TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
Timeline of World History: Year by Year from Prehistory to Present Day

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The Middle Ages

5th - 15th century

 

 


Spain and Portugal in the Middle Ages
 


8TH-15TH CENTURY
 

 


1 A Muslim and a monk play chess in a tent,
book painting, 13th century



Since the eighth century, Christian kingdoms in the north of the Iberian Peninsula had been resisting Arab conquest, and starting in the eleventh century, the kingdoms began the
1 Reconquista. The Muslim rulers were expelled by 1492. Modern Spain was created through a marriage between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon at the end of the 15th century. In the 1400s, Portugal became a major sea power.

 


The Kingdoms of Navarre, Castile, Aragon, and Portugal
 

From the eleventh century on, the Christian kingdoms in the north of the Iberian Peninsula steadily pushed the Muslims farther south.

 

Between 711 and 714, Muslim Arabs conquered the Visigoth empire. Christian rule in Iberia survived only in the impassable Pyrenees in the north.

There, in 718, the Visigoth 2 Pelayo, leader in the struggle against the Muslims, was chosen to be king of 3 Asturias— later part of the kingdom of Leon.

At the same time, the Basques made a stand against Charlemagne's conquest attempts—he had set up a short-lived Spanish marca (border) in 812. In 824, they chose Inigo Arista as the first king of Navarre. In the ninth century, the county of Barcelona also took shape on the territory of the marca.


2 Pelayo, bronze


3 Reception hall of the Asturian kings in Oviedo,
built ca. 850, later converted into a church


Around 1016, the Christian kingdoms benefited from 4, 6 Muslim civil wars, during the course of which the last Umayyad caliph was deposed in 1031.

Numerous minor rulers took his place, but they were too disunited to oppose the Reconquista ("reconquest") begun by the Christian kings.

In the first half of the eleventh century, Sancho III Garces "The Great" reigned as king over a significant kingdom in northern Spain. After his death in 1035, Sancho's kingdom was divided into three independent kingdoms: Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. In 1038, Ferdinand I "The Great," ruler of Castile, also became king of Leon through marriage. Aragon and Barcelona were also united through marriage in 1164. The French Count Henry of Burgundy married the granddaughter of Ferdinand of Castile and Leon and in 1097 received the country of Portugal as her dowry.


4 Alcazar in Segovia, built 11 th/12th с since 14th с
residence of Castile kings


6 Muslim rider in battle, fresco, ca. 1280


Henry's son, 5 Alfonso I, then established his independence from Castile and assumed the title of king in 1139.

Thus in the twelfth century there were four kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula: Navarre, Castile-Leon, Aragon, and Portugal.


5 Alfonso I of Portugal "the Conqueror" takes Lisbon from the Moors in 1147,
steel engraving, 19th century

 
 

Sancho III

Sancho III Garcés, byname Sancho The Great, Spanish Sancho El Mayor, or El Grande (born c. 992—died Oct. 18, 1035), king of Pamplona (Navarre) from about 1000 to 1035, the son of García II (or III).

Sancho established Navarrese hegemony over all the Christian states of Spain at a time when the caliphate of Córdoba was in a state of turmoil. Sancho was uninterested in a crusade against the Moors, but he was interested in the expansion of Pamplona, which he began by the seizure of the ancient Frankish counties of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza (1016–19). A skilled politician, Sancho pursued his aims more by subversion than by force of arms. He persuaded the Count of Barcelona, Berenguer Ramón I, to accept him as overlord. Gascony did likewise, giving him direct sovereignty over Labourd. As a consequence of his marriage (1010) to Munia, daughter of Count Sancho García (d. 1017) of Castile, Sancho secured his own acceptance as count when Sancho García’s son, the child Count García, was assassinated (1029). He then took up Castilian irredentist claims in eastern Leon and occupied the Leonese capital, where he was crowned (1034)—taking the imperial title. Sancho, who introduced some feudal practices into his new dominions, also encouraged the Cluniac reformers and established much closer contacts generally between Christian Spain and trans-Pyrenean Europe. In his will, however, he deliberately destroyed the empire he had created: he divided it into four kingdoms and left these to his four sons, thus making inevitable the fratricidal wars that followed his death. Sancho created the kingdom of Aragon and was responsible for the elevation of Castile from county to kingdom, though he transferred some Castilian territory to Pamplona, which he left to his eldest son, García III (or IV).

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

Afonso I

Afonso I, also called Afonso Henriques, byname Afonso the Conqueror, Portuguese Afonso o Conquistador
(born 1109/11, Guimarães, Port.—died Dec. 6, 1185, Coimbra), the first king of Portugal (1139–85), who conquered Santarém and Lisbon from the Muslims (1147) and secured Portuguese independence from
Leon (1139).

Alfonso VI, emperor of Leon, had granted the county of Portugal to Afonso’s father, Henry of Burgundy, who successfully defended it against the Muslims (1095–1112). Henry married Alfonso VI’s illegitimate daughter, Teresa, who governed Portugal from the time of her husband’s death (1112) until her son Afonso came of age. She refused to cede her power to Afonso, but his party prevailed in the Battle of São Mamede, near Guimarães (1128). Though at first obliged as a vassal to submit to his cousin Alfonso VII of Leon, Afonso assumed the title of king in 1139.

By victory in the Battle of Ourique (1139) he was able to impose tribute on his Muslim neighbours; and in 1147 he further captured Santarém and, availing himself of the services of passing crusaders, successfully laid siege to Lisbon. He carried his frontiers beyond the Tagus River, annexing Beja in 1162 and Évora in 1165; in attacking Badajoz, he was taken prisoner but then released. He married Mafalda of Savoy and associated his son, Sancho I, with his power. By the time of his death he had created a stable and independent monarchy.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 


The Formation of Modern Spain and Portugal
 

In the course of the Reconquista, the Christian rulers recaptured all the Muslim territories on the Iberian Peninsula.

 

The Reconquista did not proceed without setbacks. The North African dynasties of the Almoravids and the Almohads, who ruled southern Spain from 1094 and 1147 respectively, were still able to win important victories over the Christian kings in the 12th century. There were isolated incidences of shifting coalitions among the Christians and Muslims, as illustrated by the example of El Cid.

