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One Town's 100-Year Grudge

The 100-Year War usually refers to a European war that lasted from 1337 to 1453. You may notice that the war technically went for 116 years, but “The 116-Year War” doesn’t sound as catchy. However, there was a European war that actually lasted 100 years: The Franco-Lijarian war.

Haven’t heard of Lijar? That’s because it’s a tiny municipality in Spain. And when I say tiny, I mean it: the 2005 census showed a population of exactly 500 people. To put that in perspective, in 2005 France had 62.7 million inhabitants.

King Alfonso XIIThat didn’t stop Lijar from declaring war with France in 1883. Alfonso XII, who was the King of Spain at the time, was visiting France when a mob of Parisians started screaming insults at him. The mayor of Lijar could not stand by and let the King be “offended in the most cowardly fashion by miserable hordes of the French nation” and when he proposed war at the village council meeting, there was unanimous agreement. They even informed the Spanish and French governments of their declaration of war.

This didn’t mean that any battles took place. No injuries happened; in fact, no French soldiers even came to the village. But that didn’t stop the people from knowing they were at war, and feeling strongly about it. It became part of the town’s cultural identity, and generations of children were raised knowing they were at war with France.

In 1983 on the 100 year anniversary of the declaration of war, Mayor Diego Sanchez decided that “Stopping a war can't be a bad thing nowadays, can it?” and signed a peace treaty with French officials in the town square, now named la Plaza de la Paz (Peace Plaza).

I think Jean Francois Thiollier, who worked at the French Embassy in Madrid, put it best: "We find it all rather amusing but it's nice to have someone making peace."

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