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Biography of Pedro. Marqués de Vilallonga Franqueza Esteve (1547-1614)

Politician and Spanish noble, born 29 June 1547 in Igualada (Barcelona) and died towards the end of 1614, Torres de León (León). It is also known as the catalan Pere Franquesa i Esteve. He was Secretary of State, Secretary of the King and personal Secretary of Queen Margaret of Austria. His case was paradigmatic, even for its time, of the political, economic and social boom which reached certain characters in the shadow of the valid or deprived of the monarchs of the House of Austria known as minor Austrias (Felipe IIIand Felipe IV and Carlos II). Also is paradigmatic the decline of Pedro Franqueza, including imprisonment, although he was not sentenced to death, as it did on other occasions when I changed a valid to another.


Pedro Franqueza and Esteve descended an accommodated and distinguished family of notaries from the town of Igualada. Since the 15th century, in particular since 1418, had news of a predecessor yours that practiced this profession and named Juan Franqueza. The office of notary public was successively inherited by members of the Frank family. Such trade also allowed members of the family were considered as one of the large local Igualada fortunes, in such a way that they were in possession of various urban farms, as well as various ancestral properties in the vicinity of the above-mentioned Barcelona town. On the other hand, the ancestral home of the family was placed in a square of the population which were, moreover, settled the residences of most outstanding economic and commercial members of Igualada. Both the notarial profession and relatively high economic heritage did members of the openness to intervene significantly in the political life of the city. This participation was both of Government municipal bodies as in those positions that were related to other areas of power, this time supra, within Catalonia. An example was that of Martín Juan Franqueza, father of Pedro, who in addition to notary of Igualada, between 1536 and 1572, perpetual member in the Town Hall of the village and sometime Adviser (Minister) of the same, but is it also acted as a representative to the viceroy of Catalonia, Francisco Sandoval, Duke of Gandia, and father of the Duke of Lerma, to whose shade and protection occurred the rise of Pedro Franqueza.

Juan Martín Franqueza was the father of a large offspring. The first-born male, and who therefore inherited the office of notary, it was Jaime Paul Frank, who was born in August 1533. This had preceded him Bonadona openness, who was born in January 1527, and Juana Franqueza, who was born in September of 1528. After the male heir born Juan Franqueza Martín, in December, 1535; Margarita Franqueza, who was born in August of 1538; Mariana Franqueza, who was born in May of 1540; Manuel in August of 1542; Magdalena in 1544, and finally the youngest of them all, Pedro Franqueza, in 1547. It should be added two other siblings who died in infancy. With this offspring and according to catalan private law, which gave the firstborn family heritage with the exception of a part that was known as "legitimate" and which is handed out at the time among all the brothers, the initial possibilities of economic and social progress of Pedro Franqueza were very small. In fact, and as already stated, his brother Jaime Paul inherited the position of notary and was legal adviser to the Dukes of Cardona, and also held various positions in the administration of the monarchy. Juan Martín studied law and received his doctorate in laws, so that in 1571 he achieved a position in the Royal audience of Catalonia, which had its headquarters in Barcelona. Manuel joined the Church and received his doctorate in Canon law. In 1577, Pedro Franqueza was married to Ana Gabriel, who was the daughter of Pedro Gabriel and Ana Román, who lived in Alcala de Henares, but were not born there. The parents of his wife at the time of the wedding had an economical position much more than comfortable and bought a house in Madrid for new marriage. It was a marriage of convenience for both parties. Pedro Franqueza was by then a young and promising civil servant of the King, but scarce resources, and Ana Gabriel was the young and wealthy heiress of a rural innkeeper thus seeking some social recognition. In addition numerous children were born of this marriage. The first was Martín Valerio Franqueza, who was born 9 February 1587, the rest of the boys were Francisco, Diego Luis and José. Females were Luisa, Mariana, Isabel, and Catalina. The eldest son and heir, Martín Valerio Franqueza, obtained in 1600, at the insistence of his father, the habit of the military order of Santiago, also agreed in 1606 to a post of corregidor in the Council of Madrid and her father arranged her marriage with Catalina de la Cerda and Mendoza, sister of the count of la Coruña and member of one of the most outstanding families of high nobility of the monarchy.

