The last executioner of the Chancery

The Chancery of Granada is legacy of the Catholic Monarchs, who decided after the conquest of Granada and being that one incorporated to Castilla, move the Chancery from Ciudad Real to Granada in 1505. The Royal Chancery of Granada was a high court to the administration of justice. It had jurisdiction over Andalucía, Extremadura, La Mancha, Murcia and Canarias at the beginning. This place was one of the only five seats with executioner at the end of the XIX century. In that time Lorenzo Gonzalez practised the charge of executioner also known as “The master Lorenzo”, who always wore a black cape and wide-brimmed hat and carried the cudgel of Maria Pineda as a relic which date from 1777, while went over the bars of the area to take a drink of anisette. The master Lorenzo who said that he was from Baiona(Galicia), was described as a little man and with wide back, with horrific protuberances in his head, deep and malicious way of looking. He boasted about being very good at his profession. Granada had also one of the last Spanish executioners; he was called Bernardo Sanchez Bascuñana. Many people in Granada could remember the figure of Bernardo Sanchez crossing Plaza Nueva wearing a large and black cape and sunglasses. Somebody believed to see in this last executioner the ghost of the Chancery, but it is impossible because the first apparition of the ghost executioner was in 1924 and Bernardo was still alive. Since forever the profession of executioner was been vilified, depreciated for everyone without exception. And not only because its task consisted on take somebody’s’ life or execute a lot of punishments and tortures. In those times this character was associated with people who made deals with the devil. These and many other superstitions could have to do something with the fact that the payment of the ancient executioners included the clothes of the person who died at his hands. Many years ago when the executions were in vogue, an executioner could live with some comfort, escape from the misery and accept the profession of his ancestors, because, often this was a hereditary profession. We had the testimony of an old cleaning lady of the building, Encarna. The apparition seen by Encarna happened one evening at the end of spring in 1988. The cleaning lady worked at this moment with a partner, in the area of the dovecote, in the top of the building. While she was cleaning absent-minded, in one of the windows of the inside, she seemed to see a shadow in the lower floor. At first, Encarna kept doing her job thinking that the shadow was a shadow of anyone walking by the building at this moment. However, after a short while, curiosity made her to see again to the window and she contemplated this time a definite figure. The figure was wearing a large cape and a wide-brimmed hat. Astonished she could confirm that the face of the strange character was completely pallid and with features hardly recognisable. The strangest thing, nevertheless, was that the cleaning lady saw between the cape and the floor that was a spacious fringe of air, a distance of some centimetres in which it could not be possible to appreciate any shoes. It was like the figure floated on the air. She felt frightened due to the apparition and at the same time an intense chills went over her body. But, one more time, curiosity was bigger than the fear. She went downstairs and, when she was still in the last treads, she could see with more clarity the mysterious appearance. In his vague features she could not see the eyes, although she could see a troubling coldness in his facial expression. Then Encarna dared, almost without proposing it, to walk to the place where it was the strange figure. At this moment the apparition moved away in an unusual way which confirmed Encarna that she was in front of a person of other world. The ghost went away through the corridor, in a dark lobby which ended in a room closed. Before the panic attacked her, she dared to pronounce a question to the strange character. “Do you want something from me?” Her question had not any answer. Once in the dovecote, with her heart beating fast, she told to her partner what had happened. The anxiety increased when they realized that the place where the strange figure had disappeared at the end of the corridor, ended in the room destined to keep the personal essentials and the tools of the executioner. The warning signs of the two cleaning ladies arrived at the Civil Guard who stayed at this moment near the place. When the cleaning ladies dared to go downstairs and Encarna told that she was witness of an appearance, one of the guards asked: “did he wear a cape and a wide-brimmed hat?” The facial expression of the guard changed when he obtained an affirmative answer. According to Encarna, this guard asked immediately for the transfer to another place. As a consequence of the incident, that day the corridor where the apparition took place was not cleaned. Encarna claimed that the same day the lift started to work without the manipulation of anyone while she moved from one floor to other along the building.

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