Sebbi of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 664 – c. 694

Born :

Died : 695

Spouse :

Parents :

Joint king with brother Sighere from 664 – 683.

His brother reverted to paganism and took alliance with Wessex, while Sebbi remained a Christian with an alliance from Mercia. King Wulfhere of Mercia, gained overlordship of Essex and sent Jaruman, Bishop of Mercia to re-convert all of Essex to Christianity.

In 686 Cædwalla a Wessex sub-king, established himself as overlord in Essex. He and Sebbi invaded Kent and expelled King Eadric and Sebbi ruled over West Kent.

It is said that Sebbi abdicated in c. 694 in favour for his sons Sigeheard and Swaefred who jointly ruled in Essex. Sebbi died in 695 and was buried at the Old St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Sighere of Essex

Title : King of Essex

Reign : 664 – 683

Born :

Died :

Spouse : Osyth, daughter of Firthwood, sub-king of Mercia

Parents :

Joint king with brother Sebbi.

Sighere and Sebbi were cousins of the previous king Swithhelm. Sighere returned to paganism while his brother remained Christian. A strong rivalry soon developed between the two with Sighere finding an ally in Wessex and Sebbi with Mercia.

King Wulfhere of Mercia took advantage and established himself as overlord in Essex. As part of this Sighere married Wulfhere’s niece Osyth, daughter of Firthwood, a sub-king of Mercia in Surrey.

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid

El Cid or Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar to give him his full name is a much known noble and warrior of Spain. Known as El Cid (the Lord) to the Moors and El Campeador (the Champion) to the Christians in Spain he is still celebrated to this day as a national hero.

He was born in circa 1043, in Vivar about six miles Burgos the capital of Castile. His father Diego Lainez was a courtier at the court of Castile and a cavalryman known to have fought in many battles. The family were minor nobility as his family’s name is mentioned as witnesses in only a handful of documents. He grew up at the court of Ferdinand the Great before serving in the household of Ferdinand’s son Sancho.

In 1057 he fought during the campaign against the Muslim stronghold of Zaragoza in which the emir al-Muqtadir was defeated and became a vassel of Sancho. In the spring of 1063 he also fought alongside al-Muqtadir at the Battle of Graus, laying siege to the Moorish town of Cinca. They thought against Ferdinand’s half brother Ramiro I of Aragon. Ramiro was defeated and his troops fled the battle field.

The battle is also important in El Cid’s story as it is here that legend says he gained the honorary title El Campeador. El Cid is said to have thought in single combat against a Aragonese knight. He won the combat and the title was given, the Champion.

After the death of King Ferdinand, Sancho his son was crowned and continued to try and grow his territories. He managed to conquer Zamora and Badajoz.   Sancho was assassinated by his brother Alfonso and his sister Urraca. He was not married and childless and due to this Alfonso took over his kingdoms.

 

El CId Statue

Alfonso returned from exile in Toledo and took his seat as king of Castile and Leon. He was treated with great suspicion in Castile which was properly the correct thing to do after his involvement in his brother’s murder. According to the epic of El Cid, El Cid and a group of Castilian nobleman forced Alfonso to swear publicly in front of Santa Gadea Church in Burgos on holy relics numerous times that he had no part in the murder of Sancho.

In 1079 El Cid was sent by Alfonso to Seville to the court of al-Mutamid to collect their tribute to Leon-Castile. While he was in Granada, Count Garcia Ordonez his enemy assisted with other Castilian knights attacked. Seville. El Cid with his followers repulsed the attack at the Battle of Cabra in the belief he was protecting and defending the king’s tribute.   The Count and the other Castilian knights were taken captive and held for three days.

During the battle, El Cid rallied his own troops and made it a rout defeating Emir Abdullah of Granada and the Garcia Ordonez. This action though angered Alfonso and the lone actions are believed to be the reason for El Cid’s exile. On the 8th May, 1080 he witnessed his last document in the Alfonso’s court.

There are many other reasons that are suspected for the exile as well; other jealous nobles who could have turned Alfonso against El Cid, Alfonso’s own animosity towards El Cid, and also accusations of him pocketing some of the tribute from Seville for himself.

At first he went to Barcelona, where Ramon Berenguer II (1076-1082) and Berenguer Ramon (1076-1097) refused his offer of service. After being rejected he journeyed to the Taifa of Zaragoza were he received a warmer reception.

