BECK index

Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1250-1400

by Sanderson Beck

Castile’s Alfonso X and the Zohar
Castile 1284-1350
Castile’s Pedro I and Civil War
Castile 1369-1400
Aragon 1250-1336
Aragon’s Pedro IV
Granada 1250-1400
Portugal 1250-1400
Juan Manuel’s Examples and Ruiz’s Good Love

This chapter has been published in the book Medieval Europe 1250-1400.
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Castile’s Alfonso X and the Zohar

Spanish Peninsula 1095-1250

Alfonso X (r. 1252-84) of Castile united the kingdoms of Asturias and Leon into Castile. He began by distributing land to those who had collaborated with the conquest of the Moors. This led to a quarrel with his brother Enrique, who went into exile to Tunis in 1255. Some of the clergy were quite wealthy, and many kept public women. In 1251 Pope Innocent IV revoked previous excommunications for clergy who publicly kept women because they affected too many people. The diocese of Pamplona had 450 clerics with mistresses. In 1252 Alfonso X tried to fix prices and introduce a stronger currency, but these were a costly failure. For moral reasons he legislated against usury and excessive spending on clothes, weddings, and banquets, but these laws were not consistently enforced. In 1253 he went to war over his claims; but the next year he promised to cede the Algarves to Portugal’s Afonso III after he married Alfonso’s illegitimate daughter Beatriz and she bore a son; he also released Afonso from vassalage. At Toledo in April 1254 Alfonso X gave the duchy of Gascony to his sister Leonor (Eleanor), who then married England’s heir Edward. When Thibault II (r. 1253-70) became king of Navarre, Alfonso X demanded his fealty and gathered Castilian troops along the frontier; but Jaime I of Aragon pledged that he would prevent Castile from occupying Navarre. In 1256 Alfonso withdrew his demand.

Alfonso X was called the Learned (el Sabio) and protected Moorish and Jewish culture. He endowed the University of Salamanca with chairs in medicine and surgery, started an Arabic and Latin center in Seville and a school in Murcia, supervised the writing of a Universal Chronicle, had the Bible translated into Spanish, and hired scholars to translate Arabic books on astronomy and astrology. He composed lyrics for more than four hundred songs about the Virgin Mary and published them as illuminated manuscripts, illustrating events during his reign.

Alfonso sponsored the compiling of a legal encyclopedia called Las Siete Partidas that drew from the charters of the Fueros Real of 1254, canon law decretals, and the legal Digest based on the laws of Justinian. Alfonso’s laws protected Jews and Muslims, but they also prohibited communal living or sharing public meals or baths. Alfonso’s nephew Juan Manuel credited his royal uncle with having translated the Jewish law, the Talmud, and the esoteric Kabbala as well as works on theology, logic, the seven liberal arts, and the mechanical arts. He also noted that Siete Partidas translated much Roman law and canon law as well as Arabic moralists. In Siete Partidas the king had full power (plena potestas) to issue laws, judge crimes, mint money, declare war or peace, collect taxes, establish fairs, appoint governors, and delimit provinces. The king promised not to act without consulting the Cortes, but he was not bound to follow their counsel. Between 1252 and 1281 Alfonso X convened thirteen Cortes including six at Burgos and three at Seville. In 1252 at Seville he set the annual interest rate the Jews could charge on loans at one-third; it was lowered to a quarter in 1268, but the Cortes at Segovia in 1278 restored the 33.3% rate. These rates only applied to Jews and Moors because Christians were not allowed to lend money at interest.

In 1257 Alfonso used bribes to get elected emperor by Saxony, Brandenburg, and Bohemia; but, unlike his rival Richard of Cornwall, Alfonso never went to Germany, and he found his pretension resented there and in Castile. Alfonso X sent a fleet that raided Morocco in September 1260 with 37 ships and held the port of Salé for ten days, but the return voyage with booty and thousands of captives was a disaster. He captured the citadel of Jerez on the Guadalquivir River south of Seville and began developing the ports of Cadiz and Puerto de Santa Maria, seizing Niebla on the Portuguese frontier in 1262. When he demanded the surrender of Gibraltar and Tarifa, the Nasrid king Muhammad I (Ibn al-Ahmar) of Granada agreed to pay an annual tribute. After suffering under Castilian rule for twenty years, the Mudejars (subject Muslims) of Murcia revolted in 1261, and Alfonso appealed to Jaime I of Aragon for help. Aided by Marinids from Morocco, the Muslims tried to drive out Christian garrisons. In May 1264 Mudejars in Andalusia revolted and were aided by Granada. Alfonso sent forces to suppress the revolt, and it took a siege of five months to regain Jerez. He invaded the Vega of Granada in the spring of 1265. Muhammad I asked for a truce in August and agreed to pay an annual tribute of 250,000 maravedis and to help Alfonso reconquer Murcia. Rebels still held out there, but Aragon’s army helped defeat them by 1267. That year Muhammad I resumed paying tribute. Castilians expelled the Muslims from their Christian lands, sharply reducing the supply of slaves.

Alfonso X formed an alliance with Portugal’s Afonso III on September 20, 1264, and they concluded a treaty of peace at Badajoz on February 16, 1267. In gratitude for Portugal’s help against the Mudejars and for the sake of his grandson, Alfonso yielded his rights to the Algarve and promised the service of fifty knights. Portugal also gave up some territory, and its border with Castile was established.

Early in 1271 Alfonso’s brother Felipe and nobles from families that included Lara, Haro, and Castro conspired against the King at Lerma. The expenditures of Alfonso X caused large debts, and the tribute from Granada declined; so he imposed new taxes and debased the currency twice. When Emperor Richard of Cornwall died in April 1272, Alfonso wanted to be elected emperor and convened a Cortes at Burgos in September. Upset by the economic difficulties, the nobles compelled the King to confirm their traditional laws and abandon his royal code. Some repudiated their allegiance to him and went to serve the Emir of Granada. Alfonso's queen Violante (daughter of Aragon’s Jaime I) and their son and heir, Fernando de la Cerda, negotiated with the rebels, and in March 1273 at Almagro they renewed their loyalty to Alfonso. That year he included all the shepherds in his kingdom in the Honorable Assembly of the Mesta of the Shepherds so that he could secure a reliable tax on sheep and cattle. In 1274 the Cortes of Zamora restricted the legal cases that could come before the royal court, and judges from Leon would hear cases in the royal court from Leon. The king could order an investigation (pesquisa), but by 1300 this was no longer used for civil cases but only for criminal investigations.

When Muhammad I died in Granada in 1273, the Castilian exiles helped secure his son Muhammad II (r. 1273-1302), who managed to survive by diplomatically balancing off the kings of Castile with the Marinid sultans of Fez. Alfonso reconciled with the exiled rebels in 1274, and in a renewed pact Muhammad II promised to pay an annual tribute of 300,000 maravedis, plus the arrears due. He and the Jews contributed to Alfonso’s journey to meet with Pope Gregory X about the imperial crown in the early summer of 1275 at Beaucaire, but he renounced the imperial crown in October.

While Alfonso was meeting with the Pope, Marinids led by Abu Yusuf from Morocco invaded Andalusia. Alfonso’s oldest son and heir Fernando was acting governor and led the military response at Algeciras; but he died on July 25, 1275. Lope Diaz de Haro persuaded Alfonso’s second son Sancho to claim he was heir to the throne; but Fernando’s widow Blanche got the French to fight for her son Alfonso de la Cerda, whose cause was also championed by Juan Nuñez de Lara. On September 7 Abu Yusuf attacked near Ecija, and the frontier governor Nuño Gonzalez de Lara was killed. A month later King Jaime’s son, Archbishop Sancho of Toledo, was killed fighting Muslims at Jaen. Alfonso’s second son Sancho took command and stopped the enemy, gaining glory in the military campaign against Granada.

In 1276 King Alfonso convened a Cortes at Burgos that recognized Sancho as his heir. He was supported by princes, nobles, bishops, military orders, Portugal, and Granada, though Juan Nuñez de Lara and his brother Nuño supported Alfonso de la Cerda’s uncle Philippe III of France. Alfonso needed money and hired five financiers, including four Jews, to collect all taxes in arrears since 1261. Royal authorities took over church revenues in Seville, and in 1277 the archbishop of Seville protested that the people of Seville disregarded his sentences of excommunication. In the spring of that year Abu Yusuf came back and led raids that ravaged the region of Seville, Cordoba, and Jerez. Also in 1277 King Alfonso horrified  many by executing his brother Fadrique without a trial, and in January 1278 his abused queen Violante fled with Fernando’s widow Blanche and her two sons to her brother Pedro III’s court at Aragon. In the summer King Alfonso sent a fleet to blockade Algeciras, and his army besieged it in February 1279. That year bishops in Castile complained to Pope Nicholas III that they were not free to meet and discuss their grievances.

In 1281 Alfonso X ordered all the Jews arrested until they paid twice their annual tribute. In the fall he proposed debasing the currency, and he quarreled with his heir Sancho, who opposed any division of Castile. In April 1282 Sancho summoned the Valladolid assembly that declared Alfonso unfit to rule and deposed him. Queen Violante had returned in 1279. Alfonso’s younger brother Manuel and his own sons Pedro, Juan, and Jaime all supported their older brother Sancho. Alfonso was only supported in the south by Seville and Murcia. During the summer he met with Abu Yusuf, who loaned him 100,000 gold dinars and received his physical crown as security. In the Castilian civil war the Moroccans plundered the regions around Cordoba, Toledo, and Madrid and then the Tagus valley the following spring before returning to Africa.

During the Cortes at Valladolid in 1282 bishops, abbots, and townsmen formed associations called brotherhoods (hermandades). Forty Benedictine, Cistercian, and Premonstratensian abbots signed a pact to uphold their liberties on May 2, and the next day six Leonese bishops formed a brotherhood with 25 Leonese abbots. Thirty Castilian towns organized a brotherhood at Burgos on May 27. In November 1282 Alfonso disinherited and cursed Sancho in the Alcazar of Seville. In 1283-84 Sancho’s brothers and Lope Diaz de Haro were trying to set up kingdoms in Leon, Extremadura, and Castile. The military order of Santiago and bishops succumbed to Italian banking houses, and Archbishop Gonzalo of Toledo was held near Avignon in 1283-84 until he paid some of his debts to the Chiarenti Company of Pistoia. On March 23, 1284 Alfonso wrote a letter to Pope Martin IV pardoning Sancho and asking the Pope to lift the censures against him. Alfonso X died at Seville on April 4.

The Jewish Kabbalist Moses de Leon was born about 1250 and lived in Guadalajara until 1290. Scholars believe he wrote the mystical Book of Splendor (Zohar) about 1280. Moses claimed his manuscript was written in the 2nd century CE, and some of its teachings may derive from that era. After he died in 1305, his wife said that he was the author. The Zohar, written in a peculiar Aramaic and Hebrew, is a compilation of Kabbalistic texts placed in a dialog between Simeon ben Yohai and his disciples that is a mystical commentary on the Torah. The ultimate principle is the infinite En-Sof that is hidden within the soul. The commentary on Exodus reveals this infinite God’s ten emanations (sefirot) as the crown (source), wisdom (fountain), intelligence (understanding), mercy (greatness), justice (strength), beauty (grace), victory (endurance), glory (majesty), foundation (stability), and sovereignty (community). Evil, sin, and their personifications as demons are referred to as kélifoth, meaning coverings or the externals that are wrapped around the divine emanations. Thus evil has no ultimate reality and is an illusion or negation. God uses the first person Adam as a chariot to descend into the world. Thus the terrestrial person is really the emanation of the heavenly person as the image of God. The real part is the soul, not the body.

Here is some of the ethical wisdom from the Zohar. A good intention is counted as a good deed. Do not neglect your own poor to give to poor strangers. Whoever loves without jealousy does not really love. God creates new worlds by causing marriages. Sages are higher than prophets, because prophecy is not as constant as wisdom. People have fear because sins break their courage and take their strength. Whoever warns the wicked, even if unheeded, is free of blame; but the wicked will be caught in their own sins. Even in the Millennium we can hope only for the weakening of evil, not its complete eradication. Hunger takes over when justice lacks mercy, for there is no true justice without mercy. Those who strive to attain what is not for them may lose what is intended for them. The ideal person has male strength and female compassion. Eyes and ears are not always dependent on human will, but a person’s tongue is. The human soul testifies at night to whatever it does during the day. The acts of a ruler are those of a nation, whether just or unjust, and nations are punished for the sins of their leaders. Whoever serves God with love unites with the highest of the high and joins the holiness of the world to come.

