The Guild of Merchant´s Felucca
The Guild of Merchants of Bilbao, known as the Consulado or “consulate” was founded via a royal edict issued by Queen Joan in 1511. It was given power to act as a government trading agency and a court to try men of the sea and land alike and as an association for merchants in Bilbao. The Guild was charged with governing trade on the river estuary and in the port of Bilbao, designing and building road and port infrastructures, organising courses on navigation and training masters and pilots.
The power of the Guild was evident at official events and festivities in the city, where pride of place was taken by the longboat, of a type known as a felucca, that carried parties of authorities along the river. Symbols attesting to local and guild power were on show in the ornamentation used by the Guild in its standards, on coats of arms, on drums, etc. The Guild held jurisdiction over the river, and as such was responsible for its care and upkeep. Every year the Guild organised a procession along the river on its felucca to reaffirm its claim to its maritime domain.
The Guild itself ceased to exist in 1829 but the felucca remained in use in public events in Bilbao and on the river until the end of the 19th century.
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