Biography of Alfonso VI. King of Castilla y León (ca. 1037-1109)

Alfonso VI, King of Castile. Plaza de Oriente. Madrid.

King of Castile and León born about 1037 and died at Toledo July 1, 1109. Known by the nickname of the Bravo, it maintained the supremacy of the Castilian-Leonese Kingdom over the kingdoms of al - Andalus and conquered Toledo, but after the arrival of the Almoravids to Spain it had to adopt a defensive position. The work of colonization and re-population had exceptional importance. Through his contacts with Cluny and Rome expanded the European screening of their States, where ultrapirenaicas influences, including the adoption of the Roman Missal came at the same time.

Biographical synthesis

Son of Fernando I of León and Castile and his wife Doña Sancha, is not known with accuracy the date of his birth, and according to the authors, oscillates between 1030 and 1040 1037 to be the most reliable, offered by the Chronicles of Sahagún. They were his older brothers Doña Urraca, don Sancho and Doña Elvira and after that he/she was born don García. During his childhood, which he/she spent in Tierra de Campos, he/she was instructed by Raimundo, who later would be Bishop of Palencia and probably was his guardian count Pedro Ansúrez. Fernando I died in 1065, Alfonso inherited the Kingdom of Leon, while the eldest son received Castile (Sancho II) y García Galicia. The brothers not complied with inheritance and already before 1071 Sancho and Alfonso had seized Galicia to the weak García, while Alfonso who served the Government of the Kingdom and the sovereignty of Sancho was, above all, nominal. Early in 1072, Sancho II invaded the territories of Alfonso and beat him near the river Pisuerga. Alfonso was transferred to Burgos and Sancho crowned King himself in Leon. Through the intercession of Doña Urraca and Hugo of Cluny, Alfonso was released and fled to Toledo, where he/she was welcomed by Yahya ibn Ismail Al-' Muni. But after the death of Sancho II at the site of Zamora, Alfonso was almost unanimously recognized heir to the kingdoms submitted to the sovereignty of his brother. At the end of the year the principal nobility of the realm confirmed in Burgos a real diploma of Alfonso VI, which proves that his succession was not answered, but was probably at this time that the King had to make a declaration of innocence in relation to the murder of his brother, episode reaching legendary overtones in the Cantar de mio Cid.

In 1073 Alfonso VI took the effective Government of Galicia, after apprehending their brother García, who remained in captivity in the Moon Castle until his death in 1090. Between the date of his coronation and June 1074 Alfonso VI married Inés of Aquitaine, daughter of the Duke Guillermo VIII. In 1076, after the death of Sancho IV of Navarre, Alfonso expanded their territories until Calahorra and swept through the lands of Alava and Vizcaya. He/She also received oath of vassalage to Sancho Ramírez of Aragon, by the territories which it occupied, i.e. the traditional core of monarchy Pamplona. Since that year, Alfonso VI began to titular Emperor. 1078 Alfonso disowned Ines and in autumn of 1079, with mediation by Hugo of Cluny, married second wife Constance, daughter of the Duke Roberto de Borgoña. Rome, however did not accept the marriage and threatened the monarch, that should marry again with Constance after the death of Agnes. From this marriage was born a unique heiress, Urraca, to which to 1087 married the count Raimundo de Amous, son of count Guillermo de Borgoña; the King subsequently married their bastard daughters, Elvira and Teresa, with members of the French nobility, following a policy of way link that caused a revolt in Galicia, led by Rodrigo and candle Ovequiz counts and Bishop Diego Peláez, who defended the rights of inheritance of the brother of the King, García, that prisoner remained in Bavia. This rebellion had already completed when in June of 1088 the King went to Galicia to pacify. After the death of García, the King gave the Government of Galicia and Portugal to Raymond of Burgundy, which provoked new uprisings of little importance.

