A Juridical Chapter in the History of the order of Calatrava, the Mastership of Don Alonso De Aragon (1443-1444)

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalLegal History Review
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1987

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This argumentation clearly reflects the cardinal importance attached to the political aspect, an approach which marginalized anew the juridical aspects of the election and later dismissal of Don Alonso de Arag6n. The reasoning of Abbot John VII of Morimond is supported by the Spanish historian of the Military Orders, Rades y Andrada. He recorded the royal victory at Olmedo and Juan II's decision to punish the knights who supported the Infantes of Aragon and to make an example by the deposition of their master, Don Alonso. The king brought his claims before the Chapter of Calatrava, which, following the royal command, deposed the master in crimine lese maiestatis52. Although the version appearing in the biography of Don Alonso sympathizes more with the support the master rendered his own father, Juan of Navarre, it hints too that Don Alonso's rebellion against the Castilian King brought about his dismissal from the mastership of Calatrava. The consensus of contemporary opinions and, to some degree, their approval of the royal policy which brought about the dismissal of Alonso de Arag6n, indicate the political behavior of the time and its implication for the Military Orders. Although the Military Orders enjoyed ecclesiastical immunity and their freedom of action was corroborated by papal as well as conciliar legislation, the primary duty of elected masters to pay homage to the Spanish Kings substantially underminded their political maneuverability while making them subject to royal pressure. In this regard, the charge of lese majeste appears as a very convenient practice to assure the full cooperation of the Military Orders and their masters. At least two precedents might be noted in the reign of Juan II of Castile, in reference to the dismissal of masters for political expedience. In 1431 the Infante Don Enrique was removed from the Mastership of Santiago and the king entrusted his favorite, the Constable Alvaro de Luna, with the administration of the wealthy Castilian Order. Though contemporary sources mention the fact that the Infante was dismissed because of his infringement of the Order's statutes, they point to King Juan II as the main force who summoned the chapter at Ucl6s in order to proceed with a new election 54. Later, in 1445, the death of Don Enri-que after the Battle of Olmedo allowed the king to achieve his purpose through the formal election of Don Alvaro de Luna as Master of Santiago 55. In 1432, the master of Alcantara Juan de Sotomayor had also been dismissed because of his support of the Infantes of Aragon and the knights had then elected the royal candidate, Don Gutierre, 'according to the king's will' 56. Precedents, however, did not induce Don Alonso to submit. Backed by his uncle Alfonso el Magndnimo, King of Aragon, and his father Juan of Navarre, the Aragonese King's lieutenant in the peninsula, Don Alonso actually continued both to claim the mastership and to exercise it on the Calatravan encomiendas 52. 'el amor paternal hizo olvidar la obligacion que como Maestre de Calatrava tenia al Rey de Castilla', Rades y Andrada, op. cit., fol. 72r. 53. Historia, fol. 5r. 54. 'E porque su voluntad [de Juan II] era que el dicho ynfante fuese dispuesto de maestre por los treze comendadores que lo han de disponer, mando que se fiziese capitulo en Ucles', Refundiciónd e la Crónica del Halconero, 111-12;C r6nica del Halconero,8 6-87. 55. The chronicle of Don Alvaro de Luna justified the king's decision 'porque era mucho serbicio suyo que estobiessee n poder de persona muy leal e fiable a el'. Cr6nica de Don Alvaro de Luna, 178-81. 56. Refundición de la Cr6nica del Halconero, 140-41; Cr6nica del Halconero, 138-139.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Law

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