1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alphonso
ALPHONSO, the common English spelling of Affonso, Alonso and Alfonso, which are respectively the Galician, the Leonese and the Castilian forms of Ildefonso (Ildefonsus), the name of a saint and archbishop of Toledo in the 7th century. The name has been borne by a number of Portuguese and Spanish kings, who are distinguished collectively below.
Portuguese Kings.—Alphonso I. (Affonso Henriques), son of Henry of Burgundy, count of Portugal, and Teresa of Castile, was born at Guimarães in 1094. He succeeded his Kings of
Portugal. father in 1112, and was placed under the tutelage of his mother. When he came of age, he was obliged to wrest from her by force that power which her vices and incapacity had rendered disastrous to the state. Being proclaimed sole ruler of Portugal in 1128, he defeated his mother’s troops near Guimarães, making her at the same time his prisoner. He also vanquished Alphonso Raymond of Castile, his mother’s ally, and thus freed Portugal from dependence on the crown of Leon. Next turning his arms against the Moors, he obtained, on the 26th July 1139, the famous victory of Ourique, and immediately after was proclaimed king by his soldiers. He assembled the Cortes of the kingdom at Lamego, where he received the crown from the archbishop of Braganza; the assembly also declaring that Portugal was no longer a dependency of Leon. Alphonso continued to distinguish himself by his exploits against the Moors, from whom he wrested Santarem in 1146 and Lisbon in 1147. Some years later he became involved in a war that had broken out among the kings of Spain; and in 1167, being disabled during an engagement near Badajoz by a fall from his horse, he was made prisoner by the soldiers of the king of Leon, and was obliged to surrender as his ransom almost all the conquests he had made in Galicia. In 1184, in spite of his great age, he had still sufficient energy to relieve his son Sancho, who was besieged in Santarem by the Moors. He died shortly after, in 1185. Alphonso was a man of gigantic stature, being 7 ft. high according to some authors. He is revered as a saint by the Portuguese, both on account of his personal character and as the founder of their kingdom.
Alphonso II., “the Fat,” was born in 1185, and succeeded his father, Sancho I., in 1211. He was engaged in war with the Moors and gained a victory over them at Alcácer do Sal in 1217. He also endeavoured to weaken the power of the clergy and to apply a portion of their enormous revenues to purposes of national utility. Having been excommunicated for this by the pope (Honorius III.), he promised to make amends to the church; but he died in 1223 before doing anything to fulfil his engagement. He framed a code which introduced several beneficial changes into the laws of his kingdom.
Alphonso III., son of Alphonso II., was born in 1210, and succeeded his brother, Sancho II., in 1248. Besides making war upon the Moors, he was, like his father, frequently embroiled with the church. In his reign Algarve became part of Portugal. He died in 1279.
Alphonso IV. was born in 1290, and in 1325 succeeded his father, Dionis, whose death he had hastened by his intrigues and rebellions. Hostilities with the Castilians and with the Moors occupied many years of his reign, during which he gained some successes; but by consenting to the barbarous murder of Iñez de Castro, who was secretly espoused to his son Peter, he has fixed an indelible stain on his character. Enraged at this barbarous act, Peter put himself at the head of an army and devastated the whole of the country between the Douro and the Minho before he was reconciled to his father. Alphonso died almost immediately after, on the 12th of May 1357.
Alphonso V., “Africano”, was born in 1432, and succeeded his father Edward in 1438. During his minority he was placed under the regency, first of his mother and latterly of his uncle, Dom Pedro. In 1448 he assumed the reins of government and at the same time married Isabella, Dom Pedro’s daughter. In the following year, being led by what he afterwards discovered to be false representations, he declared Dom Pedro a rebel and defeated his army in a battle at Alfarrobeira, in which his uncle was slain. In 1458, and with more numerous forces in 1471, he invaded the territories of the Moors in Africa and by his successes there acquired his surname of “the African.” On his return to Portugal in 1475 his ambition led him into Castile, where two princesses were disputing his succession to the throne. Having been affianced to the Princess Juana, Alphonso caused himself to be proclaimed king of Castile and Leon; but in the following year he was defeated at Toro by Ferdinand, the husband of Isabella of Castile. He went to France to obtain the assistance of Louis XI., but finding himself deceived by the French monarch, he abdicated in favour of his son John. When he returned to Portugal, however, he was compelled by his son to resume the sceptre, which he continued to wield for two years longer. After that he fell into a deep melancholy and retired into a monastery at Cintra, where he died in 1481.