According to Moorish accounts; Andalusian Knights found El Cid, ill, thirsty. He was then presented before the elderly Yusuf al-Mu’taman ibn Hud and accepted command of the forces of Taifa of Zaragoza. He served both ibn Hud and his successor al-Mustain II, serving as a leading figure in a vibrant Moorish force consisting of Muladis, Berbers, Arabs and Malians.

El Cid Sword

The kingdom was split into two, al-Mutamin who ruled over Zaragoza and his brother al-Mundhir who ruled over Lerida and Tortosa. El Cid entered al-Mutamin’s service and was successful in defending Zaragoza from attacks from al-Mundhir, Sancho I of Aragon and Ramon Berenguer II, who he held captive briefly in 1082.

In 1084 at the Battle of Morella near Totosa, El Cid with Moorish armies defeated Sancho of Aragon. In 1086 the Almoravid’s invaded the Iberian Peninsula through Gibraltar. The Almoravid’s residents of present day North Africa were asked to help defend the divided Moors from Alfonso. El Cid properly led a large Moorish force during the Battle of Sagrajas, which took place in 1086. This was near the Taifa of Badajoz. The Almoravid and Andalusian tribes, including armies of Badajoz, Malaga, Granada, Tortosa and Seville defeated a combined army of Leon, Aragon and Castile.

The defeat made Alfonso recall and request El Cid. It is known that El Cid was at Alfonso’s court in July 1087 but after that it is unknown. El Cid may have returned to Alfonso, but now he was his own man with his own plans. He returned to Zaragoza and was quite content to let the Alfonso’s army and the army of the Almoravid’s fight it out amongst themselves without his assistance. He had a plan and his hope was for two weakened sides.

It was around the same time that El Cid started to his plans into action. With a combined force of Christians and Moors he manoeuvred towards the Moorish Mediterranean city of Valencia. Obstacles did though lay in his way. Firstly Berenguer Ramon II of Barcelona who El Cid fought the army of at the Battle of Tebar, were he only defeated Berenguer but captured him also. He was later released with Berenguer’s nephew Ramon Berenguer III marrying El Cid’s daughter Maria.

On his way to Valencia El Cid conquered other towns also. These were such as El Puig and Quart de-Poblet. This then lead to his influence in Valencia and the surrounding areas growing. Valencia at the time was ruled by al-Qadir and in October 1092 it revolted with an uprising inspired by the city’s chief judge Ibn Jahhaf and the Almoravids. El Cid took this chance and began to lay siege to the city. In December 1093 an attempt to try and break the siege failed. The siege went on and lasted till May 1094 and by this point El Cid had carved his own principality along the Mediterranean coast.

Officially El Cid ruled on behalf of Alfonso, but in truth he was largely independent with the city being both Christian and Muslim.

El Cid and his wife Jimena Diaz lived peacefully in Valencia for five years until the Almoravids besieged the city. The siege went on and El Cid died on the 10th June 1099. Jimena Diaz tried to keep control but she fled to Burgos in 1101 with El Cid’s body. Valencia lasted until 5th May 1102 when it was captured by Masdali. It would be another 125 years before it would be ruled by Christians again.

El Cid was buried in Castile in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardena. His body now lies at the centre of Burgos Cathedral.

El CId Tomb

Babieca or Bavieca was El Cid’s warhorse. Several stories exist about El Cid and his horse. One well known legend describes how El Cid acquired the stallion. El Cid’s godfather Pedro El Grande was a monk at a Carthusian monastery and as El Cid’s coming of age present he allowed El Cid to pick a horse from an Andalusian herd. El Cid picked and Pedro didn’t approve and is said to have shouted ‘Babieca’ (stupid) and this is where the name of the horse came from.

The horse stayed with El Cid, and is it is said that he requested that he was buried with him at the monastery of San Pedro de Cardena and his name is mentioned in several tales and historical documents about El Cid.

The weapon traditionally identified as El Cid’s sword, Tizona used to be displayed in the Army Museum in Toledo. In 1999 a small sample of the blade underwent metallurgical analysis which confirmed that the blade was made in Moorish Cordoba in the eleventh century and contained amounts of Damascus steel. El Cid also had a sword called Colada.   In 2007 the Autonomous Community of Castile and Leon bought the sword for €1.6 million and it is currently on display at the Museum of Burgos.

