That’s No Beggar, That’s Gaudí, or A Street Car Named Expire

Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Photo by  Marek Holub via Wikimedia Commons.

Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Photo by Marek Holub via Wikimedia Commons.

On June 7, 1926, a ragged beggar crossed the street in Barcelona, the bustling Catalan metropolis on the Mediterranean coast. Perhaps he was lost in thought, or perhaps the street car was somehow at fault. The man was struck and lost consciousness. Due to his ragged condition and lack of identification, he was left to his fate by the passersby.

Eventually, a police officer reluctantly decided to do something about the situation and took the bum to a nearby hospital where he received the most basic treatment. The following day, the chaplain of the Sagrada Família church, the beggar’s life’s work, recognized him, but it was too late. His previously untreated condition had deteriorated and he would go on to die on the 10th of June.

If you couldn’t gather from the title (apologies for the horrible pun), the beggar was no beggar at all, but was indeed Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, one of the most famous, if over-the-top, architects known to man. He was already in his 70’s at the time, but seemed otherwise healthy, was still working on his all-consuming life’s passion, the aforementioned Sagrada Família, and there really is no telling how long he would have carried on.

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Sharyn Eastaugh’s Fab Five: An Inept Ruler, a Leper, Raymond of Tripoli, a Knight and a Ragged Hermit

Peter the Hermit leads the Peasants Crusade. Date and artist unknown.

Peter the Hermit leads the Peasants Crusade. Date and artist unknown.

This is the third part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

Hello! I’m Sharyn Eastaugh and I write and present a weekly podcast series, the History of the Crusades.  You can find the podcast on iTunes or at historyofthecrusades@podomatic.com or at historyofthecrusades.webs.com.  You can follow me on Twitter via @historycrusades and you can also like the History of the Crusades Facebook page.  I became a podcaster pretty much by accident.  I had listened to and thoroughly enjoyed Mike Duncan’s podcast The History of Rome, and I had purchased a book on the Crusades, intending to listen to a podcast on the subject, while I read along.  To my surprise and disappointment, I discovered there weren’t any podcasts about the Crusades.  In a moment of madness, I decided to take a shot at doing one myself.  That was nearly 18 months ago and now podcasting has become an all-consuming obsession.  Right!  Enough about me!  Want to know who my 5 favourite Crusaders are?  Read on…

1. Peter the Hermit

It’s hard to go past Peter the Hermit.  You just don’t see people like him nowadays.  Scruffy, dressed in rags, barefooted and using a donkey as his preferred means of transport, Peter also possessed the knack of galvanising the common person with his passionate speeches.  He managed to convince tens of thousands of men, women and children to march to the Holy Land and to their ultimate doom, in the ill-fated Peasant’s Crusade.  Why do I like him?  Well, for being such an iconic figure of the Middle Ages for one, and also for the way he kept popping up unexpectedly in the narrative.  But, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d actually want to meet him.  He’s not really someone I’d like to sit down and have lunch with.

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