Alphonso VI., the second king of the house of Braganza, was born in 1643 and succeeded his father in 1656. In 1667 he was compelled by his wife and brother to abdicate the throne and was banished to the island of Terceira. These acts, which the vices of Alphonso had rendered necessary, were sanctioned by the Cortes in 1668. He died at Cintra in 1675.
Spanish Kings.—From Alphonso I. (739–757) to Alphonso V. (999–1028) the personal history of the Spanish kings of this Kings of medieval and modern Spain. name is unknown and their very dates are disputed. Alphonso I. is said to have married Ormesinda, daughter of Pelayo, who was raised on the shield in Asturias as king of the Goths after the Arab conquest. He is also said to have been the son of Peter, duke of Cantabria. It is not improbable that he was in fact an hereditary chief of the Basques, but no contemporary records exist. His title of “the Catholic” itself may very well have been the invention of later chronicles. Alphonso II. (789–842), his reputed grandson, bears the name of “the Chaste.” The Arab writers who speak of the Spanish kings of the north-west as the Beni-Alfons, appear to recognize them as a royal stock derived from Alphonso I. The events of his reign are in reality unknown. Poets of a later generation invented the story of the secret marriage of his sister Ximena with Sancho, count of Saldaña, and the feats of their son Bernardo del Carpio. Bernardo is the hero of a cantar de gesta (chanson de geste) written to please the anarchical spirit of the nobles.
The first faint glimmerings of medieval Spanish history begin with Alphonso III. (866–914) surnamed “the Great.” Of him also nothing is really known except the bare facts of his reign and of his comparative success in consolidating the kingdom known as “of Galicia” or “of Oviedo” during the weakness of the Omayyad princes of Cordova. Alphonso IV. (924–931) has a faint personality. He resigned the crown to his brother Ramiro and went into a religious house. A certain instability of character is revealed by the fact that he took up arms against Ramiro, having repented of his renunciation of the world. He was defeated, blinded and sent back to die in the cloister of Sahagun. It fell to Alphonso V. (999–1028) to begin the work of reorganizing the Christian kingdom of the north-west after a most disastrous period of civil war and Arab inroads. Enough is known of him to justify the belief that he had some of the qualities of a soldier and a statesman. His name, and that of his wife Geloria (Elvira), are associated with the grant of the first franchises of Leon. He was killed by an arrow while besieging the town of Viseu in northern Portugal, then held by the Mahommedans. (For all these kings see the article Spain: History.)
With Alphonso VI. (1065–1109) we come to a sovereign of strong personal character. Much romance has gathered round his name. In the cantar de gesta of the Cid he plays the part attributed by medieval poets to the greatest kings, to Charlemagne himself. He is alternately the oppressor and the victim of heroic and self-willed nobles—the idealized types of the patrons for whom the jongleurs and troubadours sang. (For the events of his reign see the article Spain: History.) He is the hero of a cantar de gesta which, like all but a very few of the early Spanish songs, like the cantar of Bernardo del Carpio and the Infantes of Lara, exists now only in the fragments incorporated in the chronicle of Alphonso the Wise or in ballad form. His flight from the monastery of Sahagun, where his brother Sancho endeavoured to imprison him, his chivalrous friendship for his host Almamun of Toledo, caballero aunque mon, a gentleman although a Moor, the passionate loyalty of his vassal Peranzules and his brotherly love for his sister Urraca of Zamora, may owe something to the poet who took him for hero. They are the answer to the poet of the nobles who represented the king as having submitted to take a degrading oath at the hands of Ruy Diaz of Bivar (the Cid), in the church of Santa Gadea at Burgos, and as having then persecuted the brave man who defied him. When every allowance is made, Alphonso VI. stands out as a strong man fighting for his own hand, which in his case was the hand of the king whose interest was law and order and who was the leader of the nation in the reconquest. On the Arabs he impressed himself as an enemy very fierce and astute, but as a keeper of his word. A story of Mahommedan origin, which is probably no more historical than the oath of Santa Gadea, tells of how he allowed himself to be tricked by Ibn Ammar, the favourite of Al Motamid, the king of Seville. They played chess for an extremely beautiful table and set of men, belonging to Ibn Ammar. Table and men were to go to the king if he won. If Ibn Ammar gained he was to name the stake. The latter did win and demanded that the Christian king should spare Seville. Alphonso kept his word. Whatever truth may lie behind the romantic tales of Christian and Mahommedan, we know that Alphonso