Sick Queen Constance in 1092, Alfonso had taken as a concubine to Zaida, daughter-in-law of al - Mu'tamid, you gave your only son male, Sancho Alfónsez (1093); shortly after died Constanza. The third marriage of Alfonso VI (1094), with Berta, of Italian origin, was a drawback for Raimundo of Burgundy, which, in the absence of sons of the monarch, which was more likely to inherit the Crown. In early 1095, this established a Covenant on the succession of the King with his cousin Henry of Burgundy and, on the other hand, Enrique received as wife Teresa, the bastard daughter of the King, and received this the Government of the County of Portugal, until then subject to Raimundo. The granting of Portugal to Enrique was the starting point of the independence of the Portuguese Kingdom.

In 1099 died Berta and Elvira, the sister of the King, whose political influence had been felt along all the reign. Alfonso VI's fourth wife, Isabel, it has been speculated a possible Burgundian origin, though some argue that this would not be another that Zaida, who would have adopted that name to convert to Christianity; in this way would open the path of the legitimation of Sancho, who was appointed heir, probably between 1105 and 1106 and surely already was in 1107. About that time the Queen Elizabeth, two daughters had given to the monarch, Sancha and Elvira, died and Alfonso married, for the fifth and last time, with another Burgundian, Beatriz. The hardest hit with the appointment of Sancho as heir were magpie and Raimundo of Burgundy (died 1107) who in 1105 Alfonso (future Alfonso VII), was born to who most powerful Bishop Gelmírezplaced Jay under the protection of the increasingly. Alfonso VI assured Urraca and her son the Government of Galicia.

After the disaster of Ucles (1108) Alfonso became ill and began to prepare a succession that, after the death of the heir (1108) and the large number of noblemen who had been the mainstay of the reign, were expected to be complicated. Alfonso was married to the heiress, his daughter Urraca, Alfonso I of Aragon, thinking that the union of both kingdoms would enable the development of a common policy that would allow the problem around Zaragoza and present a more compact front against the Almoravids.

Alfonso VI exerted power effectively until the time of his death. This came while the King was in Toledo trying to repair the damage caused by the defeat of Ucles. He/She was buried in Sahagún July 21, 1109 and succeeded by magpie.

Alfonso VI and the taifa; conquest of Toledo

The outcasts or tributes in the Muslim States toward the Christian kingdoms have been considered as a means of impoverishing the taifa kingdoms as a step prior to your submission, although today the opinion that the outcasts were an end in itself, since the conquest military of the Muslim kingdoms and their quick and effective restocking with Christians, they were in century XI objective disproportionate. However the political control that the Christian kingdoms wielded over the taifa which protected was sufficient to ensure its superiority, while taxes were the Kings to buy allegiances or political services.

Inherited by Alfonso in 1065 States border the taifa of Badajoz, against which the monarch threw at least two expeditions in 1068 and made her tax and 1074 returned to go to Andalusia in search of pariahs. The Kingdom of Zaragoza, also tributary of Castile, was essential to avoid that Aragon or Pamplona is extended up the Valley to middle of the Ebro, by which Alfonso VI assured their protection al-Muqtadir in 1074, while improving its relations with the Christian kingdoms, through donations to San Millán de la Cogolla, with a view to developing the war against Islam by Gregory VII. The Alliance with the Toledo taifa was one of the cornerstones of alfonsina policy, that was a plug between Castile and Extremadura and could serve as a starting point for expeditions into the realms of the South of al - Andalus. Thus it happened when in 1074 Alfonso VI got a costly tribute AbdAllah of Granada, in addition to the overdue pariahs. Castilla also helped Toledo when al - Ma'mun attacked Córdoba in 1075, but the death of this Monarch (June 28) was a setback for Alfonso, because his successor, al-Qadir, lacked the political skills of his grandfather and the delicate balance between the taifa collapsed, shifting the peninsular situation and giving to the fret alfonsinos plans. Alfonso then initiated a policy of increased intervention in the kingdoms of the South.

