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The House of the Seven Heads: Legends of Málaga

The legend tells of Don Álvaro Torres, who challenged the city mayor and paid with his life for it

The House of the Seven Heads, according to legend, was a famous house in 1639. Located across from the Holy Cathedral Church, in the Plaza del Obispo, it belonged to Ms. Sancha de Lara Ugarte and Barrientos. To raise funds for the Santa Catalina hospital in our city, a theatrical play was performed in a theatre that existed in what we now know as Bolsa Street. The legendary Luisa Robles and Francisco Correa starred in that performance. Invited to that function in a special way was the city's mayor, Don Pedro de Olavarría, and his attractive young wife.

Don Pedro de Olavarría was a serious man, not much loved by the Malagueños; his wife was known for having several affairs with men in our city. Her latest affair was the one she was secretly having with Ms. Sancha de Lara's nephew, Don Álvaro Torres. Don Álvaro was a reckless, wasteful, and somewhat quarrelsome young man. When the mayor and his wife entered the theatre, the play had already started, so it had to be interrupted for the audience to greet and show reverence to the local authority. Everyone greeted the mayor, even the actors, as that greeting was considered a salute to the King through the person of the mayor.

Only one person did not greet Don Pedro de Olavarría, this was Ms. Sancha de Lara's young nephew. Everyone noticed the nephew's snub. The mayor shouted an order to the beadles to arrest that insolent man and take him to jail. Ms. Sancha's nephew drew his sword, and after fighting the beadles, jumped onto the stage continuing his personal crusade. There on the stage, he hurled insults at the mayor and his wife. Eventually, after a fierce battle, the young man was subdued, leaving several of the beadles injured.

The trial and punishment of the legend of the House of the Seven Heads

The mayor, a man famed for his cruelty and encouraged by his flighty wife, held a summary trial that night in which Don Álvaro Torres was condemned to hang. Ms. Sancha, alerted to the grave events, pleaded for mercy from the mayor, but seeing that saving her nephew's life was futile, she asked that he at least receive the help of a priest and take communion. But the mayor refused any concession.

In the morning, from a jail window in the city, then located in Plaza de la Constitución in the well-known Heredia Passage, hung the lifeless body of the young man. No one dared to say anything, they all feared the harsh and brutal mayor. In the morning, Ms. Sancha harnessed the horses and headed to Madrid to see King Philip IV. The moved King told her: "Madam, if the mayor has abused the attributes that I once gave him, he will be punished in proportion to his crime."

The king sent judges secretly to investigate the case of "The House of the Seven Heads" and, after confirming the truth of Ms. Sancha's words, they informed the king. Justice acted swiftly; a few days later a scaffold was erected in Plaza de la Constitución, and there they executed the six people who had been involved in the young nephew's death, only the mayor's wife escaped, as she fled and was never heard of again. Under the scaffold was written a phrase that said: "This is the king's justice, who does such a thing, pays in kind".

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