Nudity and the Catalan autonomous millennium

I and the cat are in no doubt that all this public nakedness is linked to the campaign for a new statute of autonomy, and that Clos or Carod or Maragall or someone is going to emerge as a contemporary Jantje van Leyden. “Who?” rises the cry from the Catalan street.

Jantje van Leyden–Jan Bockelson, a tailor from Leiden in Holland who claimed descent from David, and we’re not talking Hasselhoff–was in 1534 crowned king of the New Jerusalem established by the Anabaptists in Münster, Westphalia. The best account of this and other confusions is still Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages, which informs us that

Bockelson’s first important act was – characteristically – at once a religious and a political one. Early in May he ran naked through the town in a frenzy and then fell into a silent ecstasy which lasted three days. When speech returned to him he called the population together and announced that God had revealed to him that the old constitution of the town, being the work of men, must be replaced by a new one which would be the work of God. The burgomasters and Council were deprived of their functions. In their place Bockelson set himself and – on the model of Ancient Israel – twelve Elders. It is an indication of his political shrewdness that the Elders included some of the deposed councillors, representatives of the guilds, a member of the local aristocracy and some of the immigrants from the Netherlands [this is a clear reference to either Rijkaard or Cruyff]. This new government was given authority in all matters, public and private, spiritual and material, and power of life and death over all inhabitants of the town. A new legal code was drawn up, aimed partly at carrying still further the process of socialization and partly at imposing a severely puritanical morality. A strict direction of labour was introduced. Artisans who were not conscripted for military service became public employees, working for the community as a whole without monetary reward…

By August polygamy was established. Bockelson, who had left a wife in Leyden, began by marrying the beautiful young widow of Matthys [his predecessor], Diever or Divara, and before long he had a harem of fifteen wives. The preachers and then almost the whole male population followed his example and began to hunt for new wives. As for the women, though there were many who welcomed the institution of polygamy there were many others for whom it was a great tyranny.

If manners maketh the man, then nakedness shall make the new constitution also, and you read it here first. All we need to do now is find a local politico who’ll shut up for three days.

Similar posts


  1. They’re testing the reaction. I’ll bet nudity becomes tolerated in the next couple of years in a specific area of town near the beach and with a high proportion of disenfranchised foreign residents. This is not the kind of thing that kicks off in Sarrià

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *