Ferdinand III of Castile
Saint Ferdinand III, T.O.S.F.
Third Order of St. Francis
The Third Order of St. Francis is a third order within the Franciscan movement of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes both congregations of vowed men and women and fraternities of men and women living standard lives in the world, usually married...

, (5 August 1199 – 30 May 1252) was the King of Castile from 1217 and León from 1230. He was the son of Alfonso IX of León
Alfonso IX of Leon
Alfonso IX was king of León and Galicia from the death of his father Ferdinand II in 1188 until his own death...

 and Berenguela of Castile
Berenguela of Castile
Berengaria was Queen regnant of Castile in 1217 and Queen consort of León from 1197 to 1204.-Family origins:...

. Through his second marriage he was also Count of Aumale. He finished the work done by his maternal grandfather Alfonso VIII
Alfonso VIII of Castile
Alfonso VIII , called the Noble or el de las Navas, was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death and King of Toledo. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate...

 and consolidated the Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

. In 1231, he permanently united Castile and León. He was canonized in 1671 and, in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, he is Fernando el Santo, San Fernando or San Fernando Rey.

Early life

Ferdinand was born at the monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 of Valparaíso (Peleas de Arriba, in what is now the Province of Zamora) in 1198-99.

His parents' marriage was annulled by order of Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

 in 1204, due to consanguinity. Berengaria took their children, including Ferdinand, to the court of her father. In 1217, her younger brother Henry I
Henry I of Castile
Henry I of Castile was king of Castile. He was the son of Alfonso VIII of Castile and his wife Eleanor Plantagenet, ....

 died and she succeeded him to the Castilian throne, but immediately surrendered it to her son, Ferdinand, for whom she initially acted as regent. When Alfonso died in 1230, Ferdinand also inherited León, though he had to fight Alfonso's heirs, Sancha and Dulce, daughters of his first wife, for it. He thus became the first sovereign of both kingdoms following the death of Alfonso VII
Alfonso VII of León
Alfonso VII , born Alfonso Raimúndez, called the Emperor , became the King of Galicia in 1111 and King of León and Castile in 1126. Alfonso first used the title Emperor of All Spain, alongside his mother Urraca, once his mother vested him with the direct rule of Toledo in 1116...

 in 1157.


Early in his reign, Ferdinand had to deal with a rebellion of the House of Lara
House of Lara
The House of Lara or Casa de Lara are a noble family, known from the medieval Kingdom of Castile.Two of its branches, those from the Duke of Nájera and from the Marquis of Aguilar de Campoo were considered Grandees of Spain...

. He also established a permanent border with the Kingdom of Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon
The Kingdom of Aragon was a medieval and early modern kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding to the modern-day autonomous community of Aragon, in Spain...

 by the Treaty of Almizra
Treaty of Almizra
The Treaty of Almizra was the third of a series of three treaties between the Crowns of Aragon and Castile meant to determine the limits of their expansion into Andalusia so as to prevent squabbling between the Christian princes. Specifically, it defined the borders of the Kingdom of Valencia...


Ferdinand spent much of his reign fighting the Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

. Through diplomacy and war, exploiting the internal dissensions in the Moorish kingdoms, he triumphed in expanding Castilian power over the southern Iberian peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

. He captured the towns of Úbeda
Úbeda is a town in the province of Jaén in Spain's autonomous community of Andalusia, with some 35,600 inhabitants. Both this city and the neighboring city of Baeza benefited from extensive patronage in the early 16th century resulting in the construction of a series of Renaissance style palaces...

 in 1233, Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

 in 1236, Jaén
Jaén, Spain
Jaén is a city in south-central Spain, the name is derived from the Arabic word Jayyan, . It is the capital of the province of Jaén. It is located in the autonomous community of Andalusia....

 in 1246, and Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 in 1248, and occupied Murcia
-History:It is widely believed that Murcia's name is derived from the Latin words of Myrtea or Murtea, meaning land of Myrtle , although it may also be a derivation of the word Murtia, which would mean Murtius Village...

 in 1243, thereby reconquering all Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

 save Granada
Emirate of Granada
The Emirate of Granada , also known as the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada , was an emirate established in 1238 following the defeat of Muhammad an-Nasir of the Almohad dynasty by an alliance of Christian kingdoms at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212...

