El Palleter

Sorrolla painted him, his statue stands beside Valencia’s cannonball pocketed Torres de Quart, a monument to the city’s resistance to Napoleon’s artillery, commanded by Marshal Suchet, and Valencian venerates him as a symbol of resistance to foreign invasion.

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Vicent Domènech, born in Paiporta in 1783 but living in Patraix at the moment of his brief flirtation with glory, was ‘El Palleter’, a kind of wandering matchmaker before matches existed.

On the 23rd of May 1808, in the plaza de les Panses today called Plaza de Companyia, where the mail used to arrive and the newspapers were read communally, just behind La Lonja, where a plaque recalls the event, using an image of Valencia’s favourite saint, the Virgen de los Desamparados, he shouted the now legendary words: “a poor Palleter declares war on Napoleon. Long live Fernando VII and death to all traitors!”

The rabble was roused and took him at his word as the French population of Valencia, and their local supporters were massacred, mostly in the old Ciudadela castle, located where the Porta del Mar is today, and in the bullring.

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Not much is known about the Palleter afterwards, although it is believed that he was executed later when the French took the city.

He was no match for the French army.

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