Ferdinand III of Castile
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Spanish Wikipedia. (June 2011)|
Saint Ferdinand III, T.O.S.F., (5 August 1199 – 30 May 1252) was the King of Castile from 1217 and King of León from 1230. He was the son of Alfonso IX of León and Berenguela of Castile. Through his second marriage he was also Count of Aumale. Ferdinand III was one of the most successful kings of Castile, securing not only the permanent union of the crowns of Castile and León, but also masterminding the most expansive campaign of Reconquista yet.
By military and diplomatic efforts, Ferdinand III greatly expanded the dominions of Castile into southern Spain, annexing many of the great old cities of al-Andalus, including the old Andalusian capitals of Córdoba and Seville, and establishing the boundaries of the Castilian state for the next two centuries.
Ferdinand was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X and, in Spanish, he is known as Fernando el Santo, San Fernando or San Fernando Rey. Places like San Fernando, La Union, San Fernando, Pampanga and San Fernando Valley, California are named in honour of his local cult and patronage.
Early life 
His parents' marriage was annulled by order of Pope Innocent III in 1204, due to consanguinity. Berenguela took their children, including Ferdinand, to the court of her father, Alfonso VIII of Castile. In 1217, her younger brother Henry I died and she succeeded him to the Castilian throne, but immediately surrendered it to her son, Ferdinand, for whom she initially acted as regent.
Unification of Castile-León 
When his father, Alfonso IX of León, died in 1230, his will delivered the kingdom to his older daughters Sancha and Dulce, from his first marriage to Theresa of Portugal. But Ferdinand contested the will, and claimed the inheritance for himself. At length, an agreement was reached, negotiated primarily between their mothers, Berengaria and Theresa, and signed at Benavente on December 11, 1230, by which Ferdinand would receive the Kingdom of León, in return for a substantial compensation in cash and lands for his half-sisters, Sancha and Dulce. Ferdinand thus became the first sovereign of both kingdoms since the death of Alfonso VII in 1157.
Early in his reign, Ferdinand had to deal with a rebellion of the House of Lara.
Conquest of al-Andalus 
Since the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 halted the advance of the Almohads in Spain, a series of truces had kept Castile and the Almohad dominions of al-Andalus more-or-less at peace. However, a crisis of succession in the Almohad Caliphate after the death of Yusuf II in 1224 opened to Ferdinand III an opportunity for intervention. The Andalusian-based claimant, Abdallah al-Adil, began to ship the bulk of Almohad arms and men across the straits to Morocco to contest the succeession with his rival there, leaving al-Andalus relatively undefended. Al-Adil's rebellious cousin, Abdallah al-Bayyasi (the Baezan), appealed to Ferdinand III for military assistance against the usurper. In 1225, a Castilian army accompanied al-Bayyasi in a campaign, ravaging the regions of Jaén, vega de Granada and, before the end of the year, had successfully installed al-Bayyasi in Córdoba. In payment, al-Bayyasi gave Ferdinand the strategic frontier strongholds of Baños de la Encina, Salvatierra (the old Order of Calatrava fortress near Ciudad Real) and Capilla (the last of which had to be taken by siege). When al-Bayyasi was rejected and killed by a popular uprising in Cordoba shortly after, the Castilians remained in occupation of al-Bayyasi's holdings in Andújar, Baeza and Martos.
The crisis in the Almohad Caliphate, however, remained unresolved. In 1228, a new Almohad pretender, Abd al-Ala Idris I 'al-Ma'mun', decided to abandon Spain, and left with the last remnant of the Almohad forces for Morocco. Al-Andalus was left fragmented in the hands of local strongmen, only loosely led by Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Hud al-Judhami. Seeing the opportunity, the Christian kings of the north - Ferdinand III of Castile, Alfonso IX of León, James I of Aragon and Sancho II of Portugal - immediately launched a series of raids on al-Andalus, renewed almost every year. There were no great battle encounters - Ibn Hud's makeshift Andalusian army was destroyed early on, while attempting to stop the Leonese at Alange in 1230. The Christian armies romped through the south virtually unopposed in the field. Individual Andalusian cities were left to resist or negotiate their capitulation by themselves, with little or no prospect of rescue from Morocco or anywhere else.
The twenty years from 1228 to 1248 saw the most massive advance in the Christian reconquista yet. In this great sweep, most of the great old citadels of al-Andalus fell one by one. Ferdinand III took the lion's share of the spoils - Badajoz and Mérida (which had fallen to the Leonese), were promptly inherited by Ferdinand in 1230; then by his own effort, Cazorla in 1231, Úbeda in 1233, the old Umayyad capital of Córdoba in 1236, Niebla and Huelva in 1238, Écija and Lucena in 1240, Orihuela and Murcia in 1243 (by the famous 'pact of Alcaraz'), Arjona, Mula and Lorca in 1244, Cartagena in 1245, Jaén in 1246, Alicante in 1248 and finally, on December 22, 1248, Ferdinand III entered as a conqueror in Seville, the greatest of Andalusian cities. At the end of this twenty-year onslaught, only a rump Andalusian state, the Emirate of Granada, remained unconquered (and even so, Ferdinand III managed to extract a tributary arrangement from Granada in 1238).
