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.

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