Sancho VII of Navarre
Sancho VII Sánchez called the Strong (el Fuerte 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...

, Antso Azkarra in Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

) or the Prudent, was the King of Navarre from 1194 to his death. His retirement at the end of his life has given rise to the alternate nickname el Encerrado or "the Retired."

The historian and forensic anthropologist, Luis del Campo, who studied his mortal remains, affirms that he was 2.23 metres (7.3 feet) in height.

He was probably the eldest child of Sancho VI
Sancho VI of Navarre
Sancho VI Garcés , called the Wise , was the king of Navarre from 1150 until his death in 1194....

 and Sancha
Sancha of Castile, Queen of Navarre
Sancha of Castile was daughter of Alfonso VII of León and Castile and his first wife Berenguela of Barcelona. She was a member of the Castilian House of Burgundy....

, daughter of Alfonso VII of León
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...

, born soon after their marriage, probably in Tudela
Tudela, Navarre
Tudela is a municipality in Spain, the second city of the autonomous community of Navarre. Its population is around 35,000. Tudela is sited in the Ebro valley. Fast trains running on two-track electrified railways serve the city and two freeways join close to it...

, their usual residence. He was the elder brother of Berengaria
Berengaria of Navarre
Berengaria of Navarre was Queen of the English as the wife of King Richard I of England. She was the eldest daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. As is the case with many of the medieval queens consort of the Kingdom of England, relatively little is known of her life...

, who was married to Richard I of England
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 in 1191 on the island of Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 on the way to the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 for the Third Crusade
Third Crusade
The Third Crusade , also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin...

. Sancho and Richard were reputed to have been good friends and close allies, even before the marriage brought them together. The French took advantage of Richard's captivity in Germany and captured certain key fortresses of the Angevin
House of Plantagenet
The House of Plantagenet , a branch of the Angevins, was a royal house founded by Geoffrey V of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Plantagenet kings first ruled the Kingdom of England in the 12th century. Their paternal ancestors originated in the French province of Gâtinais and gained the...

 dominions including Loches
Loches is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France.It is situated southeast of Tours by railway, on the left bank of the Indre River.-History:...

. When Richard returned to his continental lands in 1194, the knights of Sancho were besieging the castle for him. As soon as Richard arrived though, Sancho was forced to return to Navarre at the news of the death of his father. He was crowned in Pamplona
Pamplona is the historial capital city of Navarre, in Spain, and of the former kingdom of Navarre.The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín festival, from July 6 to 14, in which the running of the bulls is one of the main attractions...

 on 15 August.

He arrived late at the Battle of Alarcos
Battle of Alarcos
Battle of Alarcos , was a battle between the Almohads led by Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur and King Alfonso VIII of Castile. It resulted in the defeat of the Castilian forces and their subsequent retreat to Toledo whereas the Almohads conquered back Trujillo, Montánchez and Talavera.-Background:In...

 in 1195 and thus ruined good relations with the Castilian sovereign 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...

. The ensuing confrontation resulted in Sancho devastating Soria
Soria is a city in north-central Spain, the capital of the province of Soria in the autonomous community of Castile and León. , the municipality has a population of c. 39,500 inhabitants, nearly 40% of the population of the province...

 and Almazán
Almazán is a municipality located in the province of Soria, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2004 census , the municipality has a population of 5,755 inhabitants.- External links :*...

 and Alfonso accepted the Peace of Tarazona.

Sancho made expeditions against 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...

 and 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...

, and, between 1198 and 1200, he campaigned in Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, probably in the service of the Almohads, whose help he wanted against Castile. Taking advantage of his absence, 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...

 and Peter II of Aragon
Peter II of Aragon
Peter II the Catholic was the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona from 1196 to 1213.He was the son of Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castile...

 invaded Navarre, which lost the provinces of Álava
Álava is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Álava. Its capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz which is also the capital of the autonomous community...

, Guipúzcoa, and Biscay
Biscay is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao...

 to Castile. These conquests were subsequently confirmed by the Treaty of Guadalajara (1207).

His leadership was decisive in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, known in Arab history as the Battle of Al-Uqab , took place on 16 July 1212 and was an important turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain...

 in the year 1212. In that engagement, the Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 forces of Sancho, Alfonso, Afonso II of Portugal
Afonso II of Portugal
Afonso II , or Affonso , Alfonso or Alphonso or Alphonsus , nicknamed "the Fat" , third king of Portugal, was born in Coimbra on 23 April 1185 and died on 25 March 1223 in the same city. He was the second but eldest surviving son of Sancho I of Portugal by his wife, Dulce, Infanta of Aragon...

, and Peter II of Aragón
Peter II of Aragon
Peter II the Catholic was the King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona from 1196 to 1213.He was the son of Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castile...

 allied to defeat the forces of the Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

 Muhammad an-Nasir
Muhammad an-Nasir
Muhammad an-Nasir was the Almohad caliph from 1198 until his death.- Biography :...

