Ferdinand II of Leon
Ferdinand II was King of León and Galicia
Kingdom of Galicia
The Kingdom of Galicia was a political entity located in southwestern Europe, which at its territorial zenith occupied the entire northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Founded by Suebic king Hermeric in the year 409, the Galician capital was established in Braga, being the first kingdom which...

 from 1157 to his death.


Born in Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

, Castile
Castile (historical region)
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...

, he was the son of King Alfonso VII of León and Castile and of Berenguela
Berenguela of Barcelona
Berenguela or Berengaria of Barcelona was Queen consort of Castile, León and Galicia She was the daughter of Raimon III of Barcelona and Dulce Aldonza Milhaud...

, of the House of Barcelona
House of Barcelona
The House of Barcelona was a medieval dynasty that ruled the County of Barcelona continuously from 878 and the Crown of Aragon from 1137 . From the male part they descend from the Bellonids, the descendants of Wifred the Hairy...

. At his father's death, he received León
Kingdom of León
The Kingdom of León was an independent kingdom situated in the northwest region of the Iberian Peninsula. It was founded in AD 910 when the Christian princes of Asturias along the northern coast of the peninsula shifted their capital from Oviedo to the city of León...

 and Galicia
Kingdom of Galicia
The Kingdom of Galicia was a political entity located in southwestern Europe, which at its territorial zenith occupied the entire northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Founded by Suebic king Hermeric in the year 409, the Galician capital was established in Braga, being the first kingdom which...

, while his brother Sancho
Sancho III of Castile
Sancho III was King of Castile and Toledo for one year, from 1157 to 1158. During the Reconquista, in which he took an active part, he founded the Order of Calatrava...

 received Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

 and Toledo
Kingdom of Toledo
The Kingdom of Toledo was the juridical definition of a Christian medieval kingdom in what is now central Spain, created after Alfonso VI of León's capture of Toledo in 1085.-Background:...

. Ferdinand earned the reputation of a good knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 and hard fighter, but did not display political or organising faculty.

He spent most of his first year as king in a dispute with his powerful nobles and an invasion by his brother Sancho III. In 1158 the two brother met at Sahagun, and peacefully solved the heritage matters. However, Sancho died in the same year, being succeeded by his child son Alfonso VIII
Alfonso VIII of Castile
Alfonso VIII , called the Noble or el de las Navas, was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death and King of Toledo. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate...

, while Ferdinand occupied parts of Castile. The boundary troubles with Castile restarted in 1164: he then met at Soria with the Lara family, who represented Alfonso VIII, and a truce was established, allowing him to move against the Muslim Almoravids who still held much of southern Spain, and to capture the cities of Alcántara
Alcántara is a municipality in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain, on the Tagus, near Portugal. The toponym is from the Arabic word al-QanTarah meaning "the bridge".-History:...

 and Alburquerque. In the same year, Ferdinand defeated King Afonso I of Portugal
Afonso I of Portugal
Afonso I or Dom Afonso Henriques , more commonly known as Afonso Henriques , nicknamed "the Conqueror" , "the Founder" or "the Great" by the Portuguese, and El-Bortukali and Ibn-Arrik by the Moors whom he fought, was the first King of Portugal...

, who, in 1163, had occupied Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

 in retaliation for the repopulation of the area ordered by the King of León.

In 1165 he married Urraca
Urraca of Portugal
Infanta Urraca of Portugal was a Portuguese infanta , daughter of Afonso I, 1st King of Portugal and his wife Maud of Savoy.Urraca was born at Coimbra. She married Ferdinand II of León with whom she had Alfonso IX of León. This marriage failed to prevent her father Afonso I from declaring war on...

, daughter of Afonso of Portugal. However, strife with Portugal was not put to an end by this move. In 1168 Afonso again felt menaced by Ferdinand II's repopulation of the area of Ciudad Rodrigo
Ciudad Rodrigo
Ciudad Rodrigo is a small cathedral city in the province of Salamanca, in western Spain, with a population of about 14,000. It is the seat of a judicial district as well....

: he then attacked Galicia, occupying Tui
As a noun, Tui may refer to:* Tu'i , a title of nobility in Polynesia and some of Melanesia* Tui Awards, New Zealand's annual music industry awards* Tui , a brand of New Zealand beer produced by Tui Breweries...

 and the territory of Xinzo de Limia
Xinzo de Limia
Xinzo de Limia , is a town in the province of Ourense, Autonomous Community of Galicia, Spain. It lies on the important Autovia das Rias Baixas in the fertile valley of Antela, approximately 33 km from Verín and 43 km from Ourense...

, former fiefs of his mother. However, as his troops were also besieging the Muslim citadel of Badajoz
Badajoz is the capital of the Province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain, situated close to the Portuguese border, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid–Lisbon railway. The population in 2007 was 145,257....

, Ferdinand II was able to push the Portuguese out of Galicia and to rush to Badajoz. When Afonso saw the Leonese arrive tried to flee, but he was disabled by a broken leg caused by a fall from his horse, and made prisoner at one the city's gates. Afonso was obliged to surrender as his ransom almost all the conquests he had made in Galicia in the previous year. In the peace signed at Pontevedra the following year, Ferdinand got back twenty five castles, and the cities of Cáceres
Cáceres, Spain
Cáceres is the capital of the same name province, in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain. , its population was 91,131 inhabitants. The municipio has a land area of 1,750.33 km², and is the largest in geographical extension in Spain....

