The Name Change

December 6, 2018

Philip II of Spain by Antonio Moro

The King gave the final order. That two days afterwards, that is to say on the 1st of October, Jeromín was to be established in Valladolid with the Quijadas in a house which Doña Magdalena owned opposite that of the Conde de Rivadeo, which was henceforth to be the residence of the new prince; and that on the 2nd, at midday, Luis Quijada was secretly to bring Jeromín to the Palace, so that after dinner the King could present him to the Princess Juana and Prince Carlos, and acknowledge him as a brother before all the Court. The time and place to publish this acknowledgment throughout the kingdom would be determined later.

The King and Quijada talked for more than an hour, walking under the shade of the guardian oak trees, and when they emerged into the light not the perspicacity of even such an accomplished courtier as the Duque de Alba could have guessed from their faces what had passed between them. On reaching Jeromín and the Duque the King said to Quijada, “It will now be necessary to take the bandage off the boy’s eyes.” Then, turning to Jeromín, he asked him pleasant and even joking questions, and, as if recollecting something, all at once he said very kindly, “And with all this, Sir Peasant, you have never even told me your name.” “Jeromín,” answered the boy. “He was a great saint, but it must be altered. And do you know who your father was?”

Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, III Duke de Alba Painted by Titian

Jeromín blushed up to his eyes and looked at the King, half indignant and half tearful, as it seemed to him an affront which had no answer. D. Philip then was touched, and putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder, said with simple majesty, “Courage, my child, as I can tell you. The Emperor, my lord and father, was also yours, and for this I recognise and love you as a brother.” And he tenderly embraced him without other witnesses than Quijada and the Duque de Alba. The huntsmen saw the scene from afar off, without realising what was happening. The baying of the hounds and gay fanfare on the horns announced in the distance that the hunters were returning after a successful chase.

Stupefied by this revelation Jeromín got on his horse, Luis Quijada holding his stirrup. On the homeward journey to Villagarcia he only once opened his lips, and turning round to Quijada, who followed, asked, “And my aunt, does she know?” “Everything,” answered Quijada.

Luis Quijada

Jeromín hurried his steps as if he would be late getting to the castle, and running through the courts and up the stairs, he arrived at the parlour, opening and slamming the doors. Doña Magdalena was there alone and very pale. The child went to her, and took her hand to kiss it. “Aunt! Aunt!” “My lord, your Highness is no nephew of mine,” answered the lady. And she tried to kiss his hands, and set him in her big chair while she sat on the carpet.

Doña Magdalena de Ulloa

But the child, beside himself, cried with great energy that made his voice, all choked with tears, quite hoarse: “No! No! My aunt, my aunt, my mother.” And he kissed her tearfully, miserable and angry all at the same time, as one who cries for something lost through his own fault, and by force made her sit in the chair, and would not be silent or calm until he sat at her feet with his head leaning against her knee, making her promise a thousand times that she would always be his aunt, and that she would never leave off being his mother.

Don Juan of Austria by Jorge de la Rúa at the Glasgow Museums.

This all happened on a Thursday, and the following Monday, which was the 2nd of October, the acknowledgment of Jeromín took place in the Palace of Valladolid, as the King, D. Philip, had arranged. It is related thus in a manuscript, quoted by Gachard in the Maggliabecchiana library in Florence:

“Thursday, the 8th of September, it reached the lords of the Holy Office that the King would not go before he had seen the act, and so then they had it proclaimed for the 8th of October. And thus the King went to la Spina, and there they brought his half-brother, and he was pleased to see him, as he is handsome and sensible, and he ordered that he should be brought secretly to his house. And thus, the following Monday, he made everyone in the Palace recognise him as his brother, and embraced and kissed him, then his sister, then his son, and then the rest of the black cloaks.”

Don Juan of Austria pictured with the Golden Fleece.

It is, therefore, not true what Vander Hammen says of Philip giving his brother the Golden Fleece, either at Torozos or in the Palace of Valladolid. What really happened at this second interview was that the King gave his brother the family name, and changed his name of Jeromín for that of John, creating that which has descended to posterity surrounded by rays of genius and glory—Don John of Austria.

Rev. Fr. Luis Coloma, The Story of Don John of Austria, trans. Lady Moreton, (New York: John Lane Company, 1912), Book I, Ch. XVI, pp. 91-93

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 655

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