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ALFONSO XI of Castile and Maria of Portugal
ALFONSO XI of Castile. King of Castile and León. [Familytree].
Born on 13 August 1311 at Salamanca, Spain; son of FERDINAND IV of Castile and Constance of Portugal. (S1).
His father died when Alfonso was one year old. His grandmother, María de Molina, his mother Constance, his granduncle Infante John of Castile, Lord of Valencia de Campos, son of King Alfonso X of Castile and uncle Infante Peter of Castile, Lord of Cameros, son of King Sancho IV assumed the regency. Queen Constance died first on 18 November 1313, followed by Infantes John and Peter during a military campaign against Granada in 1319, which left Dowager Queen María as the only regent until her death on 1 July 1321. (S1).
After the death of the infantes John and Peter in 1319, Philip (son of Sancho IV and María de Molina, thus brother of Infante Peter), Juan Manuel (the king's second-degree uncle by virtue of being Ferdinand III's grandson) and Juan el Tuerto (his second degree uncle, son of John of Castile who died in 1319) split the kingdom among themselves according to their aspirations for regency, even as it was being looted by moors and the rebellious nobility. (S1).
As soon as he took the throne, he began working hard to strengthen royal power by dividing his enemies. His early display of rulership skills included the unhesitant execution of possible opponents, including his uncle Juan el Tuerto in 1326. (S1).
He managed to extend the limits of his kingdom to the Strait of Gibraltar after the important victory at the Battle of Río Salado against the Marinid Dynasty in 1340 and the conquest of the Kingdom of Algeciras in 1344. Once that conflict was resolved, he redirected all his Reconquista efforts to fighting the Moorish king of Granada. (S1).
He is variously known among Castilian kings as the Avenger or the Implacable, and as "He of Salado River." The first two names he earned by the ferocity with which he repressed the disorder of the nobles after a long minority; the third by his victory in battle of Rio Salado over the last formidable African invasion of Spain in 1340. (S1).
Alfonso XI never went to the insane lengths of his son Pedro of Castile, but he could be bloody in his methods. He killed for reasons of state without form of trial. He openly neglected his wife, Maria of Portugal (daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal), and had an ostentatious passion for Eleanor of Guzman, who bore him ten children (see her article for the full list). This set Peter an example which he did not fail to better. It may be that his early death, during the great plague of 1350, at the siege of Gibraltar, only averted a desperate struggle with Peter, though it was a misfortune in that it removed a ruler of eminent capacity, who understood his subjects well enough not to go too far. (S1).
Marriage and children
Alfonso XI first married Costanza Manuel of Castile on 1325, but divorced her two years later. His second marriage, on 1328, was to Maria of Portugal, daughter of Alfonso IV of Portugal. She was the mother of his sons Fernando (Valladolid, 1332 – 1333) and Pedro of Castile. (S1).
By his mistress, Eleanor of Guzman, he had ten children. (S1).
Alfonso died in the night of 25–26 March 1350 (some sources put the date wrongfully at 27 March). His is also the only european monarch to die during the Black Death. (S1).
Costanza Manuel of Castile
Alfonso XI first married Costanza Manuel of Castile on 1325, but divorced her two years later.
Maria of Portugal. [Familytree].
Born on 9 February 1313; daughter of Alfonso IV King of Portugal and Beatrice of Castile. She was the mother of his sons Fernando and Pedro.
In 1328, Maria married King Alfonso XI. As part of the dower, King Alfonso gave her Guadalajara, Talavera de la Reina and Olmedo. (S2).
The relationship between Maria and Alfonso was unhappy: from 1327 before their marriage, Alfonso had a relationship with Leonor de Guzmán who gave him ten children, including the future King Henry II of Castile. Maria did not participate in the affairs of the court, being relegated by the royal mistress Leonor and it is quite likely that she spent long periods secluded at the Royal Monastery of San Clemente in Seville. (S2).
In 1335, Maria returned to her father in Évora, who demanded that Alfonso separated from Leonor by use of alliances with the Pope, the Muslims and rebels inside Castile, and finally by an invasion. In the peace treaty of Seville in July 1340, Alfonso agreed to have Leonor imprisoned in a convent, thereby securing the support of the king of Portugal in the Battle of Río Salado which was fought on 30 October 1340, although, once the military conflict had been resolved, he returned to his lover and did not fulfill the promise he had made to the Portuguese monarch. (S2).
At the death of Alfonso 26 March 1350, Maria secured a power position by exerting influence upon the leader of her son's council, João Afonso de Albuquerque. She participated in the rebellion against her son in 1354, and turned over Toro to the rebels, which caused his imprisonment. After this, she returned to Portugal. (S2).
María had executed a will in Valladolid on 8 November 1351 in which she asked to be buried at the Royal Chapel of the Cathedral of Seville where her husband Alfonso XI had been buried and that, if his remains were transferred to another church, hers should also be transferred and buried alongside her husband. (S2).
She died in Evora, Portugal on 18 January 1357 and was buried there until, against the wishes expressed in her will, her remains were transferred to the Royal Monastery of San Clemente in Seville. In 1371, King Henry II had ordered that his father, King Alfonso XI, should receive burial at the Royal Collegiate Church of Saint Hippolytus in Córdoba and at the same time, he probably decided that María, who had been responsible for his mother's death, should be buried at the monastery in Seville. The gravestone made of simple tiles at the monastery mentions that she is buried there with two "tender infants". (S2).
CHILDREN of ALFONSO XI of Castile and Maria of Portugal:
- PEDRO, The Cruel. (Pedro of Castile). [Familytree]. (1334 - 1369). King of Castile and León at the death of his father in 1350. He married Maria de Padilla, Blanche of Bourbon and Jeanne de Castro. His remains lie today in the crypt of the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Seville.
- Fernando (Valladolid, 1332 – 1333). He was buried in the monastery of San Clemente de Sevilla. Until recently, it was believed that she and King Alfonso had been the parents of the firstborn, Fernando, who died as an infant a few months after his birth. The reference to another infant in the tombstone is also mentioned in some parchments discovered in 1813 when the remains buried at the church of the Monastery were exhumed. These parchments mention that two infants had been buried with their mother, Queen María. (S2).
Eleanor of Guzman
CHILDREN of ALFONSO XI of Castile and Eleanor of Guzman:
- Pedro Alfonso of Castile, 1st Lord of Aguilar de Campoo (1330 - 1338).
- Juana Alfonso of Castile, 1st Lady of Trastamara (born 1330).
- Sancho Alfonso of Castile, 1st Lord of Ledesma (1331 - 1343).
- Enrique Alfonso of Castile, 1st Count of Trastamara (1334 - 1379).
- Fadrique Alfonso of Castile, Master of the Order of Santiago and 1st Lord of Haro; (born 1335).
- Fernando Alfonso of Castile, 2nd Lord of Ledesma.
- Tello Alfonso of Castile, 1st Lord of Aguilar de Campoo (1337-1370).
- Juan Alfonso of Castile, 1st Lord of Badajoz and Jerez de la Frontera (1341 - 1359).
- Sancho Alfonso of Castile, 1st Count of Alburquerque (1342-1375).
- Pedro Alfonso of Castile (1345 - 1359).
- [S1]. Alfonso XI of Castile. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfonso_XI_of_Castile.
- [S2]. Maria of Portugal, Queen of Castile. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_of_Portugal,_Queen_of_Castile
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