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Luna, Alvaro De

LUNA, ALVARO DE (d. 1453), Constable of Castile, Grand Master of Santiago, and favourite of King John II. of Castile, was the natural son of Alvaro de Luna, a Castilian noble. He was introduced to the court as a page by his uncle Pedro de Luna, archbishop of Toledo, in 1410. Alvaro soon secured a commanding influence over John II., then a mere boy. During the regency of the king's uncle Ferdinand, which ended in 1412, he was not allowed to be more than a servant. When, however, Ferdinand was elected king of Aragon, and the regency remained in the hands of the king's mother, Constance, daughter of John of Gaunt, a foolish and dissolute woman, Alvaro became a very important person. The young king regarded him with an affection which the superstition of the time attributed to witchcraft. As the king was surrounded by greedy and unscrupulous nobles, among whom his cousins, the sons of Ferdinand, commonly known as the Infantes (princes) of Aragon, were perhaps the worst, his reliance on a favourite who had every motive to be loyal to him is quite intelligible. Alvaro too was a master of all the accomplishments the king admired a fine horseman, a. skilful lance and a writer of court verse. Until he lost the king's protection he was the central figure of the Castilian history of the time. It was a period of constant conflict conducted by shifting coalitions of the nobles, who under pretence of freeing the king from the undue influence of his favourite were intent on making a puppet of him for their own ends. The part which Alvaro de Luna played has been diversely judged. To Mariana he appears as a mere self-seeking favourite. To others he has seemed to be a loyal servant of the king who endeavoured to enforce the authority of the crown, which in Castile was the only alternative to anarchy. He fought for his own hand, but his supremacy was certainly better than the rule of gangs of plundering nobles. His story is in the main one of expulsions from the court by victorious factions, and of his return when his conquerors fell out among themselves. Thus in 1427 he was solemnly expelled by a coalition of the nobles, only to be recalled in the following year. In 1431 he endeavoured to employ the restless nobles in a war for the conquest of Granada. Some successes were gained, but a consistent policy was impossible with a rebellious aristocracy and a king of indolent character. In 1445 the faction of the nobles allied with Alvaro's main enemies, the Infantes de Aragon, were beaten at Olmedo, and the favourite, who had been constable of Castile and count of Santesteban since 1423, became Grand Master of the military order of Santiago by election of the Knights. His power appeared to be thoroughly established. It was, however, based on the personal affection of the king. The king's second \vife, Isabella of Portugal, was offended at the immense influence of the constable, and urged her husband to free himself from slavery to his favourite. In 1453 the king succumbed, Alvaro was arrested, tried and condemned by a process which was a mere parody of justice, and executed at Valladolid on the 2nd of June 1453.

The Chronicle of Alvaro de Luna (Madrid, 1784), written by some loyal follower who survived him, is a panegyric and largely a romance. The other contemporary authority the Chronicle of John II. is much less favourable to the constable. Don Jose Quintana has summarized the two chronicles in his life of Luna in the Vidas de Espanoles cttebres; Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles (Madrid, 1846-1880), vol. xix.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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