Two Cuban Exiles and an American Inducted into the Imperial Order of Charles V, November, 2015

Posted on January 13, 2016


By Dr. Salvador Larrua-Guedes

The Alcázar de Segovia is an imposing fortress whose construction began more than ten centuries ago, started by the Romans in the year 80 BC. So the first fortification erected on this site was initiated at least 2100 years ago.
Many of the kings and queens of Spain have lived here.
Each year the sword ceremony for new knights, and ladies, being inducted into the Hispanic Imperial Order of Carlos V, (IOHCV) is celebrated to reward the achievements of all those who have distinguished themselves in their lifetimes and careers, especially in promoting the Hispanic heritage and the work of understanding and advancing the peoples of the Hispanic community of nations. By this award, the Order also remembers the life of the Emperor Charles V, the king who laid the foundations of the modern Hispanic world of empire and culture.
The Hispanic Imperial Order has more than 1600 men in all countries of Europe and the Americas, and in the year 2015 two Cubans were inducted into the Order considering their exceptional merits: Dr. Luis Conte Aguero, who, at 91 years, has accumulated a long history as a renowned Spanish scholar, proclaimed twice, among many awards, “Poet of Hispanicism.”
Dr. Conte Aguero is also remembered as an outstanding fighter for freedom and democracy. Over the years he was declared a National Hero of El Salvador, was the torchbearer for democracy and freedom in many Latin American Congresses, and is considered in the Dominican Republic as the restorer of democracy in the 1960s. He served as representative and/or minister to many presidents of the United States in international matters, being recognized by the US Congress and the state of Florida for these diplomatic works in the name of democracy.
He has published more than 40 books, serves as the honorable President of the Cuban Academy of History, holds the Knight Grand Cross of the National Fraternity of Spain, and is implicitly recognized as a major political leader among in the Miami Cuban exile community, particularly for the thousands of members of the Party of the Cuban People (Orthodox) that he still leads.
He was joined in being inducted into the Imperial Order by Dr. Salvador Larrua-Guedes, former professor at the University of Havana and the Seminary of San Carlos and San Ambrosi and author of 47 titles on the history of Cuba and Spanish Florida and the contributions of Spain to the American Revolution. He has conducted extensive studies on the church in colonial Florida, and is a teacher, lecturer, historian, economist with several international awards. He has participated in International Congresses of History around the world, and Dr. Larrua is Corresponding Member from the United States to the Hispanic Royal Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Executive Secretary of the Cuban Academy of History, a member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, and corresponding member of the Royal Spanish Academy. He was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic by His Majesty King Juan Carlos I, was awarded the Knight’s Cross of Justice, and has also earned he Knight Grand Cross of the National Fraternity of Spain.
Drs. Luis Conte Aguero and Salvador Larrua-Guedes were honored by His Royal Highness Prince Don Enrique de Bourbon, Grand Master of the Imperial Order Hispanic Carlos V, with the rank and decorations of Knight Commanders in testimony to their achievements.
At the same ceremony in the Alcazar of Segovia, Dr. Lawrence A. Clayton, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Alabama, was named a Knight Commander. He was head of the Department of History at the University of Alabama for many years, Director of Programs Graduate of History, and also director of the Latin American Studies Program. Dr. Clayton is regarded as a renowned Spanish-American scholar. He has participated in numerous Congresses of Americanists across the Americas and Europe and is the author of several history books such as the chronicles of Hernando de Soto, the Adelantado of Florida, and others on the Viceroyalty of Peru as well as various others on other areas of Latin American studies like relations between the United States and Latin America. He also participated in conferences of Church history with special focus on Father Bartolomé de las Casas and the evangelization of the New World. He is Corresponding Member of the Royal Hispanic Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, a Corresponding Member of the Historical Research Center of Guayaquil, Ecuador, a member of the American Historical Association of the United States and the Association of Historians of the state of Alabama.
The ceremony took place in the historic Alcázar de Segovia. The Palace has always been a place by all the kings of Spain where the Catholic Kings, Isabela of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon, their grandson the Emperor Charles V and many other monarchs made decisions, signed decrees and lived. The Alcazar is a beautiful emblem to the Hispanic spirit spanning thousands of years.
The ceremony was held on the evening of November 14, 2015 in the Hall of Kings of the Alcazar. Salvador Larrua, who composed this essay in Spanish, remembers the evening.
“That night of intense cold, the sky full of stars, the castle appeared beautiful, as a work of enchantment, and time turned back several centuries. At seven p.m. many members of the Imperial Order and the future gentlemen, all dressed in tails and wearing glittering decorations, gathered at the gate of the Alcazar. We crossed the drawbridge and passed into the castle, reaching the Hall of the Kings, where the Master of Ceremonies of the Order explained the ritual.”
At the knighting ceremony, each new member of the Order was accompanied by a gentleman of a higher grade of the Order who were designated as a sponsors. Kneeling at a pew, the new members pronounced the oath of the knights. He stood before the Grand Master, His Royal Highness Prince Don Enrique de Bourbon, the Master of Ceremonies and Chaplain of the Military Order. At the pew, each gentleman two questions:
Why have you come here? And the response was “I request admission to the Imperial Order of Carlos V.”
Then each gentleman knelt at the pew and repeated the oath of the Order, basically a sentence to live by the principles of the Order.
After the oath, the Grand Master raised his ceremonial sword to invest the new knight in a ritual from medieval times. The sword was first laid on one shoulder, then the other, in the name of Santa Barbara, and the Lord our God and the Emperor Carlos V. Then the new Knight rose, shook hands, and received a warm embrace into the Order.
As Larrua observed, “It’s really hard to capture in writing the accumulation of impressions and emotions that seized us on that unforgettable night.”
After the ceremony, we all moved from the Alcázar to the Hotel Candido where there followed a splendid Gala Dinner, with the obligatory inclusion of roasted suckling pig according to local custom, numerous photographs, speeches, toasts, etc.
The Grand Master, Prince Don Enrique de Bourbon, gave the two Cubans and their American friend the honor of calling for the first picture done that night by the official photographer of the Order. Both Cuban exiles remembered well the generous land—America—which had given them shelter and hospitality in their hours of need.
Larrua recalled the oath that knights of the twelfth century took.
“Do not fear your enemies, be brave and upright that God loves you. Always tell the truth even if it leads to death. Protect the helpless and do no evil: this is your oath …”
In Miami, Florida, on November 29, 2015.
Today, the Order has knights and ladies in Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Italy, Estonia, Slovakia, Russia, Holland, Sweden, England, USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela.
The Order, was created, within the Spanish Heraldry Society, in order to properly commemorate the fifth centenary of the discovery of America

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