Biography of Sancho II. King of Castilla y León (ca. 1036-1072)

From 27 December 1065 King of Castile and King of León from the January 12, 1072, until the date of his death, nicknamed the Fort. Born probably in the year 1036 and died in Zamora 6 October 1072.

Biographical synthesis

Third King of Castile since the death of Fernando I and fourteenth King of León from the battle of Golpejera (1072), which faced the troops of his brother Alfonso VI. During much of his reign, Sancho tried to recover all the territories that had been under the authority of his father, since it was considered that their rights had been violated by the cast that this took place, shortly before dying. With regard to the outside, Sancho II was in his early years of his reign worried to ensure the Spanish borders, as well as all the benefits that this Kingdom accumulated in the form of outcasts, especially those of Zaragoza; circumstances that led him to deal with their cousins, the monarch Sancho I Ramírez of Aragon and Sancho IV of Navarre, in the so-called Guerra of the three Sanchos.

Birth and early years

First of the sons of the King of Castile and León Fernando I and the wife, the queen Doña Sancha, just we have biographical data about the early years of his life, since the writers in their works, not made many references about him in the years prior to his arrival at the throne of Castile. There are so many difficulties to determine the date of his birth, although it seems unproved that this should occur between 1035 and 1040. However traditionally has been considered that Sancho was born in the year 1036, since according to the Chronicle of Sahagun, his brother, the future Alfonso VI, was born in the year 1037. But despite the reliability of the aforementioned Chronicle, it should be noted that there are many researchers who disagree with this statement.

Outside these controversies, it should be noted that the birth of Sancho had raise a profound joy at the Court of her parents, since while the monarchs had already had offspring, as explained above this was their first son. Therefore its position must have been very high since his early childhood, even if we ignore in that conditions developed their education, which should be careful. Probably as it was customary at the time, and as in case siblings, the responsibility of monitoring progress of the infant had rest initially in his mothership and later in some important noble of the Court, which must take care especially that the military training of the future monarch out as complete as possible. On the other hand should take into account the opinion of some researchers, which based on the Spanish documentation, say that Sancho education focused since childhood, so take care of the Government of this territory to the death of his father, which would explain his transfer to Castilla in the year 1060, when it should have approximately 24 years.

Much has been speculated about relationships that maintained Sancho in his youth with his parents, while on the one hand it seems that he/she always felt a tremendous respect for them, on the other it is evident which in its hearings at the Court always showed his character hard and belligerent, circumstances which had muddy its relations with them and especially with his brothersespecially with the future Alfonso VI and his sister Urraca. Thus probably Sancho behavior in recent years leaned his parents to grant numerous favors, which in the opinion of some historians was his favorite son, quoted Prince Alfonso, which while it also possessed a strong character, was always polite in his presence. But despite everything, these alleged clashes apparently did not have any impact on the life of Sancho, since he/she collaborated with his father in the tasks of Government and participated actively in some of the campaigns made by Fernando I in Zaragoza, in order to control the pariahs of this Muslim Kingdom. Thus their presence has been witnessed in the battle of Graus, held the 8 may 1063, in which perished in Aragonese King Ramiro I, which according to some chroniclers died by the hand of Sancho, which always boasted of it, although it is not possible to compare these latest statements in written sources which are preserved from this period.

It was precisely at the end of the year 1063 when Fernando I decided to summon the notables of his Kingdom, participate in an extraordinary meeting of the Curia Regia, in which the monarch expressed his desire that all his possessions were divided between their children when there is his death, circumstance that although it had not been frequent in the Kingdom of LeónIt was common in other Christian realms as the Navarra, as evidenced by the division conducted Sancho III the Mayor in his testament. But the reading of the last will of his father, must have been a hard blow for Sancho in the opinion of some scholars, that while this was the firstborn did not receive inheritance, as you would expect, all the kingdoms that were under the authority of his father. Despite all we can say to come out handicapped in the deal, since it became the heir of the Crown of Castile, including also the Asturian territories Santillana and Liébana, counties of monsoon, Saldaña and Carrión, royalties that his father owned in Pamplona, Najera and control over Paris them Zaragoza. This mode as shown in the history of Spain's Menendez Pidal, it is possible that the intervention of the Queen Sancha was crucial in preparing the cast, since while Fernando I exerted the power absolutely both Leon and Castilla, it must not forget that before their marriage only had control over the second of these kingdomsso it's logical to think that her first-born son left their patrimonial territories and among the rest of his sons divided the possessions of his wife. That the intervention of Doña Sancha had to be large, confirms the fact that none of his descendants was in disagreement with the cast until there was his death, on 17 November the year 1067, although traditionally has been maintained that the Queen always tried to mediate between his sons for filing their differences and not to actively participate in political affairs.

