Berenguela the Great and Her Times (1180-1246)


Editor / Translator: Odile Cisneros
This biography presents a remarkable vision of Spanish society at the beginning of the 13th century by exploring the life of Berenguela of Castile (1180-1246), a queen who dominated public life for over forty years. Born at a time when the centers of Christian power were formed, Berenguela provided royal leadership in a crucial period of Iberian history. Within the context of contemporary studies of female power throughout history, Salvador Martínez brings to life Berenguela, a queen who, through her wisdom and resolve, transformed the Iberian political and cultural scene for years to come.

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H. Salvador Martínez, Ph.D (1972) in Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, is Professor Emeritus of Spanish and Medieval Culture at New York University. He has published extensively on Medieval and Renaissance literature and culture, including El humanism Medieval y Alfonso X el Sabio (2016), Alfonso X, el Sabio. Una biografia (2003), and Convivencia en la España del siglo XIII (2006).
List of Illustrations
Genealogical Table
Preface to the English Translation

Introduction: Berenguela and Her Hour

1 The Forging of a New Dynasty
 1 Genealogical Record of an Era
 2 Her Father, Alfonso VIII the Noble
 3 Her Mother, Eleanor Plantagenet
 4 The Wedding of Alfonso VIII and Eleanor
 5 The Family: Berenguela and Her Siblings

2 First Steps: The Hope of Castile
 1 Berenguela, the Firstborn
 2 A Privileged Childhood
 3 The Curia of San Esteban de Gormaz and the Future of Berenguela
 4 The Betrothal of Berenguela and Conrad and the Breaking Off of the Engagement
 5 The Education of a Queen

3 Alfonso IX of León: Supporter or Rival?
 1 A King’s Apprentice
 2 Alfonso, King of León
 3 Meeting with His Cousin. Knighted at Carrión
 4 His First Marriage Fails
 5 From the Treaty of Tordehumos to Alarcos
 6 “Coalition of Ungodliness”

4 Berenguela and Alfonso IX . A Political Marriage
 1 A Very Calculated Decision
 2 Eleanor and the People as Main Characters
 3 The Emotional Side
 4 The Wedding
 5 Berenguela, Queen of León
 6 The Queen’s Household

5 Declaration of Nullity
 1 Innocent III and the Peninsular Kingdoms
 2 The Reprobation of Rome
 3 The First Fruit of the Marriage
 4 Declaration of Nullity
 5 Challenge to the Papal Decree: Ratification of the Dowry

6 Marriage Annulment
 1 A New Century
 2 Birth of the Heir
 3 Annulment of the Marriage
 4 Last Days Together
 5 Impact of the Papal Sentence

7 Securing the Future. Berenguela Again on Center Stage
 1 The Paternal Household
 2 Illness of Her Father and Last Will
 3 Vindication:  Treaty of Cabreros
 4 Friendly Relations with Alfonso IX : A Host of Benefits
 5 The Foundations of the New Relations between Castile and León are Established:  The Treaty of Valladolid
 6 Between the Portuguese and the Leonese

8 Mother and Teacher
 1 Love and Pedagogy
 2 Recourse to the Supernatural
 3 Formation of Prince Fernando
 4 Courtly Education. Multicultural Perspectives
 5 Problems in the Kingdom. End of the Truce with the Muslims
 6 Tragedy in the Court

9 Berenguela at the Highest Point of the Reconquista
 1 Christendom on War Footing
 2 Berenguela’s Role in the Campaign
 3 The Echo of Battle: Berenguela’s Letter
 4 The Christian Kingdoms after the Victory

10 The Court That Berenguela Knew
 1 A New Courtly Lifestyle
 2 The Spirit of the Court: Parties, Fashion, and Luxury
 3 Culture and Letters
 4 Impact of the Court Environment

11 The End of an Era
 1 Year 1213. Last campaigns of Alfonso VIII
 2 The Collaboration of Alfonso IX
 3 Generational Change
 4 The Death of Her Father
 5 The Death of Her Mother

12 Regent of Castile
 1 Guardian of Enrique I and Regent of Castile
 2 Enrique I and Berenguela Co-Regents
 3 The Opposition to Berenguela
 4 Berenguela Gives Up Custody of Her Brother
 5 Berenguela against Álvaro Núñez de Lara: The Excesses of the ‘Count’

13 Civil War and Dramatic Ending
 1 New Positions Assumed
 2 Marriage of Enrique I with Mafalda of Portugal
 3 The Search for a Solution
 4 The Greatest Insult
 5 Recourse to Arms
 6 The Death of Enrique I
 7 Berenguela: Political Insight and ‘Exquisite Prudence’

14 Berenguela Queen of Castile
 1 Berenguela Recognized as Heir
 2 Transfer of the Crown to Her Son
 3 Fernando III , King
 4 Unexpected Proposal by Alfonso IX
 5 Final Adieu to Her Brother Enrique
 6 Capture of Álvaro Núñez de Lara
 7 Rapprochement between Fernando III and His Father
 8 End of the Laras

15 Berenguela’s Search for a Wife for Fernando. Stabilization of the Kingdom
 1 Fernando and Beatriz of Swabia
 2 Berenguela at Fernando III ’s Knighting Ceremony
 3 Government Philosophy: Continuity and Innovation
 4 Fernando III and the Nobility. Alliances and Tensions
 5 Berenguela’s Intervention: Marriage of the Infante Alfonso
 6 Marriage Diplomacy or the Power of Persuasion
 7 Birth of the First Grandson: Alfonso X

16 Facing Islam
 1 Paralysis in the Reconquest and Disintegration of Al-Andalus
 2 The Great Opportunity
 3 Fernando and His Mother: Supreme Destiny
  3.1 Miles Christi
 4 Berenguela in the Conquest of Capilla
 5 Family Relationships. Queen Beatriz’s Illness
 6 Rome’s Support

17 Berenguela: Framer of the Union of Castile and León
 1 Death of Alfonso IX
 2 Fernando III , King of León
 3 The Pact of the Two Mothers
 4 Public Relations Campaign
 5 Pending Issues at the Border
 6 Unexpected Crisis and New Intervention by Berenguela
 7 Death of Queen Beatriz

18 The Pearl of Al-Andalus. Family Occupations
 1 Berenguela and the Conquest of Córdoba
 2 A New Wife for Fernando
 3 Final Assault on al-Andalus. Last Farewell to His Mother
 4 Her Death
 5 Portrait

19 Political and Cultural Legacy
 1 Provider of the Kingdom
 2 Religious Patronage
 3 Berenguela and the Historiography of the 13th Century

Conclusion: “She Had Many Gifts”
 1 Prudent and Wise
 2 Berenguela and Fernando
 3 Maternity, Sexuality, and Politics
 4 Woman and Power
 5 Peacemaker

This work will be of interest to all researchers of medieval Spain, especially in the fields political and social institutions, the monarchy and queenship, as well as in historiography, literature, and religion and the arts.