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Fireworks, Turks, and Long-Necked Mules: Pyrotechnic Theater in Germany and Catalonia Max Harris In June 1996, I was present at one of the world's great communal festivals, Berga's Patum. Berga is a small town in the foothills of the Catalan Pyrenees north of Barcelona. The Patum is the town's annual Corpus Christi festival, characterized by fireworks , mock battles, joyous dances, packed crowds, and the insistent beating of a large bass drum (pat-úm, pat-úm). Like so many surviving Catalan festivals, it has its roots in the procession that dominated Barcelona's Corpus Christi celebrations for more than four hundred years from the early fourteenth to the late eighteenth centuries.1 A few months later, I read an account of the entertainment offered to the future Philip II of Spain during his stay in Trent in January 1549. Now part of northern Italy, Trent was then just within the German imperial boundaries ofPhilip's father, Charles V. Elaborate pyrotechnic displays and mock battles involving Turks, hobby horses, giants, and monstrous animals greeted Philip and his party.2 Despite the distances in space, time, and class, the festivities in Trent bore a startling likeness to those I had just seen in Berga. In this essay, I will compare the two events and assess the possibility that elements of the Catalan Corpus Christi repertoire traveled to imperial Germany in the sixteenth century. I will follow an account of the Patum with a description of the entertainment in Trent, previously unavailable in English, and conclude with a discussion ofthe possible provenance of the two festivities' shared elements. The first several days of the Patum included raucous street parades; two performances of the full sequence of entremesos (interludes), at noon and at night on Thursday; and, on Friday, a spectacular display of fireworks from the town's hillside castle. 362 Max Harris363 The festival reached its climax on the Sunday after Corpus Christi. By noon, the main square, its compact dimensions made to seem even smaller by the five-story buildings that surround it, was packed with people. Those in the square wore floppy cotton hats, to protect their heads and necks from falling sparks, and long-sleeved shirts, scored with prestigious burn marks from previous years. Others watched from balconies, the church steps, or, behind the barana, a waist-high stone wall shielding the rising street in front of the church from the drop to the square. The first entremés was that of the tures i cavallets (Turks and hobby horses), a dance whose thematic concerns if not its choreography can be traced to a similar mock combat dance that formed part of "the martyrdom of St. Sebastian with the hobby horses and the Turks" in the fifteenth-century Barcelona Corpus Christi procession.3 In Berga, the four Turkish foot-soldiers formed an inner circle that skipped in a counter-clockwise direction , while the four Christian knights on hobby horses formed an outer circle that galloped clockwise. When the music reached its cadence, each Turk struck the wooden block in the hand of the nearest knight with his scimitar. After the third repetition, the knights drew their daggers, some tossing them in the air and catching them again, and three of the four Turks knelt in submission . The fourth Turk, escaping into the crowd, was pursued but never caught by the fourth cavallet.4 1 take this escape to be a mild subversion of the public transcript of Christian victory enacted by the dance, a challenge echoed by the direction of the opposing circles, for it is clear that counter-clockwise is the favored direction of the Patum, and it is the Turks, not the Christians , who are privileged to take it.5 The second entremés was also a mock combat, pitting St. Michael and a companion angel, played by small boys in blond wigs, against eight masked devils dressed in red and green felt suits. Each devil carried a maça (club or, in this instance, pole) that ended in a metal drum, containing pebbles and decorated with a painted devil's face. Fixed to the top of the drum was a fuel, a slow-burning...