Who was Henry the 4th of Castile?

This monarch, son of John the 2nd of Castile and Maria de Aragon, was born in 1425 in Valladolid and died on the 11th of December 1474 in Madrid. He was the famous Catholic Queen Isabella’s half-brother and his life was controversial in all of its aspects.

The chronicles and stories about his difficulties to have children, his conflicts with the nobles and even his very personal relationships with his favourites are widely known. But what part of this is real and what has been made up by his enemies? We may never get to know where to draw the line between reality and fiction, as history is always told by those who came out triumphant of all conflicts; however, there are some recent findings which try to shed some light into his black legend and more precisely into his impotence.

This difficult matter started off after his first marriage with Blanca the 2nd of Navarra. He was married to her for 13 years. As time went by and the couple were unable to produce an heir to the throne, rumours started to spread across the country about the king’s inability to copulate. Henry the 4th tried to solve his problems by using quite a few ointments, he even contacted some Italian doctors who prescribed him a series of sexual exercises and yet, the heir would not arrive. As a consequence, Blanca and Henry’s marriage was dissolved. His second marriage, to Jane of Portugal, finally brought the so much sought after heir, the first and only child of Henry, Princess Jane “la Beltraneja”. Why was she nicknamed so? The rumours about the king’s impotence had already reached far and beyond the kingdom, and so his enemies saw the opportunity to concoct a plot against him; the story about how Princess Jane was not the king’s daughter but the King and Queen’s favourite’s Beltran de la Cueva, a handsome twenty year old counsellor, was unfurled.

At the time of Henry the 4th ‘s death, the Castilian crown belonged by birth right to his daughter, Princess Jane, but Isabella was a determined woman and she took advantage of those rumours to openly question the legitimacy of her niece to be the heir to the throne as she expressed her doubts on the princess’ paternity. After a long and crude civil war in Castile between Jane and Isabella, the latter came out victorious and proclaimed herself Queen of Castile.

We will continue this story next week, have a nice one!

The Epiphany of the Three Kings at the Royal Chapel of the Alcazar

This painting from 1600 by Florentine artist Bartolomeo Carduccio is known as “The Epiphany of the Three Kings” is located at the Royal Chapel of the Alcazar of Segovia, where Spanish King Philip the 2nd married his fourth and last wife, Anna of Austria, in 1570. It is the one and only painting which has remained inside the building ever since it was painted, in 1600, until today. You may be wandering what the big deal is; you have to know that the fortress suffered a mayor fire in March 1862 where everything was lost after the whole building burned for three days; at that time, the Alcazar served as premises for the Royal College of Artillery, founded by Spanish King Charles the 3rd on the 16th of May 1764. The fire started in the lounge next to the Chapel, which was, at the time, the office of the Head of Studies; it spread rapidly and so some of the cadets entered the Chapel, rose to the altar where the painting was and, with the help of a common knife, tore the painting from its frame, folded it and threw it out of the window to the outside north garden. Shocking isn´t it? Come and visit Segovia, we will tell you may more stories like this…

Santa Cruz la Real

The tour along the river bank is full of historic building, all of them of great importance for the town history. Following the path surrounding the walls we come across the old Convent of Santa Maria la Real, the first Dominican convent built in Spain at the request of Saint Domingo de Guzman in the 13th century in Romanesque style. It was later on renovated during the Catholic Monarchs rule in the 15th century. In fact the convent church bears, in one of the outside Wall under the eaves, their motto “Tanto monta”. The infamous General Inquisitor of Castile and Aragon during the 15th century and Queen Isabella’s confessor, fray Tomas de Torquemada was the prior for a number of years. The church may well be the one displaying a greater number of Gothic style features in the whole town. Its façade is extremely beautiful, with a scene of Jesus Christ crucified, by his sides, the Catholic Monarchs praying on their knees. It is also worth mentioning the cave where Santo Domingo de Guzman used to pray in solitude… Found this interesting? Come and see for yourself for many more stories.lema

The Aqueduct of Segovia

The Aqueduct of Segovia (or more precisely, the aqueduct bridge) is a Roman aqueduct and one of the most significant and best-preserved ancient monuments left on theIberian Peninsula. It is located in Spain and is the foremost symbol of Segovia, as evidenced by its presence on the city’s coat of arms.

