The Guanches were divided into various kingdoms, one of which was the kingdom of Taoro’, including the fertile Orotava Valley where –according to an old legend- a frightful dragon was always on the watch that nobody might steal the ‘golden apples’ growing in the valley. After various memorable battles, the Spanish conquerors finally defeated the natives, who retired to the region of today’s village called Realejo Bajo, and especially to the steepest slopes of the so-called Monte de Tigaiga. The actual villages of Realejo Alto and Realejo Bajo correspond to the exact position of the two armies in that time, the first meaning ‘upper site’: the second ‘lower site’. The Guanches’ army was commanded then by the kings Bencomo, the mightiest one, Beneharo, Acaimo, Tegueste and Zebenzui, called the ‘poor Nobleman’ because his kingdom was the poorest. On the 25th July 1496 King Bencomo saw that it was useless fighting on, and he decided to surrender, together with his troops and the chiefs of his clan.
The poet Antonio de Viana, whom we follow in this short narration, describes the rejoicing and jubilation when the Spanish camp heard of the surrender of the Guanche kings or ‘Menceyes’, but Bencomo lamented his defeat as follows, according to Viana’s verses:
How hard it is for a reigning king to see his kingdom, his people and his power in the hands of another…
King Bencomo signed the contract of surrender on condition that he might be allowed once again to judge two persons of his clan, kept prisoners and guilty of high treason. Don Alonso Fernández de Lugo granted following verdict: ‘That the prisoners be thrown from the rocks called Tigaiga’.
However, one of Bencomo’s daughters, the beautiful princess Dácil, asked her father to be merciful: Dearest king and father, is your heart as hard as stone? Can there be so much hardness in your noble breast that your love for me has not moved it yet? If my bitter sorrow cannot soften you, let you move by your nobility and know that revenge does not give you a right to kill!
The princess carried on and finally ended her grievous plead by the following words, according to Viana: Love God and forgive brothers, than you will be crowned in heaven! Bencomo, moved at last, considered his daughter’s request and decided to pardon the two criminals.
When this became known, the Guanches and the Spaniards likewise rejoiced and henceforth the high rock of Tigaiga became a symbol of the noble race of the Guanches and a tie of brotherhood between them and the Spaniards, which became even stronger when Princess Dácil married Gonzalo del Castillo, a captain of the Spanish army. Today there are neither conquerors nor conquered, but two races who are living peacefully together, shadowed by the giant Teide, of which one of our poets said:
Happy hazy Atlante, High Teide of the Canaries, Crystal pyramid…
The historian Antonio de Viana was born on the 21st April 1578 in the city of La Laguna (Tenerife). His father was from La Orotava and was related to the families of Los Realejos. His work is written in verses in the manner of the poem ‘La Araucana’ by Alonso de Ercilla. It consists of sixteen songs and is an epic-historical poem relating the events when the island was conquered by the ambassador of the Catholic Kings of Spain, Alonso Fernández de Lugo. This General suffered a number of defeats and set-backs by the native Guanches, who fought with primitive arms.
Selected for Mr. Enrique Talg by the writer Don Benjamín Afonso Padrón, Villa de La Orotava, Christmas 1959.