Biography of María de Molina. Queen of Castilla (1265-1321)

Queen of Castile and Leon, born to 1264 in Molina de Aragón and died in Valladolid in 1321. He/She was the daughter of the infante Alfonso, Lord of Molina and brother of Fernando III the Saint, and of Doña Mayor Alfonso Téllez, belonging to the powerful lineage of the Meneses of the land of fields. He/She married in Toledo in 1282 the infante don Sancho, son of Alfonso X el Sabio and future Sancho IV of Castile, which were a close kinship. The marriage was performed without papal dispensation, so the Pope Martín IV launched the excommunication on Sancho, by refusing this spreading of María. The infante threatened to kill the envoys carrying the Bull of excommunication and appeal to the successors of the Pope and the first Council that is.

The political performance of María began with the revolt in 1282-sponsored the infante Sancho against his father. María tried to achieve reconciliation between the two, but could not prevent that Sancho was disowned and cursed by his father. Despite this, after the death of the wise King, Sancho was quickly crowned next to María (1284). Queen exerted a great influence over her husband, whose impulsive nature was often tempered, acting as a mediator between the King and his many opponents in court. The death of the King in 1295 became regent and tutor of his son Fernando IV, who was 10 years old, according to the testamentary provisions of Sancho IV. The first years of the Regency were very difficult for the Queen, who had to face both noble intrigues who wanted to unseat her Government and the huge economic mess and the social unease that reigned in Castile.

Recognition of Fernando IV as King was not easy, since an important aristocratic faction supported Alfonso de la Cerda, grandson of Alfonso X that it had declared his legitimate heir, at the time that the infante Juan, brother of Sancho IV, was proclaimed King of León. For his part, don Diego de Haro took hold of Vizcaya, supported by the infante don Juan Manuel, nephew of Alfonso X, while the lineage of the Lara, that the testament of Sancho IV entrusted the custody of the Queen and her son, abandoned the cause of María. Another front of opposition was the raised by the infante don Enrique, brother of Sancho IV, who got the courts delivered him the Regency of the Kingdom, although María could keep custody of their son. The various contenders sought the support of neighboring countries. Jaime II of Aragon used as an excuse their support to Alfonso de la Cerda to the annexation of the Kingdom of Murcia. María prompted an almost desperate resistance against the Aragonese which prevented the taking of the Kingdom, while the war with Aragon lasted during all the minority of Fernando IV. On the other hand, Felipe the beautiful of France, King consort of Navarre, demanded the return of territories once Navarre María and threatened to help the infant of the sow. María, with great diplomatic tact, got to renew peace with Felipe the beautiful one and its inhibition of the Spanish war. Finally, the King of Portugal don Dionís took advantage of the situation to demand correction of its border with Castile, Queen City Rodrigo and other Castilian squares. María signed with don Dionís Concord of Alcanizes of 1297 that ceded those squares, in Exchange for which the Portuguese undertook to not support the rebels. The peace was sealed with a double marriage between the infanta Doña Constanza de Portugal and Fernando IV and the heir of the Portuguese throne, Alfonso, and Beatrice, daughter of Sancho IV and María. Inside of Castilla, the Queen tried to establish a compromise solution between the various parties of the nobility, making many concessions to some and others, but did not get enough support to put an end to the contest. The lack of support among the nobility forced María, not without some reluctance, to support in the municipal councils and the Assembly of Cortes, who appealed with unusual frequency to discuss the problems of the Kingdom.

Aristocratic violence and invasion of foreign troops caused great devastation in Castile and caused the depletion of the resources of the Royal Treasury. María tried to remedy this situation by making coin on behalf of your child with the consent of the Councils. About the future benefits of this issue the Queen earned credits that allowed her to pay troops that defend their cause. The withdrawal of Portugal and France of the contest and the improvement of the economic situation of the Crown weakened the position of the rebels. The infante don Juan María underwent in 1300, abandoned by his supporters. This fact and the signed peace between the infante don Enrique and his enemies the Lara, marital agreement, brought relative peace to Castile, so troubled by incursions by the Aragonese in the Kingdom of Murcia and the attacks of the nasrids in the South.

In 1301 María got courts the subsidy needed to apply successfully the legitimacy of her marriage to Sancho IV, which was granted by Bull of Pope Boniface VIII, which guaranteed the ascension to the throne of her son. However, that same year, the infante don Juan Lara, who had earned the trust of Fernando IV, urged this to take power, when he/she was 16 years and confronted him with his mother, to which the young King asked their government accounts. Fernando IV was soon betrayed its confidence by attempts to disgregacionistas of his uncles and María returned to act as a mediator between the different sides to retain the Crown of his son. Died in 1312, without having put an end to the noble struggles. His son Alfonso XI had just one year of age and María de Molina held the Regency.

The new minority did not but aggravate the fighting for power. The only Regency of María was contested from the start by several noble suitors. The Queen got that you reaching an agreement in the Convention of August 1314 Palazuelos, guaranteeing a collegial Regency. The agreement stated that the tutoring of the King would be shared by María and los infantes don Pedro and don Juan, brother and uncle respectively of Fernando IV. Collegiate mentoring was confirmed by the cortes of Burgos in 1315. However the power struggles continued in the following years. Two infants died in 1319 in a disastrous campaign against the nasrids of Granada, which again left María as sole Regent. The Queen had to face again the regency struggles between infant don Juan Manuel, don Felipe, brother of Sancho IV, and don Juan, son of the infante of the same name who died in 1319. However, it retained great moral authority in the Kingdom and all applicants tried to obtain his recognition. The Queen bowed again by the conciliation and, shortly before his death, brought cuts in Valladolid, achieving the establishment of another Regency collegiate among infants, that the Government would be divided according to their territorial areas. María died in Valladolid a few days later, July 17, 1321, and was buried in the monastery of strikes of that city.

Great defender of the monarchy against the noble ambitions, the María reina was example of the use of power as a mediation between the different social forces, dismissing the traditional use of force, in an effort of pacification that often was unauthorized by its opponents because of their status as women.


M. María de Molina BALLESTEROS GAIBROIS. Madrid, 1936.

GONZÁLEZ MÍNGUEZ, C. Fernando IV of Castile (1295-1312). The civil war and the dominance of the nobility. Valladolid, 1976.

ALONSO ROMERO, Mª. P., et to the. "The peninsular and Mediterranean expansion. The Crown of Castile (c.1212-c.1350) "." Volume XIII history of Spain directed by Ramón Menéndez Pidal. Madrid, 1990.