|King of Castile and León|
|Reign||1 June 1252 – 4 April 1284|
|Born||23 November 1221|
|Died||4 April 1284 62) (aged|
|Spouse||Violant of Aragon|
| Berengaria, Lady of Guadalajara |
Beatrice, Marchioness of Monferrat
Ferdinand de la Cerda
Sancho IV, King of Castile
Peter, Lord of Ledesma
John, Lord of Valencia de Campos
Violant, Lady of Biscay
James, Lord of Cameros
Beatrice, Queen of Portugal
|House||Castilian House of Ivrea|
|Father||Ferdinand III of Castile|
|Mother||Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen|
Alfonso X (also known as the Wise, Spanish : el Sabio; 23 November 1221 – 4 April 1284) was the king of Castile, León and Galicia from 30 May 1252 until his death in 1284. During the election of 1257, a dissident faction chose him to be king of Germany on 1 April. He renounced his claim to Germany in 1275, and in creating an alliance with the Kingdom of England in 1254, his claim on the Duchy of Gascony as well.
Alfonso X fostered the development of a cosmopolitan court that encouraged learning. Jews, Muslims, and Christians were encouraged to have prominent roles in his court. As a result of his encouraging the translation of works from Arabic and Latin into the vernacular of Castile, many intellectual changes took place, including the encouragement of the use of Castilian as a primary language of higher learning, science, and law.
Alfonso was a prolific author of Galician poetry, such as the Cantigas de Santa Maria , which are equally notable for their musical notation as for their literary merit. Alfonso's scientific interests—he is sometimes nicknamed the Astrologer (el Astrólogo)—led him to sponsor the creation of the Alfonsine tables, and the Alphonsus crater on the moon is named after him. He also sponsored the work of historians, who for the first time placed Spain—he would have called it that—in the context of world history. As a lawmaker he introduced the first vernacular law code in Spain, the Siete Partidas . He created the Mesta, an association of sheep farmers in the central plain, but debased the coinage to finance his claim to the German crown. He fought a successful war with Portugal, but a less successful one with Granada. The end of his reign was marred by a civil war with his eldest surviving son, the future Sancho IV, which continued after his death.
Born in Toledo, Kingdom of Castile, Alfonso was the eldest son of Ferdinand III and Elizabeth (Beatrice) of Swabia. His mother was the paternal cousin of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, to whom Alfonso is often compared. His maternal grandparents were Philip of Swabia and Irene Angelina. Little is known about his upbringing, but he was most likely raised in Toledo. For the first nine years of his life Alfonso was only heir to Castile until his paternal grandfather king Alfonso IX of León died and his father united the kingdoms of Castile and León. He began his career as a soldier, under the command of his father, when he was only sixteen years old.
After the accession of King Theobald I of Navarre, Ferdinand tried to arrange a marriage for Alfonso with Theobald's daughter, Blanche, but the move was unsuccessful. At the same time, he had a romantic relationship with Mayor Guillén de Guzmán, who bore him a daughter, Beatrice. In 1240, he married Mayor Guillén de Guzmán, but the marriage was later annulled and their issue declared illegitimate. In the same period (1240–1250) he conquered several Muslim strongholds in Al-Andalus alongside his father, such as Murcia, Alicante and Cadiz.
In 1249, Alfonso married Violant, the daughter of King James I of Aragon and Yolande of Hungary,although betrothed already in 1246.
Alfonso succeeded his father as King of Castile and León in 1252. The following year he invaded Portugal, capturing the region of the Algarve. King Afonso III of Portugal had to surrender, but he gained an agreement by which, after he consented to marry Alfonso X's daughter Beatrice of Castile, the land would be returned to their heirs. In 1261 he captured Jerez. In 1263 he returned Algarve to the King of Portugal and signed the Treaty of Badajoz (1267).
In 1254 Alfonso X signed a treaty of alliance with King Henry III of England, supporting him in the war against King Louis IX of France. In the same year Alfonso's half-sister, Eleanor, married Henry's son Edward: with this act Alfonso renounced forever all claim to the Duchy of Gascony, to which Castile had been a pretender since the marriage of Alfonso VIII of Castile with Eleanor of England.
In 1256, at the death of William II of Holland, Alfonso's descent from the Hohenstaufen through his mother, a daughter of Philip of Swabia, gave him a claim through the Hohenstaufen line. Alfonso's election as German king by the prince-electors misled him into complicated schemes that involved excessive expense but never succeeded. Alfonso never even traveled to Germany, and his alliance with the Italian Ghibelline Lord Ezzelino IV da Romano deprived him of the initial support of Pope Alexander IV. His rival, Richard of Cornwall, went to Germany and was crowned in 1257 at Aachen.
