[CARTA EXECUTORIA, MANUSCRIPT--SPANISH]. PHILIP II, King of Spain (1527-1598). Carta executoria de Hidalguia, in favor of Miguel de Olmedilla, in Spanish. ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM. Granada, 9 September 1573.
317 x 218 mm. 32 leaves, FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATION, incorporating the grantee's arms and large illuminated initial of St. Michael standing on the devil, large illuminated initial depicting Philip II, and 16 smaller initials in red, white and gold, 34 lines written in a neat round bookhand in black ink, ruled in red, three decorative rulings with flourishes to upper margins, notary's endorsement in lower margin of each recto (light darkening and staining to vellum, a few ink smudges). Contemporary Spanish (Granadan) goatskin over paste-boards tooled in gilt and blind, five concentric blind roll-tooled borders central panel and infills of gilt hand tools of unicorns, dogs, medallion heads, fleurons, and shells, central panel with a design of grantee's arms of five lions (wear to spine ends and edges, some worming to paste-boards).
Heraldry began in Spain in the 11th century, as a means of distinguishing different knights and noblemen on the battlefield. Spanish nobility differed from many of its European counterparts in that membership was determined almost entirely on the performance of military service (this grant mentions service in the "Catholic wars"). Also, unlike many other European nations, Spanish nobility could be inherited down the female line.