Monday, May 2, 2011

The Holy Brotherhood and green sleeves

The Holy Brotherhood was a militia created (refounded, in fact) by the Catholic Monarchs in Castile to restore peace in the countryside after the chaos of the Succession War (1474-1479). This was one of the reforms they made to reinforce their authority over their subjects, especially over the nobles. On the picture below you can observe the uniform the members of the Holy Brotherhood wore. As Kelly has explained today, there is a Spanish expression related to the Holy Brotherhood that we still use to refer to people doing things too late. We say "A buenas horas, mangas verdes". This expression comes from the green sleeves of the Holy Brotherhood members´ uniform. People started using this expression to refer to this police force arriving too late to the places where a crime had been committed. This expression could be similar to the English expression "Too little, too late". 

There is another interesting expression in Dutch related to the Holy Brotherhood. As we´ll study in a few days, Holland belonged to the Hispanic Monarchy for more than hundred years. The Dutch don´t have a good opinion of the Hispanic rule in Holland, but they have preserved the expression "Heilige Hermandad" (Holy Brotherhood) to refer to the Police in a positive way. 

These two examples show us how history is present in many situations of our ordinary life. 


Alejandro Torrillas said...

Thanks very much Paqui and Kelly, now I know the origin of this expression, I use it a lot, and is very funny how people create it.

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Alejandro,

Here you have another expression related to the Catholic Monarchs´ period. It´s the "Egg of Columbus" (el huevo de Colón). This expression is used to refer to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems very easy after its explanation. This expression comes from a debate Christopher Columbus had with some nobles who said that the "discovery" of the Indies was not such an important event. Christopher Columbus challenged them to make an egg stand on its tip. They couldn´t do it. But Columbus did, by tapping the egg on the table and flattening its tip. He showed them that something apparently very difficult could be done very easily.

Here you have the complete story:

Have a good night.

Alberto Panadero said...

I was talking last days with one friend about this expression. I forgot to look for the information but tomorrow I will say him the meaning.
I have a question, which is the name of the weapon in this picture?
Guardia Civil could wear this dressed, it would be funny ;)

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Alberto,

Thanks for your comment. I think the weapon is a crossbow (ballesta in Spanish), similar to the one William Tell used.

I agree with you. The Guardia Civil uniform would be more interesting than the one they currently wear ;)