Kingdom of León

Kingdom of León

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The Kingdom of León was an independent kingdom situated in the northwest region of the 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...

. It was founded in AD 910 when the Christian princes of Asturias
Kingdom of Asturias
The Kingdom of Asturias was a Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula founded in 718 by Visigothic nobles under the leadership of Pelagius of Asturias. It was the first Christian political entity established following the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom after Islamic conquest of Hispania...

 along the northern coast of the peninsula
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

 shifted their capital from Oviedo
Oviedo
Oviedo is the capital city of the Principality of Asturias in northern Spain. It is also the name of the municipality that contains the city....

 to the city of León
León, Spain
León is the capital of the province of León in the autonomous community of Castile and León, situated in the northwest of Spain. Its city population of 136,985 makes it the largest municipality in the province, accounting for more than one quarter of the province's population...

. The County of Portugal
County of Portugal
The County of Portugal was the region around Braga and Porto, today corresponding to littoral northern Portugal, from the late ninth to the early twelfth century, during which it was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León.-History:...

 separated to become the independent Kingdom of Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal
The Kingdom of Portugal was Portugal's general designation under the monarchy. The kingdom was located in the west of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe and existed from 1139 to 1910...

 in 1139 and the eastern, inland part of León was joined to the Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

 in 1230.

From 1296 to 1301, the Kingdom of León was again independent and after the re-union with Castile remained a kingdom until 1833, but as part of a united Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. In the Royal Decree of 30 November 1833, the Kingdom of León was considered one of the Spanish regions and divided into the provinces of León, Zamora and Salamanca. In 1978, these three provinces of the region of León were included along with six provinces of the historic region of Old Castile
Old Castile
Old Castile is a historic region of Spain, which included territory that later corresponded to the provinces of Santander , Burgos, Logroño , Soria, Segovia, Ávila, Valladolid, Palencia....

 to create the autonomous community
Autonomous communities of Spain
An autonomous community In other languages of Spain:*Catalan/Valencian .*Galician .*Basque . The second article of the constitution recognizes the rights of "nationalities and regions" to self-government and declares the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".Political power in Spain is...

 of Castile and León
Castile and León
Castile and León is an autonomous community in north-western Spain. It was so constituted in 1983 and it comprises the historical regions of León and Old Castile...

.

Background


The city of León
León, Spain
León is the capital of the province of León in the autonomous community of Castile and León, situated in the northwest of Spain. Its city population of 136,985 makes it the largest municipality in the province, accounting for more than one quarter of the province's population...

 was founded by the Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 Seventh Legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

 (usually written as Legio Septima Gemina
Legio VII Gemina
Legio septima Gemina was a Roman legion; its full name was Legio VII Gemina Felix. VII Gemina dates back to the Year of the four emperors , when the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, Galba, levied a legion to march on Rome...

 ("twin seventh legion"). It was the headquarters of that legion in the late empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and was a centre for trade in gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, which was mined at Las Médulas nearby. In 540, the city was conquered by the Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 Visigothic king Liuvigild
Liuvigild
Liuvigild, Leuvigild, Leovigild, or Leogild was a Visigothic King of Hispania and Septimania from 569 to April 21, 586. From 585 he was also king of Galicia. Known for his Codex Revisus or Code of Leovigild, a unifying law allowing equal rights between the Visigothic and Hispano-Roman population,...

, who did not harass the already well-established Roman Catholic population. In AD 717, León fell again, this time to the Moors
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...

. However, León was one of the first cities retaken during the Christian reconquest
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...

 of the Iberian peninsula, and became part of the Kingdom of Asturias
Kingdom of Asturias
The Kingdom of Asturias was a Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula founded in 718 by Visigothic nobles under the leadership of Pelagius of Asturias. It was the first Christian political entity established following the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom after Islamic conquest of Hispania...

 in AD 742.

León was a small town during this time, but one of the few former Roman cities in the Kingdom of Asturias which still held significance (the surviving Roman walls bear the medieval walling upon them). During Visigothic times, the city had served as a bishopric
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

, and incorporating the city into Asturias brought legitimacy to the Asturian monarchs who sought to lead a unified Iberian church, during a time when most of the Iberian Peninsula was governed by Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 powers.

