Life after combat has never been easy for the wounded warrior and is not today either, as some of the stories of young men returning from Iraq or Helmand Province show us only too well. But next Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day, if you’re in the US) spare a thought for Captain Juan Meyer.
On 27 July 1719 a veteran appeared before a notary in Madrid to execute an affidavit that was entered in the notary’s register as a ‘Declaration of Poverty’. In fact, it tells more of a story than that. Juan Bautista Mayer (or Meyer, as he signed his name) stated that he was formerly a Captain of the Cuirassiers in the regiment of ‘Monsieur Gaitan’ in the Army of Flanders. He states that he is in poor health and resides with Lieutenant-General Don Juan Idiáquez, ‘in whose home and at whose expense I have lived for a long time now’. Mayer goes on to certify that he is not married, has no children and no close family, and so as he could expect no resources or intervention from any other quarter when the time came, he wanted to explicitly designate General Idiáquez as the person charged with making whatever funeral and burial arrangements for Captain Mayer as the General should see fit.
In other words, Mayer had to make sure that he left someone proper written permission to bury him. Bureaucracy…
SOURCE: Records of notary Domingo de Munilla y Zuazo, Archivo Histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, Legajo 14222.