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Monday, January 16, 2012


Photo by: Roger Ratcliffe

 L. Accipiter gentiles, Eng goshawk. Originally it was called goose hawk in English due to its size and barred gray plumage. It is found throughout Spain, the rest of Europe and North Africa especially in dense forests. During the Middle Ages, it was hunted for the king’s table. It seems that Castellan kings liked it so much that the expression “un reino por un azor” (one kingdom for a goshawk) became common. (See ajo for the Muslim equivalent.) During Suero de Quinones 1534 tournament, goshawk was not on the menu but when Quinones stuck his knife into the pie pigeons flew out. Goshawks and falcons were ushered into the dining hall to herd the pigeons out. Today, it is an endangered species.  [Alonso Luengo. 1994:33:50; Ency Brit. 1998:5:Freon:378:3a; and Jutglar. 1999:189-190]


  1. I didn't know azor was eaten, I thought they were only employed in hunting. One of the Spanish most beautiful names, by the way.
    Azor was the name of Franco's yatch, where he held an interview with Don Juan, the present King Juan Carlo's father: there they agreed that Juan Carlos, then only 10, should come to Spain to complete his education and (unofficially) become the future king of Spain. The yatch was bought in an auction by a private entrepeneur and is somewhere in the road from Madrid to Burgos, as a sign-post for a common restaurant.
    Hawks, azores and other prey birds of this kind are used in airports to keep them free from pigeons and small birds who can endanger air traffic by entering into the engines of the airplanes. Even if an endangered species, they have managed to adapt and survive in cities like Madrid, where they nest on the top of tall buildings and keep pigeons at bay. I have really seen pictures in the Internet of haws nests in the windows and balconies of apartment buildings, and if you look up and make attention you can see them now and then!

  2. Quite right:
    Franco's yacht was bought in 1992 for 4 million pesetas by Lazáro Gonzalez. It serves as a road sign for a motel-restaurant on the highway in Cogollos, Burgos. The owner thought he would be able to sell the "suite Carmen & Francisco Franco" for a tidy sum per night but he had no takers!
    Your note is sad. Don Juan, the king's father, was groomed to be his father's heir. It was a tragic day for monarchists when the "Azor" forced D Juan to cede to his son but I do beg the differ as to the date. On the Azor it was agreed that Juan Carlos and his younger brother Alfonso would be educated in Spain.
    If my memory serves me it was not until the beginning of 1970 that Don Juan was forced to cede the throne to Don Juan Carlos, his son.
    In short, hawks are powerful birds of prey and few can eat them.

  3. It was on july 21 1969 that Franco explicitly designed Juan Carlos as sucessor, and he afterwards gave his oath in the Spanish Cortes or Parliament. It was a hard blow for don Juan, who didn't acept it so smoothly. In fact, Juan Carlos took the decision against his father's will, and when he phoned Don Juan to Estoril (his golden retire in Portugal), the latter got so angry he didn't speak to his son for months. It was Juan Carlos mother, doña María, who made it over. Juan Carlos argued that it was better a Monarchy lead by himself than no monarchy at all, and the truth is that double and even trebble leading had put don Juan out of the head of Franco from as early as 1945.