Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Raimundez Party - By Invitation Only...

It was common in those days for the children of notables to be farmed out as wards to other families. Alfonso
"Raimundez" was no exception. His earliest years were spent alongside Pedro Froílez' ever-expanding brood by that windswept coast in the furthest north western reaches of Galicia. I won't even begin to give you the names of Pedro's many wives and concubines, let alone the number of children they produced. It would require another post to do so!

Between them Pedro Froílez and the bishop of Santiago de Compostela, Diego Gelmirez, founded what can only be consider a "Galician Front" around little Alfonso in the early years of his mother's reign and tempestuous 2nd marriage. The clearly stated ambitions of The Battler no doubt made that necessary. Alfonso was the legitimate heir to the throne; and while there was very little chance of an heir coming out of the Urraca/Battler battles, it was only too clear to the Galician guardian and the Bishop of Compostela that the little Prince Alfonso's interests needed closely watching and defending. At one point, they even had Alfonso pequeño crowned as King of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela.

Pedro and Diego Gelmirez were two of those who opposed the marriage on the grounds of "consanguinity": that is, the two monarchs involved shared a great-grandfather in Ferdinand I. Not only that, but it became pretty obvious in Galicia that The Battler was a Thug.

Within months of the marriage, Pedro Froílez rebelled against Urraca's authority. Alfonso the Battler's response was to enter Galicia with an army making a bee-line for the Traba lands which he systematically destroyed along with any idiot stupid enough to get in his way. This presumably did not include the count or his ward as later that year we hear that they had visited Urraca in Castrojeriz near Leon. Here they learned that Urraca had parted from her husband, only to be persuaded (highly unlikely she would have chosen this) to make peace with him again.

At this point, Pedro probably threw his noble hands up in the air and got on the mediaeval blower to Henry, husband of Teresa of Portugal (Urraca's half sister)and uncle of the now deceased Raimundo. Henry was a powerful man in the west of the kingdom (Portugal was not just yet a separate land). He advised Pedro to take capture the supporters of the queen who had journeyed back to Galicia with him. These captives, Pedro used to open negotiations with the queen: this lot for that castle on the border between Galicia and the Portuguese lands (or your friends get it!) The castle in question was Santa Maria de Castrello and it stood in a very strategic position - both for Pedro and the little prince, and for the prince's relative, "Uncle Henry".

It gets more complicated yet. But I'll let you digest this bit first...