El Cid was married in July 1075 to Alfonso’s kinswoman Jimena Diaz. The Historia Roderici calls her a daughter of a Count Diego of Oviedo. Tradition states that when El Cid laid his eyes on her he fell in love straight away. They had two children Cristina and Maria who both married into royal families. Christina to Ramiro, Lord of Monzon, grandson of Garcia Sanchez III of Navarre and Maria, firstly it is alleged to a prince of Aragon (possibly a son of Peter I) and secondly to Ramon Berenguer III, count of Barcelona. El Cid’s son was killed in battle at the Battle of Consuegra in 1097.

I am currently starting to look into the history of Spain more and El Cid has definitely added to my curiosity about the fractious country that very much like Anglo-Saxon England seems to a very rich past. I am sure I will be writing more soon.

Ramiro I of Asturias

Ramiro I was born about 790 and was King of Asturias from 842 until his death on 1st February 850. He was the son of King Bermudo I and became king after a power struggle for succession that followed the death of Alfonso II, who died without issue. Chronicles state that his reign was turbulent with attacks from both Vikings and Moors.

The death of King Alfonso II of Asturias brought about a succession crisis that would rock the whole kingdom. According to the Chronicle of Alfonso III, the childless Alfonso II chose Ramiro a distant kinsman and son of Alfonso’s predecessor Bermudo I. At the time of Alfonso’s death, Ramiro was attending his own wedding in Castile. In Ramiro’s absence Nepocian, the late king’s son-in-law contested the succession and was supported by Astures and Vascones who had both been loyal to Alfonso II. Ramiro turned to the area of Galicia and found support where he formed his army and advanced towards Oviedo.

ramiro i

Nepotian waited at Cornellana by the river Narcea where either Ramiro either defeated them in battle or Nepotian’s troops fled without putting up a fight. Nepotian fled, but was caught by Count Scipion and Count Sonna. After capture Nepotian was blinded and interned into a monastery.

Ramiro now gained the crown, with which his first piece of business was to abandon the election process for the kings in which the nobles picked the successor monarch as the nobles had done with Nepotian.

Early in his reign, Ramiro received word that Vikings were raiding on the western coast of France and travelling south towards his own kingdom. Normally Vikings looked for rivers to navigate using their long boats and large cities to attack providing the most plunder. Luckily for Ramiro Asturias lacked both of these and chronicles of the time only refer to two small attacks, one in Gijon and one in A Coruna both in 844. The attacks were both challenged by troops sent by Ramiro.

According to legend in 834 Ramiro was said to have defeated the Moors at the Battle of Clavijo. The date was later changed to 844 to accommodate the contradictions in the story (Ramiro was not ruling in 834). The battle came to the spotlight because of a charter from the 12th Century written in Santiago de Compostela. Neither Asturian nor Arab chronicles of the time mention the battle. It’s possible that the battle is a myth and of the historical battle that took place between Ramiro’s son, Ordono I and Musa ibn Musa ibn Qasi. During the Second Battle of Albelda in 859, Ordono’s troops with Garcia Iniguez of Pamplona crushed the Moor forces. According to legend during the battle, Saint James the Greater, the Moor-slayer, is said to have appeared on a white horse bearing a white standard and aided the Asturian troops to defeat the Moors.

Ramiro’s actual battles with the Moors were not much of a success. Emir Abd ar-Rahman II of Cordoba also had to battle against Viking raids and also internal rebellions led by Musa ibn Musa of the Banu Qasi family. Ramiro tried to take advantage of this by repopulating the city of Leon. This was short lived and Abd ar-Rahman II dispatched both the rebels and the Vikings and sent an army under his son who would become Muhammad I of Cordoba making the Christians flee in 846. The city would not be re-occupied until 856 under Ordono I.

During the later part of Ramiro’s reign internal conflict would take over. Throughout discontented nobles made noises about rebellions. The Chronica Albeldenisis mentions two of these nobles. One being Piniolo who Ramiro condemned to death with his seven sons. The second was Aldroito who Ramiro punishment was for Aldroito to be blinded. Ramiro is said also to have dealt harshly with pagans and thieves who’s numbers are said to have grown through his reign.

