The Nou d’Octubre celebrates the anniversary of the conquest of the city of Valencia by King Jaume I in 1238, a fact that meant the creation of the Kingdom of Valencia. It is one of the oldest festivals relative to kingdoms foundations still existing today, a fact that is due to its adaptation to the constant socio-political changes in the Valencian territory throughout history.
In Sant Joan d’Alacant the celebration began to take place since the Transition with some cultural events or acts of protest on the part of some neighbours, cultural associations and political groups. Since then, as it is bank holiday, local trade and craft markets, typical Valencian dances, popular lunches, parades or music concerts in ‘valencià’ have not lacked to commemorate this date. One of the most anticipated acts of this date is the presentation of the Llibre del Nou d’Octubre (book 9 October) on local themes, an edition that began in 1997 with a monograph on the Queens and Ladies’ companions of the Festival of the Christ and that every year, dedicates its pages to deal with the history, customs and experiences of santjoaners characters.
Did you know…?
The creation of the Kingdom of Valencia was due to an initiative taken by King Jaume I to avoid the susceptibilities of Catalans and Aragoneses who had participated in the conquest of this territory to the Muslims and who wanted to gain control of the new lands. The new kingdom, endowed with its own laws and institutions, was mainly inhabited by Catalans, Aragoneses and many Muslims who continued living in the Kingdom until the expulsion of the Moors in 1609. This cultural diversity led to the existence of several languages, religions and socio-economic relations throughout the territory. One of the most notorious features would be the Castilian linguistic predominance in the interior and Catalan on the coast, which in this case would receive the name of Valencià.
At first the kingdom souther boundary reached Xixona-Biar, as established in the Treaty of Almizrra of 1245 between the crowns of Castile and Aragon, so Alicante remained within the Castilian territory. But at the end of the thirteenth century, King Jaume II surpassed this border arriving to Murcia. After a hard confrontation with the Crown of Castile, the new demarcations were finally established with the signing of the treaties of Elche and the Sentence of Torrellas. The southern territories until Orihuela were incorporated in 1305 to the Kingdom of Valencia, locating Alicante and therefore its Horta, with Sant Joan and Benimagrell leading the way, within the Kingdom of Valencia.
The kingdom of Valencia maintained its own political personality until the ‘Decretos de Nueva Planta’ (Decrees of New Plant) of 1714, which meant the suppression of Valencian laws and institutions, as happened in Aragon, Baleares and Catalonia, replaced from that moment by the Castilians in retaliation for having supported the territories of the Crown of Aragon during the War of Succession to the Austrias instead of to the Bourbons, winners of the conflict. The date on which the Austrias were defeated at the Battle of Almansa, 25 April 1707, led to the beginning of the reprisals and was immortalized in the collective memory as a nefarious fact in the saying: ‘quan el mal ve d’ Almansa, a tots alcança ‘ (when de evil comes from Almansa, it reaches everybody). The 25 April is commemorated in the present time by diverse cultural and political groups, and by the ‘Cortes Valencianas’ (Valencian Parliament) that celebrate in this date its festivity day.
The Kingdom of Valencia formally disappeared in the eighteenth century although this term was maintained in the historiography, the chronicles and the popular memory together with the one of the ‘Pais Valencià’ (Valencian Country), making reference both to a mainly geographic and cultural ascription, until the Transition when the self-government was recovered, and the denomination of Comunitat Valenciana (Valencian Autonomous Region) was created and adopted.
The ‘estatut’ (statute) collected the official Valencian symbols: the flag with the arms of the crown of Aragon, with red and yellow bars or stripes and with the crown to the flagpole on blue fringe; the shield of the king Pere IV the Ceremoniós with the Aragon arms and helmet with dragon; and the hymn composed at the beginning of the twentieth century by Serrano and Thous. Other groups also claim the music of the Muixeranga d’Algemesí dance, declared a World Heritage, as a Valencian hymn.
King James I (1208-1276) is considered one of the most important medieval figures representing chivalric values of faith, courage and honour. The story of his life is surrounded by a halo of mystery, feats and deeds that blend reality and legend. The work of the ‘Llibre dels Fet’ (book of the facts) is attributed to him, which narrates his life and works. In Sant Joan d’Alacant, an important avenue was dedicated to him in 1983, replacing the name of General Mola.
There is a curious legend that places the passage of the king by a farmhouse of Sant Joan d’Alacant during his stay in the Horta d’Alacant. Grateful for the excellent treatment received by his residents, the monarch decided to grant them the tax free, so that the house was known since then as Hisenda d’El Franc i de Soler, farmhouse located in the traditional road from the quay to the beach. The chronicler of Sant Joan, Isidro Buades, dedicated a nice poem to this legend titled: ‘El Rei en Jaume Primer en el Franc i de Soler’.