La Tragala.pdf
La Tragala.pdf


El Trágala was a Spanish revolutionary song composed soon after the triumph of the 1820 revolution. Radical liberals sang it at public gatherings, often as part of street protest events and patriotic festivals. It was used to single out and shame those suspected of compromising, or of sympathising with absolutism. On 3 September 1820, the singing of El Trágala during a theatre performance in Madrid at which Lieutenant Colonel Riego was the guest of honour – there are contradictory reports on whether he actually joined the chorus – sparked the first of many crises pitting the radicals against the moderates.

The music and the lyrics drew on popular tradition. The performance, following the script of charivari songs, featured a lead singer, who often adapted the words to local circumstances, followed by the crowd singing the chorus: 'swallow it [the constitution], dog, swallow it, swallow it'. Some contemporaries called it the Ça Ira of the Spanish Revolution and, for the non-radicals, it represented the intransigence and violent disposition of the liberal mob. The riotous singing caused such a prominent debate that one version from 1821 was self-referential: ‘They say that El Trágala is insulting
but only the ruffians feel the injury.
Swallow it and die, you slave
because in Spain, bedbugs die’.

During the civil (Carlist) war of the 1830s, pro-Isabella militiamen often played the tune on the church organ during mass as part of the ritual of liberating a town or village from absolutist hands.