The Most Illustrious Order of the Golden Fleece


Original currently in the Instituto Valencia de Don Juan


Last year, 1996, was the five hundred anniversary of the connection between the Spanish Crown and the most illustrious and most famous Order of Kinghthood in Western Europe: the Insigne Order del Toisón de Oro, or Order of the Golden Fleece.

This order of Kinghthood was founded in 1430 by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, whose skilful international politics were renowned and whose court was undoubtedly the most dazzling in the twilight of the Middle Ages. It soon attained very great prestige, and was famed for its lavish ceremonies. After being tied fhrough marriage to the House of Austria, the wedding of archduque Philip with Infanta Joan of Castile in 1496 would link the Order to the Spanish Crown forever. This circumstance, and the fact that Spanish became the mightiest European power over the 16th and 17th centuries, led the Order of Golden Fleece to become the most valued and distinguished order of kinghthood in the whole of Cristendom. This prestige has doubtlessly been kept unscathed until our own times, in which its Head and Sovereign is His Majesty King Juan Carlos I, as direct heir of the Dukes of Burgundy. In order to commemorate this solemn event, plans were made to publish one of the most beautiful codices of the Order for the first time, in a facsimile and limited edition. This is work known as ?the Empress?s codex?, though having belonged to Eugenie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, and which today is kept at the Instituto Valencia de Don Juan.


  • Sizes: 20,5x31,5 cms.
  • 230 pages, of wich:
  • 62 contain 207 blazons
  • 10 show the portraits of the first 5 sovereigns of the order and their blazons on full page
  • 5 are full page portraits
  • 152 pages of text containing over 300 initials painted in miniatures in colour and gold
  • The binding of leather on board will be an accurate reproduction of the 16th century original.


A separate volume will go with the edition, containing the history of the Noble Order, by alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera, Doctor of law and main author of the most recent and exhaustive work published on the Golden Fleece. The study of the heraldic emblems that the codex so marvellously reproduces is by Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués, of the Royal Matritense, the highest authority in the subjet. The biographies of the knigths of the order mentioned in the codex were prepared by notable medieval scholar and member of the Real Matrinense D. Jaime de Salazar y Acha. The study of the artistic aspects of the codex is by Ana Dominguez, Doctor of art history, lecturer at Alcalá de Henares University (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), and perhaps the greatest Spanish specialist in the field of the Gothic Miniature. The codex study itself was prepared by Javier Docampo, Natinal Library expert and outstanding authority on the late-Gothic and Renaissance miniature. Lastly, Fernando Fernández Miranda, head curator of Madrid?s Royal Palace and the head of the Restoration and Conservation Departament of the National Heritage and Raphael de Smedt, Doctor of arts and curator of the Bibliothèque Royale Albert I in Brussels, were entrusted with the transcription and translation of the whole manuscript.

The coordination of singular edition of the Empress's manuscript will be Gilbert Rojo, member of the Royal Matritense and Director of its Publicatons department.