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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote The defence of Calatrava


The defence of Calatrava.]

[Sidenote: Alfonso VIII and the overthrow of the Moslems.]

The next following reigns had their share of internal strife and one important event in the course of the Moslem wars,--the defence of Calatrava in 1158 by two Cistercian monks, who procured an army by proclaiming a crusade. Out of this event there came the founding in 1164 of the important military order of Calatrava. Alfonso VIII (1158-1214) inherited the throne of Castile while still a child. War and disorder followed until 1180, for the kings of Le?n and Navarre and various nobles endeavored as usual to profit for themselves at the expense of the newly enthroned monarch. At length Alfonso VIII, who was one of the ablest rulers of this period (both in internal organization and in external conquest), directed his attention to the reconquest from the Moslems. After a rapid succession of victories he was defeated, as already noted, at the battle of Alarcos, on which occasion the kings of Le?n and Navarre failed to accord him the aid they had promised. Wars followed against the two kings, but matters were at length adjusted and a tremendous army, including many foreigners, was raised to combat the Almohades. All seemed to be imbued with the crusading spirit, but most of the foreigners deserted before the issue presented itself. Nearly all the peoples of Christian Spain were represented in Alfonso's host, however, and together

they won the great battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212.

[Sidenote: The independence of Portugal.]

Meanwhile, the counts of Portugal had continued their policy of complete separation from Le?n and Castile, and had also extended their frontiers southward by successful wars against the Moslems. Affonso Enr?quez took the title of king, and this was recognized in 1143 by Alfonso VII, subject to the vassalage of the Portuguese monarch to Le?n. Affonso Enr?quez managed to avoid this condition by submitting his state to the sovereignty of the pope, who accepted it in 1144, though conferring only the title of duke on Affonso. A few years later Pope Alexander III recognized the Portuguese ruler as king. Thus Portugal withdrew from the current of peninsula unity, and established her independence in law and in fact.

[Sidenote: Saint Ferdinand and the crusades in Spain.]

Berenguela, daughter of Alfonso VIII of Castile, had married Alfonso IX (1188-1230) of Le?n, by whom she had a son, Ferdinand. Pope Innocent III brought about an annulment of the marriage on the ground of consanguinity, though he recognized the legitimacy of Ferdinand. On the death of Henry I of Castile in 1217 Berenguela was proclaimed queen, but granted the throne to her son, who as Ferdinand III, later Saint Ferdinand (San Fernando), was to prove an even greater monarch than his grandfather, Alfonso VIII. Wars with his father and with his nobles occupied the early years of his reign, but by 1225, having overcome his Christian enemies, he was able to renew the campaigns against the Moslems. City after city fell into his power; Cordova was taken in 1236; Murcia became tributary in 1241; and the culminating blow came with the siege of Seville, which surrendered to Ferdinand in 1248. Despite the fact that not a little crusading zeal entered into these campaigns and that Ferdinand himself was an ardent Christian, religious enthusiasm, even yet, was not as uncompromising as it later became. Ferdinand was an ally at one time of the Almohade emperor, whom he restored to his throne in Africa; he also accepted the alliance of the Moslem prince of Granada in the campaign against Seville; and other similar instances of his freedom from fanatical intolerance might be adduced. Nevertheless, he planned to overwhelm the Moslem authority, and would almost certainly have invaded Africa if he had lived a few years longer. His Christian spirit, however, was along practical and national lines. When Louis IX of France invited him to join in a crusade in the orient Ferdinand is said to have replied: "There is no lack of Moors in _my_ land." Not only by conquests but also by internal reforms he assisted in the development of Castilian unity. One external event of capital importance was the incorporation into Castile of the kingdom of Le?n in 1230 on the death of Alfonso IX, despite the latter's attempt to deliver his dominions to two daughters by a marriage previous to that with Berenguela. With Ferdinand's death in 1252 the era of the Castilian crusades came to an end.

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