Foundation


León was created as a separate kingdom when the Asturian king, Alfonso the Great, divided his realm among his three sons. León was inherited by García I
García I of León
García I was the King of León from 910 until his death and eldest of three succeeding sons of Alfonso III the Great by his wife Jimena....

 (911–914). His successor was Ordoño II of León
Ordoño II of León
Ordoño II was king of Galicia from 910, and king of Galicia and León from 914 until his death. He was the second son of King Alfonso III the Great and his wife, Jimena of Pamplona....

 (914–924), who moved the capital of the kingdom of Astures to León.

Ordoño II of León was also a military leader who brought military expeditions from León south to Seville
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...

, 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...

, and Guadalajara
Guadalajara, Spain
Guadalajara is a city and municipality in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, Spain, and in the natural region of La Alcarria. It is the capital of the province of Guadalajara. It is located roughly 60 km northeast of Madrid on the Henares River, and has a population of 83,789...

, in the heart of the Muslim territory.
After a few years of civil wars during the reign of Fruela II, Alfonso Fróilaz
Alfonso Froilaz
Alfonso Fróilaz, called the Hunchback or, in Spanish, el Jorobado, was the king of Galicia for a short time, from 925 to 926. He seems to have claimed Asturias and León as well, as the inheritor of Fruela II, but was driven from the realm by his cousins Sancho, Alfonso, and Ramiro, the sons of...

 and Alfonso IV
Alfonso IV of León
Alfonso IV , called the Monk, was King of León from 925 and King of Galicia from 929, until he abdicated in 931....

, Ramiro II
Ramiro II of León
Ramiro II , son of Ordoño II, was King of León from 931 until his death. Initially titular king only of a lesser part of Asturias, he gained the crown of León after his brother Alfonso IV abdicated in 931...

 (931–951) assumed the throne and brought stability to the kingdom. A brave military chief who defeated the Muslim armies in their own territory, Ramiro's expeditions turned the Valley of the Douro into a no-man's land that separated Christian kingdoms in the north of Iberia from the Muslim states in the south. Ramiro II was nicknamed "The Devil" by Muslims because of his great military skill.
As the Leonese troops advanced they were followed by a process of repoblación
Repoblación
The Repoblación was the ninth-century repopulating of a large region between the River Duero and the Cantabrian Cordillera which had been depopulated in the early years of the Reconquista....

, which consisted of repopulating the Meseta high plains, with people coming from Galicia and especially from Asturias and León. This migration of Leonese peoples greatly influenced the Leonese language
Leonese language
The Leonese language is the endonym term used to refer to all vernacular Romance dialects of the Astur-Leonese linguistic group in the Spanish provinces of León and Zamora; Astur-Leonese also includes the dialects...

. During the repoblación period, there arose a distinct form of art known as Mozarabic art. Mozarabic art is a mixing of Visigoth, Celtic
Celtic art
Celtic art is the art associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and stylistic similarities with speakers of Celtic...

, Muslim, and Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 elements. Notable examples of the Mozarabic style are the Leonese churches of San Miguel of Escalada and Santiago de Peñalba
Santiago de Peñalba
Santiago de Peñalba church is a Mozarabic church in the Valle del Silencio in the region of El Bierzo, close to Ponferrada, province of León, Community of Castile and León, Spain....

.

During the early 10th century, León expanded to the south and east, securing territory that became the County of Burgos
Burgos
Burgos is a city of northern Spain, historic capital of Castile. It is situated at the edge of the central plateau, with about 178,966 inhabitants in the city proper and another 20,000 in its suburbs. It is the capital of the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castile and León...

. Fortified with numerous castle
Castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

s, Burgos remained within Leon until the 930s, at which time Count Ferdinand II of Castile
Ferdinand II of Castile
Fernán González was the first independent count of Castile, son of Gonzalo Fernández de Burgos, who had been named count of Arlanza and the Duero around the year 900, and by tradition a descendant of semi-legendary judge Nuño Rasura...

 began a campaign to expand Burgos and make it independent and hereditary. He took for himself the title Count of Castile, in reference to the many castles of the territory (around Burgos), and continued expanding his area at the expense of León by allying with the Caliphate of Córdoba
Caliphate of Córdoba
The Caliphate of Córdoba ruled the Iberian peninsula and part of North Africa, from the city of Córdoba, from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Islamic Iberia were constructed in this period, including the famous...