represented in a remarkable way the two great influences then shaping the character and civilization of Spain. At the instigation, it is said, of his second wife, Constance of Burgundy, he brought the Cistercians into Spain, established them in Sahagun, chose a French Cistercian, Bernard, as the first archbishop of Toledo after the reconquest in 1085, married his daughters, legitimate and illegitimate, to French princes, and in every way forwarded the spread of French influence—then the greatest civilizing force in Europe. He also drew Spain nearer to the papacy, and it was his decision which established the Roman ritual in place of the old missal of Saint Isidore—the so-called Mozarabic. On the other hand he was very open to Arabic influence. He protected the Mahommedans among his subjects and struck coins with inscriptions in Arabic letters. After the death of Constance he perhaps married and he certainly lived with Zaida, said to have been a daughter of “Benabet” (Al Motamid), Mahommedan king of Seville. Zaida, who became a Christian under the name of Maria or Isabel, bore him the only son among his many children, Sancho, whom Alphonso designed to be his successor, but who was slain at the battle of Uclés in 1108. Women play a great part in Alphonso’s life.
[Alphonso I., king of Aragon, “the Battler,” who married Urraca, daughter of Alphonso VI. (1104–1134), is sometimes counted the VIIth in the line of the kings of Leon and Castile. A passionate fighting-man (he fought twenty-nine battles against Christian or Moor), he was married to Urraca, widow of Raymond of Burgundy, a very dissolute and passionate woman. The marriage had been arranged by Alphonso VI. in 1106 to unite the two chief Christian states against the Almoravides, and to supply them with a capable military leader. But Urraca was tenacious of her right as proprietary queen and had not learnt chastity in the polygamous household of her father. Husband and wife quarrelled with the brutality of the age and came to open war. Alphonso had the support of one section of the nobles who found their account in the confusion. Being a much better soldier than any of his opponents he gained victories at Sepúlveda and Fuente de la Culebra, but his only trustworthy supporters were his Aragonese, who were not numerous enough to keep down Castile and Leon. The marriage of Alphonso and Urraca was declared null by the pope, as they were third cousins. The king quarrelled with the church, and particularly the Cistercians, almost as violently as with his wife. As he beat her, so he drove Archbishop Bernard into exile and expelled the monks of Sahagun. He was finally compelled to give way in Castile and Leon to his stepson Alphonso, son of Urraca and her first husband. The intervention of Pope Calixtus II. brought about an arrangement between the old man and the young. Alphonso the Battler won his great successes in the middle Ebro, where he expelled the Moors from Saragossa; in the great raid of 1125, when he carried away a large part of the subject-Christians from Granada, and in the south-west of France, where he had rights as king of Navarre. Three years before his death he made a will leaving his kingdom to the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Knights of the Sepulchre, which his subjects refused to carry out. He was a fierce, violent man, a soldier and nothing else, whose piety was wholly militant. Though he died in 1134 after an unsuccessful battle with the Moors at Braga, he has a great place in the reconquest.]
Alphonso VII., “the Emperor” (1126–1157), is a dignified and somewhat enigmatical figure. A vague tradition had always assigned the title of emperor to the sovereign who held Leon as the most direct representative of the Visigoth kings, who were themselves the representatives of the Roman empire. But though given in charters, and claimed by Alphonso VI. and the Battler, the title had been little more than a flourish of rhetoric. Alphonso VII. was crowned emperor in 1135 after the death of the Battler. The weakness of Aragon enabled him to make his superiority effective. He appears to have striven, for the formation of a national unity, which Spain had never possessed since the fall of the Visigoth kingdom. The elements he had to deal with could not be welded together. Alphonso was at once a patron of the church, and a protector if not a favourer of the Mahommedans, who formed a large part of his subjects. His reign ended in an unsuccessful campaign against the rising power of the Almohades. Though he was not actually defeated, his death in the pass of Muradel in the Sierra Morena, while on his way back to Toledo, occurred in circumstances which showed that no man could be what he claimed to be— “king of the men of the two religions.” His personal character does not stand out with the emphasis of those of Alphonso VI. or the Battler. Yet he was a great king, the type and to some extent the victim of the confusions of his age— Christian in creed and ambition, but more than half oriental in his household.
