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Alfonso VII, Emperor of Spain, and (1) Berenguela of Barcelona; and (2) Richeza (Rixa) of Poland

HUSBAND:
ALFONSO VII. (Alfonso Raimúndez). Emperor of Spain. [Familytree].
Born on 1 March 1105 at Toledo, Castile; son of RAYMOND of Burgundy and Urraca of Castile; the first of the House of Burgundy to rule in Spain.

He became the King of Galicia in 1111 and King of León and Castile in 1126. He was crowned Emperor of Spain in 1135

Alfonso was a dignified and somewhat enigmatic figure. His rule was characterised by the renewed supremacy of the western kingdoms of Christian Spain over the eastern (Navarre and Aragón) after the reign of Alfonso the Battler. He also sought to make the imperial title meaningful in practice, though his attempts to rule over both Christian and Moslem populations was even less successful. His hegemonic intentions never saw fruition, however. During his tenure, Portugal became de facto independent, in 1128, and was recognized as de jure independent, in 1143.

He married (1) Berenguela of Barcelona Queen of Castile and Leon Bef 04 Dec 1152.

He married (2) Rixa (Richeza), Princess of Poland.

Succession to three kingdoms

In 1111, Diego Gelmírez, Bishop of Compostela, and the count of Traba crowned Alfonso King of Galicia in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. He was but a child at the time, but his mother had already (1109) succeeded to the united throne of León-Castile-Galicia and desired to assure her son's prospects and groom him for his eventual succession.

On 10 March 1126, after the death of his mother, he was crowned in León and immediately began the recovery of the Kingdom of Castile, which was then under the domination of Alfonso the Battler. By the Peace of Támara of 1127, the Battler recognised Alfonso VII of Castile. The territory in the far east of his dominion, however, had gained much independence during the rule of his mother and experienced many rebellions. After his recognition in Castile, Alfonso fought to curb the autonomy of the local barons.

Territorial aspirations

When Alfonso the Battler, King of Navarre and Aragón, died without descendants in 1134, he willed his kingdom to the military orders. The aristocracy of both kingdoms did not accept this and García VI was elected in Navarre while Alfonso pretended to the throne of Aragón. The nobles chose another candidate in the dead king's brother, Ramiro II. Alfonso responded by occupying La Rioja, conquering Zaragoza, and governing both realms in unison. From this point, the arms of Zaragoza began to appear in those of León.

In several skirmished, he defeated the joint Navarro-Aragonese army and put the kingdoms to vassalage. He had the strong support of the lords north of the Pyrenees, who held lands as far as the River Rhône. In the end, however, the combined forces of the Navarre and Aragón were too much for his control.

At this time, he helped Ramon Berenguer III, Count of Barcelona, in his wars with the other Catalan counties to unite the old Marca Hispanica.

Imperial rule

A vague tradition had always assigned the title of emperor to the sovereign who held León. Sancho the Great considered the city the imperiale culmen and minted coins with the inscription Imperator totius Hispaniae after being crowned in it. Such a sovereign was considered the most direct representative of the Visigothic kings, who had been themselves the representatives of the Roman Empire. But though appearing in charters, and claimed by Alfonso VI of Castile and Alfonso the Battler, the title had been little more than a flourish of rhetoric.

In 1135, Alfonso was crowned "Emperor of All the Spains" in the Cathedral of León. By this, he probably wished to assert his authority over the entire peninsula and his absolute leadership of the Reconquista. He appears to have striven for the formation of a national unity which Spain had never possessed since the fall of the Visigoth kingdom. The elements he had to deal with could not be welded together. The weakness of Aragón enabled him to make his superiority effective, although Afonso I of Portugal never recognised him as liege, thereby affirming Portugal's independence. In 1143, he himself recognised this status quo and consented to the marriage of Petronila of Aragón with Ramon Berenguer IV, a union which combined Aragón and Catalonia into the Crown of Aragón.

Reconquista

Alfonso was a pious prince. He introduced the Cistercians to Spain by founding a monastery at Fitero. He adopted a militant attitude towards the Moors of al-Andalus, especially the Almoravids.

From 1139, Alfonso led a series of expeditions subjugating the Almoravids. He took the fortress of Oreja near Toledo and, as the Chronica Adefonsis Imperatoris tells it:

Alfonso VII of León
. . . early in the morning the castle was surrendered and the towers were filled with Christian knights, and the royal standards were raised above a high tower. Those who held the standards shouted out loud and proclaimed "Long live Alfonso, emperor of León and Toledo!"