, until AD 966, when he was defeated by Sancho I of León
Sancho I of León
Sancho I , called the Fat, was the son of King Ramiro II of León. He succeeded his half-brother Ordoño III in 956 and reigned until his death, except for a two year interruption from 958 to 960, when Ordoño the Wicked usurped the throne...

.

Peak


The Kingdom of León continued to be the most important of all those of the Iberian Peninsula. However, Sancho III of Navarre
Sancho III of Navarre
Sancho III Garcés , called the Great , succeeded as a minor to the Kingdom of Navarre in 1004, and through conquest and political maneuvering increased his power, until at the time of his death in 1035 he controlled the majority of Christian Iberia, bearing the title of rex Hispaniarum...

 (1004–1035) absorbed Castile in the 1020s, and added León in the last year of his life, leaving Galicia to temporary independence. In the division of lands which followed his death, his son Fernando succeeded to the county of Castile. Two years later, in 1037, he conquered León and Galicia. For nearly 30 years, until his death in 1065, he ruled over a combined kingdom of León-Castile as Ferdinand I of León
Ferdinand I of León
Ferdinand I , called the Great , was the Count of Castile from his uncle's death in 1029 and the King of León after defeating his brother-in-law in 1037. According to tradition, he was the first to have himself crowned Emperor of Spain , and his heirs carried on the tradition...

. In these clashes in an impoverished and isolated culture, where salt
Edible salt
Salt, also known as table salt, or rock salt, is a mineral that is composed primarily of sodium chloride , a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts. It is essential for animal life in small quantities, but is harmful to animals and plants in excess...

-making and a blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

's forge counted as industries, the armies that decided the fate of the kingdoms numbered in the hundreds of fighting men.

Early in its existence, León lay directly to the north of the wealthy, sophisticated, and powerful Caliphate of Córdoba. When internal dissensions divided Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 loyalties in the 11th century, leading to an age of smaller Taifa
Taifa
In the history of the Iberian Peninsula, a taifa was an independent Muslim-ruled principality, usually an emirate or petty kingdom, though there was one oligarchy, of which a number formed in the Al-Andalus after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.-Rise:The origins of...

 successor states of the Caliphate, the impoverished Christian kingdoms who had been sending tribute to the Caliphate found themselves in a position to demand payments (parias
Parias
In medieval Spain, parias were a form of tribute paid by the taifas of al-Andalus to the Christian kingdoms of the north...

) instead, in return for favours to particular factions or as simple extortion
Extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

.

Thus, though scarcely influenced by the culture of the successor territories of the former Caliphate, Ferdinand I followed the example of the counts of Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 and the kings of Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

 and he became hugely wealthy from the parias of the Taifas. When he died in 1065, his territories and the parias were split among his three sons, of whom García emerged the victor in the classic fratricidal strife common to feudal successions.

Few in Europe would have known of this immense new wealth in a kingdom so isolated that its bishops had virtually no contact with Rome, except that Ferdinand and his heirs (the kings of León and Castile) became the greatest benefactors of the Abbey of Cluny
Cluny
Cluny or Clungy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon.The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910...

, where Abbot Hugh (died 1109) undertook construction of the huge third abbey church, the cynosure of every eye. The Way of Saint James called pilgrims from Western Europe to the supposed tomb of Saint James the Great
Saint James the Great
James, son of Zebedee was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was a son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of John the Apostle...

 in Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James...

, and the large hostels and churches along the route encouraged building in the Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style.

Alfonso VI was one of the most important kings of León of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. He assumed control of first León, and later Castile and Galicia, when his brother died attacking the Leonese city of Zamora
Zamora, Spain
Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 km downstream as it reaches the Portuguese frontier...

. He was crowned Emperor of Spain and received the honoring of all the kings of the Iberian Peninsula.

León and Castile


The taking of 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:...

, the old Visigoth capital, in 1085 by Alfonso VI of León was a turning point in the development of León and Castile and the first major milestone in the Reconquista
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...

