The year 1996 was the five hundred anniversary of the connection between the Spanish Crown and the most illustrious and most famous Order of Knighthood in Western Europe: the Insigne Order del Toisón de Oro, or Order of the Golden Fleece.
This order of Knighthood was founded in 1430 by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, whose skillful international politics were renowned and whose court was undoubtedly the most dazzling in the twilight of the Middle Ages. It soon attained great prestige, and was famed for its lavish ceremonies. After being tied through marriage to the House of Austria, the wedding of Archduke Philip with Infanta Joan of Castile in 1496 would link the Order to the Spanish Crown forever. This circumstance, and the fact that the Spanish became the mightiest European power over the 16th and 17th centuries, led the Order of Golden Fleece to become the most valued and distinguished order of chivalry in the whole of Christendom. This prestige has doubtlessly been kept unscathed until our times, in which its Head and Sovereign is His Majesty King Juan Carlos I, as direct heir of the Dukes of Burgundy.