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ALFONSO X King of Castile and Violante of Aragon

ALFONSO X, King of Castile. [Familytree].
Born on 23 November 1221 in Toldeo, Spain; the eldest son of FERDINAND III King of Castile and Beatrice of Swabia (Hohenstaufen). His maternal grandparents were Philip of Swabia and Irene Angelina.

Spanish monarch who ruled as the King of Galicia, Castile and León from 1252 until his death. He was elected Rex Romanorum in 1254. His nicknames were "el Sabio" ("the Wise", more accurately translated "the Learned") and "el Astrólogo" ("the Astronomer").

* As a writer and intellectual he gained considerable scientific fame based on his encouragement of astronomy and the Ptolemaic cosmology as known to him through the Arabs. (Because of this, the Alphonsus crater on the Moon is named after him). His fame extends to the preparation of the Alfonsine tables,based on calculations of al-Zarqali Alzarquel. One famous quote attributed to him was supposedly said upon hearing an explanation of Ptolemy's theory of astronomy and being shown the extremely complicated mathematics required to "prove" it - "If the Lord Almighty had consulted me before embarking on creation thus, I should have recommended something simpler." The validity of this quotation is questioned by some historians.

* Alfonso established in Seville, Spain a translation school that did a great work increasing the flow of knowledge into Christian Europe as well as continuing support of the school of translators in Toledo (already founded 1127-1152 by Archbishop Raimondo of Toledo). Much of it was based on Ancient philosophy.

* As a ruler, Alfonso showed legislative capacity, and a wish to provide his kingdoms with a code of laws and a consistent judicial system. The Fuero Real was undoubtedly his work. He began the code called the Siete Partidas, which, however, was only promulgated by his great-grandson. Because of this, he is one of the 23 lawmakers depicted in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives.

* Alfonso was the first king who initiated the use of the Castilian language extensively, although his father, Fernando III had begun to use it for some documents, instead of Latin, as the language used in courts, churches, and in books and official documents.

* Alfonso lacked the singleness of purpose required by a ruler who would devote himself to organization, and also the combination of firmness with temper needed for dealing with his nobles.

* Alfonso's descent from the Hohenstaufen through his mother, a daughter of the emperor Philip of Swabia, gave him a claim to represent the Swabian line. Alfonso's election by the prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire after the death of Conrad IV of Germany in 1254 misled him into wild schemes that involved excessive expense but never took effect. To obtain money, he debased the coinage and then endeavoured to prevent a rise in prices by an arbitrary tariff. The little trade of his dominions was ruined, and the burghers and peasants were deeply offended. His nobles, whom he tried to cow by sporadic acts of violence, rebelled against him.

* Alfonso's eldest son, Ferdinand de la Cerda, Infante of Castile, died in 1275, leaving two infant sons. Alfonso's second son, Sancho, claimed to be the new heir, in preference to the children of Ferdinand de la Cerda, basing his claim on an old Castilian custom, that of proximity of blood and agnatic seniority. Alfonso preferred to leave the throne to his grandsons, but Sancho had the support of the nobility. A bitter civil war broke out resulting in 1282 Alfonso's being forced to accept Sancho as his heir instead of his young grandsons.Son and nobles alike supported the Moors when he tried to unite the nation in a crusade; and when he allied himself with Abu Yusuf Yakub, the ruling Marinid Sultan of Morocco, they denounced him as an enemy of the faith. A reaction in his favor was beginning in his later days, but he died defeated and deserted at Seville, leaving a will, by which he endeavored to exclude Sancho, and a heritage of civil war.

* Alfonso X commissioned or co-authored numerous works during his reign. One was the Cantigas de Santa Maria ("Songs to the Virgin Mary"), which is comprised of 420 poems, mostly on miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary written in Galician-Portuguese. One of the miracles he relates is his own healing in Puerto de Santa María. Other works related to Alfonso include Cantigas d'escarnio e maldicer and the Libro de los juegos ("Book of Games").

