Alfonso II of Aragon
|Alfonso the Chaste|
Portrait from the Liber feudorum maior
|King of Aragon|
|Reign||18 July 1164 – 25 April 1196|
|Spouse||Sancha of Castile|
|Constance of Aragon
Peter II, King of Aragon
Alfonso II, Count of Provence
|House||House of Aragon|
|Father||Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona|
|Mother||Petronilla, Queen of Aragon|
|Born||1–25 March 1157
|Died||25 April 1196
Alfonso II (Aragon) or Alfons I (Provence and Barcelona); Huesca, Aragon, 1–25 March 1157 – 25 April 1196), called the Chaste or the Troubadour, was the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona from 1164 until his death. He was the son of the count Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona and the Queen Petronilla of Aragon and the first King of Aragon who was also Count of Barcelona. He was also Count of Provence from 1166 or shortly before, which he acquired from Countess Douce II, until 1173, when he ceded it to his brother Berenguer. His reign has been characterised by nationalistic and nostalgic Catalan historians, as l'engrandiment occitànic or "the Pyrenean unity": a great scheme to unite various lands on both sides of the Pyrenees under the rule of the House of Barcelona.
For most of his reign he was allied with Alfonso VIII of Castile, both against Navarre and against the Moorish taifa kingdoms of the south. In his Reconquista effort Alfonso pushed as far as Teruel, conquering this important stronghold on the road to Valencia in 1171. The same year saw him capturing Caspe.
Apart from common interests, kings of Aragon and Castile were united by a formal bond of vassalage the former owed to the latter. Besides, on January 18, 1174, in Zaragoza Alfonso married Infanta Sancha of Castile, sister of the Castilian king. Another milestone in this alliance was the Treaty of Cazorla between the two kings in 1179, delineating zones of conquest in the south along the watershed of the rivers Júcar and Segura. Southern areas of Valencia including Denia were thus secured to Aragon. Alfonso also reached an agreement, the Treaty of Sangüesa (1168), with Sancho VI of Navarre dividing the territor of the taifa of Murcia between them.
During his reign Aragonese influence north of the Pyrenees reached its zenith, a natural tendency given the affinity between the Occitan and Catalan dominions of the Crown of Aragon. His realms incorporated not only Provence (from 1166 or just before), but also the counties of Cerdanya (1168) and Roussillon (inherited in 1172). Béarn and Bigorre paid homage to him in 1187. Alfonso's involvement in the affairs of Languedoc, which would cost the life of his successor, Peter II of Aragon, for the moment proved highly beneficial, strengthening Aragonese trade and stimulating emigration from the north to colonise the newly reconquered lands in Aragon.
In 1186, he helped establish Aragonese influence in Sardinia when he supported his cousin Agalbursa, the widow of the deceased Judge of Arborea, Barison II, in placing her grandson, the child of her eldest daughter Ispella, Hugh, on the throne of Arborea in opposition to Peter of Serra.
Alfonso II provided the first land grant to the Cistercian monks on the banks of the Ebro River in the Aragon region, which would become the site of the first Cistercian monastery in this region. The Monasterio de Piedra was founded in 1194 with thirteen monks from Poblet Monastery, in an old castle next to the Piedra river, the Real Monasterio de Nuestra Senora de Rueda was founded in 1202 and utilized some of the first hydrological technology in the region for harnessing water power and river diversion for the purpose of building central heating.
He died at Perpignan in 1196.
Literary patronage and poetry
He was a noted poet of his time and a close friend of King Richard the Lionheart. One tensó, "Be·m plairia, Seingner En Reis", apparently composed by him and Giraut de Bornelh, forms part of the poetical debate as to whether a lady is dishonoured by taking a lover who is richer than herself. The debate had been begun by Guilhem de Saint-Leidier and was taken up by Azalais de Porcairagues and Raimbaut of Orange; there was also a partimen on the topic between Dalfi d'Alvernha and Perdigon.
Alfonso and his love affairs are mentioned in poems by many troubadours, including Guillem de Berguedà (who criticized his dealings with Azalais of Toulouse) and Peire Vidal, who commended Alfonso's decision to marry Sancha rather than Eudokia Komnene that he had preferred a poor Castilian maid to the emperor Manuel's golden camel.
Marriage and descendants
- Constance, married Emeric of Hungary and later Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
- Eleanor, married Raymond VI of Toulouse
- Peter the Catholic, successor
- Douce (Dolça), nun
- Alfonso, Count of Provence
- Ferdinand, Abbot of Montearagon, d. after 1227
- Ramon Berenguer, d. in the 1190s
- Sancha of Aragon, married Raymond VII of Toulouse, in March 1211. They had one daughter, Joan, and were divorced in 1241.
- Benito Vicente de Cuéllar (1995), «Los "condes-reyes" de Barcelona y la "adquisición" del reino de Aragón por la dinastía bellónida», p. 630-631; in Hidalguía. XLIII (252) pp. 619–632.
- "Alfonso II el Casto, hijo de Petronila y Ramón Berenguer IV, nació en Huesca en 1157;". Cfr. Josefina Mateu Ibars, María Dolores Mateu Ibars (1980). Colectánea paleográfica de la Corona de Aragon: Siglo IX-XVIII. Universitat Barcelona, p. 546. ISBN 84-7528-694-1, ISBN 978-84-7528-694-5.
- Antonio Ubieto Arteta (1987). Historia de Aragón. Creación y desarrollo de la Corona de Aragón. Zaragoza: Anúbar, pp. 177–184 § "El nacimiento y nombre de Alfonso II de Aragón". ISBN 84-7013-227-X.
- Ernest Belenguer (2006), "Aproximación a la historia de la Corona de Aragón", p. 26, in Ernest Belenguer, Felipe V. Garín Llombart and Carmen Morte García, La Corona de Aragón. El poder y la imagen de la Edad Media a la Edad Moderna (siglos XII – XVIII), Sociedad Estatal para la Acción Cultural Exterior (SEACEX); Generalitat Valenciana and Ministerio de Cultura de España: Lunwerg, pp. 25–53. ISBN 84-9785-261-3
- Víctor Balaguer. § "Muerte del Conde de Provenza. Guerras entre el Rey de Aragón y el Conde de Tolosa. Don Alfonso se apodera de la Provenza. (De 1166 a 1168)", in Historia de Cataluña y de la Corona de Aragon. Barcelona: Salvador Manero, 1861, vol. II, book V chap. 2, pp. 11–18.
- T. N. Bisson, "The Rise of Catalonia: Identity, Power, and Ideology in a Twelfth-Century Society," Annales: Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, xxxix (1984), translated in Medieval France and her Pyrenean Neighbours: Studies in Early Institutional History (London: Hambledon, 1989), pp. 179.
- Ubieto (1987:184–186)
- Luis Suárez Fernández (1976). Historia de España Antigua y Media. Madrid: Rialp, p. 599. ISBN 978-84-321-1882-1.
- Ubieto (1987:202)
- Gerardo II of Rosellon (1164–1174) willed in his testament that "the entire Rosellon I give to my lord the king of Aragón" for the loyalty that he had in his sovereign, Alphonso II, who was immediately recognized as king in Perpignan. See José Ángel Sesma Muñoz (2000). La Corona de Aragón. Zaragoza: CAI (Colección Mariano de Pano y Ruata, 18), pp. 59–60.
- Ruth Harvey and Linda Paterson. "The Troubadour Tensos and Partimens. A Critical Edition", Cambridge 2010, pp. 699-705
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