Life and political career

With little more than eight years of age, Pedro Franqueza entered as Apprentice by the Barcelona clerk of Jerónimo Gassol, who was an officer of the Royal Chancellery and later became reader and Regent of the Council of Aragon in the Court. The beginning of this relationship between master and apprentice, which was common in many other professions, acquired a new hue due to political and administrative Jerónimo Gassol developments within the administration of the monarchy. When this went to Madrid, Pedro Franqueza, which had no more than sixteen years, accompanied him. This progression did Gassol, in addition to his administrative career, to acquire a facet courtesan when became a close character and confidence of Mateo Vázquez de Leca, who was then personal Secretary of King Felipe II. On the other hand, during his stay at the Court, Gassol, as a member of the Council of Aragon, it also acquired certain responsibilities of the monarchy in matters relating to the same Italian domains. During its evolution in the Court, Gassol maintained his patronage and protection on Pedro Franqueza. This advanced in their learning so that write Apprentice became to be regarded as Assistant to Gassol, as is found in cuts of 1563 meetings. This training process was completed in 1571, when the hand of a modest position and of little importance, Pedro Franqueza entered the service of the administration of the monarchy. In that year he was a clerk in the registry of the Supreme Council of Aragon or Council of Aragon, at the Royal Court in Madrid. It also coincided in that year his brother Juan Martín lived the consolidation of his appointment as a judge of the Royal audience of Catalonia. But that also, in 1574 and few months once his brother Jaime Paul obtained a great success in the fight against the catalan brigandage in the framework of the Viceroyalty Fernán Álvarez de Toledo, in 1573 Pedro Franqueza was promoted in his first ascent to the position of clerk of order in the Council of Aragon. This rise showed also ties clientele of the openness, since it coincided with the arrival in Madrid of Miguel Terça as a Regent of the Council of Aragon and little later became father-in-law of Martín Juan Franqueza, brother of Pedro and subordinate of Terça. This surrounded himself with people you trust who collaborated in the political work that developed in Madrid. In 1574, and already in his commandment scribe, Pedro Franqueza received an express order that made a series of personal dealings with Juan Coloma, who was the general Lieutenant of the King in the island of Sardinia. In 1577, Pedro Franqueza was married and in 1578, in the context of its administrative progression within the monarchy, joined the list of official Royal that would form the Entourage of the King and that would participate in the sessions of the Cortes of the Crown of Aragon, planned for this year but finally not held.

Finally, the aforementioned courts took place in 1585, after the incorporation of Portugal to the Spanish monarchy, which took place in 1580 and matter whose preparation led to that they should not be held in 1578. These courts of 1585 were convened by Felipe II to be held in monsoon, and it was a general call for uniform cuts of the Crown of Aragon, that is, of the Kingdom of Aragón, Valencia and the condadoa of Catalonia. For this House, the first the King summoned after many years, the outstanding issues were very numerous, what motivated that they were thoroughly prepared both by parts of the institutions and bodies Valencian, Aragonese and Catalan as part of the Government of the monarchy. This included a large representation of prestige but also of effective legal officials, as well as the vast majority of the members of the Council of Aragon. Among the latter was Pedro Franqueza, by their condition of scribe commandment of the mentioned Council, as well as Mateo Vázquez de Leca, confidant of the King. The development of these courts unfolded in two planes. On the one hand the institutional and official, plane with meetings, assemblies, committees and votes. On the other hand, both the King and his officers held more informal meetings well with personal individuals well with representatives of corporations. These second meetings were intended to speed up some issues that were frozen and difficult resolution according to the interests of the monarchy. For their resolution are hatched a wide range of possibilities and options for action against partners, range that stretched from the promise of compensatory measures to the coercion and threats, through bribery.

It was in this second aspect of the courts of 1585 where highlighted the work of Pedro Franqueza and it was also here where had the constancy of the beginning of its activities and irregular actions, since he began to repeatedly commit the word of the King for their private affairs and even replace, without authorization, the firm that in any agreement. Another significant fact that noticed was his hand was that, in the documentation of these courts, Pedro Franqueza appeared named as Protonotary, charge that did not have and which was superior to the notary of commandment. This charge of Protonotary was held in these courts by Miguel Climent, and in any case the actions of Pedro Franqueza could be as Lieutenant of the reader, even though he had not officially received such charge. Another aspect worth mentioning of these courts was that its role was not only personal, but it was related to his relatives and group clientele, prominence that was extended not only to the strict duration of the cuts, but even after them. This later role came given the work that focused on the collection and compilation of the writings which reflected the numerous agreements that had been achieved in the development of the courts and that is subsequently formulated so-called chapters of cuts, as well as the new constitutions that had emerged from the resolutions adopted. All this work left a final text that was published and came in the form of copy to Barcelona in 1586.

