Biography of Fernando II. King of León (1137-1188)

King of León from August 21 of the year 1157 until the date of his death. Born probably in the year 1137, and died January 22, 1188 in Benavente.

Biographical synthesis

Son of Alfonso VII, during the years of his Government was faced with the Lara family in order to gain control over his nephew, the King of Castile Alfonso VIII. It also maintained important clashes with Alfonso I of Portugal on the border of Galicia and in Badajoz, and the Almohads, who attacked their possessions on several occasions.

First years

Son of the King of Castile and Alfonso VII León and wife, Doña Berenguela, don't know the exact birth date, but it appears likely that this occurs in the year 1137.

Fernando spent the first years of his life at the Court of her parents, under the close supervision of his mother, Juliana Fernández. But this very soon left the Court and moved to Galicia, since it was put in the custody of the Galician count Fernando Pérez de Traba. However, it should be noted that he/she did not remain completely away from his family, since it is possible to attest his presence at the Court with some frequency. After the death of his tutor Fernando again joined the Entourage of Alfonso VII. Thus in the spring of the year 1157 found him alongside his father in the expedition that led to Almeria. But the efforts of the armies of the Emperor did not succeed any, so approximately at the beginning of August the monarch decided to concluded the campaign.

The State of health of Alfonso VII worsened significantly in the way back to Leon, for their efforts. This circumstance forced to stop the March, in the port known at the time with the name of the Muradal, where shortly after died leaving the Kingdom of Leon, place that Fernando II moved almost immediately to your child in inheritance.

Sublebacion of Zamora and signing of the Treaty of Sahagún

Once on the throne the new monarch was quick to confirm notable Leon holdings and fees that had served during the reign of his predecessor, intending to earn his favor. But the calm was not going to be long-lasting, since while the monarch remained in Galicia, the inhabitants of the city of Zamora rebelled against his steward, Ponce Cabrera. The antinobiliario sentiment became so great that citizens burned the Church of Santa María la Nueva, where he/she was one of the sons of the cited Butler, who perished inside. So, fearful of the revenge of don Ponce, a group of representatives of the city exposed his case before the monarch, saying that if this not agreed to grant them forgiveness they would abandon the city, threat that prompted Fernando II to grant them what they asked for and to dismiss his steward. But the conflict was not going to stay settled, because Ponce Cabrera and some of his relatives decided to leave Leon joined the retinue of Sancho III. The Spanish received them with open arms, since it needed the collaboration of experienced military to attack Navarre. Concluded the mentioned campaign, as proof of gratitude, the King of Castile turned to Leon, where he/she took some border squares that handed over to the relatives of the former Butler of his brother.

Fernando II concerned by these events, decided to organize a powerful army that it was proposed to halt the attacks of Sancho III, since he/she considered his speech as a formal declaration of war. At this point it is necessary to point out the brilliant performance of Doña Sancha, aunt of both monarchs; Princess Stephanie, and the Bishops of Plasencia and Leon, which mediated to solve the conflict peacefully, thanks to which Fernando II met with her brother in March of the same year. Meeting that tube as a result of the signing of the Treaty of Sahagún.

Confirmed the Treaty, Fernando II returned to his possessions, after which visited some of their territories. So after arriving in Oviedo, he/she received the news of the death of his brother and the advent to the throne of his nephew, Alfonso VIII, which had 3 years of age.

Intevención of Fernando II in Castile and relations with Alfonso I of Portugal

Evidence that Fernando II show is interested in intervening in Castilla during the first moments of the reign of his nephew, although possibly his apparent lack of interest was motivated by attack made by Alfonso I Enríquez Galician border in September of that same year (1157) has not been. Thus the King of Portugal dissatisfied with some of the clauses of the Treaty of Sahagún, got to take over a large part of the region of Torono, reason why Fernando moved to Santiago shortly thereafter. But the Leonese King worried about the State of the eastern border of his Kingdom, which could be attacked by some Castilian nobles, decided after reward to those affected, initiate peace negotiations with Alfonso I, which met on 24 November in Cabrera.