To obtain money, Alfonso debased the coinage and then endeavored to prevent a rise in prices by an arbitrary tariff. The little trade of his dominions was ruined, and the burghers and peasants were deeply offended. His nobles, whom he tried to cow by sporadic acts of violence, rebelled against him in 1272. Reconciliation was bought by Alfonso's son Ferdinand in 1273.
In the end, after Richard's death, the German princes elected Rudolph I of Habsburg (1273), Alfonso being declared deposed by Pope Gregory X. In 1275 Alfonso tried to meet with his imperial vicar in Italy, William VII of Montferrat (who had succeeded Ezzelino) and his Ghibelline allies in Piedmont and Lombardy to celebrate the victory against the Guelph Charles I of Anjou and be crowned in Lombardy; he was however halted in his imperial ambitions in Provence by the Pope who, after a long negotiation, obtained Alfonso's oral renunciation of any claims to the Holy Roman Empire.
Throughout his reign, Alfonso contended with the nobles, particularly the families of Nuño González de Lara, Diego López de Haro and Esteban Fernández de Castro, all of whom were formidable soldiers and instrumental in maintaining Castile's military strength in frontier territories. According to some scholars Alfonso lacked the singleness of purpose required by a ruler who would devote himself to organization and also the combination of firmness with temper needed for dealing with his nobles although this is not a view taken by all. [ additional citation(s) needed ] Others have argued that his efforts were too singularly focused on the diplomatic and financial arrangements surrounding his bid to become Holy Roman Emperor.[ citation needed ]
Alfonso's eldest son, Ferdinand, died in 1275 at the Battle of Écija against the Moroccan and Granadan invasion armies, leaving two infant sons. Alfonso's second son, Sancho, claimed to be the new heir, in preference to the children of Ferdinand de la Cerda, basing his claim on an old Castilian custom, that of proximity of blood and agnatic seniority. Alfonso preferred to leave the throne to his grandsons, but Sancho had the support of the nobility. A bitter civil war broke out resulting in Alfonso's being forced in 1282 to accept Sancho as his heir instead of his young grandsons; only the cities of Seville, Murcia and Badajoz remained faithful to him. Son and nobles alike supported the Moors when he tried to unite the nation in a crusade; and when he allied himself with Abu Yusuf Yakub, the ruling Marinid Sultan of Morocco, they denounced him as an enemy of the faith. A reaction in his favor was beginning in his later days, but he died defeated and deserted at Seville in 1284, leaving a will, by which he endeavored to exclude Sancho, and a heritage of civil war.[ citation needed ]
In 1273, he created the Mesta, an association of some 3,000 petty and great sheep holders in Castile, in reaction to less wool being exported from the traditional sites in England.This organization later became exceedingly powerful in the country (as wool became Castile's first major exportable commodity and reported a trade surplus, called "white gold", as the wool amount was critical to the health of the population during the winter), and eventually its privileges were to prove a deadly wound in the Castilian economy. One side effect of the quickly expanding sheep herds was the decimation to the Castilian farmland through which the sheep grazed.
The original function of the Mesta was to separate the fields from the sheep-ways linking grazing areas.
As a ruler, Alfonso showed legislative capacity, and a wish to provide the kingdoms expanded under his father with a code of laws and a consistent judicial system. The Fuero Real[ further explanation needed ] was undoubtedly his work. He began medieval Europe's most comprehensive code of law, the Siete Partidas , which, however, thwarted by the nobility of Castile, was only promulgated by his great-grandson. Because of this, and because the Partidas remain fundamental law in the American Southwest, he is one of the 23 lawmakers depicted in the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol.
From a young age Alfonso X showed an interest in military life and chivalry. In 1231 Alfonso traveled with Pérez de Castron on a military campaign in lower Andalusia. Writing in Estoria de España, Alfonso describes having seen St. James on a white horse with a white banner and a legion of knights fighting a war above the soldiers of Spain.This vision of a heavenly army fighting in Jerez and participation in military campaigns likely left Alfonso X with a high degree of knowledge and respect for military operations and chivalric knights. Alfonso's respect for chivalry can also be seen in his writing of Spanish law. Spanish Chivalric conduct was codified in the Siete Partidas (2,21) where he wrote that knights should be, "of good linage and distinguished by gentility, wisdom, understanding, loyalty, courage, moderation, justice, prowess, and the practical knowledge necessary to assess the quality of horse and arms ( Siete Partidas , 21,1–10)." These efforts to make a codified standard of chivalric conduct were likely meant to both encourage strength of arms (prowess) and to restrain the use of violence for only just (state-sponsored) usage.
