Alfonso IX (1188-1230)

Alfonso IX
Autor: Rodríguez de Losada, José María

At the beginning of his reign he summoned a curia regia (a meeting with his counselors) in April of 1188. The representatives of the people came to this meeting for the first time, making these the first Courts of Medieval Europe, and the seed of the parliamentary system.

His cousin Alfonso VIII of Castille took advantage of these moments to invade numerous Leonese fortresses. During Alfonso IX’s reign, war and peace continuously occurred between León and Castille, and one of the biggest moments of confrontation was when these castles were occupied by Alfonso VIII.

The Castilians, Aragons and Portuguese invaded the kingdom of León in 1196-1997, and Alfonso IX found himself forced to ask for peace. To obtain it he had to marry Berenguela, one of Alfonso VIII’s daughters. Since they were close relatives, they were forced to separate by Papal order in 1204, after having had four children.

Given his hostility towards the Castilian king, Alfonso IX and the king of Portugal refused to participate in the famous Navas de Tolosa Battle in 1212, which was a great victory against the Almohads. Around the year 1218 Alfonso IX founded the General Study of Salamanca, which would become what is today the university. At the same time he attacked Cáceres in consecutive campaigns, but didn’t succeed in taking the city until 1229: After that, he quickly conquered Montánchez, Mérida and Badajoz. When he went to Santiago to thank the Apostle for his victories, he passed away in Villanueva de Sarria on the 24th of September, 1230. He had established that his daughters Sancha and Dulce would succeed him, but against his will, and after a civil conflict in the capital, the Leonese crown went to his son Fernando III, who had already been governing Castille for thirteen years.

Alfonso IX stood out for his repopulating activities: he gave charters to a multitude of Galician, Asturian and Leonese cities. He was buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Against what some might say, he was not the last king of León, since the toddler Juan, Alfonso X “El Sabio”’s son, was king of Galicia, León and Seville from 1296 to 1300.