Ellie Wood Keith Genealogy

Queen Urraca I De Castille

Queen Urraca I De Castille

Female 1081 - 1126  (45 years)

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  • Name Queen Urraca I De Castille 
    Born 1081 
    Gender Female 
    History Source :
    "Urraca (April 1079 \endash 8 March 1126) was Queen regnant of León, Castile, and Galicia, and claimed the imperial title as suo jure Empress of All the Spains from 1109 until her death in childbirth, as well as Empress of All Galicia.

    Urraca was the eldest surviving child of Alfonso VI of León with his second wife Constance of Burgundy, and as eldest legitimate child of her father was heiress presumptive from her birth until 1107, when Alfonso recognized his illegitimate son Sancho as his heir. Urraca became heiress presumptive again after Sancho's death the following year, when he was killed after the Battle of Uclés.

    First marriage and widowhood
    Urraca's place in the line of succession made her the focus of dynastic politics, and she became a child bride at age eight to Raymond of Burgundy, a mercenary adventurer. Author Bernard F. Reilly suggest that rather than a betrothal, the eight-year-old Urraca was fully wedded to Raymond of Burgundy as he almost immediately appears in protocol documents as Alfonso VI's son-in-law, a distinction that would not have been made without the marriage. Reilly doubts that the marriage was consummated until Urraca was 13, as she was placed under the protective guardianship of a trusted magnate. However, Urraca's pregnancy and stillbirth at age 14 suggests the marriage was consummated when she was 13 or 14 years old.

    Urraca's marriage to Raymond was part of Alfonso VI's diplomatic strategy to attract cross-Pyrenees alliances, and in 1105 she gave birth to a son, who would become Alfonso VII. However, after Raymond died in 1107, Urraca's father contracted with Alfonso I of Aragon, known as the Battler, for a dynastic marriage with Urraca, opening the opportunity for uniting León-Castile with Aragón.

    Marriage negotiations were still underway when Alfonso VI died and Urraca became queen. Many of Alfonso VI's advisers and leading magnates in the kingdom formed a "quiet opposition" to the marriage of the Queen to the King of Aragon. According to Bernard F. Reilly, these magnates feared the influence the King of Aragon might attempt to wield over Urraca and over Leonese politics.

    Urraca protested against the marriage but honoured her late father's wishes (and the Royal Council's advice) and continued with the marriage negotiations, though she and her father's closest advisers were growing weary of Alfonso I's demands. Despite the advisers' initial opposition, the prospect of Count Henry of Portugal filling any power vacuum led them to go ahead with the marriage. As events would unfold, these advisers underestimated Urraca's political prowess, and later advised her to end the marriage.

    Second marriage
    The marriage of Urraca and Alfonso I almost immediately sparked rebellions in Galicia and scheming by her illegitimate half-sister Theresa and brother-in-law Henry, the Countess and Count of Portugal.

    As their relationship soured, Urraca accused Alfonso of physical abuse, and by May 1110 Urraca separated from Alfonso. In addition to her objections to Alfonso's handling of rebels, the couple had a falling-out over his execution of one of the rebels who had surrendered to the queen, to whom the queen was inclined to be merciful. Additionally, as Urraca was married to someone many in the kingdom objected to, the queen's son and heir became a rallying point for opponents to the marriage.

    Estrangement between husband and wife escalated from discrete and simmering hostilities into open armed warfare between the Leonese-Castilians and the Aragonese. An alliance between Alfonso of Aragon and Henry of Portugal culminated in the 1111 Battle of Candespina in which Urraca's lover and chief supporter Gómez González was killed. He was soon replaced in both roles by another count, Pedro González de Lara, who took up the fight and would father of two of Urraca's children. By the fall of 1112 a truce was brokered between Urraca and Alfonso with their marriage annulled. Though Urraca recovered Asturias, Leon, and Galicia, Alfonso occupied a significant portion of Castile (where Urraca enjoyed large support), while her half-sister Theresa and her husband Count Henry of Portugal occupied Zamora and Extremadura. Recovering these regions and expanding into Muslim lands would occupy much of Urraca's foreign policy.

    According to author Bernard F. Reilly, the measure of success for Urraca's rule was her ability to restore and protect the integrity of her inheritance \endash that is, the kingdom of her father \endash and transmit that inheritance in full to her own heir. Policies and events pursued by Alfonso VI \endash namely legitimizing her brother and thereby providing an opportunity for her illegitimate half-sister to claim a portion of the patrimony, as well as the forced marriage with Alfonso I of Aragon \endash contributed in large part to the challenges Urraca faced upon her succession. Additionally, the circumstance of Urraca's gender added a distinctive role-reversal dimension to diplomacy and politics, which Urraca used to her advantage.

    Urraca is characterized in the Historia Compostelana as prudent, modest, and with good sense. According to Reilly, the Historia Compostelana also attributes her "failings" to her gender, "the weakness and changeability of women, feminine perversity, and calls her a Jezebel" for her liaisons with her leading magnates, with at least one relationship producing an illegitimate son. These observations were hardly neutral or dispassionate, according to Reilly, who wrote: "[T]here is no question that the queen is in control, perhaps all too much in control, of events." Urraca's use of sex in politics should be viewed more as a strategy that provided the queen with allies but without any masters.

    Death and legacy
    As queen, Urraca rose to the challenges presented to her and her solutions were pragmatic ones, according to Reilly, and laid the foundation for the reign of her son Alfonso VII, who in spite of the opposition of Urraca's lover Pedro González de Lara succeeded to the throne of a kingdom whole and at peace at Urraca's death in 1126.
    Died 8 Mar, 1126  Spain, age 45 Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I235  Ellie Wood Keith
    Last Modified 14 May 2017 

    Father Alfonso VI 'The Brave', King of Castile and León,   b. Bef Jun, 1040, Spain Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Jul, 1109, Spain Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 69 years) 
    Mother Constance De Bourgogne,   b. 8 May, 1046, Bourgogne, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1092, Spain at age 46 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 45 years) 
    Family ID F112  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Ramond De Bourgogne,   b. 1059, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Mar, 1107, Spain, age 48 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 48 years) 
    +1. Alphonse VII, King of Castile and León,   b. 1 Mar, 1105, Caldas DE Reis, Galice, Spain Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Aug, 1157, La Fresneda, Aragon, Spain, age 52 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 52 years)  [putative]
    Last Modified 13 May 2017 
    Family ID F111  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Urraca, Queen of Castile and Leon
    Urraca, Queen of Castile and Leon

  • Sources 
    1. [S13] Genealogy-Knights from Continental Europe to England'Ireland, Patrick R. Knight, (http://knight-france.com/geneal/names/1336.htm), http://knight-france.com/geneal/names/2048.htm.