Alfonso VII of León

In 1146, the Almohads invaded and he was forced to refortify his southern frontier and come to an agreement with the Almoravid Ibn Ganiya for their mutual defence.

In 1144, Alfonso advanced as far as Córdoba. When Pope Eugene III preached the Second Crusade, Alfonso VII, with García of Navarre and Ramon Berenguer, led a mixed army of Catalans and Franks, with a Genoese-Pisans navy, in a crusade against the rich port city of Almería, which was occupied in October 1147. It was Castile's first Mediterranean seaport. In 1157, Almería entered into Almohad possession. Alfonso was returining from an expedition against them when he died in pass of Muradel in the Sierra Morena, possibly at Viso del Marqués (Ciudad Real).

Legacy

Alfonso was at once a patron of the church and a protector, if not a supporter of, the Moslems, who formed a large portion of his subjects. His reign ended in an unsuccessful campaign against the rising power of the Almohads. Though he was not actually defeated, his death in the pass, while on his way back to Toledo, occurred in circumstances which showed that no man could be what he claimed to be — "king of the men of the two religions."

Furthermore, by dividing his realm between his son, he ensured that Christendom would not present the new Almohad threat with a united front.

In November 1128, he married Berenguela, daughter of Ramon Berenguer III. She died in 1149.

In 1152, Alfonso married Richeza of Poland, the daughter of Ladislaus II the Exile. They had a daughter, Sancha (1155-1208), the wife of Alfonso II of Aragón.

By his mistress, an Asturian noblewoman named Guntroda, he had an illegitimate daughter, Urraca, who married García VI of Navarre.

He died on 21 August 1157 at La Fresneda, Teruel, Aragon; and was buried in the Catedral De Toledo, Toledo, Castile.
King Alfonso VII died suddenly in the middle of the war against the Moors in Sierra Morena on 21 August 1157. (S5).
WIFE (1):
Berenguela of Barcelona. Queen of Castile and Leon. [Familytree].
Born in 1112; daughter of RAMON Berenguer III and Maria (Marie) RODRIGUEZ (RUIZ) de VIVAR. She died in 1149.

CHILDREN of ALFONSO VII, Emperor of Spain and Berenguela of Barcelona:
  1. Sancho III, King of Castile. (el Deseado). Born in 1134 at Leon, Spain. He married Blanca, Princess of Navarra. He died on 31 January (1151)(in 1158) at Toledo, Spain.
  2. FERDINAND II, King of León. [Chart A11]. (1137-1188)
  3. Sancha. Born about 1137-1138 at Toledo, Castile. She married Sancho V (VI) Garcia, King of Navarre. She died on 5 August (1177)(1179).
  4. Constance of CASTILE. Born (after 1140)(in 1141). She married Louis VII, the Younger, King of FRANCE before 18 November 1153. She died 4 October 1160. Constance married Louis VII the son of Louis VI, the Fat, and Adelaide of Savoy de Maurienne, before 18 November 1153. (Louis VII the Younger of France Capet was born circa 1120 and died on 18 Sep 1180 in Paris, France.)


WIFE (2):
Richeza of Poland. (Rixa).
Born about 1140; daughter of Wladyslaw II the Exile and Agnes of Babenberg.

Richeza was the third child and only daughter of Wladyslaw II the Exile, the High Duke of Poland and ruler of Silesia, by his wife Agnes of Babenberg, daughter of Margrave Leopold III of Austria and half-sister of King Conrad III of Germany. (S5).

Born and raised for the first years of her life in Poland, Richeza accompanied her parents and brothers into exile in 1146. They established themselves first in Bohemia and later in Germany under the care of King Conrad III, who gave his deposed brother-in-law the Saxon district of Altenburg as his residence. (S5).

In 1151 came the news that the King Alfonso VII of León and Castile wanted to make an alliance with the Kingdom of Germany through a wedding. Richeza, niece of King Conrad III, was the most attractive candidate available. Richeza and King Alfonso VII married between October and December 1152. Her first child, Ferdinand, was born in the city of Toledo one year later, in 1153. Two years later, in 1155, Richeza gave birth to her second child, Sancha. King Alfonso VII died suddenly in the middle of the war against the Moors in Sierra Morena on 21 August 1157. Apparently, Infante Ferdinand died shortly before his father. (S5).