The surprise were large changes that existed among the agreements taken and what was reflected in the written text, differences that were always in favor of the administration of the monarchy. Different Catalan institutions began an investigation that resulted in the involvement of the Frank family and its surroundings in the above manipulations. After these investigations a requirement was raised to the monarchy in 1587 by which requested is an exemplary punishment against, among others, Pedro Franqueza, who was charged with the drafting of false agreements. He defended himself and said that the accusations were part of a plot instigated by the Abbot of the monastery of Poblet against him and his family. In any case, the effect of his speech and role in the Aragonese Cortes of 1585 was exactly the contrary that was intended from the Catalan institutions. When they finished both sessions of courts and the subsequent work of drafting, Pedro Franqueza and members of his family as well as friends to this, began to receive any compensation, both honorable and titles as pecuniary type. Pedro Franqueza officially received the promotion of Protonotary of the Council of Aragon, with remarkable economic improvement that it was supposed to. It was also after these cuts when he kicked off his greed for accumulation and escalation of charges and positions, unless you care about him or obtained them how neither to who had to hurt.

The first victim, from 1588, was precisely the Protonotary of the Council of Aragon, Miguel Climent, who complained to Mateo Vázquez de Leca, who considered protector of openness, the actions taken by it to impersonate him in office. However, when the reader died in 1589, the charge was awarded to Jerónimo Gassol, the former teacher and still guard Pedro Franqueza, which had related to Vázquez de Leca when married to her sister. Pedro Franqueza acted so protected in favour of relatives and people they had forged powerful links clientele. Another benefit that succeeded was that in 1586 the King granted naturalization as a Spanish. This naturalization, a kind of granting of Spanish nationality, was requested by it in the belief that as well would have less problems, in order to achieve a higher rise and recognition within the institutions of the monarchy. On the other hand, in 1587 he was also King benefit on average clerk of the veguer, representative of the King in the city of Mallorca. In 1588, at the age of forty, he received the post of ordinary Secretary. It ended this way his bureaucratic career and began his political career at the heart of the monarchy.

Political and financial developments

Pedro Franqueza had started his political career at the heart of city life. In 1586 he bought a square of Alderman of the Madrid Council, square that sold at the same time in 1590. In these four years their absenteeism from the municipal sessions was more remarkable, but nevertheless belonging to this Council allowed him two things: on the one hand, increased their circle of relationships and contacts; on the other hand, it served as runway social prestige as well as contact with the life close to the Court. It was at this time when, apparently, came into contact for the first time with the then Marquess of Denia, future count and then Duke of Lerma, was valid or deprived of Felipe III. Lerma was an aristocrat with a compromised financial situation and with which agreed later, although very briefly, in Valencia, when the Marquis of Denia was appointed viceroy of the Kingdom of Valencia in 1597. Between March 1589 and 1597 October, Pedro Franqueza lived in Valencia since he was appointed and served as Secretary of Valencia in the Council of Aragon. In this work he made both political and administrative functions with the resulting pecuniary charge had. But the greater impact of this destination had for him was his patrimonial implementation in the territories of the Kingdom of Valencia, where countless rustic properties bought, especially one in the vicinity of the town of Alicante, property which he named Villafranqueza. This farm, with rainfed crops, starred in a speculative scandal when from his official post Pedro Franqueza pushed the completion of the Tibi reservoir and its pipes. These infrastructures affected so your property which passed to be operated in regime of irrigation, for which even obtained fraudulently was more water than in law.

