Ferdinand I of León


Ferdinand I of León

Ferdinand I, called the Great (in his time, "El Magno") (1017–León, 1065), son of Sancho III of Navarre and Mayor of Castile, was the Count of Castile from his uncle's death in 1029 and the King of León—through his wife—after defeating his brother-in-law in 1037 until his death in 1065, also becoming the first King of Castile. He was crowned Emperor of All Hispania in 1056.

Ferdinand was barely in his teens when García Sánchez, Count of Castile, was assassinated by a party of exiled Castilian noblemen as he was entering the church of St John the Baptist in León, where he had gone to marry Sancha, sister of Bermudo III. In his role as feudal overlord, Sancho III of Navarre nominated his younger son Ferdinand, born to the deceased count's sister Mayor, as successor, and further arranged for Ferdinand to marry García'a intended bride, Sancha of León.

On his father's death, Ferdinand continued as count of Castile, now recognizing the suzerainty of his brother-in-law Bermudo III, but they fell out and on 4 September 1037 Bermudo was killed in battle with Fernando at Tamarón. Ferdinand took possession of León by right of his wife, who was the heiress presumptive, and the next year had himself formally crowned king of León and Castile. He overran the Moorish section of Galicia, and set up his vassal as count in what is now northern Portugal. With northern Iberia consolidated, Ferdinand, in 1039, proclaimed himself emperor of Hispania. The use of the title was resented by the Emperor Henry III and Pope Victor II in 1055 as implying a claim to the headship of Christendom and as a usurpation of the Roman Empire. It did not, however, mean more than that the sovereign of León was the chief of the princes of the Iberian peninsula, and that Iberia was independent of the Holy Roman Empire. Ferdinand's brothers García V of Navarre and Ramiro I of Aragón opposed his power, but were both killed in ensuing battles, leaving Ferdinand preeminent.

Ferdinand died on the feast of Saint John the Baptist, 24 June 1065, in León, with many manifestations of ardent piety, having laid aside his crown and royal mantle, dressed in the robe of a monk and lying on a bier covered with ashes, which was placed before the altar of the Basilica of San Isidoro. At his death, Ferdinand divided up his kingdom between his three sons: Sancho, who received Castile; Alfonso, who received León; and Garcia, who received Galicia. His two daughters each received cities: Elvira received Toro and Urraca received Zamora. By giving them his dominion, he wanted them to abide by the split in the kingdom and respect his wishes. However, Sancho (born 1032), being the oldest, believed that he deserved more of the kingdom, and therefore sought to gain possession of the divided parts of the kingdom that had been given to his siblings.

(note: the Dutch version of Wikipedia says that Ferdinand died on 27 December 1065 ?)

References

*1911

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