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Information on the Order of the Banda

Poster: JebRaitt1 <JebRaitt1@aol.com>

>From Donal Mac Ruiseart, to all the good folk of the Merry Rose, Greeting

Prompted by Duchess Luned's request, I found references to the Castilian Order
of the Banda in two books of mine, which I have the privilege to present for
all who may be interested, having sent the same to Her Grace:

>From Knights, by Andrea Hopkins, 1990, 
Artabras, a Division of Abbeville Press
Quarto Publishing plc, 
Library of Congress Cat.  No. 90-1028
ISBN:  0-89660-013-0

Chapter 4 - The Knight at Peace
The Secular Orders (p.120)

The secular orders of kinghthood which became so popular in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries had little in common with their religious predecessors,
the military religious orders.

The orders were, of course, religious in the usual knightly senses; they
sought to emphasize that piety and respectful religious observance were
essential qualities of true chivalry.

(p.  121)  These orders were many and varied.  Some were founded by kings or
great lords, such as the Order of the Band, founded in about 1330 by King
Alfonso XI of Castile . . . 

Certain characteristics were shared by all orders and confraternities.  All of
them had constitutions and regulations laid down in statutes, which defined
the objectives of the association and the rules governing eligibility for
membership, and conduct of members.

(p.  122)  Whether they admitted ladies to membership or not [some did], the
service of ladies was an important element of most constitutions.  The first
Order, the Castilian Order of the Band, defined the two principal objectives
of its members as the preservation of chivalric honor, and of loyalty, a value
on which much store was set:

       Loyalty is one of the greatest virtues that there can be in any person,
       especially in a knight, who ought to keep himself loyal in many ways.
But the 
       principal ways are two:  first to keep loyalty to his lord, and
secondly to love 
       truly her in whom he has placed his heart.

>From Tournaments,  by Richard Barber and Juliet Barker,
Weidenfield & Nicolson, New York
Copyright 1989 by the authors
Library of Congress Cat.  No. 89-30829
ISBN:  1-55584-400-6

Chapter 4:  The Tournament in Italy and Spain

(p.  97)  We first hear of the tournament in Castile in the shape of Béhourds
at Seville to welcome Alfonso XI in 1324; but the earlier existence of
tournaments can be deduced from the fully-fledged tournament provisions in the
statutes of the Order of the Banda, founded by Alfonso in 1330 At Vittoria.
This was one of the earliest secular orders of knighthood, predating the Order
of the Garter by more than a decade, and the rules about tournaments are
unique:  no other such order actually specified that knights should enter the
lists as a duty.  It was envisaged that each meeting of the order should
include a tournament; but in addition to this, the king could summon the
knights to any tournament which he had proclaimed, and they were expected to
attend such events which took place within a day’s ride of wherever they might
be.  We know of two occasions when the knights held tournaments:  the first
was in 1332, when the king was at Santiago de Campostella awaiting his

       Moreover, they maintained two Tablas  [literally an open flat space; in
       context, probably a technical term for a type of tournament enclosure,
as we 
       might call lists] for jousting, and the knights of the Banda, whom the
king had 
       made and ordained a short time before, remained all day, four of them
       in each Tabla, and would joust with all who sought to joust with them.

(p. 96) The second occasion was at Valladolid at Eastertide in 1334.  The
chronicler describes how Alfonso was always involved in ‘tournaments and round
tables and jousting’ (if he was not out hunting), and how he regarded such
occasions as a valuable means of ensuring that ‘the knights would not lose the
use of arms, and would be prepared for war when the need arose.’ [my kinda
king!]  The knights of the Banda fought together as a team against an equal
number chosen from all comers, the king being incognito as a member of the
Banda.  Two tents were pitched at either end of the lists, and the tournament
began under the supervision of four judges.  It was fiercely fought, and the
king, because he was incognito, received heavy blows in the thick of the
press.  The judges, seeing that the contest was becoming too heated, entered
the lists and forced them to part.  The two sides charged each other twice
more and the fighting moved to a little bridge over a river outside the town
gate, where the combat continued until after noon.  The judges parted the two
sides, and they went to eat in their respective tents.  After dinner, the
knights who formed the all comers’ team went to visit the knights of the Banda
and the king, to hear the judges’ verdict as to who had performed best, and
they talked at length of the day’s doings.

There is only one further occasion when we hear of the order of the Banda in
connection with tournaments:  in 1375, at Christmas, Enrique II held a ‘famous
tournament" at Seville ‘in which the knights of the Banda distinguished
themselves; the order had declined somewhat since its institution, but he
wished to encourage the work begun by his father king Alfonso.’

The Order of the Banda was a short-lived institution, surviving for little
more than a century; despite Enrique’s attempt to revive it, its heyday was
certainly past with Alfonso’s death in 1350, and even in 1338, when we know
that Alfonso held a great cortes at Burgos, followed by a tournament, we hear
nothing of the Banda.  The reasons for the tournament are very similarly
phrased to those given for the 1334 event - Alfonso’s enthusiasm for knightly
deeds and the desire that the practice of arms should not be forgotten - and
on that occasion too Alfonso fought incognito.

[footnotes in this section refer to the Crónicas de los Reyes de Castilla, in
Biblioteca de autores españoles, ed. Cayetano Rosell, reprinted in Madrid in
1953; and to D’A. J. D. Boulton, The Knights of the Crown (Woodbridge 1987),
pp. 53-4, 84]
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