Costa Blanca foundation finds rare 17th century document

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NEARLY 400 YEARS OLD: The first entry was written on September 1, 1629 © Ayuntamiento de Javea

A FOUNDATION IN JAVEA has acquired a document from 1629 which tells the story of the coastal surveillance operations that took place in the 17th century.

The manuscript was on sale by an antique dealer in the Basque Country and details the goings on between the bodies of troops stationed across six Marina Alta watchpoints.

Many of the coastguards were settlers from Ibiza employed to protect the coastline from pirates. Fundacio Cirne presented the 36-page document to the public this week.

The manuscript is beautifully calligraphed and is titled ‘lista de la gente de a pie que sirve en las torres del distrito de Xabea‘(‘list of the people on foot who serve in the towers of the district of Javea’).

The first entry was written on September 1, 1629 and later entries span 20 years, with the names of the coastguards and their origin.

Fundacio Cirne Secretary Antoni Espinos explained that, after the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1609, the entire Marina Alta population lived “terrified” of pirates.

Inhabitants also feared an invasion from North Africa. “Javea has a steep, difficult to control coastline,” said Espinos.

There were six watchpoints – the tower of San Anton, the Mesguida, the castle of Sant Marti, the tower of the Cap Prim, the tower of the Descubridor and the tower of La Branca.

Only last two are still standing, but they are private and although they are declared of Cultural Interest (BIC), they cannot be visited.

Fundacio Cirne President Enric Martinez said that the foundation will make the document available to historians and researchers but first, the entire manuscript will be transcribed.

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