It still would take Fernando II a few months more intervene in Castilian matters, since the death of his aunt Sancha, the 28 February 1159, retained him in their kingdoms. But the delicate situation of Leonese borders, forced him to put on hiking the nobility and war to launch a military campaign in Villalobos. In this way it is possible to perceive that Fernando interest in the situation of Castile was growing with the passage of time, as evidenced by the fact that his men will occupy some border places, such as the Cea. This change of attitude could encourage the desire of the King of León, signed peace with Portugal, reason by which met again with Alfonso I in Santa María de el Palo (Galicia), on December 22. However, despite the good relations that kept Fernando II with Alfonso I, in anticipation that this signed an alliance with the Lara, his main enemies in Spanish territory, decided to decidedly promote the re-population of Ledesma and especially that of Rodrigo city, since these seats ensured the maintenance of communications between León and Extremadura.

Internal conflicts

In the month of April of the year 1161 Fernando II was forced to move to Lugo, to mediate in the conflict that had opened up between the Council and the Bishop of the city, since the neighbors in order to fight against the abuses of the aforementioned Bishop, decided to constitute sororities and fraternities to defend their interests. Thus fearful of relapse that same altercations in Zamora, Fernando decided to intervene rapidly to put an end to the conflict. We know their performance thanks to a document dated on May 20 of that same year, in which the monarch ordered that the Guild was dissolved immediately, banned the use of arms in the inner city and was emphatic in stating that everyone had to do their utmost to restore social order.

After the conflict in Lugo, it seems that the monarch had intended to return to the Spanish border, but their plans were hindered by the onset of a new revolt in Salamanca. This uprising was led by the notables of the city, since they felt wronged by the mode that the repopulation of Rodrigo city was underway. Fernando decided to pacify disgruntled visited Salamanca in the month of March, 1162, but other issues demanded his attention, since it was intended that this travel to the Spanish border to meet with a group of Bishops of this realm, reason why the conflict was only partially resolved at the time of his departure. Thus in April began a major rebellion led by a local nobleman called Nuno Serrano, who decided to attack city Rodrigo. After the plans of the mutineers, the King immediately approached these lands, where he/she earned an important victory in the battle of the Valley of Valmuza.

Relations with Castile, Portugal and the Almohads

Possibly Valmuza victory encouraged the King of Leon to intervene definitively in Castile, since although it had lent its support to the Fernández de Castro against the Lara family, at the same time that had undertaken some campaigns with the intention of controlling certain squares border. in no time he/she had tried to make with the guardianship of his nephew. In this way under the command of a powerful army in the summer of the year 1162 began an expedition into the interior of Castile, which led him to occupy much of Extremadura, the Transierrra, Segovia and Toledo, after which went to lands located to the South of the Duero where they were possessions of the Lara. Fernando II came in Burgos in the month of October, city where he/she won important support for their cause, that made him withdraw from the Kingdom met at the end of 1162. But these campaigns not prevented him from meeting on September 27 in assault with the new King of Aragon, Alfonso II, which after recognising Fernando II as his guardian, obtained the promise that Leon armies would lend him their aid, where the King of Navarre tried to attack him.

The optimism with which Fernando II began the year 1163 soon became concern, since the Portuguese broke the truce signed years earlier, in protest for the repopulation of the city Rodrigo, making Alfonso I conquered Salamanca and attacked the Galician border. Although Fernando II managed to recover Salamanca in the month of June, nothing could do to defend the regions of Limia and Torono, since after the campaign carried out in Salamanca lands, this had to lead his troops to Castile, where the chaste and the Lara had begun a new war.

