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Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero

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23 feb 2024

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Infante Don Juan Manuel Route

Infante Don Juan Manuel, nephew of King Alfonso X the Wise and grandson of Fernando III the Saint, belonged to the highest Castilian nobility. His parents were Manuel of Castile and Beatriz of Savoy, but he was orphaned at the age of only eight, with King Sancho IV of Castile becoming his guardian from that moment on. Don Juan Manuel inherited the great lordship of Villena and Escalona from his father.

Peñafiel was a donation from Sancho IV on the occasion of his birth. Later, he received the lifelong title of Prince of Villena from Alfonso IV of Aragon. He became one of the richest and most powerful men of his time, maintaining his own army of a thousand knights and even minting his own currency for a time, just as kings did.

DON JUAN MANUEL, LOVER OF KNOLEDGE AND CULTURE

Don Juan Manuel was also a great lover of knowledge and one of the most cultured men of his time. He belonged to a royal family that was deeply concerned with culture and the use of the Castilian language. His grandfather Fernando III the Saint ordered the use of Castilian in the documents of the chancellery and founded the School of Translators of Toledo, his uncle Alfonso X the Wise promoted it and initiated numerous projects, and his uncle Enrique of Castile is attributed with the first version of Amadis of Gaul. Don Juan Manuel spent the last years of his life devoted to literature. He was the first peninsular writer with a clear sense of authorship and is the foremost representative of Castilian prose in the 14th century.

Proud of his works, he decided to gather them all in a single volume, which he left at the Convent of San Pablo in Peñafiel to prevent them from being altered by scribes. Don Juan Manuel chose to write books in the vernacular language with the aim of making them accessible to a wider range of readers. In general, his literature, primarily didactic and narrative, reflects his character, ambitions, and beliefs. The Book of Patronio or Count Lucanor, completed in 1335, is undoubtedly his masterpiece.

DON JUAN MANUEL, LORD OF PEÑAFIEL

In 1307, Infante Don Juan Manuel set out to renovate the old castle of Peñafiel, which was in a ruinous state, and turn it into one of the most distinguished and majestic castles in the whole country. He was the mastermind behind the majestic Tower of Homage, with a rectangular floor plan crowned by eight cylindrical towers. It is precisely in this castle where the Provincial Wine Museum is currently located.

During Don Juan Manuel's time, the entire town of Peñafiel was surrounded by walls and towers that extended from outside the castle. He had a double wall and several towers built. The walled complex was completed in 1345 and had five gates, covering a total perimeter of about 2,200 meters. Currently, four of its gates are preserved (two to the south and two to the north).

Both the Church and the Convent of San Pablo were originally an alcázar built by order of King Alfonso X the Wise. His nephew, Don Juan Manuel, converted it into a convent for the Dominicans in 1324, expanding the church and modifying it in Gothic-Mudéjar style. His intention was for his remains to rest in the main altar of this church.

Just before his death, Don Juan Manuel signed ordinances that regulated the daily life of Peñafiel, the work of the lands, its governance, the wine trade in his lordship, and its festivals. This is the only autograph that exists today from this historical figure.

Peñafiel was one of Don Juan Manuel's favourite places, and it is where his remains rest since his death in 1348.