It was necessary to restore the Alliance with Toledo in order to ensure the advancement of the colonizations in the area situated to the South of the Duero (the line of fortifications of Medina del Campo, Olmedo, Coca, Cuellar). In 1079, al-Mutawakkil of Badajoz invaded the Toledo taifa and drove out of the city to al - Qadir. Alfonso VI reacted conquering Coria, strategic square en route to Badajoz and in 1081, returned to al - Qadir in Toledo, getting him to change the strength of Zorita of dogs, key of the Kingdom of Zaragoza. At the same time, the Castilian monarch sent to el Cid to charge the pariahs at al - Mu' mutamid of Seville, whose taifa, magnified with Murcia, had become the expansive power of al - Andalus; Alfonso VI placed troops at the service of Seville for the war against the common enemy, the taifa of Granada.

In 1080, there were attacks at San Esteban de Gormaz by inhabitants of the Toledo taifa beyond the control of al - Qadir, to which the Cid responded with raids in the Muslim Kingdom; the King accused him of fighting against an Allied Kingdom and banished, abandoned don Rodrigo Castilla in 1081.

From 1082 Alfonso policy towards the taifas hardened and went towards the obtaining of more taxes and more control of the territories. Not all their attempts were successful; Thus, the King failed to try to conquer the fortress of Rueda de Carrión (January 1083), since the death of al - Muqtadir caused the division of the Kingdom of Zaragoza; Rodrigo Díaz, on the other hand, remained faithful to al - Mu'tamin, the successor of al - Muqtadir, which constituted a new source of friction with the Castilian King. That year of 1082 Alfonso VI also sent embassies to the Kingdom of Seville to demand the increase of the outcasts; the ambassadors were taken by al - Mu'tamid and the King had to deliver, in Exchange for his release, the strategic fortress of Almodóvar. The punitive expedition was swift and in the summer of 1083 Alfonso stood in front of an army that devastated the Kingdom of Seville, causing that al - Mu'tamid requested the Almoravid relief; in 1083 the Almoravids conquered Ceuta, which ensured as a bridgehead for the future invasion of the Peninsula.

The African threat made Alfonso to abandon the policy of protection of the taifas as means of obtaining pariahs of them and began to harass Toledo and Zaragoza, to gain favorable positions before an eventual Almoravid invasion. Preparations for the siege of Toledo began in summer of 1084, but when he/she started the campaign in March of the following year, al - Qadir hardly opposed resistance and yielded the city; Alfonso VI took possession of the city may 25, 1085 and handed Valencia al - Qadeer, as a means of having covered the eastern flank of the expanded Castilla. The terms of the surrender constituted a model for future settlements. The King said to the Muslims of Toledo the exercise of their religion, as well as the preservation of assets, its fiscal regime and their internal laws; He/She appropriated the heritage of the emir and all the mosques, except the largest private and public and is possible to surrender compensation to farmers in the city, trying to keep the production system, essential to make effective the conquest. The King put in front of the city Governor mozárabe Sisnando Davídiz, who had already shown his moderation and his good administrative skills in the Government of Coimbra.

The conquest of Toledo fired the prestige of Alfonso VI, which consolidated its alliances with foreign powers, in space with Cluny, Rome and the way and Burgundian nobility. It was also the formation of a new frontier of al - Andalus in the line of the Tagus, which broke the balance of forces established at the beginning of the 10th century and allowed an easy Christian repopulation in the North of the Central System. From the strategic point of view the most important consequence of the conquest of the taifa was the breakdown of the communications hub linking Zaragoza and the Ebro basin with the rest of al - Andalus, completed esto with indirect control over Valencia through al - Qadir.

But conquered Toledo, perceiving their outcasts are stopped and instead increased military spending, so the King resumed the pressure to raise more outcasts. To this end he/she sent expeditions to the taifa of Seville and Granada, which resulted in the conquest of the strategic place of Aledo (1086). In spring of that year Alfonso laid siege to Saragossa, although it is unlikely that the aim was the conquest of the city, but the recognition of protection and payment of pariahs. The siege of Zaragoza was abandoned at the enormous danger involving the disembarkation of the almoravides Berbers in the Iberian Peninsula at the end of June 1086.

