In 1441 the gentleman Pedro Pardo de Cela was the merino (judge and administrator of the King) in the city of Mondoñedo. As usual, he negotiated the dowry that his wife was going to give him. In this case she was the niece of the powerful bishop of the diocese of Mondoñedo: Pedro Enríquez de Castro.
Isabel de Castro, Pardo de Cela’s wife, was the cousin of both claimants to the throne. The historiography has been maintaining that her husband, the marshal -like most of the Galician nobles linked to Portugal- pronounced in favor of Juana la Beltraneja; although the recent appearance of Pardo de Cela’s testament suggests that it was not that way, but that he was a supporter of Isabel. A subject that is not yet definitively clarified.
The truth is that for some reasons that have not yet been clarified – Queen Isabel adopted a succession of harsh measures against Pardo de Cela. In 1476 the supporters of the queen decided that the marshal should be expelled from the mayor’s office of Viveiro. Four years later the Catholic Kings wrote to the magistrates of Mondoñedo and Ortigueira so that they would not allow Pardo de Cela to enter in those towns. Although there are no documents, such drastic measures of the kings indicate that they thought that the Marshal was intriguing even after 1479 when peace was signed between Castile and Portugal.
Knowing that the Marshal was in Castrodouro, Mudarra considered that he had the opportunity to deprive the rebel of his lair. The head of the King’s troops went to the fortress of Pardo de Cela and bribed the knight Roi Cofano do Valadouro and the 22 warriors who guarded the fortress of A Frouxeira for the Marshal.
In 1965 a tomb was found in the cathedral of Mondoñedo with the shield of Marshal Pardo de Cela, but in the tomb is carved a position of “archdeacon” that does not fit into his biography. His testament has also been found more recently, in which he refers to his two legitimate daughters and an illegitimate son. But these discoveries do not invalidate what has been established so far by historiography, since it could be a bastard son to whom the Marshal refers in his testament. Pardo de Cela was a rebel who, for unknown reasons, intrigued against the kings and he was executed on a certain date in the Plaza de Mondoñedo; there is no historiographical evidence that disqualifies the tradition of the bridge of the pastime and the sound of the marshal’s head falling to the ground.
Because of these contradictions that the political manipulation of the history of Pardo de Cela entails, the ruthless feudal lord who was the marshal -implacable enemy of the irmandiños rebels- is claimed by many Galician nationalist politicians as a precursor of Galicianism and a symbol of the Galician nation against the power of the Catholic Kings (and Spain).
Text by Ignacio Suárez-Zuloaga and illustrations by Ximena Maier.