27 December 1065 died Fernando I and later we find his son signing documents with total normality as King of Castile, which is a sign that the succession was carried out in a peaceful manner. So upon their arrival to the throne Sancho reorganized his court and chose some of his men to occupy the positions of greater responsibility, men among them was Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, later known as el Cid, which was appointed second lieutenant of the Kingdom, a fact that has been registered in all Chronicles, by the great reputation which this character reached during his lifetime.

Once their power was seated and all of the Castilian nobles swore loyalty to him, Sancho proceeded to reorganize its borders, focusing initially on the East, since their interests came into conflict with the King of Navarra Sancho IV, especially in La Rioja; and with Sancho I of Aragon for control of the pariahs of Zaragoza, due to this realm, vassal of the Spanish, as well as assume an important source of income blocking the expansion of the Aragonese. In this way an intervention of the armies of Sancho II has been registered in the taifa Kingdom of Zaragoza in the summer of the year 1067. This expedition that possibly had an objective to reinforce their authority over al-Muqtadir, so that it could continue subject to the payment of pariahs, had as a consequence that the Kings of Navarra and Aragon in the Coalition will face to the Castilian King, which brought with it the beginning of the call Guerra of the three Sanchos. Thus the successive battles that took place, described by some authors as simple skirmishes, it seems that initially were favorable to Sancho II, although this after going to the rescue of the plaza de Viana, who was besieged by Sancho I of Aragon, was forced to flee precipitately. However after signing peace with his enemies, he/she won important territorial benefits since it regained the squares of Pancorvo, Oca and the part of the Brueba which remained under the authority of the King of Navarre, as it tells us the first General Chronicle.

During the following years, 1068 and 1069, it seems that Sancho II did not intervene in the clashes that were beyond their borders with the kingdoms mentioned, since on the contrary, it seems that he/she devoted his efforts to restore the headquarters of Oca, to monitor the smooth running of the repopulation that was making in Ona, Arlanza and San Millán de la Cogollaproviding important donations to the monasteries founded in these populations; and the creation of the bishopric of Burgos, the capital of his Kingdom, since intended to completely Unbind their possessions from the theoretical influence of the bishopric of Nájera.

At this point it is possible to perceive a radical change in the foreign policy of the Castilian monarch after the death of his mother, since that focused attention on the western border, which is marked by the river Pisuerga, that separated the Kingdom of Castile of the lion from that moment. Thus the first confrontation of Sancho with his brother Alfonso VI, took place at the battle of Llantada, held July 19, 1068, which despite being collected in all Chronicles, not must have been more than a small confrontation without consequences for either of the two monarchs, because that was no obstacle to bothsoon after, they reached an agreement to topple his brother García, who had inherited the Kingdom of Galicia. Thus in the year 1070 Alfonso VI witnessed the wedding ceremony who joined Sancho II with Alberta, possibly of English origin Lady, with whom he/she had no offspring. In that same year (1070) late or early the following Sancho counting with the support of Alfonso VI began military manoeuvres to overthrow its little brother, the mentioned García, which after being stripped of their territories in Santarem, was imprisoned in the castle of Burgos, but he/she was finally allowed to take refuge in the taifa Kingdom of Seville. Thus in July of 1071 Sancho was entitled King of Castile and Galicia, although he/she shared the sovereignty of this territory with the King of León, which soon resumed hostilities, culminating with the victory of the armies of Sancho II in the battle of Golpejera, held in the month of January of the year 1072that stood out above all others el Cid for the good advice given by his King.

Defeated and made prisoner Alfonso VI, wasn't Sancho II was proclaimed King of León, January 12, 1072, although their authority was not supported by many of the nobles of the realm, since they continued to support the cause of the dethroned monarch. Currently the intervention of the infanta Urraca was fundamental, as the eldest daughter of Fernando I, was able to convince Sancho to release his brother in Exchange for it, withdrew from public life and enter a convent. Soon he/she would be Alfonso VI in the convent, since thanks to the support of some of his aides managed to flee to Toledo, while the King of Castile and Leon could do nothing to avoid it. This dangerous situation soon would have terrible consequences for Sancho II, since a few months count Pedro Ansúrez of and the aforementioned infanta Urraca in Zamora, declared a rebellion. Sancho II, who could not tolerate this revolt, since it could be extended to the rest of León, brought a powerful army and laid siege to the city.

Advocates weighed down by the siege, without hope of producing the arrival of Alfonso VI immediately, decided as a last resort before negotiating his surrender, putting into practice a plan considered by many unreasonable, which seems that the sister of the monarch, by which they intended to murder of Sancho II was. So after leaving the fortress Bellido Dolfos penetrated enemy in the field and after approaching the monarch gave death crossing him with a spear.

Bewilderment quickly seized supporters of Sancho II, reason for which the regicide could reach safety and return to Zamora, where they soon met the news. All gradually abandoned the siege fearful of reprisals from the new King of Castile and León, Alfonso VI, reason by which the corpse of Sancho II was in the custody of a small number of nobles, including Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was. These nobles decided to escort the remains of Sancho el Fuerte to the monastery of Oña, place where deposited approximately 6 days after his death.


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