The years of splendour of his political career (1598-1606)

When King Felipe II died and ascended the throne in 1598, his son Felipe III, began the definitive social and political rise of Pedro Franqueza. In the courts, which were held in Barcelona in 1599, who swore the new King while it undertook to respect the laws and customs of Catalonia, the monarch granted Pedro Franqueza noble rank. In addition, since 1601, openness did not stop in an effort that will give you new noble Awards, to him or his family, which used their political clout, as when he was granted the habit of the military order of Santiago to his son in 1600, or Montesa himself in 1602. There is no why doubt that both the success and the social and economic boom that starred Pedro Franqueza were due to their political relations, relations that were also strongly driven when he acceded to the throne Felipe III and this took as valid or private to the Marquis of Denia, future Duke of Lerma, who had been a gentleman of the King when he was Prince of Asturias. The Duke of Lerma was in charge from the outset to replace those characters who occupied managerial positions or who obtained them during the reign of Felipe II, rising in his men of their confidence, especially members of the high nobility of Castile as well as close relatives, who initially did not appear to favor the expectations of Pedro Franqueza. It was this the moment that chose to write a memorial which was addressed to the new King and the presented solutions specific to specific issues, in particular the replacement of the former staff of the administration of the monarchy, to those who considered "old". These proposals were in fact the only that during its first years introduced Lerma while he ruled.

A new milestone in the life of Pedro Franqueza were mentioned courts that were held in the city of Barcelona in 1599, which were preceded by the marriage of the King in Valencia. The stay of the King in these two cities stretched from October 1598 to 1599 June. The visit was organized, as I was said by Pedro Franqueza, Diego de Covarrubias and the Duke of Lerma, so that they imposed a change in the venue of the Royal betrothal. This wedding was planned to initially hold in Barcelona, but was changed by Valencia and was held in February 1599. It was in Valencia where both the Duke of Lerma and Pedro Franqueza had their economic bases. After the wedding, Frank intervened before the King and this awarded various honors and indulgences to several Valencian authorities, according to the suggestions which made openness to the monarch. In addition, while long stay of the King in Valencia, Pedro Franqueza negotiated with the Catalan authorities the presence of the King in Barcelona, since in principle Felipe III did not seem very willing to go up to the city of Barcelona, and much less thought to convene meeting of the Catalan cortes. In the end, Pedro Franqueza negotiated and managed the journey of the King and the announcement of the cuts, of which he was Secretary-General in Exchange for a substantial economic contribution of the Catalan institutions which, he said, were intended to alleviate the economic hardships of the monarchy.

He also obtained consent so that courts were brief, no more than twenty-eight days, with what was intended really to control while they were taking place. The call closed on July 7, but you could not prevent conflict situations in the development of the conflicts that emerged in particular over the past days that occur. That did not prevent that again, as happened in Valencia, be repartiesen crowd of privileges and honors among the natives of Catalonia. Not escaped these courts, as 1585, of incidents and manipulations on the final print edition of the agreements that had been reached. These cuts were in addition to Pedro Franqueza a new possibility of enrichment and personal gain. He received numerous awards both own courts, which express reward, was awarded as, and it was the most significant of the new Queen, Margarita of Austria, who granted these bonuses not just openness but also other dignitaries, especially the noble clientele of the Royal Secretary.

After the celebration of these cuts and the end of the journey of the King, the role of Pedro Franqueza took hold within the monarchy, both with respect to the King as to the Duke of Lerma. Such a situation was accomplished patent outright when Frank was appointed Secretary of State on April 20, 1600, while on July 10 of the following year he was appointed Secretary of the King, this last charge carrying implicit within it the Secretary of Italy. The appointment as Secretary of State was due to two factors. On the one hand it was one of the rewards for his performance in the Royal travel and the Barcelona courts; on the other hand fell within the political approach which had Lerma and which consisted in that the key posts were occupied by persons of their trust, to so isolate the King of contact with potential political rivals. But Pedro Franqueza not only received such appointment and others which have been: was also subject of others many provided large economic benefits, were it not for the own of each office emoluments or by the possibility of obtaining extraordinary remuneration (bribes, rewards, gifts...) in the performance of the same. One of the most important and significant charges was Secretary of Queen, both on own charges itself because in this way was the person commissioned by Lerma that happened to control the movements and actions of the Queen, by depriving them, like the King, of contact with potential political rivals. It was from this accumulation of charges when it was found the participation of Pedro Franqueza in all the institutions and organs of power and Government of the monarchy, including who was named as Privy Council of the Duke of Lerma, or the so-called three Board.

