A History of Aragon and Catalonia. Alfonso IV. Books.book Aragon in English. Spain.
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A History of Aragon and Catalonia. Alfonso IV. Books. book History Aragon Aragon



Alfonso IV

[161] His Castilian policy. Moorish invasion. War with Sardinia and Genoa. Domestic troubles. His death.

James died on November 2, 1327, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, amid the general and genuine grief of his subjects. His eldest son, who bore his name, was a young man of idle and dissolute life who eventually renounced the succession and retired to a monastery. James was therefore succeeded by his second son Alfonso IV, whose wife Teresa de Entenza had died only five days before his accession. The procedure followed when a new king ascended the throne had now become settled: the reign de facto was begun by taking the usual oaths at Barcelona, after which the coronation in Aragon began the reign de jure. Accordingly Alfonso spent Christmas at Barcelona, where he swore to observe the privileges of Catalonia and received the homage of his subjects for their fiefs. Early in 1328 he went to Zaragoza, where his coronation took place with unprecedented splendour. Ambassadors from Castile, Navarre, Bohemia and Granada, nobles from France and Spain, arid a great concourse of his own nobility attended a succession of festivities, which were concluded by holding Cortes at which the King confirmed the laws and privileges of Aragon. Alfonso had already become involved in the disturbances which were then harassing Castile; Ferdinand IV had died in 1312, leaving a son under two years of age, Alfonso XI, who assumed the responsibilities of government in 1325. His chief opponent was the Infante Juan Manuel, a nephew of Alfonso X, who had applied for help to the King of Aragon. Some Aragonese barons had been allowed to support him, but, at the same time, the King sent ambassadors to the court of Castile for the purpose of reconciling the contending [162] parties. The result was an alliance between the two Kings, which was also accepted by the King of Portugal, and the claims of the Infante Juan were set aside; by the marriage of Alfonso of Aragon with Eleanor, the sister of the King of Castile, the alliance was further confirmed, and proposals were made for joint action against the King of Granada. Alfonso went to Valencia to supervise the preparations for this war in person, concluded a peace with the King of Tremecen, and received a grant from the Pope of the ecclesiastical tithe for two years; but his intention of taking the field in person against the Moors was prevented by a revolt in Sardina in 1330, and all that he could do was to send a fleet of twelve galleys against the enemy's coast and grant permission to the knightly orders within his kingdom to join the King of Castile, who won a brilliant victory over the Moors in 1330, and secured an armistice for a year; but, before the expiration of that period, the Moors suddenly invaded Valencia, secured the support of the Moorish inhabitants in the southern part of the kingdom, and began to besiege Alicante, which was, however, relieved by Alfonso's energetic measures. In the following year, 1332, a numerous Moorish force also appeared before Elche, but this time a successful resistance was offered, and the appearance of the King obliged the Moors to beat a hasty retreat.

Alfonso, however, was not in a position to pursue this advantage, in spite of the representations of the King of Castile. The bulk of his forces were required to subdue a formidable revolt in Sardinia. The Genoese inhabitants of the island had proved very restive under the new government which had tried to restrain their previous disorderly habits, and a quarrel between certain nobles ended in a demonstration against the King's officials in Sassari. The King thereupon ordered that all Sardinian and foreign inhabitants of the town should leave it and take service under other subjects of the Aragonese Crown. Thereupon war broke out between the Genoese and Catalans in 1329, and the Count of Malaspina, who had been largely concerned in the disturbances in Sassari, took the side of the rebels. The Catalans proceeded to devastate the Genoese coasts, with the result that the two political parties in Genoa combined against their common enemy in 1331, and then began a lengthy maritime war between Genoa [163] and Aragon, which was essentially not so much a struggle for the possession of Sardinia as one for commercial supremacy. The friction had begun with the conquest of Sicily by the Aragonese, which had given a considerable extension to Catalan trade in the Mediterranean, and the comparative equality of the two parties, in the absence of any naval genius, such as Roger de Lauria, protracted the war, which was largely confined to sudden raids upon coasts and harbours, but rarely came to any general conflict. The Genoese could pride themselves upon their success in the long struggle with Pisa, while the Catalans had behind them the consciousness of a number of naval victories, which induced them to pass a law that a captain who fled with one galley from two enemy ships should be condemned to death. In the following year, 1331, Catalan confidence was somewhat shaken by the appearance of a Genoese fleet of forty-five galleys off their coast, which burned several vessels, plundered much of the sea-board, and challenged the King of Aragon to a naval engagement. The Catalans pursued their enemy to the island of Mallorca, where they had taken shelter from a storm, but, when the Genoese admiral, Grimaldi, sailed out to meet them, the Catalans considered that discretion was the better part of valour. Lack of supplies then obliged the Genoese to retreat, but upon their way they were able to intercept a Catalan squadron sailing to Sicily. In this style the war was continued for the following year, and it was not until the end of Alfonso's reign that an armistice and a peace were concluded, which secured a pacification of the island at any rate for some time.

