This brings us to the celebrated helmet or cimera (Plate xxxix.), now in the Royal Armoury of Madrid, believed till recently to have belonged to Jayme the First, conqueror of Palma and Valencia, and the greatest, both in spirit and in stature, of the old-time kings of Aragon.
Such part of this interesting helmet as is left consists of two pieces, one of them resting loosely on the other. Baron de las Cuatro Torres infers, from a detail which will presently be noted, that the lower of these two pieces is not original; and his opinion was shared by the Count of Valencia de Don Juan, who, notwithstanding, thought the spurious part to be coeval with the actual crest. The upper part consists of a fragment of a helm, made, like some flimsy theatre property, of linen, card, and parchment, and surmounted with the figure of the mythical monster known in the Lemosin language as the drac-pennat, or winged dragon, which formed, conjointly with the royal crown, the emblem or device of all the Aragonese sovereigns from Pedro the Fourth to Ferdinand the Second.
There is, however, no reason to doubt the helmet's authenticity. It is known to have remained for centuries at Palma, in the Balearics, where it was worn upon the day of Saint Sylvester in each year, by a person who walked in the procession of the Standart to celebrate the capture of the city by Don Jayme. This would explain the lower piece contrived and added to the crest itself, in order to adjust the incomplete and upper portion to the subsequent wearer's head. The helmet as originally made was meant for tourneying only, and is therefore fashioned, not of metal, but of the frail theatrical materials I have stated. Copper and wood, says Viollet-le-Duc, were also used in making these objects. The earliest wearer of the helm cannot have been Don Jayme. Baron de las Cuatro Torres remarks that on an Aragonese coin of the reign of Pedro the Fourth, the monarch is wearing on his head something which looks identical with this cimera.1 Demay has further told us that the vogue of such cimeras, whose principal purpose was to distinguish seigniories, lasted from 1289 till the introduction of movable visors at the end of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century. The present helmet, therefore, probably belonged to Don Pedro the Fourth of Aragon ("the Ceremonious"), and was made at some time in his reign - that is, between 1335 and 1387. A document has been discovered in which this monarch's son, Don Martin of Aragon, commands that year by year his own helmet, "nostram emprissiam sive cimbram," together with the banner of Jayme the Conqueror, is to be publicly exhibited in commemoration of the capture of Majorca. Therefore we may conclude from these important facts that here is the crest of a tourneying helmet which belonged either to Don Pedro the Fourth of Aragon, or else to either of, or possibly both, his sons, Don Juan and Don Martin.
Parade Harness Of Philip The Third (Royal Armoury. Madrid)
1 Boletin de la Sociedad Espanola de Excursiones; Nos. 16 and 17.
The changes which occur in Spanish arms and armour between the fourteenth and the sixteenth centuries keep pace, upon the whole, with those in other parts of Europe. It is, however, opportune to notice how the Spanish armies of this time were organized. Their regular cavalry consisted of: (1) the force directly mustered by the king and under his immediate leadership; (2) the mounted burghers who defrayed the whole or part of their expenses, being in certain instances assisted by a stipend which had been created by municipal and local fueros; (3) the knights belonging to the military orders; and (4) the barons, together with the men these last were called upon, obedient to the summons of the royal mandadero (messenger), to mount, equip, provision, and bring to war with them. Such was the heavy cavalry of later mediaeval Spain. A lighter class, said by the Count of Clonard to have been recruited from the southern regions of the land, was known as alfaraces, almogavares, or omes de la gineta.
These latter lived in frugal fashion. Water was their only drink; bread and the roots of plants their only food. Their clothing, too, was of the slightest, consisting merely of a shirt, high boots, and a kind of net upon the head. They wore no armour, and carried as their only weapons an azagaya and a lance. Their principal value was in skirmishing.
The infantry were also of two kinds. The first, collective or stipendiary, was levied by the towns and cities, and from them received its maintenance. The second was the almogavares, who served for scouting, like their mounted comrades of the same denomination. The stipendiary or regular troops proceeded chiefly from the northern provinces - Alava, Guipuzcoa, the Asturias, and the mountains of Le6n, and carried commonly the lance, sword, sling, crossbow, and the azagaya this last a dart-shaped missile borrowed from the Berber tribesmen, - the ancient Moorish azgaya, the modern assagai or assegai of Zululand.1
In a country which was plunged in ruinous and almost unremitting internecine strife; which was (and is) inherently averse to commerce or to agriculture; and where the bulk of all the national wealth was either locked away in churches and in convents, or in the coffers of great nobles who were frequently as wealthy as, or even wealthier than, the Crown, the armour of the common mediaeval Spanish soldier consisted of the plain and necessary parts and nothing more. The aristocracy, upon the other hand, often adorned their battle-harness with the finest gold and silver work, and studded it with precious stones. Even the esquires would sometimes imitate their masters in this costly mode. "We command," said Juan the First in one of his pragmatics dating from the end of the fourteenth century, "that no shield-bearer shall carry cloth of gold or any manner of gold ornament upon his trappings, scarf, or saddle; or on his badge or arms, excepting only on the edges of his bassinet and his cuisses, together with the bit and poitral of his horse, which may be gilded."
1 One of these weapons may be seen in the Royal Armoury (No. I. 95). It is made of iron covered with leather, and has a laurel-shaped blade with sharpened edges. The other end consists of two projecting pieces of the metal, shaped to resemble the plumes of an arrow. The length of this arm is 5 feet 8 inches.
Moorish Crossbow And Stirrup Museum of Granada)