The news of the imminent arrival of Fernando II to Castilian lands, was a hard blow for the Lara, since feeling in clara handicap decided to take refuge in the company of the young Alfonso VIII Soria. So these used the control they had on the Castilian King to start peace negotiations with the Leonese King, who quickly was interested in settling the issue. Thus after receiving the homage of the Lara Lion King became de-facto new guardian of Alfonso VIII, although he/she could not meet with his nephew, since at the last minute one of the collaborators of Nuño de Lara moved to the monarch to San Esteban de Gormarz. Outraged by these facts Fernando II decided to leave his Kingdom, where prompted the repopulation of Rivadivia and register, but in September he/she returned to Castile and after difficult negotiations, he/she could meet with the son of his brother Sancho. Therefore after signing peace with Castile Leon King withdrew to their territories, certain of his power, since he/she had also named one of their supporters tutor of Alfonso VIII, although anything it served this caution, since to his death, Nuño de Lara regained his authority, which gave foot to the border clashes began again.

Taking advantage of border conflicts that kept Fernando II in Castile, Alfonso I repeatedly attacked the dioceses of Túy and Orense and took the fortress of Cedofeira, which was a blow to the interests of the King of León, since the control of this castle left virtually free road that Portuguese troops attacked Santiago. But Fernando did not have sufficient troops to respond to the Portuguese attacks, since the greater part of his army was on the border of Castile, reason why decided to resolve the issue through peaceful negotiation and the 30 April 1165 met with Alfonso I in Pontevedra. After sealing the peace agreement, in order to strengthen relations between the two kingdoms, Fernando II committed himself to the daughter of the Portuguese monarch, the infanta Doña Urraca.

The link probably took place in the month of June of that year (1165) and lasted about 10 years, since Fernando II was forced to separate from his wife by a resolution of the Pope Alejandro III, who declared null the marriage, despite which the firstborn son of Fernando and Urraca, the future King Alfonso IX, followed while retaining his rights as heir to the throne.

It should be noted that a few days after the wedding, Fernando II had to leave his wife to go back to Castile, specifically to go to Medina de Rioseco, place where he/she defeated Nuño de Lara, which was meant to carry out an expedition by land from Leon. There is no doubt when it comes to assert that confidence that Fernando of this victory, got him pushed to prepare a campaign by Muslim lands in the year 1166, which took like fruit Alcantara. But it seems that to some extent this underestimated his enemies Castilian, since almost simultaneously the Lara took over Toledo, which meant, in addition to an important territorial loss, the loss of an important source of income for the King of León, who was forced to stay in his Kingdom throughout the next year, trying to restore its economy. However, despite the precarious financial situation that was, it could cope with the attacks which the Castilian armies were on the borders of his Kingdom and in the year 1168 Castrotierra, conquest which enabled him to finance much of its policy and become important artists guard could take.

The achievements of Fernando did not improve their situation in the year 1169, since in addition to attacks from nationals of Alfonso VIII, it had to face incursions took place in the area of the Transierra the Portuguese leader Geraldo Sempavor, who managed to seize squares such as Évora, Trujillo and Cáceres and that he/she intended to do with the control of Badajoz. These incursions could not be tolerated by Fernando II, since it the owner is considered legitimate in these territories, that they were the natural expansion area of León. It wasn't so come to the aid of the aforementioned Muslim city, breaking with this action the truce had been signed with Alfonso I. So Fernando II after reorganizing his army defeated the Portuguese in the vicinity of Badajoz, capturing during the fight the Portuguese leader as well as his King, event that had a broad impact, since it was able to recover all the Galician vacancies which remained under the authority of Alfonso I and joined his Kingdom Montánchez, Trujillo, Santa Cruz and Montfragnot to mention the fact that the inhabitants of this territory they swore a loyalty, but after the arrival of the Almohads all decided to undergo their coreligionists.

The defeat of Badajoz was not discouraged to the cited Sempavor that continued with its activities in the year 1170, causing great unrest in Fernando, who decided to end their raids negotiating directly with the Almohads. But to sign peace with the North African Caliph did not mean that the King abandoned the ideal of reconquest, this ingrained among Christians. Thus despite this new Alliance Fernando decisively supported the creation of the order of Santiago and the so-called Brotherhood of the Knights of Cáceres.