Some attention must be paid to internal disturbances during Alfonso's reign, which were largely due to the liberality and extravagance of his predecessors, especially James II, who had not only handed over towns and districts to his sons and to others for services received, but had also sold certain incomes and Crown rights to pay his debts. The result was that the royal income was greatly diminished at the moment when money became more than ever necessary. When the news of Alfonso's betrothal to Eleanor became known, the nobles who were apprehensive of her ambitious and self-seeking character, determined to prevent the alienation of any further parts of the kingdom, and at the Cortes of Daroca in [164] 1328 obliged Alfonso to declare that for the next ten years he would not alienate any town, castle or other place in Aragon, Catalonia or Valencia, nor transfer any fiefs or rights of the Crown. None the less, after his marriage with Eleanor, who had been betrothed years before to his elder brother James, he gave her the town of Huesca, and other places, and to his son, Ferdinand, he gave the town of Tortosa, whose inhabitants were obliged to renounce their immediate dependence upon the Crown. Other important towns, such as Alicante, Guardamar and Albarracin, were handed over in the same way, a more dangerous transference, as they were important frontier positions. None the less, the King persuaded the barons to promise recognition of Ferdinand's possession. The only opponent was a certain Ot de Moncada, who pointed out the danger to the Crown and the illegal character of these donations. The King, however, was entirely under the influence of his wife and one of her confidantes, a fact which increased dissatisfaction among the nobility, while the various places which he had given away were not slow to express their discontent. The inhabitants of Valencia even took up arms to resist the royal officials, and sent one of their most distinguished citizens, Guillem de Vinatea, accompanied by members of the town council, to protest. The deputation pointed out that the King's action implied a separation of Valencia from Aragon, a possibility which he and his colleagues were prepared to resist to the death. The Queen is said to have told her husband in the course of the discussion that her brother, the King of Castile, would have beheaded any subject who ventured to address him in that manner, but Alfonso replied that the Aragonese were free people and not subjugated as those of Castile, and that if they regarded him as their lord, he regarded them as good vassals and companions. He then explained his willingness to revoke the various donations that he had made, but his family remained divided against itself, as the Infante Pedro was opposed to the Queen and her party, who went so far as to persecute Pedro's supporters. Apart from disputes upon these points, the kingdom was not disturbed during Alfonso's reign, more perhaps in consequence of his apathy than of his moderation. As heir to the throne he had shown much energy and bravery in the conquest of Sardinia, but after his coronation, the most brilliant [165] event of his reign, he seems to have been overcome by an apathy which suggests the inroads of some disease, and allowed himself to be unduly dominated by female influence, which, in the case of his second wife, Eleanor of Castile, was entirely arbitrary and selfish. But he seems to have been anxious to govern as a constitutional monarch, and his title, "El Benigno," fairly represented the genuine appreciation of his subjects. He died at the age of thirty-seven, in January 1336.

This work was originally published by Methuan Publishing Ltd. in 1933.
Pagination of the original edition is indicated set off in brackets, as in [19].



Ample your information on Aragon

If you want to extend your information on Aragon you can begin crossing another interesting route is the Mudejar, Patrimony of the Humanity, also you can extend your cultural knowledge on Aragon examining its municipal and institutional heraldry without forgetting, of course, some of its emblematics figures as Saint George Pattern of Aragon also book of Aragon.

Also Aragon enjoys a diverse and varied Nature where passing by plants, animals or landscapes we can arrive at a fantastic bestiario that lives in its monuments.

The information will not be complete without a stroll by its three provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel and Huesca and his shines, with shutdown in some of its spectacular landscapes like Ordesa, the Moncayo or by opposition the Ebro.

Also you can dedicarte to the intangible ones: from the legend compilation that also does to universal Aragon you can persecute the presence of del Santo Grial in Aragon.



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