Alphonso VIII. (1158—1214), king of Castile only, and grandson of Alphonso VII., is a great name in Spanish history, for he led the coalition of Christian princes and foreign crusaders who broke the power of the Almohades at the battle of the Navas de Tolosa in 1212. The events of his reign are dealt with under Spain. His personal history is that of many medieval kings. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his father, Sancho, at the age of a year and a half. Though proclaimed king, he was regarded as a mere name by the unruly nobles to whom a minority was convenient. The devotion of a squire of his household, who carried him on the pommel of his saddle to the stronghold of San Esteban de Gormaz, saved him from falling into the hands of the contending factions of Castro and Lara, or of his uncle Ferdinand of Leon, who claimed the regency. The loyalty of the town of Avila protected his youth. He was barely fifteen when he came forth to do a man’s work by restoring his kingdom to order. It was only by a surprise that he recovered his capital Toledo from the hands of the Laras. His marriage with Leonora of Aquitaine, daughter of Henry II. of England, brought him under the influence of the greatest governing intellect of his time. Alphonso VIII. was the founder of the first Spanish university, the studium generale of Palencia, which, however, did not survive him.
Alphonso IX. (1188–1230) of Leon, first cousin of Alphonso VIII. of Castile, and numbered next to him as being a junior member of the family (see the article Spain for the division of the kingdom and the relationship), is said by Ibn Khaldun to have been called the “Baboso” or Slobberer, because he was subject to fits of rage during which he foamed at the mouth. Though he took a part in the work of the reconquest, this king is chiefly remembered by the difficulties into which his successive marriages led him with the pope. He was first married to his cousin Teresa of Portugal, who bore him two daughters, and a son who died young. The marriage was declared null by the pope, to whom Alphonso paid no attention till he was presumably tired of his wife. It cannot have been his conscience which constrained him to leave Teresa, for his next step was to marry Berengaria of Castile, who was his second cousin. For this act of contumacy the king and kingdom were placed under interdict. The pope was, however, compelled to modify his measures by the threat that if the people could not obtain the services of religion they would not support the clergy, and that heresy would spread. The king was left under interdict personally, but to that he showed himself indifferent, and he had the support of his clergy. Berengaria left him after the birth of five children, and the king then returned to Teresa, to whose daughters he left his kingdom by will.
Alphonso X., El Sabio, or the learned (1252–1284), is perhaps the most interesting, though he was far from being the most capable, of the Spanish kings of the middle ages. (His merits as a writer are dealt with in the article Spain: Literature). His scientific fame is based mainly on his encouragement of astronomy. It may be pointed out, however, that the story which represents him as boasting of his ability to make a better world than this is of late authority. If he said so, he was speaking of the Ptolemaic cosmogony as known to him through the Arabs, and his vaunt was a humorous proof of his scientific instinct. As a ruler he showed legislative capacity, and a very commendable wish to provide his kingdoms with a code of laws and a consistent judicial system. The Fuero Real was undoubtedly his work, and he began the code called the Siete Partidas, which, however, was only promulgated by his great-grandson. Unhappily for himself and for Spain, he wanted the singleness of purpose required by a ruler who would devote himself to organization, and also the combination of firmness with temper needed for dealing with his nobles. His descent from the Hohenstaufen through his mother, a daughter of the emperor Philip, gave him claims to represent the Swabian line. The choice of the German electors, after the death of Conrad IV. in 1254, misled him into wild schemes which never took effect but caused immense expense. To obtain money he debased the coinage, and then endeavoured to prevent a rise in prices by an arbitrary tariff. The little trade of his dominions was ruined, and the burghers and peasants were deeply offended. His nobles, whom he tried to cow by sporadic acts of violence, rebelled against him. His second son, Sancho, enforced his claim to be heir, in preference to the children of Ferdinand de la Cerda, the elder brother who died in Alphonso’s life. Son and nobles alike supported the Moors, when he tried to unite the nation in a crusade; and when he allied himself with the rulers of Morocco they denounced him as an enemy of the faith. A reaction in his favour was beginning in his later days, but he died defeated and deserted at Seville, leaving a will by which he endeavoured to exclude Sancho and a heritage of civil war.
