The Comte Mal, myth and reality

The Comte Mal (Count Evil) is the mallorcan adaptation of the legendary and mythical Comte Arnau of Catalonia, who was condemned to wander for all eternity as a soul in sorrow on a black horse, with flames getting out through his mouth and eyes, in order to redeem his misdeeds as being lovingly related to a nun or not paying the promised debts. This evil and legendary character on Mallorca overlaps with a real one; Ramon Safortesa Pacs-Fuster de Vilallonga i Nét, second Count of Formiguera (1627-1694), lord of the old knighthoods of Hero, Santa Margalida, Alcudiola, Maria, Puigblanc, Castellet i Tanca and the Alqueria de Galatzó in Calvià. Who at the age of 12 inherited from his father two grave lawsuits, one the pretension to collect taxes based on royal concessions in favour of the Count on the communal lands of Santa Margalida, and the other one to exercise the civil and criminal jurisdiction on the inhabitants of their knighthoods, most of them in the village of Santa Margalida. In short, the attempt to perpetuate a feudal regime in favour of the Count was the source of abuse and violent episodes, which led the popular imagination to relate him with the legend of Count Arnau, known on Mallorca since the Middle Ages through a popular song.

The Comte Mal loosed his disputes with the people of Santa Margalida, where he was banished, which didn’t hinder him from reaching a significant position in the Mallorca of his time. Following the thread of the legend, his appearances on a black horse surrounded by flames, are reported in the mount Galatzó, one of his properties. In the palace Can Formiguera, his house in Palma next to the Cathedral in La Portella street, it is said that the Count Mal built the tower characterizing the building, to watch his beloved, a nun of the convent of the Clares. Legend and reality intermingled, thanks to the nineteenth century literature and to an oral tradition, have made of the Comte Mal one of the best known myths of popular culture in Mallorca.

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