Urraca of Castile, Queen of Navarre

Urraca the Asturian
Queen consort of Navarre
Tenure 1144–1150
Born 1133
Died 1179
Burial Chapel of Santa María Magdalena, Cathedral of Palencia
Spouse García Ramírez of Navarre
Álvaro Rodríguez de Castro
Issue Sancha, Viscountess of Béarn
Sancho Álvarez de Castro
House House of Burgundy
Father Alfonso VII of León and Castile
Mother Gontrodo Pérez
Religion Roman Catholicism

Urraca Alfonso (1133[1][2] ca. 1179), also known as Urraca the Asturian (La Asturiana), illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VII of León and Castile, was Queen Consort of Navarre by her marriage to García Ramírez.[3][4] After becoming a widow, she returned to her homeland and was the regent of Asturias from 1153 to 1165. Urraca was involved in a rebellion against her half-brother, King Ferdinand II of León and with her second husband, Álvaro Rodríguez de Castro attempted to secure the independence of Asturias.

Early life and family

An illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso VII and his mistress Gontrodo Pérez,[5] Urraca was born in 1133 in Pelúgano one year after her parents had a relationship when the King was still married to Berengaria of Barcelona and coinciding with the rebellion of Count Gonzalo Peláez[2] and one year before the birth of the legitimate heir, Sancho, born in 1134.[6] Her maternal grandparents were members of the highest ranks of the Asturian nobility, her maternal grandfather, Pedro Díaz de Valle, being a descendant of several counts and his wife, María Ordóñez, a direct descendant of the Infantes Ordoño Ramírez and his wife Cristina Bermúdez.[7] Her mother Gontrodo separated from Alfonso and joined a convent a year after Urraca's birth,[8] and Urraca was raised in the court by her paternal aunt, Infanta Sancha Raimúndez.[9][10]

Queen consort of Navarre

Urraca was first married in León on 24 June 1144 to García Ramírez of Navarre.[11] [5] [12] This was a second marriage for Garcia as his first troubled marriage to Marguerite de l'Aigle had ended with her death just a month before Garcia's second marriage to Urraca that was arranged to strengthen Garcia's relationship with his overlord, Urraca's father. The couple were married for only six years before Garcia's death on 21 November 1150. Garcia was succeeded by his son with Marguerite de l'Aigle, Sancho VI of Navarre. Urraca's half-sister Sancha married Sancho and succeeded her as Queen Consort of Navarre.

Regent of Asturias and second marriage

The Queen Dowager Urraca returned to her homeland after her husband Garcia's death in 1150,[13] being sent by her father to govern Asturias.[14] In Oviedo, Urraca took up residence in the Palace of Alfonso II of Asturias, which was next to the Cathedral of Oviedo. Her father gave her properties, including the Señorío of Aller. Queen Urraca ruled Asturias from 1153 until 1165; she even retained power after the death of her father in 1157.[15][lower-alpha 1] However, Urraca ruled in right of her father and brother, as the region of Asturias was part of the Kingdom of León.

Sometime before 1163,[16] Urraca remarried to Álvaro Rodríguez de Castro, son of Rodrigo Fernández de Castro and Elo Álvarez.[17] Álvaro was seigneur of Chantada and governor of Asturias between 1150 and 1171, of Sarria, and of the towers of León, as well as the alférez of King Fernando II and later his mayordomo.[18] A charter from the Monastery of San Vicente de Oviedo in 1163 is dated: Alvaro Roderici cum uxore sua regina Urraca Asturias imperante ("Alvaro Rodríguez with his wife Urraca governing Asturias") and another charter from 1165 from the Monastery of San Salvador in Celorio also mentions that Queen Urraca was governing Asturias with her husband Álvaro.[15]

Urraca and Álvaro were involved in an uprising to secure the independence of Asturias as attested in a charter from the Monastery of Santa María de Otero de las Dueñas which mentions "...when Queen doña Urraca and don Álvaro Roderici wanted King Fernando II to lose Asturias".[lower-alpha 2][20] In the early months of 1164, King Fernando II thanked the Bishop of Oviedo for the aid provided to quash the uprising in Asturias.

It seems perfectly plausible that the high rank and prestigious "curriculum" of Urraca "la Asturiana" fed the secessionist cravings of Asturias which, during the 12th-century was recovering its regional awareness spurred by the literary and administrative work of Bishop Gutierre of Oviedo. (translation)[21]

This period was highlighted by their generosity with the Church in Asturias, to which they made numerous donations, notably those at the Cathedral of Oviedo, as well as those made to the monastery of San Pelayo de Oviedo. Urraca collaborated with her mother in founding the monastery of Santa María de la Vega in the outskirts of Oviedo where Gontrodo was eventually buried in a tomb whose marker is currently preserved in the Archaeological Museum of the Asturias.[22][23]


Urraca died at Palencia sometime after 1164[12] but the exact date of her death is unknown. Some chroniclers placed her death on October 26, 1164, but this is impossible, since she appeared with her second husband in 1165 in a charter in the Monastery of San Salvador de Celorio, and then again on 25 February 1178 at the Monastery of Santa María de Sandoval when she made a donation and asked to be buried there.[lower-alpha 3] Although other sources place her death in 1189, according to the Anales toledanos she died in 1179.[25] Queen Urraca was finally buried in the chapel of Santa María Magdalena in the Cathedral of Palencia. The reason could have been the fact that members of the House of Castro, of which her second husband was a member, had governed several places, including the city of Palencia.[16]


From her first marriage to King García Ramiréz was born:

Only one son was born of her second marriage to Álvaro Rodríguez de Castro:


  1. According to Ricardo del Arco y Garay, she governed Asturias until 1164. Nevertheless, she appears ruling Asturias in 1165 in a charter from the Monastery of San Salvador de Celorio.[11][15]
  2. In April 1174, in a private transaction between Nuño Meléndez and Martín Garín, Nuño mentions a loan that he had received previously from Martín quando domina Urraca regina et domnus Aluarus Roderici uoluerunt quod perdidisse dominus rex Fernandus Asturiis. [19]
  3. On 25 February 1178 she donated several properties and asked to be buried there.[24]



Preceded by
Marguerite de l'Aigle
Queen consort of Navarre
Succeeded by
Sancha of Castile
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