, whose king nevertheless did homage as a tributary state
Tributary state
The term tributary state refers to one of the two main ways in which a pre-modern state might be subordinate to a more powerful neighbour. The heart of the relationship was that the tributary would send a regular token of submission to the superior power...

 to Ferdinand in 1238. Ferdinand divided the conquered territories between the Knights, the Church, and the nobility, whom he endowed with great latifundia
Latifundia are pieces of property covering very large land areas. The latifundia of Roman history were great landed estates, specializing in agriculture destined for export: grain, olive oil, or wine...

s. 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
The almogavars were a class of soldiers from the Crown of Aragon, well-known during the Christian Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula. They were much employed as mercenaries in Italy, Latin Greece and the Levant during the 13th and 14th centuries.-History:The Almogavars came mainly from the...

 of the Sierra Morena
Sierra Morena
The Sierra Morena is one of the main systems of mountain ranges in Spain.It stretches for 400 kilometres East-West across southern Spain, forming the southern border of the Meseta Central plateau of the Iberian Peninsula, and providing the watershed between the valleys of the Guadiana to the...

 to the north, which Ferdinand had not at the time subjugated. Only in 1236 did Ferdinand arrive with a royal army to take 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.

On the domestic front, he strengthened the University of Salamanca
University of Salamanca
The University of Salamanca is a Spanish higher education institution, located in the town of Salamanca, west of Madrid. It was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. It is the oldest founded university in Spain and the third oldest European...

 and founded the current cathedral of Burgos
Burgos Cathedral
The Burgos Cathedral is a Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral in Burgos, Spain. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is famous for its vast size and unique architecture. Its construction began in 1221, and was in use nine years later, although work continued on and off for two hundred years...

. He was a patron of the newest movement in the Church, that of the friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

s. Whereas the Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

s and then the Cistercians and Cluniacs had taken a major part in the Reconquista up until then, Ferdinand founded Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

, Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

, Trinitarian
Trinitarian Order
The Order of the Holy Trinity is a Catholic religious order that was founded in the area of Cerfroid, some 80 km northeast of Paris, at the end of the twelfth century. The founder was St. John de Matha, whose feast day is celebrated on 17 December...

, 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
Third Order of St. Francis
The Third Order of St. Francis is a third order within the Franciscan movement of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes both congregations of vowed men and women and fraternities of men and women living standard lives in the world, usually married...

, and is honored in that Order.

The Primera Crónica General de España asserts that, on his death bed, Ferdinand said to his son "you are rich in lands and in many good vassals — more so than any other king in Christendom," probably in recognition of his expansive conquests. He 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 incarnation of Castilian. St Ferdinand was canonized by Pope Clement X
Pope Clement X
Pope Clement X , born Emilio Bonaventura Altieri, was Pope from 29 April 1670 to 22 July 1676.-Early life:Emilio Altieri was born in Rome, the son of Lorenzo Altieri and Victoria Delphini, a Venetian lady...

 in 1671. Several places named San Fernando were founded across the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....


The symbol of his power as a king was his sword Lobera
The sword Lobera was the symbol of power used by Saint Ferdinand III of Castile, instead of the more traditional rod, and so the king will be depicted with orb and sword in hand.-History:...


First marriage

In 1219, Ferdinand married Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen
Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen
Beatrice of Swabia was Queen of Castile and Leon as the wife of King Ferdinand III...

 (1203–1235), daughter of the German king Philip of Swabia
Philip of Swabia
Philip of Swabia was king of Germany and duke of Swabia, the rival of the emperor Otto IV.-Biography:Philip was the fifth and youngest son of Emperor Frederick I and Beatrice I, Countess of Burgundy, daughter of Renaud III, count of Burgundy, and brother of the emperor Henry VI...

 and Irene Angelina
Irene Angelina
Irene Angelina was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos by his first wife, perhaps named Herina, possibly a member of the Tornikes family.- Marriage and issue :...

. Elisabeth was called Beatriz in Spain. Their children were:
  1. Alfonso X
    Alfonso X of Castile
    Alfonso X was a Castilian monarch who ruled as the King of Castile, León and Galicia from 1252 until his death...

    , his successor
  2. Frederick
  3. Ferdinand (1225–1243/1248)
  4. Eleanor (born 1227), died young
  5. Berengaria (1228–1288/89), a nun at Las Huelgas
  6. Henry
  7. 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
    Haakon IV of Norway
    Haakon Haakonarson , also called Haakon the Old, was king of Norway from 1217 to 1263. Under his rule, medieval Norway reached its peak....

    , 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.
  8. Sancho, Archbishop of Toledo and Seville (1233–1261)
  9. John Manuel, Lord of Villena
    Juan Manuel, Lord of Villena
    Juan Manuel was the son of Ferdinand III of Castile and his wife Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen....

  10. 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:
  1. Ferdinand (1239–1260), Count of Aumale
  2. Eleanor (c.1241–1290), married Edward I of England
    Edward I of England
    Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

  3. Louis (1243–1269)
  4. Simon (1244), died young and buried in a monastery in Toledo
    Toledo, Spain
    Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

  5. John (1245), died young and buried at the cathedral in Córdoba
    Córdoba, Spain
    -History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...


External links

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