Alfonso VI and the Almoravids

While Yusuf ibn Tashufin, after having been two months stationed in Seville, concentrated his army at Badajoz, Alfonso did in Toledo. The confrontation was inevitable and the contenders agreed that the battle develop in the pastures of Sagrajas, October 23. After the resounding victory of the Almoravids, ibn Tashufin returned to Seville and Alfonso fled to Coria, from where they marched to prepare the defense of the plaza of Toledo. At the end of 1086 delivered to el Cid, that already have had reconciled, the tenure of the plaza of San Esteban de Gormaz, key Eastern Castilla and in the following year received reinforcements of Eudes of Burgundy and other Frankish nobles. That same year received the Castilian-Leonese King Sancho Ramírez of Aragon tribute by the newly established County of Navarra, subject to the vassalage of Alfonso, but awarded to Aragon in the new deal of the Navarrese Kingdom, concluded between both monarchs during the siege of Tudela (1087).

The most pressing need after the disaster of Sagrajas was to restore the system of political relations broken by the Almoravids. Alfonso VI returned to perceived pariahs of the taifa of Zaragoza, who sent to the Cid to deal with al - Mundhir of Lleida, which helped by Berenguer Ramón II, put siege to Valencia. Thanks to Christian sponsorship, al - Qadir returned to Valencia presented its submission to Alfonso, while ibn Rasiq of Murcia, aided by García Jiménez, separated from the taifa of Seville and placed under the protection of Castilla. In this way, in a short time Alfonso recovered the pariahs of Levante and the Ebro Valley, at the same time that al-'tamid again solicited the help of ibn Tashufin.

The second arrival of the Almoravids to the Peninsula can be summarized in the site of Aledo, plaza which was besieged between June and October of 1088 while Alfonso or come in their relief, but that was immediately released by ibn Tashufin and the taifa of Granada and Seville as soon as they had news of the Christian army who came to his defense. It was at this time when the final between Alfonso VI and the Cid rupture, was consummated when not this the real call to release Aledo. However the actions made by Rodrigo Díaz in Levante contributed decisively to the process of reconquest and allowed the King to concentrate their efforts elsewhere. The taifas Kings of Granada and Seville refused to pay taxes to the Christian King, relying on the coming of the Almoravids. In 1089 he/she managed to collect arrears of three years to the King of Granada, but it would be the last time. In July, 1090 third ibn Tashufin landing took place in Algeciras; on this occasion Berber sultan plans passed by the full occupation of al - Andalus, as it was expressed in the immediate surrounding Toledo, square that the King did not go to the rescue until the end of August. The arrival of Alfonso VI and Sancho Ramírez made Africans lift the site of Toledo. Thereafter, Alfonso was devoted to join forces to confront the new invaders, while ibn Tashufin Lossing of the kingdoms of Granada and Seville, including Murcia, Jaen and Almería.

The presence of a powerful enemy and the collapse of the system of outcasts made that the King had to completely change his policy guidelines. In addition Alfonso should take care of the Organization of large territories and better villages, although you downloaded many of their functions of Defense, justice and Government delegates nobles. It was 1091 a year of internal upheaval in their kingdoms. The Bishop of Braga, Pedro, sought under cover of the antipope Clement III to get the Metropolitan condition, which led to his dismissal; Bishop Diego Peláez refused to go to trial in Rome; and in Castilla Cabrera García revolt only pacified when the King marry her sister, the infanta Elvira. Instead of looking for a direct confrontation with the Almoravids, Alfonso tried to get his inaction and returned his eyes to lift. In 1092 he/she allied with Pisan and Genoese and attacked Tortosa and Valencia without success, so from 1093 the Cid had their hands free to perform at Levante. Alfonso, however, managed to progress against the taifa of Badajoz, with the conquest of Santarém, Lisbon and Sintra, which led to the zenith of its power to the count of Galicia and Portugal, Raimundo, who was a close associate of the monarch. It could not capitalize these conquests Alfonso VI, because in 1094 the taifa of Badajoz fell to the Almoravids, substituting in the western sector to a weak enemy one powerful.

