Bermudo III of León

Bermudo III
King of León
Reign 10281037
Predecessor Alfonso V
Successor Ferdinand I
Born c. 1017
Died 4 September 1037
Burial Basilica of San Isidoro
later Santa María la Real of Nájera
Consort Jimena Sánchez
Issue Alfonso
Full name
Bermudo Alfónsez
Dynasty Astur-Leonese Dynasty
Father Alfonso V of León
Mother Elvira Menéndez
Religion Roman Catholicism

Bermudo III (1017 – 4 September 1037), king of León (1028 – 4 September 1037), son of Alfonso V of León by his first wife Elvira Menéndez, was the last scion of Peter of Cantabria to rule in the Leonese kingdom. He was called Emperor in Galicia in 1025.[1]


Bermudo III was the son of Alfonso V of León by his first wife Elvira Menéndez. He succeeded to the throne of León in 1027. Bermudo married Jimena Sánchez, who was a daughter of Sancho Garcia of Castile.[2]

In 1029, Count García Sánchez of Castile was about to be married to Sancha of León, the elder sister of Bermudo, an arrangement apparently sanctioned by the king of Navarre, when the count was murdered in the city of León by the Velas, a party of Castilian nobles exiled from their own country, who had taken refuge in Leon. Leon and Navarre disputed the succession to the Countship of Castile thus left vacant.[3]

Sancho III of Pamplona was married to Muniadona, daughter of Sancho García of Castile, and sister to the murdered count. Sancho claimed the county of Castile in his wife's name and installed in it their son, Ferdinand, as the new count of Castile. He seized the borderlands between the Cea and the Pisuerga rivers, right above León capital, long a bone of contention between León and Castile. In 1032 Sancho of Navarre forced a marriage between his son, Fernando of Castile, and Sancha of León,[3] and those lands went to Castile as part of her dowry.

In 1034, Sancho wrested the city of León itself from his brother-in-law, Bermudo, who retreated into Galicia. By the time Sancho died in 1035, the meseta north of the Duero was dominated by the Pyrenean pocket kingdom of Navarre.

However, for all of Sancho's diplomatic and military skill, one cannot help but think that such a situation was essentially the fortuitous result of having youthful opponents. After Sancho's death, Bermudo III was immediately received back into León and soon began a campaign to recover from Castile and his brother-in-law Ferdinand, the disputed territory between the Cea and Pisuerga. Bermudo III was killed at the Battle of Tamarón on September 4, 1037.[4] Autopsy of his remains shows that he may have suffered death from infantry spears or pikes, after falling from his horse.

Since the latter died without an heir, the kingdom of León now recognized Sancha and her husband as its rulers, and Ferdinand was anointed king in the royal city on June 22, 1038. From that time the hegemony which Leon had enjoyed began to pass to Castile. The dynasty of Navarre had triumphed perhaps, but the united realm of León and Castile with its rimlands of Asturias and Galicia, had become the political center of the north Iberian Christian society.


The tomb of Bermudo III of León.

By his wife Jimena, daughter of Sancho III of Pamplona, Bermudo had one child, a son named Alfonso, who was born and died in 1030.

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  1. Historia crítica de Vizcaya y de sus fueros. (Spanish)
  2. Bury, J.B., The Cambridge Medieval History Series volumes 1-5, Plantagenet Publishing
  3. 1 2 Amadó, Ramón Ruiz. "Leon." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 20 May 2015
  4. Bernard F. Reilly, The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, 1031-1157, (Blackwell, 1995), 27.
Bermudo III of León
Born: circa 1010 Died: 4 September 1037
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Alfonso V
King of León
Succeeded by
Ferdinand I
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