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The Trabucayres were highwaymen in the 19th century. They attacked and robbed the diligences on the road from Perpignan to Barcelona. Former fallen soldiers of the Carlist army, they were violent and ruthless.

In 1840 :, on the death of Ferdinand VII, Don Carlos wanted to set up the Salic law in Spain in order to be able to reign in place of the Regent Maria Cristina. A merciless war was waged between the supporters of Don Carlos, the Carlists and the supporters of the Regent, the Christinos.
Raiders of the Carlist army terrorized Vallespir, from there were born the Trabucayres, so called because they were armed with trabucs (blunderbusses). These bandits had established their headquarters in Las Illas, due to its proximity to the Spanish border and their habit of smuggling.

The Stagecoach Attack

On February 24, 1845, they hatched a plan to attack the stagecoach from Perpignan traveling towards Barcelona. The next day, at nightfall, thirteen men left Las Illas in the direction of Gerona. Three days later, around 10 o'clock in the evening, the diligence which passed through a wood situated between Gerona and Tordera, was stopped by a resounding cry in the silent night: “Halto! »
The car stopped and the bandits, armed to the teeth, made all the travelers get out, made them sit on the ground in a circle, ordering them to throw in the middle everything they had on them under penalty of be shot on the spot.
After brutalizing the two Spanish officers who were part of the stagecoach and the women, the bandits chose three men whom they put aside and tied up: Don Ballber from Gérona, aged 70, Roger, a banker in Figueres, and Jean Massot, 16, a student from Darnius.
Unmoved and even annoyed by Madame Massot's pleas, they led their three prisoners through the woods.
Two days of walking were necessary to return to their starting point.
The next day, Don Ballber, overwhelmed with fatigue, let himself fall into the snow.
During an altercation with soldiers and gendarmes, Roger tried to escape and was killed, shot in the back of the neck.
After these confrontations, the bandits divided into two groups: one left towards Coustouges, the other, with Massot, left to take refuge in the cave of Bassagoda; we were on April 1, 1845.

The ransom

From this cave, Massot wrote numerous letters to his mother in order to convince her to pay the 65 francs ransom. But the unfortunate mother did not have this sum and the Trabucayres did not deign to respond to these attempts at negotiation.
Meanwhile, a plan of attack was set up on both sides of the Pyrenees to catch the bandits in a vice.
The latter, warned by "Nas Ratat", one of their faithful receivers, they decided to take refuge in Mas de l'Aloy in Cortsavi. But before leaving, they had to get rid of the prisoner who was bothering them and who would bring them no ransom.
It was Trabucayre Matheu, known as “Xicolate”, the bloodthirsty man, who took charge of the assassination. He went to the cave of Bassagoda, accompanied by two accomplices, armed with “his switchblade cutlass fitted with a double-edged blade end”. It was May 1, 1845.

Mas de l'Aloy

The next day the bandits arrived in Cortsavi at 3 am. They passed themselves off to the farmer at Aloy as young people wanting to cross the frontier.
On May 5, the gendarmes and customs officers of Arles-sur-Tech, warned, surrounded the Mas de l'Aloy. When summoned to surrender, some bandits attempted to escape. Shots rang out. Michel Bosch was mortally wounded. He asked to confess before he died. When the thing was done, the priest exclaimed as he passed the prisoners: "Keep them well, they are scoundrels!" »
The bandits were taken to the prison of Céret.
The next day, a young shepherd from Mas de l'Aloy, Joseph Courdomy, discovered a basket in the hay with two ears in it. They were those of Massot, which Xicolate had cut off. This macabre discovery served as an exhibit during the trial.

the trial

The Trabucayres were transferred from Céret to the Sainte Claire prison in Perpignan and their trial lasted a year. Four defendants were sentenced to death, two of them at Céret, Jean Simon dit Coll Suspins, dit Tocabens, the chief, and Joseph Balme dit Sagals. Two in Perpignan, Jérôme Icazes dit Llaurens, and Joseph Matheu dit Xicolate.
The others were sentenced to years of hard labor or criminal imprisonment and public exposure.
The four bandits were executed at the end of June 1846. After having repented, they therefore died by guillotine.
Joseph Balme exclaimed as he climbed the scaffold: "Viva Don Carlos, viva religion, yo mori carli!" »

From then on, the department of Pyrénées-Orientales recovered its tranquility of yesteryear.

Source: Jean RIBE