. Christian Mozarab
Mozarab
The Mozarabs were Iberian Christians who lived under Arab Islamic rule in Al-Andalus. Their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, but did however adopt elements of Arabic language and culture...

s from Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 had come north to populate the deserted frontier
Marches
A march or mark refers to a border region similar to a frontier, such as the Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales. During the Frankish Carolingian Dynasty, the word spread throughout Europe....

 lands, and the traditional view of Spanish history has been that they brought with them the remains of Visigothic and Classical culture, and a new ideology of Reconquista, a crusade against the Moors. Modern historians see the fall of Toledo as marking a basic change in relations with the Moorish south, turning from the simple extortion of annual tribute to outright territorial expansion. Alfonso VI was drawn into local politics by strife within Toledo and inherited the political alliances of the city-state. He found himself faced with problems unfamiliar to him, such as appointing and dealing with a Catholic bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 in Toledo and the settling of garrisons in the small Muslim strongholds, the taifa
Taifa
In the history of the Iberian Peninsula, a taifa was an independent Muslim-ruled principality, usually an emirate or petty kingdom, though there was one oligarchy, of which a number formed in the Al-Andalus after the final collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.-Rise:The origins of...

s
, which were dependent on Toledo and which often bought the king's favour with gold from their trade with Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 and the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

. Alfonso VI thus found his role as a Catholic king redefined as he governed large cities with sophisticated urban, Muslim subjects and growing Christian populations.

The two kingdoms of León and Castile were split in 1157, when a major defeat for Alfonso VIII of Castile
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...

 weakened the authority of Castile.
The last two kings of an independent Kingdom of León (1157–1230) were Ferdinand II
Ferdinand II of Leon
Ferdinand II was King of León and Galicia from 1157 to his death.-Life:Born in Toledo, Castile, he was the son of King Alfonso VII of León and Castile and of Berenguela, of the House of Barcelona. At his father's death, he received León and Galicia, while his brother Sancho received Castile and...

 and Alfonso IX
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...

. Fernando II led León's conquest of Mérida
Mérida, Spain
Mérida is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, western central Spain. It has a population of 57,127 . The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.- Climate :...

, a city dating from Roman times. Alfonso IX, besides conquering the whole of Extremadura
Extremadura
Extremadura is an autonomous community of western Spain whose capital city is Mérida. Its component provinces are Cáceres and Badajoz. It is bordered by Portugal to the west...

 (including the cities of Cáceres
Cáceres, Spain
Cáceres is the capital of the same name province, in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain. , its population was 91,131 inhabitants. The municipio has a land area of 1,750.33 km², and is the largest in geographical extension in Spain....

 and Badajoz
Badajoz
Badajoz is the capital of the Province of Badajoz in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain, situated close to the Portuguese border, on the left bank of the river Guadiana, and the Madrid–Lisbon railway. The population in 2007 was 145,257....

), was the most modern king of his time, founding 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...

 in 1212 and summoning in 1188 the first parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 with representation of the citizenry ever seen in Western Europe, the Cortes of León
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

.

The last king of an independent León, Alfonso IX, did not want his kingdom to disappear upon his death and designated his heirs as Sancha and Dulce, the daughters of his first wife. When Alfonso IX died in 1230, his son by 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:...

, Ferdinand III of Castile
Ferdinand III of Castile
Saint Ferdinand III, T.O.S.F., was the King of Castile from 1217 and León from 1230. He was the son of Alfonso IX of León and Berenguela of Castile. Through his second marriage he was also Count of Aumale. He finished the work done by his maternal grandfather Alfonso VIII and consolidated the...

, invaded León and assumed the crown. He thus became the first joint sovereign of both kingdoms since 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. The isolated Atlantic province, the County of Portugal
County of Portugal
The County of Portugal was the region around Braga and Porto, today corresponding to littoral northern Portugal, from the late ninth to the early twelfth century, during which it was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León.-History:...

, separated to become the Kingdom of Portugal.

The union between León and Castile was never accepted by Leonese people. King Ferdinand III needed 2 years to suffocate the independentist revolts in the Kingdom of León. So, his son Alfonso X returned the independence of the Kingdom of León, but it was not respected by Sancho IV. His brother John waited until 1296, when Sancho was dead, to be crowned as John I, King of León, Galicia and Sevilla. In 1301 he abdicated and the king of Castile assumed the Crown of León, joining both kingdoms.

