Let’s discover the fascinating life of the man who inspired the very first hero in XX century Pop Culture.
The fascinating story of William Lamport (1615-1659) take us back to early XVII century Ireland. He was born in coastal Wexford from a noble catholic family.
This young man started soon his adventures around Europe. His modern ideas for example about freedom in religion – that already led his grandfather Patrick Lamport to death – had him escaping first to England. Writing pamphlets against the government forced him to leave the country in a hurry. He travelled with a group of pirates by the coast of France for a couple of years.
This experience will have definitely an influence on the future man. On board there may be a system close to his ideals; you get the power because of your abilities, without any reference to religion or race.
Still a teenager , he lands in La Coruña, Spain.
Maybe a decision taken in reference to the fascinating stories of the first celtic community established in Galicia.
He will be given the chance to access into a school sensible on catholic issues the locals were suffering in Ireland. He finds the help needed in the Santiago de Compostela College of Saint Patrick, described as Colegio de los Irlandeses managed by the Society of Jesus. Young men from Ireland used to come here in those years to study Theology
Its location can still be seen in the Santiago old part of town, Rúa Nova 44.now a private property, we can see anyway the façade.
In few years he succeeds in studying in Salamanca too and reaches Madrid, San Lorenzo del Escorial. Years of studies made of him a man of culture. That is another important moment of his life because he will contact and become friend with the powerful Earl Duke of Olivares.
Some love affair scandal will take him to Nueva España – these days Mexico – along with the fact that he went as a spy for the Monarchy.
It’s there anyway where he realizes that he will never become an outstanding person being not spanish nor a criollo. That’s why circumstances will determine his contact with the locals understanding and eventually supporting their issues concerning the most basic civil rights. It is then when he turns his name in Guillén de Lampart, or Guillén Lombardo de Guzmán.
The ideal instrument to persecute him and all political enemies was there; The Inquisition. Betrayed by Captain Felipe Méndez Ortíz, he is accused of being an astrologist, in treats with the devil and imprisoned in 1642. He will be able to escape in 1650 but once captured his condemnation will be to be burnt at the stake in 1659. There is a legend about this episode that says that being a rebel till the end, he hangs himself first with the rope that held him, avoiding the suffering from fire.
His adventurous life served to XIX and XX writers:mexican Vicente Riva Palacio who tell us in Memorias de un Impostor that he may have been called Zorro – fox – by the natives because of the colour of his red hair, similar to the fox one. U.S. journalist Johnston McCulley created in 1919, with the novel The Curse of Capistrano the real character soon to become worldwide known as Zorro.
In conclusion, for researchers first, Guillén Lombardo – once William Lamport- was probably the first hero of what yet had to become the Mexican Indipendence from Spain. That was enough to have mexican government putting a Guillén Lombardo statue in main Mexico City monument called El Angel in 1910. Part of the legend of Zorro survives in the Santiago de Compostela alleys. It will be a pleasure to share these stories and more.