to Talavera to recruit men to fight against the Arabs.

In the 15th century the cult of the Virgin of the Prado predominates, and the importance of the hermitages in the Talaveran culture of the time is highlighted, an interesting fact attests to this: On May 4, 1,436, Cardinal Juan Cerezuela took possession of the town and vowed to keep his privileges and privileges in the Hermitage of the Virgin.

Since 1,450 in the books of agreements of the city council multiply the data with the subject of the purchase of the bulls for the fiestas of the Mondas. On August 29, 1,472, Archbishop Alonso Carrillo acknowledged that the hermitage belongs to the town hall.

The Bulls and the Mondas were closely related. The bullfighting events held in the various squares of the city gave an account of the importance of the Bull in these festivities. The main squares for this celebration were the Plaza del Pan and the Plaza de la Ermita, without stopping to celebrate in other squares of the city.

The Mondas and the Plague

In 1507 the plague hit the city of Talavera leaving great desolation and death in its path. The impact was so great that the area was depopulated.

Likewise, numerous villages of their land and vicinity were affected. This situation caused the city council to leave the city, taking refuge in Gamonal during this whole period. 

This is how the Talaverans resolved to go to their patron and make a promise to avert the danger. In 1507 Talavera undertakes, under vote, to celebrate with the maximum of solemnity the feasts of the Virgin if the plague is removed from the city. 

To fulfill that promise made in 1507, the writing of the Fiestas de las Mondas, in the year of 1515, is made. This writing was made before the scribe Pedro Gomez on March 30 and was approved by Pope Clement VII on August 20, 1529 and in 1585, on March 22, it was reconfirmed by Pope Gregory VIII.

These events of officialization of the festivities, open the way to a new and bright time for the Mondas, in which ordinances are created that regulate these holidays and their splendor begins.

Mondas regulations

The ordinances are created to regulate the festivities of the Mondas, regulating, first of all, the asking for firewood, which began to be done on Easter Sunday leaving the major Mass.

The wood, whose purpose was to be burned, was considered an offering people gave to be distributed among the poor and for hospitals. Carrying to the Hermitage, was formerly made on Easter Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, the parishes of Santa Maria Maggiore, San Clemente, Santiago and Santa Leocadia; on Tuesday, the parishes of San Pedro, El Salvador and San Miguel. 

As this kept people away from work, it is agreed that all parishes do so on Monday before lunch and that each year the procession of a different parish starts. 

The whole city participated in this ceremony that had to be great, since the procession, opened by the knights, followed by drums and timbales, the pendons of each church followed by countless carts full of wood, the authorities, the ecclesiastics, large number of people. 

Their journey began at the Puerta de la Miel, from there to Merida, passing through the Plaza de la Colegial they went to the Puerta Nueva and then through Toledo Street they went to the Hermitage. 

When this procession passed next to a church, the tower of this was a bell ring. 

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday they turned in Tomo to the bulls. 

All the parish churches had to wear a wax mound, “the most beautiful and good date that each one can”. The dean and council, one of painted wood and with it four axes of wax. 

On Saturday afternoon, these Mondas were taken to the Hermitage and La Salve was sung.

The Sunday Mondas procession

The largest solemnity, the most colorful procession, was celebrated on Sunday.
In the morning, at masses, muffins were blessed.

That spectacular Sunday begins with the blessing of the rolls at the morning masses. At the time of the procession, the procession begins with the procession of the parish designated for that year and then the procession of the other parishes.

The procession opened the cross and the pendle; behind, the carts adorned with garlands and branches. In the carts the skin of the bulls that had been run was transported; and in others, the rolls that had been blessed at Mass and that would be distributed in the Hermitage. 

The carts were followed by sword dances, tamboriles, people on horseback and many people in front of the Monda. Behind the Monda were women singing and playing tambourines. 

As the expenses were many, the first week of Lent brushes were placed in the churches to collect money for these holidays.

Bullfighting Party

This festivity of the Mondas, in honor of the Virgin of the Prado, was known as the festival of the bulls.

Among all the rulers and canons were chosen a canon and an councilor, who were given the name of bullfighters. They were in charge of buying the bulls and of keeping the key of the pen; the canon bullfighter kept it on Friday and the regidor bullfighter on Saturday. 

On Thursday, those who wanted to sell the bulls brought their animals to the corral in La Ermita. Friday morning was the designated day to buy the bulls. Each guild, each entity, had the obligation to buy a bull or contribute with other guilds to the purchase of a bull. 

The list of bull buyers serves as a mirror to see the social composition of the Talavera of the 16th century. 

On Friday afternoon the bulls began to run, the first being the one of the parish of San Clemente and San Miguel, which were run on foot. Four of the bulls locked in the pens of the Hermitage ran and killed them on horseback. A bull from the Savior and another from Santa Leocadia ran on horseback through the village. 

On Saturday morning, all the missing bulls were run, doing so in bouquets and corridos on foot, although some could be lulled and stabbed if the Justice gave license for it.

