ORDER OF SANTIAGO
Regra y statutos: da Ordem de SantiagoLisboa, Germão Galharde, 1548
4to. Two parts in one. ff. (iv) xxxviii, (iv): ff. xxxv (iii). [pi] , A-D , E¹ .: a-d e . The two parts are inverted after the preface. Gothic letter. Title within woodcut border, woodcut initials, full page woodcut of the arms of the order, three quarter page woodcut of a knight of the order (St. James) driving out an army of Saracens, four woodcuts of the shields, devices and flags of the order, full page emblematic woodcut on verso of last of Christ laid out in a boat on a carriage with the emblems of the order. Light age yellowing, a few mostly marginal ink marks or spots. A very good copy, crisp and clean on thick paper, in modern three-quarter morocco over cloth boards.
Rare third edition of the revised rules and statutes of the Portuguese branch or the Order of Santiago or the order of “Saint James of the Sword” (Ordem Militar de Sant’Iago da Espada), first published in 1542, one of the earliest Iberian military orders, established to escort pilgrims to the shrine of St. James the Greater in Santiago of Compostella in Galicia.These rules and regulations were published at the end of the life of the order in its first phase, a last gasp before the King of Portugal, John III, managed to obtain a bull, ‘Praeclara cahrissimi’, issued by the pope in December 1551, appointing the Kings of Portugal as masters in perpetuity of all three Portuguese military orders; Christ, Santiago and Aviz, bringing an end to the independence of the military orders in Portugal
The Order of Saint James was founded in León-Castile circa 1170. King Ferdinand II of León soon set the order to garrison the southern frontiers of León against the Almohads of al-Andalus. His nephew, King Alfonso VIII of Castile merged the arriving knights of Santiago with the older Castilian brotherhood of knights of Ávila in 1172. Given the poor relations between Afonso and Ferdinand II, the arrival of the Leonese order in Portugal is a little surprising. It is likely that the Order’s entry was part of some diplomatic agreement between the two kings. One of the more notable of Portuguese Santiago knights was Paio Peres Correia. Between 1234 and 1242, Correia led the conquest of much of the southerly Moorish dominions of Baixo Alentejo and the Algarve. In 1249, Paio Peres Correia and the Order of Santiago helped Afonso III of Portugal sweep up the final Moorish possessions in the Algarve. In 1288, King Denis of Portugal separated the Portuguese branch from the Castilian-Leonese Order. This was confirmed by Pope John XXII in 1320. The Order of Santiago possessed many domains granted by the Portuguese crown, almost all of them south of the Tagus River, clustered in the Sado region and lower Alentejo. As the most southerly of the four Portuguese military orders, the Santiago knights were the first frontline against incursions from the Moorish Algarve in the 13th century. The vast size and compactness of the domains of the Order of Santiago, its self-contained system of knights, and the extensive privileges of the Order, including civil and criminal jurisdiction, over these domains, has led some commentators to refer to it as a “state within a state”. The grand masters of the Order were among the most powerful men in Portugal, and comendadors stood at the peak of rural society in their districts.
“In the 1542 statues of the order of Santiago the estate of candidates are aspiring to knighthood was set at 400,000 in capital value or 20,000 in income. This was a large amount bearing in mind that at that time the financial requirements for qualification for secular clergy amounted to 30,000 in real estate – that is to say, 13.3 times less. Although in particular cases one could invoke religious antecedents, as did Francisco Veloso, the scribe on the Kings ships on the Guinea commercial route, when in 1538 he stressed ‘I am an old Christian and not of Jewish or Muslim extraction,’ This information was not Mandatory.
The 1542 statutes introduced more rigorous requirements for qualification. For the first time candidates were excluded if they, their parents or any of their four grandparents were Jews or Muslims, although converts were accepted: ‘but if anyone blessed and enlightened by the grace of God should convert to our holy faith, and is a person such as would serve or honour the order, in such a case the master may welcome him into it’. These statues similarly excluded from the Order, such men as ‘mechanics’ (manual workers) or persons of artisan background, farm labourers and the disabled, although in this last catagory exceptions might be made if the disabilities resulted from the war against the infidel or if ‘the person be such and of such qualities that will benefit the Order. After the annexation of the orders of Avis, Christ and Santiago to the Portuguese Crown in 1551, the profiles of these institutions changed substantially.” Peter Edbury. ‘The Military Orders Volume V: Politics and Power.’