Biography of King of Aragón Alfonso IV (1299-1336)

King of Aragon, count of Urgell and Barcelona, known by the nickname of the benign. He/She was born in 1299 and died in Barcelona in January 24, 1336. The main company of his reign, the crusade against the Kingdom of Granada, failed by the failure of each of warlike devices with those who told the King and by the lack of strength in his alliance with Castile. His Government was a transitional reign, clouded by the nefarious influence of the Queen dona Leonor over her husband.

Second son of Jaime II of Aragón and Doña Blanca de Anjou, in 1314 received from his father the County of Urgell after the death of its owner, Armengol X. That same year don Alfonso married Doña Teresa de Entenza, niece of Armengol. From 1318 still Prince Alfonso was disputed rights to the County of Urgell with attacks on some regions urgelenses by the Viscount Ramón Folch de Cardona and his cousin Ramón de Ampurias. Jaime II solved the problem taking possession of the lands of the Viscount of Cardona, considering that this had been in the service of another King.

The infante Alfonso was recognized as heir to the Crown of Aragon in the courts of Zaragoza from 1320, when his brother Jaime, the eldest son of Jaime II, diese accused signs of mental instability, and renounce their rights in December of 1319. Don Alfonso swore the fueros and tried to make the right of inheritance to pass to their children where he/she died (at the time he/she began directing the conquest of Sardinia and this measure adopted it for the case not to conclude the company alive), which was rejected by his brother Pedro, count of RibagorzaIt demanded to be recognized as the heir to second. The issue was treated in the courts of Zaragoza from 1325, in which Alfonso proposed as heir his son Pedro, which over the years would reign as Pedro IV and Pedro de Ribagorza, supported by a small group of Aragonese barons, unsuccessfully defended his own candidacy.

The infante don Alfonso and the conquest of Sardinia

Since the end of 1322 don Alfonso prepared the conquest of Sardinia in Barcelona. In may 1323, the Prince was sent by his father, at the head of an army of sixty galleys to the conquest of Sardinia, very important company for the Aragonese interests due to the strategic value of the island. The Aragonese contingent, composed largely of Majorcan ships, monitored the coasts of Sardinia and Corsica to prevent the arrival of the piasanos. In addition the Aragonese got the support of the most important families of the island, as the judges of Arborea, the high clergy, and even broad popular sectors. Of them he/she left the initiative to fight against the Pisans and counting for this with the Aragonese; However this sector met the Genoese opposition and gave flare-up of fighting between both sides, which, thanks to the intervention of the infante don Alfonso, not degenerated into all-out war. Meanwhile, don Alfonso besieged churches and Caller (Cagliari), main points of support of the Pisans. The site of churches, which ended in February, 1324, was especially hard for the Aragonese, due to a severe epidemic of fever that killed half of the troops of Aragon and even made sick to the infante don Alfonso and his wife. After the Church the infant moved his troops to reinforce the siege of Cagliari. During the spring of that year don Alfonso beat Manfredo of Donoratico in Leucocisterna and the Pisan fleet suffered significant losses. In June fell Cagliari and few weeks later the infante don Alfonso and pisano Ambassador, Calci Bene, signed peace. After securing the loyalty of the most important families of the island, including the Donoratico, don Alfonso returned to the Peninsula together with the bulk of the Aragonese army.

Reign of Alfonso IV of Aragon

Jaime II died in November 1327, five days after Doña Teresa de Entenza. The coronation of Alfonso IV of Aragon took place in Easter of 1328 in Zaragoza and it was attended by representatives of all the countries of the Aragonese Crown, including Sardinia. This was a novelty, because until then the coronation ceremonies had confined exclusively to the Kingdom of Aragon; but there was also another novelty: Alfonso crowned himself, in a ceremony that had no precedents nor was collected in any ceremonial, Spanish or foreign. According to the Chronicle of Montaner, important source for the study of the policy of Alfonso IV until his coronation, with this fact the monarch wanted to mean that it was not receiving its authority of the Church (the mandatory was the coronation by a bishop), although it was not "against the Church". Alfonso IV swore in Daroca (1328) commitment to keep United the Crown of Aragon, as had been his father's will, and not break their kingdoms.

