27 September, 2010

Edward II's Castilian Cousins (2)

The second part of my post (the first part is directly below, or here) about some of Edward II's Castilian first cousins.

Juan, lord of Valencia de Campos and Biscay (1264-25 June 1319)

Infante Don Juan was born in Seville in 1264 as the eighth of the eleven children of Alfonso X of Castile and his queen Violante, daughter of King Jaime I 'el Conquistador' of Aragon. (Violante's sister Isabel married Philip III of France, so Juan and his siblings were first cousins of Philip IV as well as of Edward II.) Juan married twice: on 17 February 1281 to Margherita, daughter of Guillermo, marquis of Montferrat by his first wife Isabel de Clare, eldest sister of Edward II's brother-in-law Gilbert 'the Red', earl of Gloucester, and secondly on 10 January 1287 to Doña María Díaz de Haro, heiress of Biscay and daughter of the Don Lope Díaz de Haro whom Sancho IV murdered in 1288.

Juan was knighted at a young age by his eldest brother Fernando de la Cerda (1255-1275), at the latter's wedding to Louis IX of France's daughter Blanche in Burgos in November 1269. Fernando also knighted another brother of theirs, Pedro (d. 1283), but not the second brother the future Sancho IV, then aged eleven, who refused to be knighted by Fernando and declared that only his father could do it; an early indication of the conflict that was to consume their family. [1] When he was older, Infante Don Juan threw himself with great energy into the maelstrom of Castilian politics and his family's power struggles, and spent most of his life switching sides from one relative to another. At first he supported his brother Sancho against their father Alfonso X and their de la Cerda nephews in the matter of the succession to the throne, though was later reconciled to Alfonso, who shortly before death bequeathed him the kingdoms of Seville and Badajoz (which Juan never received). Juan was nineteen or twenty when his father died in April 1284 and - not entirely unexpectedly, in this family - rebelled against his brother Sancho IV soon afterwards, joined by his and Sancho's mother the dowager queen Violante, who supported the rights of her de la Cerda grandsons and fled with them to her homeland of Aragon and the protection of her brother Pedro III. Sancho imprisoned Juan until 1292.

After Sancho IV's death, apparently of tuberculosis, in Toledo on 25 April 1295 - their cousin Edward of Caernarfon's eleventh birthday - Infante Don Juan was one of those who claimed the throne of Castile on the grounds that his nine-year-old nephew Fernando IV was illegitimate, and also, with the support of his ally the king of Granada, unsuccessfully attempted to seize the crown of Leon and the kingdom of Galicia. He temporarily made peace with Fernando in 1300, and a papal bull of 1301 declaring that Sancho IV's marriage to María de Molina had been legitimate also helped to calm the situation somewhat. [2] (Although as late as December 1306, it appears that the magnates of Castile, perhaps sick of all the in-fighting, wished to offer the Castilian throne to Edward of Caernarfon should Fernando IV die without a son.) This was not the end of Infante Don Juan's struggles with his nephew, however. When Fernando unsuccessfully besieged the Moorish-held town of Algeciras in 1309/10 - his son Alfonso XI finally took it in 1344 - Juan and his cousin Don Juan Manuel (from the last post) deserted him. A furious Fernando attempted to kill him in revenge and was only prevented from doing so by the intervention of his mother Queen María de Molina. [3] Juan was appointed one of the regents for his great-nephew Alfonso XI, Fernando IV's baby son, in 1312.

Infante Don Juan was killed at the battle of Vega de Granada on 25 June 1319, when he and his nephew and fellow regent Infante Don Pedro, the late Fernando IV's brother, were surprised by a large Muslim army and foolishly allowed their forces to become separated. Pedro was thrown from his horse during the battle and fatally injured. The panicking Castilian soldiers fled the field; Juan managed to escape but died shortly afterwards. [4] Their deaths left as regents Don Juan Manuel, Infante Don Felipe, another brother of Fernando IV, and various others. Juan's capable widow Doña María Díaz de Haro and their son Don Juan el Tuerto, 'the One-Eyed', rose to take his place. Edward II addressed Juan el Tuerto in letters of April 1324 as 'Sir John, son of the Infant John de Ispania, lord of Biscaye, the king's nephew' (actually they were first cousins once removed). [5] In September 1324, Edward told Infante Don Juan's widow Doña María Díaz de Haro, with reference to the betrothal of Alfonso XI and Eleanor of Woodstock, of his "rejoicing at the clinging together of such progeny sprung from his and her common stock, whilst they applaud each other with mutual honours and cherish each other with mutual counsel and aid." A few months later, he gave £100 from the sale of goods taken from a shipwreck in Cornwall to Lupus Urtyz, servant of María, "the king’s kinswoman." [6] Juan el Tuerto was murdered on the orders of Alfonso XI, who had just turned fifteen, in August 1326; his mother Doña María retired to the monastery of Perales and died in November 1342. Infante Don Juan, killed in battle in 1319, also had a son, Alfonso, by his first wife Margherita of Montferrat (who through her mother was the first cousin of Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester). Alfonso's son Alfonso became bishop of Zamora, and his son Fernando married an illegitimate daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal.