Spanish 10 knightly orders—such as those of Calatrava, Alcantara, or Avis that kept alive the legacy of the Crusades—played an important role in the Reconquista.


10 Castle of knights of an order in Ponferrada, founded in 1178


The Portuguese kings meanwhile extended their territories along the Atlantic coasts. Lisbon, the future capital, was captured in 1147 and in 1250-51 the Algarve was conquered.

12
John I of Avis, crowned in 1385, conquered areas in North Africa in 1415.

He and his son, 13 Prince Henry the Navigator, who fitted out naval expeditions and founded a merchant navy college, initiated Portugal's ascendancy as a sea power.

In 1085 Alfonso VI of Castile had captured the former Visigoth capital of 7 Toledo, which then became the Castilian and Spanish capital until the court was moved in 1561 to Madrid.


12 John I of Avis established as Portuguese king in the
battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, book painting, 15th с



7 Toledo, the Roman bridge "Puente de Alcantara"
and the Alcazar in the background


13 Henry the Navigator, painting, detail, 15th с


 

 

John I

John I, byname The Prince of Fond Memory, or John of Aviz, John the Great, or John the Bastard, Portuguese O Principe de Boa Memória, or João de Aviz, João o Grande, or João o Bastardo (born April 11, 1357, Lisbon—died Aug. 14, 1433, Lisbon), king of Portugal from 1385 to 1433, who preserved his country’s independence from Castile and initiated Portugal’s overseas expansion. He was the founder of the Aviz, or Joanina (Johannine), dynasty.


Early life.
John was the illegitimate son of King Pedro I and Teresa Lourenço. At age six he was made master of the military Order of Aviz; he received an ecclesiastical and military education, probably at Aviz in Alentejo. On his father’s death, in 1367, his half-brother Ferdinand became king and embarked on a calamitous rivalry with the new ruler of Castile, Henry II, who finally forced Ferdinand to accept a Castilian marriage for his infant heiress, Beatriz, thus compromising the future independence of Portugal.

When Ferdinand died, in 1383, his widow, Queen Leonor, submitted to the demand of her Castilian son-in-law, John I, that he be recognized as king of Portugal. John of Aviz, who had hitherto remained carefully in the background, though he had been arrested for a time in 1382, was now persuaded by a group of young nationalists, led by Nuno Álvares Pereira, to murder Queen Leonor’s favourite and adviser, the Galician João Fernandes Andeiro, conde de Ourém. Popular support was at once stirred up for John, and Queen Leonor fled from Lisbon, appealing to Castile for help. In May 1384 Castilian armies besieged John in Lisbon until the outbreak of plague forced them to withdraw (September).


Election as king.
John had been named defender of the realm; but in April 1385 representatives of the three estates met in the Cortes (assembly) of Coimbra, and, after it had been demonstrated that King Pedro’s elder surviving sons had not been legitimized, John was elected king. The cities of Lisbon and Porto and the merchants and trade guilds enthusiastically backed him, but much of the older nobility still favoured the Castilian succession. John and Nuno Álvares, now his constable, marched northward and obtained the submission of the chief places but returned on hearing that the Castilians were preparing a major invasion. As Spanish forces entered central Portugal, John and Nuno Álvares advanced to bar the road to Lisbon and won the famous Battle of Aljubarrota (Aug. 14, 1385). This victory assured Portugal’s independence and made John a desirable ally. He had already received some English aid, and a small party of English archers had fought for him at Aljubarrota; and he now concluded the Treaty of Windsor (May 9, 1386), which became the cornerstone of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance. In consequence, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, arrived in Galicia hoping, through his second marriage (1371), with the daughter of King Pedro I of Castile, to realize his claim to the Castilian crown. John of Aviz sealed the alliance by marrying, in February 1387, Lancaster’s daughter, Philippa. A joint invasion of León was unsuccessful, and Lancaster withdrew. John of Aviz made a 10-year truce with Castile in 1389, but frontier warfare with Castile was intermittent thereafter until peace was finally made in 1411.


Consolidation and expansion.
John’s elder sons had now reached the age at which they could become knights, and it was ostensibly on their behalf that he organized an expedition against Ceuta, which fell in a day (Aug. 24, 1415). He had probably hoped to advance into Morocco and tap the African caravan routes, but, instead, Ceuta became a beleaguered outpost supplied from the Portuguese Algarve. This stimulated the maritime explorations, beginning with the rediscovery and settlement of the Madeira Islands and the Azores.

John’s court now became a centre of culture, influenced through Queen Philippa by English traditions. Of their sons, the inclita geração (“illustrious generation”), the eldest, Edward, administered the kingdom under his father and was later king; the second, Pedro, travelled through Europe and was regent after Edward’s death; and the third, Henry, known as the Navigator, was the patron and organizer of the overseas discoveries. For them, John introduced the title of duke into Portugal. Their sister, Isabel, married Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy and count of Flanders, thus consolidating Portuguese interests in the Low Countries. John’s bastard son, Afonso, married the daughter of the constable Nuno Álvares, and their descendants, the House of Bragança, became kings of Portugal from 1640.

John’s long struggle with Castile and the need to recompense a new aristocracy caused serious financial difficulties, but he rallied his people around his throne and acquired a reputation as a cautious leader and shrewd statesman. He rewarded the faithful trade guilds by granting them permanent representation in the House of Twenty-four, in which two members of each of the 12 major guilds were to sit. He also granted them a special magistrate, the judge of the people. At Porto he ended the unpopular civil jurisdiction exercised over the city by the bishop. He displayed his devotion by building near Leiria the great Abbey of Batalha to commemorate his victory and serve as a pantheon. He was the author of a work on hunting (Livro da montaria), his favourite pastime.

There is a portrait of John in the Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon, and recumbent statues of John and Philippa over their tomb at Batalha.

Harold V. Livermore

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

Henry the Navigator

Henry the Navigator, Portuguese Henrique o Navegador, byname of Henrique, infante (prince) de Portugal, duque (duke) de Viseu, senhor (lord) da Covilhã (born March 4, 1394, Porto, Port.—died Nov. 13, 1460, Vila do Infante, near Sagres), Portuguese prince noted for his patronage of voyages of discovery among the Madeira Islands and along the western coast of Africa. The epithet Navigator, applied to him by the English (though seldom by Portuguese writers), is a misnomer, as he himself never embarked on any exploratory voyages.


Early life
Henry was the third son of King John I and Philippa of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt of England. Henry and his older brothers, the princes Duarte (Edward) and Pedro, were educated under the supervision of their parents. Henry emerged with pronounced tastes for chivalric romance and astrological literature, as well as with ambitions to take part in military campaigns and, if possible, win a kingdom for himself.

The starting point of Henry’s career was the capture of the Moroccan city of Ceuta in 1415. According to Henry’s enthusiastic biographer, Gomes Eanes de Zurara, the three princes persuaded their still-vigorous father to undertake a campaign that would enable them to win their knightly spurs in genuine combat instead of in the mock warfare of a tournament. King John consented and, with Ceuta in mind, began military preparations, meanwhile spreading rumours of another destination, in order to lull the Moroccan city into a feeling of false security.

Although a plague swept Portugal and claimed the Queen as a victim, the army sailed in July 1415. King John found Ceuta unprepared, as he had hoped, and its capture unexpectedly easy. Though Zurara later claimed the principal role in the victory for Henry, it would seem that the experienced soldier-king actually directed the operation. That Henry distinguished himself, however, is indicated by his immediate appointment as the king’s lieutenant for Ceuta, which did not require his permanent residence there or confer civil authority or administrative responsibilities but did oblige him to see that the city was adequately defended.

An emergency arose in 1418, when the Muslim rulers of Fez (Fès) in Morocco and the kingdom of Granada in Spain joined in an attempt to retake the city. Henry hastened to the rescue with reinforcements but on arrival found that the Portuguese garrison had beaten off the assailants. He then proposed to attack Granada, despite reminders that this would antagonize the kingdom of Castile, on whose threshold it lay. But his father, who had spent years fighting the attempts of the Castilians to annex Portugal, wanted peace with them and sent peremptory orders to return home.

On his return to Portugal, Henry was made duke of Viseu and lord of Covilhã. In 1420, at the age of 26, he was made administrator general of the Order of Christ, which had replaced the crusading order of the Templars in Portugal. While this did not oblige him to take religious vows, it was reported that he afterward resolved to lead a chaste and ascetic life. However, the traditional view of Henry as indifferent to all but religion and the furtherance of his mission of discovery is not supported by later scholarship. Indeed, Henry had not always refrained from worldly pleasures; as a young man he had fathered an illegitimate daughter. Moreover, his brother Duarte, especially after becoming king, did not hesitate to lecture and reprove Henry for such shortcomings as extravagance, unmethodical habits, failure to keep promises, and lack of scruples in the raising of money.


Sponsorship of expeditions
Funds appropriated from the Order of Christ largely financed the Atlantic voyages along the western coast of Africa that Henry began to promote in the mid-1420s. He sought opportunities to take part in the commerce of traditional West African products, especially slaves and gold, and to establish potentially profitable colonies on underexploited islands, the most successful of which he helped to found on Madeira.

Henry’s interest in geography unquestionably was influenced by the travels of Prince Pedro, his older and perhaps more brilliant brother. In 1425 Pedro set out on a long tour of Europe on which he visited England, Flanders, Germany, Hungary, and the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia (now Romania) before returning home through Italy, Aragon, and Castile. In eastern Europe he was close enough to Ottoman Turkey to appreciate the Muslim danger. From Italy Pedro brought home to Portugal, in 1428, a copy of Marco Polo’s travels that he had translated for Prince Henry’s benefit.

Henry’s other older brother, Duarte, succeeded King John in 1433. During the five years of Duarte’s reign, lack of success in the Canary Islands induced Henry’s captains to venture farther down the Atlantic coast in search of other opportunities. Tradition has claimed that the most important achievement was the rounding of Cape Bojador in 1434 by Gil Eanes, who overcame a superstition that had previously deterred seamen. It seems, however, that this is at best an exaggeration, resulting from the vagueness of the sailing directions reported in Portuguese sources. What Eanes mistakenly called Cape Bojador was actually Cape Juby, which had already been passed by many earlier navigators. During the next years, Henry’s captains pushed southward somewhat beyond the Rio de Oro. They also began the colonization of the recently discovered Azores, through the orders of both Henry and Pedro.

In 1437 Henry and his younger brother, Fernando, gained Duarte’s reluctant consent for an expedition against Tangier. Ceuta had proved an economic liability, and they believed that possession of the neighbouring city would both ensure Ceuta’s safety and provide a source of revenue. Pedro opposed the undertaking. Henry and Fernando nevertheless attacked Tangier and met with disaster; Henry had shown poor generalship and mismanaged the enterprise. The Portuguese army would have been unable to reembark had not Fernando been left as hostage in exchange for Henry’s broken promise to surrender Ceuta. Fernando’s death at Fez in 1443 seems to have been felt by Henry as a grave charge upon his conscience.

King Duarte died in 1438, shortly before Henry’s return. His heir, Afonso V, was only six at the time, and Pedro assumed the regency over the bitter opposition of the boy’s mother, Leonor of Aragon, who would willingly have accepted Henry as regent. Nevertheless, for most of the next decade Pedro and Henry worked in harmony.

In 1441 a caravel returned from the West African coast with some gold dust and slaves, thus silencing the growing criticism that Henry was wasting money on a profitless enterprise. One of Henry’s voyagers, Dinis Dias, in 1445 reached the mouth of the Sénégal (then taken for a branch of the Nile); and a year later Nuño Tristão, another of Henry’s captains, sighted the Gambia River. By 1448 the trade in slaves to Portugal had become sufficiently extensive for Henry to order the building of a fort and warehouse on Arguin Island.

Afonso V attained his legal majority at the age of 14 in 1446. His embittered mother had meanwhile died in Castile, and although the young king presently married Pedro’s daughter, Isabel, Pedro turned full power over to the youth with obvious reluctance.

Armed conflict between the two became inevitable, and Henry in the end felt obliged to side with the King, though he remained as much as possible in the background. He took no part in a skirmish at Alfarrobeira in May 1449, in which Pedro was killed by a chance shot from a crossbowman. Henry’s biographer, Zurara, on the other hand, declared that his hero did everything possible to prevent Pedro’s death and promised to explain the circumstances further in later writings; but if he did so, the account is lost.


Final maritime ventures
After Alfarrobeira, Henry spent most of his time at Sagres, his castle in the far south of Portugal. He was accorded by the King the sole right to send ships to visit and trade with the Guinea coast of Africa. He appeared occasionally at the Lisbon court and in 1450 helped arrange for the marriage of the King’s sister to the emperor Frederick III. During most of his last decade, Henry concentrated on the sponsorship of voyages. These accomplished only minor discoveries, as the Prince now seemed mainly interested in exploiting resources—especially African slaves and, from 1452, the sugar of Madeira—in the regions already contacted. The last two important mariners sent out by Henry were the Venetian explorer Alvise Ca’ da Mosto and the Portuguese Diogo Gomes, who between them discovered several of the Cape Verde Islands.

Afonso V had small interest in discovery but great zeal for crusading and knight-errantry. Resuming the old attempt at Moroccan conquest, he led an expedition in 1458 against Alcácer Ceguer (now Ksar es-Shrhir), in which Henry accompanied him. The Prince, now 64, did well in the fighting, and, when the town capitulated, Afonso left the surrender terms to his uncle, who showed remarkable leniency. Henry lived for two years after his return from Alcácer Ceguer.


Assessment
The farthest point south that was reached during Henry’s lifetime was probably present-day Sierra Leone; after his death, the pace of progress in Portuguese exploration accelerated markedly, suggesting that the Prince’s reputation as a patron of explorers has been exaggerated. Although the colonization of Madeira proved, at least for a while, to be a brilliant success, most of his enterprises failed. The Canary Islands, the focus of his most unremitting obsessions, eventually fell to Spain, and Portugal did not succeed in garnering much of the African gold trade until more than 20 years after the Prince’s death. His desire to convert the peoples of the Canary Islands and West Africa to Christianity was often voiced but was largely unsupported by action. Nor is Henry’s traditional reputation as a champion of the advancement of science supported by any genuine evidence. He did, however, commission chronicles by Zurara that presented a heroic image of himself—an image that persisted into the 20th century. His long-term importance thus has been as a legendary figure of the early stages of European exploration and discovery, as well as an exemplar of Portuguese nationalism.

Charles E. Nowell
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Castile's expansion came to a temporary halt under 11 Ferdinand III after he conquered 8 Cordoba in 1236.



11 Ferdinand III "the Holy," book painting, 13th century



8 The Cathedral of Cordoba, built into the former Great Mosque known as the Mezquita in the 16th century

 

 

Ferdinand III

Ferdinand III, also called Saint Ferdinand, Spanish San Fernando (born 1201?—died May 30, 1252, Sevilla; canonized February 4, 1671; feast day May 30), king of Castile from 1217 to 1252 and of Leon from 1230 to 1252 and conqueror of the Muslim cities of Córdoba (1236), Jaén (1246), and Sevilla (1248). During his campaigns, Murcia submitted to his son Alfonso (later Alfonso X), and the Muslim kingdom of Granada became his vassal.

Ferdinand was the son of Alfonso IX of Leon and Berenguela, daughter of Alfonso VIII of Castile. At birth, he was the heir to Leon, but his uncle, Henry I of Castile, died young, and his mother inherited the crown of Castile, which she conferred on him. His father, like many Leonese, opposed the union, and Ferdinand found himself at war with him. By his will Alfonso IX tried to disinherit his son, but the will was set aside, and Castile and Leon were permanently united in 1230.

Ferdinand married Beatrice of Swabia, daughter of the Holy Roman emperor, a title that Ferdinand’s son Alfonso X was to claim. His conquest of Lower Andalusia was the result of the disintegration of the Almohad state. The Castilians and other conquerors occupied the cities, driving out the Muslims and taking over vast estates.

Ferdinand’s second wife was Joan of Ponthieu, whom he married in 1237; their daughter Eleanor married the future Edward I of England in 1254. Ferdinand settled in Sevilla, where he is buried.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Only the Muslim kingdom of Granada in the extreme south of the peninsula remained.

Concurrently, Aragon was building up its power in the Mediterranean. In 1235 King James I captured the Balearic Islands and in 1238 the port of Valencia from the Moors (Spanish Muslims). His son Peter III occupied Sicily in 1282. Once it had brought Sardinia and Naples under its rule in 13265 and 1442, respectively, Aragon became a dominant power in the Mediterranean.

The 1469 marriage of 14 Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, jointly known as the "Catholic monarchs," set the stage for Spain's union and meant that both crowns went to the Habsburgs after Ferdinand's death in 1516.

The two rulers completed the Reconquista with the subjugation of Granada in 1492.

In Spain and Portugal, the persecution and eventual expulsion of the Muslims and Jews, as well as the so-called Moriscos (converted Moors), were carried out with the aid of the 9 Inquisition.

The kingdom of Navarre did not take part in the Reconquista. Several French royal families had succeeded each other since the 13th century. In 1572, Navarre fell to Henry of Bourbon, who also became king of France as Henry IV in 1589, combining both crowns. Ferdinand II of Aragon had already seized major parts of southern Navarre in 1512.


4 Ferdinand II and Isabella I


9 Inquisition court under the chairmanship
of Dominican friars, painting,
end of 15th century

 
 

Ferdinand II

Ferdinand II, byname Ferdinand the Catholic, Spanish Fernando el Católico (born March 10, 1452, Sos, Aragon—died Jan. 23, 1516, Madrigalejo, Spain), king of Aragon and king of Castile (as Ferdinand V) from 1479, joint sovereign with Queen Isabella I. (As Spanish ruler of southern Italy, he was also known as Ferdinand III of Naples and Ferdinand II of Sicily.) He united the Spanish kingdoms into the nation of Spain and began Spain’s entry into the modern period of imperial expansion.

