Biography of Alfonso I. King of Asturias (739-757)

Third King of Asturias from the year 739 until the date of his death. Born in place unknown to the 693 and died in Asturias in the year 757.

Biographical synthesis

Son of don Pedro, Duke of Cantabria, married to the only daughter of don Pelayo, Ermesinda, happened to his brother-in-law, Favila on the throne, after his premature death in the year 739. Alfonso I taking advantage of the situation of chaos that reigned throughout Al - Andalus by the revolt of the Berbers in the Maghreb, undertook major military campaigns that helped expand the Asturian Kingdom and at the same time carried out the systematic depopulation of large areas of the Douro Valley, in order to hinder as much as possible the Muslims access to their kingdoms. He/She died by natural, after ruling for 18 years, in the year 757 causes and was succeeded by his son Fruela I.

Reign of Alfonso I the Catholic

Eldest son of the Duke of Cantabria, don Pedro, just we have biographical note about the first years of his life, although due to the condition of his father and to the circumstances in which lived the Christians in those years, their education must have been very important military training. According to dejan betray Chronicles, Alfonso before marrying the daughter of Pelayo, Ermesinda, resided at the Court of the Asturian monarch, in order to complete his education under the tutelage of the King. In this way we can guess the quoted don Pedro, as proof of his loyalty to the new monarch, decided to send to the Court his son, as it was the custom among the Visigothic nobles, to patent its appreciation to Pelayo, which in gratitude for the attention and especially for their collaboration, decided that Alfonso contracted marriage with his only daughter. Thus in the Chronicle Chronicles (Chapter XV, 3) says: (...) "that it took to wife Ermesinda, daughter of Pelayo, at the initiative of the own Pelayo".

Possibly in the final years of the reign of Pelayo, Alfonso inherited the title of Duke of Cantabria, although it is unknown for certain the date that his father died, it seems clear that his death occurred before the proclamation of Alfonso as monarch. Thus in these years, and during the brief reign of Favila, must have been a character featured in the Court, thanks to the territories it controlled and mentioned marriage with the daughter of Pelayo, with whom he/she had three children: Fruela, who ruled later under the name of Fruela I (757-768), Vimarano, which died approximately between the years 767 and 768 and Adosinda his only daughterwhich contracted marriage with Silo, which held the Asturian Crown from the 774 until the 783. We do not know when he/she was widowed, but apparently following the death of his wife Alfonso maintained relations with a captive of Muslim origin, with whom he/she had a son, which received the name of Mauregato, which also was the King of Asturias from the 783 to the 788.

The arrival of Alfonso I to the throne is described in the Chronicle of Alfonso III, in the version dedicated to Sebastián de Salamanca, follows: "after the death of Fávila succeeded him on the throne of Alfonso, great value male, son of Duke Pedro, descended from the lineage of King Liuvigild and reccared I. in times of Egica and Wittiza was Chief of the army. With God's grace, took the scepter of the Kingdom"(Chapter 13). The intention of the author of parenting the astures kings with the Visigoth Kings, although not have failed to be demonstrated clearly the ties which bound Alfonso with these is evident in this passage. Similarly in the opinion of Menéndez Pidal, it is unlikely that Alfonso I was Chief of the army in times of Egica, since this should be little more than a teenager right now. Finally not explained in the chronicle the reasons why the nobility decided to choose him as the successor to Favila, although it seems clear that the weight which must have Alfonso in the Court should influence the decision of these.

In any case Alfonso I began his reign in the year 739, as also witnessed by Arab sources and soon had to prove himself, since that same year had to cope with the troops of Uqba ibn al-Hajjaaj, I use of Al - Andalus (734-739), which attacked some border territories in Álava and Galicia. But according to the Arab chronicler Ibn Idhair, Muslims could not approach the territories of the former Kingdom of Pelayo, there is no doubt among historians regarding the significant impact that Alfonso had this victory, which it saw as its power was firmly consolidated. Thus, it should be noted that the small Christian Kingdom, founded a few years before in the heat of the resistance against the Muslims, during his reign was definitely consolidated taking advantage of difficult times who lived in Al - Andalus, after the insurrection of the Berbers in the Maghreb.

Thus Alfonso I took advantage of the weakness of the past valies, to start a series of military campaigns which enabled him to expand his dominions and demonstrated at the same time possessing a broad sense politically and militarily. So after knowing the situation of many of the places occupied by the Berbers in Galicia, which had been very limited after the outbreak of the civil war in al - Andalus, attained the support of Christians in these areas to drive out the small number of invaders who had been guarding the above squares, but in view of the aforementioned Menéndez Pidal should not underplay merit their campaignsSince the Muslims resisted valiantly and Alfonso gave ample evidence of his great military genius.

After obtaining control over much of Galicia, since it took in other cities such as Lugo, a Coruña or Tuy, the Asturian monarch decided to employ his troops in the Douro Valley, where after hard skirmishes got control of important cities, as they show us the Asturian, thus according to the so-called crónica Rotense Chronicles, Alfonso managed to seize: "(...) "Ledesma, Salamanca, Numancia now Zamora, Avila, Astorga, León, Simancas, Saldaña, Amaya, Segovia, Osma, Sepulveda, Arganza, Oca, Miranda, Revenga, Carbonarica, Abeica, ashtray and Alesanco, and Add (...) and the castles with their towns and villages, killing the Arabs by the sword and taking with him the Christians to the homeland". At this point should be noted that while the Christian armies clashed with the Muslim detachments in areas far from the core of their Kingdom, which encompassed approximately the current provinces of Asturias and Cantabria, Alfonso I was aware at all times of their inability to control such vast territories, for this reason in anticipation of the recovery of their enemies, as they show us the different Asturian Chronicles, decided to move to the Christian population of the territories conquered not only toward his Kingdom, in order to repopulate a sparsely populated territory, as it was the Kingdom of Asturia in those moments, but also with the intention to leave the spacious desert plains of the Duero, to hinder everything Muslims access to their territories, unable to get food in many miles. That is why while enlargement of the Asturian Kingdom could be greater, Alfonso was limited to incorporate only some parts of Galicia, especially on the coast, and some areas of the territory occupied by the Basques, which were governed by their express wish by his brother Fruela, which was a loyal server and an invaluable support during numerous campaigns made this. On the other hand thanks to new human contingent that Alfonso joined their domains could be carried out reforestation of Liébana, Trasmiera, Sopuerta, Carranza and known at the time as the Bardulias, the original nucleus of the future County of Castile, which comprised the valleys north and East of the province of Burgos.

Finally should be added that in general Alfonso I not had to worry about actions taken against her by the last Wali of al - Andalus, Yusuf al-Fihri (747-756), since this due to the crisis situation that existed in all his dominions did not have the resources to stop the operations of the Christian King, until the year 755, time in which managed to gather an army to deal with the rebels in the North, which according to the own Arab chroniclers did not get any results.

Alfonso I died of natural causes at the beginning of the year 757, months after the arrival of the future Abd al - Rahman I in Cordoba, after having spent 18 years in power. His mortal remains were deposited in the convent of Santa María of his wife and he/she was succeeded on the throne by his son, who was crowned Fruela I.

A legend that is reflected for the first time in the Chronicles of the 9th century says that after the death of the monarch, "in the silence of the night closed, and guards his body they ensured with all diligence, was suddenly heard in the air by all who was the voice of the angels who sang: ' here disappear the righteous", and no one repairs; righteous men disappear, and no one realizes in his heart. The presence of iniquity has been averted the righteous; peace will be your grave". (Chronicle of Alfonso III to Sebastián, chapter 15).


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