Beatriz, marchioness of Montferrat (1254-1286)

Infanta Doña Beatriz was the daughter of Alfonso X by his queen, Violante of Aragon (so was the sister of Infante Don Juan above and of King Sancho IV), and bore the same name as her illegitimate half-sister the queen of Portugal, from the last post. She was born in late 1254 as the second child of Alfonso and Violante; her sister Berenguela, who never married and founded the convent of Santa Clara de Toro, was a year older and was officially recognised as successor to the Castilian throne from May 1255 until the birth of their brother Fernando de la Cerda in October that year.

In 1271, the seventeen-year-old Beatriz married Guillermo, marquis of Montferrat, who had attended the wedding of her brother Fernando de la Cerda to Blanche of France two years earlier. Guillermo was born around 1240 as the son of Boniface II, marquis of Montferrat, and Margaret of Savoy; he was Edward I's second cousin via the Savoy connection (Edward's mother Eleanor of Provence was the daughter of Beatrice of Savoy). Guillermo's only child from his first marriage to Isabel de Clare, Margherita, married Doña Beatriz's younger brother Juan in 1281, in a double marriage alliance: their father Alfonso X of Castile was a very useful ally for Guillermo against his enemy Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX of France and king of Sicily from 1266.

Doña Beatriz died in about 1280, still only in her mid-twenties; her husband Guillermo de Montferrat died in Alessandria, Piedmont on 6 February 1292, having been imprisoned in an iron cage by the angry citizens for the previous year. Beatriz and Guillermo's only son, Giovanni, died childless in 1305, leaving as his heir his sister Yolande (or Violante, c. 1274-1317), who married the Byzantine emperor Andronikus II Palaiologus (1259-1332), widower of Anna of Hungary, in 1284. As empress, Yolande was renamed Eirene and bore her husband seven children, including Simonis Palaiologina, who married the decades-older Stefan Milutin, king of Serbia; Theodore, marquis of Montferrat; and Demetrios, whose daughter Irene married the Byzantine emperor Matthaios Kantakouzenos.

In October 1313, Edward II wrote to Empress Eirene, her husband Andronikus, her son Theodore, marquis of Montferrat, and her stepson Michael, co-emperor, asking them to help procure the release of the famous English knight Giles Argentein, being held in prison in Thessalonika. [7] Edward addressed Eirene "his most serene lady, and his dearest lady in Christ, by the grace of God empress of Constantinople." I didn't realise until I researched this post that Eirene and Edward were first cousins once removed!


1) H. Salvador Marta-Nez and H. Salvador Martínez, Alfonso X, the Learned: A Biography, pp. 185-186, 376.
2) Teófilo F. Ruiz, Spain's Centuries of Crisis 1300-1474, pp. 53-55.
3) Simon R. Doubleday, The Lara Family: Crown and Nobility in Medieval Spain, p. 95.
4) Josep-David Garrido i Valls, 'Enemies and Allies: The Crown of Aragon and al-Andalus in the Twelfth Century', in Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon, eds., Crusaders, Condottieri and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies around the Mediterranean, p. 217.
5) Calendar of Close Rolls 1323-1327, pp. 175-176.
6) Close Rolls 1323-1327, pp. 253, 344, 350-351.
7) Close Rolls 1313-1318, p. 76; Foedera 1307-1327, p. 229.


Susan Higginbotham said...

Love reading about all of these family connections! It's a pity Giles Argentein's release wasn't delayed until after Bannockburn!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Susan! I wasn't aware of the Montferrat/de Clare one before, either, so that was good (I like the thought of Eleanor having a close relative in Italy! :)

Susan Higginbotham said...

Yikes, I missed that one on the first reading! (Now you know who could have put Edward up if he escaped abroad!)

Gabriele Campbell said...

I didn't realise until I researched this post that Eirene and Edward were first cousins once removed!

Lol, I can't blame you. No wonder kings needed heralds who studied those relations for years. ;)

Kathryn Warner said...

Haha, yeah, one of those would be helpful! :-)