Order of Alcántara

Legend holds that the Order of Alcántara was established late in the twelfth century by a hermit, Julian de Pereiro, who brought together a group of knights to protect the town of Alcántara from the ravages of the Moorish infidels. The knights adopted the Cistercian rule and were granted lands by King Ferdinando II of León, charged with continuing the crusade against the Moors. As with their contemporaneous orders on the Iberian peninsula, the knights of Alcántara warred with themselves and with other knights almost as much as they did with the infidels; at one point the grand master of the order found himself besieged by his own knights. By 1492 the pope invested the king of Aragon with the perpetual grand mastership of the order and the internal conflicts among the knights subsided.

As with the other orders in Spain, in 1540 the knights were permitted to abandon their vows of celibacy and communal life. The commanderies of the order were granted by the king as benefices to the grandees of Spain, and today the knights of Alcántara are largely honorary if often very influential.


Order of Alcántara

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