Were Juan de Salonia and John Blanke the same trumpeter?
From 1493 until his death on October 1497, Prince John of Spain, heir to King Ferdinand of
Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile and brother to Catherine of Aragon, employed a trumpeter
named Juan de Salonia. He was part of a group of six musicians playing this instrument in his
household. The first two to join his service, Juan de Cieza and Alonso de Valdenebro, started in
1492. The other three were Juan de Cuadros, Francisco de Medina, and Fernando de Aguilera.
The only other time Salonia is mentioned in these records was in June 1501 when a certain
master Colin received a reward in Granada “because the Turks from the isles of Thesalonia cut
his arm in the service of the king and queen.”
In Strabo’s Geography, Salonia was in the Roman province of Bithynia, a land that covers
today’s north-west Turkey. In 1325 it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire becoming the Bolu
Providence. The Ottoman Empire included a diverse range of ethnic groups across the territories
it controlled not just Southeast Europe and Western Asia, but also North Africa so Juan de
Salonia could well have been Black.
Juan de Salonia seems to be the only trumpeter with a foreign origin in Prince John’s service. After his master’s death, he is not mentioned in the royal accounts again. Could this mean that Juan de Salonia and the other five trumpeters started serving someone else? When Catherine of Aragon travelled to England in 1501, the source mentions six trumpeters, but their names are not included. In one of Queen Isabella’s
extraordinary payments in February 1502, these six trumpeters’ wages are cited.
In May 1503 one of Prince John’s former trumpeters, Alonso de Valdenebro, is mentioned in the Spanish
queen’s financial records receiving a reward for some damages that he suffered travelling to
England to serve the Princess of Wales. Could this mean that Juan de Salonia was, along with
Alonso de Valdenebro, amongst the musicians that travelled with the Princess of Wales in 1501?
Can you imagine that, in reality, Juan de Salonia and John Blanke are the same trumpeter?
Dr. Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón
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Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón