Biography of Ordoño IV. King of León y Asturias (925-962)

Eighth King of León from the year 958 March until March of the year 959, nicknamed the bad. Born probably in Navarra in 925 and died in Cordoba in the year 962. After his short-lived reign, he was forced to take refuge in the Court of al-Hakam II.

Only son of the King of León Alfonso IV the monk and the wife, the Princess of Navarre Oneca Sánchez, although we do not know the exact date of his birth, in the opinion of some researchers is possible to affirm that Ordoño was born in the early days of the year 925 in Navarre, since Alfonso Ordoñez and Oneca left the Court of León after the arrival to power of Fruela II , and after spending some time in Galiciathey sought the protection of the Navarrese monarch, which did not drawback in collaborating with the future Alfonso IV in the civil war between the sons of Ordoño II with the of the aforementioned Fruela II. So according to this hypothesis, it seems possible to affirm that the first year of life of Ordoño took place in Navarra, away from the dangers involving the war. After the arrival of Alfonso IV to power, in February of the year 926, Ordoño settled with his family in Leon, although it is not possible to determine which was their role in the Court of his father, since his signature has not been registered in the few documents that have been issued from the Royal Chancellery.

Due to his young age know which was the Ordoño reaction to events that occurred after the death of his mother, in the year 931, since even though it seems logical that the loss of this must have been a hard blow for him, there is no data that allow us to know the feelings that was home to his father, which after abdicate and entering a conventdecided to recover its authority to face the new monarch, Ramiro II. But there is no doubt that the change experienced the life of Ordoño must have been very large, since the young man was forced to stay away from activities that were developed at the Court of his uncle, especially after the death of his father without having come to reconcile with the monarch. Thus the figure of Ordoño is lost to historians for years, since although it seems that it resided habitually in court, under the protection of his paternal aunt Jimena Ordoñez, not occupied a relevant position in the reign of Ramiro II, or his successor, Ordoño III.

When Ordoño would arrive after the proclamation of Sancho I, since this did not count with the support of the nobles of León, or with the support of the count of Castile, Fernán González, which soon decided to exploit the plight of the new monarch on their own behalf. This way the Castilian count decided to give the hand of his daughter Urraca, the widow of Ordoño III, the son of King monk in the year 957, since this was the only one capable of questioning the legitimacy of the reign of Sancho I and because of their inexperience in the management of the Affairs of Government, seemed easy to handle. But at this point it should be noted that while Fernán González lent its full support to Ordoño, his candidacy not should fit very deep among the Spaniards, since very soon became evident to many scarce physical and moral qualities of this one, which has been described occasionally as a petty and selfish, man thus received the nickname of Ordoño the bad.

The silence that kept the written sources on the events that occurred after celebrating the marriage of magpie and Ordoño, prevents us from knowing which were the movements of this until the month of March of the year 958, although it seems clear that it profited from the tremendous unrest that gripped the nobles of the realm, after finding that extreme obesity of Sancho I prevented him to take charge of the defense of possessions, especially after the victorious Muslim expedition in the summer of the year 957. Finally the arrival of the troops of Ordoño in Galician lands forcing Sancho I to flee to Navarre, so the way of it remained free of obstacles and this could occupy the throne, as we indicated some chroniclers, after holding a meeting attended plus Fernán González, leading magnates of the Kingdom. Although in the view of most researchers Ordoño IV was accepted by Leonese nobles rather than for its qualities by the tremendous dissatisfaction that the figure of Sancho I. As regards the Galician tycoons, it should be noted that numerous contacts of the Castilian count in this territory were crucial in understanding the favorable reaction of these to the new monarch.

Despite their victories and have the support of Castilian and Galician, it seems that Ordoño IV not felt safe since coming to power, as evidenced by the fact that it was always next to his army. But despite these precautions, it would very soon change their situation, since during his brief tenure he gave ample evidence of his inability to manage the Affairs of State, and above all, their apparent lack of tact offended the nobles of the Kingdom, which were gradually abandoning their cause. The loneliness of Ordoño IV was shown in March of the year 959, after receiving the news of the arrival of Sancho I to Sahagun in front of an important contingent of Muslim troops, since it did not have enough troops to oppose the troops of his adversary. Also on this occasion nor could ask for help to his protector, since Fernán González was being attacked by a powerful army that had been recruited in Navarre. Thus these circumstances drove Ordoño Asturias along with his wife and their two children, but we ignore that you prompted his decision to take refuge in these lands.

Shortly thereafter, again installed Sancho I on the throne, Ordoño was forced to abandon Asturias, since its cause any interest among the inhabitants of the area. So it seems that as a last resort decided to take refuge with his family in Burgos, where he hoped to count on the support of the Castilians, which demoralized also gave it back and forced him to leave the territory, after which departed with a small escort to Córdoba lands, where he was received by supporters of al - Hakam II. Desperate Ordoño IV decided to request the collaboration of the Caliph to regain his authority, but while he obtained a favorable response of the successor of Abd al-Rahman III, it seems that the Cordoba was never interested really in help you, since on the contrary used the aspirations of this pressuring Sancho I, which was reluctant to give the border squares had promised the previous Caliph in Exchange for his help. Deeply humiliated and hurt their self-esteem thus Ordoño was forced to renounce its plans, once became sealed the peace between Sancho I and al - Hakam II.

The last months of the life of Ordoño IV remain in absolute darkness, already chroniclers not paid him any attention. Thus we do not know if this was accompanied in exile by her children, although it is possible that one of them named García remained by his side; as we do not know the date of his death, although it is likely that he died of natural causes, around the year 962.


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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. Sancho I and Ordoño IV. Kings of Leon. (Center for studies and research, San Isidoro, 1987).

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).