As the aqueduct lacks a legible inscription (one was apparently located in the structure’s attic, or top portion), the date of construction cannot be definitively determined. The general date of the Aqueduct’s construction was long a mystery although it was thought to have been during the 1st century AD, during the reigns of the Emperors Domitian,Nerva, and Trajan. At the end of the 20th century, Géza Alföldy deciphered the text on the dedication plaque by studying the anchors that held the now missing bronze letters in place. He determined that Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96) ordered its construction.[1] The beginnings of Segovia are also not definitively known. The Vaccaei people are known to have populated the area before it was conquered by the Romans. Roman troops sent to control the area stayed behind to settle there. The area fell within the jurisdiction of the Roman provincial court (Latin conventus iuridici, Spanish convento jurídico) located in Clunia.

Aqueduct at night.

Description

The aqueduct once transported water from the Rio Frio river, situated in mountains 17 km (11 mi) from the city in the La Acebeda region. It runs 15 km (9.3 mi) before arriving in the city.

The water was first gathered in a tank known as El Caserón (or Big House), and was then led through a channel to a second tower known as the Casa de Aguas (or Waterhouse). There it was naturally decanted and sand settled out before the water continued its route. Next the water traveled 728 m (796 yd) on a one-percent grade until it was high upon the Postigo, a rocky outcropping on which the old city center, the Segovia Alcázar, was built. Then, at Plaza de Díaz Sanz (Díaz Sanz Plaza), the structure makes an abrupt turn and heads toward Plaza Azoguejo (Azoguejo Plaza). It is there the monument begins to display its full splendor. At its tallest, the aqueduct reaches a height of 28.5 m (93 ft 6 in), including nearly 6 m (19 ft 8 in) offoundation. There are both single and double arches supported by pillars. From the point the aqueduct enters the city until it reaches Plaza de Díaz Sanz, it includes 75 single arches and 44 double arches (or 88 arches when counted individually), followed by four single arches, totalling 167 arches in all. The construction of the aqueduct follows the principles laid out by Vitruviusas he describes in his De Architectura published in the mid-first century.

Construction

Restored portion of the aqueduct

The first section of the aqueduct contains 36 semi-circular arches, rebuilt in the 15th century to restore a portion destroyed by the Moors in 1072. The line of arches is organized in two levels, decorated simply, in which simple moulds hold the frame and provide support to the structure. On the upper level, the arches are 5.1 meters (16.1 ft) wide. Built in two levels, the top pillars are both shorter and narrower than those on the lower level. The top of the structure contains the channel through which water travels, through a U-shaped hollow measuring 0.55 tall by 0.46 meter diameter. The top of each pillar has a cross-section measuring 1.8 by 2.5 meters (5.9 by 8.2 feet), while the base cross-section measures 2.4 by 3 meters (7.9 by 9.8 feet).

The aqueduct is built of unmortared, brick-like granite blocks. During the Roman era, each of the three tallest arches displayed a sign in bronze letters, indicating the name of its builder along with the date of construction. Today, two niches are still visible, one on each side of the aqueduct. One of them is known to have held the image of Hercules, who, according to legend, was founder of the city. The other niche now contains the images of the Virgen de la Fuencisla (the patroness of Segovia) and Saint Stephen.

Subsequent history

The first reconstruction of the aqueduct took place during the reign of the King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, known as Los Reyes Católicos or the Catholic Monarchs. Don Pedro Mesa, the prior of the nearby Jerónimos del Parral monastery, led the project. A total of 36 arches were rebuilt, with great care taken not to change any of the original work or style. Later, in the 16th Century, the central niches and above-mentioned statues were placed on the structure. On 4 December, the day of Saint Barbara, who is the patron saint of artillery, the cadets of the local military academy drape the image of the Virgen de la Fuencisla in a flag.

The aqueduct is the city’s most important architectural landmark. It had been kept functioning throughout the centuries and preserved in excellent condition. It provided water to Segovia until the mid 19th century.[2] Because of differential decay of stone blocks, water leakage from the upper viaduct, and pollution that caused the granite ashlar masonry to deteriorate and crack, the site was listed in the 2006 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund. Contrary to popular belief, vibrations caused by traffic that used to pass under the arches did not affect the aqueduct due to its great mass.[citation needed] WMF Spain brought together the Ministry of Culture, the regional government of Castilla y León, and other local institutions to collaborate in implementing the project, and provided assistance through the global financial services company American Express.

source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqueduct_of_Segovia