Saturday, February 10, 2018

Maria Solina - The Most Famous Witch of Galicia

Witchcraft has a very special place in the culture of Spanish Galicia. One of the most famous people related to the old magical traditions is Maria Soliña, a Galician witch who lived during the 17th century. Despite her openness about supernatural practices, the intelligence of this remarkable woman allowed her to avoid the stake during the Inquisition.

We can discern the following from what little is known of this woman:

  • she was born in Cangas de Morrazo sometime in the last half of the 16th century
  • in 1617 a squadron of Turkish pirates reached the Vigo estuary, where it was the local women led the defence
  • she married Pedro Barba, a fisherman from the village, who with his brother created a viable fishing company whilst Maria held estates in her own right
  • the most important possession of the family were the rights of presentation in the Collegiate of Cangas de Morrazo and in the Church of San Cibrán de Aldán (by this right, the successors of the founder of a church could propose its sccessor when it became vacant, and in turn reap the benefits that the benefice generated rather than the Church)
  • purportedly in her 60s, she was accused of witchcraft (22nd Jan 1622) and brought before the Inquisition in Compostela (though it was said that this was merely a ruse to cover up the real reason for her imprisonment - the acquisition of her wealth and benefices, which naturally reverted to the Church)
  • she was tortured and later revealed that she was indeed a witch (or meigas)
  • she survieved the Inquisition to be released to a life of poverty
  • the date of her death is unknown

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