1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Peter (Spanish kings)

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PETER (Pedro), the name of several Spanish kings.

Peter I., king of Aragon (d. 1104), son of Sancho Ramirez, the third in order of the historic kings of Aragon, belonged to times anterior to the authentic written history of his kingdom; and little is known of him save that he recovered Huesca from the Mahommedans in 1096.

Peter II., king of Aragon (1174-1213), son of Alphonso II. and his wife Sancia, daughter of Alphonso VIII. of Castile, was born in 1174. He had a very marked and curious personal character. As sovereign of lands on both sides of the Pyrenees, he was affected by very different influences. In his character of Spanish prince he was a crusader, and he took a distinguished part in the great victory over the Almohades at the Navas de Tolosa in 1212. But his lands to the north of the Pyrenees brought him into close relations with the Albigenses. He was a favourer of the troubadours, and in his ways of life he indulged in the laxity of Provençal morals to the fullest extent. We are told in the chronicle written by Desclot soon after his time, that Peter was only trapped into cohabiting with his wife by the device which is familiar to readers of Measure for M easnre In the year after the battle of the Navas de Tolosa he took up arms against the crusaders of Simon of Montfort, moved not by sympathy with the Albigenses, but by the natural political hostility of the southern princes to the conquering intervention of the north under pretence of religious zeal. His son records the way in which he spent the night before the battle of Muret with a crudity of language which defies translation, and tells us that his father was too exhausted in the morning to stand at Mass, and had to be lifted into the saddle by his squires. Peter none the less showed the greatest personal valour, and his body, recognizable by his lofty stature and personal beauty, was found on the field after the rout (Sept. 12, 1213). See Chronrcle of James I. of Aragon, translated by I Forster (London, 1883); and Life and Times of James the Frrst the Conqueror, by F. Darwin Swift (Oxford, 1894).

Peter III., king of Aragon (1236-1286), son of James the Conqueror, and his wife Yolande, daughter of Andrew II. of Hungary, was born in 1236. Having married Constance, daughter of Manfred of Beneventum, he came forward as the representative of the claims of the Hohenstaufen in Naples and Sicily against Charles, duke of Anjou. Peter began the long strife of the Angevine and Aragonese parties in southern Italy. His success in conquering Sicily earned him the surname of “ the Great.” He repelled an invasion of Catalonia undertaken by the king of France in support of Charles of Anjou, and died on the 8th of November 1286.

For the personal character of Peter III., the best witness is the Chronrcle of Ramonde Muntanez-reprinted in the original Catalan by R. Lanz, Lzterarzscher Verezn rn Stuttgart, vol. vii. (1844), and in French by Buchon, Coll des chronrques natzonales (Paris, 1824-1828) See also O Cartellieri, Peter von Aragon und dee Szzzlranzsche Vesper (Heidelberg, 1904).

Peter IV, king of Aragon (d. 1387), son of Alphonso IV and his wife Teresa d'Ente<;a, is known as “ The Ceremonious ” and also as “ he of the dagger.” He acquired the first title by the rigid etiquette he enforced, as one means of checking the excessive freedom of his nobles. The second name was given him because he wounded himself with his dagger in the act of cutting to pieces the so-called “ charter of the Union, ” which authorised the rebellions of his nobles, and which he forced them to give up, after he had routed them at the battle of Epila in 1348 Of no man of the 14th century can it be more truly said that his life was a warfare on earth. He had first to subdue his nobles, and to reannex the Balearic Islands to the crown of Aragon When he had made himself master at home, he had to carry on a long and fierce contest with his namesake Peter the Cruel of Castile, which only terminated when Henry of Trastamara succeeded, largely with Aragonese help, in making himself king of Castile in 1369. Peter succeeded in making himself master of Sicily in 1377, but ceded the actual possession of the island to his son Martin. He was three times married to Mary, daughter of Philip of Evreux, king of Navarre; to Eleanor, daughter of Alphonso IV. of Portugal; and to Eleanor, daughter of Peter II. of Sicily, his cousin. The marriage of his daughter by his third marriage, Eleanor, with John I. of Castile, carried the crown of Aragon to the Castilian line when his male representatives became extinct on the death of his son Martin Sede Zurita, Anales de Aragon (Saragossa, 1610).

Peter, “the Cruel,” king of Castile (1333-1369), son of Alphonso XI and Maria, daughter of Alphonso IV. of Portugal, was born in 1333. He earned for himself the reputation of monstrous cruelty which is indicatd by the accepted title. In later ages, when the royal authority was thoroughly established, there was a reaction in Peter's favour, and an alternative name was found for hin1. It became a fashion to speak of him as El Justieiero, the executor of justice Apologists were found to say that he had only killed men who themselves would not submit to the law or respect the rights of others There is this amount of foundation for the plea, that the chronicler Lopez de Ayala, who fought against him, has confessed that the king's fall was regretted by the merchants and traders, who enjoyed security under his rule. Peter began to reign at the age of sixteen, and found himself subjected to the control of l1is mother and her favourites. He was immoral, and unfaithful to his wife, as h1s father had been. But Alphonso XI. did not imprison his wife, or cause her to be murdered. Peter certainly did the first, and there can be little doubt that he did the second. He had not even the excuse that he was passionately in love with his mistress, Maria de Padilla; for, at a time when he asserted that he was married to her, and when he was undoubtedly married to Blanche of Bourbon, he went through the form of marriage with a lady of the family of Castro, who bore him a son, and then deserted her. Maria de Padilla was only the one lady of his harem of whom he never became quite tired. At first he was controlled by his mother, but emancipated himself with the encouragement of the minister Albuquerque and became attached to Maria de Padilla. Maria turned him against Albuquerque. In 1354 the king was practically coerced by his mother and the nobles into marrying Blanche of Bourbon, but deserted her at once. A period of turmoil followed in which the king was for a time overpowered and in effect imprisoned. The dissensions of the party which was striving to coerce him enabled him to escape from Toro, where he was under observation, to Segovia. From 1356 to 1366 he was master, and was engaged in continual wars with Aragon, in which he showed neither ability nor daring. It was during this period that he perpetrated the series of murders which made him odious. He confided in nobody save the Jews, who were his tax-gatherers, or the Mahommedan guard he had about him. The profound hatred of the Christians for the Jews and M udejares, or Mahommedans settled among them, dates from the years in which they were the agents of his unbridled tyranny. In 1366 he was assailed by his bastard brother Henry of Trastamara at the head of a host of soldiers of fortune, and fled the kingdom without daring to give battle. Almost his last act in Spain was to murder Suero, the archbishop of Santiago, and the dean, Peralvarez. Peter now took refuge with the Black Prince, by whom he was restored in the following year. But he disgusted his ally by his faithlessness and ferocity. The health of the Black Prince broke down, and he left Spain. When thrown on his own resources, Peter was soon overthrown by his brother Henry, with the aid of Bertrand du Guesclin and a body of French free companions. He was murdered by Henry in du Guesclin's tent on the 23rd of March 1369. His daughters by Maria de Padilla, Constance and Isabella, were respectively married to John of Gaunt, and Edmund, duke of York, sons of Edward III., king of England.

The great original but hostile authority for the life of Peter the Cruel is the Chronicle of the Chancellor Pero Lopez de Ayala (Madrid 1779-1780). A brilliantly written Life is that by Prosper Mérimée, Hist. de Don Pédre I., roi de Castelle (Paris, 1848).

(D. H.)