Castile 1284-1350

Alfonso X’s will left the crown of Castile to his grandson Fernando de la Cerda; but his son Sancho fought this, and the civil war continued. King Sancho IV (r. 1284-95) of Castile struggled with dissent over the Cerda princes held by Aragon and fought to control the Gibraltar Strait. The Marinid emir Abu Yusuf crossed the strait and besieged Jerez in April 1285; but when Sancho sent a Castilian fleet of a hundred ships and marched his army there, Abu Yusuf withdrew to Algeciras in August. In 1286 Sancho promised the Cortes that his officials would not seize property without an order from a royal judge. The next year he appointed Lope Diaz count of Haro and majordomo mayor with control over Chancery and all the castles in Castile. His brother Diego Diaz became royal standard-bearer (alferez) and governor (adelantado) of Castile and then of Andalusia. Lope married his daughter to Sancho’s brother Juan and his brother to Sancho’s sister. Don Lope also controlled the royal treasury through Jewish financiers. When Sancho realized how much power Lope had gained, he ordered him to return his castles. At an assembly at Alfaro on June 8, 1288 Lope Diaz de Haro threatened King Sancho with his sword and was killed, renewing the civil war between the Haro, Lara, and Cerda families.

In 1292 Granada’s Muhammad II helped Sancho IV take strategic Tarifa from the Marinid Muslims; but the Castilian king refused to hand over the town, though the Nasrids of Granada managed to recapture two frontier forts from his successor while raiding the Guadalquivir valley. In 1294 King Sancho needed money and imposed a one percent levy on all transactions, and his officials forced bishops and abbots to contribute to the siege of Tarifa. When the archbishop of Santiago refused, Sancho ordered his goods seized for the 30,000 maravedis outstanding. More than 800,000 maravedis were raised from all the prelates in Castile, and the Jews paid 900,000 maravedis. Jews served by collecting taxes, and their knowledge of Arabic also made them valuable diplomats to Muslim states. Sancho IV died at the age of 36 on April 25, 1295.

Sancho’s son Fernando IV (r. 1295-1312) was only nine years old when he became king. Because of papal excommunication he was considered illegitimate, but his mother Maria de Molina skillfully won over towns by granting privileges and giving nobles land to allay the civil strife. In August 1295 King Fernando promised the Cortes of Valladolid that he would dismiss all the officials in the royal household. Alfonso X’s brother Enrique returned from exile after decades and was named joint tutor with Queen Maria, but he indulged in hunting and banquets. Diego Diaz received the Haro inheritance of Vizcaya; the Lara house was given money; and Sancho’s brother Juan received Leon, Galicia, and Seville. Alfonso de la Cerda inherited the rest of Castile except for Murcia, which was occupied in 1296 by his ally, Jaime II of Aragon. Alfonso de la Cerda was crowned king at Sahagun in Leon; but his siege of Mayorga failed, and the Aragonese retreated. Fernando was betrothed to a Portuguese princess and ceded several frontier towns to Portugal, establishing the Castile-Portugal border in 1297. The rebellion continued to 1300. The incompetent regent Enrique tried to cede Tarifa to Granada, but the governor Alfonso Perez de Guzman refused to let it go. In 1300 the Cortes voted for five services to raise money and five more during the famine of 1301.

The German rabbi Asheri ben Yechiel migrated to Toledo in 1305. He spent seven years compiling a Talmud for practical use. Asheri had eight sons and many grandsons who carried on his ascetic view of the Talmud. Shlomo ben Adret (1235-1310) led the Jews of Barcelona, and he opposed letting any Jew under the age of thirty study science or secular philosophy. On July 26, 1305 he ordered it be anathema for any Jew to read a scientific book before the age of 25. This ban lasted a half century and was the first known heresy tribunal in Jewish history. This policy spread in Spain and to Languedoc, northern France, and Germany. Others opposed this policy and defended the works of Moses Maimuni (Maimonides). In 1313 the Council of Burgos excluded Jews from honors and offices, and Pope Clement V absolved Christians of their debts to Jews because of usury.

Townsmen banded together in brotherhoods to protect themselves against aristocrats. In 1295 the Cortes of Valladolid had recognized the three major brotherhoods of Castile, Galicia-Leon, and Toledo-Extremadura. In 1302 King Fernando recognized the right of municipalities to organize brotherhoods, and in 1310 the bishops formed their own brotherhood. Queen Maria of Castile raised 1,500,000 maravedis to finance the expedition to Murcia with 4,000 knights, but she could not prevent some of Murcia being ceded to Aragon by arbitration in 1304. She sent 10,000 silver marks to Rome to induce Pope Boniface VIII to declare Fernando legitimate in 1301. Philippe IV of France helped bring this about, and the Franco-Castile alliance was confirmed in 1305. In 1309 a Catalan fleet helped Castile capture Gibraltar, but the siege of Algeciras failed. That year the kingdom needed 4,500,000 maravedis; but the Cortes refused to vote for it because it would strengthen the King. By a 1310 treaty Castile regained the frontier towns they had lost to Granada during the civil war.

When Fernando IV died on September 9, 1312, his son Alfonso XI was only one year old. His mother died the next year, and in 1315 the Cortes appointed his grandmother Maria de Molina, her younger son Pedro, and Sancho IV’s brother Juan as regents of Castile. Pedro and Juan were killed while attacking Granada in 1319. Maria was old and ill, and she died in 1321. Conditions were chaotic until 1325 while Juan’s son Juan, Juan Manuel, and Sancho IV’s son Felipe tried to govern a divided country. In 1325 Alfonso XI married Juan Manuel’s daughter Constanza, but he divorced her two years later. Juan Manuel resented this and tried to intrigue with Aragon’s Alfonso IV; but this king married Alfonso XI’s sister Leonor (Eleanor), and Juan Manuel came back to Alfonso XI in 1329.

In 1328 King Alfonso XI married Maria, the daughter of Portugal’s Afonso IV, and she bore his legitimate sons Fernando and Pedro. However, Alfonso fell in love with Eleanor Guzman, who bore him ten children between 1330 and 1345, including Enrique, founder of the Trastamara dynasty.

In 1331 Granada invaded Murcia to Elche and took 1,500 prisoners and 3,000 cattle. Morocco’s Emir Abu al-Hasan (r. 1331-51) of the Banu Marin waged holy war with a large and well equipped fleet for two decades and captured Gibraltar in 1333. Alfonso XI made truces with Granada and Morocco until 1339. Then Christians surprised a raiding force and killed Abu al-Hasan’s son Abu Malik. In April 1340 the Moroccans destroyed most of the Castilian fleet, and with the help of thousands of Turkish cavalry and archers the Muslims besieged Tarifa in September. A Christian fleet tried to keep the besiegers from getting supplies by patrolling the straits, but in October they lost twelve of the fifteen Castilian galleys in a storm. The Christian armies were led by Alfonso XI with 8,000 cavalry and 12,000 infantry and by Afonso IV of Portugal with a thousand knights. They attacked on October 29, and in the battle of the Rio Salado the Christians claimed they killed 400,000 Muslims while losing only twenty horsemen. Abu al-Hasan fled to Algeciras and then to Morocco. The glorious victory was celebrated in the chronicles and in poems.

Alfonso XI hired more than fifty Genoese galleys and besieged Algeciras in 1342. They were supported by Catalan squadrons until they withdrew in May 1343; but Alfonso persisted, and Algeciras surrendered on March 26, 1344. In the treaty Granada was granted a truce for ten years, and their earlier tribute was doubled. Alfonso besieged Gibraltar with about 30,000 soldiers in 1349 while the Marinids were involved in a civil war; but the Black Death infected the besieging army, and Alfonso himself died on March 27, 1350, ending the siege.

Alfonso XI was able to control local affairs in Castile by appointing smaller municipal cabildos of nobles and citizens, and the King also appointed city officials. At the Cortes in 1346-47 Alfonso promulgated new laws that were published in the Ordenamiento of 1348. The Crown protected all castles in order to prevent private wars, and a professional army was established. He also followed the ideas in the Siete Partidas of Alfonso X. Jews such as Joseph Halevi and Samuel ibn Wakel administered royal revenues. In 1342 a general sales tax of five percent was reimposed on all transactions. During the Black Death in June 1348 Jews were accused of poisoning wells in Barcelona, and twenty people were killed and had their houses pillaged. This persecution spread to other towns even though Pope Clement VI prohibited anyone from killing Jews on pain of excommunication.

Castile’s Pedro I and Civil War

Pedro I (1350-69) of Castile was castigated by a political enemy, Pedro Lopez de Ayala, in his Chronicle and became known as Pedro the Cruel; but he explained to England’s Edward III that his brother Enrique called him cruel and tyrannical because he punished those who did not obey him and committed crimes against his subjects. Pedro I did mutilate prisoners in 1362, and he killed the crews of four or five Catalan ships in 1365. Pedro was born on August 30, 1334 to Queen Maria of Portugal. His father Alfonso XI lived openly with his mistress Leonor de Guzman, who had ten children by him between in 1330 and 1345. He made her son Fadrique master of Santiago in 1344. In 1348 Alfonso suggested that her son Enrique should marry the older daughter of Aragon’s Pedro IV and be king of Murcia. When Alfonso died in 1350, Queen Maria and her cousin Juan Alfonso de Albuquerque ruled in Pedro’s name. Leonor was arrested and killed, and Enrique could not hold Algeciras against Pedro and fled to Asturia. The Cortes of Valladolid in 1351 established police and passed laws that protected Jews and trade. A treaty between England and the Basque ports was confirmed by King Pedro I. Ordinances also controlled wages and prices during the Black Death.

Pedro I married Blanche of Bourbon on July 3, 1353, and her dowry secured Castile’s aid to France against England; but he abandoned her two days later, and the aid was never sent. He had Blanche imprisoned in the alcazar of Toledo and never saw her again; she was executed in 1361. Pedro returned to his mistress Maria de Padilla, and he abandoned Albuquerque. He replaced all his officials beholden to Albuquerque except the treasurer Samuel Halevi. Nobles protested, and Pope Innocent VI asked Albuquerque and Pedro’s brothers to make the King return to Blanche. In April 1354 Pedro married Fernando de Castro’s sister Juana, widow of Diego de Haro, and he separated from Maria, who devoted herself to founding the monastery of Santa Clara de Astudillo. The Pope sent a delegate to annul this marriage, and Pedro abandoned Juana. Pedro learned of the conspiracy against him and marched against the fortresses of Albuquerque, taking Ampudia, Villalba, Cea, and Grajal. Pedro also went after his half-brother Fadrique. A faction of knights in Santiago deposed Fadrique and elected Juan Garcia de Villajera. Albuquerque died on September 28; according to a rumor Pedro had ordered an Italian physician to poison him.

In the fall of 1354 Pedro I gathered a force of 800 men, but the opposition had 5,000. The King received their delegation at Toro and then went to join Maria de Padilla at Ureña. His mother Queen Maria had joined the opposition, and at the next meeting the rebellious nobles imprisoned Pedro in Toro. They were led by Fadrique, Ferran and his brother Joan of Aragon, and Fernando de Castro; but Pedro won over his cousins Ferran and Joan against his bastard half-brothers, and they helped him escape during a hunting trip in December. He went to Burgos in January 1355 and called a meeting to collect subsidies. The conspirators dispersed, and Enrique and Fadrique with a hundred knights went to Toledo, where they plundered the Jewish quarter of Alcana. Pedro led the royal army that entered Toledo on May 18 while his brothers fled to Talavera. Pedro pursued them to Toro, and in January 1356 Fadrique sued for peace. His brother Tello from his home in Vizcaya also submitted, followed by the rest of the opposition. Pedro pardoned his brothers.