, Badajoz, Trujillo, Santa Cruz and Montánchez
Montánchez is a town in Spain, in the province of Caceres, Extremadura.It is situated at , some 702 metres above sea level. The municipality has an approximate population of just over 2,000.....

, previously lost by León. When in the same years the Almoravids laid siege to the Portuguese city of Santarém
Santarém, Portugal
Santarém is a city in the Santarém Municipality in Portugal. The city itself has a population of 28,760 and the entire municipality has 64,124 inhabitants.It is the capital of Santarém District....

, Ferdinand II came to help his father-in-law, and helped to free the city from the menace.

Also in 1170, Ferdinand created the military-religious Order of Santiago de Compostela, with the task to protect the pilgrim travelling to the tomb of the apostle James in the cathedral of Compostela. The order had its seat first in Cáceres and then in Uclés
Uclés is a municipality located in the province of Cuenca, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. According to the 2004 census , the municipality has a population of 287 inhabitants....


In 1175 Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

 annulled Ferdinand II and Urraca of Portugal's marriage due to consanguinuity. The King remarried to Teresa Fernández de Traba, daughter of count Fernando Pérez de Traba, and widow of count Nuño Pérez de Lara
Nuño Pérez de Lara
Nuño Pérez de Lara was a Castilian nobleman, politician and military leader. He began his career at the court of the Emperor Alfonso VII, during whose reign he took part in the repoblación of the Extremadura and the defence of the Almohad frontier...

. In 1178 war against Castile broke out. Ferdinand surprised his nephew Alfonso VIII, occupied Castrojeriz and Dueñas
Dueñas may refer to:*Dueñas, Iloilo, Philippines*Dueñas, Palencia, Spain...

, both formerly lands of Teresa's first husband. The war was settled in 1180 with the peace of Tordesillas. In the same year his wife Teresa died while bearing their second son.

In 1184, after a series of failed attempts, the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf
Abu Yaqub Yusuf
Abu Ya`qub Yusuf or Yusuf I was the second Almohad Amir or caliph. He reigned from 1163 until 1184. He had the Giralda in Seville built....

 invaded Portugal with an army recruited in Northern Africa and, in May, besieged Afonso I in Santarém; the Portuguese were helped by the arrival of the armies sent by the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, in June, and by Ferdinand II in July.

In 1185 Ferdinand married for the third time to Urraca López de Haro (daughter of Lope Díaz, lord of Biscay
Biscay is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao...

, Nájera
Nájera is a small town located in the "Rioja Alta" region of La Rioja, Spain on the river Najerilla. Nájera is a stopping point on the Way of St James.-History:...

 and Haro
Haro, La Rioja
Haro is a town and municipality in the northwest of La Rioja province in northern Spain. It is known for its fine red wine and every year the Haro Wine Festival is held where locals hold a wine battle....

), who was his mistress since 1180. Urraca tried in vain to have Alfonso IX
Alfonso IX of Leon
Alfonso IX was king of León and Galicia from the death of his father Ferdinand II in 1188 until his own death...

, first son of Ferdinand II, declared illegitimate, to favour her son Sancho.

Ferdinand II died in 1188 at Benavente
Benavente may refer to: Benavente, Portugal— a municipality in Portugal Benavente, Zamora— a municipality in Zamora province, Spain Benavente, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico one of the five Barrios that make up Hormigueros.As a surname...

, while returning from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He was buried in the cathedral of Compostela.


Ferdinand married Urraca around 1165, they had one son:
  • Alfonso IX
    Alfonso IX of Leon
    Alfonso IX was king of León and Galicia from the death of his father Ferdinand II in 1188 until his own death...


Following her repudiation, he formed a relationship with Teresa Fernández de Traba, daughter of count Fernando Pérez de Traba, and in August 1179 he married her, having:
  • Ferdinand (1178–1187), legitimized through his parents' subsequent marriage
  • child, b. and d. 6 February 1180, whose birth led to the death of its mother

He then formed a liaison with Urraca López de Haro
Urraca López de Haro
Urraca López de Haro was the Queen consort of León . She was daughter of Count Lope Díaz de Haro, Lord of Biscay and his wife Aldonza Ruiz. In 1185/1187 she married King Ferdinand II of León...

, daughter of Lope Díaz I de Haro
Lope Díaz I de Haro
Lope Díaz I de Haro was the fourth Lord of Biscay . He was an important magnate in Castile during the reign of the Emperor Alfonso VII and in the kingdom of his son and grandson. Between 1147 and 1168 he is recorded as governing Old Castile on behalf of the crown.-Political career:Lope was the...

, who he married in May 1187, having:
  • García (1182–1184)
  • Alfonso, b.1184, legitimized through the subsequent marriage of his parents, died before his father.
  • Sancho (1186–1220), lord of Fines


Further reading

  • Szabolcs de Vajay, "From Alfonso VIII to Alfonso X" in Studies in Genealogy and Family History in Tribute to Charles Evans on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday, 1989, pp. 366–417.

External links

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