The Chronica Albeldensis praises Ramiro as ‘the Rod of Justice’

Santa María del Naranco, at the capital of Oviedo, originally a recreational palace of Ramiro's, then a church.

Santa María del Naranco, at the capital of Oviedo, originally a recreational palace of Ramiro’s, then a church.

Not much is known of Ramiro’s first marriage except that it occurred early enough for his son to be old enough to be an adult at the time of his succession. His second marriage took place roughly about 842. At the time of Alfonso II’s death it is stated that Ramiro was in Castile at his own wedding. From this you would presume that his second wife Paterna was Castillian.

There is no solid evidence that Ramiro had any other children other than Ordono. It is said that Count Rodrigo of Castile (died 873) has been named as the son of Ramiro and Paterna and was named Count of Castile due to his connection with the royal family in Asturia.

Ramiro died on 1st February 850 in his palace at Santa Maria del Naranco located on Mount Naranco near Oviedo. He was buried in the Pantheon of Asturian Kings in the Cathedral of San Salvador, Oviedo alongside his second wife Paterna.

 

Arnulf of Carinthia

arnulf i

Arnulf of Carinthia, was born around 850 A.D. He was the son of Carloman, King of Bavaria and his wife Liutswind, who was perhaps of Carantanian origin and possibly the sister of Ernst, Count of the Bavarian Nordgau Margraviate in the area of the Upper Palatinate or perhaps the burgave of Passau.

After Arnulf’s birth it is said that Carloman married another sister of Ernst before 861. She died after 8th August 879. It is mainly West-Franconian historiography that speaks of Arnulf’s illegitimacy and some believe that the two females may be one and the same person.

Arnulf was granted the Duchy of Carinthia, a Frankish vassal state and successor to the ancient Principality of Carantania by his father Carloman after Carloman had become reconciled with his own father Louis the German and was created King of Bavaria. It is believed that Arnulf spent the majority of his child hood in Moosburg, which is in Carinthia.

After Carloman suffered from a stroke in 879, Louis the Younger inherited Bavaria, Charles the Fat was given the Kingdom of Italy and Arnulf was confirmed in Carinthia, but largely ruled the majority of Bavaria. In 880 Carloman died with Arnulf being granted Pannonia or Carantanum as written by Regino of Prum.

In 882 Engelschalk II rebelled against the Margrave of Pannonia, Aribo which started the Wilhelminer War. Arnulf supported Engleschalf after accepting his and his brother’s homage which ruined Arnulf’s relationship with his uncle the current Holy Roman Emperor. It also sparked a war between Arnulf and Svatopluk of Moravia which saw Pannonia invaded. Arnulf and Svatopluk didn’t make peace until 885.

Arnulf took a leading role in the deposition of his unlce, Charles the Fat. In 887 Arnulf held a Diet at Tribur and with the support of his nobles and deposed Chales under the threat of military action. Charles peacefully went into retirement after chastising Arnulf for his actions. Arnulf granted Charles last requested for a few royal villas in Swabia to live out the rest of his life. Arnulf who had distinguished himself in the wars with the Slavs was elected by the nobles and assumed the title of King of East Francia.

Upon the death of Charles the Fat, Arnulf took advantage and secured the territory of Lorraine from West Frankia. He then created Lorraine as a kingdom for his son Zwetibold. In 889, Arulf supported the claim of Louis the Blind to the kingdom of Provence after he received a personal appeal from Louis mother, Emengard who visited him in Forcheim in May 889.

Arnulf looked to strengthen and enlarge his lands by taking advantage of fighting between Odo of France and Charles the Simple. Charles at one point had even fled and asks Arnulf for protection. This lead Pope Formosus to get involved as he was worried that the war weary West Francia would became easy prey for the Normans.

In 895 Arnulf summoned both Charles and Odo to his presence at Worms. Charles was persuaded by his advisors not to go and sent a representative in his place. Odo on the other hand attended in person with a large retinue bearing gifts for Arnulf. Angered by the non appearance in person of Charles, Arnulf welcomed Odo and supported his claim to the West Francian throne. During the same Diet he bestowed the crown of Lotharingia upon his illegitimate son Zwetibold.