In 1356 Castile and Aragon went to war over the disputed castles of Alicante and Orihuela. Rebellious Castilians were exiled in Aragon, and during the Genoa-Aragon war Castilian allies attacked Catalan shipping. A Catalan squadron seized ships with Genoese goods over the protests of King Pedro I, who sent a letter demanding redress to Aragon’s king Pedro IV (Pere III) on August 8, 1356. Pedro IV rejected this and began negotiating with Enrique of Trastamara. On November 8 they signed the treaty of Pina in which Enrique promised to fight as Pedro IV’s ally in exchange for financial support. In 1357 Juan de la Cerda tried to incite a rebellion against Pedro I in Andalusia; but Pedro I ordered the council of Seville to pursue him, and Juan was captured and executed; his property was confiscated. Meanwhile Castilian galleys were attacking the Balearic Islands, and Castilian troops were invading Valencia. Castile had about six million people to Aragon’s one million, and its stronger army captured Tarazona in Aragon on one day in March 1357. Pope Innocent VI sent Cardinal Guillaume de la Jugie as his legate, and he mediated a one-year truce that started on May 8. Pedro I ignored the truce by refusing to give up Tarazona; instead he opened it up to Castilian settlers. For this Pedro was excommunicated on June 26, and his vassals were relieved of their allegiance. On December 9 his cousin Ferran went over to Pedro IV, pledging his fortress of Jumilla.

Pedro I was combating treason at home. Having previously forgiven Fadrique, now he sentenced him to death based on mere suspicion and murdered him when he came to visit on May 24, 1358. Enrique attacked royalists in the Rioja region, but a Castilian counter-attack forced him to flee in October. Ferran in Murcia had to flee from a force led by Pedro I himself. In January 1359 the papal legate Guy de Boulogne arrived in Castile, and Pedro I told him his demands. Pedro used the truce to rebuild his navy and prepare an expedition against the Mediterranean coast. In April 1359 he had 41 galleys including ten from Portugal and three from Granada. After besieging Guardamar again, they went to Barcelona in June; but Pedro IV had assembled a large fleet, and Pedro I withdrew his Castilian fleet. This encouraged Enrique to invade Castile in September 1359. He urged Christians to plunder local Jews, but he failed to stir up a rebellion. Pedro I reacted by executing his illegitimate brothers Juan and Pedro. On April 26, 1360 Pedro I issued a letter ordering three leaders in Miranda del Ebro killed for aiding Enrique. Pedro had his brother Enrique besieged at Najera but then withdrew, allowing him to escape to Navarre.

On May 13 1361 Pedro I made peace at Ferrer with Aragon. Pedro IV promised to expel all Castilian exiles from Aragon, and Pedro I relinquished the places his armies had captured. Enrique took his troops to France. In December with an army of 6,000 men Pedro I intervened in Granada’s succession struggle on the side of Muhammad V, taking possession of Iznajar, Cesna, Sagra, and Benameji. Then in the west they captured Burgo, Hardales, Cañete, Turon, and Las Cuevas. However, in January 1362 at Guadix 2,600 Castilians were defeated by 4,600 Muslims, and Calatrava master Diego Garcia de Padilla was among those captured. Abu-Sa‘id was claiming Granada as Muhammad VI, and he came to Pedro I to plead for peace. The Castilian king feasted him for two days and then killed him with his own hands in revenge for his having sided with Aragon in the last war. Pedro I also had the 36 Moors with him killed on April 25, and Muhammad V regained his position.

At the Cortes in Seville in the spring of 1362 Pedro I said that he had married Maria de Padilla before his marriage to Blanche of Bourbon, thus claiming that her children were legitimate. Pedro I in June made an agreement with Navarre’s Charles II (r. 1349-87) the Bad for a coordinated attack on western Aragon. Enrique in August received 50,000 gold florins from France plus land in Carcassonne and 100,000 gold florins for military expenses. Pedro I regained territory he had given up in the treaty, and Calatayud fell to his siege on August 29. The Castilian army included Gascons, 300 Portuguese knights, 600 jinetes from Granada, and Navarrese led by Infante Luis. They camped outside of Valencia in May 1363. Pedro IV’s chief minister Bernat de Cabrera led the peace party, and they negotiated a treaty at Murviedro in July 1363 which transferred half of Aragon to Castile. Pedro I promised to marry Pedro IV’s daughter Joana, and Pedro IV’s son Joan was betrothed to Pedro I’s daughter Beatriz. That month Pedro IV had Ferran assassinated, and some suspected that was part of the deal. The treaty was not ratified, and Pedro I did not marry the Aragonese princess. Pedro IV barely avoided an ambush trying to get it ratified, and he accused Cabrera, who was tried, found guilty, and executed on July 26, 1364.

The war still went on with Enrique siding with Aragon’s Pedro IV, who hired French mercenaries commanded by Bertrand du Guesclin. Pope Urban V gave them 100,000 gold florins, and France and Pedro IV paid them an equal amount, making Guesclin count of Borja. Enrique promised Charles II of Navarre land in Castile for an alliance, and Charles accepted 30,000 gold florins to let the French pass through Navarre. England had become Castile’s ally in 1362, and this war was becoming part of the Hundred Years War. Guesclin led the invasion of Castile in 1366 and forced Pedro I to retreat from Burgos on March 28 to Toledo and then from Seville. On April 5 Enrique entered Burgos and had himself crowned king, beginning his reign by levying a heavy tax on the Jews of Burgos who would not convert. He went to Toledo in May and collected another million maravedis from the Jews there. Pedro I fled so quickly that he left behind more than 4,000 pounds of gold in the royal treasury that was loaded on the ship of Martin Yañez. Admiral Boccanegra had defected and captured the ship, imprisoned Yañez, and gave the gold to Enrique, who arrived at Seville on June 12.

Pedro I retreated to Galicia. From there he sailed to Bayonne in Gascony, arriving on August 1, 1366 with a small party. He asked Edward the Black Prince to restore him to his throne. In the treaty of Libourne on September 23 Pedro I promised to pay 550,000 gold florins to Edward for the expenses of the campaign and to transfer Vizcaya and other Basque ports to England. Charles II of Navarre was also to receive territory for allowing passage through his kingdom. Pedro left hostages for security, and the Black Prince had the right to ransom all prisoners except Pedro’s brothers. Castile’s combined debt to England and Navarre was about 21 million maravedis.

John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster, arrived on January 13, 1367. The next month they crossed the Pyrenees with 10,000 English and Gascon troops, and at Najera on April 3 they defeated Enrique, who fled through Aragon to France. About 400 knights were killed, and many more were held as prisoners for ransom. Pedro I could not pay the English even though he raised taxes, nor did he turn over the lands he had promised. Edward asked for twenty Castilian castles as bond, but Pedro refused, saying it would cost him his throne. Edward persuaded Pedro I to sign a peace treaty with Aragon in August, and in a secret pact Pedro IV promised Edward that if his contract was not fulfilled by April 1368, he would wage war against Castile. Pedro I had many of his enemies put to death in Toledo, Cordoba, and Seville. The Black Prince had wanted them sold for ransoms, and so he left Spain in August. The highest ransom paid was 100,000 gold florins by France’s Charles V for Bertrand du Guesclin. Edward held a meeting at Tarbes in November of leaders from England, Aragon, Navarre, and Castile. Pedro I remained in Andalusia for almost a year. Muhammad V fought against Enrique and regained the cities he had lost to Pedro I in 1362.

Pedro IV refused to give Enrique a safe conduct pass through Aragon. Yet Enrique came back to Castile at Calahorra in September but without any mercenaries. He invaded Burgos again and took another million maravedis from the Jews. In January 1368 Enrique attacked the city of Leon, which surrendered. In the spring Pedro I with troops from Granada besieged Cordoba, but Pedro’s troops withdrew to Seville. Muhammad’s army burned the city of Jaen and captured 300 Jewish families that were sold into slavery. Enrique could not take Toledo but captured castles in the area. On November 20 Enrique promised his Castilian navy to Guesclin for his military aid. Early in 1368 Pedro I led his army that included 4,500 Moors as well as Castilians toward Toledo to battle Enrique. The French mercenaries helped Enrique defeat Pedro I at Montiel on March 14, 1369. Pedro offered Guesclin several towns and 200,000 gold coins if he would help him escape from Montiel castle; but Guesclin reported the bribe to Enrique, who promised to match it if he would betray Pedro, who was then murdered by Enrique on March 23. Toledo capitulated to Enrique in June, and he sold Jews and their property for 20,000 gold doblas to pay his troops. Pedro IV tried to regain lost territory from Ferran and Enrique, but they did not fulfill their promises. The war bankrupted the Aragon monarchy, and power shifted to the assemblies (Cortes) of Catalonia, Valencia, and Aragon.

Castile 1369-1400

Enrique II (r. 1369-79) took over a French military protectorate. Muhammad V of Granada destroyed Algeciras in 1369. Navarre and Catalonia-Aragon ended the war by November. Enrique was resisted by Fernando de Castro in Galicia and Martin Lopez de Cordoba in Andalusia. Enrique managed to conquer Galicia, the Basque region, Toledo, and most of Andalusia. Portugal’s Fernando tried to claim the crown of Castile. He assisted Castro, occupied Galicia several times, and blockaded Seville for more than a year, but then he made peace with Enrique on March 31, 1371. Enrique promised the rebels that they could leave Castile safely. Lopez de Cordoba accepted his offer, and on May 10 he opened the gates of Carmona to the besiegers. Enrique broke his promise and imprisoned all the leaders inside. Before he was mutilated and burned to death, Lopez was reported to have said that it is better to die a loyal man than to live as a traitor. The Cortes at Toro made demands regarding Jews, and they were forced to wear badges and were prohibited from using Spanish names.

In September 1371 Edward III’s son John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster, married Pedro I’s oldest daughter Constanza, and King Edward let John call himself “king of Castile and Leon.” On July 10, 1372 Lancaster and Portugal’s Fernando formed an alliance against Enrique; but Portugal invaded Castile so quickly that the English did not arrive in time. Fernando renounced the English alliance and fortified his cities. He also sent twelve Castilian galleys led by a Genoese admiral that destroyed a large English fleet supplying La Rochelle and captured the Earl of Pembroke with seventy knights on June 23, 1372. The Castilian fleet then helped the French capture the city. Enrique’s incursion into Gascony and siege  of Bayonne failed, but Castilian galleys raided the English coasts and plundered their ships. Castilian shipping prospered and replaced English wool in Flanders.

Although King Enrique summoned the towns to the Cortes, the power had shifted to the nobles and the Church. Enrique made lavish grants to them as well as to his own illegitimate sons and nephews. By 1373 complaints against the new lords were reaching the Cortes. Crown revenues had diminished, and future power in Castile would be held by the Ayalas, Mantiques, Velascos, Mendozas, and a dozen other families. The Military Orders also received large grants as did the archbishoprics of Toledo and Santiago. Enrique went along with a demand that Jews wear distinctive clothes; but he insisted that debts be paid to them, and he employed Jewish financiers. He had debased the currency in 1369 to pay his mercenaries, and inflation could not be stopped. In 1370 he devalued the currency by a third, and the situation improved in 1373. A general levy increased the sales tax to ten percent, and levies from the Mesta of the sheep-owners and from the Jews increased. The Crown’s debt had risen to 9,000,000 maravedis, and the plague returned in 1362-63, 1374, and 1384.

Enrique initiated wedding diplomacy. In 1373 his illegitimate son Fadrique was betrothed to Beatriz, the heiress to Portugal. In 1375 Elionor of Aragon married Castile’s heir Juan, and Leonor of Castile married Navarre’s heir Carlos. Pope Gregory XI mediated a truce between France and England at Bruges on June 27, 1375 that included Castile; but Castile broke this by defeating Navarre in 1378-79, and the treaty of Brione made it a Castilian protectorate. Enrique died in May 1379 after rebuilding Castile from within a circle of enemies.

