Isabella of Urgell, Duchess of Coimbra

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Isabella of Urgell
Duchess of Coimbra
Dame of Montemor
Túmulos de los Infantes.jpg
Tomb of Peter and Isabella in Batalha Monastery (far right)
Spouse Infante Peter, Duke of Coimbra
Issue Peter, Constable of Portugal
John of Coimbra, Prince of Antioch
Isabella, Queen of Portugal
James of Coimbra
Beatrice of Coimbra
Philippa of Coimbra
House House of Barcelona
Father James II, Count of Urgell
Mother Isabella of Aragon
Born 12 March 1409
Balaguer, Catalonia, Aragon
Died 17 September 1459 (aged 50)
Coimbra, Portugal
Burial Batalha Monastery
Religion Roman Catholicism

Isabella of Urgell, Duchess of Coimbra (Spanish: Isabel) (12 March 1409 – 17 September 1459) was a Catalan noblewoman of the Urgell branch of the House of Aragon. She was the wife of Infante Peter, Duke of Coimbra.


Isabella was born on 12 March 1409 the eldest daughter of James II, Count of Urgell, a candidate to the throne of the Crown of Aragon at the Compromise of Caspe, and Isabella of Aragon. Isabella was one of five children.

The county of Urgell was dissolved in 1413, following her father's revolt against the new King Ferdinand I of Aragon who had been chosen to succeed to the throne of Aragon in 1412 despite James being the closest legitimate agnate to the Royal House of Aragon. Earlier, King Ferdinand had offered James 150,000 florins, the title of Duke of Montblanc, and proposed an alliance between his son Henry and Isabella but James had refused Ferdinand's offer on the advice of his mother.[1] In addition to the loss of his title and assets, James was later tried, condemned, and sentenced to life imprisonment.


On 13 September 1428 at Alcolea del Cinca she married Infante Peter, Duke of Coimbra (9 December 1392 – 20 May 1449 at the Battle of Alfarrobeira), the son of King John I of Portugal and Philippa of Lancaster. He also held the titles of Regent of Portugal and the Algarve, and Sire of Montemor. They had six children. In 1438, Isabella's husband was appointed Regent of Portugal during the minority of his nephew, King Afonso V. King Afonso would later wed the eldest daughter of Isabella and Peter.


Widowhood and death[edit]

Isabella of Coimbra, eldest daughter of Isabella of Urgell, whose efforts were critical for the rehabilitation of the family.

Peter of Coimbra was regent of Portugal from 1439, and engineered the marriage of his young charge, Afonso V of Portugal with his daughter, Isabella of Coimbra in 1447. But he also gathered powerful enemies, most notably the House of Braganza, who ingratiated themselves with the young king and managed to drive Peter from power immediately after. The parties remained at odds and Portugal careened into civil war. After Peter of Coimbra was killed at the Battle of Alfarrobeira in May 1449, his family was immediately and relentlessly persecuted. Isabella of Urgell and her daughter Philippa went into hiding, while her other children were driven into exile abroad - Peter the Constable to Castile, and John, James and Beatrice to the Duchy of Burgundy, the lands of their aunt Isabella of Burgundy. The threats of the powerful Duke of Burgundy were conjoined to the pleas of Peter's daughter, the young queen Isabella of Coimbra, who pleaded her husband to have mercy on her family. Against the advice of the powerful Braganzas, Afonso V relented (partially) in 1450 and allowed the widowed duchess Isabella of Urgell to reside in Montemor-o-Velho and Tentúgal (Philippa was allowed to reside in a cloister in Odivelas, although apparently she later moved in with her mother).[2] However, she continued to be harassed by the Braganzas - Afonso, Marquis of Valença reportedly tried to deprive the widowed duchess of her residence, which only the queen's renewed pleading prodded Afonso V to intercede on her behalf.[2]

Isabella of Combra availed of the king's good mood after the birth of their son, the royal heir John (future king John II of Portugal), in May 1455, to engineer a complete and final rehabilitation of the rest of her family. Peter of Coimbra's remains were allowed to be re-buried at the Aviz dynasty necropolis at Batalha Monastery and the dowager-duchess Isabella of Urgell was granted a royal pension for the remainder of her years.[2]

Isabella of Urgell died on 17 September 1459, at the monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra.[2] Her remains were translated to Batalha, into the tomb of her rehabilitated husband.[3]

Her father had died in prison at Xàtiva in 1433.



  1. ^ Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, "Catalonia"
  2. ^ a b c d J. de Figueiredo (1910) O Pintor Nuno Gonçalves. Lisbon: Tip. Annuario Commercial, pp.50-53
  3. ^ There seems to be some confusion as to whether they were actually translated to Batalha, as there is also a tomb to her at Santa Cruz as well. Her remains may have been paritioned. See A.R. Vasconcelos Evolução do culto de Dona Isabel de Aragão (1894: p.237)