Piece of the month of September 2007


Eduardo Morales Solchaga
Chair of Navarrese Heritage and Art

We are looking at what was once the frontispiece of an executoria de hidalguía, a subject document of great importance during the Modern period, if we take into account the strong hierarchy that prevailed in those societies. In those cumbersome manuscripts, the seniority and nobility of the lineages in question was recorded, which guaranteed the families social recognition of their status and not a few privileges with respect to the rest of the estates. In addition to its undeniable legal value, there is an immense and rich historical content of great importance, as the folios provide an account of the origins, marriages, protocols, properties and entailed estates of these privileged lineages.

The document presented, printed on yellow taffeta as was the case with the copies that remained in the hands of the family or people closely linked to it, is configured as a genealogical tree, supported by two tenant figures, presided over by the arms of the lineage and crowned by the marriage that merged both dynasties and which obtained the letter of nobility in the late date of 1774, when the Royal committee pronounced a favourable sentence, after almost two years of testimonial evidence and heavy procedures.

Title page of the noble title of the Larramendi-Octavio de Toledo family, Pamplona, 1774. José de Estepillo. Private collection

Cover page of the Larramendi-Octavio de Toledo noble title deed.
Pamplona, 1774. José de Estepillo. Private collection


The marriage in question, formed by Manuel Bernardo de Larramendi and Joaquina Octavio de Toledo, was one of the most prosperous in the town of Lerín in the second half of the 18th century. Larramendi, in spite of having an artisan training in pottery, as can be deduced from his marriage contracts, showed himself to be a perfect merchant, as he participated in different leases of the town, such as that of the butcher's shops and irrigation, as well as other administrative positions such as that of patrimonial substitute or the lessor of the tithe of the excused houses. In addition to this, he had numerous vineyards in the area, which allowed him to achieve a high wine production and even to install an office of brandy. In 1796 he was the trustee of the Capuchin convent of Lerín, a position that was practically reserved for the religious, which in itself gives an idea of his innate talent for business. It is also necessary to remember that the most distinguished Navarrese of that century, Juan de Goyeneche, did the same with the collegiate of Roncesvalles.

The procedure of nobility began in April of 1773, when the couple placed their arms in the manor house they owned in that town with malice aforethought and at night. According to the testimony of the notary, which is endorsed by the physical survival of the emblem, the recently placed coat of arms looked like this: "I have seen and recognized with due care the coat of arms that is modernly fixed on the frontispiece of the house where Manuel Bernardo de Larramendi and Joaquina Octavio de Toledo, his wife, neighbors of this town that is theirs, live, and its currencies placed in the quarters, and in the first one there is a tree like a holm oak and crossed to its trunk by a wild boar, and towards the backs of the right side has said boar a average Moorish moon with the points above and on the left side in the trunk of said tree there is a fleur-de-lis, and under said first quarter there is a description that says: Of the Larramendis; and in the second quarter of the same shield there is a lump of an image of Our Lady with the child in her arms, and below another lump of a man who is kneeling with a rosary in his left hand, looking at Our Lady, and below that a stripe that holds said lump, and further down a castle, and above it a star, and on both sides of the castle a fleur-de-lis on each one, and further down, on one side a description that says: of the Octavios de Toledo".

The town raised process against them, because the laws of the Kingdom specifically inhibited families not belonging to noble lineages to place their arms in public view. At that moment is when the committee asked them to prove their supposed nobility, which was certified in the following months. On the part of Joaquina, it was proven that she was a descendant of infanzones, located in Tarazona and who emigrated to the town of Lerín in 1601, later branching out to other places of interest such as Estella, Corella and Fitero. The lineage of her husband, Manuel Bernardo, came from Ezpeleta (Daguerre house) in the leave Navarra, and had branched out to Lerín, after settling in Sangüesa. With this they managed to establish their roots at least until the second half of the 15th century.

Among the evidence presented to prove the nobility of the Larramendi - Octavio de Toledo family, a burial place in Ezpeleta, a tablet located in the palace of Sangüesa and a book of 1361 where the Octavio de Toledo family was registered, property of the brotherhood of San Pablo de Tarazona, reserved for infanzones of the Crown of Aragon, stood out. The process of obtaining the executorship of nobility was of great interest, since even the King of Arms of the Kingdom testified in it, and extracts of the accounts of Comptos were obtained in which the commitment of the noble Larramendi family to the Kingdom of Navarre was reflected.

Detail of the executorship with the coat of arms of the Larramendi-Octavio de Toledo family.

Detail of the executorship with the coat of arms of the Larramendi-Octavio de Toledo family.

Returning to the engraved family tree, the composition revolves around the controversial coat of arms, which is still preserved in the family's manor house in Lerín, and which is described in the executions. As for that of the Larramendi family, according to the tombstone of the aforementioned tomb(he kept his arms publicly in his tomb, sculpted in ashlar stone, those that exist at present in the same which are reduced to a tree, and crossed by a boar and a average moon with the points upwards, and on one side of the foot of the tree a fleur-de-lis and on the border a sign that reads: Francois de Larramendi et María de Aguerre), and the table of Sangüesa(the father of my part as his grandfather and great-grandfather have preserved the arms that are specified painted in a picture with a sign that says: Arms of the Larramendis of Ezpeleta). Regarding the Octavio de Toledo family, the testimony of the arms that appeared in the book of the brotherhood of San Pablo is preserved(in this book and its fol. 228, we find among many other ancient houses that of the famita and surname de Toledo, and in it are engraved the coat of arms belonging to this family by varony, divided into two quarters and in the first one Our Lady with her son in her arms, and kneeling at her feet a person with a rosary in her hand and in the second a castle with a fleur-de-lis on both sides, and on the said castle a star in a field of gold first and this in a field of green, and next to the same quarter are seated Martín Díez de Toledo, Fernando de Toledo, Juan de Toledo and Juan Octavio de Toledo).

The engraver of the composition is the silversmith from Salamanca, José de Espetillo, who settled in Pamplona for much of the 18th century, where he completed his training at training in the workshop of his uncle Antonio Ripando. He qualified as a master silversmith on 3 January 1727, making an armorial plate with vegetal decoration in the Baroque style. Although much of his work has not survived, judging by his long artistic activity, he gave rise to a brilliant dynasty of silversmiths, as his sons, Juan Francisco and Tomás Vicente, had their own workshop in the capital of Navarre. If his silversmith's mark corresponded to the initials ES/PTO, his engraver's mark, as can be seen in the composition presented here, corresponded to the full name Joseph Espetillo f.(ecit).

FORTÚN PÉREZ DE CIRIZA. L.J., "Ejecutoria de hidalguía de Juan Francisco Navarro Tafalla", in Juan de Goyeneche y el triunfo de los navarros en la Monarquía Hispánica del siglo XVIII, Pamplona, CAN, 2005, pp. 280 - 281.
GARCÍA GAÍNZA, Mª C., Dibujos antiguos de los plateros de Pamplona, Pamplona, SPUN, 1991, p. 103, plate no. 33.
AZCONA GUERRA, A. Mª, Comercio y comerciantes en la Navarra del siglo XVIII, Pamplona, Government of Navarre, 1996.
GARCÍA GAÍNZA, Mª C., Monumental Catalogue of Navarre [various volumes], Pamplona, Government of Navarre.