The dying Enrique left Juan I (r. 1379-90) with the advice that he should retain the French alliance, and he did so. Juan favored the Church over the nobles and the Jews, and clerics were his chief advisors. In September 1380 the Cortes at Soria took away the right of Jews in Castile to judge criminal cases or to hold any office in royal or nobiliary courts. Castile defeated Portugal again in 1379-82 despite Fernando’s ally Lancaster, and Juan married the heiress Beatriz in May 1383. His first wife Juana Manuel had died, and her sons Juan and Carlos were heirs to Castile. When Fernando died on October 22, 1383, Juan insisted that Beatriz be proclaimed queen, but the Queen mother Leonor was declared regent for her. Leonor’s Castilian lover Andeiro was murdered by Fernando’s half-brother Dom Joao on December 6, and a Lisbon mob gathered. Queen Leonor went to Santarem and asked King Juan for help. He entered Portugal on December 13. Joao began acting as ruler and defender of Portugal in January 1384 in the name of Pedro I’s son Joao, who had been imprisoned by Juan. Gradually the Portuguese Dom Joao became king. Juan persuaded Queen Leonor to transfer her regency to him, and he besieged Lisbon from May to September. The besieged were starving, but the Castilian army was devastated by the plague. Juan obstinately persisted, and 2,000 of his men died before they withdrew.

Dom Joao was proclaimed king of Portugal on April 6, 1385 at the Coimbra Cortes. With his forces he met those of Juan in a big battle at Aljubarrota on August 14. The Castilian troops were tired from marching, and they were defeated. Most of Juan’s generals and the Portuguese nobles who supported him were among the 2,500 killed. Juan escaped by sea to Seville, and most of the Castilian holdings surrendered.

John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster, decided to try for the Castilian throne and invaded Galicia at La Coruña in 1386, and Juan announced he would retaliate. The Anglo-Portuguese treaty of Windsor in May guaranteed Portuguese galleys protecting English coasts in exchange for Portuguese commercial privileges and English military aid. In December the Castilian Cortes voted 10,000,000 maravedis for a standing army. In exchange King Juan made donations to nobles and Navarre. Juan prepared for a defensive war and tried to make peace with money and a royal marriage. In July the English invaded Galicia with about 7,000 men. Lancaster negotiated with Aragon’s Pedro IV; but after his death on January 5, 1387, his successor Joan I would not go against Castile. Plague and other factors had reduced Lancaster’s men in Galicia to 1,500. Juan invaded Leon in the spring of 1387 with French allies, but they avoided a battle. Juan wanted peace and offered better terms, and he agreed to the treaty of Bayonne in July 1388. Lancaster received money, and his daughter Carolina married Juan’s heir Enrique. Juan made a separate truce with Portugal, which he still wanted to conquer; but he did not have enough income for a new war, and he died suddenly on October 9, 1390. However, a military reform was to give the Crown 4,000 soldiers, 1,500 cavalry, and 1,000 mounted archers for the concessions Juan made.

Enrique III (r. 1390-1406) was only eleven years old when he became king, and the archbishops of Toledo and Santiago struggled for power with the masters of the Military Orders. In 1391 the Cortes of Madrid imposed a regency council. Jewish persecution began in November 1390 in Andalusia and broke out in Seville on June 4, 1391. The pogroms spread through Castile and in Aragon. Many Jews were forced to convert to Christianity, and this caused problems in the future. The Crown was too weak to punish the persecutors. The Cortes of Burgos took control as the lesser nobility gained power. Archbishop Juan Garcia Manrique of Santiago promoted his Manriques and the Stuñigas, Ayalas, and the Davalos while his rival Archbishop Pedro Tenorio of Toledo favored the Mendozas, Velascos, Guzmanes, and the Manueles.

Enrique III (r. 1390-1406) was only eleven years old when he became king, and the archbishops of Toledo and Santiago struggled for power with the masters of the Military Orders. In 1391 the Cortes of Madrid imposed a regency council. Jewish persecution began in November 1390 in Andalusia. In March 1391 the fanatical priest Ferrand Martinez incited a mob to persecute Jews in Seville, and on June 4 they began killing nearly 4,000 while driving out most of the 30,000 Jews. The pogroms spread through Castile to Cordoba, Toledo, and Valencia, and on Majorca. In August a few hundred Jews were killed in Barcelona. In Aragon the Jewish community had bought protection from the court. Many Jews were forced to convert to Christianity, and this caused problems in the future. The Crown was too weak to punish the persecutors. The Cortes of Burgos took control as the lesser nobility gained power. Archbishop Juan Garcia Manrique of Santiago promoted his Manriques and the Stuñigas, Ayalas, and the Davalos while his rival Archbishop Pedro Tenorio of Toledo favored the Mendozas, Velascos, Guzmanes, and the Manueles.

Enrique III was declared of age on August 2, 1393, and the Cortes accepted the Crown’s tax increase. In the next two years royal princes were imprisoned, banished, or were left in obscurity. A small group of office holders replaced the two archbishops, and they included the army-commanding Constable Ruy Lopez Davalos, Majordomo Juan Hurtado de Mendoza who ruled the royal household, and Justicia Mayor Diego Lopez de Stuñiga. King Enrique was often sick and acted harshly. Without foreign wars raging the Cortes was not summoned to meet between 1396 and 1401. They passed little legislation except against the Jews in 1405 when they revived the 1348 law that required Jews to wear a badge. During the riots of 1391 the chief rabbi of Burgos, Solomon ha-Levi, had converted and became known as Paul of Burgos. In July 1403 Pope Benedict appointed him bishop of Cartagena in Murcia, and in 1406 Enrique appointed Paul major chancellor and tutor of his son Juan.

King Enrique gave grants (mercedes) to the lesser nobility usually secured by an entail (mayorazgo) that made it hereditary. Major offices and the governorships of Galicia, Leon, and Castile also became hereditary. Constable Davalos used his power to become governor of Murcia and that position to gain land. By the end of the 14th century the nobility and the Church had established their power that prevented their paying taxes, and the Cortes assemblies lost much of their influence. About half of Castile was the domain of the aristocracy. Enrique tried to control the rising nobility by appointing corregidors to reform local administration, especially in Andalusia, Galicia, and the Basque region.

Castile 1400-74
Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1474-92
Castile of Isabel and Fernando 1492-1504

Aragon 1250-1336

Spanish Peninsula 1095-1250

Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia were ruled by the king of Aragon, but they had independent institutions. Catalonia had more than twice as many people as Aragon and Valencia combined. The Moors were three-quarters of the population of Valencia, a third of Aragon, but only three percent of Catalonia. These populations grew to nearly a million before the Black Death struck in the mid-14th century. Castile had about six times as many people as all of Aragon. King Jaime (Jaume in Catalan) ruled Aragon from 1213 to 1276. He promoted Roman law, protected the University of Montpellier, and wrote an autobiography. Jaime protected the Jews and canceled the requirement that they listen to Christian sermons. In 1252 he made the clergy pay a tax on the property they owned around Valencia, but clerics of noble birth only had to pay tax on property the Crown let them hold. In 1258 Jaime I and Louis IX signed the Treaty of Corbeil that allowed Jaime to keep Montpellier, but he renounced all his other claims in southern France. In 1262 Jaime’s heir Pedro married Constantia, the heiress of Manfred, but Jaime had to promise not to aid Manfred against the Pope. In 1263 a peasant revolt in Valencia led to the expulsion of 100,000 Muslim peasants. That year Jaime presided at Barcelona over the famous debate between Girona rabbi Moses ben Nahman and the Dominican friar Pablo Christiani, a convert from Judaism, on whether the Messiah had come. The Jew argued that if Jesus had been the Messiah, he would have been more successful and that things would be better.

Nobles in Aragon disliked the influence of Roman law and lawyers; in 1265 the Cortes of Egea made Jaime confirm traditional Aragonese laws, and nobles were to be tried by a judge appointed from their class. The Cortes at Barcelona passed the bovatge tax to finance his campaign against the Muslims of Murcia in 1265, but Zaragoza refused. Jewish aid helped Jaime on this and his journey to the council of Lyon in 1274. Jaime was criticized for having mistresses and for treating churchmen badly, and he was excommunicated twice. In January 1266 he granted Muslims in Murcia liberal terms as he had in Valencia, and he restored the city of Murcia to Castile according to the 1244 treaty of Almizra. Aragon made its first treaty with Tunis in 1271, and Tlemcen paid tribute in exchange for the right to recruit its own militia and to trade with Aragon. Anti-Mudejar riots erupted in Valencia in 1275, and many Muslims were enslaved.

Meanwhile King Henri (Enrique) of Navarre died in 1274, and the widowed queen Blanche took his daughter Jeanne (Joanna) to France to ask Philippe III to protect their kingdom. He betrothed Jeanne to his son and heir Philippe, making Navarre a dependency of France.

After ruling for 63 years, Jaime died on July 17, 1276, and it took Pedro III (r. 1276-85) of Aragon fourteen months to subdue the Muslim revolt in Valencia. He disregarded his father’s dying advice that he expel the Muslims. Instead he expelled only the leaders, and he severely punished any attack on the Muslim communities while welcoming refugee Muslims from other lands. Pedro III (Count Pere II of Catalonia) inherited Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia while his younger brother Jaime was given the Balearic Islands and Rossello (Rousillon) and Cerdanya (Cerdagne), the north Pyrenean counties that originally conquered Majorca. Pedro alienated Jaime by making him his vassal in January 1279. Pedro made an alliance with Castile’s Alfonso X, and they agreed to divide Navarre. When Abu al-Watiq (r. 1277-79) of Tunis refused to pay tribute, Pedro sent a Catalan fleet to help his uncle Abu Ishaq seize the throne; but he too refused to pay tribute, and Pedro supported Governor Ibn al-Wazir of Constantine, who promised to give him the port of Collo. Pedro refused to confirm the privileges of the nobles, and they rebelled in 1280; but he captured the leaders and after confiscating their possessions, restored their fiefs.

In 1280 Pedro III sent a force led by Corrado Lancia that established Aragonese control over Tunis. Sicilians complained of the tyrannical government of Charles of Anjou to Pope Nicholas III, Byzantine emperor Michael Paleologus, and Pedro III, who received aid from the Greek emperor to prepare a fleet. Charles had killed Pedro’s father-in-law Manfred in 1266. After the Sicilian Vespers revolt overthrew the French in April 1282, Pedro sailed with a fleet of 140 ships and about 20,000 men to Collo in June. He learned that his ally Ibn al-Wazir had been defeated and killed. When Pope Martin IV would not grant the citizens of Palermo a commune, they asked Jaime to be king of Sicily. Pedro based this on his Hohenstaufen wife’s inheritance. He entered Palermo on September 4 and was received with joyous acclaim as Charles of Anjou fled to Italy. On November 9 Pope Martin IV excommunicated Jaime because of his conquering the papal territory of Sicily. Charles and Pedro agreed to settle the dispute by chivalrous combat at Bordeaux on June 1, 1283. Pope Martin deposed Pedro on March 21, 1283, and he told Edward I of England not to supervise the duel. Pedro appointed the Genoese Ruggiero di Loria admiral in April to conquer Malta. The hundred knights, who were to joust with Pedro, were not allowed to reach Bordeaux, but Pedro, learning of the plot against him, arrived in disguise with three knights on June 1 and then left with honor.

In 1282 the Aragonese conquered Minorca and sold the Muslim population into slavery. The Aragonese nobles, resenting heavy taxes for the Sicilian war, met and formed a Union in September 1283 to force King Pedro to promise to convene a Cortes annually. They also insisted that he dismiss Jewish officials and enact legislation requiring unfree peasants to pay a fee for their liberation. The King accepted their demands in October. The Catalan Cortes met at Barcelona in December, and Pedro confirmed their usages, abolished the new taxes, and enacted a law for an annual assembly. He promised the Union he would not make any new laws or punish any noble without the approval of the Cortes. In 1284 Ruggiero took the younger Charles of Salerno prisoner in a naval battle off Naples. Pope Martin gave the dominions of the deposed Pedro III to Philippe III’s son, Charles  of Valois. His crusade against Aragon led by France’s King Philippe III was aided by Pedro’s resentful brother Jaime. In January 1285 Pedro summoned forces from Valencia, Catalonia, and Aragon. He threatened to execute anyone who published the papal bulls excommunicating and deposing him. Clergy who did not support the recruiting could have their land burned.