. Sancho's troops cut the chains guarding the tent of Miramamolín. For this, it is believed the chains became the symbol of Navarre and replaced the sable eagle on a golden field with a golden chain on a gules field in the Navarrese coat-of-arms. But others suspect they represented the Basques' star-like Sun of Death seen on their Hilarri
Hilarri is the name given to disk-shaped funerary steles that are typical of the Basque Country.These funerary steles present a disc-shaped head facing the rising sun on a trapezoidal stand...

 (Basques' Stelae) or houses traditionally for protection, and perhaps painted on their shields too with the same religious purpose, meaning of Life or Death, or the new Imagery used for Jesus or Christianity as for others were the Christi Anagram or plain Cross on the shield.

His relations with the countries north of the Pyrenees
The Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain...

 were notably better than his Castilian ones. Several Pyreneean counties declared themselves his vassals and he concluded treaties with John of England
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

, and the various Aragonese kings of his time, the aforementioned Peter II and James I
James I of Aragon
James I the Conqueror was the King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona, and Lord of Montpellier from 1213 to 1276...

. With the latter he signed at Tudela
Tudela, Navarre
Tudela is a municipality in Spain, the second city of the autonomous community of Navarre. Its population is around 35,000. Tudela is sited in the Ebro valley. Fast trains running on two-track electrified railways serve the city and two freeways join close to it...

, in 1231, which was never finished, a treaty stating that whoever survived the other would inherit unopposed the other's kingdom.

Sancho continued the construction of a new cathedral in Pamplona, as begun by his father and to be finished by his successor. The construction of a certain Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 bridge over the Ebro
The Ebro or Ebre is one of the most important rivers in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the biggest river by discharge volume in Spain.The Ebro flows through the following cities:*Reinosa in Cantabria.*Miranda de Ebro in Castile and León....

 has also been attributed to him.

As the result of prolonged and painful illness, starting with a varicose ulcer on his right leg and ashamed of it and his consequent obesity, Sancho went into retirement at Tudela at some point, when his youngest sister Blanca
Blanca of Navarre (daughter of Sancho VI)
Blanche of Navarre was Countess-consort of Champagne, then Regent of Champagne, and finally also regent of her native kingdom of Navarre.-Family:...

 took administration of the kingdom (see note in Kings of Navarre family tree
Kings of Navarre family tree
This is a Family tree of the Kings of Navarre from Sancho I of Navarre until the accession of Henry III of Navarre to the throne of France.See also: Navarre - Kings of Navarre...

) and died in 1229. His eldest sister, Berengaria, queen of England, died in 1232, thus leaving Sancho alone among the children of Sancho VI. When he died in his castle at Tudela, probably of complications related to the varicose ulcer in his leg, Blanca's son Theobald
Theobald I of Navarre
Theobald I , called the Troubadour, the Chansonnier, and the Posthumous, was Count of Champagne from birth and King of Navarre from 1234...

 was recognized as the next monarch of Navarre on 7 April. According to Alberic de Trois-Fontaines, Sancho left a library of 1.7 million books. The cultural contacts with the Muslim Kingdoms that he visited and battled with, his friendship with his brother in Law Richard the Lionheart  and his sister Blanca's Court of Troyes, at the time the most refined in Europe, must have left an important influence on the King's personal intellect, bringing to him an advantageous outlook from the one well set already by their father at his youth, full however with peccadilloes and other impetuous extravaganza. The kingdom he left with a wealthy treasury and improved communications was in his day one of the most advanced in human rights, and its Jewish Community enjoyed the best standing in Christian Europe, which after all had been the work and result of the Jimenez Royal House for centuries. He was originally interred in the church of San Nicolás, but was later moved to Roncesvalles
Roncesvalles is a small village and municipality in Navarre, northern Spain. It is situated on the small river Urrobi at an altitude of some 900 metres in the Pyrenees, about 8 kilometres from the French frontier....

 after much resistance from the local Clergy. His remains have since been exhumed for study and examined by the physician Luis del Campo, also the king's biographer, who measured him at 2.23 metres tall(7'3" feet), probably the basis for his "strength."


Sancho was married twice. The identity of his second wife is disputed. His first wife was Constance
Constance of Toulouse
Constance of Toulouse was the daughter of Raymond VI of Toulouse and his second wife Beatrice of Béziers.She first married Sancho VII of Navarre in 1195, but they were divorced in 1200...

, daughter of Raymond VI of Toulouse
Raymond VI of Toulouse
Raymond VI was count of Toulouse and marquis of Provence from 1194 to 1222. He was also count of Melgueil from 1173 to 1190.-Early life:...

, whom he married about 1195. He later repudiated her and was divorced (1200). His second wife was, according to some sources, Clemence, daughter of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

. Other sources, however, name a daughter of Abu Yaqub al-Mustansir Yusuf II, Emir of Morocco. Some modern writers have alleged that his unsuccessful marriages were the result of homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

, but the chronicle of Charles of Viana
Charles of Viana
Charles, Prince of Viana , sometimes called Charles IV of Navarre, was the son of King John II of Aragon and Queen Blanche I of Navarre.- Background :...

 acknowledges a son who predeceased his father at fifteen years of age in an accident and he had several known bastards: Ferdinand, William, and Roderick, all of unknown maternity.

External links

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