As early as 880, Arnulf had designs on Great Moravia. Arnulf had the Frankish bishop Wiching of Nitra interfere with missionary activities with the aim of preventing any potential for creating a united Moravia. In 893 or 894, Greta Moravia probably lost part of its territory in modern day western Hungary to Arnulf. As a reward Wiching became chancellor in 892. Although he continued to attempt to conquer the whole of Great Moravia he didn’t succeed. Although in 895 Bohemia broke away from Moravia and did become his vassal.   An accord was made between him and the Borivoj I, Duke of Bohemia that Bohemia was freed from the dangers of invasion.

Further south in Italy Berengar of Friuli was crowned king of Lombardy in 887 and Guy II of Spoleto was crowned in 889 leading to a dispute. Pope Stephen V supported Guy, crowning him Roman Emperor in 891, while Arnulf supported Berengar. In 893, a new pope Formosus sent an embassy to Omuntesberch asking Arnulf to liberate Italy where he could be crowned in Rome. Arnulf sent his son Zwentibold with a Bavarian army to join Berengar and in due course they defeated Guy. In 894 Arnulf personally led an army across the Alps and took Bergamo in January 894. Count Ambrose, Guy’s representative was hung from a tree by the city’s gates.

Arnulf went on to conquer all the territory north of the Po, forcing Milan to surrender and then drove Guy out of Pavia. After this Arnulf was then crowned King of Italy. Guy died suddenly in late autumn and Arnulf headed back north. He was interrupted by Rudolph, King of Transjurane Burgundy. In retaliation Arnulf sent Zwentibold to ravage Burgundy.

In 895 a new embassy had been sent and Arnulf embarked on a second campaign in Italy. He quickly crossed the Alps and took Pavia. Lambert who now ruled in Guys place and his mother had imprisoned Formosus. The nobility of Tuscany slowly came out in support, Firstly with Maginulf, Count of Milan and then Walfred, Count of Pavia. They reached Rome finding the gates shut and Lambert’s mother in command. They attacked and took the city by force on the 21st February 895 freeing the Pope from his imprisonment greeting Arnulf on the steps of the Santi Apostoli.

On 22nd February 896 Fromosus led the king into the church and anointed and crowned him, saluting him as Augustus. They then went to the Basillica of Saint Peter Outside the Walls where he received the homage of the Roman people who swore ‘never to hand over the city to Lambert or his mother Ageltrude. Arnulf exiled to Bavaria two leading senators, Constantine and Stephen who had helped Lambert’s mother when seizing the city.

Arnulf left his vassal Farold to hold Rome while Arnulf marched to Spoleto where Angeltrude had fled to join her son Lambert. Arnulf’s luck though looked like it had run out when he suffered a stroke on the way to Spoleto and had to end the campaign returning to Bavaria.

On his way north Arnulf stopped and crowned his illegitimate son Ratold sub-King of Italy in Pavia, leaving him in Milan to try and hold Italy. The same year Fromosus died with Lambert seizing power with Berengar. They went on to murder any officials who had been appointed by Arnulf and Ratold fled as well to Bavaria.

On return to Germany in 896 Arnulf found out he had morbus pediculosis (infestation of lice under the eyelid) and this meant he was unable to deal with the problems around him. Italy was now lost and raiders from Moravia and Hungary were continually raiding into his lands and Lotharingia was in revolt against Zwentibold. He was also plagued by escalating violence between the lower German nobility.

On 8th December 899 Arnulf of Carinthia died at Ratisbon in Bavaria.

On Arnulf’s death, he was succeeded as king of East Francia by his son Louis the Child, mothered by his wife Ota (died 903). Louis the child was his only legitimate son and died in 911 at the age of 17 or 18 and due to this the eastern (German) branch of the house of Charlemagne ceased to exist. Arnulf’s illegitimate sons Zwentibold and Ratold were recognised as Arnulf’s successors with Zwentibold continuing to be King of Lotharingia till 900.

Arnulf is entombed in St Emmeram’s Basilica at Rengensburg, which is now known as Schloss Thurn und Taxis, the palace of the Princes of Thurn and Taxis.

Arnulf defiantly had a busy life and with much of central Europe at the time his hand seems to be in many different jars and the strings of many different kingdoms seem to be pulled by him. A descendant of Charlemagne he played his part in the web that was central European politics at the time.

