Alfonso, Prince of Asturias (1453–1468)

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For other Princes of Asturias named Alfonso, see Alfonso, Prince of Asturias.
Alfonso
Prince of Asturias
Cartuja de Miraflores (Burgos) - Tumba de Alfonso de Castilla - Detalle.jpg
Sculpture of Alfonso in his tomb in Burgos.
House House of Trastámara
Father John II of Castile
Mother Isabella of Portugal
Born 17 November 1453
Tordesillas
Died 5 July 1468(1468-07-05) (aged 14)
Cardeñosa
Burial Miraflores Charterhouse
Religion Roman Catholicism

Alfonso, Prince of Asturias (17 November 1453 – 5 July 1468) was the figurehead of rebelling magnates against his half brother Henry IV of Castile.

Alfonso was the only surviving son of John II of Castile, by his second wife, Isabella of Portugal, Henry IV being the product of his first marriage. Alfonso's sister, the future Queen Isabella I of Castile, was also the product of this second marriage.

Childhood[edit]

After the death of his father, John II, Alfonso, his mother and sister were virtually exiled, his mother to Arevalo and the children to Segovia. When Alfonso was around seven years of age the two children were moved to Henry's court at Madrid and were placed in Queen Joan's household. During this period it is rumored that Queen Joan tried to poison Alfonso on at least one occasion, to pave the way for her own daughter to inherit the throne.

Heir to the Throne[edit]

Coin minted by Alfonso's supporters in Seville.

In early 1460s, Castilian nobles became dissatisfied with the rule of King Henry IV, and believed that the child (Joanna, Princess of Asturias) that Henry's wife Queen Joan had given birth to was not sired by Henry. Propaganda and rumour encouraged by the league of rebellious nobles argued that her father was Beltrán de la Cueva, a royal favorite of low background who had been elevated to enormous power by Henry and who, by some, has been suggested as Henry's lover. This resulted in the name "Juana la Beltraneja", which has stuck with the girl throughout history. If Joanna was truly illegitimate, the next candidate would have been Alfonso. If she was legitimate—which is entirely possible—then Alfonso and, ultimately, his famous sister Isabella the Catholic would both have been usupers. Considering Isabella's impact on world history, this question has fascinated historians for centuries.

"Alfonso XII"[edit]

The league of nobles controlling Alfonso forced Henry with the 1464 Representation of Burgos to repudiate Joanna and recognize Alfonso as his official heir. Alfonso then became Prince of Asturias, a title previously held by Joanna. Henry agreed to the compromise with the stipulation that Alfonso someday marry Joanna, to ensure that they both would one day receive the crown.

Not long after this, Henry reneged on his promise and began to support his daughter's claim once more. The nobles in league against him conducted a ceremonial deposition-in-effigy of Henry outside the city of Avila and crowned Alfonso as a rival king. This event is known in history as the Farce of Avila. They Shortly thereafter, Alfonso began handing out land and titles as if he were already uncontested ruler. A civil war began. The most notable clash was at the Second Battle of Olmedo in 1467, which concluded as a draw.

However, in 1468 at the age of only 14, Alfonso died of a sickness, most likely the plague (Although poison and slit throat as alternative causes of death have been suggested). His will left his crown to his sister, Isabella, who was asked to take her brother's place as the champion of the rebels. Shortly thereafter, she declined, and after a negotiation at Toros de Guisando, in which she and her allies received most of what they desired, Henry was convinced to exclude Joanna la Beltraneja from the succession, and to recognize Isabella as his official heir. Though Henry continued to resist this decision when possible, his actions were ineffective, and he remained at peace with Isabella for the rest of his reign. Isabella became Castile's next monarch when he died in 1474.

Ancestry[edit]

Succession[edit]

Alfonso, Prince of Asturias
Born: 17 November 1453 Died: 5 July 1468
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John II of Castile
as Administrator
Grand Master of the Order of Santiago
1453–1462
With: Henry IV as Administrator
Succeeded by
Beltrán de la Cueva
Preceded by
Beltrán de la Cueva
Grand Master of the Order of Santiago
1463–1467
Succeeded by
Juan Pacheco
Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Joanna "la Beltraneja"
Prince of Asturias
1464–1468
Succeeded by
Infanta Isabella
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Henry IV
King of Castile and León
1464–1468
Succeeded by
Henry IV