Berenguer Oller planned a revolt of the poble menut (small people) in Barcelona for Easter; but Pedro arrived the day before and seized Oller. He and seven others were hanged, and two hundred were executed; six hundred followers fled. Then Pedro marched his army across the Pyrenees to Perpignan to take control of Jaime’s castles in Roussillon and Cerdagne. Jaime escaped from the castle by a sewer, and a local rebellion forced Pedro to withdraw. Although Jews had contributed much money, Pedro did not have enough to pay his soldiers; but he managed to raise forces in Aragon to meet the French in the Pyrenees. Pedro had about 4,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry.

The French crusade attracted hordes of men, women, and children, hoping for promised spiritual indulgence, and they consumed most of the French army’s provisions. Pedro reached the Col de Panissars pass on May 7, 1285 with only 38 knights and 70 followers; but they fooled the French by lighting hundreds of fires on the mountainside. Then the Catalan militias arrived, and it took the French a month to cross the Pyrenees with about 8,000 men. Sancho IV did not send troops from Castile and even negotiated with the French. Pedro returned to Barcelona and forced the clergy to contribute. The French army had trouble getting supplies from the sea and suffered disease. Ten galleys from Barcelona defeated a French fleet on July 28, and Ruggiero’s navy arrived from Sicily in September and destroyed the remaining French ships. The French army retreated across the Pyrenees, and Philippe III died at Perpignan on October 5. Pedro wanted to attack Majorca to avenge his brother’s treason, but he became ill and died on November 11.

Pedro’s son Alfonso III (r. 1285-91) of Aragon subjugated Majorca and Minorca, where 40,000 Muslims were reduced to slavery by 1287. On December 28 of that year Alfonso ceded castles as securities and confirmed the Privileges of the Union that ratified the prerogatives of the Chief Judge (Justicia) of Zaragoza, whom the crown had recognized as the supreme judge in the kingdom. Pedro’s second son Jaime was allowed to keep Sicily and was crowned its king in 1286. When Alfonso learned that Castile’s Sancho IV had formed a military alliance with France against Aragon, he released the Castilian infantes from the castle of Jativa in September 1288 and recognized Alfonso de la Cerda as king of Castile. War between Sicily and France went on, but Alfonso III made peace with France and Pope Nicholas IV at Canfranc in October. The investiture of Charles of Valois was revoked, and Aragon’s sovereignty over Majorca and Roussillon was confirmed. Alfonso met with Edward I at Canfranc and agreed to release Charles of Salerno from prison in exchange for indemnities, securities, and Jaime’s possession of Sicily. In 1290 Alfonso made an alliance with Egypt. That year Barcelona prohibited carrying weapons in the city except that a noble could carry a short dagger.

After suffering defeats on the Catalan frontier, Alfonso III agreed on February 19, 1291 to the treaty of Tarascon mediated by Edward with Charles of Salerno and Pope Nicholas IV. To be absolved, Alfonso had to go to Rome, pay the Church some gold, promise to go on crusade, and withdraw Aragonese troops from Sicily; but Majorca was recognized as part of Aragon. Alfonso died suddenly on June 18, 1291.

After ruling Sicily, Alfonso’s brother Jaime II (r. 1291-1327) became king of Aragon and restored Majorca to his uncle Jaime. He refused to accept his father’s will and the treaty of Tarascon that separated Sicily from Aragon. Instead, he appointed his brother Frederic viceroy of Sicily. In November 1291 Jaime II made a treaty with Sancho IV of Castile that recognized Aragon’s claim to Algiers and Tunis. He helped Sancho conquer Tarifa, but he aided Alfonso de la Cerda against Fernando IV in order to control Murcia. In 1293 peasants revolted in Catalonia. Aragon’s navy under Jaime II gained Sardinia by defeating the Genoese, and Pope Boniface VIII confirmed it at Anagni on June 20, 1295; but Jaime also renounced his claims to Sicily, which elected Frederic king in 1296. That year King Jaime took advantage of minority dissent in Castile to occupy the Alicante-Murcia region south of Valencia. In 1297 Pope Boniface granted Jaime dominion over Sardinia and Corsica provided that he could conquer them and pay tribute to the papacy.

In 1300 Jaime II founded the University of Lérida which offered civil and canon law and medicine as well as the liberal arts. He was especially interested in medicine and helped doctors acquire the works of Avicenna. The Catalan Cortes established the first banking regulations in Barcelona. The Cortes began meeting regularly and had four chambers representing the ricos hombres (rich men), the  hidalgos (lesser gentry), the popular (towns), and the clergy. Jaime II wanted to buy help from France, but that kingdom was preoccupied with the Flemish revolt. In 1302 Pope Boniface recognized Frederic as king of Sicily provided that he marry Eleanor, daughter of Charles of Valois, and that on his death Sicily would revert to Naples for which the king of Naples would pay Frederic’s children 100,000 ounces of gold. Jaime invaded Murcia, but in the peace of Agreda in 1304 the arbitrators King Dinis of Portugal, Infante Juan, and the bishop of Zaragoza restored most of Murcia to Castile. Jaime joined Castile in the expedition against Granada in 1308, and King Fernando IV promised to give one-sixth of Granada with Almeria to Aragon. A Catalan fleet captured Gibraltar the next year, but in 1310 Aragon suffered heavy losses before Almeria and never attacked Granada again. Valencia was raided from Granada, but in 1323 Jaime made peace with Emir Isma’il.

In 1304 the Templar Ruggiero di Fiore led a Grand Company of 5,500 mercenaries from Catalonia in ships lent by Frederic to fight for the Byzantines; but after they won victories over the Turks, jealous Greeks murdered 1,300 of their followers at a banquet near Constantinople. In 1305 the Emperor’s son killed Ruggiero, and Berenger de Entenza led the Company against the Byzantines. Other Catalans and Aragonese were massacred at Gallipoli. The 3,300 survivors of the Company took over Gallipoli and were joined by several thousand Turkish mercenaries before they plundered Thrace and seized Thessaly for French Burgundy in 1309. Then they attacked the Burgundian-Athenian forces near Thebes and took over the Latin duchy of Athens, turning against and killing its duke Walter of Brienne in 1311. This became a Catalan enclave, and by 1370 one-third of the people in Athens were Catalans; but Catalan rule was overthrown in 1387.

The Catalan economy began to develop in the 14th century. More than a hundred thousand French textile workers were induced to move there, and the first regulations for their guild were made in 1308. Cloth became Catalonia’s main export. Jaime suppressed the Templars and replaced them with the order of Montesa to fight the Moors in Valencia in 1317. The Cortes of Tarragona in 1319 declared the realms under the Crown of Aragon indivisible. On May 31, 1323 King Jaime with a rousing speech dispatched a fleet led by the Infant Alfons with 15,000 men to conquer Sardinia. Alfons received fealty from several Sardinian lords and besieged the castles of Iglesias and Cagliari. The first fell in February 1324, but Cagliari was reinforced by Pisans who came to terms on July 12. The Genoese instigated a rebellion, and Jaime sent another fleet that subdued the uprisings in June 1326.

Alfonso IV (r. 1327-36) married Leonor of Castile in 1329 at Tarazona; but he had to withdraw from his alliance with Castile in order to suppress a revolt instigated by the Genoese in Sardinia which went on until 1334. Granada attacked Aragon and besieged Elche, but Alfonso IV made a truce with them in 1335. The King promulgated the statue of Daroca in 1328 that prohibited the alienation of Crown property for ten years. Nevertheless Queen Leonor persuaded him to bestow frontier cities on Prince Fernando, but angry nobles and Valencians made him revoke the grants. This made the Queen angry at her stepson Pedro, and she fled to a nunnery in Castile. Alfonso IV was called Benign, but his political ability was limited.

Aragon’s Pedro IV

Count Pere III of Catalonia ruled the kingdom  of Aragon as Pedro IV from 1336 to 1387, and he tried to control a Mediterranean empire that included Sicily, Majorca, and Sardinia. He inherited a federation that included the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia as well as Catalonia. He was born on September 5, 1319 and was called the Ceremonious. He was opposed by the Church; he had papal bulls and processes burned publicly, and he threatened to kill a cleric who was enforcing debts to the Pope. Yet Pedro IV was religious, and he ordered his people to memorize the main prayers of the Church. Every day he fed thirteen poor people at his table, and he distributed alms to the sick, the blind, ex-prostitutes, ex-slaves, pensioners, monks, pilgrims, and foreigners. He gave dowries to deserving girls. During his half-century reign the Catalan Cortes held eighteen general meetings in addition to thirteen Parliaments of estates; many of these lasted more than two years. Because of long wars against Genoa and Castile funds were constantly needed.

The young King Pedro IV was advised by his uncle Pere, who helped him conquer Majorca. In 1342 Jaume III of Majorca asked Pedro IV for military aid in Montpellier against France. Pedro summoned Jaume to Barcelona in March to answer charges, but the endangered Jaume could not come. Jaume made peace with France in May and came to Barcelona in July on a safe-conduct. Pedro made false accusations against Jaume and kept his sister Constantia, Jaume’s wife, in Barcelona. When Jaume returned to Majorca and arrested Pedro’s subjects there, King Pedro IV used this as a justification to declare on February 12, 1343 that Majorca and his other fiefs were taken from Jaume. The Catalan fleet  of 116 ships including 22 galleys reached Majorca on May 25. Jaume left the island three days later, and Pedro entered the capital on May 31. The lands of Roussillon and Cerdanya were taken the next year, and in March 1344 Pedro proclaimed Majorca and Rousillon part of the realm of Aragon. Jaume finally surrendered to Pedro on July 15, but he refused to accept being reduced to a minor noble. Jaume escaped from Catalonia, and in 1348 he sold his rights to Montpellier to France’s Philippe IV. Jaume was killed attempting to recover Majorca on August 25, 1349. His son Jaume IV was captured and imprisoned until he escaped in 1362.

Many merchants operated successfully in Majorca, and its trade was more than half that of Barcelona’s in the fourteenth century up to 1343. Pedro lowered Majorca’s taxes that had been raised by Jaume to prepare for the war; but the war caused a decline in Majorca’s trade. The conquest of Majorca promised more naval strength, but Majorca was hit hard by the Black Death and could do little in the 1350s.

Pedro’s imperial ambitions were opposed by the nobles of Aragon and Valencia in 1347. Bernat de Cabrera became his chief minister, and he employed authoritarian power to advance his own interests for the next seventeen years. The Cortes of Zaragoza met from August to October in 1347, and Pedro IV yielded to the demands of the Aragonese Union. Cabrera manage to divide the Union by promising rewards to some of its noble leaders. Pedro’s half-brother Ferran (Fernando) arose as the rebel leader, and he had Castilian support. In Valencia the Union defeated the royalists, and by February 1348 Aragon was engulfed in civil war. Pedro recognized Ferran as his heir and went to Valencia on April 1. He was held as a prisoner there until June 11; but with the arrival of the Black Death they let him escape.

However, Bernat de Cabrera secured the loyalty of Catalonia, and Lope de Luna defeated Ferran and the Aragonese Unionists at Epila on July 21. Pedro IV captured Unionist leaders in Valencia and had molten lead from the bell used to summon them poured down their throats. At the Dominican convent in Zaragoza on October 14 Pedro during the Aragonese Cortes destroyed the documents of the Union. After Valencia surrendered on December 10, 1348, Pedro ordered the destruction of their Union’s records before the Cortes as well. He also used a few executions to consolidate his power. Armed rebellions against Pedro ended, and he respected the rights and privileges of the Aragonese. The King now appointed the Justicia of Aragon, and his protection against royal oppression increased. In 1371 the Justicia became the judge in all cases involving the Crown.

Pedro IV started two new universities at Perpignan and Huesca. He ordered Alfonso X’s Siete Partidas translated so that they could make similar laws that were their own. These enabled him to increase his royal power as the central government. The large population of Catalonia was devastated by the plague which was followed by locusts, famine, and more epidemics until the population was reduced nearly in half to about 350,000. The confederation of Aragon had about one million people and also lost about a third of them in the plague.

