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Battle of Llucmajor, 25 October 1349

battle of LlucmajorIn the southern suburbs of Llucmajor is a sculpture of two men; one is slumped, fatally wounded, while the other is holding him and a flag flying. Who are they and what were they fighting for? Well the dying man is Jaime III, King of Mallorca, and the standard bearer is his brother Pagà. Another memorial northwest of the town, on the road to s'Aranjassa, stands close to where the two men died. The name of the lane tells us that it stands on a battlefield; the battle of Llucmajor in 1349, where Mallorca lost its independence.

Trouble began when King Jaime I died in 1276, splitting his lands between his two sons, main titles were Peter III of Aragon and Jaime II of Mallorca. Sancho I succeeded Jaime and he left his kingdom to his nine-year old nephew Jaime when he died in 1324 to stop Mallorca falling into the hands of the Kings of Aragon.

Young Jaime inherited a kingdom which was a vassal to Aragon and the taxes to the mainland caused tensions between the two. Although Jaime married Peter IV's sister, Constance, in 1336 to smooth over relations he was determined to make his kingdom independent. In 1337 he produced laws governing Palma's royal court, the first of its kind in the world. He also established a Royal Mint in the city to mint his own currency while underpaying his taxes to Aragon.

battle of LlucmajorBy 1341 Peter (known as the Ceremonious) had had enough but Jaime refused to acknowledge his grievances. He appeared before the Court of Aragon in Barcelona to explain his behaviour a year later but still refused to bow down to Peter's wishes and while he was allowed to return to Mallorca, his wife and children had to stay behind.

Peter was furious and in May 1343 he sailed with a fleet to the island, landing at Santa Ponça on the west coast of the island. His troops quickly defeated the small Mallorcan army, taking Palma as Jaime fled to his lands in Roussillon, in southern France. Peter planned to take all of Jaime's lands and after the islands of Menorca and Ibiza had been taken, his troops crossed the Pyrenees captured Roussillon, forcing Jaime III to surrender in July 1344.

battle of LlucmajorWhile Peter spared Jaime's life, he refused to hand back the conquered lands even after Pope Clement VI and King Philip IV of France intervened on behalf of the Kingdom of Mallorca. Jaime was determined to recover his kingdom but he needed money to raise an army; he did not have to wait long. Constance died in 1346 and Jaime married Violante Vilaragut, accepting a large dowry. He then sold Montpellier to the king of France and used the first payment to raise a mercenary army of 3000 foot soldiers and 400 cavalry from Provence, Languedoc and the Italian states.

Jaime's hired a fleet of around 20 ships and it sailed to Mallorca in October 1349, anchoring in Pollença Bay on the 11th. Jaime III stepped onto Albercutx beach (the beach north of the modern marina) at the head of 300 cavalry and 700 infantry and the town of Pollença fell after a two day siege. Alcudia and Muro were taken next but when the mercenaries reached Inca on 19 October, they found the roads into Inca barricaded. Instead Jaime headed southwest to Sineu and rested his men for two days while the fleet carried the rest of his army towards Palma.

Governor Gilabert Centelles had not been idle and had called for reinforcements as soon as Jaime's fleet had been spotted. Riambau Corbera's fleet carried Sardinian reinforcements to the island and Admiral Lucià de Grimalt's (1) galleys found it anchored in Porto Pi harbour when it attacked on 21 October. Grimalt had to withdraw and Jaime's plan to seize Palma's port had failed, leaving the bulk of his army stranded on their ships.

battle of LlucmajorGovernor Centelles and Corbella led their troops out of Palma to hunt down Jaime and when they heard that Jaime was heading southwest, they marched towards Algaida to catch him. As Jaime's army reached Llucmajor on the evening of 24 October, they did not realise that their enemy was only a few miles behind.

The following morning, Centelles army moved first, catching Jaime's army west of the town at place still known as the Camp de sa Batalla, or the Battlefield. The mercenaries were outnumbered but they fought valiantly all morning with Jamie and Pagà at their head. The King's party would have been easy to spot and Jaime was eventually knocked to the ground and beheaded in the ebb and flow of battle. With their paymaster dead, the mercenaries surrendered, hoping that their lives would be spared.

Jaime and Pagà were laid to rest in Llucmajor's church while his injured 11 year old son, daughter and mother Queen Violante were held prisoner in Bellver Castle. The king's body was transferred to Palma in November 1349 and then taken to Valencia so his tomb would not become a shrine on Mallorca. In time he would become known as Jaime the Rash, or Jaime the Unfortunate because of his failed attempt to retake his Kingdom. His remains were returned to the island in 1905 and they now lie in the Royal Chapel in Palma Cathedral. Pagà's body had been moved there in 1368.

But what of the heir of the Kingdom of Mallorca? The story of Jaime IV can be found on the Alfubia webpage in the Tramuntana West section.

(1). Or Carlos de Grimaldi, sources differ.

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