Don Luis Quijada reveals Don John’s secret to Doña Magdalena: he is the son of the Emperor Charles V

March 12, 2012

At last Luis Quijada received a message from the King ordering him to go to the mountain of Torozos on the 28th of September, making hunting the excuse, and taking Jeromín [Don John of Austria] with him, dressed as usual like a peasant; that they were to go towards the monastery of the Espina, and that about midday he would meet them between the monastery and the forester’s tower. He also told Quijada to say nothing to the child to enlighten him, as he wished to do this himself.

Don Juan of Austria Painted by Alonso Sanchez Coello, located at the Art Institute of Chicago

What generally happens befell Luis Quijada: the realization of that which we have most desired fills us with sadness and disappointment. Certainly for him had come the hour of reward, for the Emperor, who was never very generous, had not granted him any favor, leaving only the recommendation to his son to pay, in his name, this very real debt. But at the same time had come the hour for separating from Jeromín, and tearing him from Doña Magdalena who adored him, while as for himself, he had become accustomed to seeing the boy the object of his affection and care, and the living recollection of the Emperor, reincarnate in this attractive little figure, capable for this reason alone of winning all hearts. At this thought the eyes of the fierce victor of Hesdin filled with tears.

Doña Magdalena de Ulloa

At first he thought to spare Doña Magdalena this sorrow until the last moment; but men are weak about troubles, and as in other things they trust proudly to themselves, so in sorrow they seek the aid of a woman, weaker than they are in everything but suffering, because they more often seek the virtue of fortitude from God. So not even until night could Quijada wait, but that same afternoon he called Doña Magdalena to a retired spot, and there told her everything about Jeromín, from the moment that the Emperor had revealed to him the secret of his birth. The husband and wife had never talked about this, and they might well wonder at each other, she at his loyalty and abnegation, which had kept him silent about so weighty a secret; he, at her prudence and delicacy in asking no questions, nor investigating that which had so much mortified her. Doña Magdalena did not think of herself for a moment. She well understood everything, and knew how to estimate everything from its true point of view, but one thing only filled her heart with fear—Jeromín, her dear son, for so she considered him, at thirteen was going to experience one of those sudden changes of fortune which are enough to turn the wisest head. That in a few days the child would find himself at the height of fortune, but exiled from all affection, alone, envied, and perhaps envious, without her to defend the youthful soul, as in his childhood she had done against bad natural inclinations and vexation of vice and sin.

Luis Quijada

Doña Magdalena had no sudden inspirations of genius, but she had good ideas, and she proposed to Quijada without a moment’s hesitation not to abandon the boy, but to follow him to Madrid, sacrificing her quiet life at Villagarcia in exchange for looking after him if only from afar, and not to leave him suddenly and so young among the tumult and dangers of a Court. Quijada thought that his wife had guessed what was passing in his mind, as it was what he had himself been considering; but it seemed idle to make any decided plans until they knew those of the King for Jeromín and for the person of Quijada himself.


Rev. Fr. Luis Coloma, The Story of Don John of Austria, trans. Lady Moreton, (New York: John Lane Company, 1912),  pp. 86-87.


Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 159

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