Biography of Ordoño II. King of León y Asturias (ca. 871-924)

Second King of León from the year 914 until his death. Born approximately in the year 871 and died in Zamora on June 20, 924.

Biographical synthesis

Son of Alfonso III the great in spite of having been born in second place was associated with the Asturian throne in the year 897, after being appointed Governor of Galicia, where he carried out important work on behalf of his father and undertook a victorious campaign in the Bética against Muslims in the 908. In the year 909 King Magno renounced the throne, after the revolt of the future I García Zamora, which caused that Ordoño became the King of Galicia, although he did not assume the Throne officially until there was the death of his father a year later. The following years relations with his brother García I were seriously damaged, but at all times they had the support of the Galician nobility, which always bowed to their wishes. After the premature death of García I, in the 914, Ordoño was called by notables of the Leonese Kingdom to takeover the power request which was accepted by the monarch, although it took him to be proclaimed King due to a disease she contracted in the last campaign that was directed by Extremadura. Since coming to the throne, Ordoño carried out major donations both to the Diocese of León Santiago de Compostela Church and also devoted special attention, like his father, the founding of monasteries and churches rebuild. Warrior spirit headed man major campaigns for Muslim lands in solitary and in the company of the monarch Navarro Sancho I Garcés, which led him to win dream victories as Castro walls or Najera, although it suffered major defeats in the battles of Mutonia and of Valdejunquera.


Son of the Asturian King Alfonso III the great and wife, Jimena, was baptized with the name of Ordoño in honor to his paternal grandfather, the also Asturian King Ordoño I. We do not know for sure the place and date of his birth, although it appears proven that this was the second son of Alfonso III, since in all the documents preserved from the reign of his father that his signature appears, is behind his brother García. Thanks to its elevated status he should receive a careful education, being their first preceptors almost safely clerics. So although the chroniclers not dealt with these aspects, some researchers believe Ordoño due soon noted in the Court of his father by his great intelligence, reason by which the monarch never hid the predilection that felt to him.

The first clear reference found on Ordoño in written sources dates back to the year 879, when this was about 8 years old. They gathered that Alfonso III after reaching an agreement with the noble family of the Banu Qasi, gave custody of their son ad nutriendum the descendants of Musa Ibn Musa (800-862), Ismail and Fortun. Ordoño resided in the city of Zaragoza for three years and although we do not know which were his activities in the aforementioned city, his transfer was causing a huge impression due to his young age. Past this period, once broken relations between Alfonso III and the sons of Musa, Ordoño returned to the Asturian Court, where he was a prominent member of the retinue of his father, since his firm frequently appears in the documentation of the time.

The following years the progress of Ordoño, who must complete his training after starting his military training, must have been very notable, since they were able to convince Alfonso III himself of the need to provide you with more responsibilities, to the detriment of his older brother, the future García I, that he always felt jealousy for the attentions the monarch lavished him. Thus approximately in the year 896 Ordoño married Elvira Menéndez, which belonged to one of the most important Galician families of the era, and soon after, in the year 897, he was appointed by his father Governor of Galicia. Such appointment, has traditionally been considered by researchers as irrefutable proof of the wishes of Alfonso III of associating his son to the throne, since from the time of Ramiro I, Governor of Galicia had been occupied by the heir to the Crown.

Ordoño that since her arrival in Galicia showed, in view of all the chroniclers, his great gifts as Governor, he was able to assert its authority in the territory and subjected to the payment of tribute to all cities, winning also the respect and affection of all his subjects, since as it tells us the crónica Silense: "was prevented in the war"fair and Clement with his subjects and very charitable to the poor, Miséricorde and pious and notorious honesty in the Government of the Kingdom". We can therefore say that Ordoño in no time found difficulties to exercise responsible, reason by which the year 908 led a military expedition against the Muslims of the Bética, which got a major booty, because it struck almost the city of Regel and its surrounding territories.

We ignore the role played by Ordoño in the rebellion led by his brother García in the year 909, which forced Alfonso III to leave power, since while it seems proved that it did not participate directly, it also did nothing to prevent it, which clouded the relations maintained with his father, though very soon both are congraciaron. In this way, that did not participate in the events did not involve that not he benefited from the actions of his brother, since the year 910, June 7 he met Lugo all the Galician counts so they swore loyalty to him. But like his brothers, while in fact he was King of Galicia since the resignation of his father, not formally adopted the title until his death, on 10 December of the year 910, although sometimes can perceive in the documentation that you attempt to circumvent term them formal explaining his condition. During his years as monarch in Galicia, Ordoño did not change the parameters that had governed its policy until then, since as stated above all the nobles of the territory they complied with their orders. Thus took place without problems the rebuilding and repopulation of the city of Lugo and donations made by the monarchs to the Santiago de Compostela Church were frequent. Also encouraged by the success of his previous campaign, in 913 he began a new military expedition by lands of al - Andalus, which led him to Extremadura, specifically to the city of Évora, where the Christian armies obtained an important victory on this occasion. With regard to his brethren, must take into account Yes well the future Fruela II maintained a friendly relationship with Ordoño, García I never forgave this who has had proclaimed King of Galicia, so relations between both cuts were very tense during these years.