Special mention earned performance both Lerma and openness in the administration of what was known as Royal patronage. The Administration consisted of the waiver of all honours and privileges among members of the nobility. What they did was to greatly develop this aspect and also benefited economically, both personally as to benefit his supporters, family and friends. These circumstances made this board administration resulted in a series of corrupt practices, mainly bribery, not only in political positions in the Administration, of the monarchy, but also in ecclesiastical charges especially those who had as motive the granting of Episcopal headquarters. To receive the illegal emoluments derived from such activity, Pedro frankly used to his family, who were those receiving payments in cash or in kind, as "rewards" or "Thanks" which provided him the benefiaciados. What is more serious is that he committed such abuses and irregularities without concealment or dissimulation, and even made ostentation that it had permission from the King to receive such rewards.

During this time of political and financial peak of Pedro Franqueza, a fact that eventually bring you new economic benefits was also held. Lerma convinced the King of the transfer of the Court from the city of Madrid to Valladolid. This transfer had as its ultimate goal, apparently, which will avoid the King contacts with certain people, even with members of the Royal family. This led, among other things, to a real estate collapse in the old capital. Of this debacle took advantage both Lerma and frankly, who made numerous purchases of low-priced real estate in the areas of the former capital which had higher expectations. Also, almost from the first moment, began to notice the serious deficiencies and drawbacks involving the transfer to Valladolid, since this city was devoid of infrastructure adequate for such work, which instead settled worsened with the passage of time. Both circumstances made that, to 1606, a group of municipal officials of the Madrid Council come to people close to openness to give a very high money sum so it terciase in the return of the capital and the Court to Madrid, which took place that same year.

In 1603, at the top of its peak, Pedro Franqueza started his involvement in what was called as shareholders of the performance, participation which lasted until 1606. The objective of this meeting was chasing was the end the efforts of the Treasury of the King, which it had already tried to carry out, unsuccessfully, under the reign of Felipe II. At that time, Pedro Franqueza showed some interest in alleviating the situation of theoretical bankruptcy of the monarchy and the subsequent financial crises of the same. Openness initially led the economic collaboration of the various States of the monarchy out of Castilla with economic contributions, such as the contribution that in 1604 made the Valencian courts, territory that also subsequently made another extraordinary contribution. What this meeting sought to was every two years will regularize revenues and current expenditures that were in charge of the Treasury Board, acting in a subordinate way, at least theoretically, this.

But what really served was so open to the members of this Board, Pedro Franqueza included, new possibilities in the form of illegal income. This was possible because, by the very condition of the Board, had many contacts and dealings with people from the big financial world of the time. However, in 1604 began a scandal regarding the participation of openness in general forgiveness that was granted by the monarchy to new Christians (actually crypto-Jews or Jewish converts) of the Kingdom of Portugal. This pardon was granted in Exchange for a very generous contribution to the Treasury of the King and, in this case, openness was charged, since it received a Commission by the favorable resolution of this pardon. A year later, in 1605, became patent first criticisms of the work which developed the AGM of the performance, such as patent fray Diego de Mardones, then did confessor of the King, while he is noted as the finances of the monarchy rather than improving, worsened, so that even failed to pay the salaries of the employees of the King. Day, December 16, 1606 both your valid Lerma and King Felipe III endorsed the actions of the Board and authorized an extension of it, since an end was planned at the end of the year.

Fall into disgrace and death (1607-1614)

December 26, 1606 was arrested Alfonso Ramírez de Prado, who was a collaborator of Pedro Franqueza in the Board's overall performance. At dawn on 19-20 January 1607 he was arrested at his home, and by order of the King, Pedro Franqueza along with other relatives and was taken prisoner to Ocaña (Toledo). The same day 19 had received attention by the monarch in a party which was held at the Madrid Alcázar. In addition to the arrest, was carried out a thorough search both at home and in other houses of its property. The judicial case against him had been opened on 22 December of the previous year, although the decision to arrest him was later, the 18 January 1607. Between December 26 and January 19, Pedro Franqueza tried to hide, destroy or falsifying documents used to avoid his inculpation in any irregular or criminal activity, but it was all in vain. The ultimate purpose of this detention was in relation to the internal power struggle that lived in those moments on the Court. Its fall, which Lerma consented, was due to that it believed that so it would stop the pressures that existed against him from his opponents. These pressures were to be led by his own son, the Duke of Uceda, with what openness became a head of Turkish in the bout between factions. The judicial proceedings opened against Pedro Franqueza was mixed with an administrative procedure, the visit, controlling the work of each staff member carried out on the basis of the charge or charges he held. This procedure had been used on previous occasion as a means of political retaliation and a form of ejemplarizacion to the people and others responsible for political and administrative officials. Due to this effect as an example, it was used on many occasions without that were applied in the same certain rights or legal guarantees of the accused, that was so unable to make an accurate defense. This was what happened in the case of the process of the visit against Pedro Franqueza, while it was notoriously scrupulous and systematic, by what we sought documentation SSSC not only in Madrid, but also in Barcelona, Valencia and even in the family plot of Igualada.

