Alfonso of Molina

Alfonso of León

Arms of Alfonso of Molina
suo jure Lord of Molina and Mesa
Reign 1239–1272
Predecessor Mafalda González de Lara
Successor Blanca Alfonso of Molina
Co-ruler Mafalda González de Lara
Born 1202
Died 6 January 1272(1272-01-06)
Burial Monastery of St. Francis in Salamanca
Spouse Mafalda González de Lara
Teresa González de Lara
Mayor Alfonso of Meneses
among others...
María de Molina
House House of Burgundy
Father Alfonso IX of León
Mother Berengaria of Castile
Religion Roman Catholicism

Alfonso of León, Lord of Molina (1202 – 6 January 1272) was an infante (prince) of León and Castile, the son of King Alfonso IX of León and his second wife Queen Berengaria of Castile. He was the brother of King Ferdinand III of Castile and León, and father of Queen Maria of Molina, wife of King Sancho IV. He became Lord of Molina and Mesa after his first marriage to Mafalda González de Lara, the heiress of those lands.

Family origins

Alfonso was the son of King Alfonso IX of León and his second wife, Queen Berengaria of Castile. On his father's side he was the grandson of King Ferdinand II of León and his first wife, Urraca of Portugal. On his mother's side his grandparents were King Alfonso VIII of Castile and his wife, Eleanor of England. His siblings included King Ferdinand III of Castile and León, Berengaria, Constance, and Eleanor.


Alfonso was born near the city of León in 1202. As the son of Alfonso IX of León and Berengaria of Castile, he witnessed the bad relations between the two kingdoms during his childhood, after the annulment of his parents' marriage. At the Battle of Navas de Tolosa (1212), his father and the King of Portugal were the only kings from the Iberian Peninsula who did not take part, in contrast to those of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. In fact, Alfonso IX took advantage of the absence of his cousin Alfonso VIII to invade Castile.

In 1222 Ferdinand III found himself at odds with Gonzalo Pérez de Lara, Lord of Molina, due to the latter's support of Alfonso IX. But the two kings managed to come to terms, ratifying the Treaty of Zafra in 1223. Berengaria played an active role in the negotiations. The aim of Gonzalo's martial actions, including the devastation of some villages near Medinaceli, was to foment an uprising of Castilian nobles against Ferdinand in support of his father.

View of the castle of Molina de Aragón, seat of the Lordship of Molina.

Ferdinand was now bitterly opposed to the autonomy enjoyed by the Gonzalo and his family, the House of Lara, one of the most powerful in the realm alongside that of Haro. He laid siege to the Castle of Zafra, where Gonzalo took refuge with his retainers and family.[1] Gonzalo ultimately surrendered and accepted the conditions imposed on him. The first of these was that the Lordship of Molina would not, upon his death, pass to his son Gonzalo Pérez "the Disinherited" de Lara, but rather to his daughter Mafalda González de Lara, who would meanwhile marry Prince Alfonso. Thus the Crown would establish control over the Lordship of Molina. The marriage occurred in 1240, and on Gonzalo's death, Prince Alfonso was granted the title Lord of Molina and governed the Lordship for the rest of his life, at first in collaboration with his wife, and then, after her death, alone, just as stipulated in the marriage contract. In 1240 he expanded the privileges of Molina, and in 1272, on his death, his daughter Blanca did so again.

According to contemporary chroniclers, Alfonso of Molina was a man possessed of considerable virtues as well as a calm temperament. In 1230, on the death of his father Alfonso IX, he could have sought the throne of León, since Alfonso IX did not wish to bequeath it to his other son Ferdinand III, who was already King of Castile. In fact Alfonso IX named as his heirs his two daughters, Princesses Sancha and Dulce. However, thanks to a substantial financial compensation, they renounced the throne of León in the Treaty of Benavente, ratified with Ferdinand in the presence of the many magnates and prelates of the realm. Alfonso of Molina, who had previously refused the throne, was rewarded by the king with his favor, with distinctions, and with many gifts, lands, and privileges. He accompanied his brother on most of his military campaigns and was closely identified with the cause of the Reconquista as well as whatever enterprises the king might undertake.

Campaign in Andalusia and the Battle of Jerez (1231)

In 1231, while he visited the main cities of León after having taken possession of it, Ferdinand reportedly sent his son Prince Alfonso, then nine years of age and living in Salamanca, to lay waste to the Almohad Caliphate territories around Córdoba and Seville, accompanied by Álvaro Pérez "the Castilian" de Castro and the magnate Gil Manrique. Nevertheless, various historians have indicated that the Prince Alfonso to which contemporary chronicles refer was not the king's son, but rather his brother, Alfonso of Molina.[2] But according to the version which holds that the Prince Alfonso present at the Battle of Jerez was actually King Fernando III's son, "he sent Don Alvar de Castro, the Castilian, to go with him, to watch over the prince and as commander of the army, for the prince was very young and not yet so energetic, and Don Alvar Pérez was a respected and very energetic man."[3]

View of the alcázar of Jerez de la Frontera. The Battle of Jerez, waged in 1231, spelt defeat for the forces of the Emir of Al-Andalus.