Urraca – Queen of Leon and Castile

Urraca 2

Urraca was the daughter of Alfonso VI of Leon and his second wife Constance of Burgundy and was born in April 1079. As her father’s eldest legitimate child she was heiress presumptive of his lands from when she was born until 1107. In 1107 Alfonso recognised his illegitimate son Sancho as his heir. This didn’t last for long as the following year Sancho died and Urraca once more became heiress presumptive.

As heiress presumptive Urraca was the source and focus of dynastic politics. She became a child bride at the age of eight when she was married to Raymond of Burgundy. Author Bernard F Reilly suggests that Urraca and Richard were fully married when she was eight because Richard is then named in documents as Alfonso’s son-in-;aw. Reilly though states that the marriage wouldn’t of been consummated till Urraca reached thirteen, as she was placed under the care of a trusted magnate. At the age of fourteen she fell pregnant although suffered a still birth, which suggests the marriage was consummated when she was thirteen or fourteen.ile, even tough it stayed loyal to Urraca.

The marriage was part of Alfonso’s plans to try and create greater unity across the Pyrenees. In 1105 she gave birth to a son that would go on to become Alfonso VII. Richard died in 1107 and Alfonso VI moved to try and unite Leon and Castile with Aragon with a marriage to Alfonso I of Aragon.

Marriage negotiations were still being carried out when Alfonso VI died in 1109. Many of the leading magnates and advisors silently opposed the wedding worrying how much influence Alfonso of Aragon would have over Urraca. Urraca herself didn’t favour the marriage but honoured her now late father’s wishes and married Alfonso.

As soon as they were married it sparked rebellion in Galicia, under the influence of her half-sister Theresa and her husband Henry, Count of Portugal. The relationship between Urraca and Alfonso quickly soured and she accused him of physical abuse and by May 1110 they had separated.

Urraca had become unhappy with Alfonso’s treatment of rebels, especially with a certain rebel who he had executed after he had surrendered to the queen. This then led to open warfare between the two kingdoms. This escalated into an alliance between Alfonso I of Aragon and Henry of Portugal at the Battle of Candespina in 1111. Urraca’s chief supporter and lover Gomez Gonzalez died at the battle and was replaced in both roles by Pedro Gonzalez de Lara.

By the end of 1112 a truce had been called which led to the annulment of the marriage between Alfonso and Urraca. Urraca recovered Asturias, Leon and Galicia with Alfonso still occupying large parts of Castile, even though large parts of it stayed loyal to Urraca.

With being a female in a very dominated male world Urraca defiantly had her challenges, but it seems despite different set backs she embraced this and strived to maintain her kingdom. This helped lay the foundations for her son to become Alfonso VII even despite the opposition from her lover Pedro Gonzalez de Lara upon her death in 1126.

urraca 1

Princess Victoria Eugenie and the curse of haemophilia

Victoria Eugenie 1As I mentioned in my last piece regarding the sons of Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice, daughter to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, the story of Princess Victoria Eugenie Julia Ena was quite a story on its own.

The first half of the twentieth century seemed to be quite a dangerous time for some of the granddaughters of Victoria and the royal curse of haemophilia

Victoria Eugenie known to the family and British public as Ena was no different and below I want to tell her story.

Victoria Eugenie was born on the 24th October 1887 at Balmoral Castle to Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom. She spent most of her childhood between Balmoral, Osborne House and Windsor Castle. As part of Victoria’s agreement for her daughter Beatrice to marry Henry she had to stay as her full time companion and personal secretary which meant Victoria Eugenie would spent a lot of her time as a child in Victoria’s household.

Victoria Eugenie was bridesmaid to Mary of Teck in her wedding to the future King George V in 1893. In 1896 her father died and in 1901 Queen Victoria herself also died. After this the Battenberg’s took up residence in Kensington Palace, London.

In 1905 King Alfonso XIII of Spain made an official visit to the United Kingdom and King Edward VII hosted a dinner at Buckingham Palace in his honour. It was known that Alfonso was looking for a suitable wife. It was thought that Princess Patricia, another of Edward VII’s nieces was the most suitable match for Alfonso but she was unimpressed by his advances and then his attention turned to Victoria Eugenie.

