The statue in Trancoso’s Praça do Municipio might at first seem puzzling – a gentleman with a cobbler’s last and shoe, and a rolled parchment in hand. It is the supposed likeness of the town’s most famous son, Gonçalo Bandarra, a humble sixteenth-century shoemaker given to versifying – and, more to the point, coming up with prophecies that predicted the end of the world and the return of a hero-like king to save Portugal. The Inquisition took a dim view of this sort of thing and Bandarra was punished, and his verses banned, but the prophecies took on a life of their own with the later destruction of the cream of Portuguese nobility at the battle of Alcáçer-Quibir in Morocco (1578). The young crusader-king Dom Sebastião – killed in battle – was held by many to be the hero-king who would one day return to free Portugal from the Spanish yoke, and Bandarra was posthumously elevated to the status of a Nostradamus figure. He was eventually honoured with a tomb in the town’s Igreja de São Pedro.

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