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Fernan Perez de Andrade

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Fernan Perez de Andrade or Fernan Peres d'Andrade (? - 1397) was a Galician knight. His birthdate is unknown but is presumably before 1330. His death date fell between July 28 and August 21, 1397.[nb 1] The fourth son of Ruy Freyre de Andrade and Ines Rodriguez de Sotomayor, he belonged to a family associated with the knights of the Orden de la Banda (Order of the Sash) since its founding by Alfonso XI of Castile in 1332. He was married to Sancha Rodriguez,[nb 2] daughter of Aras Pardo and Tareyga Affonso, and with whom he was known to have had two daughters, Maria and Ines Fernandez, nuns of the Order of Saint Clare, and a son (whose name is unconfirmed, though some sources mention Nuno) who died at an early age, leaving the family without a direct male heir.[nb 3]

Pires de Andrade was a knight always ready for battle who enjoyed hunting, poetry and chivalric books, as befitted the tastes of those days. He was a sponsor and protector of the Catholic Church, though it is well documented that he usurped the Church's properties, and abused his power in his domains when it suited him. He sided with Henry II of Castile {Enrique de Trastamara} in Henry's confrontation with his half-brother Peter in the last years of the feud, until Henry's assassination in Monteil.

After the king's death, and the accession of Henry II to the throne, Fernan Perez de Andrade continued to be influential with the monarchy and reached the status of a Lord in Galicia.

"Andrade" seems to be an old toponym of Celtic origin, according to D. Isidro Millan, but it is unknown if it referred to a village or a parish. The name of the place was incorporated into the family name, and the name is mentioned in several documents dating from the twelfth century. It is possible that this name was used by unrelated individuals or families residing in the area, as is common today.

The first documented Andrades were vassals of the Traba family, along with some other hidalgo family. They remained in the background of the social scene until the fourteenth century, when their influence in the areas of Ferrol, Vilalba and Pontedeume increased to the point of becoming of the most powerful Galician family of the time.

With Don Fernan Perez de Andrade o Boo (o Boo meaning "the Good" in Galician language) - the fourth to have that name - the family achieved greater importance during the reign of Henry II. Their successor descendants continued this increase, being Fernando de Andrade (1477-1540) the one to achieve Count status, as the first Conde de Andrade; the second title of count of Vilalba, Count of Andrade is currently in possession of the House of Alba.

Most genealogies compiled during the 19th and 20th century connect the Andrades to the most important families as Froilaz-Traba; these are, however, only weak connections, and are contradictory or obscure connections, as yet unconfirmed. To further muddy the water, there are several legendary stories relating the Andrades to the knights that reached the Iberian Peninsula in the retinue of Mendo de Rausona, brother of the last Lombard king, around the eighth century.

Fernan Perez de Andrade IV descended from a family of hidalgos and knights, vassals of a lord whom they served with arms.
This family environment certainly influenced Fernan Perez de Andrade; he was always ready for battle, but had a cautious and observing character in tumultuous times, with minimal romanticism. Two of his grandfather's brothers, Pedro and Fernan (the third) Perez de Andrade, were put to death in the Castillo de la Rocha in 1320; this demonstrated to the young Fernan how those were times in which it might be prudent to put caution aside and move swiftly to align oneself with the stronger parties.

The Andrades were lords of a small estate, and, as most of the lords in the peninsula, aspired to broaden their domains and promote their lineage in the service of their overlord, Don Pedro Fernandez de Castro. Alfonso XI, an enthusiast of the chivalric code, fostered knights as pillars of his society, considering it necessary to bring order to his realm, and honour (and praise) to his subjects. As a result of this belief, he created the Orden de la Banda—first secular order of the West—and reinstated the practice of investiture of Knights, creating them himself by drawing on the vassals of his kingdom. Pedro Fernandez de Castro invested thirteen of his vassals as Knights of the Orden de la Banda on September 10, 1332. Among them were Nuno and Rui Freyre de Andrade, uncle and father of Fernan Perez de Andrade (IV). (Libro de Ordenamiento de Banda-Cronica de Alfonso XI).

Fernan Perez de Andrade, listed as squire in several documents of this time, obtained his first concessions in 1356 from the hands of Henry, by then Count of Trastamara. He was married to Sancha Rodriguez, only legitimate daughter of Aras Pardo, who was also knight of the Orden de la Banda, which augmented his social status. This served as the beginning of his career, which had been hindered by his partisan support for Henry against Henry's half-brother, Peter I, for the throne.

In the beginning of the war between the brothers, circumstances were confusing and unclear. Many knights sided for the mutinous, and Fernan Perez seems to be one of them, following the allegiances of his natural overlord, Don Fernando Ruiz de Castro, who sided against Peter since the early stages of the confrontation.

Later, Fernando Ruiz de Castro switched allegiance to King Peter. Fernan Perez de Andrade's fate is unclear, although Henry's exile between 1356 and 1566 makes it unlikely that Fernan supported Henry wholly. While Fernan Perez fought beside King Peter in his campaign against Aragon in 1357, some authors cite his support for Henry, although Henry had fled to Asturias from Ferrol in 1356.

During the years leading up to 1362, Fernan Perez achieved considerable wealth, largely due to inheritances from his family, lands and other mercies received from Henry, Count of Trastamara, and his marriage with Sancha. He also obtained an important privilege[nb 4] from King Peter in 1364, which increased his estates considerably, therefore strengthening his feudal power.

