Sa Pobla, or quite simply The Town, dates from 1300 but people had been living in the area for several thousand years before. There are seventeen prehistoric sites around the village, including pre-Talayotic caves and talayots like Claper Gran. While there is little evidence of Roman occupation, the largest farm in the area during the Moorish period was known as Huayi-al fas, or Lawn of Water. The name refers to the s'Albufera wetlands which once stretched from the Sa Pobla area to the sea.
The Moorish district of Inkan was split following the conquest in 1229 and while the farms were divided up between knights from Barcelona, the King kept the marshlands and s'Albufera lagoon for himself. James II founded a new town called Pueblo de Huialfàs, or Water Lawn Town, in 1300. It was one of many towns he established to attract settlers from the mainland.
The population of the new town of Sa Pobla, as it became known, soon topped 1,000 and it was separated from Inca and was given control over nearby Campanet and Buger. The people made their money from farming and parts of the marshlands were dried out, creating fertile fields.
After hundreds of years of peace, Sa Pobla became the focus of a civil war in 1522. The Germanies (or Brotherhoods) had been angry at the high level of taxes being set by the nobles for some time. After seven of their number were arrested in 1521, they rose up and many nobles were massacred in Bellver Castle, near Palma. The rest of the nobles had taken refuge in Alcúdia and the Brotherhoods put the town under siege.
In February 1522, 800 Imperial troops landed in Pollença Bay and sacked the adjacent town. They burnt down Pollença church with 200 women and children inside and then dismembered the men and hung their bodies from the trees along the roads. It was a brutal example of what happened if you opposed the Crown.
Sa Pobla was next in line and the Imperial troops advanced south towards it on 23 April, only to be find the Brotherhoods' army, astride the main road from Palma to Alcúdia. Over 3,000 men fought near Son Sabater Hill but the local militias were no match for the Imperial troops. The Brotherhoods' fell back leaving 300 dead on the battlefield and they had to abandon Sa Pobla. The line of communications to siege lines in Alcúdia had been cut.
While the Imperial troops occupied Sa Pobla and waited for the inevitable counterattack, it was a long time coming. All summer Joanot Colom and the core of Brotherhood army travelled around the villages rallying support but at the same time Governor Miguel Gurrea was doing the same, systematically executing anyone who supported the Brotherhood cause.
By November Colom had an army of 3,000 men and he was ready to retake Sa Pobla. Only he did not want to make a head on assault and his troops were led along the edge of the marsh, east of the village on 3 November. They were attacked near Son Fornari and the result was a crushing defeat for the Brotherhood; over a third of their number died in what later known as the Battle of the Marshes. It was the beginning of the end for the Brotherhoods; find out more on the Brotherhoods Uprising webpage.
The 16th Century was much quieter in Sa Pobla, in part due to one man, Pere Canaves, a veteran of the Philip IV of Spain's military campaigns in Flanders. On his return he was appointed commander of Sa Pobla's military headquarters and his area of responsibility covered Inca, Selva, Pollença, Alcúdia, Santa Margalida and Muro. Captain Pere, as he became known sponsored the building of Saint Anthony's Church in Sa Pobla and his tomb is inside; in 1949 was named an illustrious son of Sa Pobla.
Sa Pobla benefited from the boom in the wine industry in the 1800s and there were 23 wine makers around the town when the vine pest phylloxera struck and wiped them out. The people of Sa Pobla had to resort to growing rice in the marshlands to make a living.
North of Sa Pobla, across the main road to Alcúdia, is the medieval chapel of Crestatx, or Oratory of Santa Margalida, which dates from 1286. The chapel was rebuilt in the 1800s. Only one vineyard reopened in 1898 and it is just across the road to the chapel.
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