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This article is about the medieval court officer. For the modern military rank, see Alférez (rank).

In medieval Iberia, an alférez (Spanish: [alˈfeɾeθ], Galician: [alˈfeɾeθ]) or alferes (Portuguese: [ɐɫˈfeɾɨʃ], Catalan: [əɫˈfeɾəs]) was a high-ranking official in the household of a king or magnate. The term is derived from the Arabic الفارس (al-fāris), meaning "horseman" or "cavalier", and it was commonly Latinised as alferiz or alferis, although it was also translated into Latin as armiger or armentarius, meaning "armour-bearer". The connexion with arms and armour is visible in several Latin synonyms: fertorarius, inferartis, and offertor. The office was sometimes the same as that of the standard-bearer or signifer.[1] The alférez was generally the next highest-ranking official after the majordomo.[2] He was generally in charge of the king or magnate's mesnada (private army), his personal retinue of knights, and perhaps also of his armoury and his guard. He generally followed his lord on campaign and into battle.

The office of alférez originated in the tenth century.[1] In the Kingdom of Navarre in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the office of alférez changed hands with higher frequency than others, and there is also evidence of rotation. It is the only courtly office for which two officers are cited at the same time: Fortún Jiménez and Ortí Ortiz were both inferartes in a charter of 1043. In the kingdoms of Castile and León in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the office was generally bestowed on young noble members of the court, often as a prelude to promotion to the rank of count.[1] It is known that Alfonso VIII of Castile rewarded his alférez Álvaro Núñez de Lara with the grant of a village for carrying his standard in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.[3]

List of alféreces

Navarre in the tenth and eleventh centuries

Name First record in office Final record in office Title(s)
Fortún Jiménez 959 959 Armiger
Galindo Gómez 1030 1030 Armentarius
Fortún Jiménez 1043 1043 Inferartis
Ortí Ortiz 1043 1043 Inferartis
Galindo López 1044 1044 Offertor
Lope García 1058 1058 Alferiz
Lope García 1060 1060 Armiger
Jimeno García 1062 1064 Armiger
Fortún Iñíguez 1063 1063 Fertorarius
Lope Iñíguez 1063 1064 Fertorarius
Fortún Iñíguez 1063 1063 Fertorarius
García Fortúnez 1065 1071 Offertor, Fertorarius (1068), Tallator (1068–69)
Pedro García 1066 1072 Armiger
Lope Iñíguez 1066 1066 Offertor
Íñigo Sánchez 1072 1072 Alferiz
Fortún Iñíguez 1072 1087 Armiger
Íñigo Sánchez 1072 1076 Armiger
Sancho García 1072 1075 Offertor
  • Charles Cawley. 2008. Nobility of Navarre: Introduction at the Medieval Lands Project.

León and Castile under Alfonso VII

Name First record in office Final record in office
Lope López 29 October 1123 29 July 1126
Tello Alfonso 9 March 1126
García Garcés de Aza 12 December 1126 13 November 1127
Álvaro Gutiérrez 13 May 11128
Pedro Alfonso 8 July 1129 10 June 1130
Rodrigo Fernández 26 August 1130 15 May 1131
Pedro Garcés 29 May 1131 28 September 1131
Gonzalo Peláez 22 November 1131 8 March 1132
Ramiro Fróilaz 29 May 1132 18 September 1133
Manrique Pérez de Lara 26 December 1134 2 June 1137
Diego Fróilaz 3 October 1137 26 June 1140
Ponce de Minerva 9 September 1140 19 December 1144
Nuño Pérez de Lara March 1145 4 February 1155
Gonzalo de Marañón 7 February 1155 30 July 1157
  • Simon Barton, The Aristocracy in Twelfth-century León and Castile (Cambridge, 1997), 144.

Alféreces in aristocratic households

Name of alférez Date(s) of record Title in record Name of magnate
Alfonso Núñez[4] 1 April 1101 x 24 October 1102 Count Raymond of Galicia
Íñigo Pérez[2] 1103 armiger Count Pedro Ansúrez
Gonzalo Peláez[2] 1153 Count Manrique Pérez de Lara
García Díaz[2] 1156 Count Manrique Pérez de Lara


Further reading

it:Alfiere (grado militare) pt:Alferes

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