Fernan Perez later sided with Enrique, Peter seeming to have lost the war. Fernan probably fought by Henry's side previously in the Battle of Najera in 1367 but few accounts remain of his achievements or of the battle's aftermath. Two years later, on the night of 22 or 23 March 1369, King Peter died in Montiel, in an act of treachery by his half-brother Henry. Several knights were involved, possibly including Fernan Perez de Andrade though this cannot be demonstrated.

Henry's troops marched alongside those of Bertrand du Guesclin, French knight and leader of the free companies (Companias Blancas) which arrived from France. The besieged King Henry tried to negotiate his escape with Bertrand du Guesclin, and escorted by two of his men, went to the tent of the Frenchman, where Henry happened to be. It is not certain whether it was Bertrand himself who called Henry, or it was another knight that learned Henry was trying to flee the scene of the siege. Whatever the reason for Henry's presence in Bertrand's tent, Henry and Peter engaged in hand to hand combat. Some authors say one of the knights present helped Henry by restraining Peter, but it seems unlikely that Bertrand du Guesclin was involved in this murder beyond the fact that it happened in his tent, as his reputation for bravery and honour had been proven in the past and assisting in Peter's death would be inconsistent with this.

Several say[nb 5] that the treacherous restraint of Peter, meant to be involved in one to one fight, inspired the well-known quote in Spain "Ni quito ni pongo rey, pero ayudo a mi senor" ("I'm not deposing nor proposing a King, but I am helping my lord") is more in line with Fernan Perez's attitude, than with that of Bertrand du Guesclin, whose "my lord" wouldn't help Henry, but rather the King of France. All the copious endowments and benefits enjoyed by Fernan after the death of king Peter, could very well be in payment for the well timed help inside the tent.

Regardless of the lack of irrefutable proof of the level of Fernan's involvement in King Peter's death, documents of the time would seem to indicate his guilty remorse, which might indicate proof of this.

Subsequently, Fernan Perez acted as a great lord, and it is likely that he was a knight at this time, probably having been knighted between 1369 and 1371. He began constructing the Castle of Nogueirosa, confronting the prior of the monastery of Sobrado to whom the lands surrounding the castle belonged. Fernan Perez acted without scruples, inspiring gear according to the chronicles, and letting his violent character show. He permanently abandoned the pre-existing family castle to rule his domain from the new Castle of Nogueirosa.

The wars had not ended Galicia. After Henry (Henry II of Castile) rose to the throne, several "petristas", or knights favouring Peter, offered the throne to Fernando de Portugal. The old petrista Fernando Ruiz de Castro is reported as the instigator behind this, as his enmity towards Henry continued even after Peter's death.

Henry, hearing of these maneuvers, returned to Galicia with Bertrand du Guesclin and other knights, Fernan Perez de Andrade among them. Together, they forced don Fernando back to Portugal. The brother of Fernan Perez, Nuno Freyre, who was Master of the Order of Christ supported the cause of the Portuguese, so on being defeated had to leave Galicia.

The war ended during 1371 and 1373 with several treaties in which Fernando Ruiz de Castro was exhorted to exile in Baiona. During this period, Fernan Perez received several more grants of land, and became lord of the villages of Ferrol, Pontedeume and Vilalba, with rights over those villages that until then only were for the king himself. Fernan Perez was the right hand man of King Henry in Galicia, to the point that he was appointed to make all the preparations for the wedding of Henry's son, Fadrique with Beatrice of Portugal.

In 1371, he was appointed Governor of A Coruna. In 1384, he took part in the dynastic clash between John I of Castile and John I of Portugal. In 1386 he fought John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster in a new dynastic war in Castile and he defended A Coruna, although it is unclear whether he defended the city or turned it over to John of Gaunt. The war ended with the marriage of Catalina, daughter of the duke of Lancaster and granddaughter of Peter I of Castile, Peter the Cruel to Henry (to be Henry III), and Fernan Perez regained control of A Coruna.

Fernan reached his "social zenith" around 1391, when after his first wife's death, he had already remarried to Constanza Moscoso, of an important family of Galician knights, which helped bolster his good social standing.

Fernan Perez de Andrade held several royal commissions in public office until the end of his life, and left behind a bigger patrimony than that received from his ancestors, placing his lineage as one of the most prominent of the Galician landscape.

Don Fernan Perez de Andrade was an educated man, by the standards of knighthood of the day, and was concerned with his reputation, both at the time and in future. To indicate his power and wealth, he developed several castles in his lands. He also worried about his name being important among the lineages among the others later in time, and so he commissioned civil works and religious buildings that still stand today.

The later public works included seven bridges, of which three still stand, one over the river Tambre, three meters wide and with a single ogival arch, another over the river Eume which spanned 913 meters and was known to have 79 arches, large enough to contain on its span a hospital with twelve beds and a chapel. Additionally, the Castle of Nogueirosa survives partially, and the Homage Tower of the old castillo de Andrade which is 12 meters wide and stands 18 meters tall. Fernan also sponsored several churches, including the Church of San Francisco [es] and Santa Maria de Azougue in Betanzos, and he sponsored too the foundations of San Pantaleon de Cabanas, Santa Maria de Cabanas and San Paulo de Riobarba.

Fernan Perez de Andrade was a knight who lived by the standards of his time: he followed the knightly model though adjusting it to his own interests. Even though he was given the nickname of “o Boo”, Galician for "The good one", we must not overlook his abusive behaviour and lack of scruples, and his talent for siding with the winning party in a way that benefited him. He is remembered nonetheless as a great sponsor and a loyal knight of Enrique, being the first knight of the family to attain Lord status, promoting a lineage that would later reach Count status, as the Counts of Andrade.