It seems unlikely that the monarch expected the Almohads to attack their territories in the year 1174, because that must have been a surprise to receive the news that they had begun the siege of city Rodrigo, who was saved by the quick intervention. From that moment you can perceive an important change of attitude in Fernando II, who tried by all means to gather enough resources to organize an expedition by Muslim lands and participated willingly in the Tarazona Colloquium, held in 1177, where in addition to address political issues, raised the idea that the Christian kingdoms were to unite against the common enemy. Thus taking advantage of the beginning of an outbreak of plague in Morocco, Fernando II attacked basin, where he/she obtained discrete results, although did not terminate his campaign, after hearing the news that the Almohads were attacking Toledo and Talavera, decided to attack Seville and from there moved to arches, to conclude his feat at Jerez, where he/she got a big booty, although it was taken later.

Last years

In the year 1178, Fernando II, coinciding with the celebrations that took place in Salamanca, commemorating his 20 years as King of León, decided to marry Teresa Fernández, the widow of Nuño Pérez de Lara, who knew from his youth, since this was the daughter of the count Pedro Fernández de Traba. Shortly after it faced attacks addressed to you by Alfonso VIII, which in the winter of 1179 was able to enter the so-called land of fields, taking a definitive step for the recovery of the infantry, which had been occupied by Fernando II during its minority of age. This way the danger posed by this Castilian expedition Fernando met with his men in Zamora may 1, 1179, after which started the counter-attack. But this reactivation of the war between Leon and Castilla was going to cause the reaction of Alfonso I, who decided to send his son, the future Sancho I, attacking city Rodrigo, circumstances compelled the King of León to divide his troops to fight on two fronts, despite which was the winner of both monarchs.

The death of Queen Teresa at the beginning of the year 1180 was a blow for the King, though hardly had time to mourn him, since after the funeral he/she received the news that Alfonso VIII was in the vicinity of Carrion, intending to attack. So once Alfonso occupied the Infantado, the warlike actions focused on the border squares, which were screened in tenacious way by Fernando II. But both monarchs very soon lost its initial impetus, so March 21, 1181 signed the peace of Medina de Rioseco. Solved conflict with his nephew, aware of its serious financial problems Fernando summoned notables to participate in the Council of Benavente, where tried to find solutions to your problem.

Closed the mentioned Council, Fernando II began preparations to deal with the Muslims in the year 1182, though he/she could not conclude them, put the Burghers of Lugo had been forced to abandon the city to the Bishop, after killing the merino mayor. The arrival of the monarch defused the souls of the troublemakers, circumstance that allowed Fernando II to start a pilgrimage to Santiago. Few days could remain in Galicia since it was release which had resumed hostilities on the border of Castile. Although it should be noted that they must not have been very hard confrontations, since that same year was signed the peace of Lavandera-Fresno, in which both monarchs committed themselves to collaborate in the process of reconquest. So willing to play its part, Fernando II besieged, in September 1183, Cáceres, plaza who surrendered in June 1184. The reaction of the Almohads did not wait, but Fernando II in view of the long siege which had involved his men, decided to put on the defensive, which encouraged the African attack Santarém (Portugal). This siege was started June 27, 1184, encouraged Fernando II to collaborate with Portuguese troops, circumstance that you surprised both Alfonso I as the Almohads, who suffered a serious defeat.

After this new victory began the decline of the monarch, which coincided with the rise of the family López de Haro, family that came to power in the hands of the mistress of the King from the year 1183, Urraca López, which became his wife in may 1187, to the great chagrin of the heir to the throne, who felt displaced. It is so difficult to determine what were the activities carried by the monarch in the last years of his life, although the hand of his wife in all of them is perceptible.

Fernando II probably died January 22, 1188 in Benavente. His mortal remains were buried in the Cathedral of Santiago.


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