Sancho II of Castile and León

Sancho II

Early-14th century miniature of Sancho II of Castile from the Compendio de crónicas de reyes del Antiguo Testamento, gentiles, cónsules y emperadores romanos, reyes godos y de los reinos de Castilla, Aragón, Navarra y Portugal. Located at Biblioteca Nacional de España.
King of Castile
Reign 1065–1072
Predecessor Ferdinand I
Successor Alfonso VI
King of León
Reign 1072
Coronation 12 January 1072 (León)
Predecessor Alfonso VI
Successor Alfonso VI
King of Galicia
Reign 1071–1072
Predecessor García II
Successor Alfonso VI
Born c. 1036/1038
Died 6 October 1072 (aged 33–36)
Burial San Salvador de Oña
Consort Alberta
Dynasty Jiménez
Father Ferdinand I of León and Castile
Mother Sancha of León
Religion Roman Catholicism

Sancho II (1036/8 – 7 October 1072), called the Strong (el Fuerte), was King of Castile (1065–72), Galicia (1071–72) and León (1072).


Born at Zamora, Sancho was the eldest son of Ferdinand the Great and Sancha of León.[1] He was married to Alberta, a possible daughter of William I, king of England.[2]

After Ferdinand the Great defeated and killed his wife's brother in battle, Ferdinand was crowned King of León and Castile and called himself Imperator totius Hispaniae ("Emperor of all Spain").

When the kingdom was divided following Ferdinand's death in 1065, Sancho succeeded his father as King of Castile, while Sancho's younger brother Alfonso become King of León and his youngest brother García became King of the reestablished Kingdom of Galicia (partitioned from León). Each of the brothers was also assigned a sphere of influence among the Taifa states.

Ferdinand also granted some holdings to his two daughters, giving Urraca control of the city of Zamora and Elvira the city of Toro, both enclaved within Alfonso's Kingdom of León.

Expansion and defeat

Kingdoms in the Northern Iberian Peninsula around 1065:
  Garcia II´s Kingdom of Galicia
  Alfonso VI´s Kingdom of León
  Sancho II´s Kingdom of Castile
Taifas paying parias to these Kings:
  Badajoz, owing tribute to Garcia
  Seville, owing tribute to Garcia
  Toledo, owing tribute to Alfonso
  Zaragoza, owing tribute to Sancho
16th-century sculpture of Sancho II inside the Alcázar of Segovia, Spain.

In 1068, Sancho defeated his cousins Sancho IV of Navarre and Sancho of Aragon in the War of the Three Sanchos. This expanded his Kingdom of Castile with the reconquered land of Bureba, Alta Rioja, and Álava, which his father had given to Sancho IV's father, García, for his support in defeating Bermudo III of León.

In 1068, Alfonso invaded the Taifa of Badajoz, a client state of brother Garcia's Kingdom of Galicia. Sancho, concerned that Alfonso had intentions on conquering his brothers, defeated Alfonso at the Battle of Llantada, reinstating the status quo.

Sancho would develop his own appetite for his youngest brother's kingdom. Teaming up with Alfonso in 1071, Sancho marched across León to conquer García's northern lands at the time that Alfonso was in the southern part of the Galician realm issuing charters. García fled to exile in Taifa of Seville, while his older brothers partitioned the Kingdom of Galacia between them.

Sancho soon turned on Alfonso. In 1072, with the aid of his alférez El Cid, he defeated Alfonso at the Battle of Golpejera, who fled into exile in the Taifa of Toledo.[3] Sancho was crowned King of León on 12 January 1072, simultaneously holding all three crowns that Ferdinand had distributed to his sons only six years earlier.[3]

Toro, the city of Sancho's sister Elvira, fell easily in 1072. But in a siege of sister Urraca's better-defended city of Zamora, Sancho was stalled. A Zamoran noble, Vellido Adolfo (also known as Bellido Dolfos), entered Sancho's camp pretending to be a deserter, seeking a private conference with Sancho to tell him the weaknesses in the Zamoran defence. Once before Sancho, Vellido assassinated him, using Sancho's own sword to impale him in the back. Vellido was chased back to Zamora by El Cid, but escaped into the town through a gateway since called Portillo del Traidor ("Gateway of the Traitor"). Sancho was succeeded in his kingdoms by the brother he had previously deposed, Alfonso.[4] García, induced to return from exile, was imprisoned by Alfonso for life, leaving Alfonso in uncontested control of the reunited territories of their father, later taking on their father's title "Emperor of all Spain".

Sancho was buried in San Salvador de Oña.


  1. Reilly (1988), 3.
  2. Kearney and Medrano, 173-174.
  3. 1 2 Reilly (1995), 41.
  4. Gerli, 792.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sancho II of León and Castile.
Sancho II of Castile and León
Born: circa 1036/38 Died: 7 October 1072
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand I
King of Castile
Succeeded by
Alfonso VI
Preceded by
Alfonso VI
King of León
Preceded by
García II
King of Galicia and Portugal
(jointly with Alfonso VI)
alone 1072
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