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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Following the death of Alfonso the Battler


[Sidenote:

The anarchy of Urraca's reign.]

[Sidenote: The beginnings of Portugal.]

Alfonso VI was succeeded by his daughter Urraca (1109-1126), for he left no sons, and her reign was a period of anarchy. Urraca, who was a widow, was compelled by the nobles to remarry, on the ground that affairs of state needed a man's direction, while her infant son by a previous marriage, Alfonso, was brought up in Galicia, being considered king of that region. Alfonso I "the Battler" of Aragon was selected as a husband for Urraca, but the marriage was not a happy one. Urraca was so imprudent in her manner of life that the Battler saw fit to imprison her in a castle. Furthermore, he displayed a clear intention of making himself ruler in Castile as he was in Aragon, a course which the Castilian nobles were far from approving. The scene having been set the wars began. A complication entered from the side of Galicia, where Bishop Gelm?rez of Santiago de Compostela proposed that the infant Alfonso should reign in Le?n as well as in Galicia. The changes of side and fortune in these wars, not only by the three principals, but also by individual nobles, need not be followed, except to relate one incident which marked the first step toward the ultimate independence of Portugal. Teresa, a sister of Urraca, had married a French count, Henry of Lorraine, to whom (in 1095?) Alfonso VI granted territories called the county of Portugal in the northern

part of the land which now bears that name. These estates were held as a fief, subject to tribute and military service. Henry and later Teresa (on the former's death) profited by the civil strife to increase their holdings and acquire real strength. Urraca died in 1126, and matters were arranged by the recognition of the young Alfonso (Alfonso VII "the Emperor") as king in his grandfather's domain, while Alfonso the Battler gained some territories adjoining his kingdom of Aragon.[19]

[Sidenote: Alfonso "the Emperor."]

The death of Urraca did not end the internal strife in Christian Spain. For ten years there were wars with Teresa and her son Affonso Enr?quez of Portugal; there were wars, too, against Aragon and Navarre, following the death of Alfonso the Battler, out of which Alfonso VII procured some extensions of territory. When the century was nearly half gone Alfonso was able to turn energetically to an attack upon the Moslem states, especially between 1144 and 1147 during the second era of the _taifas_. His conquests were vast, but of brief duration, for the Almohades soon entered Spain to deprive him of what he had won. Like Ferdinand I before him Alfonso VII took the title of emperor, which then had a significance equivalent to that of sole temporal ruler of Christendom in succession to the Roman emperors. In the case of Ferdinand and Alfonso it may also have represented a protest against the like pretensions of the Holy Roman Emperors, then reigning principally in Germanic Europe. Alfonso seemed in a fair way to create a peninsula empire, for he was able to make the kings of Aragon and Navarre, the counts of Barcelona and Toulouse, various lesser princes of Spain and southern France, and some rulers of the Moslem _taifas_ swear fealty to him as their feudal sovereign. The imperial confederation had no real strength, however, for the spirit of separatism was as yet too deeply rooted. Alfonso himself demonstrated this by dividing his realm at his death, in 1157, into the two kingdoms of Castile and Le?n.


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