Ferdinand was the son of John II of Aragon and Juana Enríquez, both of Castilian origin. In 1461, in the midst of a bitterly contested succession, John II named him heir apparent and governor of all his kingdoms and lands. Ferdinand’s future was assured when he came of age, in 1466, and when he was named king of Sicily, in 1468, in order to impress the court of Castile, where his father ultimately wished to place him. In addition to participating in court life, the young prince saw battle during the Catalonian wars.

John II was careful about Ferdinand’s education and took personal charge of it, making sure that Ferdinand learned as much as possible from experience. He also provided him with teachers who taught him humanistic attitudes and wrote him treatises on the art of government. Ferdinand had no apparent bent for formal studies, but he was a patron of the arts and a devotee of vocal and instrumental music.

Ferdinand had an imposing personality but was never very genial. From his father he acquired sagacity, integrity, courage, and a calculated reserve; from his mother, an impulsive emotionality, which he generally repressed. Under the responsibility of kingship he had to conceal his stronger passions and adopt a cold, impenetrable mask.

He married the princess Isabella of Castile in Valladolid in October 1469. This was a marriage of political opportunism, not romance. The court of Aragon dreamed of a return to Castile, and Isabella needed help to gain succession to the throne. The marriage initiated a dark and troubled life, in which Ferdinand fought on the Castilian and Aragonese fronts in order to impose his authority over the noble oligarchies, shifting his basis of support from one kingdom to the other according to the intensity of the danger. Despite the political nature of the union, he loved Isabella sincerely. She quickly bore him children: the infanta Isabella was born in 1470; the heir apparent, Juan, in 1478; and the infantas Juana (called Juana la Loca—Joan the Mad), Catalina (later called—as the first wife of Henry VIII of England—Catherine of Aragon), and María followed. The marriage began, however, with almost continual separation. Ferdinand, often away in the Castilian towns or on journeys to Aragon, reproached his wife for the comfort of her life. At the same time, the restlessness of his 20 years drove him into other women’s arms, by whom he sired at least two female children, whose birth dates are not recorded. His extramarital affairs caused Isabella jealousy for several years.

Between the ages of 20 and 30, Ferdinand performed a series of heroic deeds. These began when Henry IV of Castile died on Dec. 11, 1474, leaving his succession in dispute. Ferdinand rushed from Zaragoza to Segovia, where Isabella had herself proclaimed queen of Castile on December 13. Ferdinand remained there as king consort, an uneasy, marginal figure, until Isabella’s war of succession against Afonso V of Portugal gained his acceptance in 1479 as king in every sense of the word. That same year John II died, and Ferdinand succeeded to the Aragonese throne. This initiated a confederation of kingdoms, which was the institutional basis for modern Spain.

The events of this period bring out the young king’s character more clearly. In portraits he appears with soft, well-proportioned features, a small, sensual mouth, and pensive eyes. His literary descriptions are more complicated, although they agree in presenting him as good-looking, of medium height, and a good rider, devoted to games and to the hunt. He had a clear, strong voice.

From 1475 to 1479 Ferdinand struggled to take a firm seat in Castile with his young wife and to transform the kingdom politically, using new institutional molds partly inspired by those of Aragon. This policy of modernization included a ban against all religions other than Roman Catholicism. The establishment of the Spanish Inquisition (1478) to enforce religious uniformity and the expulsion of the Jews (1492) were both part of a deliberate policy designed to strengthen the church, which would in turn support the crown.

The years 1482–92 were frantic for Ferdinand. In the spring months he directed the campaign against the kingdom of Granada, showing his military talent to good effect, and he conquered the kingdom inch by inch, winning its final capitulation on Jan. 2, 1492. During the months of rest from war, he visited his kingdoms, learning their geography and problems firsthand.

The conquest of Granada made it possible to support Christopher Columbus’ voyages of exploration across the Atlantic. It is not known what Ferdinand thought of Columbus or how he judged his plans, nor can it be stated that the first trip was financed from Aragon; the sum of 1,157,000 maravedis came from the funds of the Santa Hermandad (“Holy Brotherhood”). Nevertheless, Ferdinand was present in the development of plans for the enterprise, in the negotiations to obtain the pope’s backing for it, and in the organization of the resulting American colonies.

At the age of 50 Ferdinand was an incarnation of royalty, and fortune smiled on him. For various reasons, particularly for his intervention in Italy, Pope Alexander VI gave him the honorary title of “the Catholic” on Dec. 2, 1496. But he also suffered a succession of tragedies: the heir apparent and his eldest daughter both died, and the first symptoms of insanity appeared in his daughter Juana. He was wounded in Barcelona in 1493, but this was unimportant compared with the family injuries he suffered, which culminated in the death of Isabella in 1504, “the best and most excellent wife king ever had.”

In 1505, to secure his position in Castile, Ferdinand signed a contract to marry Germaine de Foix, niece of the king of France. This, too, was a political marriage, although he always showed her the highest regard. A stay in Italy (1506–07) demonstrated how badly he was needed by the Spanish kingdoms. Once more in Castile, he managed his European policy so as to obtain a hegemony that would serve his expansionary ends in the Mediterranean and in Africa. In 1512, immediately after the schism in the church in which the kings of Navarre participated, he occupied their kingdom and incorporated it into Castile—one of the most controversial acts of his reign.

In 1513 Ferdinand’s health began to decay, although he was still able to direct his international policy and to prepare the succession of his grandson, the future emperor Charles V. In early 1516 he began a trip to Granada; he stopped in Madrigalejo, the little site of the sanctuary of Guadalupe, where he died. The day before his death, he had signed his last will and testament, an excellent picture of the monarch and of the political situation at his death.

Many considered Ferdinand the saviour of his kingdoms, a bringer of unity. Others despised him for having oppressed them. Machiavelli attributed to him the objectionable qualities of the Renaissance prince. The German traveler Thomas Müntzer and the Italian diplomat Francesco Guicciardini, who knew him personally, compared him with Charlemagne. His will indicates that he died with a clear conscience, ordering that his body be moved to Granada and buried next to that of his wife Isabella, so that they might be reunited for eternity. He died convinced that the crown of Spain had not been so powerful for 700 years, “and all, after God, because of my work and my labour.”