Ferdinand III annexed some of his conquests directly into the Crown of Castile, and others were initially received and organized as vassal states under Muslim governors (e.g. Alicante, Niebla, Murcia), although they too were eventually permanently occupied and absorbed into Castile before the end of the century (Niebla in 1262, Murcia in 1264, Alicante in 1266). Outside of these vassal states, Christian rule could be heavy-handed on the new Muslim subjects. This would eventually lead to the mudéjar uprisings of 1264-66, which resulted in mass expulsions of the Muslim populations. The range of Castilian conquests also sometimes transgressed into the spheres of interest of other conquerors. Thus, along the way, Ferdinand III took care to carefully negotiate with the other Christian kings to avoid conflict, e.g. the treaty of Almizra (26 March 1244) which delineated the Murcian boundary with James I of Aragon.
Ferdinand divided the conquered territories between the Knights, the Church, and the nobility, whom he endowed with great latifundias. When he took Córdoba, he ordered the Liber Iudiciorum to be adopted and observed by its citizens, and caused it to be rendered, albeit inaccurately, into Castilian.
The capture of Córdoba was the result of a well-planned and executed process whereby parts of the city (the Ajarquía) first fell to the independent almogavars of the Sierra Morena to the north, which Ferdinand had not at the time subjugated. Only in 1236 did Ferdinand arrive with a royal army to take the Medina, the religious and administrative centre of the city. Ferdinand set up a council of partidores to divide the conquests and between 1237 and 1244 a great deal of land was parcelled out to private individuals and members of the royal family as well as to the Church. On 10 March 1241, Ferdinand established seven outposts to define the boundary of the province of Córdoba.
Domestic policy 
On the domestic front, he strengthened the University of Salamanca and founded the current cathedral of Burgos. He was a patron of the newest movement in the Church, that of the friars. Whereas the Benedictines and then the Cistercians and Cluniacs had taken a major part in the Reconquista up until then, Ferdinand founded Dominican, Franciscan, Trinitarian, and Mercedarian houses in Andalusia, thus determining the religious future of that region. Ferdinand has also been credited with sustaining the convivencia in Andalusia. He himself joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and is honored in that Order.
Ferdinand III had started out as a contested king of Castile. By the time of his death in 1252, Ferdinand III had delivered to his son and heir, Alfonso X, a massively expanded kingdom. The boundaries of the new Castilian state established by Ferdinand III would remain nearly unchanged until the late 1400s. His biographer, Sr. Maria del Carmen Fernández de Castro Cabeza, asserts that, on his death bed, Ferdinand said to his son "you will be rich in land and in many good vassals, more than any other king in Christendom."
Ferdinand was buried in the cathedral of Seville by his son Alfonso X. His tomb is inscribed in four languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and an early version of Castilian. He was canonized as St. Ferdinand by Pope Clement X in 1671. Today Saint Fernando can still be seen in the Cathedral of Seville, for he rests enclosed in a marvelous gold and crystal casket worthy of the king. His golden crown still encircles his head as he reclines beneath the statue of the Virgin of the Kings. Several places named San Fernando were founded across the Spanish Empire in his honor.
The symbol of his power as a king was his sword Lobera.
First marriage 
- Alfonso X, his successor
- Ferdinand (1225–1243/1248)
- Eleanor (born 1227), died young
- Berengaria (1228–1288/89), a nun at Las Huelgas
- Philip (1231–1274). He was promised to the Church, but was so taken by the beauty of Christina of Norway, daughter of Haakon IV of Norway, who had been intended as a bride for one of his brothers, that he abandoned his holy vows and married her. She died in 1262, childless.
- Sancho, Archbishop of Toledo and Seville (1233–1261)
- John Manuel, Lord of Villena
- Maria, died an infant in November 1235
Second marriage 
After he was widowed, he married Joan, Countess of Ponthieu, before August 1237. They had four sons and one daughter:
- Ferdinand (1239–1260), Count of Aumale
- Eleanor (c.1241–1290), married Edward I of England
- Louis (1243–1269)
- Simon (1244), died young and buried in a monastery in Toledo
- John (1245), died young and buried at the cathedral in Córdoba
|Ancestors of Ferdinand III of Castile|
- Edwards, 6.
- Edwards, 7.
- Edwards, 182.
- Fernández de Castro Cabeza, Sr. Maria del Carmen, The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and León, Saint Ferdinand III (Mount Kisco, N.Y.: The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc., 1987), pp. 277
- Menocal, 47.
- Bernard F. Reilly, The Medieval Spains, (Cambridge University Press, 1993), 133.
- Fitzhenry, 6.
- Fernández de Castro Cabeza, Sr. Maria del Carmen, The Life of the Very Noble King of Castile and León, Saint Ferdinand III (Mount Kisco, N.Y.: The Foundation for a Christian Civilization, Inc., 1987)
- González, Julio. Reinado y Diplomas de Fernando III, i: Estudio. 1980.
- Menocal, María Rosa. The Ornament of the World. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 2002. ISBN 0-316-16871-8
- Edwards, John. Christian Córdoba: The City and its Region in the Late Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press: 1982.
- Fitzhenry, James. "Saint Fernando III, A Kingdom for Christ." Catholic Vitality Publications, St. Mary's, KS, 2009. http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saintfernando.html
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ferdinand III of Castile|
- Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ferdinand III
- Ferdinand at Patron Saints Index
- The death of Saint Ferdinand III, the very noble King of Castile and Leon
Ferdinand III of CastileBorn: 5 August 1199 Died: 30 May 1252
|King of Castile and Toledo
|King of León and Galicia
|King of Córdoba
Abu Bakr Muhammad
|King of Murcia
|King of Jaén
|King of Seville
|Count of Aumale
as sole ruler
|Count of Ponthieu