Alfonso X married Violante of Aragon, the daughter of King James I of Aragon and Yolande of Hungary in 1249, although betrothed already in 1246. Because of her young age (Violante was only 13-years-old at the time of the marriage), she produced no children for several years and it was feared that she was barren. Alfonso almost had their marriage annulled, but they went on to have twelve children.

Alfonso X also had several illegitimate children. His illegitimate daughter, Beatriz de Castilla, married King Alfonso III of Portugal. An illegitimate son, Martin, was Abbot of Valladolid.

He died on 4 April 1284 in Seville, Spain.

Violante of Aragon. [Familytree].
Born on 8 June 1236 at Zaragoza,Spain; daughter of James I King of Aragon and Yolande of Hungary.

In January 1249, Violant married King Alfonso X of Castile at Burgos, who before his marriage, had a romantic relationship with Mayor Guillén de Guzmán who bore to him an illegitimate daughter Beatrice. (S2).

Due to Violant's young age, she was unable to get pregnant for several years. Alfonso came to believe that his wife was barren and came to even consider the possibility of asking the pope for an annulment of the marriage. (S2).

Legend has it that the Queen could not get pregnant and the doctor told her to rest. Alicante was recaptured by the Crown of Castile and the King and Queen rested in a farm located in the fields near the city, and there she became pregnant; the King decided to call the place "Pla del Bon Repos" ("Plain of good sleep"), a name that has been left to posterity and today is a suburb of Alicante. (S2).

In 1275, Violant's son and heir to Castile, Ferdinand de la Cerda died heir to the Castilian-Leonese throne and Alfonso at first ignored the rights of Ferdinand's two sons, Alfonso and Fernando, and instead made their second son, Prince Sancho heir; he would later succeed as Sancho IV of Castile. (S2).

In response, the widow of Ferdinand, Blanche of France, enlisted the help of her brother, Philip III of France. At the same time, queen Violant sought support for her grandchildren from her brother, King Peter III of Aragon, who agreed to protect and guard them in the kingdom of Aragon, accommodating her grandchildren in the Castle of Xativa. (S2).

During the reign of her son Sancho IV, and the latter's son, Ferdinand IV of Castile, Queen Violant lived almost permanently in Aragon and she supported the rights to the throne of Castile and León of her grandson, Alfonso de la Cerda. (S2).

In 1276, Violant founded the Convent of San Pablo in Valladolid. This was erected in honor of the Hungarian Order of St. Paul. Violant's mother brought some Hungarian influence on the Spanish culture, and also introduced the Order of St. Paul. (S2).

Queen Violant of Aragon died in 1301 at Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain, in the kingdom of Navarre, on her return from Rome, where she had won the Jubilee in 1300. (S2).

She died on 1301 at Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain. (S2).

CHILDREN of ALFONSO X King of Castile and Violante of Aragon
  1. Fernando, died in infancy, and buried in Las Huelgas in Burgos.
  2. Berengaria of Castile (1253-after 1284). She was betrothed to Louis, the son and heir of King Louis IX of France, but her fiance died prematurely in 1260. She entered the convent in Las Huelgas, where she was living in 1284.
  3. Beatriz of Castile (1254-1280). She married William VII, Marquess of Montferrat.
  4. Ferdinand de la Cerda, Infante of Castile (October 23, 1255-July 25, 1275). He married Blanche, the daughter of King Louis IX of France, by whom he had two children. Because he predeceased his father, his younger brother Sancho inherited the throne.
  5. Leonor of Castile (1257-1275)
  6. SANCHO IV, The Brave, of Castile. (May 13, 1258-1295).
  7. Constanza of Castile (1258-August 22, 1280), a nun at Las Huelgas.
  8. Pedro of Castile (June 1260-October 10, 1283)
  9. Juan of Castile, Lord of Valencia (March or April, 1262-June 25, 1319).
  10. Isabella, died young.
  11. Violante of Castile (1265-1296). She married Diego Lopez de Haro
  12. Jaime of Castile (August 1266-August 9, 1284)


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