Biography of Conde de Urgel Álvaro (ca. 1241-1268)

Count of Urgell, born in Burgos to 1241 and died in Foix (France) in March of 1268. It adopted the name of Rodrigo in the Castile and Catalonia called Álvaro. Son of Ponce Gerau de Cabrera and María Gonzalbo, was a brother of Armengol IX and inherited the County of Urgell to his death in 1243.

He spent his childhood in Burgos and with 14 years travelled to Balaguer to take charge of their County obligations. His first tutor, Rodrigo Fernández de Castro, died in 1252, so during his minority took charge of the Jaime County of Cervera, that already had addressed Urgel during the Government in minority of age of Armengol IX. Upon his arrival in Catalonia he/she hastily married Constanza de Montcada, niece of Jaime I the Conqueror, despite their willingness to marry Cecilia de Foix and the intrigues of leading magnates of Urgell, on all Jaime de Cervera, who wished to see him married with Sybil, daughter of Berenguer de Anglesola.

The count, forced to marry that Constance, in 1256 stated that he/she would only fulfill clauses marriage if paid the six thousand ducats for the dowry of his wife, which did not occur, so Álvaro married new Cecilia, daughter of Roger Bernat, who brought as dowry thirty thousand salary melgareses. This wedding solved the internal differences that existed between Urgell, Foix and Castellbò, relating to the possession of certain castles. Already in 1257 the Stephen Bishop, delegate of the Pope, declared valid the marriage with Constance, with whom Álvaro already had a daughter, Leonor, and invalidated the subsequent marriage with Doña Cecilia. Don Álvaro de Foix had two children: Armengol, who inherited the County to his death and Álvaro, who was Viscount of Àger.

To 1256 don Álvaro took charge personally of the County of Urgell, and three years later Jaime I the Conqueror, to ensure compliance with the judgment had given the Bishop of Huesca on the marriage of the Earl, demanded the delivery of the castles of Balaguer, Agramunt, Linola and Oliana; Álvaro abandoned then obedience to the King with the support of many nobles and Knights, well considering it was right opposite the King, either by reasons of kinship. The count said that it would recover their castles by force and went to reside in Lleida, where he/she remained until the end of 1259. On March 10 of the following year was signed peace in Barcelona between don Álvaro and the King.

The count refused to recognize the ruling of the Bishop of Huesca and the situation worsened to such an extent that San Raimundo de Penyafort wrote to the Pope to ask for it to occupy personally the case. The Papal sentence returned to declare as legitimate marriage with Doña Constanza and again don Álvaro disobeyed the papal order, what did fall on their States the question and heavy tributes for years. The King leaned on the papal ruling in order of taking over the States of the count and this weakened his health by his eventful life, retired to Foix, where he/she died of a lung condition.

Like its predecessors, the count Álvaro granted different duties and privileges to the monastery of Bellpuig, as it was written in December of 1256 document. His will indicates that he/she wanted to be buried in the Church of the monastery.

Bibliography

BOFARULL, A, (civil and ecclesiastical) critical history of Catalonia. Barcelona, 1878.

SLIDING GUTIERREZ, E. The sovereign counts of Urgel and the Premonstratensian. Barcelona, 1964.

SLIDE GUTIERREZ, E. news of the counts of Urgell. Lérida, 1973.

MONFAR, D. history of the counts of Urgell. Barcelona, 1853.

ROVIRA, A. National Història de Catalunya. Barcelona, 1934.

JMMT