The Feasts of May 1428 at Valladolid1
BELOW I have provided a close paraphrasing of descriptions of the feasts of 1428. Although I have drawn from several chronicles, that of the Halconero del rey Don Juan contains the most extensive and detailed description by an eyewitness. The presentation of these relevant texts is, I fear, necessary if we are to understand fully the political symbols underlying the ceremonies of this particular festive cycle and of other late medieval and early modern celebrations. Here, then, is the account as drawn from the chronicles:
As a prelude to the actual feasts of May 1428, the chroniclers describe in great detail the return of the constable to the king’s favor. This took place in early February of 1428, but most of the chroniclers jump from this event to late April, as if nothing worth reporting had taken place in the intervening months. Alvaro de Luna’s entry into Segovia, where the peripatetic Castilian court was then in residence, was a carefully staged affair, aimed at demonstrating to his enemies the extent of his newly regained power. The bishops of Avila, Osma, Orense, and other high Church dignitaries, great lords, city officials, a whole constellation of noblemen and retainers accompanied the constable in his triumphal ride from Turégano to Segovia. Don Alvaro’s own entourage comprised around four hundred and fifty men on horseback, each followed by his squires, pages, and servants. In total the troop probably numbered in excess of one thousand riders. All of them, the mighty and their servants, but excepting Don Alvaro and his immediate followers, wore clothes of olive green and silver, the colors of the constable. Two black men led the formal procession. One carried in his hand “a lance of Jerez,” the other a javelin, and with his other hand each led a black greyhound. Following them came the constable, all in silver, and his four attendants, also in silver, all of them riding “very large and very beautiful horses.” The Infantes of Aragon, Don Juan (already king of Navarre) and Don Enrique, and other powerful magnates and prelates rode from the gates of the city—some half a league, others as
1 This narrative is gathered from the contemporary chronicles already cited in the notes to the text. The most important is that by Pero Carrillo de Huete, Crónica del halconero de Juan II, 19–27; other chronicles that describe the feasts of 1428 are: Alvar García de Santa María, Crónica de Juan II de Castilla; Refundición de la crónica del halconero, 56–67; Crónica de don Juan II, 446–47.