Pedro IV also wanted to rule Sardinia, and in 1346 he intimidated Mariano IV of Arborea. When Pedro turned Mariano’s brother against him in 1353, he rebelled. Genoa had never accepted the Catalan conquest of Sardinia and had been at war against them since 1325. In 1346 the governor of Sardinia tried to seize the extensive lands of the Genoese Doria family. They resisted and were supported by Genoa and attacked Sassari. On January 16, 1351 Catalonia made an alliance with Genoa’s enemy Venice. Pedro was obligated to send a force to the Bosphorus, and on February 13, 1352 more than half of the 25 Catalan galleys were lost. With Venetian aid on August 27, 1353 Bernat de Cabrera led a force that captured 33 Genoese galleys off Sardinia, but this was offset by Mariano’s rebellion. Pedro himself led a large navy to Sardinia in 1354 and captured the city of Alghero after a siege of four months. The city was populated with Catalans, but Pedro’s army suffered from malaria. Pedro decided to make peace with Mariano on July 11, 1355. An effort to get the Sardinian Parliament to resist Mariano’s demands failed. The next year Mariano complained that Catalan officials were not recognizing his autonomy, and he revolted in 1358. That year Pedro made peace with Genoa, promising to give up his claims to Corsica.

Pedro I of Castile seized Tarazona in March 1357.  Frustrated Pedro IV executed several Tarazonans who came to him, but he agreed to a truce in May. He made his half-brother Ferran procurator-general, and he regained territory in Murcia, which was not covered by the truce. Pedro IV with Enrique de Trastamara and Pedro d’Ejérica gathered a fleet and rallied the people of Barcelona to withstand a Castilian naval attack led by Pedro I in June 1359. In the fall Pedro IV persuaded the Cortes at Barcelona to provide funding for the war. This enabled him to muster a force large enough not to be intimidated by his allies Enrique and Ferran. On May 18, 1361 Bernat de Cabrera agreed with Pedro I to restore all conquests, and Pedro IV promised not to support Enrique and Ferran. When the war resumed, Pedro IV asked for another war subsidy  from a Cortes at Monzon in February 1363. The Catalans managed to push the Castilians south, and a papal envoy mediated peace at Murviedo in July. Pedro IV would regain Valencia’s lost territory if his son Alfonso married Isabel of Castile. This treaty was muddled by intrigue, and Pedro IV put to death Ferran and Bernat de Cabrera. Aragon formed an alliance with Enrique, Charles of Navarre, and the French companies led by Bertrand du Guesclin. Pedro IV also contributed 100,000 florins and allowed them to pass through Aragon. This coalition was successful in defeating Castile’s Pedro I, and Enrique became king of Castile.

Jaume IV of Majorca, who had been imprisoned by Pedro IV for 13 years, incited knights in Catalonia to revolt in 1374. They failed to take Roussillon and Cerdanya in 1375. Jaume escaped to Castile but died at Soria. In the treaties of Almazan in April 1374 and of Lérida in May 1375 Pedro exchanged Molina for 180,000 florins, recognition of Aragon’s borders, and the marriage of Infanta Elinor of Aragon and Juan of Trastamara. Pedro IV’s third wife Eleanor of Sicily became his chief advisor after the death of Bernat de Cabrera, and she bore him sons before dying in 1375. Pedro IV married his mistress Sibilla de Fortia in October 1377. She antagonized the princes Joan and Marti, who avoided her coronation at Zaragoza in January 1381.

Pedro IV allowed electoral reforms in Majorca in 1373 and at Barcelona in 1386. The royal treasury granting too many credits to Barcelona led to a financial crash that began in 1381. Pedro wrote the Chronicle of King Pedro on his own reign and Chronicle of the Kings of Aragon and the Counts of Barcelona about his predecessors. After celebrating his jubilee, Pedro IV died on January 5, 1387. He patronized the Franciscan Francesch Eiximenis, who wrote mostly in Catalan on Christian theology and about civic and constitutional government. His major work, The Christian, or the Regimen of Princes and the Public Order is an encyclopedic study of Christian morals. Eiximenis also wrote the Book of Women about their morals and cultural achievements and the Book of Angels. His last book, Life of Jesus Christ, has been called a masterpiece. Eiximenis was a contemporary rival of the more influential Dominican Vicente Ferrer (1350-1419), the patron saint of Valencia who was canonized in 1455. In 1399 Bernat Metge wrote The Dream, which has been called the first work of humanist prose in Catalan.

Juan I (r. 1387-96) of Aragon was born to Pedro IV and Eleanor on December 27, 1350, and he suffered from epilepsy. The great Cortes that met at Monzon in November 1388 demanded many reforms, but King Juan obstinately refused. His wife Yolande arranged a compromise on judicial administration proposals, but the assembly continued to meet until December 1388 without much success. The Jewish persecution that erupted in Castile in 1391 spread. In Valencia a synagogue was turned into a church, and in Barcelona a mob killed Jews in a ghetto. Pogroms also occurred in Tarragona, Gerona, and Majorca. Juan was in Zaragoza, but he denounced the violence and ordered Jews protected. Also in 1391 major revolts broke out in Sardinia and Sicily, the latter lasting three years. The cardinals at Avignon had elected the Aragonese Pedro de Luna pope in 1394, and he took the name Benedict XIII. While hunting in May 1396 Juan fell from a horse and died.

Juan was succeeded by his brother Marti (r. 1396-1410), who was ruling Sicily. His wife Maria de Luna governed well while he visited her relative Pope Benedict XIII in Avignon before reaching Barcelona in May 1397. He confirmed the privileges of Barcelona and appointed Joan of Cardona admiral of the fleet. He went to Zaragoza and swore to uphold the laws and privileges of Aragon. In July 1398 the French withdrew their support from Benedict and besieged him at Avignon. Marti sent a fleet up the Rhone River in his defense. From 1398 to 1400 Pope Benedict authorized as crusades Marti’s campaigns against the Moors. At this time the kingdom of Aragon had about 200,000 Mudejars who were mostly peasants and artisans.

Aragon 1400-79
Aragon of Fernando II 1479-1504

Granada 1250-1400

Spanish Peninsula 1095-1250

Muhammad I ibn Nasr (r. 1237-73) founded the Nasrid dynasty and ruled Granada, the only Muslim kingdom left on the Iberian peninsula. In 1246 he became a vassal of Fernando III of Castile and agreed to pay half the emirate’s revenues as tribute. In 1257 Muhammad went back on his promise to share his kingdom with the Banu Ashqilula, declaring his own sons Muhammad and Yusuf his heirs. A few thousand Berbers on horses helped Muhammad attack Castile in 1264 when the Mudejars (Muslim subjects) rose up in Andalusia. Alfonso X invaded Granada the next year, aided by the Ashqilula of Malaga and Guadix. Then in 1266 Muhammad announced that his daughter would not marry an Ashqilula but her Nasrid cousin Faraj. Muhammad besieged the Ashqilula city of Malaga, and the Ashqilula asked Castile for an alliance. Alfonso X sent them one thousand knights led by Nuño Gonzalez de Lara. Muhammad lifted the siege and negotiated with Alfonso, giving up his claims to Jerez and Murcia and agreeing to pay 2,500,000 maravedis annually. Castile gave up their alliance to the Ashqilula, who went back to being loyal subjects of Muhammad within a year. Muhammad fell from his horse and died on January 23, 1273.

His son Muhammad II (r. 1273-1302) also negotiated with Alfonso X and visited his court at Seville. Alfonso wanted the ports of Tarifa and Algeciras, and Muhammad wanted Castile to stop supporting the Banu Ashqilula. In 1275 Muhammad invited a large Marinid force led by Abu Yusuf to invade Spain, and they defeated the Christians led by the frontier governor Nuño Gonzalez de Lara and the archbishop of Toledo. They carried off cattle and horses from Seville and went back to Morocco after six months. These quick raids were repeated in 1277 and from 1282 to 1285. In May 1280 Granada was attacked by the Marinids, the Ashqilula, and Castile. When Alfonso sided with the Marinids, his adversary Sancho allied with Muhammad. After Alfonso died in 1284, Sancho brought Castile over and fought the Marinids in 1285. The next year Abu Yusuf’s son, Abu Ya‘qub, became the leader of the Marinids and offered the Ashqilula estates in North Africa, and the Marinids withdrew from Europe. In 1288 Sancho IV sent the emir three hundred soldiers. In 1292 Granada helped Sancho capture Tarifa. Muhammad felt betrayed by Sancho and tried to retake Tarifa in 1294, but Catalan galleys helped Castile prevail. From 1295 to 1303 Granada was allied with Aragon and exploited the civil war in Castile. In September 1301 Muhammad regained Tarifa by negotiation at Zaragoza.

When Muhammad III (r. 1302-09) became emir of Granada, he changed sides and allied with Castile. However, in 1308 Castile’s Fernando IV promised Aragon’s Jaime II that eventually Almeria and one sixth of Granada would fall to Aragon. Muhammad also had problems with Ceuta, which declared itself independent of the Marinid sultan, who was assassinated in 1307. Muhammad lost his allies, and on March 14, 1309 a palace coup killed his chief minister, Ibn al-Hakim al-Rundi. Muhammad was replaced by Nasr but was allowed to retire at Almunecar. The people were angry at Ibn al-Hakim because of his wealth and luxurious living and because his foreign policy had alienated Christians and North Africans.

Nasr (r. 1309-14) formed an alliance with the Marinids in 1309. After Castile’s Juan Manuel led five hundred knights away from the battle for Algeciras, Nasr allocated it to the Marinids. Granada lost Gibraltar to Castile in 1309, but the next year they defeated Aragon at Almeria so severely that they no longer wanted to attack Granada. The historian Ibn Khaldun explained that Nasr fell because of his tendencies towards violence and injustice.

Uthman b. Abi’l-’Ula led the rebels against Nasr, who abdicated in favor of Isma‘il (r. 1314-25) but held on to Guadix. When Calatrava master Garci Lopez de Padilla tried to fight his way to Guadix in the spring of 1316, Uthman commanded Granada’s forces and tried to stop him; but the Muslims were defeated and lost 1,540 men. However, in 1319 the Muslims defeated the Castilians in the battle of the Vega, killing the princes Pedro and Juan. Isma‘il went on the offensive and recaptured Huescar, Orce, Galera, and Martos. The Castilians agreed to a truce in Andalusia for eight years. The truces ran out in 1323 when Castilian admiral Jofre Tenorio devastated the Granadan fleet and claimed to have taken 1,200 captives to Seville.

Uthman met with Isma‘il’s cousin Muhammad, and they agreed to kill the King. Then Uthman pretended he was not part of the plot and arrested the relatives of Muhammad before proclaiming Isma‘il’s son Muhammad the new king. Muhammad IV (r. 1325-33) ended the conflict between Uthman and Ibn al-Mahruq by having the latter assassinated. After a siege of five months in 1333 Granada regained Gibraltar; but the Banu Abi‘l-‘Ula did not like Muhammad’s alliance with the Marinid Abu’l-Hasan and killed the King on his way back to Granada.

Yusuf I (r. 1333-54) avenged his brother Muhammad by driving the Banu Abi‘l-‘Ula into exile in Tunisia. He made truces with Castile and formed a tripartite alliance with them and the Marinids. This lasted until 1340 when Admiral Alfonso Jofre Tenorio attacked a Muslim fleet and was defeated and killed. Abu’l-Hasan then crossed the straits and besieged Tarifa. Alfonso XI sent a force to relieve Tarifa, and on October 29, 1340 in the battle of Saledo the Muslims suffered a crushing defeat. The Christians gained so much precious metal that the prices in the bullion markets fell by one-sixth in Paris, Avignon, Valencia, Barcelona, Pamplona, and Estella. The Castilians besieged Alcala, but Yusuf refused to give up his alliance with the Marinids of North Africa. The Castilian army began besieging Algeciras in 1342, and the Muslims used some of the first cannons with gunpowder. The Muslims gave up Algeciras to the siege on March 26, 1344 by agreeing to a truce for ten years. Alfonso XI led the siege of Gibraltar in 1349; but Castile abandoned it after he died of the plague the next year. Pedro I became king of Castile, and he made a peace accord with Yusuf. In 1354 Emir Yusuf was assassinated while praying in the Great Mosque of Granada. During his reign arts and literature had flourished in Granada.