Though the kings of Castile and León initially continued to take the title King of León as the superior title, and to use a lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

 as part of their standard
Flag of Spain
The flag of Spain , as it is defined in the Spanish Constitution of 1978, consists of three horizontal stripes: red, yellow and red, the yellow stripe being twice the size of each red stripe...

, power in fact became centralized in Castile, as exemplified by the Leonese language
Leonese language
The Leonese language is the endonym term used to refer to all vernacular Romance dialects of the Astur-Leonese linguistic group in the Spanish provinces of León and Zamora; Astur-Leonese also includes the dialects...

's replacement by Spanish. The Kingdom of León and the Kingdom of Castile kept different Parliaments, different flags, different coin and different laws until the Modern Era, when Spain, like other European states, centralized governmental power.

Modern era


The Kingdom of León coexisted as a personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 under the Crown of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

, with León possessing separate institutions, such as its own cortes, the Real Adelantamiento
Adelantado
Adelantado was a military title held by some Spanish conquistadores of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.Adelantados were granted directly by the Monarch the right to become governors and justices of a specific region, which they charged with conquering, in exchange for funding and organizing the...

of the Kingdom of León, the Merino mayor of León, among others, many of which lasted until the 19th century. The Castilian monarchs, however, soon began a process of unifying the laws of the two kingdoms, as exemplified by the Siete Partidas
Siete Partidas
The Siete Partidas or simply Partidas was a Castilian statutory code first compiled during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile , with the intent of establishing a uniform body of normative rules for the kingdom. The codified and compiled text was originally called the Libro de las Leyes...

. By the 16th century, León became a captaincy-general
Captaincy
A captaincy is a historical administrative division of the former Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires. Each was governed by a captain general.-In the Portuguese Empire:...

.

19th century


In the 19th century, the Kingdom of León declared war, together with Galicia and Asturias, against France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and organised the Junta General del Reino de León as its own government. The modern region of the Kingdom of León was established in 1833 and was divided into León, Zamora, and Salamanca provinces.

Present


At present, León is composed of the provinces of León, Zamora, and Salamanca, is now part of the autonomous community
Autonomous communities of Spain
An autonomous community In other languages of Spain:*Catalan/Valencian .*Galician .*Basque . The second article of the constitution recognizes the rights of "nationalities and regions" to self-government and declares the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".Political power in Spain is...

 of Castile and León
Castile and León
Castile and León is an autonomous community in north-western Spain. It was so constituted in 1983 and it comprises the historical regions of León and Old Castile...

 within the modern Kingdom of Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Political parties representing "Leonesismo", the Leonese regionalist and nationalist movements, support the creation of an autonomous community separate from Castile
Castile (historical region)
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...

. Leonesist parties gained 13.6% of votes cast in the León autonomic elections in 2007. There have also been initiatives approved by some Leonese city councils to establish a NUTS-2 (European Statistical Region) for León.

See also

  • Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

  • History of Portugal
    History of Portugal
    The history of Portugal, a European and an Atlantic nation, dates back to the Early Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it ascended to the status of a world power during Europe's "Age of Discovery" as it built up a vast empire including possessions in South America, Africa, Asia and...

  • History of Spain
    History of Spain
    The history of Spain involves all the other peoples and nations within the Iberian peninsula formerly known as Hispania, and includes still today the nations of Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain...

  • Kingdom of Asturias
    Kingdom of Asturias
    The Kingdom of Asturias was a Kingdom in the Iberian peninsula founded in 718 by Visigothic nobles under the leadership of Pelagius of Asturias. It was the first Christian political entity established following the collapse of the Visigothic kingdom after Islamic conquest of Hispania...

  • Kingdom of Castile
    Kingdom of Castile
    Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

  • Kingdom of Galicia
    Kingdom of Galicia
    The Kingdom of Galicia was a political entity located in southwestern Europe, which at its territorial zenith occupied the entire northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. Founded by Suebic king Hermeric in the year 409, the Galician capital was established in Braga, being the first kingdom which...

  • List of Leonese monarchs
  • Leonese language
    Leonese language
    The Leonese language is the endonym term used to refer to all vernacular Romance dialects of the Astur-Leonese linguistic group in the Spanish provinces of León and Zamora; Astur-Leonese also includes the dialects...


External links