The Rev. Tarsicio de Azcona

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

Isabella I

Isabella I, byname Isabella the Catholic, Spanish Isabel la Católica (born April 22, 1451, Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Castile—died November 26, 1504, Medina del Campo, Spain), queen of Castile (1474–1504) and of Aragon (1479–1504), ruling the two kingdoms jointly from 1479 with her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon (Ferdinand V of Castile). Their rule effected the permanent union of Spain and the beginning of an overseas empire in the New World, led by Christopher Columbus under Isabella’s sponsorship.


Early life
Isabella was the daughter of John II of Castile and his second wife, Isabella of Portugal. Three years after her birth her half brother became king as Henry IV. Despite the fact that she had a younger brother, Alfonso, and that her early years were spent quietly with her mother at Arévalo, Isabella was soon drawn into Castilian politics. She was brought to court when she was 13 in order to be under the king’s eye. At first the opposition to Henry IV gathered around Alfonso, but when the latter died in July 1468, the rebellious magnates naturally turned to Isabella. She did not, however, play the role thus designed for her, and the fruit of her wisdom was recognition as his heiress by Henry IV at the agreement known as the Accord of Toros de Guisando (September 19, 1468).

As heiress of Castile, the question of Isabella’s future marriage became a matter of increasing diplomatic activity at home and abroad. Portugal, Aragon, and France each put forward a marriage candidate. Henry seems to have wanted his half sister to marry Afonso V, king of Portugal. As between the Portuguese and Aragonese candidates, she herself, no doubt assisted in her decision by her small group of councillors, came down in favour of Ferdinand of Aragon. A third suitor, the French duc de Guiènne, was sidestepped, and without Henry’s approval she married Ferdinand in October 1469 in the palace of Juan de Vivero, at Valladolid. The prospect of an Aragonese consort led to the development of an anti-Aragonese party that put forward the claims of a rival heiress, Henry’s daughter Joan, known as la Beltraneja by those who believed that her true father was Beltrán de la Cueva, duque de Albuquerque. The king encouraged this group by going back on the accord of 1468 on the grounds that Isabella had shown disobedience to the crown in marrying Ferdinand without the royal consent. He now rejected Isabella’s claim to the throne and preferred that of Joan, for whom he sought the hand of the duc de Guiènne. Although Isabella and Henry were to some extent reconciled, the long-threatened war of succession broke out at once when the king died in 1474.


Reign
When Henry died Isabella was in Segovia, which was secured for her claim. She was supported by an important group of Castilian nobles, including Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza, the constable of Castile (a Velasco), and the admiral (an Enríquez), who was related to Ferdinand’s mother. The opposing faction, which put forward the counterclaims of Joan, included the archbishop of Toledo; a former supporter, the master of Calatrava (an influential military order); and the powerful young marqués de Villena. They were supported by Afonso V of Portugal, who hastened to invade Castile and there betrothed himself to Joan. The first four years of Isabella’s reign were thus occupied by a civil war, which ended in defeat for her Castilian opponents and for the Portuguese king (February 24, 1479). Upon the death of John II of Aragon in the same year, the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon came together in the persons of their rulers.

Spain emerged as a united country, but it was long before this personal union would lead to effective political unification. Ferdinand, indeed, in his first will (1475) made Isabella his heir in Aragon and openly declared the advantages his subjects would derive from the union with Castile. But each kingdom continued to be governed according to its own institutions. The two sovereigns were certainly united in aiming to end the long process of Reconquista by taking over the kingdom of Granada—the last Muslim stronghold in Spain. In the end, however, the conquest (which began in 1482) proved difficult and drawn out, and it strained the finances of Castile. Although some of the features of the campaign were medieval (such as the order of battle), others were novel. Isabella took a close interest in the conduct of the war and seems to have been responsible for improved methods of supply and for the establishment of a military hospital. In 1491 she and Ferdinand set up a forward headquarters at Santa Fe, close to their ultimate objective, and there they stayed until Granada fell on January 2, 1492.

While she was at Santa Fe another event with which the queen was to become personally associated was in the making, for Columbus visited her there to enlist support for the voyage that was to result in the European settlement of America. Although the story of her offering to pledge her jewels to help finance the expedition cannot be accepted, and Columbus secured only limited financial support from her, Isabella and her councillors must receive credit for making the decision to approve the momentous voyage. The terms on which the expedition was to set out to discover a new route to the Indies were drawn up on April 17, 1492. The New World that was explored as a result of that decision was, with papal confirmation, annexed to the crown of Castile, in accordance with existing practice in regard to such previous Atlantic discoveries as the Canary Islands.

The queen and her advisers hardly needed Columbus to remind them of the opportunity now offered for the spreading of Christianity. Yet the unexpected discoveries quickly brought fresh problems to Isabella, not the least of which was the relationship between the newly discovered “Indians” and the crown of Castile. The queen and her councillors were more ready to recognize the rights of the Indians than was Columbus; she ordered some of those he had brought back as slaves to be released. The queen was still concerned with these problems when she died in 1504.

Meanwhile, in 1480 the Inquisition had been set up in Andalusia. There is little doubt that this represented the culmination of a long and popular movement against non-Christians and doubtful converts, which had manifested itself frequently in the late Middle Ages in Castile. The expulsion in 1492 of those Jews who refused conversion was the logical result of the establishment of the Inquisition. Yet, however meritorious the expulsion may have seemed at the time in order to achieve greater religious and political unity, judged by its economic consequences alone, the loss of this valuable element in Spanish society was a serious mistake.

