Saturday, 17 April 2010

Pedro Froílez de Traba

Had the marriage of Urraca and Alfonso the Battler been successful there is little doubt that the "Reconquista" would likely have taken place almost 400 years earlier. Both sovereigns were engaged in conflict with the Moorish kingdoms at their southern borders, and Urraca's fathers' advisors would have championed the marriage as the best way to avoid any further incursions into Christian territory. As it was it took Isabel of Castille's joining her kingdom to that of Fernando of Aragon's in marriage to accomplish that, the final blow to the Islamic rulers coming at the surrender of Granada in 1492 when the last Moorish king, Boabdil, was evicted from that glorious city and fled to Morocco.

Had Urraca have liked Alfonso even a little bit (and had Alfonso liked women at all) even the country we think of as Portugal would likely have had a different shape.

But as usual, I am getting ahead of myself.

Before we continue a little more with Urraca's marriage woes, it is time to look at another major player in this Feudal Drama, and that is Pedro Fróilez de Traba.

As we have already seen, with the disastrous attempt of Count Rodrigo d'Ovequiez and Bishop Diego Pelaez in 1085 to rebel against the rule of Alfonso VI (and perhaps create a little enclave of Normandy in Galicia?) many of the formerly noble houses seemed to disappear completely. By the time of which we have been writing (that is around 1110) the names of the aristocracy had changed. The first pre-requisite of maintaining favour in Galicia seemed to be friendship with Diego Gelmirez the Bishop. Second to that was currying favour with Urraca, and sometimes these two opportunities coincided. Often they did not.

Diego knew how to play both sides of the field. So did Count Pedro. They were not always on the same side and sometimes it is dizzying trying to sort out who was in bed with whom (so to speak). I'll try to save you the trouble here by not mentioning too much of the chops and changes.

If you go to Traba today, perhaps while walking from Finisterre to Muxia, you will see a glorious white sand beach, vast wetlands, and a tiny village on a low hill overlooking the Costa da Morte. There is little enough left of the great holdings of the great Counts of Traba.

But once, the landscape - both geographically and politically, was very different indeed.

For one thing, the little Prince Alfonso - Urraca and Raimundo's son who was to become the Emperor Alfonso VII - was brought up there.

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