King Alfonso X developed a court culture that encouraged cosmopolitan learning. Alfonso had many works previously written in Arabic and Latin translated into vernacular Castilian in his court. Alfonso "turned to the vernacular for the kind of intellectual commitments that formerly were inconceivable outside Latin."He is credited with encouraging the extensive written use of the Castilian language instead of Latin as the language used in courts, churches, and in books and official documents (although his father, Ferdinand III, had begun to use it for some documents). This translation of Arabic and Classic documents into vernacular encouraged the development of Spanish sciences, literature, and philosophy.
From the beginning of his reign, Alfonso employed Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars at his court, primarily for the purpose of translating books from Arabic and Hebrew into Latin and Castilian, although he always insisted in supervising personally the translations. This group of scholars formed his royal scriptorium, continuing the tradition of the twelfth-century Escuela de Traductores de Toledo (Toledo School of Translators). Their final output promoted Castilian as a learning language both in science and literature, and established the foundations of the new Spanish language. This evolved version of the Castilian language also acquired significant relevance in the royal chancery, where it came to replace Latin, which until then had been the language commonly used for royal diplomacy in Castile and León.
The very first translation, commissioned by his brother, Fernando de la Cerda—who had extensive experience, both diplomatic and military, among the Muslims of southern Iberia and north Africa—was a Castilian version of the animal fable Kalila wa-Dimna ,a book that belongs to the genre of wisdom literature labeled Mirrors for Princes: stories and sayings meant to instruct the monarch in proper and effective governance.
The primary intellectual work of these scholars centered on astronomy and astrology. The early period of Alfonso's reign saw the translation of selected works of magic (Lapidario, Picatrix , Libro de las formas et las ymagenes) all translated by a Jewish scholar named Yehuda ben Moshe (Yhuda Mosca, in the Old Spanish source texts). These were all highly ornate manuscripts (only the Lapidario survives in its entirety) containing what was believed to be secret knowledge on the magical properties of stones and talismans. In addition to these books of astral magic, Alfonso ordered the translation of well-known Arabic astrological compendia, including the Libro de las cruzes and Libro conplido en los iudizios de las estrellas. The first of these was, ironically, translated from Latin (it was used among the Visigoths), into Arabic, and then back into Castilian and Latin.Most of the texts first translated at this time survive in only one manuscript each.
As an intellectual he gained considerable scientific fame based on his encouragement of astronomy, which included astrology at the time and the Ptolemaic cosmology as known to him through the Arabs. He surrounded himself with mostly Jewish translators who rendered Arabic scientific texts into Castilian at Toledo. His fame extends to the preparation of the Alfonsine tables, based on calculations of al-Zarqali, "Arzachel". Alexander Bogdanov maintained that these tables formed the basis for Copernicus's development of a heliocentric understanding in astronomy.Because of this work, the lunar crater Alphonsus is named after him. One famous, but apocryphal, quote attributed to him upon his hearing an explanation of the extremely complicated mathematics required to demonstrate Ptolemy's theory of astronomy was "If the Lord Almighty had consulted me before embarking on creation thus, I should have recommended something simpler." Gingerich (1990) says that a form of this alleged quotation was mentioned (but rejected) as early as the 16th century by the historian Jerónimo de Zurita, and that Soriano Viguera (1926) states that "nothing of the sort can be found in Alfonso's writings." Nevertheless, Dean Acheson (U.S. Secretary of State, 1949–1953) used it as the basis for the title and epigraph of his memoir Present at the Creation.
Alfonso also commissioned a compilation of chronicles, the Crónica general , completed in 1264. This chronicle sought to establish a general history and drew from older chronicles, folklore and Arabic sources.This work enjoyed renewed popularity starting in the sixteenth century, when there was a revival of interest in history; Florián de Ocampo published a new edition and Lorenzo de Sepúlveda used it as the chief source of his popular romances. Sepúlveda wrote a number of romances having Alfonso X as their hero.
