Ferdinand III of Castile - Encyclopedia




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FERDINAND III., El Santo or "the Saint," king of Castile (1199-1252), son of Alphonso IX. of Leon, and of Berengaria, daughter of Alphonso VIII. of Castile, ranks among the greatest of the Spanish kings. The marriage of his parents, who were second cousins, was dissolved as unlawful by the pope, but the legitimacy of the children was recognized. Till 1217 he lived with his father in Leon. In that year the young king of Castile, Henry, was killed by accident. Berengaria sent for her son with such speed that her messenger reached Leon before the news of the death of the king of Castile, and when he came to her she renounced the crown in his favour. Alphonso of Leon considered himself tricked, and the young king had to begin his reign by a war against his father and a faction of the Castilian nobles. His own ability and the remarkable capacity of his mother proved too much for the king of Leon and his Castilian allies. Ferdinand, who showed himself docile to the influence of Berengaria, so long as she lived, married the wife she found for him, Beatrice, daughter of the emperor Philip (of Hohenstaufen), and followed her advice both in prosecuting the war against the Moors and in the steps which she took to secure his peaceful succession to Leon on the death of his father in 1231. After the union of Castile and Leon in that year he began the series of campaigns which ended by reducing the Mahommedan dominions in Spain to Granada. Cordova fell in 1236, and Seville in 12 4 8. The king of Granada did homage to Ferdinand, and undertook to attend the cortes when summoned. The king was a severe persecutor of the Albigenses, and his formal canonization was due as much to his orthodoxy as to his crusading by Pope Clement X. in 1671. He revived the university first founded by his grandfather Alphonso VIII., and placed it at Salamanca. By his second marriage with Joan (d. 127 9), daughter of Simon, of Dammartin, count of Ponthieu, by right of his wife Marie, Ferdinand was the father of Eleanor, the wife of Edward I. of England.

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