After being crowned, Alfonso IV gave his son, Jaime I, the County of Urgell, although since don Jaime was only eight years old, his father dealt with the County Government until he/she decreed the majority of your child's age in 1334.

The crusade against Granada

Although the reign of Alfonso IV started in peace with the Kingdom of Granada, thanks to the truces established in 1326, the Aragonese monarch was dragged by the circumstances in the worsening of the war between Granada and Castile and the request for assistance of the Nasrid monarch to the sultan of Morocco. In 1328 Alfonso XI of Castile and Alfonso IV held interviews in Ágreda and Tarazona to establish mutual Alliance against Granada and preparing the imminent war, which it wanted to give the character of crusade. Alfonso IV asked Pope economic aid of crusade and laissez-passer to foreign Princes who had volunteered to fight against the Muslims of Spain, who was the King of Poland and Bohemia.

The Aragonese army, which separated more than 500 kilometers of the Nasrid border (was not the same case as Castilla, which shared a border with Granada), it took the camino de Granada throughout the area of Murcia, but there limited saw its shares due to the lack of support from the inhabitants of Lorca, who refused to accommodate the Valencians within the walls of their city. Meanwhile, Alfonso XI of Castile fought in the area of the Strait and took the town of Teba and other castles. When Alfonso IV set out to campaign in the spring of 1331, he/she received the news that the English monarch had signed peace on their own with Granada. This meant a snub for the Aragonese, since it placed him in a position of inferiority with respect to Castile to Granada and France, and in addition Alfonso was still negotiating entry into the war of foreign Princes. By force, Alfonso IV accepted the peace signed by Alfonso XI, but leaving desguarnecida the area of Murcia suffered Muslim attacks on the lands of Guardamar and Elche and Orihuela. In 1334, Alfonso IV accepted the peace treaty signed between Castile and Morocco, although not signed peace with Granada until June of the following year.

To finance the crusade, Alfonso IV did not hesitate to ask for extraordinary subsidies within the Aragonese Crown: most of the money was provided by the Kingdom of Valencia and then the Jewish aljamas of the Kingdom; Finally, Catalonia, whose contribution was much smaller than those already indicated, despite representing the largest power the Crown Prosecutor. The historian Manuel Sánchez Martínez, who has studied the relationship between subsidies requested by Alfonso IV and real revenues, came to the conclusion that the monarch complied with enter approximately half of the request and also of what is finally perceived, the lower part was entered in the Treasury and the rest was absorbed by the exemptionsassignments, and gracious donations; also the historian reveals the importance of indirect taxes in these fundraisers.

Alfonso IV put their maximum effort in the war against Granada and used for her main military contingents of the Crown. In addition to an important defensive network, it mobilized the military orders, the great barons, aided by urban militias and, in special circumstances, the frontier troops, especially almogàvers. Also took into account the King the importance of the Navy as a support and source of supply of ground troops. But despite these preparations, the crusade was a failure, because each and every one of the deployed devices defected or were ineffective. The feudal militia did not willingly accept the Royal projects and ended up leaving the enterprise. The King then turned to members of the bureaucracy to nourish the feudal army ranks and bought fighters through a salary trend which at that time was spreading among the monarchies of the West. The biggest problem in this regard was the lack of money to pay the troops, which was due to frequent complaints and defections. The defection of the military orders caused deep indignation of the King, since he/she did not accept these, born in the heat of the crusade, to submit excuses not to fight against the Muslims of Granada. The Navy ceased to make sense in the war, because it had been foreseen that serve support to ground troops, that as it has been, is they did not mobilize. The coup de grace to Alfonso IV plans insufficient collaboration gave it, however, that, as you have seen, told the King, but the crisis grain of the years 1332-1333, which prevented the provisioning of the army and, ultimately, any preparation of a military enterprise.

