In the year 1561, Philip II
communicates from Toledo to the Town Council of Madrid his firm decision of
transferring the Court, without excessive delay, to the Village of the
As it is known, Castile did
not have a fixed, stable or grateful place as the residence of the Court. This
one moved where the king used to spend long periods in different cities of his
domains. Some official organisms had their seat in concrete cities, like it was
the case of Valladolid. In the Castilian capital the emperor Charles I spent a
lot of time and Philip II had been born there.
This movement of the court,
usual in other European Kingdoms began to seem in the 16th century, as an
uncomfortable, expensive no practical phenomenon. Toledo or Valladolid were
cities that had great prestige to be chosen but, why was Madrid selected?.
It is simply possible
because the young king liked Madrid better than Toledo or Valladolid.
Unknown reasons to answer
why Philip II chose Madrid instead but it can be categorically affirmed that the
Village of the Manzanares gathered certain necessary requirements for the
establishment of the Court. And it is also known the inconveniences or defects
that already presented the two other Castilian cities.
It is ignored if the idea of
establishing the capital city was in Philip's II mind from before its reign or
from the first times of his coronation, or if on the contrary it was a project
that it was maturing, mainly after the facts that happened in Toledo, previous
to this decision.
His young wife Isabel de
Valois, felt a declared dislike for Toledo, city considered the coldest and
unpleasant she had ever been to.
It is certain that the
winter of 1560-61 was specially terrible in cold and snow. On the other hand it
is known that, the location of Toledo, in a great hill amid a plain makes it
very depressed place for the winds.
Although the historical importance of Toledo was
almost symbolic for the Spanish monarchy, the city presented clear and serious
disadvantages to be the headquarter of the Court of a modern state.
On the other hand it is evident that in questions of
this type, it doesn't usually have an only sufficiently powerful reason, but all
together cause a reaction.
Among them, the sentimental
one, on the part of the king in love with his wife can not be ignored. But there
are other significant reasons.
During the stay of the Court
in Toledo, between 1559 and 1561, close contacts took place between the Court
and the Archbishopric. Toledo was the prevailed capital of Spain, the
headquarter cardenalicie of more power and rents, and the cardinal acted as an
Two spheres of power like
the courtier and the archbishopric of such a relief had soon to collide, like it
happened with archbishop Carranza's events, insignificant at first, they became
more and more serious, so Philip II dislike it.
Among the toledan town it
was clear the dissatisfaction before the permanency of the Court, because the
prices increased, the food ended up being scare and the coexistence was
sometimes difficult, benefitting only of this situation the merchants and the
innkeepers. On the other hand, it has been thought that in Toledo can still be
remains of communers that increased the situation.
European domains of king
Philip II. (in red colour)
What is clear, is that
Toledo presented an almost impossible topography on a great hill, with
suffocating heat in summer and gelid colds in winter, with narrow and tortuous
streets, continually inclined or twisted.
It was not only an
unpleasant place for the courtiers, but also it didn't allow big acts or court
To make matters worse, there
was on Toledo a lack of easy and continuous water, because the use of the river
Tagus was a chimera to satiate the thirst of the inhabitants of the city, when
they climbed up the hill and the river collapsed in the deepest of the slice
that gives its name.
The Spanish Court had grown
vastly, in quantity of individuals, members and servants, and in apparatus
complexity and protocol. The ceremonial, taken of the burgundy was complicated,
gnarled and astounding solemn and slow. The personnel that attended the king and
the Royal Family grew in a tremendous way, in several thousands of people.
It was needed, therefore, an
urban headquarter that allowed and even facilitated the movements of the Court.
Also, the bureaucracy was becoming an enormous and spectacular machine,
demanding appropriate constructions.
Madrid was not a city with
big and magnificent buildings, but its village and its urban organization,
allowed all the reformations and possible modifications.
The Village had grown and
had consolidated toward the east of the Fortress, in lands that if they were
not completely flat, they presented a soft and wavy relief, where it was able to
project wide and right streets. The local nobility was not very powerful, and
their interest easily governable.
Madrid was not also headquarter archbishop with the
Court, without a strong aristocratic nor religious power, it could move and
prepare with absolute freedom.
There was water easily
obtained in Madrid, thanks to the old and very effective "trips of water"
and with grateful flavor from old times. The clean air and the healthy climate
contributed to the atmosphere of the Village and was extremely pleasant with,
situation that, unfortunately, must change in a very negative way soon.
Madrid was located in the
peninsular center, in a halfway point of the ends of the peninsula. Toledo, in
certain way, too. But, there was still in the renaissance a more important "center"
than the geographical, it was the psychological one.
Madrid was in the center of
the space on which the power, and its symbol capacity was exercised, in this
sense, it was limitless and also clean, and it could suffer multiple
The pictures shows:
- Philip II's coat of arms.
- Philip II (1527 - 1598), the "Prudent"
- Isabel de Valois (1546 - 1568), the "Elegant"
- Chivalry soldier. He takes over a pectoral
armor, gunpowder bag, fuse and shotgun.
- Lancer soldier. He is wearing a jerkin and
half leg breeches,
according to XVI century fashion
He goes also armed
with a sword and a pike..
- Knight wearing a complete armor. The helmet
is adorned with plume.
Copyright © 1999 - 2001
by JLL & JRP
All rights reserved.