History - Monarchs of Castile

Monarchs of Castile

Whilst Fernando III had made significant progress in the Reconquest, his successors for the next 150 year made very little. They concentrated on internal inheritance disputes and those with the the other Catholic Kingdoms of Navarre, Aragon and Portugal.   

House of Ivrea

The following Kings of the house of Ivrea are descendants, in the male line, of Queen Urraca's (Queen of Castile and Leon from 1109 to 1126) first husband, Raymond of Burgundy. The first was Alfonso VII crowned in 1126, the seventh was Alfonso X.

Alfonso X

Alfonso X, succeeded Ferdinand III in 1252. He was knon as King Alfonso X “El Sabio" (Alfonso the wise). He renounced his claim to Germany in 1275, and creating an alliance with the Kingdom of England in 1254.

He fought a successful war with Portugal and reconquered the city of Cadiz in in 1263. However he was not able to conquer Granada.

The end of his reign was marred by a civil war with his eldest surviving son, Sancho IV. He died in 1284 and was burried in Seville cathedral.

Sancho IV

Sancho IV of Castile (1258 - 1295) called Sancho the Brave (Sancho el Bravo), was King of Castile, León and Galicia from 1284 to his death. He was the second son of Alfonso X and Yolanda, daughter of James I of Aragon. He was crowned in Toledo by one group of nobles, but his ascension was contested by others. Sancho was ruthless in dispensing with this opposition. He pardoned his brother John who bided his time before fomenting revolt again.

In 1293, at the request of the council of the Kingdom of Sevilla, King Sancho constructed castles to fortify an area in present-day Sierra de Aracena against possible Portuguese advances, and to protect the population from bandits. Because this area had been repopulated by people from Galicia and Leon, the defensive line was called the Banda Gallego.

In Tarifa where John called in the aid of the Marinids in Morocco who besieged Guzmán the Good in Tarifa castle in 1291. Just before succumbing to a fatal illness (possibly tuberculosis) in 1295 in Toledo he appointed his wife, María de Molina, to act as regent for his nine-year-old son, Ferdinand IV.

Ferdinand IV

Ferdinand IV of Castile (1285 - 1312) called the Summoned (el Emplazado), was a King of Castile and León from 1295 until his death. Like his predecessors on the throne, Ferdinand IV continued the Reconquista and, although he failed to conquer Algeciras in 1309, he captured the city of Gibraltar that same year, and in 1312 the city of Alcaudete was also conquered. He died in Jaén on 7 September 1312 aged 26, and his mortal remains are now in the Royal Collegiate Church of Saint Hippolytus.

Alfonso XI

Alfonso XI of Castile (1311 - 1350), called the Avenger (el Justiciero), was the King of Castile, León and Galicia. He was the son of Ferdinand IV of Castile and Constance of Portugal. After he was declared an adult in 1325, he began a reign that would serve to strengthen royal power. 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 ruler of Granada.

He openly neglected his wife, Maria of Portugal, his double first cousin and daughter of Alfonso IV of Portugal. With her he had two sons, one of whom, Peter succeeded him. Alfonso indulged a scandalous passion for Eleanor of Guzman, who bore him ten children. Alfonso died during the Great Plague of 1350, at the Fifth Siege of Gibraltar. After Alfonso's death, his widow Maria had Eleanor arrested and later killed.

Peter I

Peter of Castile (Pedro) (1334 - 1369), called the Cruel (el Cruel) or the Just (el Justo), was the king of Castile and León from 1350 to 1369. Peter was the last ruler of the main branch of the House of Ivrea. Peter began his reign when almost sixteen years old and subjected to the control of his mother and her favourites. He was to be married to Joan, 14-year-old daughter of Edward III of England; on their way to Castile, her party travelled through cities infested with the Black Death and she contracted the disease and died. Peter became attached to María de Padilla, he married her in secret in 1353.

From 1356 Peter engaged in constant wars with Aragon in the "War of the Two Peters". It was during this period that Peter perpetrated the series of murders which made him notorious. In 1366 began the calamitous Castilian Civil War, which would see him dethroned. He was assailed by his bastard brother Henry of Trastámara at the head of a host of soldiers of fortune. Peter fled with his treasury to Portugal, and thence to Galicia. In the summer of 1366, Peter took refuge with Edward, the Black Prince, who restored him to his throne in the following year after the Battle of Nájera. The health of the Black Prince broke down, and he left the Iberian Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Henry of Trastámara returned to Castile in September 1368. The cortes of the city of Burgos recognized him as King of Castileand others followed. Peter, who had retreated to Andalusia, chose to confront him in battle. On 14 March 1369, the forces of Peter and Henry met at Montiel, a fortress then controlled by the Order of Santiago.

Henry prevailed and under the guise of accepting a deal, Henry knifed Peter in his tent on the night of 23 March 1369.

House of Trastámara

Following the death of Peter, a succession crisis arose between Peter's illegitimate half-brother Henry of Trastámara and the Englishman John of Gaunt, a great great grandson of Ferdinand III of Castile, who claimed the title of King of Castile and Léon by virtue of his marriage to Constance, daughter of Peter. Henry took the throne by force, and faced several military actions by John of Gaunt, who had forged an alliance with John I of Portugal in an attempt to enforce his claim, however John of Gaunt was unsuccessful in his campaigns, and Henry established the House of Trastámara as the new ruling dynasty of Castile.

Henry II

Henry II of Castile (Enrique II) (1334 - 1379), called Henry of Trastámara or the Fratricide (el Fratricida), was the first King of Castile and León from the House of Trastámara. Henry was the fourth of ten illegitimate children of King Alfonso XI of Castile and Eleanor de Guzmán, a great-granddaughter of Alfonso IX of León.