From Salamanca, and passing through Toledo where they were joined by 40 knights, they made their way toward Andújar. From there, they began to devastate the countryside around Cordoba, and later the provincial town of Palma del Río. They exterminated all the inhabitants and seized the town, then proceeded toward Seville and Jerez de la Frontera, and camped there near the Guadalete River.[4] Emir Ibn Hud, who had gathered a large army of seven divisions, positioned himself between the Castilians and Jerez, forcing them to give battle. During the subsequent engagement, known as the Battle of Jerez, the Castilians defeated Ibn Hud in spite of his numerical superiority. Later, King Alfonso X referred to the 1231 battle as follows: "It is fitting that you who are hearing this story know that the thing in the world that most broke the Moors, why they had to lose Andalusia and the Christians gain it from them, was this battle of Jerez. That is how the Moors were shattered. They could never again muster the daring nor the effort which they had previously against the Christians, such was the level of the shock and fear they experienced on that occasion."[4]

After his victory in the Battle of Jerez, Álvaro Pérez de Castro the Castilian returned to Castile and handed Prince Alfonso over to his father the king, who was in Palencia.

Conquests of Cordoba and Seville and actions during the reign of Alfonso X (1236–1272)

In 1236 Alfonso of Molina distinguished himself in the conquest of Cordoba, the old capital of the Caliphate of Cordoba.[5] Twelve years later, in 1248, he took part in the siege of Seville and captured the Torre de Oro. He also occupied a part of the Álcazar of Seville, which was known as the "Walls of the Prince of Molina".[5]

Alfonso X taking possession of the sea after the conquest of Cádiz. Matías Moreno. 1866.

In the division of the territory of Seville proclaimed on 1 May 1253, almost a year after the death of his brother Ferdinand III and during the reign of his nephew Alfonso X, Prince Alfonso of Molina received large grants and was one of the greatest beneficiaries of the land distribution due to his status as younger brother of Ferdinand III. The late king had asked his son Alfonso X in his will to hold him in high regard.[6]

Later life

In 1254 he entered the Order of Calatrava, obliged to wear their habit and assured that on his death his body would be buried in the order's main monastery.[7] He attended the Valladolid Cortes of 1258,[8] whose main purpose was to obtain money to fund Alfonso X's designs on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. He also attended the Toledo Cortes of 1259,[9] whose purpose was the same, and the Jerez Council of 1268.[10] He attended the wedding of Prince Fernando de la Cerda, first-born son and heir of Alfonso X, to Blanche of France, held in Burgos on 30 November 1269.[11]

Death and burial

In his 1254 will, made at the time he entered the Order of Calatrava, Alfonso of Molina stipulated that he be buried in the church of the castle of Calatrava la Nueva, headquarters of the order, located in what is today Ciudad Real province.[12]

Alfonso of Molina died in Salamanca on 6 January 1272 at the age of 70.[13] Alfonso's body was provisionally buried in the monastery of San Francisco in Salamanca, which is no longer extant. Later, his remains were transferred to Calatrava la Nueva as specified in his will, and placed in a sumptuous sepulchre which lay under an arch in the main chapel of the monastery's church. This sepulchre and his remains have not survived to the present day.

Marriage and children

Alfonso of Molina married, in 1240, Mafalda González de Lara, Lady of Molina, daughter of Gonzalo Pérez de Lara, 3rd Lord of Molina and Mesa, and his wife, Sancha Gómez de Trastámara. They had two children:

In 1244, widowed of his first wife, he married his second, Teresa González de Lara, daughter of Count Gonzalo Núñez de Lara, Lord of Belorado, and his wife María Díaz I de Haro. They had a daughter:

He married, in 1260 as this third wife, Mayor Alfonso de Meneses, Lady of Meneses and Villanueva, widow of Gonzalo Gil of Villalobos and daughter of Alfonso Téllez de Meneses "el Mozo", 4th Lord of Meneses, San Román and Villanueva, and his first wife María Yáñez de Lima. They had two children:

Maria of Molina presents her son Ferdinand IV, grandson of Prince Alfonso of Molina, to the Valladolid Cortes of 1295. Oil on canvas by Antonio Gisbert Pérez. 1863.

Alfonso of Molina also had several illegitimate children from various extramarital relationships:



  1. Herrera Casado, p. 53.
  2. González Jiménez.
  3. Martínez Díaz 2000, p. 633-634.
  4. 1 2 Martínez Díaz 2000, p. 634-635.
  5. 1 2 "La autonomía histórica del señorío de behetría de linaje de Molina", Hidalguía, Madrid: Ediciones Hidalguía (154-155), Mayo–Agosto 1979, ISSN 0018-1285 Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. González Jiménez 2004, p. 43.
  7. Del Arco y Garay 1954, p. 174.
  8. González Jiménez, p. 128.
  9. González Jiménez 2004, p. 133.
  10. González Jiménez 2004, p. 212.
  11. González Jiménez 2004, p. 217.
  12. Del Arco y Garay 1954, p. 174-175.
  13. Del Arco y Garay 1954, p. 175.
  14. Cawley, Charles, SPANISH NOBILITY LATER MEDIEVAL: Nuno Gonzalez died 1275, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,
  15. Sánchez de Mora 2004, p. 633.


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