Until 1097 Alfonso could enjoy a truce with the Almoravids, but that year, when the King was about to protect Saragossa of Aragon attacks, ibn Tashufin returned to the Peninsula and Alfonso settled in Toledo, where it received reinforcements of the Cid, although Christians were defeated in Consuegra, plaza which was taken in 1099. But after the death of the Cid that same year Valencia returned to Almoravid goal since 1101 was besieged by the caïd Mazdali. The King came to Valencia with a large army in the spring of 1102, but was to check that the city had no salvation; Alfonso led the evacuation operations and in May the Almoravids took possession of the square. Quickly changed the situation of the East Coast and the Ebro Valley: with presto Mazdali to help al-Mustasin, Zaragoza stopped paying the outcasts; the small Kingdom of Albarracín became koubba domain; and Mazdali won victories over the Catalan counts.

After the loss of Valencia was a priority to secure the border east of Toledo and prevent the Almoravids to dominate the corridor of the Henares and milestone, step from the plateau to the Valley of the Ebro, and to this end responded the siege of Medinaceli, begun in 1103 and completed the following year and the raids launched annually South of Toledo. The Muslims did not react during those years, which were the last of Yusuf ibn Tashufin. After his death (1106) he/she was succeeded by his son Alí ibn Yusuf, his brother Tamín ibn Yusuf, appointed Governor of al - Andalus. This brought a huge army which, in 1108, embarked on the conquest of the corredor del Henares, in whose context fits the conquest of Uclés in May. The Christians responded by sending an army from Toledo, who on May 29 was defeated against the city. The battle of Uclés was a new setback for Christians, not only by the large number of lives that were lost, but, above all, because it triggered the conquest by the Almoravids of Belinchón, Ocaña, Huete, Cuenca and Alcalá de Henares, leaving free the road to Zaragoza, which fell in 1110. More serious political consequences was the death of the heir, Sancho Alfónsez, shortly after the battle.

Religious policy

Since the second half of the 11th century the Christian Kings had carried out initiatives at the religious level through the restoration and provision of Episcopal offices in the territories of new conquest, as a complement to the work of afforestation. Organization projects provided for in the Council of Coyanza 1055 were still based on the old visigodo order. The pontificate of Gregory VII was the extension of the Gregorian reform across Europe in the last third of the century and in the Spanish case involved the abandonment of the Hispanic rite and intensification of relations with Rome. Contacts of Castilla y León with the Abbey of Cluny began in the time of Fernando I, meaning a significant support for religious initiatives and a better knowledge of European Affairs. The Cluniac order began receiving monasteries in lands of Castilla y León during the reign of Alfonso VI, being the most important of the season the San Isidro de las Dueñas (1073) and San Zoilo de Carrión (1076). From 1080 these and other monasteries were centers of monastic propaganda and helped extend the French Rite against the Visigothic or Mozarabic uses.

Indeed, Hispanic liturgy was one of the issues that more controvesias created between Rome and Castilla, but papal intervention in Spain had points of greater importance, such as the episcopal appointment or the papal claim to dominion over Hispania (1077). Such claim was answered by Alfonso VI in cancillerescos terms (is at this time when it adopts the title imperator and totius Hispanie Imperator) and supported by its supremacy over the Andalusian kingdoms and the recent annexations in the Kingdom of Pamplona. The episcopal appointment, unlike in the rest of Europe, did not constitute a source of friction and soon spread the canonical election, although it weighed much the Royal recommendation, leading to the disappearance of the own churches and the generalization of the episcopal tithes. The fact is that among the voices raised against the adoption of the Roman Rite was not that of the King, who favored from the start; However, after the conquest of Toledo allowed the Mozarabs of the city that to continue using their liturgy in six parishes, but esto should be considered as a political favor to the Mozarabs, whose collaboration is needed to preserve the dominance of the city.

