History

It is this last way of running bulls that is the most established in the life of Medina. There are also different ways of running the encierros. At first, it was not common to run in front of bulls. It was even forbidden unless it was to thank a patron saint or if there had been a vote or a religious promise to get a divine intervention. Thus, the encierros in Medina del Campo were run in homage of San Juan (June 24), Santiago Apóstol (July 25), the Assumption of Our Lady (August 15) and San Antolín (September 2), at least between the 15th and the 18th centuries. These celebrations were officially considered as the "Wishes of the town". The book of the Council Agreements, kept in the Municipal Archives - since 1490 and continuously since 1552 - shows several reports of payment and rules concerning the running bulls of the time, the places of the fights and the destination of the meat, once the beasts died. The information is often found in the proceedings of the days before the official celebrations. For example, in the Agreements of 1943 - the oldest ones that we got to study - we find some data under the title of "Summons and distribution of bulls". The novillos (young bulls) were also part of the celebrations. Indeed, there were young bull fights and runs during the most important celebrations of the town, the ones of the two biggest brotherhoods of Medina which are the one of the Angustias de Nuestra Señora and of the Santa Vera Cruz. The book of the Council Agreement in the Municipal Archives and the historical documents of the brotherhoods give plenty of information concerning these events.

On the night before the holidays, the animals were taken from the pastures to the bullpens that were provisionally placed downtown. The authorities had ordered that horsemen accompany the bulls with bells and lanterns in order to warn the population of the dangerous presence of the animals. On the D-day, professionals and aficionados would run in a bullring, closed or open, doing suertes - or acts- that do not exist anymore such as the "salto con garrocha" - jumping over the bull after plunging a stick into his neck -, "the wine barrel", "the wicker basket" and the famous cape of the torero that has continued to exist until today.

Although we can find some older documents about encierros in Medina del Campo, the most well-known took place on the night before the celebration of the Assumption of Our Lady (August 15th) in 1567. We know about it thanks to the testimony that Santa Teresa has made in her Gook of Foundations in which she says: "We arrived in Medina del Campo on the night before the Assumption of Holy Mary, at midnight. We went to the monastery Santa Ana, not to make any noise and then, we walked home. It was Mercy of the Lord that at that time the bulls were being shut for the running of then day after and that we did not encounter any of them."

After the encierro, there was the bullfight in which the dispatch followed the fight. The bullfight was made of suertes such as the one where the torero hit the tendons of the bull with a sword in order to kill him later and there were also horsemen that would hit the animal with their jousts; these horsemen came especially for the bullfight.

Some changes have occurred in the organization and the conception of the encierros. In 1873 the town Council raised the number of holidays dedicated to the patron saint of the town - San Antolín - up to six - five years later, the first eight days of September will become holidays. The point was to gather the holidays which used to be spread all over the year. At that time, the bull running lasted three or four days and there were different functions. Early in the morning, there was the fight of the "toro del alba" - the bull of dawn - a young fighting bull that ran at the crack of dawn. Although we don't know the exact date of origin of this tradition, we can say that it is very ancient. Later in the morning, the "eleven o'clock bull" would run and in the afternoon, at 4 p.m., other seven bulls would run. These runs used to take place on the Plaza Mayor (Main Square). However, we know that other places were converted into temporary arenas until the building of the permanent Plaza de Toros in 1949. Among these places, there were the waste land where used to stand the palace of the Castroserna, the marketplace, the squares of San Augustín and Segovia (where were a close building in which horsemen used to train for the lance in Medieval times), the ruins of the district - before its reconstruction, the area around the old train station and a lot more.

"Traditional encierros"

The traditional encierros as they are run in Medina del Campo consist in a group of at least six fighting bulls, led by six steers that get out of the pen at a given time. They are accompanied by professionals that lead them to the outskirt of the town, by foot or horseback, according to some rules.

The traditional encierros are celebrated on the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th of September and there is another one on an unspecified day. The animals get out of the pen at 9:00 a.m. After the third call, the animals are released. The calls are made thanks to discharges of three rockets. Once the herd has been released and under control, it is led to the streets of Medina.

Getting to the doors of the town, the cattle are getting excited and that is when the urban run to the bullring begins.