Alphonso XI. (1312–1350) is variously known among Spanish kings as the Avenger or the Implacable, and as “he of the Rio Salado.” The first two names he earned by the ferocity with which he repressed the disorder of the nobles after a long minority; the third by his victory over the last formidable African invasion of Spain in 1340. The chronicler who records his death prays that “God may be merciful to him, for he was a very great king.” The mercy was needed. Alphonso XI. never went to the insane lengths of his son Peter the Cruel, but he could be abundantly sultanesque in his methods. He killed for reasons of state without form of trial, while his open neglect of his wife, Maria of Portugal, and his ostentatious passion for Leonora de Guzman, who bore him a large family of sons, set Peter an example which he did not fail to better. It may be that his early death, during the great plague of 1350, at the siege of Gibraltar, only averted a desperate struggle with his legitimate son, though it was a misfortune in that it removed a ruler of eminent capacity, who understood his subjects well enough not to go too far.
[Four other kings of Aragon, besides the Battler, bore the name of Alphonso. All these princes held territory in the south-east of France, and had a close connexion with Italy. Alphonso II. of Aragon (1162–1196) was the son of Raymond Berenger, count of Barcelona, and of Petronilla, niece of Alphonso the Battler, and daughter of Ramiro surnamed the Monk. He succeeded to the county of Barcelona in 1162 on the death of his father, at the age of eleven, and in 1164 his mother renounced her rights in Aragon in his favour. Though christened Ramon (Raymond), the favourite name of his line, he reigned as Alphonso out of a wish to please his Aragonese subjects, to whom the memory of the Battler was dear. As king of Aragon he took a share in the work of the reconquest, by helping his cousin Alphonso VIII. of Castile to conquer Cuenca, and to suppress one Pero Ruiz de Azagra, who was endeavouring to carve out a kingdom for himself in the debatable land between Christian and Mahommedan. But his double position as ruler both north and south of the eastern Pyrenees distracted his policy. In character and interests he was rather Provençal than Spanish, a favourer of the troubadours, no enemy of the Albigensian heretics, and himself a poet in the southern French dialect. Alphonso III. of Aragon (1285-1291), the insignificant son of the notable Peter III., succeeded to the Spanish and Provençal possessions of his father, but his short reign did not give him time even to marry. His inability to resist the demands of his nobles left a heritage of trouble in Aragon. By recognising their right to rebel in the articles called the Union he helped to make anarchy permanent. Alphonso IV. of Aragon (1327-1336) was a weak man whose reign was insignificant. Alphonso V. of Aragon (1416-1458), surnamed the Magnanimous, who represented the old line of the counts of Barcelona only through women, and was on his father's side descended from the Castilian house of Trastamara, is one of the most conspicuous figures of the early Renaissance. No man of his time had a larger share of the quality called by the Italians of the day “virtue.” By hereditary right king of Sicily, by the will of Joanna II. and his own sword king of Naples, he fought and triumphed amid the exuberant development of individuality which accompanied the revival of learning and the birth of the modern world. When a prisoner in the hands of Filipo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, in 1435, Alphonso persuaded his ferocious and crafty captor to let him go by making it plain that it was the interest of Milan not to prevent the victory of the Aragonese party in Naples. Like a true prince of the Renaissance he favoured men of letters whom he trusted to preserve his reputation to posterity. His devotion to the classics was exceptional even in that time. He halted his army in pious respect before the birthplace of a Latin writer, carried Livy or Caesar on his campaigns with him, and his panegyrist Panormita did not think it an incredible lie to say that the king was cured of an illness by having a few pages of Quintus Curtius read to him. The classics had not refined his taste, for he was amused by setting the wandering scholars, who swarmed to his court, to abuse one another in the indescribably filthy Latin scolding matches which were then the fashion. Alphonso founded nothing, and after his conquest of Naples in 1442 ruled by his mercenary soldiers, and no less mercenary men of letters. His Spanish possessions were ruled for him by his brother John. He left his conquest of Naples to his bastard son Ferdinand; his inherited lands, Sicily and Sardinia, going to his brother John who survived him.]
