Calatrava, Order of

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Spanish military and religious order, founded January 1158 by King Sancho III of Castile, who ceded the fortress of Calatrava, in the modern Province of Ciudad Real, to Raymond, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of fitero, "to defend against the pagans, the enemies of the cross of Christ." Many of the warriors who came to assist in the defense assumed the monastic habit. In this way the military Order of Calatrava came into being. Six years later the order, then under the direction of its first master, obtained a vivendi forma from the cistercian general chapter and a bull of confirmation from Pope Alexander III. In 1187 the order was affiliated to the Cistercian Abbey of morimond, whose abbots were authorized to visit Calatrava annually, to appoint the prior and to confirm the election of the master as well.

In return for its services in the Reconquest the order acquired extensive properties, especially in the central and southern regions of Castile, and also in Aragon (see spain, 2). The loss of Calatrava to the Muslims in 1195 was a grievous blow to the order, which established its headquarters at Salvatierra until it also was lost in 1211. The recovery of Calatrava and the Muslim defeat at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 repaired the order's fortunes and opened the road to Andalusia. Sometime before 1221 the order moved its seat to the castle known thereafter as Calatrava la nueva . From this vantage point the knights were able to render significant services in the conquest of Andalusia.

Governed by a master elected for life, the order was composed of knights and conventual brethren, observing the three monastic vows and an ascetic regimen based upon that of Cíteaux. The fundamental sources concerning the order's organization and customs are the statutes enacted by the abbots of Morimond or their delegates. The military Order of aviz, the knights of alcantara, and the knights of montesa were all affiliated with Calatrava.

As the Reconquest slowed to a halt, the order became involved in domestic politics, participating in the civil wars of the 14th and 15th centuries. To prevent the order's resources from being used against the monarchy, King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella, with papal consent, assumed the administration of the order in 1489. Pope adrian vi in 1523 annexed the mastership to the crown in perpetuity. The order was gradually transformed into an honorary society of noblemen, although the conventual brethren continued to adhere to the monastic observance until the dissolution of all the Spanish military orders in the 19th century.

Bibliography: f. de rades y andrada, Chronica de las tres ordenes y cavallerias, de Sanctiago, Calatrava y Alcantara, 3 v. (Toledo 1572). j. f. o'callaghan, "The Affiliation of the Order of Calatrava with the Order of Citeaux," Analecta Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum 15 (1959) 161193; 16 (1960) 359, 255292.

[j. f. o'callaghan]