Before being consolidated in his throne (and being ever able to hand on power to his son John), Henry had to defeat Ferdinand I of Portugal. He embarked on the three Ferdinand Wars. Ferdinand's main ally in these wars was John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, the husband of Constance of Castile, Duchess of Lancaster, who was Pedro I's daughter.

Henry was also allied with Charles V of France and then went to war against Portugal and England in the Hundred Years' War. For most of his reign he had to fight off the attempts of John of Gaunt, a son of Edward III of England, to claim the Castilian throne in right of his second wife, Pedro's daughter, Infanta Constance of Castile.

He died on 29 May 1379 in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

John I

John I of Castile (Juan I) (1358 - 1390) was king of the Crown of Castile from 1379 until 1390. He was the son of Henry II and of his wife Juana Manuel of Castile. He was the last monarch of Castile to receive a formal coronation.

He was engaged in hostilities with Portugal although he married Beatrice of Portugal, daughter of King Ferdinand I of Portugal. On the death of the Portuguese king in 1383, John endeavoured to enforce the claims of his wife, Ferdinand's only child, to the crown of Portugal. The 1383-1385 Crisis, a period of civil unrest and anarchy in Portugal, followed. He was resisted by supporters of his rival for the throne, John I of Portugal, and was utterly defeated at the battle of Aljubarrota, in 1385.

He also had to contend with the hostility of John of Gaunt, who claimed the crown of Castile by right of his wife Constance, the eldest daughter of Peter of Castile. The king of Castile finally bought off the claim of his English competitor by arranging a marriage in 1388 between his son Henry and Catherine, daughter of Constance of Castile, a daughter of Peter the Cruel and John of Gaunt. This solved the dynastic conflict that had raged since the death of Peter the Cruel, secured the House of Trastámara, and established peace between England and Castile.

King John was killed at Alcalá on 9 October 1390, when he fell off his horse while riding.

Henry III

Henry III of Castile (1379 - 1406), called the Mourner (Spanish: Enrique el Doliente), was the son of John I and Eleanor of Aragon. He succeeded his father as King of Castile in 1390.

Shortly after his birth, he was promised to be married to Beatrice of Portugal, the heir to the Portuguese throne. This was part of a peace treaty between Castile and Portugal, who had signed a truce after the Ferdinand Wars. But this marriage did not happen as Beatrice had married his father John I. In 1388, as part of the Treaty of Bayonne, Henry married Catherine of Lancaster in Palencia Cathedral. He received the title Prince of Asturias, this title designated him as the heir apparent. He was the first person to hold this title, with earlier heirs to the throne being known as ‘infantes mayores'.

Henry III restarted the conflict against the kingdom of Granada, winning a victory at the Battle of Collejares, near Úbeda, which freed the town in 1406. Due to Henry III's poor health, he delegated part of his power to his brother King Ferdinand I of Aragon in the later part of his reign, who became regent while his son John II of Castile was too young to rule.

King Henry III died in the city of Toledo in 1406, while preparing a campaign against the Emirate of Granada.

John II

John II of Castile (Juan II) (1405 - 1454) was King of Castile and León from 1406 to 1454.

John II's reign, lasting 48 years, was one of the longest in Castilian history, but John himself was not a particularly capable monarch. He spent his time verse-making, hunting, and holding tournaments.

In 1418, John married Maria of Aragon, the oldest daughter of his paternal uncle, Ferdinand I of Aragon. Of all their children, only the future Henry IV of Castile survived infancy. John was widowed in 1445 and remarried to Isabella of Portugal, daughter of Infante John of Portugal,

In 1431, John placed Yusuf IV on the throne as the Sultan of Granada in the Moorish Emirate of Granada, in exchange for tribute and vassal status to Castile.

John II died in 1454 at Valladolid.

Henry IV

Henry IV of Castile (Enrique IV) (1425 - 1474), King of Castile, nicknamed "the Impotent", was the last of the weak late medieval kings of Castile. During Henry's reign, the nobles became more powerful and the nation became less centralised.

One of King Henry's first priorities was the alliance with Portugal. He achieved this by marrying a second time to Joan of Portugal, daughter of King Edward of Portugal in 1455.

Establishing peace with France and Aragon and pardoning various aristocrats. Henry IV convened the Cuéllar Courts to launch an offensive against the Emirate of Granada. The campaigns of 1455 and 1458 developed into a war of attrition based on punitive raids and avoiding pitched battles.

Before the birth of his daughter, Joan (Joanna) was sworn in as Princess of Asturias. But a conflict with the nobility was created. The league of nobles, controlling the king's siblings Alfonso and Isabella, forced Henry at the 1464 Representation of Burgos to repudiate Joanna and recognize Alfonso as his official heir. Alfonso then became Prince of Asturias.

Not long after this, Henry reneged on his promise and began to support his daughter's claim once more. Alfonso began handing out land and titles as if he were already uncontested ruler. A civil war began. The most notable clash was at the Second Battle of Olmedo in 1467, which concluded as a draw.

However, in 1468, at the age of only 14, Alfonso died, most likely from the plague. His will left his crown to his sister, Isabella, who was asked to take her brother's place as the champion of the rebels. Though Henry continued to resist this decision when possible, his actions were ineffective, and he remained at peace with Isabella for the rest of his reign.

Isabella became Castile's next monarch when he died in 1474.

This page created by Chis Chaplow and uses material from the Wikipedia articles lined from "Castillian Monarchs"and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.