After the death of García I, as it tells us the aforementioned crónica Silense, Ordoño "was unanimously elected King by the Assembly of the magnates, celebrated by bishops, Abbots, Earls, and main characters of Spain". But although this nominally occupied the throne since the death of his brother, since apparently notable Leon had claimed his presence in these lands; It seems proved that he decided to not go immediately to the capital of his future Kingdom, since in the summer of the year 914 it made an expedition of punishment by lands of Merida and Badajoz, as he had planned, although a novelty could incorporate his army a significant contingent of Leon soldiers. So the conclusion of successful military action, Ordoño rested few days in Tierra de Campos, after which rather than move to León, as you would expect, journeyed to Compostela, since suffering from strong fevers and fearing near the time of his death, decided to go to this city to request the protection of the Apostle Santiago. Finally after being fully resettled from their disease, at the end of that same year (914), Ordoño was solemnly crowned in the city of León in the presence of some of the nobles and most important bishops of the realm, and from this moment began to the chroniclers the official calculation of the years of his reign. There is no doubt that Ordoño since coming to power had the support and collaboration of the notables of the realm, both Galician and Leonese, since according to dejan betray all the Chronicles always was considered the legitimate heir of Alfonso III and for this reason all his subjects took naturally, the new power Center will be located in the city of León.

After being installed in the throne Ordoño II promised to finance the construction of a cathedral to the capital of his Kingdom, yielding to its palaces to legionense headquarters, and in addition made every effort to reorganize the territory of the diocese, so it also funded the reconstruction of churches and convents. But very soon these activities were not enough for him, since he longed to enter combat again, for what in the year 916 prepared a new expedition by Extremadura. So after passing the line of the Guadiana did a new victory over the troops in the region, which had been reinforced by a powerful contingent sent from Cordoba. The humiliation of Córdoba was such that the emir did not hesitate to join a new army, in August of the year 917, to attack Christian borders, but their efforts were futile, since Ordoño after hearing the news of the arrival of an enemy army in their territories decided to present battle and attacked his camp installed in San Esteban de Gormaz or Castro wallsdestroying it almost entirely in September of that same year.

Taking advantage of the effects of the successive victories obtained over the Arabs had on the morale of his men, Ordoño decided in the spring of the year 918 carry out a new campaign against the city of Nájera, in the company of his ally the King Sancho Garces I of Navarre. But on this occasion the monarch got no results expected, since having a big booty in Najera and Tudela, his troops suffered a tremendous setback in the battle of Mutonia. Far from discouraged by defeat Ordoño organized a new campaign for the month of October of the year 919, but the quick action of Muslim troops forced him to retreat. However despite the victory of Córdoba Abd al-Rahman III was not willing to tolerate further incursions by the King of León in their territories, so he decided to put an end to these attacks personally. So on April 23 of the year 920 he left Córdoba under the command of a powerful army which conducted a brilliant campaign by Christian lands, finally confronting Ordoño and Sancho Garcés troops at the battle of Valdejunquera, where he earned an important victory. But the losses of Christians should not be as substantial as the Arab chroniclers, since shortly afterwards, both monarchs were able to reorganize his army and marched on Guadalajara where managed to get a big booty, after which Ordoño II departed for the city of Zamora, where on his arrival he received with great sadness the news of the death of his wife, which had been the mother of his 5 sons: Sancho, Ramiro, García, Alfonsoand Jimena.

The penalty did not prevent Ordoño II to take charge of the Affairs of State and after these events according to Sapiro tells us in his Chronicle, went to Castile in order to put an end to the rebellion of some counts of this territory. So after arriving at Burgos he convened a meeting in Tejar, place where were arrested shortly after the counts Nuño Fernández, Albo Aboldomar and his son Diego and Fernando Ansúez, but did not last long captivity. At this same time the monarch married for the second time with a young woman named Aragonta González, which was rejected shortly afterwards for not being to his liking.

Until the year 923 don't have evidence that Ordoño II carry out new military campaigns, although as it was his custom not to halt their activity. So he took his visit to Galicia to make new donations to the Cathedral of Santiago, and devoted special attention to the repopulation of some of their territories and the Foundation of new monasteries, who generously endowed. Ordoño finally resumed its activity Warrior at the end of the summer of the 923, since he decided to go to Navarre to support the monarch of this territory, in the plans to attack the fortresses of Viguera and Najera. Both monarchs obtained remarkable results in their campaigns and Ordoño II in gratitude for his victory carried out the Foundation of the monastery of Santa Coloma. It should be noted that the relations between the two kingdoms could not be more cordial, so in order to closer ties was the marriage of the monarch he concluded with one of the daughters of Sancho Garcés, Doña Sancha, which became his third wife that same year, but the union lasted only a few months since Ordoño died early the following summer (924).

The death of Ordoño II was produced by natural causes around June 20, the year 924, in the city of Zamora, when he was 52 years old. After his death his mortal remains were transferred to the city of León, where they were buried in the Church of el Salvador, which he had commissioned. Few days after his brother Fruela II proclaimed himself King, to the great chagrin of her children, who were forced to take refuge in Galicia for a while.


CASARIEGO, J. E. Crónicas of the kingdoms of Asturias and León. (Leon, Everest, 1985).

FERNÁNDEZ CATÓN, J. M. The Kingdom of León in the high middle ages. Alfons monarchy. Pelayo's Alfonso VI (718-1109). (Leon, Taravilla, printer, 1995).

Rodríguez FERNÁNDEZ, j. Kings of Leon: García I (910-914), Ordoño II (914-924), Fruela II (924-925), Alfonso IV (925-931). (Burgos, La Olmeda, 1997).