Alfonso's court compiled in Castilian a work titled General Estoria . This work was an attempt at a world history that drew from many sources and included translations from the Vulgate Old Testament mixed with myths and histories from the classical world, mostly Egypt, Greece, and Rome.This world history was left incomplete, however, and so it stops at the birth of Christ. The main significance of this work lies in the translations from Latin into Castilian. Much like his chronicles, the ability of Alfonso's court to compile writings from a variety of cultures and translate them into Castilian left a historic impact on Spain.
Alfonso X is credited with the first depiction of an hórreo , a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. The oldest document containing an image of an hórreo is Alfonso's Cantigas de Santa Maria (song CLXXXVII) from XII A.C. In this depiction, three rectangular hórreos of Gothic style are illustrated.
Alfonso also had the Libro de ajedrez, dados, y tablas ( "Libro de los Juegos" (The Book of Games) ) translated into Castilian from Arabic and added illustrations with the goal of perfecting the work.It was completed in 1283. The Libro de juegos contains an extensive collection of writings on chess, with over 100 chess problems and chess variants.
Alfonso X commissioned or co-authored numerous works of music during his reign. These works included Cantigas d'escarnio e maldicer and the vast compilation Cantigas de Santa Maria ("Songs to the Virgin Mary"), which was written in Galician-Portuguese and figures among the most important of his works. The Cantigas form one of the largest collections of vernacular monophonic songs to survive from the Middle Ages. They consist of 420 poems with musical notation. The poems are for the most part on miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary. One of the miracles Alfonso relates is his own healing in Puerto de Santa María.
Violante was ten years old at the time of her marriage to Alfonso; she produced no children for several years and it was feared that she was barren. Alfonso almost had their marriage annulled, but they went on to have eleven children:
Alfonso X also had several illegitimate children. With Mayor Guillén de Guzmán, daughter of Guillén Pérez de Guzmán and of María González Girón, he fathered:
With Elvira Rodríguez de Villada, daughter of Rodrigo Fernández de Villada, he fathered:
With María Alfonso de León, his aunt, the illegitimate daughter of the King Alfonso IX of León and Teresa Gil de Soverosa he had:
The Cantigas de Santa Maria are 420 poems with musical notation, written in the medieval Galician-Portuguese language during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (1221–1284) and often attributed to him.
The Libro de los Juegos, or Libro de axedrez, dados e tablas, was commissioned by Alfonso X of Castile, Galicia and León and completed in his scriptorium in Toledo in 1283, is an exemplary piece of Alfonso's medieval literary legacy.
Sancho IV of Castile called the Brave, was the king of Castile, León and Galicia from 1284 to his death. Following his brother Ferdinand's death, he gained the support of nobles that declared him king instead of Ferdinand's son Alfonso. Faced with revolts throughout his reign, before he died he made his wife regent for his son Ferdinand IV.
The Kingdom of Castile was a large and powerful state on the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region. It began in the 9th century as the County of Castile, an eastern frontier lordship of the Kingdom of León. During the 10th century, its counts increased their autonomy, but it was not until 1065 that it was separated from León and became a kingdom in its own right. Between 1072 and 1157, it was again united with León, and after 1230, this union became permanent. Throughout this period, the Castilian kings made extensive conquests in southern Iberia at the expense of the Islamic principalities. The Kingdoms of Castile and of León, with their southern acquisitions, came to be known collectively as the Crown of Castile, a term that also came to encompass overseas expansion.
María Alfonso Téllez de Meneses, known as María de Molina, was queen consort of Castile and León from 1284 to 1295 by marriage to Sancho IV of Castile, and served as regent for her minor son Ferdinand IV and later her grandson Alfonso XI of Castile (1312-1321).
Violant or Violante of Aragon, also known as Yolanda of Aragon, was Queen consort of Castile and León from 1252 to 1284 as the wife of King Alfonso X of Castile.
Alfonso X of Castile, also known as Alfonso the Learned, ruled from 1252 until 1284. One of Alfonso’s goals for his kingdom was to lift Spain out of the Dark Ages by producing a united, educated, artistic, and religious population. His desire to bring Spain into the mainstream of high civilization led to a boom of cultural activity, including the production and translation of a great deal of literature. The literature produced during his reign was intended to aid him in achieving his goal by giving the common people of Spain access to great intellectual works. Therefore, all of the prose attributed to Alfonso X’s efforts was written in the language of the common people, Castilian, rather than Latin, which was the language of prestige at that time. Although the works are generally attributed to Alfonso X, being a king with other business to deal with he did not himself write most of them. Instead, Alfonso’s role was that of choosing works to be produced and translated, funding the projects, selecting the true authors of the work, overseeing the production, and occasionally contributing personally.
