Shortly after the beginning of the 14th
century, and Fernando IV on the throne, Madrid was witness to an event unheard
of in the city up to that time, when the city itself was stage for the Cortes of
the year 1309. The place or building is completely unknown wherein such an
outstanding event in the life of the country could have taken place.
Various suggestions have been made on
buildings that for their breadth and spaciousness, could have accommodated the
many delegates and representatives that came to the national assembly. Some
suggestions are the temple or other fitting hall in the monasteries of San Martín
or Santo Domingo.
Perhaps also the parish church of San
Salvador, situated in the heart and busiest part of the city, and which soon
afterwards, would be stage for the meetings of the Council. Or, who knows, if it
may not have been held in some salon or roomy hall in the Alcázar.
The important thing is that Madrid, a middle-sized
town, renowned and now with prestige, center of pure air and good climate, with
abundant water supply and with good access, should receive for the first time in
its history the most illustrious representatives of the kingdom, with the King
and the Court at their head.
give hospitality to the monarch and to serve as a meeting-place for the Cortes,
must have much strengthened the confidence and security felt by the people of
Madrid in their expectations of prosperity.
Alfonso XI was the king who pampered and
spoiled Madrid by bringing his Cortes there again in 1329 and 1335, decreeing
later, in 1339, that the city should observe the Fuero Real (Royal Charter),
while continuing to apply its own charter, and that the one would not interfere
with the other. And in 1346, he added a document by which the composition and
the functions of the Council, until then free and open, were to be regulated.
Alfonso XI not only ordered a change of site
for the old parish church of San Pedro, for that primitive old building blocked
movement of people and vehicles through the Puerta Cerrada, and transferred it
to the place where we know it today. The time of the building of the new temple
and its transfer was middle of the 14th century. The tower, of Mudejar
(Moslem-Christian) design, has come down to us today in perfect condition.
The king ordered also an
important event for the cultural and educational life of this medieval Madrid:
the founding in 1346 of the so-called "Studio of the
Villa," or "Studio of Grammar,"
which was established near the central Plaza of San Salvador, in a house
acquired by the Council for that purpose.
Many of these
"Studios" became in time the seed of
later Renaissance universities, such as Alcalá de Henares and Salamanca.
No such glory fell to Madrid, but it can be
said, truly and with justice, that the Madrid Studio always had prestige and
magnificent professors, such as López de Hoyos, and no lesser disciples:
one student was none other than Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
In the war that King Pedro I
faced with his bastard half-brother, the future Enrique II of Trastámara,
Madrid took sides with the monarch. This was a noble, loyal decision and at
least revealing of the desire for legality on part of the city. The inhabitants
of the city were faithful to King Pedro I, and only by treachery did some men
allow the rebel troops to enter the city.
King Pedro was unable to reward such
loyalty, enmeshed as he was in the fray, but with time and, since History
occasionally is just, he wound up by leaving his remains in Madrid.
His granddaughter Lady Constanza, abbess of
the Convent of Santo Domingo, who wanted and obtained in 1444 the remains of her
grandfather the last king of Castile, to place them for repose in the crypt of
the Convent chapel. She had a sculptured sepulcher made, whose praying bulk
rested quietly until the revolution of 1868, which destroyed the Convent and
dispersed works of art along with dead bodies. The sepulcher is today in the
In spite of the loyalty
shown toward Don Pedro, the new King Enrique II did not take revenge on the city
nor did he maltreat it. On the contrary he reinstated all its privileges,
exemptions and rights. He himself spent long seasons in Madrid, held receptions
and celebrated notable events there.
But in 1383, Juan I now reigning, a negative
act took place in the city which today we can look at with good humor, but which
for the dwellers in Madrid must have meant a disagreeable surprise, a lamentable
act, notwithstanding that it was regretted in humility.
always free, that had only the king as its ruler, was turned over by the
aforesaid Juan I to an unknown stranger called Leon V.
