Monday, October 29, 2007

Spanish Roots

Young Spanish Woman with a Guitar_Pierre Auguste Renoir

A few years ago I had the opportunity to trace a part of my family history back to 16th century Spain. My ancestor was a Spanish sailor. The Spanish fleet was sent by King Philip of Spain to invade England but when they engaged the English fleet at the Battle of Gravelines in 1588 the Spaniards were hopelessly out maneuvered by the tactics of Sir Francis Drake. During the retreat of the Spanish fleet to the north around the British Isles and then south along the west coast of Ireland a storm wrecked some of the retreating Spanish ships and some of the crews were able to survive after making it ashore. One of those that made it ashore and survive was an ancestor of mine. My ancestor's surname was very Spanish sounding and actually meant castle builder in Spanish. My family's named evolved from there to it's present day form somewhere during the 17th century. No it is not the name you see on my profile, that is another side of my family. The Gallagher name was present in Ireland long before the Spanish Armada. After reading accounts of how the survivors of the Spanish Armada in Ireland were treated I understood better where my fighting and survival instincts come from. In order to survive that ordeal a person would have to be one heck of a swimmer, fighter, survior and be in the good graces of God.

Just recently I was reminded of all this history that I had researched a few years ago. The movie "Elizabeth" was just released and it is supposed to be about this power struggle between two powerful European nations; Spain and England in the 16th century. The Spanish King Philip sent a huge fleet of ships to invade England to wrest control from Elizabeth the Queen of England. I plan on going to see this movie because of my extreme interest in seeing an event portrayed in history that had a direct effect on who I am today.

The Doubt of Future Foes

The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects' faith doth ebb,
Which should not be if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web.
But clouds of joys untried do cloak aspiring minds,
Which turn to rain of late repent by changed course of winds.
The top of hope supposed the root upreared shall be,
And fruitless all their grafted guile, as shortly ye shall see.
The dazzled eyes with pride, which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight falsehood finds.
The daughter of debate that discord aye doth sow
Shall reap no gain where former rule still peace hath taught to know.
No foreign banished wight shall anchor in this port;
Our realm brooks not seditious sects, let them elsewhere resort.
My rusty sword through rest shall first his edge employ
To poll their tops that seek such change or gape for future joy.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603)


Gayle said...

Isn't it amazing what you can find out about your heritage by doing some research!

The music you have posted to your site is absolutely beautiful. Thanks. :)

J_G said...

Thanks for stopping by Gayle, I enjoy classical guitar very much. I've been to Spain quite a few times and I loved it there. The music, the art, the history, all of it both good and not so good.

I had found some papers that my Father had stuffed in a box that were from his great grandfather when they emigrated to Philadelphia (legally and respectfully) from Ireland in the 1850's. There was mention of the origin of the our surname but I had to do the research to trace it back. There are many details that will never be known due to the situation of the Spanish sailors having to hide and escape the English after surviving an ill planned mission and an unexpected retreat through unfamliar and treacherous waters.

I have to laugh when people tell me they have it rough. I spend a lot of hours just reading and trying to imagine myself in the place of one of those sailors. There were no Holiday Inn Expresses to go to get a rest and freshen up before the trip home. There were no treatments for the awful disaeases they would get from being malnourished and stuck on ships that would be considered tiny by today's standard. That's one of things I take away from all my research into the past; an appreciation for the things we have today.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

You might talk to Skye about Spain. When I first started visiting her original blog (before her blogspot one), she had taken a trip to Spain, and met pro-Bush Spaniards.

Personal heritage is fascinating. I know a kid who can trace her ancestors back to the Pilgrims. One day, while listening to Michael Medved's Thanksgiving program, I heard the name of one of her ancestors mentioned when he was talking about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower.

For myself, I am adopted and don't have anything to trace back; unless it were to look into the family history of my adoptive parents.

dons_mind said...

nice post jenn....our first overseas tour (1972-1975) was in Rota, Spain. Franco was still in charge. wonderful memories and some terrific photos from all the travelling we did back histories are neat to trace and learn about....

J_G said...

Word, I always admired people that would be adoptive parents, what an unselfish act that is. Regardless of you family ancestory we would be fortunate if there were parents that would raise great well balanced Americans like yourself.

Don, I visited Barcelona, Malaga, Majorica, Torremolinos and Rota where I saw one of the first Harrier jets. Spain is rich with history and culture.

patterns of ink said...

I hadn't seen that video about Hillary. I have no doubt about it true, but I also suspect that it will all be swept under the rug with Vince Foster.
Nice music to go along with the painting.

J_G said...

Tom, the media and the Clintonista smear machine will try and sweep this under the rug but I read today that this You Tube video is the number one watched video on the Internet for two days running.

Pierre-August Renoir is my favorite French Impressionist painter. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an exhibit of his "Landscapes" from his early years going on right now and I may be able to go and see it next Monday. I have to take time to enjoy the fragrances of the roses because life is to short to let politics encompass all of my life. I've done that before and it takes too much out of me. This is why you see and hear me do posts on the things that bring me so much pleasure between the posts on political issues. I've learned to take that time out every so often.

Marie's Two Cents said...

What an interesting look into your past Jenn.

I am facinated with my Mom's side of the family but my mom and sister do all that stuff.

I am not interested in my Grandfather on my moms side however, he was an idiot.

Sometimes there are just things you dont want to know!

J_G said...

Marie!! Nice to hear from ya!! That's funny!!
Everyone has relatives they just don't want to know or talk about. My Father never talked much about the family I had to do a lot of research on my own. I never met my Father's Father, he died of Leukemia in 1940. I have his military papers, he was a sailor during WWI. I'm still trying to find out what ship he served aboard. My Mother's father was Army during WWI.

It's a lot of work to find all this stuff out but if you have US military records it makes it much easier.

Anonymous said...

The "Young Spanish Woman with a Guitar" is so beautiful

I think that young man Renoir is going to be a great painter one day.

J_G said...

Yes dd2, the young Spanish Woman is very beautiful and the man who painted it certainly does have potential doesn't he?

I guess I appreciate art so much because when it comes to painting or sculpting I believe I am probaly the least talented person that there has ever been.

Mike's America said...

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" was ok. Very visual and not too inaccurate with the history.

P.S. If I had to pick ONE painter as my favorite, it would be Renoir.

I always enjoyed his work in the Impressionists rooms at the National Gallery.

handmaiden said...

Hey j_g, it's L>T. I have a new blog(again)I linked you on my last post.

Spanish, eh? History is fascinating.
Do you really think though, that your survival instincts come from your heritage?

I like to consider the idea that at some point we will all be so mixed up, it won't matter where we came from.

J_G said...

Hey L>T, another blog? Gosh you crack me up.

I can't say for sure if the survival genes were passed down but I think being an ornery critter got passed down;-)

handmaiden said...

As much as I enjoy being a concerned citizen, I can't always post what I want over there.