Inspired by the uprising of the Dos de Mayo in 1808 in Madrid, the Catalans rebelled against the French, in spite of all the Napoleonic sweet talk about Catalan self-determination. Four thousand French troops were met at El Bruc pass near Montserrat by a third as many Catalan guerrillas, who had a secret weapon: a drummer boy, whose incessant drumming from various points ricocheted off the rocks, convincing the French to turn tail, believing they were surrounded by a mighty army. The story was recently made into a film.
When the Catalans, for all their troubles, were rewarded with the reactionary absolutist Ferdinand VII, some had second thoughts: even the detested French would have been more convivial. ‘If only he’d played with his balls instead of playing the drum’ became a popular saying.
Images by: Jordiferrer, Creative Commons License