Prologue
Justice Be Fulfilled
Let ;ustice be fulfilled.-Dona Costanza de Espinosa
The story of Francisco Noguerol de Ulloa begins not at the time of his
birth, but rather a few years later, when an incident took place that
changed the circumstances of his family.
It
was the first in a chain
reaction of events that marked his life.
Francisco's father, Mendo Noguerol, was posted as a/caide (gover-
nor) at the royal fortress of Simancas. We find him there in
1520
during
the revolt of the comuneros against the young Emperor Charles V. The
uprising, though widespread and passionate, was crushed within a
year, and its leaders, Juan Padilla and Juan Bravo, were executed. One
of the defeated insurgents, don Antonio de Acuna, bishop of Zamora,
was captured while attempting to flee to France. Bishop Acuna posed a
dilemma for the victorious Charles. As a churchman, he was protected
by ecclesiastical immunity, yet his role during the rebellion was too
crucial to let him go unpunished. Thus, while the emperor and the pope
were negotiating an appropriate treatment of the renegade bishop,
Acuna himself was locked up in a small cell of Simancas. The emperor
commanded Mendo Noguerol to keep the controversial inmate well
guarded and not to permit any visitors, except a priest and a royal
interrogator. Furthermore, he instructed Mendo always to be present
during such meetings.
I
The energetic clergyman, one of the last warrior bishops of the
Middle Ages, was not resigned to languish in prison, and he schemed to
escape.
It
was Sunday,
26
February
1526,
about ten o'clock in the
morning. The townspeople and some of the soldiers in the fortress were
attending Mass in the cloister of the church of EI Salvador, because the
temple itself had recently collapsed and was being rebuilt. The bishop,
normally an early riser, did not appear as usual, and Mendo Noguerol,
wondering if something was amiss, went to see the prisoner.
Acuna was waiting for his jailer. Following a brief conversation, he
suddenly hurled a leather pouch containing a heavy stone at Mendo,
striking him in the face. The unfortunate man, stunned by the impact,
had no time to recover, for the clergyman stabbed him, with several
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