BRETHREN OF THE SPANISH MILITARY ORDERS

An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1
by Ian Heath


[Based on The tomb effigy of Martín Vázquez de Arce 'Doncel de Sigüenza'] [Based on The Alba Bible, 1430]
86 & 87.      BRETHREN OF THE SPANISH MILITARY ORDERS

The dress and badges of the Spanish Orders during this period were as follows:

Santiago: A white habit with a red espada, replaced by a black tunic in the early-15th century, still with the espada on the chest. Figure 86, based on a tomb effigy of 1486, shows the Order's white mantle and espada very clearly. It seems unlikely that the mantle would have actually been worn in battle, and interestingly a portrait of Alvaro de Luna (who was Master 1445-53) shows a black cassock slit at the sides under the mantle; perhaps this was worn in action instead. Though both men are depicted cleanshaven it is noteworthy that brethren in the late-15th century 'Libro de los Caballeros de Santiago' are bearded and have very long hair. This source also shows the brethren with their own coats-of-arms on their shields. Certainly confrere brethren at least did bear their own arms.

Calatrava: Their white habit was abandoned in 1397 in favour of clothes of civilian cut, comprising a grey linen tunic with a red cross fleury on the chest. Figure 87, from the Alba Bible of c. 1430, depicts a Calatravan frey of that date, this source showing black as well as grey tunics, and red bonnets. In addition the white mantle continued to be worn. Brethren were expected to be cleanshaven.

Alcántara: Adopted a green cross fleury shortly after 1397. They appear to have persevered with the white habit until Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) gave permission for them to wear clothes of whatever colour they wished. As with Calatrava, the white mantle with its badge was still retained.

Avis: From the reign of Alfonso IV of Aragon (1327-36) a green cross fleury was also adopted by this Order. Froissart, however, has a Portuguese envoy in 1385 describe their dress in error as 'white mantles with a red cross on them.'

Saõ Thiago: A Portuguese offshoot of Santiago. Wore a white habit with an espada like that of Santiago except that the blade too ended in a fleur-de-lis.

Montesa: Founded in 1321, this Order became known as that of Our Lady of Montesa and St George of Alfama on their amalgamation in 1400, when a red cross was adopted in place of the black one worn up until then. The habit was white.

Knights of Christ: Founded in 1318 from the wreck of the Order of the Temple, as in fact was the Order of Montesa. Its badge was a red cross 'with a white twist in the middle', worn on a white habit.



Next: 88. CASTILIAN JINETE in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Ian Heath
See also The Portuguese Military Orders by José Vicente de Bragança
The Spanish Military Orders by Guy Stair Sainty or archive