Huéscar, the town that was two centuries at war with Denmark

This is the story of a town in Granada that was at war with Denmark for two centuries. Its name is Huéscar and it has little more than 7,000 inhabitants. At the beginning of the 19th century, it declared war on the Danes, in the context of the Spanish War of Independence. It was all rather bizarre, as it ended up being a declaration of peace that would not arrive until the eighties of the last century.

The origin of a centenary war


Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor, in Huéscar. | Inesfdz02, Wikimedia

When Spain sat down to sign the treaty with France by which it agreed to follow the same military policy with respect to Great Britain, it could not imagine what would come later. As at first everything went according to plan, Spain sent a contingent of 13,000 soldiers to the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. Its objective was to prevent the English from being tempted to invade that territory.

Afterwards, the well-known events took place: France invaded Spain, the Mutiny of Aranjuez, the May 2nd Uprising and the Spanish War of Independence. This last one motivated the history told here. When Spain rose up against the French, the troops that remained in Denmark became enemy troops of Napoleon’s army. So they were held and isolated to avoid mutinies.

The Supreme Council of Spain was aware of this situation already in 1809 and its position was clear: it immediately cut off all relations with Denmark. This news reached the town council of Huéscar, which, without hesitation, decided to declare war on the whole country. There were no major consequences, but the declaration remained there.

By the time the Spanish and English defeated Napoleon and his men, in Huéscar they had already forgotten that this document existed. In Denmark, of course, they were not even aware of it. So the years went through and the declared war, so to speak, continued. It would last 172 years.

The longest war in the history of Spain


Postcard of Huéscar. | LBM1948, Wikimedia

The conflict between Huéscar and Denmark is, in fact, the longest war in the history of the country. It is probably also the most curious, because during those almost two centuries that it was active, at least bureaucratically speaking, none of the contenders was aware of it. It was not until the early eighties of the last century when the cake was discovered.

It was the historian Vicente González Barberán who, immersed in the municipal archives of the town, found the original document of the declaration of war. He was kind enough to publish it in a local newspaper, because of the curiosity of the matter, and little by little it became bigger. It made it to the Danish news. One can imagine the amusement with which this news was received not only in Huéscar, but also among the Danes.

It did not take long for a plenary session to be held in the town council of the Granaíno town by which it was unanimously decided to sign the peace with Denmark. This peace was ratified in November 1981, with the Danish ambassador in Spain. The end of hostilities.

The Festival of Friendship

That day is still remembered, after which a party was held, which took the name of Friendship Festival. This festival took place in Huéscar and was attended by more than 10,000 people, including the entire Danish delegation in Spain and many others who had come from Denmark for the celebration. They carried shields, as remembered, on which could be read Dans Spansk Samvirke. Spanish-Danish friendship. The Spaniards, for their part, received them with a joke: with banners on their balconies, in Danish, reading ‘Attention, Danes, you are entering enemy territory. If you go ahead, beware of the consequences’. In this 172-year war there was not a single coincidence. So it was not all that bad.

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