This search not only followed the public documentation or that was related to their work and administrative functions, but it also sought to incriminate him by documentation that it was strictly private. Also came to threaten those who hidden or destroyed evidence or documents, threat that reached even the ecclesiastical penalty of excommunication. This situation was aggravated since, during the first months that lasted his imprisonment, Pedro Franqueza did not attempt in his defence, since he was confident ties patronage and political relations. Which, apparently, yes made was an attempt which pretended to be mad, which occurred in August of 1607, try that it harmed significantly, accusations were spiked with obstruction of Justice. Who Yes dedicated from the start to the defense of Pedro Franqueza was his firstborn son, Martín Valerio, who complained to the judge of the treatment that was given to his father, the undue delay of the process and additionally advocated the innocence of his father and requested his release. In March 1608 the family of Pedro Franqueza appointed by defence lawyers end, which sought outside the scope of the Court and of Castile, in such a way that were chosen in Valencia and Barcelona, both in the area of the Crown of Aragon. The first had their family origins in Igualada and the second was nephew of Pedro Franqueza. Both encountered innumerable obstacles, delays and prohibitions when it comes to exercise effectively the defence of the accused. The most amazing of these bans was which prevented them to see you or meet directly with it. To such an extent was the situation that both his son and his lawyers turned to request the protection of the Duke of Lerma, although this made them rather little.

The situation was so untenable to maintain a defence which, at the end of the year 1608, Pedro Franqueza lawyers gave up their defense. Since the shares were led by his son-in-law Gerónimo Funes, although the situation of Pedro openness did not improve situation which was reflected in that never presented an official letter of Defense nor release any specifications. In such circumstances it was at the end of the visit procedure. It was already the summer of 1609, two and a half years after his arrest and confinement in Ocaña. As mentioned above the research was so vast and detailed that they came to formulate 474 accusations against Pedro Franqueza, approximately one-third of them, 160, they correspond to the crime of bribery. The statement of accusation that was formalized was very extensive but with a sometimes cumbersome writing style and little clear in the allegations it contained. At the end of 1609 judges were already willing to sentence. In the month of October were supporters of fostering an exemplary and moralistic, sentence but rejected his condemnation to death due to his age, had already sixty-two years, and services which lent the monarchy in the figures of the Kings of Felipe II and Felipe III, however is not very well known the date that that ruling was issuedin any case it was between mid and end of 1609 1610. Therein is deprived of all his public offices and received honours and also a term of imprisonment to life imprisonment. The payment of financial compensation of 1.406.059 Duchies was also imposed to pay to the Treasury of the monarchy, amount that made numerous properties expropriated it unable to pay for it. Following the conviction, is transfer him from Ocaña to Torres de León (Leon), where he died at the end of 1614. He was initially buried in the convent of San Claudio in León. After an attempt which was buried in a communal grave, his body was transferred to Alcalá de Henares, the town where it was originally his wife, and there was apparently buried in the Church of Santos Justo y Pastor. However his death did not prevent the opprobrium and the economic narrowness of his family. The same, according to the pecuniary penalty imposed to Pedro Franqueza, was deprived of his goods and also withdrew them Royal favour. From the beginning, with the arrest of January 1607, they also suffered house arrest while from 1608, they were banished to the town of Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid). Since then, apart from the unsuccessful interventions in favour of his father, Martín Valerio Franqueza was dedicated to the recovery of the ownership of lands and the jurisdiction of the County of Vilallonga. It also succeeded in this and in 1622 he should renounce such claim in favor of the monarchy. In return, that same year received a charge honorific in Felipe IV's Court, while the new King recognized their rights on the Valencian manors which his father accumulated.