On his return to Spain Alfonso he wrote to Victoria Eugenie sending her numerous post cards. His mother Maria Christina didn’t approve of his interest in the British princess preferring for her son to marry from her own Habsburg family from Austria. There was also the issue of religion. Spain was a Roman Catholic country and Victoria Eugenie came from a Protestant background. The royal curse of haemophilia was also a concern.

This did not stop Alfonso and he would not be held back from his continued attention to the British princess and after about a year of communication and rumours about who Alfonso would marry, his mother finally caved in and agreed to the marriage. She wrote to Princess Beatrice telling her about the love her son had for Victoria Eugenie and things then moved quickly and a couple of days later at Windsor King Edward congratulated his niece on her future engagement.

Victoria Eugenie 2

Princess Beatrice and Princess Victoria Eugenie travelled to Biarritz on 22nd January 1906 and stayed at the Villa Mauriscot. Alfonso arrived, a couple of days later and spent three days chaperoned getting to know Victoria Eugenie more. Alfonso then took both Victoria Eugenie and her mother to San Sebastian to meet Maria Christina. On the 3rd February he left them to travel to Madrid while the two princess left for Versailles to be instructed in the Roman Catholic faith as would be required for her to be the future Queen of Spain.

King Alfonso XIII and Princess Victoria Eugenie married on 31st May 1906 at the Royal Monastery of San Jeronimo.   The wedding didn’t go without a hitch as an assignation attempt took place. Mateu Morral threw a bomb at the the royal carriage. Victoria Eugenie turned at the same time the bomb was thrown to look at St Mary’s church in the city centre which Alfonso was pointing out to her. This action is believed to have saved her although her dress was splattered with blood from a Guard who was riding alongside the carriage. Fifteen people died. There is a statue to the victims of the bombing at the front of the Royal Monastery of San Jeronimo.

The couple’s first child was Alfonso, Prince of Asturias who was born 10th May 1907. This gained Victoria Eugenie some favour with her new people, to which her early relationship was quite strained. Doctors though on carrying out the new Prince’s circumcision noted that he did not stop bleeding showing that he had inherited the dreaded haemophilia.

King Alfonso never forgave his Queen for this fact. There youngest son also had haemophilia. The couple went on to have seven children in total, five boys and two girls. Once all the children were born the relationship between the couple went even sourer and Alfonso is believed to have had numerous affairs fathering several illegitimate children.

Victoria Eugenie devoted herself to working in hospitals and services for the poor. She was heavily involved in the reorganisation of the Spanish Red Cross. In 1929 in Barcelona a statue was raised to her in nurse’s uniform in recognition of the work she had done. The statue no longer stands and has since been destroyed.

In 1931 the whole Spanish Royal family went into exile after elections brought Republicans to power across many major cities and the proclamation of the 2nd Spanish Republic. The family went at first to France before later moving to Italy. Later Alfonso and Victoria Eugenie separated and she started to spend more time in the United Kingdom before she settled on the chateau Vielle Fontaine outside Lausanne, Switzerland.

The whole family though were brought together again in Rome for the baptism of her grandson Juan Carlos in 1938. On 15th January 1941 Alfonso XIII felling that death was close transferred his rights to the Spanish crown to their son Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona. The feeling Alfonso had was true and he suffered a heart attack on 12th February and died sixteen days later.

In 1942 living in Italy Victoria Eugenie was asked to leave for being ‘persona non grata’ to the Italian government. According to Harold Tittmann, a US representative to the Vatican at the time the reason for this was Victoria Eugenie’s ill disguised feelings of support for the Allied armies during the Second World War.

She did return briefly to Spain to stand as godmother to her great grandson Infante Felipe in February 1968. Felipe was the son of Infante Juan Carlos and Princess Sophia of Denmark and Greece. Felipe became King of Spain in June 2014 after the abdication of his father.

Victoria Eugenie 3

Victoria died back in Lausanne on 15th April 1969 aged 81 years old. It was exactly 38 years after she had left Spain in exile. As well as her great grandson being King of Spain her other godchildren include; Albert, Prince of Monaco; Queen Fabiola of Belgium and Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba.

She came from a generation and family that spread right across Europe and could include King of United Kingdom, Queen of Norway, Empress of Russia, Queen of Romania, Emperor of Germany, Queen of Sweden and Queen of Greece all as first cousins.