Alphonso XII. (1857-1885), king of modern Spain, son of Isabella II. and Maria Fernando Francisco de Assisi, eldest son of the duke of Cadiz, was born on the 28th of November 1857. When Queen Isabella and her husband were forced to leave Spain by the revolution of 1868 he accompanied them to Paris, and from thence he was sent to the Theresianum at Vienna to continue his studies. On the 25th of June 1870 he was recalled to Paris, where his mother abdicated in his favour, in the presence of a number of Spanish nobles who had followed the fortunes of the exiled queen. He assumed the title of Alphonso XII.; for although no king of united Spain had previously borne the name, the Spanish monarchy was regarded as continuous with the more ancient monarchy, represented by the eleven kings of Leon and Castile already referred to. Shortly afterwards he proceeded to Sandhurst to continue his military studies, and while there he issued, on the 1st of December 1874, in reply to a birthday greeting from his followers, a manifesto proclaiming himself the sole representative of the Spanish monarchy. At the end of the year, when Marshal Serrano left Madrid to take command of the northern army, General Martinez Campos, who had long been working more or less openly for the king, carried off some battalions of the central army to Sagunto, rallied to his own flag the troops sent against him, and entered Valencia in the king's name. Thereupon the president of the council resigned, and the power was transferred to the king's plenipotentiary and adviser, Canovas del Castillo. In the course of a few days the king arrived at Madrid, passing through Barcelona and Valencia, and was received everywhere with acclamation (1875). In 1876 a vigorous campaign against the Carlists, in which the young king took part, resulted in the defeat of Don Carlos and his abandonment of the struggle. Early in 1878 Alphonso married his cousin, Princess Maria de las Mercedes, daughter of the duc de Montpensier, but she died within six months of her marriage. Towards the end of the same year a young workman of Tarragona, Oliva Marcousi, fired at the king in Madrid. On the 29th of November 1879 he married a princess of Austria, Maria Christina, daughter of the Archduke Charles Ferdinand. During the honeymoon a pastrycook named Otero fired at the young sovereigns as they were driving in Madrid. The children of this marriage were Maria de las Mercedes, titular queen from the death of her father until the birth of her brother, born on the 11th of September 1880, married on the 14th of February 1901 to Prince Carlos of Bourbon, died on the 17th of October 1904; Maria Teresa, born on the 12th of November 1882, married to Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria on the 12th of January 1906; and Alphonso (see below). In 1881 the king refused to sanction the law by which the ministers were to remain in office for a fixed term of eighteen months, and upon the consequent resignation of Canovas del Castillo, he summoned Sagasta, the Liberal leader, to form a cabinet. Alphonso died of phthisis on the 24th of November 1885. Coming to the throne at such an early age, he had served no apprenticeship in the art of ruling, but he possessed great natural tact and a sound judgment ripened by the trials of exile. Benevolent and sympathetic in disposition, he won the affection of his people by fearlessly visiting the districts ravaged by cholera or devastated by earthquake in 1885. His capacity for dealing with men was considerable, and he never allowed himself to become the instrument of any particular party. In his short reign peace was established both at home and abroad, the finances were well regulated, and the various administrative services were placed on a basis that afterwards enabled Spain to pass through the disastrous war with the United States without even the threat of a revolution.
Alphonso XIII. (1886-), king of Spain, son of Alphonso XII., was born, after his father's death, on the 17th of May 1886. His mother, Queen Maria Christina, was appointed regent during his minority (see Spain: History). In 1902, on attaining his 16th year, the king assumed control of the government. On the 31st of May 1906 he married Princess Victoria Eugénie Julia Ena Maria Christina of Battenberg, niece of Edward VII. of England. As the king and queen were returning from the wedding they narrowly escaped assassination in a bomb explosion, which killed and injured many bystanders and members of the royal procession. An heir to the throne was born on the 10th of May 1907, and received the name of Alphonso.