The distribution of the meat of the bulls was done in the following way: A quarter and the skin was for those who had donated it, the rest was made by small pieces that were placed on retamas. From there, what was necessary was collected and cooked in large cauldrons. On Sunday large tables were placed, covered with tablecloths, on which the poor who went there ate; Also, of this meat, those who were in the hospitals ate and it was distributed among the monasteries of St. Catherine, St. Francis, the Trinity, St. Benedict and the Blessed of St. Michael if they sent for it.

The brotherhood of the knights
of Nuestra Señora del Prado

Until 1538 all Talavera participates in the festivities, each at his own leisure, without equality, caging his horse in a competition of wealth to run the bulls or go in the processions.

This range of rashes and colors is what motivates Garcia Fernando, relative of the Archbishop of Granada Fray Hernando de Talavera, to create a Brotherhood of Knights where equality became uniform. 

On January 29, 1538, the Brotherhood of the Knights became a statute. Among the founding members were Francisco de Carvajal, Bemardino de Albornoz, Juan de Salcedo, Alonso Guillén, Gabriel de Vega, Antonio Nunez de Pedraza, Rodrigo de Aguirre, Alonso de Torres, Gonzalo gregario, Diego Lopez de Adrada, Alonso Suarez de Carvajal and many other hidalgos of the city. 

In his uniform two colors are combined that, from the date mentioned, become the representative colors of these holidays: White and blue.

Talavera has always, although it was close to the wall, although the Hermitage, due to its remoteness, was the site for the pilgrimage, Talavera has always begun to be a city in the Hermitage of the Prado.

The Mondas in the 18th and 19th centuries

In the previous centuries it can be elucidated, by the existing documentation, the predominance of the religious over the profane, however, from the eighteenth century the character of these festivities denosta greater prominence in less religious events, such as bulls.

In all the documents relating to these holidays, since 1 702, they are known under the name of the “main festivals” of Talavera. The guilds continued to pay the bulls but nevertheless they were compensated in the payment of the taxes.

The hermitage of the Virgen del Prado

That hermitage that in 602 replaced the temple of the goddess Ceres, was replaced in the 13th century by another; in 1570 the new hermitage was consecrated – new dress for the old image – that would be enlarged in 1669, being fixed its current figure. 

On Thursday, March 16, 1570, the bishop of Aragon, Don Luis Suarez, helped by the chaplain of the Collegial, Juan Bautista, and the priest lieutenant of Santa Leocadia, Diego Romero, blessed a campaign that had been made in 1566, with the name of Santa Ana. Don Luis Suarez went up to the tower and “in a stone near it he was clothed as a pontifical”. After the blessing of the water, the salmody, through the windows, went down to the space where, curious, the crowd expected to hear its sound; washed with the blessed water, anointed with ·the Holy Oils, its sound extended in the distance. 

This chapel ended where the gates are currently located, its four large pillars would enclose the altar and chamber of the Virgin; on the 30 side of the Epistle, a small door would give entrance to the new sacristy. 

The Hermitage had three doors, the current ones. It is in 1570, when the portico was made shelter for the rain and the prayers. Behind, where today is the main altar and the chamber, would be the cemetery. 

The bishop went to a stand where there was a chair, behind it, five wooden crosses, the middle one a little higher; at the foot of the crosses, three wax candles. From there, seated, he addressed a few words in honor of the Virgin and about the act that was to be celebrated. The gospel was sung, the litanies were sung, sung by the master of ceremonies of the Collegial, Jeronimo Moreno, and the chapel master Juan Vergara. At the end of the litanies, the water was blessed, going through the whole church and the other dependencies of the bishop who went, with a swab, sprinkling all the places.

20th century to the present day

The Mondas almost disappeared in the years of Franco’s dictatorship.

There was no interest in the party but the insistence of the people of Gamonal to continue with the celebration prevented this long-lived tradition from fading. The party has been kept uninterrupted, with some parentheses and with more or less data documenting it.

Today the festival of the Mondas is a mixture between Roman and Christian traditions to which practices were incorporated over the centuries, but always preserving the original feeling of celebration at the arrival of spring.

Key moments of the current celebration

Leño Florido

In the time of Mondas, the same Easter Sunday, it was tradition to ask alms whose amount was destined to the acquisition of firewood for the benefit of the poor of the city.

Currently that same day is celebrated the Proclamation of Florido Wood, in which the mayor, from the balcony of the City Council invites to participate and enjoy all the events that will last for a week.

The Courtship of Mondas

It is the part of the festival directly related to its Roman origin, although with many nuances. The procession of Mondas is a parade that takes place on the Saturday following the Proclamation of the Florido Wood and in which up to 3,000 people participate, who in groups and floats remember the history of the city linked to these festivities.

The procession closes the Mondas Cart that recalls the ancestral origin of the party and that is pulled by two rams, full of thyme and flags.

The Mayors

The party has always been considered regional and not only local. For this reason, the mayors of the environment, almost 100, are now part of the final part of the celebration, at the time of the offerings. The Talaveran mayor gives a ceramic cane to each of his counterparts who, in return, give him the one that represents his locality. They remember the Alfoz de Talavera, the former administrative extension of this city, which has nothing to do with today.