Ferdinand II of León

Ferdinand II

Ferdinand, from the Tumbo A cartulary of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
King of León and Galicia
Reign 21 August 1157 – 22 January 1188
Predecessor Alfonso VII
Successor Alfonso IX
Born c. 1137

22 January 1188 (aged 5051)


Burial Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Consort Urraca of Portugal
Teresa Fernández de Traba
Urraca López de Haro
among others...
Alfonso IX of León
House House of Ivrea
Father Alfonso VII of León and Castile
Mother Berenguela of Barcelona
Religion Roman Catholicism
Sancho III of Castile and Ferdinand, from a Privilegium Imperatoris of Alfonso VII of León and Castile.

Ferdinand II (c. 1137 – 22 January 1188) was King of León and Galicia from 1157 to his death.


Born in Toledo, Castile, he was the son of King Alfonso VII of León and Castile and of Berenguela, of the House of Barcelona. At his father's death, he received León and Galicia, while his brother Sancho received Castile and Toledo.[1] Ferdinand earned the reputation of a good knight and hard fighter, but did not display political or organising faculty.

He spent most of his first year as king in a dispute with his powerful nobles and an invasion by his brother Sancho III.[2] In 1158 the two brothers met at Sahagun, and peacefully solved the heritage matters. However, Sancho died in the same year, being succeeded by his child son Alfonso VIII, while Ferdinand occupied parts of Castile.[3] The boundary troubles with Castile restarted in 1164: he then met at Soria with the Lara family, who represented Alfonso VIII, and a truce was established, allowing him to move against the Muslim Almoravids who still held much of southern Spain, and to capture the cities of Alcántara and Alburquerque. In the same year, Ferdinand defeated King Afonso I of Portugal, who, in 1163, had occupied Salamanca in retaliation for the repopulation of the area ordered by the King of León.

In 1165 he married Urraca, daughter of Afonso of Portugal. However, strife with Portugal was not put to an end by this move. In 1168 Afonso again felt menaced by Ferdinand II's repopulation of the area of Ciudad Rodrigo: he then attacked Galicia, occupying Tui and the territory of Xinzo de Limia, former fiefs of his mother. However, as his troops were also besieging the Muslim citadel of Badajoz, Ferdinand II was able to push the Portuguese out of Galicia and to rush to Badajoz. When Afonso saw the Leonese arrive he tried to flee, but he was disabled by a broken leg caused by a fall from his horse, and made prisoner at one the city's gates. Afonso was obliged to surrender as his ransom almost all the conquests he had made in Galicia in the previous year. In the peace signed at Pontevedra the following year, Ferdinand got back twenty five castles, and the cities of Cáceres, Badajoz, Trujillo, Santa Cruz and Montánchez, previously lost by León. When in the same years the Almoravids laid siege to the Portuguese city of Santarém, Ferdinand II came to help his father-in-law, and helped to free the city from the menace.

Also in 1170, Ferdinand created the military-religious Order of Santiago de Compostela, with the task to protect the city of Cáceres.[4] Like the Order of Alcántara, it initially began as a knightly confraternity and took the name "Santiago" (St. James) after St. James the apostle.[4]

In 1175 Pope Alexander III annulled Ferdinand II and Urraca of Portugal's marriage due to consanguinuity. The King remarried to Teresa Fernández de Traba, daughter of count Fernando Pérez de Traba, and widow of count Nuño Pérez de Lara. In 1178 war against Castile broke out. Ferdinand surprised his nephew Alfonso VIII, occupied Castrojeriz and Dueñas, both formerly lands of Teresa's first husband. The war was settled in 1180 with the peace of Tordesillas. In the same year his wife Teresa died while bearing their second son.

In 1184, after a series of failed attempts, the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf invaded Portugal with an army recruited in Northern Africa and, in May, besieged Afonso I in Santarém; the Portuguese were helped by the arrival of the armies sent by the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, in June, and by Ferdinand II in July.

In 1185 Ferdinand married for the third time to Urraca López de Haro (daughter of Lope Díaz, lord of Biscay, Nájera and Haro), who was his mistress since 1180. Urraca tried in vain to have Alfonso IX, first son of Ferdinand II, declared illegitimate, to favour her son Sancho.

Ferdinand II died in 1188 at Benavente, while returning from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. He was buried in the cathedral of Compostela.

Sepulcher of Ferdinand II in the Royal Pantheon of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

In 1230 Forty two years after Ferdinand II's death his namesake grandson Ferdinand III of Castile united Castile with Leon permanently.


Ferdinand married Urraca of Portugal around 1165, they had one son:

Following her repudiation, he formed a relationship with Teresa Fernández de Traba, daughter of count Fernando Pérez de Traba, and in August 1179 he married her, having:

He then formed a liaison with Urraca López de Haro,[6] daughter of Lope Díaz I de Haro, whom he married in May 1187, having:



  1. Busk, M. M., The history of Spain and Portugal from B.C. 1000 to A.D. 1814, (Baldwin and Cradock, 1833), 31.
  2. The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.9, Ed. Thomas Spencer Baynes, (Henry G. Allen and Company, 1888), 80.
  3. Busk, 32
  4. 1 2 Morton 2014, p. 39.
  5. Leese, Thelma Anna, Blood royal: issue of the kings and queens of medieval England, 1066–1399, (Heritage Books, 1996), 47.
  6. Medieval Iberia: an encyclopedia, Ed. E. Michael Gerlis and Samuel G. Armistead, (Taylor & Francis, 2003), 329.


Further reading

Ferdinand II of León
Born: circa 1137 Died: 22 January 1188
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Alfonso VII
King of León
Succeeded by
Alfonso IX
King of Galica
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