Biography of Alfonso V. King of Asturias y León (994-1028)

Eleventh King of León from the month of October of the year 999 until the date of his death, nicknamed the Noble. Born between 994 and 996 and died in the month of June of the year 1028.

Biographical synthesis

Son and heir of Bermudo II, Alfonso V was proclaimed King in the year 999, after which, due to his young age, he/she was put in the custody of his mother, Elvira Queen and the Galician noble, Menendo González. In 1008 took over personally the Government of their territories and after facing many revolts of the nobility between 1012 and 1014, undertook major reforms in the administration of the Kingdom, culminating with the enactment in the year 1017 the Fuero of León.

The problems about his birth and early life

The King's son León Bermudo II the Gouty and the second wife, Doña Elvira García, know for certain the exact birth date, since there are important discrepancies in written sources. On the one hand, Bishop Sapiro, who personally knew the future monarch, indicates that Alfonso had 3 years of age at the time of the death of his father, but is not strange to find inaccuracies in his Chronicle and is likely that commits an error in determining the age of this, since all the Christians of the twelfth century chroniclers agree that Alfonso came to power at the age of 5 years, version that has been accepted traditionally by most historians, who believe that he/she should be born of environment to the year 994. In this sense, it is necessary to point out that there is a copy of a document dated 2 September of the year 992, in which the presence of the young infant, reason by which some researchers have claimed that this was 7 years old, when he/she occupied the throne, although this view has been challenged by many studies is clearly attested in the Liber Testamentorum, like that of José María Fernández del Pozo, since found conclusive evidence allowing to ensure that year should be changed by an error of the copyist responsible for the elaboration of the work, since some of the characters that appear confirming the writing, were not in the Court of the King of León on the aforementioned date.

Outside these controversies should be noted that the birth of Alfonso had to be a great event in the Court of Bermudo II, since he/she has regret that this had had offspring from his previous marriage with Doña Velasquita, the infant was the first and only legitimate male of the monarch child. So the presence of the heir to the throne was made patent from his early childhood in the various documents issued by the Royal Chancellery, in which its high position can be clearly perceived. The importance of Alfonso testify to the many dangers that faced virtually since birth, since it has been recorded that the future King suffered an assassination attempt when he/she was nothing more than a child. This attempt was perpetrated by the Asturian noble Analso Garvixio, which was severely punished his wife for his betrayal. But without doubt the event that marked by full childhood and overall life of Alfonso, was the premature death of his father, 38 days after the death, his coronation took place officially in León, thus initiating a very complex political situation for his Kingdom, due to the short-age of the new monarch.

Minority of age of King Alfonso V

After the death of Bermudo II custody of the child King was taken jointly by the Queen widow Elvira and by Menendo González, prestigious Galician-Portuguese noble, which in addition to take charge of the Affairs of State, after being appointed regent, was primarily responsible for monitoring that the education of Alfonso V was as complete as possible, since he/she was also appointed schoolmaster of the monarch. We can say that Alfonso relationships with their caregivers were more than cordial, since it seems shown were created great emotional ties among them. So the King was very attached to his mother until her death occurred in the year 1017, although not always followed their advice; and he/she felt a deep respect to the figure of count Menendo, so that only had praise in maturity, which at all times was very grateful for the important services that it had given in the first years of his reign. On the other hand the situation of Menendo González, that in addition to charge of the Affairs of the Kingdom should take care of the Government of their own possessions, marked the Court of Alfonso V will be installed in Galicia, territory which this virtually abandoned during its years of childhood and adolescence, as is confirmed by the fact that most of the documents in which it appears registered his signature in these years were produced in these lands.

Internal conflicts have not been during the 3 first years of reign of Alfonso V, possibly by the enormous danger posed expeditions carried out by Almanzor. But just two years after his death, in the year 1004, the maternal uncle of the monarch, the count of Castile Sancho García, plotted to take over the control of the King. The conflict made it necessary to apply for arbitration of the successor of Almanzor, Abd al-Malik (1002-1008), which probably flattered by the request, instructed one of the judges of the Christians of Córdoba which decided what was the person most qualified to become Manager of the Kingdom of León in the name of Alfonso V. Finally Menendo González was reaffirmed in his position, a decision that caused great discontent in the Castilian countthat after distancing themselves from the Court, he/she collaborated with Muslims in the expedition that these were carried out in the lands of Navarre in the year 1005. Although finally Sancho decided to reconcile with the monarch in the year 1007, for fear that their territories were attacked by their former allies. It should be noted that Alfonso V possibly at the behest of his mother, considered the count of Castile as an important ally to carry out their plans, reason whereby it gave on this occasion his forgiveness. So he/she agreed so the Leonese troops, in coalition with the Castilian, Aragonese and Navarrese, will face the Muslim armies in Clunia, expedition clearly failed by the great skill of Abd al - Malik. But the revolt of greater significance in recent years in the interior of the Kingdom, was the one led by the count of Saldaña, García Gómez, which after rebelling against the King at the end of the year 1006 and take the city of León, had to retire to their possessions after the above-mentioned reconciliation of count Sancho with his nephew (1007).

