We know that fashion raises passions, but can it provoke revolutions?
Well the answer is yes, and that was what happened in Madrid many years ago, back in 1766 when Carlos III reigned and the streets of this area of Madrid where El Anciano rey de los Vinos is located witnessed this.
The cause was Leopoldo de Gregorio, Marquis of Esquilache and a trusted man of the monarch. The marquis carried out a modernization plan for the city that included cleaning, paving, public lighting, sewage … but the big surprise was reserved for the end, and that was that he was determined to change the typical clothing of Madrid at that time. Specifically, he wanted to eliminate the use of the long cape and the chambergo (a hat with a very wide brim). According to him, and possibly not without reason, these types of clothing allowed the anonymity of the people and therefore, facilitated the commission of crimes. So it occurred to him that the appropriate clothing should be a short cape and a three-cornered hat, since that way the person could be recognized.
However, it seemed to the people that this measure was an imposition of a foreign fashion and therefore a revolt took place that ended Esquilache’s departure from the court.
The revolt began in the Antón Martin square, continued through Atocha street, the Plaza Mayor and reached the House of the Seven Chimneys, the Marquis’ residence. The next day the mutineers went to our neighboring Royal Palace. In the end, intimidated by the crowd, the King agreed to all the claims of the protesters, which included the removal of Esquilache, among other things.
In reality, the clothing was only the culmination of the discomfort that existed due to the rise in the price of food that had occurred in recent months and that the town attributed to the poor management of Esquilache.
And if you want to see that story up close, you know, come to El Anciano Rey, ask for a wine or a vermouth on tap, and enjoy our magnificent views.