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ALFONSO VI, The Brave, and Constance of Burgundy
ALFONSO VI, The Brave. [Familytree].
Born before June 1040; the second and favorite son of FERDINAND I (The Great), King of Castile, and Sancha, Princess of Leon.
King of León from 1065 to 1109 and King of Castile since 1072 after his brother's death. As he was the first Alfonso to be King of Castile, he is sometimes referred to as Alfonso I of Castile. In 1077, he proclaimed himself "Emperor of All Hispania".
Alfonso was allotted León, while Castile was given to his eldest brother Sancho, and Galicia to his youngest brother Garcia. Sancho was assassinated in 1072. Garcia was dethroned and imprisoned for life the following year.
In the The Lay of the Cid, he plays the part attributed by medieval poets to the greatest kings, and to Charlemagne himself. He is alternately the oppressor and the victim of heroic and self-willed nobles — the idealized types of the patrons for whom the jongleurs and troubadours sang. He is the hero of a cantar de gesta which, like all but a very few of the early Spanish songs, like the cantar of Bernardo del Carpio and the Infantes of Lara, exists now only in the fragments incorporated in the chronicle of Alfonso the Wise or in ballad form.
His flight from the monastery of Sahagun, where his brother Sancho endeavoured to imprison him, his chivalrous friendship for his host Almamun of Toledo, caballero aunque moro, "a knight although a Moor", the passionate loyalty of his vassal, Pero (Pedro) Ansúrez, and his brotherly love for his sister Urraca of Zamora, may owe something to the poet who took him as a hero.
They are the answer to the poet of the nobles who represented the king as having submitted to taking a degrading oath at the hands of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid) to deny intervention in his brother's death in the church of Santa Gadea at Burgos, and as having then persecuted the brave man who defied him.
When every allowance is made, Alfonso VI stands out as a strong man fighting as a king whose interest was law and order, and who was the leader of the nation in the reconquest. He impressed himself on the Arabs as a very fierce and astute enemy, but as a keeper of his word. A story of Muslim origin, which is probably no more historical than the oath of Santa Gadea, tells of how he allowed himself to be tricked by Ibn Ammar, the favourite of Al Mutamid, the King of Seville. They played chess for an extremely beautiful table and set of men, belonging to Ibn Ammar. Table and men were to go to the king if he won. If Ibn Ammar gained he was to name the stake. The latter did win and demanded that the Christian king should spare Seville. Alfonso kept his word.
Whatever truth may lie behind the romantic tales of Christian and Muslim, we know that Alfonso represented, in a remarkable way, the two great influences then shaping the character and civilization of Spain.
Alfonso was defeated on October 23, 1086, at the battle of Zallaqa, at the hands of Yusuf ibn Tashfin, and Abbad III al-Mu'tamid, and was severely wounded in the leg.
Alfonso married at least five times and had two mistresses and a fiancée. His first wife was (1) Agnes, daughter of William VIII of Aquitaine. They married in 1069 and divorced due to consanguinity later. They had no children.
His second wife, who he married (in 1081)(by May 1080), was (2) Constance of Burgundy, the mother of their daughter Urraca of Castile. Prior to his marriage with Constance, he was betrothed to Agatha, one of the daughters of William I of England.
At the instigation, it is said, of his wife Constance, he brought the Cistercian Order into Spain, established them in Sahagun, chose a French Cistercian, Bernard, as the first Archbishop of Toledo after the reconquest on May 25, 1085. He married his illegitimate daughters, Urraca of Castile and Teresa of Leon, to French princes, and in every way forwarded the spread of French influence — then the greatest civilizing force in Europe. He also drew Spain nearer to the Papacy. It was Alfonso's decision which established the Roman ritual in place of the old missal of Saint Isidore — the Mozarabic rite.
In 1093, he married (3) Bertha, hypothesized to have been daughter of William I, Count Palatine of Burgundy.
Following her death, he married an (4) Isabel (or, it has been suggested, two successive Isabels).
His final wife was (5) Beatrice, of unknown origin.
By mistress (6) Jimena Muñoz, speculated to have been daughter of Munio Gonzalez, Count of Asturias or of an otherwise obscure Munio Muñoz, he had two illegitimate daughters, Elvira of Castile and Teresa of Leon.
It is also said that he was very open to Arabic influence. He protected the Muslims among his subjects and struck coins with inscriptions in Arabic letters.
