One of the two keys.

The Revolt of the Brotherhoods (Germanies) in Majorca occurred between 1521 and 1523. This war of the guilds against the monarchy and nobility ended with the surrender of the brotherhoods in March 1523. In surrendering, the brotherhoods presented a form of peace offering to Carlos V, the Holy Roman Emperor. They pledged loyalty to Carlos, who was also Carlos I of Castile and Aragon. If they had hoped that they might be shown leniency, they were to be proven wrong. Some two hundred of their number were executed.

With the 500th anniversary of the start of the revolt approaching, Palma town hall is keen to get hold of the artefacts that were the peace offering - the Keys to the Kingdom of Majorca. But much though the town hall would like to be able to display the keys, there is a problem - the whereabouts of the keys are uncertain.

There are two keys. Made from gold, they were enamelled and painted. One is of Gothic style and is 18.5 centimetres long; the other one is characteristic of the Renaissance and is five centimetres longer. An inscription reads: "To the Sacred, Caesarean, Catholic and Royal Majesty, here are the keys to your Kingdom of Majorca, which the magistrate and fathers of the republic, together with the inhabitants of your kingdom, present to your Majesty as a token of loyalty."

Maria Margalida Perelló, an historian who specialises in the brotherhoods, says that it wasn't strange that the keys should have been offered to Carlos. This sort of thing was "very common at the time".

A merchant, Bartomeu Ventallol, was the go-between, and it was he who tried to hand the keys over, but Carlos rejected them. They were given to Miguel de Gurrea, who was the governor of Majorca (he had fled to Ibiza at the start of the revolt). It would seem that Carlos did subsequently wish to retrieve them. For whatever reason, he did not.

What then happened to the keys is a mystery, but by the nineteenth century they were the possession of the Rothschild family. Far more recently, it was established that the keys still belonged to the Rothschilds. In 2007, it was discovered that they were on display in a museum in Jerusalem. Another historian, Román Piña Homs, tried to get the former president of the Balearics, Jaume Matas, to exchange them for the rimmonim Jewish jewels that are in Palma Cathedral. This was unsuccessful.

Palma councillor Llorenç Carrió says that the town hall would very much like to have the keys for the 500th anniversary, but he admits that he cannot be certain where they are.