“Put my leg up.”
The servant stooped down to see that the board holding up the Emperor’s left leg was solid, then cranked it higher. The orthopedic chair was an invention of his doctor’s.
“And throw this damn shawl over my shoulders. It’s chilly this morning.”
That he couldn’t manage such a simple thing himself made the Emperor Charles cross. Gout had begun to ruin him years ago already but he would never get used to being an invalid.
And now an unspeakable sadness hit him when the servant drew back the drapes and he saw the brilliant day outside. I can’t walk in that sun anymore! I will never walk in that sun anymore!
Tranquilo, he told himself. You know what Soto would say: “Resignation, Sire”. Soto was his confessor.
Remember why you came to Yuste. You were going to renounce the world.
Yeah, but who is renouncing who? I don’t FEEL like renouncing the world, damn it!
…It’s not as though you had much choice, old man.
He popped a couple of marzapan horses into his mouth for consolation and swallowed them down after just one bite. His bite was no good because of his protruding Habsburg jaw. Unchewed food caused him endless problems of digestion and also occasional embarrassment during audiences.
“Are they out there?” he asked his servant.
“Senor Quijada and his son arrived early this morning from Cuacos, Sire. They have been waiting in the antechamber for some time now.”
“Send Quijada in alone. Tell the boy we won’t be long. Give him something to play with. Show him that silver ship from Amberes.”
Quijada barged in as soon as the door was open, went right up to the Emperor, and kissed his hand. “Sire.”
“How are you doing, old friend?” Charles asked.
Quijada was his mayordomo and Master of the Horse. He was closer to the Emperor than many of his royal relatives, though Quijada was from peasant stock. They had been together for thirty-odd years, through most of Charles’ wars, in camps as well as palaces, and Quijada had more than once saved the Emperor’s life, shielding him from crossbow bolts and escaping with him from enemy traps. For his service the Emperor had made him a knight and given him an encomienda near Valladolid.
Ruins in García del Campo (Valladolid) of Quijada’s castle
Quijada lived there in a castle with his wife and the boy and had not yet been to Yuste since Charles’ was installed.
“You’re getting too fat, Sire,” he told him now.
Quijada said what he thought and often said it without tact. Charles, who was surrounded by flatterers and pretty-spoken courtesans, liked Quijada for his blunt and truthful ways. He smiled. “I don’t get much exercise anymore. It’s not like our campaigns in Flanders when…”
“Who’s your doctor? Still that idiot Matisio?”
“He’s a great doctor.”
“He’s a coward. Why does he allow you to have all those damned sweetmeats?”
Quijada looked with disgust at Charles’ sweets table. “Gout is cured by closing your mouth, Sire. He knows that or ought to. So do you.”
The Emperor kept smiling. “Try one of these dried figs my daughter sent from Oran. Or one of her raisins.” He enjoyed teasing Quijada.
Suddenly he got serious. “What’s the boy like, Quijada?”
“He’s a good one, Sire,” said Quijada. “Quick to learn. Rides like a little elf and you should see him with a sword.
Not bad at books, either, they tell me, though you know I’m no judge there.”
Quijada was the only one in all of Spain who knew that the boy was the Emperor’s natural son by the daughter of a Salzburg comic.
When she had sent word that she was pregnant, Charles had quickly found her a husband and had them married. But after only three years the woman died and Charles gave the boy to the faithful Quijada to raise.
Not even Quijada’s wife knew. She assumed the lad was her husband’s own bastard. But she loved him and set about raising him as a great nobleman as soon as he turned up at the castle. She taught him French and Latin and court manners. Quijada himself saw to it that the boy learned riding and hunting and was skilled with weapons.
His enthusiastic report made the Emperor impatient. He had never met the boy. “Tell him to come in. I guess we’ve kept him waiting too long. Waiting is hard on a child.”
“Let him learn patience, Sire. That is also part of being a man.”
“You stay away for a few minutes, Quijada. I want to meet him alone.”
Juan de Austria’s presentation to Emperor CarlosV atYuste by Eduardo Rosales (Wikicommons public domain photo)
(Meet the boy in The Emperor Meets His Natural Son II)