A King Goes Traveling: Philip II in the
Crown of Aragon, 1585–86 and 1592
ON Tuesday November 17, 1592, Philip II, already tormented by severe attacks of gout, arrived at the famous monastery of Irache in the middle of a fierce snowstorm.1 After a light collation, a visit to the monastery, and a quick glance at the many relics stored there, the king proceeded to Estella, one of the kingdom of Navarre’s most important cities, a mere quarter of a league away. Outside the gate, he was met by the city officials who, carrying a ceremonial palio to cover the king, brought him into the city with great solemnity. The civic authorities were dressed in long, red-velvet robes, reaching to their feet, as was “the custom of the land.”2 The king was led to his lodgings where, in a small square facing his residence, a large fictitious serpent or dragon spewed fire and flames from its mouth and the inevitable fountain poured wine for all passersby. The gate through which the king entered the city had been built anew just for this purpose, but the incessant snow and rain—and Cock’s truncated narrative—would have made the entire entry into Estella a very sorry affair, were it not that the ceremonial reception included a palio, something that Philip did not always get on his travels outside Castile.3 Although some elements of Philip’s royal entry are easily recognizable—the reception outside the walls, the palio, the civic authorities’ long, red-velvet robes, the ubiquitous dragon and wine fountain—the spirit (and description) of the event appear quite removed from those earlier dramatic entries we have witnessed in previous chapters. Past were those halcyon days when Philip had entered Salamanca for his first wedding, or Benavente on his way to England. Very much like the realms he ruled, ceremonies were now muted not only by the weather but also by the malaise spreading throughout Spain.
1 On the monastery of Irache and its geographical location, see the documents and introduction in José Ma. Lacarra et al., eds., Colección diplomática de Irache (Pamplona: Principe de Viana, 1986), 2 vols.
2 Cock, Jornada de Tarazona (1592). We have another eyewitness account of this voyage, written by Jehan Lhermite. I will compare the two accounts throughout my discussion of Philip’s voyage to Tarazona below.
3 Cock, Jornada de Tarazona, 62–64.