War against Genoa

As Alfonso IV prepared campaign against Granada, occurred in Sardinia revolts encouraged by the Genoese, who saw it as the main political and administrative charges on the island fell on Catalans and Aragonese, whose abuses failed to stop Alfonso IV. The war began in 1329, when the Genoese Doria family, revolted against the rule directly confronted with count Facino Donorático, supporter of Aragon and Aragon supported. The uprising was the reduction of the Aragonese domain to the cities of Cagliari, Sassari, and churches. The Aragonese response was a maritime expedition directly against Genoa, whose port came to be blocked by a Catalan squad under the command of Guillermo Cervelló. The Genoese counterattacked initiating maritime expeditions against the coast of Aragon and Catalonia.

Afonso IV tried to win the legitimacy of the papacy to its domination of Sardinia and in 1335 sent his brother, Ramón Berenguer, count of Prades, to pay homage to the new Pope, Benedict XII, for the possession of Sardinia and Corsica. In addition the Aragonese King requested forgiveness of the ecclesiastical tithe, due to large expenditures required to maintain possession of the Islands. During 1335 Genoese front was achieving important victories in Sardinia and Alfonso IV, before the evil turn that took the war, hurried to seek peace with the Genoese. Failed no agreement, because the monarch died during the negotiations.

The problematic marriage of Pedro IV with Leonor of Castile

In February 1329 Alfonso IV remarried he/she married with Doña Leonor de Castilla, daughter of Fernando IV and sister of Alfonso XI, who had been abandoned by don Jaime, the older brother of the Aragonese King, in the same bridal altar. After declared invalid the first marriage of Doña Leonor, the link with the Aragonese King, thus repairing the tort made by his brother there was the Spanish Lady.

Since then, the new Queen ended up imposing his will of Alfonso IV and the Aragonese Crown. Thanks to the intervention of Doña Leonor was signed Aragonesa Alliance for the conquest of Granada, with disastrous consequences that have already been.

The main obsession of the Queen was to secure an inheritance for their children, and got monarch concessions contrary to the commitment of 1328 Daroca, and who found the opposition of much of the nobility of the Kingdom. The main one was the delivery of Tortosa, with the title of Marquis, don Fernando, son of Doña Leonor; This city followed the places of Alicante and Orihuela, the Elda, Albarracín and Guardamar Valley with its villages, Játiva, Murviedro, Alcira, Burriana, Castellón and other cities, which was supposed to make the Kingdom of Valencia Doña Leonor available and enable a Castilian intervention, since these territories were "key of the realm". Between 1334 and 1336 Jaime I of Urgell was on the verge of losing their heritage as a result of the intrigues of his stepmother, who also wished to see her son Fernando as the head of the County. Although did, yes managed to disassociate from the lands of Urgell the towns and villages of Alos, Meià, Camarasa, Fontllonga and others, which became the Marquis of Camarasa, granted to Fernando.

Opposition to the Queen came from the city of Valencia and the supporters of the Prince don Pedro. The Kings, being in Valencia, received a delegation of notables, headed by Guillem de Vinatea, who expressed his willingness to fight rather than contemplating the dismemberment of the Aragonese Crown. The King, far from rectifying, blamed the Queen, who subsequently pursued supporters of infante don Pedro (Pedro IV the ceremonious future). It was forced to take refuge in the mountains of Jaca.

When the King fell ill at the end of 1335, Doña Leonor fled to Castile. Alfonso IV died in the Palace in Barcelona, attended by his brothers Pedro of Ribagorza and the count of Prades, in the absence of the Queen and the heir. Afonso IV was succeeded by his son Pedro IV.


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Gonzalez ANTON, l. "the Crown of Aragon (1231-1336), in history of Spain Menéndez Pidal, vol. XIII (II): the peninsular expansion and Mediterranean (ca.1212-ca.1350)." Madrid, 1990.

SÁNCHEZ MARTÍNEZ, M. The Crown of Aragon and the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada during the 14th century: the human and material bases of the crusade of Alfonso IV. Barcelona, 1970.