Elvira of Castile, Queen of Sicily
|Elvira of Castile|
|Queen consort of Sicily|
|Tenure||1130 – 8 February 1135|
|Died||6 February 1135|
|Spouse||Roger II, King of Sicily|
|Roger III, Duke of Apulia |
Tancred, Prince of Bari
Alfonso, Prince of Capua
William I, King of Sicily
|Father||Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile|
|Mother||Isabella (possibly Zaida of Seville)|
Elvira was a legitimate daughter of Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile. Her mother was King Alfonso VI's fourth wife, Isabella. This Isabella is likely identical to Zaida of Seville, the Muslim princess who was Alfonso's mistress before marrying him. Growing up at her father's court in the multiconfessional city of Toledo, Elvira must have been accustomed to a significant level of convivencia, which was present in Sicily as well.
In 1117 or 1118, Elvira married Roger II, then Count of Sicily and king from 1130. Sicily too had a sizeable Muslim population, and the marriage was part of Roger's plan to emulate the religious policy of Elvira's father. Elvira's likely descent from the Muslim rulers of Al-Andalus exemplifies a "pattern of cultural association" between the queens of Sicily and the Islamic world. She may have even influenced the extensive cultivation of Islamic art during her husband's reign.
There is exceptionally little information about Queen Elvira. She does not appear to have been active in politics or as a church patron, and is chiefly remembered for giving birth to Roger's six children. In addition to a daughter who died young, Elvira and Roger had five sons:
- Roger (1118 – 12 May 1148), Duke of Apulia (from 1135), possibly also Count of Lecce
- Tancred (1119 – 1138), Prince of Bari (from 1135)
- Alfonso (1120/1121 – 10 October 1144), Prince of Capua (from 1135) and Duke of Naples
- William (b. 1131 – d. 7 May 1166), Duke of Apulia (from 1148)
- Henry (born in 1135, died young)
In 1135, both Roger and Elvira fell ill. The illness was grave and infectious. The King survived, but the Queen died on 6 February. Roger was devasted by her death; he withdrew to his room and refused to see anyone except his closest servants. Eventually rumors spread that he too had died. Roger remained a widower for fourteen years and remarried only in 1149, as he had outlived four out of five sons he had had with Elvira.
- Houben, Hubert (2002). Roger II of Sicily: A Ruler Between East and West. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 3319470426.
- Birk, Joshua C. (2017). Norman Kings of Sicily and the Rise of the Anti-Islamic Critique: Baptized Sultans. Springer. ISBN 3319470426.
|New title|| Queen consort of Sicily
1130 – 8 February 1135
Title next held bySibylla of Burgundy