TORMENTA, MENSAGEM by Fernando Pessoa
The magic of Portugal's tasty chanfana

Why The Bull Is never Killed in Portugal

An old Fado song says that Portugal's trinity is the Fado, Saudade (a feeling of nostalgia) and bullfighting. To prove this is true, we present the tale of the Last Royal Bullfight:



In the summer 1762 the king, D. Jose often spent time at his palace near Salvaterra de Magos, in the heart of horse and bull country. A royal contest was scheduled where the youngCount of Arcos would fight before the court for the first time. Arcos was the young son of Marquis of Marialva, the man who literally wrote the book on Portuguese bullfighting, making it the refined and challenging contest it is.

But on this day, the young Count of Arcos faced a huge black bull that refused to charge. Arcos did all he could to "call the bull" with his horse. Either in his pride or desperation, the young count rode his mount too close to the bull, which then lurched forward and knocked over the horse. The bull gored the young count to death while the king, the crowd and the count's father watched.

Then, the old Marquis of Marialva jumped into the arena, fought the bull on foot - killing it before falling to his knees at the body of his lifeless son - still pinned under his mount.  Bullfighting was banned from that day forward, until its revival in the 1830s. And when it returned, the bull's horned were paded, and the life of the animal spared - in deference to the Count of Arcos. The fine silk jackets, three-cornered hats, and riding pants worn by Portuguese cavaliers today also honor the life of that young man who died in Salvaterra.



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