Language Resources

Word of the month... Bicoca

When us Spaniards say that something "ha sido una bicoca", we are referring to something big or extremely beneficial which we have achieved with very little effort. However, the use of this expression has quite a strange historical reason behind it.

We're in 1522, an era in which Spain was an empire and its army was feared in almost every continent. In Bicocca, situated to the east of Milan, 15,000 Swiss pikemen, employed by France, are facing 4000 harquebusier (a soldier armed with a firearm called a harquebus)Spaniards. Although they're at a numerical disadvantage, the Spaniards know how to take advantage of the land and the use of firearms when facing the pikes of their enemies. Before abandoning the battle, the Swiss suffered 3000 casualties while not a single Spaniard was killed or injured. Never had they risked so little to fulfill such a big objective.

We imagine that the event passed into history with the help of chroniclers and by word of mouth from the former Spanish soldiers. It's not difficult to imagine a former captain from Charles V's armies recounting this incident with great gusto whilst holding a glass of wine towards an innkeeper.

A strange expression with a strange, yet truthful, history behind it.

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