Yusuf’s oldest son Muhammad V was sixteen years old when he began ruling Granada in 1354. When Aragon’s Pedro IV attacked the frontiers, the chief minister Ridwan tried to negotiate peace with all parties. In August 1359 Isma‘il II replaced Muhammad V in a palace coup. Muhammad could not fight his way into the palace and fled to Guadix. Yusuf’s brother Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad was called el Bermejo by the Christians. He held the power and became Emir Muhammad VI when Isma‘il was assassinated in June 1360. Pedro I of Castile invited Muhammad V to Seville and gave him 30,000 dinars to set up a government in Ronda in opposition to Muhammad VI. Pedro I, who was accused of being too friendly to Muslims, said he had an obligation to help him because he was a tribute-paying vassal. Muhammad VI believed he could be of service to Pedro I and went to him with his finest jewels in 1362. Pedro feasted his guests in Seville for two days, and then he had them arrested and stripped of their valuables. He struck Muhammad with a lance, saying he had caused him to make a bad deal with the king of Aragon. Then Pedro had him and his 36 retainers killed. The rest of the Muslim party were imprisoned and later poisoned.

Muhammad V returned to power, and in 1363 he provided six hundred mounted men led by Faraj ibn Ridwan to help Pedro I take Teruel. When Enrique II attacked Andalusia, Muhammad abandoned Pedro I and changed sides. Then he made a treaty with Aragon. After the English helped Pedro I, Muhammad changed sides again, and he raided Jaen, which had opposed Pedro. On the frontier Granada regained Cambril, Haver, Rute, and Algeciras in 1369. On May 31, 1370 Enrique of Castile signed a truce with Granada for eight years that was renewed in 1375. Juan I of Castile made truces in 1379 and 1390, giving Granada its longest period of peace in its history. Muhammad renewed his truce with Aragon’s Pedro IV in 1377 for three years, and they exchanged prisoners. Muhammad V died on January 16, 1391 and was succeeded by his son Abu’l-Hajjaj who became Yusuf II.

In his first year Yusuf II’s tyrannical minister Khalid was murdered. Three of Yusuf’s brothers had been killed, and Muhammad V’s chief minister Ibn Zamrak was imprisoned at Almeria. Yusuf II died in 1391 and was succeeded by his younger son who became Muhammad VII (r. 1392-1408) while the older son was held in the castle of Salobreña. The poet Ibn Zamrak was released, but he was assassinated in 1393. Muhammad VII raided the Lorca region of Murcia. Martin Yañez de Barbudo led a crusade against Granada on April 26, 1394; but they were outnumbered and were badly defeated. Enrique III sent a message to Muhammad VII, saying that he had not approved the raid. Muslim raids could not be stopped either, and one went as far as Cartagena.

Granada 1400-1502

Portugal 1250-1400

Spanish Peninsula 1095-1250

Afonso III (r. 1248-79) reconquered Algarve and moved the capital of Portugal from Coimbra to Lisbon. Portugal had few Muslims except in the south. To gain power against the bishops, Afonso allowed the first commoners into the Cortes at Leiria in 1254. Portuguese conquests brought Afonso into conflict with Castile. While still married to Matilde of Boulogne, Afonso married Alfonso X’s illegitimate daughter Beatriz. The Holy See condemned the marriage and put Afonso under interdict. The Cortes at Coimbra in 1261 objected to Afonso’s debasing the currency, and they made him agree that the king could not tax the people without their consent. After Matilde died in 1262, the bigamous marriage was made legal; but Afonso confiscated much property from the Church. Afonso was excommunicated and defied the Church. His eldest son Dinis rebelled against him from 1277 until Afonso died two years later. Portugal had a small population of less than a million, and to prevent famine the export of grain was forbidden in 1272.

King Dinis (r. 1279-1325) of Portugal also fought a civil war with his younger brother Afonso of Portalegre for the crown until a compromise was reached. In 1281 Dinis married Isabel, daughter of Pedro III of Aragon, who was so pure and unselfish that she was later canonized as a saint. In 1282 Dinis extended his jurisdiction by reserving the right to judge appeals. He was a poet and progressively promoted learning, literature, fairs, minted money, agriculture, and the planting of pine forests to stop soil erosion. The King founded a university in Lisbon in 1290, and that year Portugal’s long dispute with the papacy was resolved. Dinis decreed that all official documents would no longer be written in Latin but in the vernacular Portuguese, thus helping to develop the national language. Troubadours composed songs of friendship (Cantares de Amigo) from a woman’s point of view even though they were mostly by men. The male viewpoint appeared in the songs of love (Cantares de Amor). Dinis also developed a navy to protect shipping, built nearly fifty fortresses, reorganized the militias, and nationalized the military orders. He confirmed Portugal’s possession of Algarve in the 1297 Treaty of Alcañices as his daughter Constanza married Castile’s Fernando IV, and his heir Afonso married Fernando’s sister Beatriz. Because of conflicts the university was moved from Lisbon to Coimbra in 1308.

In 1319 the Templars were transferred to the new order of Christ. The crown prince Afonso resented his father’s affection for the illegitimate Afonso Sanches, whom he made mordomo-mor, and he asked his grandmother Beatriz in Castile to persuade her husband to turn the government over to him in 1320. King Dinis refused to do this, and the prince rebelled and marched to Coimbra. Dinis had troops ready against him, but Queen Isabel made peace between them. The King gave his son two cities, and the prince swore to obey. Afonso Sanches left Portugal, but the same pattern of conflict and peacemaking happened again when he came back a year later.

When Afonso IV (r. 1325-57) became king, he confiscated the property of his exiled half-brother Afonso Sanches, who was married to the daughter of Juan Alfonso de Meneses in Albuquerque. He and his supporters invaded Portugal, but Isabel intervened a third time to maintain peace. Afonso sent a Genoese captain to explore the Canary Islands. The saintly queen Isabel was noted for her charitable work during the great plague of 1333, and she continued to be a peacemaker until her death in the Santa Clara convent at Coimbra in 1336. Alfonso XI of Castile divorced Juan Manuel’s daughter Constanza in 1327 and the next year married Afonso IV’s daughter Maria. At the same time Afonso IV’s son Pedro married Blanca of Castile. Alfonso XI was in love with Leonor de Guzman and abandoned his Portuguese queen Maria. Juan Manuel tried to form an alliance with Aragon and Portugal, and his daughter Constanza was betrothed to the prince Pedro of Portugal in 1336. The next year Portugal went to war against Castile as Afonso IV besieged Badajoz, and Pedro of Barcelos attacked Galicia. The Marinids of North Africa took advantage of this and attacked Tarifa with a large army, destroying the Castilian fleet. Pope Benedict XII proclaimed a crusade and promised indulgences. So the Christians made peace with each other, and Afonso IV with a thousand lances joined the Castilian forces at Seville. In October 1340 the Portuguese helped the Castilians defeat the Moors in the important battle of the Salado as the Marinids abandoned their treasure and fled back to Africa.

Constanza came to Lisbon and married Pedro, who eventually fell in love with her lady-in-waiting Ines de Castro. King Afonso banished Ines, and she withdrew to Albuquerque. Constanza gave birth to Fernando but died in 1345. Ines came back and lived in a house near Coimbra with Pedro, and they had several children. Chief Justice Alvaro Gonçalves, Pedro Coelho, and Diogo Lopes Pacheco objected to Ines and persuaded King Afonso to let them murder her for the good of the state. She appealed to the King’s chivalry; but the nobles’ political arguments won out, and on January 7, 1355 they stabbed her to death. Pedro was away at the time; but he rebelled by besieging Oporto while her brothers invaded Portugal from Galicia. Pedro learned that his father had been influenced by others, and in August they were reconciled. The King pardoned Pedro and put him in charge of  administering justice with the understanding that the three murderers would not be prosecuted. Meanwhile Portugal made a commercial treaty with Edward III of England for fifty years.

When Pedro I became king in May 1357, the three killers fled to Castile. Pedro requested extradition, and in 1360 he executed Alvaro Gonçalves and Pedro Coelho at Santarem. Pedro claimed he had been married to Ines and tried to make her children legitimate, but the public would not accept them as royal. King Pedro ruled as an impartial judge and was called O Justiceiro. He enforced laws strictly, especially against those who abused the public trust for their private gain. He had two of his own servants executed for robbing and killing a Jew, and he had a man castrated for adultery. Pedro I of Castile made a treaty with his namesake in Portugal in 1358, and the Portuguese navy fought on the side of Castile for two years. However, when Castile’s Pedro I fled to Portugal in 1366, the council at Santarem decided not to help Pedro anymore in his civil war.

Pedro I was succeeded by his son Fernando I (r. 1367-83). In 1369 he tried to claim the throne of Castile as the great-grandson of Sancho IV; but his invasion of Galicia quickly retreated, and the Castilian army captured strongholds in Portugal. In a treaty on June 29, 1370 Fernando gained the support of Aragon in exchange for his recognizing its claim to Murcia. Fernando was to marry an Aragonese princess. Fernando sent 4000 marks of gold to Barcelona for 1,500 Aragonese lances; but Enrique II conquered Zamora on February 26, 1371. Fernando made a treaty with Castile at Alcoutim in March and promised to marry Enrique’s daughter Leonor. Young Fernando was influenced by Joao Afonso Telo, the count of Ourém and Barcelos. The husband of his niece Leonor de Teles de Meneses had fled to Castile, and Fernando agreed to marry Leonor. People in Lisbon protested, and the tailor Fernao Vasquez was especially vocal. Fernando went north to meet Leonor de Teles and had the tailor executed.

The Galician knight Juan Fernandez Andeiro came to Portugal and mediated an alliance between John of Gaunt and King Fernando at Braga on July 10, 1372. That year the Cortes refused to grant Fernando a general excise tax. King Enrique II of Castile invaded Portugal in September, took Viseu, and marched on Coimbra. Fernando tried to defend Lisbon; but the promised English troops did not come, and on March 19, 1373 Fernando agreed to give up the English alliance. Portugal become an ally of France and Castile in April, turning over six towns to Castile. Yet Fernando continued to negotiate with England, and on June 16 they swore to be allies.

Fernando’s reign is known primarily for the law of sesmarias in 1375 which took away lands uncultivated by their owners and gave them to farmers who would plow them. Vagrants and beggars were seized and put to work, and peasants had to remain on the land they were working. All farms were provided with livestock and draft animals at reasonable prices. Trade increased as ship-owners in Lisbon and Oporto were organized into companies with common treasuries that paid for ships lost to pirates or by wreckage. In 1377 a royal decree subsidized shipbuilding, and compulsory maritime insurance was established in 1380. Many laborers and stock-raisers became traders.

During the peace that was to last until 1379 Fernando had the walls of Lisbon rebuilt and provided free timber from the royal forests for those constructing large ships. The duke of Lancaster again sent Andeiro to form an alliance between England and Portugal and with Aragon. This negotiation was secret because Fernando’s heiress Beatriz was being offered to Edward of Cambridge; but another faction promised her to the son of Castile’s Juan I in July 1380. The earl of Cambridge brought 3,000 men to Portugal in June 1381 while the Queen’s brother Joao Afonso Telo was attacking the Castilian fleet but was defeated. Ten-year-old Beatriz was betrothed to six-year-old Edward, and Portugal transferred its allegiance from Pope Clement VII to Urban VI. The English troops were poor and unpaid because the Parliament and merchants had cut off credit. They did not reach the Castilian frontier until December, and the campaign was a failure. A Castilian fleet sailed up the Tagus and blockaded Lisbon in March 1382. The Portuguese constable and marshal negotiated a secret peace with the Castilians on August 10, and Beatriz was betrothed to Juan I’s younger son. Castilian ships were used to evacuate the English in September. Juan I’s wife died, and Ourém proposed that Beatriz marry Juan. They were married on May 17, 1383, and Juan took her to Castile.