The late king divided his domains between his two surviving sons born from his first marriage to Berenguela of Barcelona: Sancho III obtained Castile and Ferdinand II received León. The relationship between Richeza and her stepsons wasn't good, especially after King Sancho III declared war on Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona, father of Alfonso (later King of Aragon), who was betrothed to Richeza's daughter Sancha. The unstable relations of King Ferdinand II with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (cousin of Richeza) and the Antipope Victor IV added further difficulties to the Dowager Queen, who finally decided to move to the Kingdom of Aragon in 1159. (S5).

At the court of Aragon, Richeza met Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Provence, nephew of Count of Barcelona. Although they soon fell in love, their union would be clearly political. Ramon Berenguer II supported Victor IV against Pope Alexander III, who, in turn, supported King Louis VII of France. The county of Provence was in a strategic location, between France and the Italian Peninsula. Frederick Barbarossa also wanted to win to his side Count Ramon Berenguer IV, who entered in an alliance with the kings of France, Castile and León. In contrast, Ramon Berenguer II, soon cousin by marriage of the Emperor, gained prestige and could face the pretensions of Count Hugh of Baux, who had just received the Imperial Provence as a fief. (S5).

Premarital negotiations lasted almost a year and a half. Richeza and Count Ramon Berenguer II were finally married between January and October 1161. They had only one daughter, Douce of Provence, born ca. 1162. Ramon Berenguer II was killed during the siege of Nice in 1166. Soon after her second husband's death, plans for a new marriage for Richeza began. Apparently, she was betrothed to Raymond V, Count of Toulouse, by her cousin the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa around 1166;[4] at the same time, the now Countess Douce II of Provence was engaged to the future Raymond VI. Count Raymond V wanted with this engagement to become more closely tied to the Hohenstaufen dynasty and took full control over the County of Provence. However, the firm opposition of King Alfonso II of Aragon (Richeza's future son-in-law) soon cancelled both betrothals, and with the help of the Genoese, he began a war against Raymond V that lasted eight years. (S5).

Some sources stated that in fact Richeza and Raymond V were married, however this event is refuted by the majority of modern historians. (S5).

By 1167, Richeza married her third and last husband, Count Albert III of Eberstein, who fought at the side of Frederick Barbarossa in his wars against the Guelphs. She moved to Germany with her new husband. From this union were born two sons, Counts Albert IV and Konrad II of Eberstein. (S5).

Little is known about the later life of Richeza. (S5).

She died on 16 June 1185. (S5).

CHILDREN of ALFONSO VII, Emperor of Spain and Richeza:
  1. Ferdinand. Born in 1153 in Toledo. He died apparently shortly before his father's death in 1157.
  2. SANCHA. Born 21 September 1154 at Toledo, Castile. She married Alfonso II, The Chaste, King of Aragón. She died on 9 November 1208 at Monasterio De Jaen, Jaen, Spain.


MISTRESS (3):
Guntroda


CHILDREN of ALFONSO VII, King of Leon and Castile, and Guntroda:
  1. Urraca, who married García VI of Navarre.


SOURCES:

HOW ARE WE RELATED:
Alfonso VII, Emperor of Spain, and Berenguela of Barcelona
    ____________________________|___________________________________
    |                                                               |
FERDINAND II, King of León, and and Urraca                     Sancha married Alfonso II, The Chaste, King of Aragón
                                                             Alfonso II, Count of Provence, and Gersenda II of Sabran 
Alfonso IX and Berenguela of Castile                         Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence, and Beatrice of Savoy
Ferdinand III and Elizabeth of Hohenstaufen                  Eleanor of Provence and Henry III, King of England              
Alfonso X, King of Castile, and Violante of Aragon           Edward I, King of England, and Eleanor of Castile 
Sancho IV, The Brave, and María de Molina                    Edward II, King of England, and Isabella of France
Ferdinand IV, King of Castile, Constance of Portugal          Edward III, King of England, and Philippa of Hainaut 
Alfonso XI of Castile XI and Maria of Portugal                Lionel Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, and Elizabeth de Burgh 
Pedro The Cruel and María de Padilla                          Philippa Plantagenet and Edmund de Mortimer 
Isabella of Castile and Edmund of Langley                     Roger de Mortimer and Eleanor de Holand 
Richard of Conisburgh and Anne de Mortimer
Richard, Earl of Cambridge,      ----      and      ----      Anne de Mortimer
Richard, Duke of York and Cecily de Neville
Edward IV, King Of England and Elizabeth Lucy
Elizabeth Plantagenet and Thomas de Lumley                   
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