Nobility and patronage

One of the highest aspirations of Pedro Franqueza throughout his life was obtaining titles and nobility privileges as a formula by which as he thought he would rise and social recognition. For this he acted in two courses of action. On the one hand he accumulated land and properties with the pretension that is recognizing him Lordship privileges on them. On the other hand looked for that you are given both himself and his firstborn son the habit of some military order. In the first appearance also acted in two ways. On the one hand and as indicated, acquired an important heritage in territories of the Kingdom of Valencia and on the intended and managed that you applies an old standard of time of the reconquest, the Alfonsina jurisdiction, according to which any person who repoblase a territory was considered as Lord of vassals and had the grouper and mixed Empire lands and inhabitants of the same. This allowed Pedro Franqueza to transform these farms of Villafranqueza in Dominion lands and finally Valencia of 1604 courts recognized him as Lord of vassals. But already before, in 1599 the King Felipe III recognized him in the Catalan courts that were held in Barcelona, the granting of a title of nobility, although this was not reflected until 1603 on the occasion of the wedding of his son. Thus, the King appointed 18 September 1603 count de Vilallonga to Pedro Franqueza, nomination that was perpetual and hereditary. In this respect mixed the purchase of land and pursuit of a habit of military order, since it was in 1602 when began to purchase the lands of the future County of Vilallonga Borja, spanning by economic difficulties, as one of the formalities for entering the order of Montesa's family. This order had its geographical framework in the Crown of Aragon and very especially in the Kingdom of Valencia. With regard to this aspect, which led him to obtain habit of military orders for him and his son, the proceedings began with the second. What I wanted was to come in the order of Santiago, which was that enjoyed greater prestige among how many exist in the realms of the Spanish monarchy.

In addition to enter therein a deep review of the family origins of the candidates, was prescriptive in order to avoid that or plebeian or new Christians entered. In one way or another this supposed that who could enter was recognized a degree of nobility. He was finally and after that examination, which does not exempt from conflicting testimonies, Martín Valerio Franqueza managed to get as a member of the order in 1600. After this Pedro Franqueza, who had known the difficulties of his son to enter, started in 1601 the paperwork with those who wanted to enter in the order of Montesa, of lower rank than the Santiago. Still not was fought in the process of examination, the candidate of contradictions about his noble rank but anyway it was finally admitted in February of 1602. In it he joined with the rank of clavero and was given ownership of the encomienda of Chair.

Together with the achievement of a title, noble recognition and the obtaining of a high personal wealth, Pedro Franqueza developed a facet of cultural patronage and also made works which could be considered as Sumptuary. Proof of this was that when he moved in Madrid from the residence who bought his in-laws, new housing was on the meadow of San Jerónimo, which was the most appreciated by the upper classes Madrid area. Their new residence was a large Palace which was the residence of Pedro of Médicis. Again the purchase of this property became irregularly, since this it took advantage of its political ascendancy and the fact of the economic difficulties that became the family of Pedro de Médicis died of this. These difficulties made that he is sold at judicial auction any of the properties, including that Palace was acquired by openness. Other actions which demonstrated his power and economic level was through the construction of altars and artworks which commissioned famous artists of the time. He also made generous donations to churches and religious foundations. The patronage of the convent of the order of the Mercedarians in Madrid, which seized to build a rich family vault that finally could not be obtained in 1606 in this aspect. Nor forgot his hometown, Igualada, place where he made large donations to the works of the parish church of Santa María, with the condition of having one of the side chapels of the same.

Topics Related

Spain, history of (10): 1598-1700.


SQUIRE, J. A., the Secretaries of State and the firm (1474-1724). Madrid, 1976.

PÉREZ-BUSTAMENTE, C., the Spain of Felipe III. Vol. XXIV of the history of Spain's Ramón Menéndez Pidal. Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1998.

SOLÀ SOLÉ, J. M., "Don Pedro frankness, count de Vilallonga and private Felipe III». Life, 15, 1947.

TORRAS RIBE, J. M., Poders i relacions clientelars a la Catalunya dels Austria. Pere Franquesa (1547-1614). VIC, Eumo, 1998.



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