Sylum Inspiration: Urraca of Leon

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Integridad: Council Member

 

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.

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 suggests 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. Her pregnancy and stillbirth at age 14 suggest that the marriage was indeed 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 Aragon.

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 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 – that is, the kingdom of her father – and transmit that inheritance in full to her own heir. Policies and events pursued by Alfonso VI – 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 – 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.

For More Information Contact the Vampire Council Library

It was during this time she met Rodrigo, they became lovers and when he told her about who he really was and the truth about Vampires, she agreed to be Turned and they were soon Mated. Though it had meant giving up her reign.

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