As regards to Abd al - Malik, it should be noted that he/she tried to maintain broadly the policy of his father, which is why which once his power was recognized by the Cordoba in the year 1002, he/she went with a powerful army to Coimbra, and soon after laid siege to León, although after these campaigns signed peace with the Leonese Kingwhich was forced to recognize the superiority of the amiri leader, although split against it was free of attacks of this one, which focused on the rest of the Christian kingdoms of the North of Spain. So it seems that these events contributed significantly to forge the character of Alfonso V, who was always very interested in maintaining peace both on the outside, at least at first; as with inside their territories, in order to continue with the reform of the Administration, timidly initiated at the time of his father, which was always a strong supporter.

Government of Alfonso V

Riots and initial conflict

Alfonso V personally took the reins of power in the year 1008, following the death of count Menendo, which was presumably killed while trying to defend their land from the Normans. To his youth despite the strong personality of the King very soon it became clear to all his subjects, already a regret that his mother continued advising you, can detect an important change in the internal politics of the Kingdom, that from the year 1013 became firmly anticastellana. So many nobles loyal to the former ruler left the Court and new ones occupied his position, situation which was the germ of the future registered between 1012 and 1014 nobility uprisings, as were many notables who wanted to benefit from the grants made by the monarch to its main contributors. In this sense could be noted because of its importance the rebellion the one led by Muno Fernández in the year 1012 and especially the one run by the cited Sancho García and García Gómez in the year 1014, which by its extreme hardness made threatening the stability of the Kingdom, since some noble Leon joined the cause of these, as the count Fernando Flaínez, although finally the monarch could assert its authority.

In addition to these conflicts Alfonso V had to face in the middle of the year 1015 to a dangerous Norman RAID, which struck about 9 months Galician, Portuguese coasts and some inland areas near the Duero. So this RAID, which was not the first of his reign, was braking personally by the King, who after putting in front of a powerful army approached the Diocese of TUI, which had been harshly punished. It was in this place where he/she inflicted a big defeat, which he/she called, in a document dated in the year 1024, 'men of the North'.

Legislative and reform work

End of active hostilities on all fronts Alfonso V dedicated its efforts to the reconstruction of his Kingdom, reason by which undertook a major reform of the Administration, which was praised by all the chroniclers of his time; that was intended to ensure peace among his subjects. Thus among its main achievements we are with the enactment of the so-called decrees and laws of King Alfonso, with which, thanks to its general nature, was intended to standardize the application of Justice in all its territories; and that is without doubt his most important legislative work by its subsequent transcendence, the Fuero of León, with which the monarch intended to regulate all the aspects that made up the life of the capital of his Kingdom. Thus, endeavored to enforce the restoration of his power, Alfonso V devoted great efforts to settle the borders of his Kingdom, taking advantage of the minority of age of the new count of Castile, García, and above all of the civil war that was being developed in al - Andalus, fundamental reason that began the repopulation and reconstruction of populations that had been struck by the amirieswhich gave confidence to his subjects.

On the other hand in order that the new legislation had a real application in all its domains, between 1018 and 1020, visited three parts which was divided the Kingdom of Leon. However, fully dedicated to these reform tasks, distanced himself you from Castilian Affairs, so Castile stood under the influence of the Navarrese King Sancho III the Mayor. Much has been discussed about the relationships that kept both monarchs, although if we stick to the Leonese documentation of the time are not must have been so bad, since it has not been evidence that both face between 1020 and 1022, but on the contrary, seems that contacts between both cuts were cordial. So after the death of Doña Elvira, the first wife of the monarch on 2 December of the year 1022, which was the daughter of Menendo González and that he/she had been married since the year 1013, Alfonso V decided to new marriage with a sister of the aforementioned Navarrese monarch, called magpie. This same event was seen from a very different perspective researchers who maintain the idea of bad relations between both monarchs, thus, according to these studies, the link between Doña Urraca and Alfonso V would only be the agreement between both monarchs to put an end to a series of border conflicts between both armies. These border skirmishes ceased at the beginning of the marriage negotiations.

The war against al-Andalus and the death of Alfonso V

Satisfied with their achievements and taking advantage of the civil war that had begun after the death of the second son of Almanzor in al - Andalus, Abd al-Rahman ibn Sanchul, known by Christians as Sanchuelo, Alfonso V was considered that it was time to retrieve some possessions that had been seized in previous years, both by the quoted Muslim leader and his eldest son Abd al - Malik. So decided to lead an expedition to Portugal, in the summer of the year 1028, in which it was proposed to recover Viseo and Coimbra, squares that virtually guaranteed control of the territories situated north of the River Mondego. But the expedition was not going to prosper, since the monarch died in the vicinity of Viseo shortly afterwards, as all the chroniclers, are running after being pierced by an arrow while performing a reconnaissance without adequate protection. The unexpected death of Alfonso V the Noble one, when he/she was about 35 years of age, marked the beginning of new noble uprisings, apparently encouraged by Sancho el Mayor.

The remains of the monarch were buried in the Church of San Juan Bautista, transformed later into the Collegiate Church of San Isidoro de León. Alfonso V left two sons by his first marriage, the future Bermudo III and infanta Doña Sancha.


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