«The anger of the king is deadly threat; the wise will try to appease it» (Proverbs 16:14, NLT).
Álvaro de Luna was a top-ranking officer serving King John Il of Castile (14051454), and one of his most important advisors for more than thirty years. He had attained significant triumphs while advising the crown of Castile and was even given the function of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago. One of Álvaro’s greatest victories was the marriage of John Il with his chosen candidate, Isabella of Portugal.
Alvaro de Luna’s successes placed him at the heart of the attacks of important individuals of the Castilian nobility. So, to protect his political standing and avoid a probable displacement from the royal court, he decided to act against his enemies: he started to fight for his own interests in an obvious way, when before, the good of the kingdom had been his motivation.
The struggle for power intensified in Castile. The high nobility would gradually corner the king. It is also said that the queen, Isabella of Portugal, insisted that the monarch get rid of the constable, given the enormous power that he had accumulated. It was then that a surprising event occurred, one of the most renowned and dramatic of the fifteenth century in Castile: Álvaro de Luna was imprisoned in 1453, and then suffered a shameful death on the scaffold. He went from being at the king’s table to standing under the executioner’s axe. What led the monarch to condemn his trusted official to death? The chroniclers make note of the event without giving satisfactory explanation. But wouldn’t it have been enough to banish him from the kingdom? Why would you order a dishonorable death for someone who had served you for so long? It possibly had to do with a personal outburst of those of timid character, wanting to test the scope of royal anger.
John II died the following year. However, the widowed queen did not cut ties with Álvaro de Luna, since in her retirement to Arévalo, she was accompanied by the commander of Montiel, Gonzalo Chac6n, a man of confidence of the constable. Years later, as a way of returning his honor and clearing his name, his remains and those of his wife were taken to a special chapel built in the cathedral of Toledo dedicated to the constable (today one of the wonders of this habitation).
Being close to power has advantages and disadvantages. The outbursts of wrath of those who wield power can end the most brilliant career. That is why it’s good to be cautious in these matters. One gains more by being intelligent and avoiding direct clashes, especially when the leader is fickle, easy to influence, and of impulsive character.