Post-classical history

Alfonso I of Aragon (d. 1134)

King of Aragon and Navarre (1109-1134), known as “the Battler” (Sp. el Batallador).

Alfonso was born around 1073, the second son of Sancho I. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his childless elder brother, Peter I (1109). The same year, Alfonso married the Castilian princess and heiress Urraca, but despite several diplomatic and military initiatives, he ultimately failed in his attempt to gain control of Castile and Leôn. Known for his military prowess (hence his nickname), the Aragonese king succeeded in moving the Christian-Muslim frontier south by conquering Zaragoza in 1118, Tudela and Tarazona in 1119, and Daroca and Calatayud in 1120. These campaigns were fostered by ecclesiastical indulgences and attracted some fighters from areas north of the Pyrenees. The king was clearly influenced by crusading ideals, as best illustrated by his design to open a land route to Jerusalem via the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. In 1125-1126, he led a campaign to Valencia and Andalusia, returning with many thousand Mozarabs (Arabicspeaking Christians), who were settled on the Ebro frontier. The later years of his life were dedicated to the vain attempt to conquer the Muslim towns of Lleida (Lérida) and Fraga. In 1134, Alfonso was mortally wounded at the battle of Fraga; on his deathbed, he confirmed his last will of 1131. In this much discussed document, the king left his realm to the Knights Templar, the Hospitallers, and the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre. His wish, however, was never fulfilled, for both the Navarrese and the Aragonese nobles preferred to ignore the will and offered the crown to local magnates of their choice (Garcia IV and Ramiro II respectively).

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