Biography of Alfonso IV. King of León y de Asturias (926-931)

Fourth King of León from the beginning of the year 926 until the middle of the year 931, nicknamed the monk. Probably born in Galicia in date unknown and died in the monastery of Ruiforco approximately in August of 933. After renouncing the lion throne in favour of his brother Ramiro, he/she entered a convent, although shortly after it tried to regain its authority without success.

Son of the Lion King Ordoño II and of his first wife, Elvira Menéndez, just we have biographical note about this character, since chroniclers are occupied generally relate us so concise events surrounding his life after coming to the throne. In this way, it should be noted that the chronicler closest to his time was Sapiro, which due to the lack of written testimonies, had to rely on oral tradition to prepare his speech. Despite everything we can say almost safely that Alfonso was born in Galicia, since his parents resided in this territory since the year 897 until the year 914; and although we do not know the exact moment his birth occurred, it seems proved that this was already born in the year 900.

Alfonso as we can guess in the Chronicles, at no time highlighted by his intelligence or his great talent for war. Despite which he/she must occupy a prominent position in the retinue of Ordoño II since his youth, since your signature has been registered in the documentation issued by the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time of the said monarch. In this sense is marked his presence in the Court of the King of Navarre in the year 923, since after carrying out his father's marriage with Doña Sancha, a daughter of Sancho I Garcés; probably at the behest of the Queen all, was concerted also his marriage with the eldest of his daughters Oneca, why the young man felt great inclination almost since they were presented. The marriage of Alfonso and Oneca took place in the year 924 and had as a result the birth of a single son, Ordoño IV badfuture, who was born around the year 925.

The sudden death of Ordoño II in the year 924 and the rapid Coronation Fruela IIin Galicia a few days later, should make a big impact both Alfonso and the rest of his brothers. For this reason the Ordonez showed their total disagreement with the attitude of his uncle and decided to leave the Court, since they considered that their rights had been seriously violated. Thus during the fourteen months that lasted the reign of Fruela II, Alfonso took refuge probably in Galician lands and later in Navarre, which had solid supporters, since his life was in danger, especially after the implementation of the children of Olmudo.

He had to wait for the death of Fruela II so that the heirs of Ordoño II came into action, given that they could not tolerate his cousin Alfonso to do with power. Thus a civil war between the supporters of the Ordóñez and Froilaz, which ended with the victory of the first and the flight into Asturian lands of the second broke out in the Kingdom of Leon. Completed war Alfonso and his brothers agreed to carry out the distribution of the Kingdom and according to indicate us the Chronicles, the cast took practice entirely amicably, since they all agreed to divide the Kingdom according to what each had done during the war. The best standing was Alfonso, because it had counted with the support of the troops of his father-in-law, the King of Navarre, which also seems that it exerted all its influence so this was made with the Crown of León.

Finally Alfonso was proclaimed officially King of Leon in February of the year 926, leaving the land of Asturias, León and Castile, under its sovereignty since Ramiro and Sancho are had partitioned the territory that formed the Kingdom of Galicia. But the performance of Alfonso IV was not as bright as all his subjects had hoped, it is not possible to find no sign of activity by the monarch, on the military level, or at political level in the documentation. So while the Kingdom was found in serious difficulties after the war, Alfonso IV did not, as had its predecessors, no donation to the main ecclesiastical institutions and there is no record that grant awards or favors people who remained at their service. But despite his apparent neglect, it is possible to perceive in it a remarkable interest in the Affairs of Galicia, is testified his presence in this territory on several occasions. Such interest was rewarded after the death of Sancho, in June of the year 929, already received possessions, although this was more enthusiastic in the exercise of their functions.

There is no doubt that Alfonso behavior could lead to the future Ramiro II to take into consideration the idea of doing it with power, so it is likely that on visits made to the Court of her brother, it pressed him so that he/she abandon his post. But existed or not these pressures, when Ramiro was going to arrive after the death of his sister-in-law, since the pain that produced the death of Oneca, Alfonso was in the view of most researchers, the cause that drove him to leave the throne. Thus Ramiro II was officially crowned King of León after the abdication of his brother, approximately in June 931.

He soon repented Alfonso of the decision had been taken, as tells us the Arab chronicler Ibn Hayyan, since after installing in the monastery Sahagún some of the enemies of his brother, convinced you to try to recover his authority. Thus Alfonso abandoned his retirement and went to Simancas intending to confront the new monarch, though some of his relatives were able to convince him to abandon his attitude. But shortly after he/she returned to acting and leveraging that Ramiro was in Zamora, marched on the city of León, where proclaimed himself King. The crisis that had opened up in the bosom of the Leonese monarchy induced the always dangerous children of Fruela II to take sides by Alfonso, since they considered that it would be easy to handle and even there is speculation that they were some of his supporters that led to the second exit of the convent of Alfonso. Ramiro II for his part in a few days organized an army and marched on León, where it was found after several days of siege, the main supports which Alfonso had had abandoned him, which facilitated his imprisonment. Once his brother was under his power, the monarch went to Asturias where he/she defeated the Froilaz, who also were imprisoned. In this way following these events, Ramiro II decided to impose exemplary punishment and ordered all of them to lose sight for his betrayal.

Alfonso the monk died forgotten by all, even by his son, approximately in August 933, in the monastery of Ruiforco, where he/she was held after being blind.


CASARIEGO, J. E. Crónicas of the kingdoms of Asturias and León. (Leon, Everest, 1985).

FERNÁNDEZ CATÓN, J. M. The Kingdom of León in the high middle ages. Alfons monarchy. Pelayo's Alfonso VI (718-1109). (Leon, Taravilla, printer, 1995).

Rodríguez FERNÁNDEZ, j. Kings of Leon: García I (910-914), Ordoño II (914-924), Fruela II (924-925), Alfonso IV (925-931). (Burgos, La Olmeda, 1997).