In 1088 Alfonso gathered an extraordinary curia in spindles (Palencia), in which important decisions were taken in ecclesiastical matters, the most important of which was the restoration of Toledo as the first seat of Spain, point which was confirmed by Rome the same year. However, Urban II not sanctioned or deposition of the rebel Bishop Diego Peláez or its replacement by the Abbot of Cardeña, Pedro; the Santiago headquarters remained in injunction until in 1093 it was occupied by Diego Gelmírez, character of extraordinary importance in the following years.

The reign of Alfonso VI was a time of conquests and birth of Episcopal sees. The recognition of the legal primacy of Rome did not prevent clashes between them, many of them derived more from the peculiar political organization of the Castilian-Leonese Kingdom that's strictly ecclesiastical events. To resolve jurisdictional problems between the different headquarters, after the Council of Husillos began to circulate the Division of Wamba, text which revealed the limits of the diocese during the Visigoth period and served, for example, to resolve disputes between the campuses of Burgos and Osma. Although the document was not authentic, as shown later, it was recognized as true and since the end of the 12th century, integrated in Liber Itacii, it was used when it was necessary to design the ecclesiastical map of Spain.

In April 1093 he/she was appointed Archbishop of Toledo Bernardo, who was bequeathed to all Peninsular kingdoms papal since the following year. By his initiative the Pope moved the headquarters of Iria Flavia to Compostela and declared it dependent only from Rome, as a means of avoiding conflicts between Metropolitan Headquarters. In 1096, Bernardo got that also Burgos is declared free, doing so headquarters were not suffragan restored Tarragona, which was outside the domains of Alfonso VI. Bernardo favored the presence of ultrapirenaico clergy in Toledo headquarters, which became, in the words of the historian Reilly, "in a hotbed of Bishops for the headquarters of the Peninsula".

The repopulation King

Effort that Alfonso VI dedicated to repopulation, colonisation and defence of the territories during the last quarter of the 11th century and beginning of the 12th century has earned the fame of "poblador King". Indeed, by Royal initiative, began to develop urban agglomerations around three main axes: the way of Santiago; Muslim border from Coimbra to Calahorra Strip; an area between the first two, where you were born or developed cities like Braga, Palencia, Valladolid, Burgo de Osma and Silos.

Cities that developed on the Camino de Santiago together policies for cores of trade, crafts, reception of pilgrims and religious centers. Among all of them included Leon, Najera, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Castrojeriz, Frómista. Residents from rural areas, but with a high component of ultrapirenaicos francs and the emergence of Jewish communities were established in these nuclei. The new settlers or bourgeois developed preferential way handicraft and trade activities. These cities, which were developed in the territories of new conquest, unlike had small jarnut, almost always achieved through gradual Royal grants. Also it should be noted that in the 11th century there was a hierarchy of nuclei of population, as a result of social changes, political and ecclesiastical and that resulted in an upgrade of the populations at immunity.

The newly conquered lands of the limbs and South of Toledo required an organization of new implementation, which should combine the security military with the economic, social and political aspects. The main actions of the monarch made their way to Development Council regime, the granting of charters and the restoration and organization of Episcopal sees. The fuero de Sepúlveda (1076) served many times as an example for the future legal system of the limbs and the definition of the privileges of the "villain Cavalry" who would inhabit them. To ensure the rearguard of Toledo it was necessary to populate areas where human presence was nil, and this reason replied the population of Ávila and Segovia and Salamanca. Osma served as a Center for the population of the upper Duero, although the main settler activity was due mostly to Alfonso I of Aragon. All of them were organizers of large territories, provided that legal status (by jurisdiction), economic organization and centres that provided military protection.

Legend of Alfonso VI, the hand drilled.


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