The Estoria de España, also known in the 1906 edition of Ramón Menéndez Pidal as the Primera Crónica General, is a history book written on the initiative of Alfonso X of Castile "El Sabio", who was actively involved in the editing. It is believed to be the first extended history of Spain in Old Spanish, a West Iberian Romance language that forms part of the lineage from Vulgar Latin to modern Spanish. Many prior works were consulted in constructing this history.
Alfonso de la Cerda,, called "the disinherited," was the elder son of Ferdinand de la Cerda and his wife Blanche of France, and was a grandson of Alfonso X of Castile. Alfonso and his brother Fernando were candidates for the Castilian-Leonese crown during the reigns of Sancho IV of Castile, Ferdinand IV of Castile and Alfonso XI of Castile. In 1331, Alfonso renounced his rights and swore allegiance to Alfonso XI of Castile.
Diego López III de Haro. Was the eldest son of Lope Díaz II de Haro and of Urraca Alfonso de León, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso IX of León. Diego succeeded his father as the Lord of Biscay between the years 1236 and 1254.
Lope Díaz III de Haro was a Spanish noble and head of the House of Haro. He was the 8th Lord of Biscay, a post which he gained by hereditary means after the death of his father. He held that title from 1254 until his own death in 1288 where he died attempting to assassinate the King of Castile.
The Order of Saint Mary of Spain, also known as the Order of the Star, was a Spanish military order concentrating in naval activity created by Alfonso X of Castile, King of León and Castile in 1270.
The Battle of Écija was a battle of the Spanish Reconquista that took place in September 1275. The battle pitted the Muslim troops of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada and its Moroccan allies against those of the Kingdom of Castile and resulted in a victory for the Emirate of Granada.
Teresa Díaz II de Haro was a Spanish noble woman and a lady of Biscay, and one of five children of Diego López III de Haro, the Lord of Biscay, and Constanza de Bearne. Her maternal grandparents were the viscount Guillermo II de Bearne and his wife, Garsenda of Provence. Her paternal grandparents were Lope Díaz II de Haro, also Lord of Biscay, and of Urraca Alfonso de León, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso IX of León. Amongst her siblings were Diego Lopez V de Haro and Maria II Diaz de Haro.
Nuño González III de Lara was a Castilian noble of the House of Lara. He was the lord consort of Alegrete, Vide, and Sintra and served as Alférez del rey for King Ferdinand IV of Castile.
The Libros del saber de astronomía del rey Alfonso X de Castilla, "Books of wisdom of astronomy of King Alfonso X of Castile", is a series of books of the medieval period, composed during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile. They describe the celestial bodies and the astronomical instruments existing at the time. The collection is a group of treatises on astronomical instruments, like the celestial sphere, the spherical and plane astrolabe, saphea, and universal plate for all latitudes, for uranography or star cartography that can be used for casting horoscopes. The purpose of the rest of the instruments, the quadrant of the type called vetus, sundial, clepsydras, is to determine the time, which was also needed to cast the horoscope. The king looked for separate works for the construction and use of each device.
Juan Núñez I de Lara y León, also known as "el Gordo" or "the Fat", was a Spanish noble. He was the head of the House of Lara, Lord of Lerma, Amaya, Dueñas, Palenzuela, Tordehumos, Torrelobatón, and la Mota. He was further known as Señor de Albarracín through his first marriage with Teresa Álvarez de Azagra.
The Siege of Albarracín was a battle fought during the reign of Peter III of Aragon, King of Aragón from the months of April to September 1284. Albarracín, which had for some time belonged to Juan Núñez I de Lara, the head of the House of Lara, was besieged by an Aragonese force. The siege resulted in the successful taking of the city by Aragonese forces after which, Peter III handed gifted the city to his illegitimate son, Ferdinand of Aragón.
Álvaro Núñez de Lara was a Castilian nobleman, the son of Juan Núñez I de Lara, head of the House of Lara, and his first wife, Teresa Álvarez de Azagra.
The Castilian House of Burgundy is a cadet branch of the House of Ivrea descended from Raymond of Burgundy. Raymond married Urraca, the eldest legitimate daughter of Alfonso VI of León and Castile of the House of Jiménez. Two years after Raymond's death, Urraca succeeded her father and became queen of Castile and Leon; Urraca's and Raymond's offspring in the legitimate line ruled the kingdom from 1126 until the death of Peter of Castile in 1369, while their descendants in an illegitimate line, the House of Trastámara, would rule Castile and Aragón until the 16th century.
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