The first, and last, tiger in Els Ports was seen in XIX century.

Posted on May 9, 2017 in Carlist War, Experiential turism, Guiris in mastrathgo, Highlights, Maestrazgo History

How many documentaries about tigers have you watched on TV? It might be three or four. And what about lions? more than 20? Sure. Lions are interesting subject though tigers are unusual and when you heard about a famous one and running in Els Ports mountain range, that is all: caught in the tiger’s claws.

Tiger? mountain range? XIX century? Spain?.  I get it. It is the story of wars and struggles, militias and lairs. Hold your horses mate, no one became a hero and just losers in the end of the story.

And now, learn how to create a movie settings.

1.- You need two different conceptions of society. “God, Country and King” against the supporters of Liberal reformers inspired by the French revolution.

2.- Look for clashing interests. Royalty is an archaic form that proves to be a burden that stops the country’s way into progress (cities development).On the opposite corner, all who oppose the liberal revolution: small rural nobility, lower clerics, and many farmers that believe all that liberalism brings is higher taxes.

3.- A royal soap opera. The king’s heir is a girl -Isabella II-, and women are forbidden from the throne. Father FVII -not a football player but Ferdinand VII- changes this, thus ensuring his daughter becomes queen in her own right. Ahaa!!!, it appears her uncle Carlos, next in line to the throne and with big pretensions. Succession issue and The Carlist War is ready to start off.

4.- Background. Els Ports and Maestrazgo is as perfect place to guerrilla strategy. Back in 1833 poverty, demographic expansion, involuntary military recruitment, and religion gave support to Carlist movement.

Cabrera Headquarter

Morella. Fortified village and Cabrera Headquarter

5.- Is there anyone interested to struggle? Yes, always there is international interest. Even though it is an entirely Spanish war both sides have international support. The Carlists receive money and weapons from absolutist states such as Russia, Prussia and Austria and the Portuguese who is loyal to Miguel I of Portugal. On the other hand Isabela II received the support and troops of England (British Auxiliary Legions, 10,000 men), France (French Foreign Legion, 5,000 men) and the Portuguese who were loyal to Pedro I of Brazil.

Is everyone involved assured that they all understand the production’s needs ? Yes? Then:


Cut, cut, cut!!! Stop the camera’s recording!!!. Where is the Tiger?

The Tiger of The Maestrazgo

The Tiger of Maestrazgo in full Ramón Cabrera y Griñó born Dec. 27, 1806 in Tortosa and died May 24, 1877, Wentworth, Eng. Young Cabrera is sent to the seminary of Tortosa, where he makes himself conspicuous as an unruly kid, ever mixed up in disturbances and careless in his studies. Bad boy this guy. The Bishop says: “ Come on boy, I am really fed up with you. Your are not a proper Church soldier. Why don’t you try in the Army and don’t fuck me anymore?”.

Cabrera follows this advice and takes part in Carlist troops. He rises in a very short time combining ruthlessness with bravery and fanaticism among the Carlist chiefs.

From the top of the scene!!!

It dates back 1830 and groups of Carlists act as a guerrilla in Els Ports – Maestrazgo. People encouraged basically by double payment get enrolled by Carlists. Cabrera becomes a leading insurgent as general.

In 1838, the military district of la Comandancia General del Maestrazgo is created by The Tiger and organises carlist homeland. He fortifies Cantavieja, Mirambel, Morella, Beceite, Villarluengo as headquarters and refuge. Cabrera’s initiative turns into a hybrid of guerrilla insurgency and counter-insurgency increasing episodes of intense violence.

El Boixar: hospital and Carlist prison.

El Boixar: hospital and Carlist prison.

Near 20.000 soldiers needs food, clothes, weapons, and the region becomes a depletion region in 1839. Since 1838 the number of desertors giving up Carlists troop gets 4.000 soldiers most of them demoralised and hungry volunteers.

None prisoners treaty looks after them during the first half of war and pragmatism overrides any compassion. Liberals reluctant to take Carlist prisoners as they have too few forces to guard so the prisoners are executed immediately. It is the same on the other side. After 1938 Fredes, Boixar, La Puebla de Benifassá become hospitals and prisons. Anyway, near 6.000 Liberals are captured and more than 4.000 die. Cabrera troops hunt and kill them, sometimes herded together and stripped naked (Cabrera militiamen need uniforms).

Cabrera’s mother who has been held hostage by Liberals for almost two years is executed. The iconic figure of innocent one comes up on newspapers like barbaric behavior.

Church-burning. Over time it is a tragic routine of an outnumbered liberals garrison retiring to the biggest church and defending itself to the last (Mirambel church). This is because the church steeple is usually the ultimate refuge. What a joke: Cabrera’s Christian soldiers ironically burning churches!!!

But the effect of that, promote reprisals and terrorise civilians caught in the war zone. All remaining 18 to 50 year old male residents who had not already enlisted were called into the militia. Liberals impose measures including collective punishment on communities friendly with Carlists, summary executions and confiscation of properties, all in addition to the usual taxes and conscripts levied by the central government.

The war is waged over the next seven years with more than 120,000 soldiers dead and countless civilian victims. until their complete defeat of Carlists in 1840. Don Carlos has no choice but run away to France, which ends the First Carlist war.


On the Tiger’s way: Ulldemó River.

Martini Shot:

And what about The Tiger?. He is allowed to go to England where gets married and submits to the restored monarchy of Alphonso XII, son of Queen Isabella II.Don Carlos issues a proclamation declaring him a traitor and depriving him of all his honours and titles.   It doesn’t matter, Cabrera is living happy in London.


Ferdinand VII: the stupid one.

Ramon Cabrera y Griñón: The Tiger.

Isabella II: the tiny queen ( later Isabella II the ninphomaniac)

Maria Cristina de Borbón y Dos Sicilias: her mother, the fourth wife of Ferdinand, as regent.

Infant Don Carlos: the uncle and the boss far away of the front line.

El Serrador, Quilez, Forcadell, Miralles, Torner: Bad boys in Cabrera’s gang.

Espartero, Nogueras, O’Donell: the rivals.

Civilians: the full time film extras and the really losers.

Closing time:

Would you like to know the Tiger path? Visit Morella, Boixar, Beceite, etc? Why not? Be your own star!!! The answer is on the cake!!!

Ignacio Terés. Maestrex Experience

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