After Fernando died in October 1383, young Beatriz became queen of Portugal. Queen Leonor tried to rule as regent with the help of her lover Joao Fernandes Andeiro, Count of Ourém; but the nobles and the public hated him because he was considered a conceited fool. Joao, master of the order of Avis, was an illegitimate son of Pedro by his mistress Teresa Lourenço. A band of aristocrats followed him, and on December 6, 1383 they assassinated the Count of Ourém in front of Leonor. The public was so happy about this that they proclaimed Joao defender of the realm, and no one went after the killers. Joao was advised by the hermit Joao de Barroca and appointed a merchant corregidor in Lisbon and admitted guilds into the city council. He confiscated the goods of Leonor, and she fled to Alenquer and wrote to her son-in-law Juan in Castile, urging him to invade Portugal and claim it for Beatriz. He came to Santarem in January 1384, and the next month she turned over the government to the king of Castile. The chancellor Joao Fogaça refused to serve him and joined the resistance, going with the master of Santiago to raise troops in England.

Master Joao of Avis had already sent envoys to England appealing for aid, and John of Gaunt sent help. Joao of Avis arrested Leonor and deported her to Castile. He was governing Portugal but had not been proclaimed king. He was advised by the learned Joao das Regras, and the army was commanded by Nuno Alvares Pereira, who defeated the invading Castilian army at Atoleiros but could not stop them from besieging Lisbon. A plague ran through the Castilian camp, taking two hundred victims a day before Juan decided to withdraw to Seville. The Cortes met at Coimbra in March 1385, and Joao das Regras persuaded them that Joao of Avis should rule Portugal. On April 6 they elected him king. King Joao formed a military alliance with England’s Richard II while Juan of Castile turned to Aragon and France.

In the spring of 1385 Castile’s fleet of 63 ships blockaded Lisbon. Joao I personally led the army against the Castilians on the field of Aljubarrota north of Lisbon while Constable Nuno directed the strategy. Juan of Castile had 32,000 men and more knights, and Portugal had only 6,500 men; but Nuno’s desperate army included infantry, two hundred English archers, and Portuguese using crossbows. On August 14, 1385 the Portuguese soldiers with swords and axes stopped the charge and drove the Castilians into disordered flight. Nuno Alvares followed up this victory by invading Castile in October, and the war dragged on for years. Portuguese envoys signed an alliance with England at Windsor on May 9, 1386. John of Gaunt led 5,000 men for Portugal, landed at Corunna in July, and invaded Galicia in the north. He met King Joao, who married his daughter Philippa in February 1387. That month they invaded Castile with 11,000 men; but they lacked siege equipment, and the English suffered from sickness. Juan of Castile agreed to pay the English expenses in exchange for their leaving. John, the duke of Lancaster, betrothed his daughter Catherine to Enrique, heir to the Crown of Castile. A series of truces that began in 1387 were interrupted occasionally by border raids, and a formal peace between Castile and Portugal was finally signed on October 31, 1411. On July 17, 1392 King Joao prohibited the persecuting of Jews, and many took refuge from Spain.

Portugal of Joao I and Afonso V 1400-81
Portugal of Joao II and Manuel 1481-1517

Juan Manuel’s Examples and Ruiz’s Good Love

Juan Manuel, the grandson of Fernando III and the nephew of Alfonso X, was born on May 5, 1282. His father died the next year, and after his mother’s death in 1290 he became the duke of Peñafiel. Juan began participating in war at the age of twelve by fighting the Moors in Murcia. His first wife, the Infanta Isabel of Majorca, died in 1301, and he married twice more and became very wealthy, coining his own money. As a relative of the royal family he was prominent and became involved in many court intrigues. In 1305 he gave up Alarcon to Castile and Cartagena to Aragon. Juan did not like the siege of Algeciras that began in 1309 and was blamed by many for deserting the field of battle. In defense of Fernando IV’s kingdom he made guerrilla attacks against the property of Juan Nuñez de Lara. On April 3, 1312 Juan Manuel married Constanza of Aragon at Jativa. When King Fernando IV died in September, Alfonso XI was only thirteen months old. The Cortes stipulated that the infantes Juan, Pedro, and Maria de Molina were to act as regents independently, and Juan Manuel was appointed the controller (mayordomo) of the kingdom. He quarreled with the regent Pedro over money and land. At one point he captured the head of the Order of Calatrava, and another time he destroyed and robbed the disputed land held by Pedro. Finally he accepted the arbitration by the master of Calatrava and agreed to pay indemnities. In 1318 Juan had a Dominican house built at Peñafiel.

When the regents Juan and Pedro were killed in battle in 1319, Juan Manuel was elected regent for five years along with Infante Felipe and his son Juan el Tuerto. After Alfonso XI came of age in 1325, Juan Manuel was reconciled with him. The next year he helped defeat the Moors led by Uthman; but he was disturbed when the King had Juan el Tuerto killed for acts of destruction in royal lands. Juan Manuel’s second wife Constanza died of tuberculosis in 1327, and their two sons had died in childhood. Their daughter Constanza married Alfonso XI in 1325, but two years later the King divorced her and held her in Toro castle. Juan Manuel reacted by turning against the King and contacting the emir of Granada, and Alfonso XI had one of his messengers mutilated.

In 1329 Juan Manuel married Blanca Nuñez, the granddaughter of Fernando de la Cerda, and she brought him wealth and bore him his son Fernando. In October 1329 the bishop of Oviedo arranged a reconciliation in which Alfonso XI appointed Juan Manuel governor of Murcia; Constanza was released from Toro, and Juan’s indemnities were canceled. Nonetheless Juan avoided the court and the Cortes and spent his time writing, completing The Count Lucanor in 1335. Eventually Juan’s mother-in-law Juana improved his relations with the King, and he fought for Alfonso in the famous victory at the Salado River in 1340. His daughter Constanza married King Pedro I of Portugal. Juan Manuel retired to Murcia and devoted himself to literature. He died on June 13, 1348. His daughter Juana married Enrique Trastamara, and their son Juan succeeded him as king of Castile.

Juan Manuel wrote a history, poems, and books on philosophers, knighthood, mechanized warfare, coat of arms, plan of society, hunting, and the assumption of the Virgin; but he is best known for the Book of the Examples of Count Lucanor and of Patronio. Most of these 51 stories have been traced to previous sources from Aesop of ancient Greece, the Panchatantra of India, Persian tales, the Byzantine Barlaam and Joasaph, Arabian stories, the Gesta Romanorum, and Spanish legends or history. Each example begins with Count Lucanor posing a problem to his advisor Patronio, who tells a story to illustrate his advice for that situation. Then the text usually reads, “Don Juan, thinking it a good story, had it written in this book and wrote these verses as follows.” Then the example concludes with a pithy rhymed couplet. Manuscripts of the book were copied in the Dominican house which Juan Manuel founded as well as by others. The first printed edition of El Conde Lucanor was in 1575.

Hans Christian Andersen made famous a version of Example 32 “What Happened to the King and the Tricksters Who Made Cloth.” Count Lucanor tells Patronio that a man has an important transaction for him, but he insists on secrecy. So Patronio tells how three tricksters came to a king and persuaded him they could make the best cloth that would make him rich. They would weave a cloth that no man could see unless he was the true son of the man he considered his father. The king and his advisors were afraid that they were not true sons, and so they assumed that others could see the cloth. The weavers dressed the king in the new garments, and he paraded through the city. Everyone doubted their heritage until the Negro who led the king’s horse finally said, “Either I am blind or you are naked.”1 The king began to beat him; but then others spoke up until everyone realized that the tricksters had deceived them. The couplet concludes,

If bid to keep a secret from your friends,
’Tis sure the bidder wickedness intends.2

In the next Example (33) Patronio implies that going to war against the Moors is serving God, a sad reflection of Juan Manuel’s values. Example 34 illustrates the parable that if the blind lead the blind, they both will suffer. Example 35 suggests a situation that led to The Taming of the Shrew. Count Lucanor asks Patronio if a man should marry a rich woman if she is a shrew. He suggests it depends on whether the man knows how to handle a shrew. This story also indicates the Castilian tendency toward violent solutions as the man kills his dog, cat, and horse to intimidate his ill-mannered bride into obeying whatever he says. This story also reflects patriarchal Moorish values, as a Moorish tale is probably the source.

Example 36 shows more wisdom as a sage offers the advice that if a man becomes angry and intends to do something violent, he should not be vexed nor become upset until he learns the whole truth. In the story a merchant leaves his wife pregnant and goes on a long voyage. While he is gone, his wife is faithful and raises her son, who continues to sleep in the same bed with her. When the merchant returns twenty years later, he spies on his wife and believes she has a young lover whom he wants to kill. However, he follows the advice and finds out that the young man is his son and so saves himself much grief.

Juan Manuel valued honor that gave a person respect in this life and a reputation that would last beyond death. Some of his stories (3 and 37) validate leaders who courageously lead men into battle. Juan also satirized those who tried to find happiness while on earth without thinking of others or eternity. Example 38 tells of a greedy man who lost his life because he tried to cross a deep river while carrying too many jewels.

Juan Manuel included some proverbs in the appendix of Count Lucanor. Here are a few. “Many use God’s name, but few walk His path.” “A wise man can put up with a fool, but the reverse is never true.” “A man with real knowledge knows where his knowledge is deficient, while dolts always think that they know everything.”

Juan Ruiz was known as the Archpriest of Hita, and he is famous for his ribald poem, The Book of Good Love (Libro de buen amor). According to his book, which is considered a fictional autobiography of his romances, he was imprisoned from 1337 to 1350 by Archbishop Gil Albornoz of Toledo. In retaliation he became a goliard who wrote poetry to satirize priests. Here is an example:

I saw many monks in their preaching
denigrate money and its temptations;
yet pardons are granted for money,
fasting is absolved, and prayers are spoken.3

Juan Ruiz began his Book of Good Love with a prayer, and he offered his book to every man or woman who would understand the good, elect salvation, and do good works in the love of God. He added that it also helps the understanding of those who would choose the foolish worldly love. He noted that human beings, like other animals, desire the company of females, but he observed that only humans desire women at any time. After some prose in the introduction, the rest of the book is poetry in 1,728 stanzas, mostly in quatrains in which all four lines rhyme. Ruiz tells many animal fables to illustrate his points and other humorous stories involving humans. He explained that all the seven deadly sins (pride, anger, greed, lust, envy, sloth, and gluttony) are ultimately caused by coveting, and he tells animal fables to illustrate each one. He has a discourse on the power of money, and Love advises him to adopt good habits and especially to avoid drinking too much wine.

The Archpriest is given much advice that can be found in the works of Ovid such as The Art of Love, and he is also counseled by Lady Venus. The love affair with  Endrina is based on the elegiac comedy attributed to a monk named Pamphilus Maurilianus from the 12th century. The go-between to Endrina is the crone called “Convent-trotter.” The narrator also seeks other love affairs, most of which are failed attempts. After an object of his affection dies, he goes into the mountains, where four strong women make him love them in exchange for food and warmth. An allegorical battle takes place between Carnal and Lent, symbolizing the tension the author constantly feels between spiritual love and carnal pleasures. Finally the narrating archpriest tries to win the love of a nun called Garoza, but after two months she and the Convent-trotter die. The Christian poet then takes on death and worldly sin before digressing to the virtues of small women. Finally he concludes his poem with prayer to the Virgin Mary.


1. The Book of Count Lucanor and Patronio by Don Juan Manuel translated by John E. Keller, L. Clark Keating, and Barbara E. Gaddy, p. 156.
2. Ibid., p. 157
3. The Book of Good Love 503 by Juan Ruiz, translated by Elizabeth Drayton MacDonald, p. 129.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Medieval Europe 1250-1400.
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Crusaders and Byzantine Decline 1250-1400
Eastern Europe 1250-1400
Catholic Ethics 1250-1350
German Empire 1250-1400
Scandinavia 1250-1400
Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1250-1400
Italian City States 1250-1400
Dante and Marsilius
Petrarca and Boccaccio
Low Countries and Burgundy 1250-1400
France and National War 1250-1400
England, Scotland, and Ireland 1250-1400
Mystics, Wyclif, Gower, and Chaucer
Summary and Evaluation


World Chronology 750-1300
World Chronology 1300-1400
Chronology of Europe to 1400

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