After the death of Constance, he perhaps married, and certainly lived with, (7) Zaida, said to have been a daughter-in-law of Al Mutamid, the Muslim King of Seville. She was mother of his illegitimate son, Sancho, who would be named his father's heir. It is unclear if Zaida, baptised under the name of Isabel, is identical with Alfonso's later wife, Queen Isabel, the mother by Alfonso of two daughters, Elvira Alfonso, (who married Roger II of Sicily) and, Sancha, (wife of Rodrigo Gonzalez de Lara).
Sancho, Alfonso's designated successor, was slain in the Battle of Ucles in 1108.
Alfonso died on 1 July 1109.
Agnes of Acquitaine.
Daughter of William VIII of Aquitaine. They married in 1069 and divorced due to consanguinity later. They had no children
Constance of Burgundy. [Familytree].
Daughter of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy.
Her marriage to Alfonso initially faced papal opposition, apparently due to her kinship with Agnes. Her tenure as queen consort brought significant Cluniac influences into the kingdom. She died in September or October, 1093. She is the mother of Alfonso's eldest legitimate daughter Urraca, and of five other children who died in infancy.
CHILDREN of ALFONSO VI and Constance of Burgundy:
- URRACA I, Princess of Castile and Leon. [Familytree]. Born (in April 1079)(in 1082) in Burgos, Spain. She married Raymond Count of Burgundy. She died on 8 March 1126.
hypothesized to have been daughter of William I, Count Palatine of Burgundy
CHILDREN of ALFONSO VI and Bertha:
CHILDREN of ALFONSO VI and Isabel:
of unknown origin
CHILDREN of ALFONSO VI and Beatrice:
speculated to have been daughter of Munio Gonzalez, Count of Asturias or of an otherwise obscure Munio Muñoz.
CHILDREN of ALFONSO VI and Jimena Muñoz:
- Elvira of Castile
- Teresa of Leon [Familytree]. Born in 1080. She married HENRY of Burgundy while on crusade in Iberia against the Moors. The County of Portugal was part of her dowry, establishing Henry as Count of Portugal. At first, Henry was a vassal of his father-in-law, but when Alfonso VI died in 1109, leaving everything to his daughter Urraca of Castile, Henry invaded León, hoping to add it to his lands. When he died in 1112, Teresa was left to deal with the mess. Although their son Afonso I of Portugal (a.k.a. Afonso Henriques) succeeded to the countship, he was young and was therefore placed under his mother's tutelage. She took on the responsibility as regent and governed her land that had only recently been reconquered from the Moors and only as far as the Mondego River. In 1116, in an effort to expand the land that would descend to her son (who later became the first King of Portugal), Teresa fought her half-sister and queen, Urraca. They fought again in 1120. In 1121, she was besieged and captured at Lanhoso. A negotiated peace was coordinated with aid from the Archbishops of Santiago de Compostela and Braga. The terms included that Teresa would go free and hold the county of Portugal as a fief of León. Teresa tried to retain the rule of the county even after her son's majority. Over the course of five years, she lavished wealth and titles on her lover, Fernando Peres, Count of Trava. These actions estranged her other son (who was the Archbishop of Braga) and the nobles, who were mostly foreign crusaders. By 1128, her sons and the nobles were fed up. Afonso was named sole ruler. He defeated Teresa's troops near Guimarães and took her prisoner. She was deposed and exiled (some sources say to a convent, other say with Fernando Peres). Teresa died on 11 November 1130.
Said to have been a daughter-in-law of Al Mutamid, the Muslim King of Seville. It is unclear if Zaida, baptised under the name of Isabel, is identical with Alfonso's later wife, Queen Isabel, the mother by Alfonso of two daughters, Elvira Alfonso, (who married Roger II of Sicily) and, Sancha, (wife of Rodrigo Gonzalez de Lara).
CHILDREN of ALFONSO VI and Zaida (Isabel):
- Sancho. Named his father's heir.
- [S1]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. QUOTES as sources: a) Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911. b0 The Kingdom of León-Castilla under King Alfonso VI, 1065-1109, by Bernard F. Reilly (Princeton University Press, 1988), a comprehensively documented work. Full text is online at LIBRO. c) Portugal, A Country Study, by Louis R. Mortimer, ed. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993.
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