It is difficult to disentangle Isabella’s personal responsibility for the achievements of her reign from those of Ferdinand. But, undoubtedly, she played a large part in establishing the court as a centre of influence. With her blue eyes, her fair or chestnut hair, and her jewels and magnificent dresses, she must have made a striking figure. At the same time display was matched with religious feeling. Her choice of spiritual advisers brought to the fore such different and remarkable men as Hernando de Talavera and Cardinal Cisneros. A policy of reforming the Spanish churches had begun early in the 15th century, but the movement gathered momentum only under Isabella and Talavera. When in 1492 Talavera became archbishop of Granada, his place at the queen’s side was taken by Cisneros, for whom the monarchs secured the crucial position of archbishop of Toledo in 1495. The monarchs were interested in the reform of the secular clergy and still more in that of the orders of monks, friars, and nuns; Isabella took a particular interest in the reform of the Poor Clares, an order of Franciscan nuns. Although when she died there was still much to be done, the rulers and Cisneros together had gone far toward achieving their goals.

Although Isabella was intensely pious and orthodox in her beliefs and was granted with Ferdinand the title of the “Catholic Kings” by Pope Alexander VI, she could be both imperious and pertinacious in her dealings with the papacy. This was particularly true when she thought the pope was making bad appointments to Spanish benefices or in any way encroaching on the customary rights of the crown over the Spanish churches. For example, for the vacant see of Cuenca in 1478 she rejected the Italian cardinal appointed by the pope, who four years later accepted her alternative Spanish candidate. Subsequently, she successfully rejected the suggestion that the pope’s nephew should become archbishop of Sevilla. In seeking to control appointments to Castilian sees, Isabella was not simply inspired by national sentiments. She also sought candidates of high standards; judged by her choices of men such as Talavera and Cisneros, Isabella was remarkably effective in achieving her objective.

Isabella was almost as interested in education as she was in religion. After she reached the age of 30, she acquired proficiency in Latin. At court she encouraged such notable scholars as Pietro Martire d’Anghiera, whom she set up as the head of a new palace school for the sons of the nobility. Naturally, many of the outstanding literary works of her reign, such as Antonio de Nebrija’s Gramática Castellana (1492; “Castilian Grammar”), were dedicated to her. She was also the patron of Spanish and Flemish artists, and part of her extensive collection of pictures survives.

The last decade of her reign took place against a background of family sorrows brought about by the deaths of her only son and heir, Juan (1497); of her daughter Isabella, queen of Portugal, in childbirth (1498); and of her grandchild Miguel (1500), who might have brought about a personal union between Spain and Portugal. Instead, her daughter Joan, wife of Philip I and mother of the Holy Roman emperor Charles V, became the heiress of Castile. However, this offered little comfort to the queen because by 1501 Joan had already shown signs of the mental imbalance that would later earn her the title of “the Mad.”

One of the achievements of Isabella’s last decade was undoubtedly the success with which she and Ferdinand, acting on her initiative, extended their authority over the military orders of Alcántara, Calatrava, and Santiago, thus giving the crown control over their vast property and patronage. These orders had been exploited for too long by the nobility and were the subject of intense rivalry among those who sought to be elected master of one or other of them. In 1487 Ferdinand became grand master of Calatrava, and by 1499 he had acquired the grand masterships of Alcántara and Santiago. With the capture of Granada, the main work of the orders had been done, and a process that envisaged their ultimate absorption into the lands of the crown was logical and sensible. Throughout her long reign, Isabella also strove to strengthen royal authority at the expense of the Cortes (Spanish parliament) and the towns.


Assessment
Good sense and statesmanship were equally reflected in Isabella’s will and codicil. Because she left no memoirs, her will is in many ways the most reliable picture of her. In it she sums up her aspirations and her awareness of how much she and Ferdinand had been unable to do. With prudence she comments on the basis of her political program—the unity of the states of the Iberian Peninsula, the maintenance of control over the Strait of Gibraltar, and a policy of expansion into Muslim North Africa, of just rule for the Indians of the New World, and of reform in the church at home. If the overall impression is inevitably piecemeal, it is also clear that Isabella gave to her successors an exceptional document. It assures scholars that, in allotting to Isabella the foremost place among their rulers, Spaniards do not misjudge this remarkable woman.

J.R.L. Highfield

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

     


Statue of El Cid in Balboa Park






El Cid


Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as El Cid (from the Arabic alsid, "Lord"), fought as army commander for both the Christian and Muslim rulers in the Reconquista.

He eventually captured the city of Valencia, which he defended against the Muslims until his death in 1099.

El Cid thus came to embody the ideal of chivalry.
 






 



 
 

Cid

Castilian military leader
Spanish El Cid, also called El Campeador (“the Champion”), byname of Rodrigo, or Ruy, Díaz de Vivar
 

born c. 1043, Vivar, near Burgos, Castile [Spain]
died July 10, 1099, Valencia

Main
Castilian military leader and national hero. His popular name, El Cid (from Spanish Arabic al-sīd, “lord”), dates from his lifetime.

Early life
Rodrigo Díaz’s father, Diego Laínez, was a member of the minor nobility (infanzones) of Castile. But the Cid’s social background was less unprivileged than later popular tradition liked to suppose, for he was directly connected on his mother’s side to the great landed aristocracy, and he was brought up at the court of Ferdinand I in the household of that king’s eldest son, the future Sancho II of Castile. When Sancho succeeded to the Castilian throne (1065), he nominated the 22-year-old Cid as his standard-bearer (armiger regis), or commander of the royal troops. This early promotion to important office suggests that the young Cid had already won a reputation for military prowess. In 1067 he accompanied Sancho on a campaign against the important Moorish kingdom of Zaragoza (Saragossa) and played a leading role in the negotiations that made its king, al-Muqtadir, a tributary of the Castilian crown.

Ferdinand I, on his death, had partitioned his kingdoms among his various children, leaving Leon to his second son, Alfonso VI. Sancho began (1067) to make war on the latter with the aim of annexing Leon. Later legend was to make the Cid a reluctant supporter of Sancho’s aggression, but it is unlikely the real Cid had any such scruples. He played a prominent part in Sancho’s successful campaigns against Alfonso and so found himself in an awkward situation in 1072, when the childless Sancho was killed while besieging Zamora, leaving the dethroned Alfonso as his only possible heir. The new king appears to have done his best to win the allegiance of Sancho’s most powerful supporter. Though the Cid now lost his post as armiger regis to a great magnate, Count García Ordóñez (whose bitter enemy he became), and his former influence at court naturally declined, he was allowed to remain there; and, in July 1074, probably at Alfonso’s instigation, he married the king’s niece Jimena, daughter of the count of Oviedo. He thus became allied by marriage to the ancient royal dynasty of Leon. Very little is known about Jimena. The couple had one son and two daughters. The son, Diego Rodríguez, was killed in battle against the Muslim Almoravid invaders from North Africa, at Consuegra (1097).

