Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Crown of Spain

Today is the 73rd birthday of the King of Spain.

King Juan Carlos of Spain undergoes surgery

Apart from wishing His Majesty well it is an occasion to reflect upon the fact that he is now the longest lived reigning Spanish monarch, having oulived King Carlos III. He has very nearly outlived Queen Isabella II, born in 1830, but she formally abdicated in 1870, although she lived on until 1904. The King's father, the de jure King Juan III, died in his eightieth year in 1993.

In my post in November to mark the 35th anniversary of the King's formal accession I reproduced a photograph of the oath taking before the Cortes, which included the crown itself in the foreground.


The accession ceremony in 1975

The Spanish royal crown, sometimes known as the crown of Alfonso of Spain, is the symbol of the Spanish monarchy and has been used in proclamation ceremonies since the 18th century. The last Spanish king being solemnly crowned was King Juan I of Castile (August 24, 1358 – October 9, 1390). After him, all Castilian and Spanish kings have assumed the throne by proclamation and acclamation before representitives of the Church and realm, and since the 18th century, before the Cortes Generales.There is no formal act of coronation although the royal crown has been present in these ceremonies. King Juan Carlos I was proclaimed King of Spain in November 22, 1975 with the following symbols displayed in front of him:

The Commemorative Crown first used at the funeral of Elisabeth Farnese, Queen consort of King Philip V in 1766. The crown, made of silver gilt and which has no gems, displays the seals of the founding kingdoms of Castile and León, with a turret and lion respectively. It was made by order of King Charles III in Madrid and replaces insignia lost in the Great Fire of Christmas Eve 1734 which destroyed the old royal palace in Madrid .

A sceptre, a present from Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, to King Philip II and made in Vienna in the 16th century.

A silver crucifix, from the collection of the Congress of Deputies.

The last time the crown was seen in public was at the state funeral at the arrival of the remains and the burial of King Alfonso XIII in 1981 in the royal vault at El Escorial.

The crown is held by the Patrimonio Nacional.


King Alfonso XIII reads the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the Cortes, accompanied by Queen Victoria Eugenie, Queen María Cristina the Queen Mother and his aunt the Infanta Isabel. The crown can be seen to the King's right on a table on the edge of the dais.

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