But let us allow
Sáinz de Robles tell us about the matter in question, in his own words:
"His title was León V, King of Armenia,
and he had been driven from his kingdom, made prisoner and maltreated, by the
Sultan of Babylonia. At the urging of Juan I, he recovered his liberty and came
to Burgos to show courtesy and his gratitude to his royal interceptor, and he
wandered through Castile...
Word comes to the ears
of the Castilian monarch of the man's needs, and as what comes easy is little
valued, Juan I gave him for his support for life the rule of Madrid, the city of
Andújar, the city of Ciudad Real, and 150,000 maravedis of income.
León V did value
what he received. He restored the Fortress (Alcázar) perhaps with the
intent of living in it as his residence. He got along very well with his Madrid
subjects, restoring to them all their rights and privileges.
few years, however, he left Madrid and never returned. Overwhelmed perhaps by
his nostalgia, he went to Paris, where he died in 1390.
Perhaps he went
to France in the vain hope that the King of France would aid him in an attempt
to regain his country."
A royal document had been
created which stated that the concession would be valid only during the lifetime
of León V, at that time already a man of advanced age. But no sooner did
he die in Paris, another edict by Enrique returned Madrid to the Crown of
Castile, with all its assets.
During the last years of the
reign of Juan I, there came about in the country a series of unfortunate events
that had the Hebrew Community as victims.
This Community had made
enemies among the people, but also, some certain members of the Catholic clergy
began to excite the minds of the common people, sending out libelous stories of
terrible deeds that they attributed to the Jews.
The Jewish people, in
the times of the first kings of the House of Trastámara, had seen
themselves limited in their activities and their movements, but also they had
received protection in them. In 1391, the rabble entered into the Jewish
quarters at Sevilla, and put to the knife all inhabitants they could find.
Far from a cooling of minds after this
bloodshed, hatred ran through all Andalusia as well as through Castile. Madrid
did not escape this barbarity and fanaticism, and many of her residents were
murdered on one tragic day.
The brief reign of Enrique III the Ailing,
was a prosperous, fortunate time for Madrid, where he lived some long seasons,
thinking of himself as almost another citizen of Madrid. Here he was recognized
as King in 1390, and a few years later, in 1393, attained his majority of age.
He wed in the city the Englishwoman
Catherine of Lancaster. The place in which the ceremony took place is unknown,
but could have been the Monastery of San Martín, which in Madrid was the
sacred precinct of most prestige.
He ordered the Fortress (the Alcázar)
to be tidied up, intending that it could be a worthy palace without losing its
solidity as a fortress. He created the Real (Royal place) of El Pardo, which
remained thus linked to the Crown.
becoming accustomed to the pomp and parades of Court life that took place here,
with also those periods of residence of the kings in the Alcázar.
Notably prodigal in his favors to the city during his reign, this
monarch was a man of precarious health and short life. One of the events that
took place in these years was the legation that Enrique III sent to King
Tamerlane of Persia, in repayment for one sent by the latter to Castile
At the head of the expedition, which took
place between 1403 and 1406, the king placed a gentleman of Madrid, Ruy Gonzalez
de Clavijo, who later wrote a relation of the adventure entitled
"Embassy to Tamerlane."
We know that among the gifts and presents
sent by the Castilian monarch were ivories from the work-shop of San Millán
de la Cogolla, swords and daggers of the good steel of Toledo, cloth and woven
goods from Bejar, Andalusian chests and manuscript volumes painted by the
miniaturist monks of Silos.
Shepherds eating after having repaired a rude
wooden bridge over a river.
The sheepfold has been made with branches from
trees, shrubs and buckthorn,
to avoid attack or losses from roving animals
during the night.
- Plow with oxen, animals that until the 16th
had not commenced to be substituted by mules.
- Wounded man. This type of physical handicap
was common in an era
in which to live was converted into something as
as the result of political turbulence.
- A shepherd of the 13th century.
woolen poncho which he wears thrown back, is still used today in Castile.
- Gentleman and his wife, end of the 14th
century or beginnings of the 15th.
Notable are the wide sleeves of the man
and the bordered mantle of the woman,
similar to many Gothic Virgin-Marys.
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