The Cid’s position at court was, despite his marriage, precarious. He seems to have been thought of as the natural leader of those Castilians who were unreconciled to being ruled by a king of Leon. He certainly resented the influence exercised by the great landed nobles over Alfonso VI. Though his heroic biographers would later present the Cid as the blameless victim of unscrupulous noble enemies and of Alfonso’s willingness to listen to unfounded slanders, it seems likely that the Cid’s penchant for publicly humiliating powerful men may have largely contributed to his downfall. Though he was later to show himself astute and calculating as both a soldier and a politician, his conduct vis-à-vis the court suggests that resentment at his loss of influence as a result of Sancho’s death may temporarily have undermined his capacity for self-control. In 1079, while on a mission to the Moorish king of Sevilla (Seville), he became embroiled with García Ordóñez, who was aiding the king of Granada in an invasion of the kingdom of Sevilla. The Cid defeated the markedly superior Granadine army at Cabra, near Sevilla, capturing García Ordóñez. This victory prepared the way for his downfall; and when, in 1081, he led an unauthorized military raid into the Moorish kingdom of Toledo, which was under Alfonso’s protection, the king exiled the Cid from his kingdoms. Several subsequent attempts at reconciliation produced no lasting results, and after 1081 the Cid never again was able to live for long in Alfonso VI’s dominions.


Service to the Muslims
The Cid in exile offered his services to the Muslim dynasty that ruled Zaragoza and with which he had first made contact in 1065. The king of Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain, al-Muʿtamin, welcomed the chance of having his vulnerable kingdom defended by so prestigious a Christian warrior. The Cid now loyally served al-Muʿtamin and his successor, al-Mustaʿīn II, for nearly a decade. As a result of his experience he gained that understanding of the complexities of Hispano-Arabic politics and of Islamic law and custom that would later help him to conquer and hold Valencia. Meanwhile, he steadily added to his reputation as a general who had never been defeated in battle. In 1082, on behalf of al-Muʿtamin, he inflicted a decisive defeat on the Moorish king of Lérida and the latter’s Christian allies, among them the count of Barcelona. In 1084 he defeated a large Christian army under King Sancho Ramírez of Aragon. He was richly rewarded for these victories by his grateful Muslim masters.

In 1086 there began the great Almoravid invasion of Spain from North Africa. Alfonso VI, crushingly defeated by the invaders at Sagrajas (October 23, 1086), suppressed his antagonism to the Cid and recalled from exile the Christians’ best general. The Cid’s presence at Alfonso’s court in July 1087 is documented. But shortly afterward, he was back in Zaragoza, and he was not a participant in the subsequent desperate battles against the Almoravids in the strategic regions where their attacks threatened the whole existence of Christian Spain. The Cid, for his part, now embarked on the lengthy and immensely complicated political maneuvering that was aimed at making him master of the rich Moorish kingdom of Valencia.


Conquest of Valencia
The Cid’s first step was to eliminate the influence of the counts of Barcelona in that area. This was done when Berenguer Ramón II was humiliatingly defeated at Tébar, near Teruel (May 1090). During the next years the Cid gradually tightened his control over Valencia and its ruler, al-Qādir, now his tributary. His moment of destiny came in October 1092 when the qāḍī (chief magistrate), Ibn Jaḥḥāf, with Almoravid political support rebelled and killed al-Qādir. The Cid responded by closely besieging the rebel city. The siege lasted for many months; an Almoravid attempt to break it failed miserably (December 1093). In May 1094 Ibn Jaḥḥāf at last surrendered, and the Cid finally entered Valencia as its conqueror. To facilitate his takeover he characteristically first made a pact with Ibn Jaḥḥāf that led the latter to believe that his acts of rebellion and regicide were forgiven; but when the pact had served its purpose, the Cid arrested the former qāḍī and ordered him to be burnt alive. The Cid now ruled Valencia directly, himself acting as chief magistrate of the Muslims as well as the Christians. Nominally he held Valencia for Alfonso VI, but in fact he was its independent ruler in all but name. The city’s chief mosque was Christianized in 1096; a French bishop, Jerome, was appointed to the new see; and there was a considerable influx of Christian colonists. The Cid’s princely status was emphasized when his daughter Cristina married a prince of Aragon, Ramiro, lord of Monzón, and his other daughter, María, married Ramón Berenguer III, count of Barcelona. The Cid continued to rule Valencia until his death in 1099.


Aftermath
The great enterprise to which the Cid had devoted so much of his energies was to prove totally ephemeral. Soon after his death Valencia was besieged by the Almoravids, and Alfonso VI had to intervene in person to save it. But the king rightly judged the place indefensible unless he diverted there permanently large numbers of troops urgently needed to defend the Christian heartlands against the invaders. He evacuated the city and then ordered it to be burned. On May 5, 1102, the Almoravids occupied Valencia, which was to remain in Muslim hands until 1238. The Cid’s body was taken to Castile and reburied in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, near Burgos, where it became the centre of a lively tomb cult.

The Cid’s biography presents special problems for the historian because he was speedily elevated to the status of national hero of Castile, and a complex heroic biography of him, in which legend played a dominant role, came into existence; the legend was magnified by the influence of the 12th-century epic poem of Castile, El cantar de mío Cid (“The Song of the Cid”) and later by Pierre Corneille’s tragedy Le Cid, first performed in 1637. For authentic information historians have to rely mainly on a few contemporary documents, on the Historia Roderici (a reliable, private 12th-century Latin chronicle of the Cid’s life), and on a detailed eyewitness account of his conquest of Valencia by the Arab historian Ibn ʿAlqāmah.

Sir Peter Edward Russell

Encyclopaedia Britannica